5 Masters of the Universe
Mattel’s Masters of the Universe, created in 1981, featured He-Man, the hard-bodied hero with a gaggle of equally macho friends. An oddly handsome, macho superhero, He-Man muscled his way into kids’ hearts with his “PowerPunch” and loin cloth. The dude rode a giant cat, for crying out loud. By the power of Grayskull, these superhero pals from prehistoric times got themselves a cartoon series, and by Christmas 1983, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe were at the top of every little boy’s wish list. Today’s kids have no idea of the awesomeness they’re missing.
4 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The heroes in a half-shell concept arose from a parody of four of the most popular comic book superheroes of the early 1980s: Cerebus (Dave Sim), Daredevil and New Mutants (Marvel Comics), and Ronin (Frank Miller). Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles began as a comic book published in 1984. An action figure line became a massive hit later on. It’s easy to see why these reptilian superheroes are still popular. First, they’re talking turtles, and second, few kids can resist a piece of mutant ninja action.
There isn’t a kid today who hasn’t heard of the robots in disguise. There’s a simple reason that Transformers are still a popular toy: They’re alien machines that transform into automobiles. Alien machines! Transformers were originally adapted by Hasbro from the Diaclones and the New Microman, which were Japanese toys from Takara. After some tweaking and a new story line, Transformers were ready to empty the wallets of American parents in 1984.
2 Care Bears
“Care Bear count down; four, three, two, one.” Few children of the 1980s can say this line without following with a Care Bear stare. Care Bears were the empathetic, responsible toy to get your kids back in the day. The colorful bears each had its own tummy symbol, so kids could decide which Care Bear suited them based on disposition. Symbols ranged from a rain cloud for Grumpy Bear to a rainbow for Funshine Bear. To prevent cheap knockoffs, each bear also had a trademark hard plastic heart on its butt.
1 Cabbage Patch Kids
Cabbage Patch Kids were all the rage for girls and boys in the 1980s. Each odd-looking doll came with a birth certificate and adoption papers, so everyone knew the precious little cherub with the yarn hair on its disproportionately large head in the stroller was yours. Cabbage Patch Kids were created by 21-year-old art student Xavier Roberts in 1976, and were originally called Little People dolls. Parents actually camped outside toy stores in 1983 to get their precious darlings one of these wildly popular dolls. By New Year’s Day in 1984, more than 3 million were sold.