The 1980s and 1990s were a very special time for pop culture. Some of it didn’t work, but some of it was so bad we loved it. In retrospect, some of the toys that kids were buying were very inappropriate. There were films that came out in the ’80s and ’90s that had a very unfriendly kid rating of R, such as A Nightmare on Elm Street and Rambo: First Blood Part II. However, they were still marketing toys from those adult movies to kids!
Some of the toys served as great mementos of some really iconic television shows and films. Although we saw the Ghostbusters reboot in 2016, the original film had a pretty awesome Proton Pack toy. You’d be lying if you owned He-Man’s Power Sword and said you didn’t hold it towards the sky and shout “By the power of Greyskull!” We all felt cheated when we received contradictory information about whether or not hoverboards actually were a thing. They were around, and those suckers definitely didn’t fly, but they made for great props. We here at CBR want you to get totally nostalgic from our rad list depicting 15 Ridiculous And Awesome Toy Props From The 80s And 90s!
15. FREDDY’S GLOVE
In 1984, Director Wes Craven unleashed the cult villain Freddy Krueger in the film A Nightmare on Elm Street. Krueger, played by Robert Englund, was a villain who hunted and killed teenagers by murdering them in their dreams. His weapon of choice was a leathery glove with long, sharp knives attached to every finger. He dispatched teens, usually followed by saying an ’80s era catchphrase.
Although the film was rated R, the prop glove was well liked by teens clearly under the age of 18. There was an urban myth that kids were pulling out the fake plastic blades and mounting real knives on the tips of the gloves. Regardless of the rumor, if you got yourself an old hat, a beat up green and orange sweater and somehow got your hands on (and in) this prop from the movie, you looked pretty scary!
14. POWER SWORD FROM HE-MAN
By the power of Greyskull! He-Man and The Masters of The Universe launched in 1983 and young kids everywhere thought about investing in a home gym to get abs like He-Man. His disguise of Prince Adam was as believable as Clark Kent wearing a pair of glasses to not be recognized as Superman, but whatever, it worked! He-Man fought against a slew of ridiculous villains, such as Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, Tri-Klops, and Faker (the blue version of He-Man).
As campy as the show looked, it still was a part of the childhood for many people, and was part of the holy pantheon of ’80s cartoons. Unlike most toys, it pretty much resembled the sword that Prince Adam used to transform into He-Man. The soft, 1980s plastic also prevented your sword strikes from hurting your siblings and friends when you hit them with it… so there were drawbacks.
13. BLASTER FROM STAR WARS
Star Wars gave us many famous characters and items. Could anything be more iconic than a Jedi’s lightsaber? Probably not, but a close second would be this blaster, the go-to weapon for one of the most popular characters in the Star Wars universe: Han Solo. Heck, even eventual Jedi Master Luke Skywalker was seen firing one from time to time.
This toy from the 1983 film Return of the Jedi is great if you want to shoot Greedo first. For some reason, they made you work extra hard to fire: you needed to pull the trigger and press the red button on the handle at the same time to hear the blaster sound. That scope on the top should have been mounted on the weapons of the Stormtroopers; those guys were terrible shots! But you weren’t as long as you had this in your filthy mitts!
12. NEUTRA-LASER FROM BRAVESTARR
Bravestarr was a cartoon produced in 1987 and was an interesting mix of the science fiction and western genres that took place on a planet called New Texas. Marshal BraveStarr was the lawman who rode his chief deputy Thirty/Thirty (get your mind out of the gutter; he was a cybernetic horse). Besides calling upon spirit animals to give him superhuman abilities, his sidearm (a Neutra-Laser) fired shots that caused its targets to literally freeze.
The Neutra-Laser toy capitalized on the trending infra-red technology of the time, also used by Lazer Tag and Captain Power. You could fire at other people that had the Neutra-Laser toy and if you hit the sensor just right you’d hear a noise indicating they’d been “shot.” Bravestarr was the last show to be produced by Filmation, which made such iconic cartoons as Star Trek: The Animated Series, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and Ghostbusters (the bad one with the gorilla).
11. STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION PHASER
Star Trek: The Next Generation took place in the 24th century and featured futuristic technology, such as warp speed, artificial life forms, a Dyson Sphere (a structure built around an entire star), even villainous cyborgs. To defend themselves against threats, officers of the Federation armed themselves with phasers. A type 2 phaser set at level 16 in one shot could destroy half of a large building.
The first phaser toy that came out was modeled after the type 1 phaser. It had a weird look to it and didn’t feel comfortable to hold. The second phaser to appear on the show was nicknamed the “dustbuster” and was eventually redesigned to be more sleek. It used the same sound effects from the show and was the perfect companion to the Tricorder that was clipped onto your belt.
10. WHITE RANGER SABA SWORD
Go Go, Power Rangers! Tommy Oliver was the evil Green Power Ranger, but after breaking free of Rita Repulsa’s evil spell, he eventually became the White Mighty Morphin Power Ranger. He utilized an enchanted talking short-sword named Saba, who could shoot energy blasts as well as fly. He also controlled the White Tigerzord!
The toy saber looked and sounded pretty sweet: the eyes lit up and his mouth even moved when it roared and spoke. It definitely put to shame the plastic toy version of He-Man’s Power Sword. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers premiered on Fox Kids in August of 1993 and considering that a Power Rangers movie came out in 2017, we don’t think the Rangers are going to disappear anytime soon!
9. STAR TREK TRICORDER
Although Star Trek: The Next Generation had great space battles and fight scenes, the show centered around man’s inherent curiosity and need to explore. The Tricorder was a handheld device that allowed members of Starfleet to scan for life signs, locate threats and obtain information on a variety of topics. It pre-dated the flip phone and the iPad and maybe, just maybe, had influences on those devices.
As replicas go, this one is pretty sweet. Not only was it well made, it also featured the same iconic sounds from the show. It also had a clip on the back so you could attach it to your belt, turning you into a true babe magnet. Forget the phasers and bat’leths, this is the true toy to declare to the world that you’re a Trekkie (or Trekker, depending on your preferred nomenclature).
8. BLASTER FROM TRANSFORMERS
Soundwave was a Decepticon that transformed from a cassette player into a robot. Encased in his chest were mini-cassettes that could also transform from tapes into such objects as robots, eagles and pumas. The Autobots answered back with Blaster, an admittedly much cooler version of Soundwave that was fashioned to resemble a boombox, which was also referred to as a “ghetto blaster” (thus giving us the name Blaster).
Although Transformers were very popular in the 1980s, the Blaster toy sold exceptionally well. There are even versions of both Soundwave and Blaster that actually played cassettes! It was never fully explained how a giant robot transformed into a small cassette player, but our questions were immediately dispelled by the awesome sound made when the Autobots and Decepticons transformed!
7. THE FORCE LIGHTSABER SWORD
Maybe you’re not the biggest Star Wars fan, but if you grew up in the 1980s, there has to be at least one photo of you swinging a lightsaber. It’s an understatement to say that Star Wars was a cultural phenomenon, and although the film premiered in 1977, to this day people still have Jedi on the brain in the form of merchandise, video games and tickets to the upcoming sequel Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
This toy is kind of a no-brainer. The lightsaber is one of the most iconic weapons of all time. Sorry, getting a giant cardboard tube or rolled up piece of construction paper is not gonna cut it; you need the real licensed deal. There were fancier ones, but there’s no way you’re gonna swing that sucker around and risk clipping the edge of a chair or some misplaced lamp. This toy looks good AND you could whack your friends with it.
6. PROTON PACK FROM THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS
Ghostbusters was released in 1984 and it was one of the highest grossing comedies of the 1980s. It was a fun mash-up of science fiction, fantasy, comedy and of course Bill Murray in his prime. The Proton Pack toy captured the essence of the cartoon version of the movie called The Real Ghostbusters.
This was done to not to confuse it with another show of the same name. Whereas The Real Ghostbusters was produced by DiC, Ghostbusters was made by Filmation, a company that was forgotten about when the Ghostbusters movie was made in 1984. The proton pack above was a sort of amalgam from the cartoon and the film, made from lightweight plastic and no heavier than a backpack. It also came with a PKE meter (a ghost detector, basically) and an armband, so you could really slip into the role. Needless to say, this prop made bustin’ feel good!
