11 Iconically Epic 80s Toys That Every Kid Wanted

From Teddy Ruxpin's thousand-yard stare to Rubik's Cube-induced rage, these are the iconic 80s toys you need to revisit.

Published November 27, 2023
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You know you got a good night's sleep in 1985 when you woke up to your Teddy Ruxpin tucked underneath one arm, a Care Bear under the other, and those ball-ended hair ties still trapped in your hair. While there may be more toys at kids' fingertips than ever before, they don’t hold a candle to the colorful, curious, and downright creepy 80s toys we couldn’t stop playing with.

Lite-Brite

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Ever felt like stepping directly inside of a kaleidoscope? Well, stare long enough into Lite-Brite’s backlit rainbow pegs, and you’ll know exactly why your parents waxed poetic about their Summer of Love days. Lite-Brite was the ultimate art toy of the 1980s. It embraced that bright vaporwave aesthetic while being no mess. For 80s kids, Lite-Brite was the ultimate step up from Etch-a-Sketch.

Fast Fact

While it was a popular creative toy in the 1980s, Lite-Brite was hardly new. It first came to market in the mid-60s and is still sold today. 

Koosh Balls

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Nothing lit a sensory sensitive kid up quite like the ridiculously simple Koosh ball. We could pet these late-80s toys for hours on end. But, if you were in the mood to listen to the devil on your shoulder, you’d grab three or four of those individual rubber strands and whip it as hard as you could at your siblings like David trying to slam Goliath with a rock. For all their fun colors and simple designs, those rock-solid steel cores could break a nose and friendships in seconds.

Related: 10 Forgotten 80s Toys Full of Weirdness and Wonder

Teddy Ruxpin

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Teddy Ruxpin belongs in the annals of doll history, right up there with Robert the Doll and Annabelle. But Teddy Ruxpin’s magic can’t be denied. His voice was like a siren song to young kids in the 80s, and they loved him. You probably have those Ruxpin-loving 80s kids turned 90s teens to thank for the absolutely terrifying Furby that came later. 

Now, as adults, we want to be anywhere other than the wrong end of Teddy Ruxpin’s thousand-yard stare.

Monchichi

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Monchichi was so many 80s kid’s first hand-me-down toy passed down from their older cousins or friends of the family. Looking back, we still can’t figure out what the appeal of this baby Big Foot née monkey was. But, you’d be hard-pressed to find a toddler without one of these stuffed monkies clenched under their arm in 1982.

Charmkins

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If only 2000s teens and their Motorola Razrs weighed down with novelty charms could’ve been around for Charmkins. Everyone remembers the 80s for their action-packed animated shows like Thundercats and Transformers. But you needed silly little concepts like Charmkins to wash it down with. Everyone had their favorite, and ours was Poison Ivy because of that killer color combination.

Speak & Spell

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Who’d have thought Texas Instruments, a company that was single-handedly bankrolled by legions of sophomores buying their graphing calculators every year, could put out a banger like Speak & Spell? Nothing made early 80s elementary schoolers feel more grown up than learning to spell on what amounted to, in their baby eyes, a type of computer.

Pound Puppies

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Every decade has to have its ensemble animal show. The 1940s had Looney Tunes, the 90s had Animaniacs, and the 1980s had hits like Pound Puppies. Despite the name, you wouldn’t catch a Sarah McLachlan song anywhere near it.

These floppy Pound Puppy stuffed toys gave kids all the responsibility of a pet rock and the personal attachment of a Build-a-Bear. And it’s why they’re the childhood stuffies 80s kids still have today.

Care Bears

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One of the only stuffed animals that mattered in the 1980s was Care Bear. Like any of our childhood crazes, it’s hard to look back and understand why we went wild over such a simple concept. But, if today's massive Care Bear collections are anything to go off of, these cuddly animals were anything but underground. What can we say? That Care Bear stare really worked some kind of magic.

Rainbow Brite Figurines

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If the bright rainbow colors on an animated show were an assault to your eyes in the 1980s, then kids loved it. Look no further than the peak of colorful kids’ programming that was Rainbow Brite. And of course you couldn’t watch Rainbow Brite without needing your favorite character in doll form. How else were you supposed to bring color back to the universe?

Ahh to be young again and your only worry being which Color Kid you’d pick to be at recess.

Rubik's Cube

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Kids in the late 90s would wow each other with how fast they could T9 text, but in the 80s, your real claim to fame was speeding through a Rubik’s Cube. People who figured out the right patterns hoarded their talents and let the rest of us suffer. But we’d be lying if we hadn’t been tempted a time or two to peel the stickers off and rearrange them in the correct order.

Strawberry Shortcake Dolls

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The 80s wasn’t short on cutesy kid characters, and Strawberry Shortcake was another in that long line. The sugary-sweet plot feels like something that stepped right out of Candyland and onto our TV screens. And like the 90s had horse girls and wolf girls, every 80s classroom had that Strawberry Shortcake kid. From plastic figurines to sneakers to stationery, she was on it all.

The 80s Toys We Refuse to Let Go Of

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Looking back, it’s hard to understand why we were willing to fight kids on the playground for these iconic toys. But every generation needs their own toy craze, and the 1980s was chock-full of ‘em. If only we could run through a Toys R Us for these magnificent 80s toys one last time.  

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11 Iconically Epic 80s Toys That Every Kid Wanted