The 1980s were chock-full of memorable toys and games which we all dearly loved and wouldn't trade for anything. But some were more indicative of the decade than others. Here's a list of the top toys introduced in the '80s that defined my childhood:
5. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: Why would anybody fail to figure out the identity of someone after they'd stripped down to a loin cloth and an S&M-styled "battle harness?" Most of He-Man's storyline never made much sense to me (something to do with a skull-headed guy wanting the sword and the castle, even though he already had his own), and the toy design of the villains was certainly more interesting than the good guys — shy of sharing the same molded plastic bodies, arms, and legs. But that aside, the toy line is the first one in which I found myself spending hour upon hour drawing the characters in crayon. And I think I can still scribble together a pretty good Orco from memory.
4. Wacky Wall Walkers: I have a theory on these soft silicone, goo-covered, Slinky-wannabe octopi: They were really every child's favorite toy. No matter how forgettable you think they are, no matter how many limited seconds of actual play they garnered, you always still came home from the mall or five-and-dime with one in hand — especially after you pestered your parents bad enough in the check-out line. Think about it. How many toys did you end up coming back to time and time again? I, for one, couldn't help but pick one up if I saw it, just to feel that squishy and sticky texture, and then give it a slam against the nearest flat surface. (Don't worry Mom, I'll keep it away from the upholstery.)
3. My Little Pony: OK, I did not actually "play" with My Little Pony. Like most boys my age who had younger sisters, I spent a fair share of my time torturing the damn things in front of my younger sister. After all, who — other than an eight-year-old girl — could stand the saccharine pony names, their over-loving attitude, and those big soulless eyes? It was the favorite toy on the market for young boys to hate. And speaking of names, have you ever played the My Little Pony or stripper name game? Think about it.
2. Transformers: Do I really have to say what is so absolutely cool about cars and trucks changing into robots? They're the robot porn of our generation. These are some of the first toys that I can remember being fanatical about collecting and playing with. And, apparently I'm not the only person to go gaga over the hundreds of toys, cartoon episodes, comics, and motion pictures; online retailer Toywiz.com is selling a reissue of the first generation Optimus Prime toy — a toy which originally sold for $25, but now goes for the low, low price of $450. It's in a pretty box, though.
1. Atari 2600: The Atari 2600 was definitely the gateway drug to a lifetime of hardcore video game use for me as well as many others. I do not doubt for an instant that my grades would have been better — so much so that I would probably have won a Nobel Prize in Science by now if it were not for this innovation in gaming technology. Video games have since become thoroughly entrenched in our culture despite the repeated over-the-top criticisms by the likes of overzealous parenting groups, politicians, and crusading lawyers trying to make names for themselves (Re: Jack Thompson).