The greatest toys of the ‘80s and ‘90s that every child wanted (2024)

At some point during the upcoming festive season, there will be a time you will think back to some of your own memories of Christmases past and reminisce about some of the toys that brought you so much happiness.

While some of the toys still hold a warm place in your heart, chances are the very same toys were enjoyed by countless children around the world at the same time as you. From action figures and the new up-and-coming electronic consoles to the more traditional board games and dolls, the '80s and '90s were a truly golden era of toy making and some of those items are more than likely worth quite a lot of money today.

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Read More: The photos of children playing in Wales in the past that will probably make today's parents wince

So get ready for a trip down memory lane with some of the best toys from the '80s and '90s. You can get more nostalgia articles and other story updates straight to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletters here.


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Since hitting the shops in 1959, the US Barbie has been one of the biggest-selling toys worldwide. However, in 1963, British-made Sindy wanted a piece of the toy doll industry. Fans of the dolls will no doubt sing the virtues of their own favourites, but one thing both of them enjoy is longevity, as they are still around today.

Fashion Wheel

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The Fashion Wheel is what every wannabe designer wanted when they were children and if they were lucky to get their hands on one, you can guarantee they came up with some interesting fashion mash-ups.

The idea behind the fashion wheel was essentially a mixture of heads/bodies and legs to come up with a new outfit and be able to draw them with different combinations of clothes.

Beanie Babies

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When Beanie Babies were first introduced to the world in 1993, few would probably have believed they would still be around nearly 30 years later. However, when word got around how rare certain characters were becoming, coupled with the collectibility of the stuffed bears, it saw the Beanie Babies become one of the first internet sensations.

The after-sale market for Beanie Babies is still huge, with rare examples commanding thousands of pounds.

Mr Frosty Snow Cone Maker

A Mr Frosty snow cone maker was at the top of many Christmas lists back in the '80s. Which is strange as in the middle of winter, the last thing on your mind would be a nice refreshing ice cone. I'm sure those who wanted one were just thinking ahead and of the long hot summer that would be here in just a few short months.

Game Boy

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When the Game Boy burst on the scene in the late '80s, maker Nintendo revolutionised the hand-held gaming world, and it has never been the same since.

When it first came out the dot-matrix screen allowed for hours of fun - as long as you had enough batteries that is. With games that are still being played to this day such as Super Mario Bros and Tetris - the Game Boy was one of the best toys children back then could and would have asked for.

Action Man

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Action Man was the British-licensed version of the US's G.I. Joe action soldier - and came complete with movable parts. The first Action Man figures were available with four hair colours, these being Auburn, Black, Blonde, and Brown.

Action man became one of the biggest selling toys during the '70s and '80s as the packaging would display that it was the 'Toy of the Decade'. It was also said that by the end of the '70s, eight million Action Men were in circulation.


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Yes, those robots in disguise which were more than meets the eye - have been one of the biggest-selling toys since their introduction in the '80s.

The first-generation Transformers toys are very desirable and worth quite a lot of money these days. Compared with today's sleeker versions the original batch of Robots In Disguise are like mini puzzles to work out how they actually transform. Of course, if you played with them as a child - all that will come flooding back like a wave of nostalgia.

Teenage Mutant Ninja/Hero Turtles

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When Turtles became one of the biggest selling toys - the world was in the middle of Turtle-mania and while I was a bit older than the turtle's target demographic, I could see the effect that the heroes in a half shell were having on young children. My overriding memory of the Turtles was that my second cousin would always ask me to draw Donatello, Leonardo, Michaelangelo and Raphael every time I saw them.

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Also, how could we forget the stampede which occurred during the '90s when parents were fighting down the aisles of your local toy shops trying to get the toys for their kids at Christmas?

The original WWF Figures

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Back in 1992 the UK was caught up in the 'Sports Entertainment' grasp of the World Wrestling Federation and the Hasbro line of figures sold out across the UK, especially at the height of the company's fame following a successful SummerSlam event at Wembley Stadium that same year.

They quickly followed up the success of the toys flying out of the stores with an album written by Mike Stock & Peter Waterman of SAW fame, put together by none other than Simon Cowell - yes the brains behind Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor also gave us Wrestlemania: The Album in 1993.

Star Wars figures and playsets

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Ahh, there was nothing like the force being with you as a child, and easily my favourite toys as a child were the Star Wars range of figures, playsets, and vehicles.

For me, the excitement that built up over the festive season of 1979 was unlike any before, and with me only being four and hoping and praying that I would finally get my hands on a Millennium Falcon, so that my Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Luke Skywalker figures could eventually fly across the galaxy, AKA the back garden, was too much to bear.

I will never forget the feeling that Christmas morning when I excitedly ripped open the wrapping to see that I now owned a ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs. Best day ever!

Care Bears

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The Care Bears were the stuffed bears that became one of the most wanted toys back in the early to mid-'80s and still to this day, they are one of the most sought-after toys.

What initially started out as a greeting card bear quickly turned into a multi-million-pound franchise that spawned a TV show along with many films over the years. Along with the original Care Bears there have been spin-offs with the launch of the Care Bears cousins quickly following in 1984

Cabbage Patch Kids

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If you were a child in the '80s then there was no way you missed the commotion caused by the dolls. Who would have thought that giving a doll a birth certificate and adoption papers would make a soft doll with a plastic head so desirable to children across the world?

The Cabbage patch Kids were at the top of everyone's Christmas list for most of the '80s and have retained a cult following over the intervening years as they truly represent '80s nostalgia.

Teddy Ruxpin

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Up there with the Care Bears and Cabbage Patch Kids was Teddy Ruxpin - one of the most sought-after toys of the mid-'80s.

For those who don't know or can't remember, Teddy Ruxpin was an animatronic bear that would re-enact stories played on an audio cassette player, which was built into the back of the bear. The bear would work with specially recorded cassettes that held data that would enable the toy's eyes, mouth, and limbs to move along with the audio that was playing.

I remember being devastated that a friend's Teddy Ruxpin wouldn't move when we put a normal cassette of the Ghostbusters soundtrack in to see if the bear would mime along with Ray Parker Jr.


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Who would have thought that interlocking plastic bricks initially brought out in 1949 would be the multi-million-selling phenomenon they continue to be today?

For me, Lego was and still is one of the best inventions ever! Most people would have played with a set of bricks at least once in their lifetime and not many toys can proudly achieve that level of playability.

I still remember to this day of getting my hands on a Lego Technic set as a child and playing with the pneumatic pumps - trying to emulate the upward opening doors of a Delorean - yes, I am a massive Back To The Future fan. The elation I got when I actually managed to work it out and make my own Back To The Future Delorean was amazing.

Lego continues to this day to be one of the best selling Christmas presents with so many themed sets available each year, I can't see this one slowing down any time soon.


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Another classic - The Slinky, gives everyone who has ever played with it a warm feeling, especially when it makes its first step down a set of stairs or steps.

The toy was originally conceived back in 1943 and is still to this day one of the most affordable toys available. The toy works based on Hooke's Law and gravitation.

The brand has also expanded with the Slinky Dog and the more colourful plastic slinky.

Big Trak

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The Big Trak toy was for me, the one that got away. The programmable vehicle came out in 1979 and was made by Milton Bradley. The toy could store up to 16 commands and allowed the programmer to decide what the electronic vehicle, along with its cargo trailer, was to do, and even let you jettison whatever was in the trailer.

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