5. RAMBO FIRST BLOOD PART II BOW AND ARROW SET
When we think about the character John Rambo played by Sylvester Stallone, we think action, we think violence, but we do not think kid-friendly content. Rambo: First Blood Part II was the story of Rambo doing reconnaissance in Vietnam to find prisoners of war. But because he’s Rambo, he’s not just going to take photographs… he’s going to fill body bags!
Given the movie was so violent, it is somewhat peculiar that toys were marketed to kids since they were not old enough to go see the movie by themselves. The cover of the toy features Rambo with a bazooka, but the toy featured a bow and arrow set including a Rambo headband that said “Rambo” on it, in case you confused the toy with another human killing machine named Rambo.
4. HOVERBOARD, BACK TO THE FUTURE II
Back to The Future II was an eagerly anticipated sequel released in 1989. Marty McFly and Doc Brown traveled into a bizarre and wondrous future (the year 2015) only to continue their adventures in 1955, the period that the first movie mostly took place in. In the future, Marty saw the Cubs win the World Series, video calls, biometrics (they all actually happened) and hoverboards (this not so much).
You weren’t hallucinating: in a behind-the-scenes interview, director Robert Zemeckis flat out lied and claimed that hoverboards were real, but kids couldn’t buy them due to parents deeming them unsafe. This resulted in many kids screaming at their parents as well as people asking toy stores when they were going to restock hoverboards. The good news is you could buy a Mattel-branded hoverboard, and we think you’re smart enough to guess what the bad news is.
3. CAPTAIN POWER’S POWERJET
Even by today’s standards, the TV series Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future had the show interacting with audiences in a very unique way. The premise was familiar: in the future, man fought against machines and lost. Captain Power and his soldiers were fighting against Lord Dread and his army of Bio-Dreads. Power’s goal was to retake Earth and save humanity.
Captain Power flew the Powerjet XT-7, and of course you could buy the toy. The biggest, and coolest, point of interactivity was that during scenes in the episodes of the show, you could use the Powerjet to fire at enemies on the screen. You would accrue points for targets hit and lose points if you were hit, with a zero score resulting in Captain Power ejecting from the craft! You could also play against a VHS tape, but the real fun was shooting at your television when the show came on!
2. THUNDERCATS SWORD OF OMENS LIGHT UP EYE OF THUNDERA
According to The Hero’s Journey, as dictated by Joseph Campbell, the hero starts their quest and is gifted a magical artifact to help them on said quest. The Sword of Omens was such a magical artifact for Lion-O, leader of the Thundercats. The sword was a dagger that turned into a full length sword. It was a beacon signaling other Thundercats to assemble, and it provided Lion-O “sight beyond sight.”
This gorgeous replica was a must-have. Sure, it didn’t project the Thundercat symbol into the sky (the Eye of Thundera did light up though), nor did it extend when held outwards (the deluxe version of the sword did), but it is still a beautiful replica that was faithful to the show. Now here’s the real question: Who would win in a fight, Lion-O’s Sword of Omens or He-Man’s Power Sword? Place your bets and post your comments!
1. LAZER TAG STARLYTE PISTOL
Curse you, 1980s television, for being basically 30 minute commercials! Lazer Tag the toy came out when Lazer Tag Academy was produced for NBC by the company Worlds of Wonder. The cartoon was about Jamie Jaren, a Lazer Tag Champion who time travels to the 1980s from the 31st century to protect her distant relatives from Draxon Drear and his army of Skugs.
Although Lazer Tag was eventually bought by Nerf, laser tag parks are still around and can be played at today. The formats vary, but the premise is the same: you are armed with a weapon attached to a harness with sensors that are vulnerable to shots from other weapons. The sleekness of the Starlyte pistol still puts most laser tag guns of the modern era to shame. Lazer Tag’s competitor (both for TV shows and toys) was Photon, a show produced by DiC.
What was your favorite toy from the 1980s? Post your comments below!
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