A Look Back On Popluar Action Figures From The Eighties


They’re action figures, not dolls.

This distinction was often lost on parents who were wondering why their children wanted a batman figurine for Christmas. For me, Comic Book Men on AMC has re-sparked my interest in the action figures of the 80s. Everyone has their favorites as everyone has different tastes. Mine have always skewed to the horrific, but the super hero action figures from the 80s are so gosh darn cool. Below is a list of my top ten action figurines from the 80s. Good luck trying to find them on Ebay or retailers.

  1. G.I Joe—Of course the man who can stop Cobra is numero one on this list. Apart from Transformers, nothing else jumps to the top of our collective pop culture consciousness for action figurines when this toy line is mentioned. It’s a pricey buy, and while mom and dad will want to drool over their childhood, young tikes who catch the old show on Cartoon Network will want to take a look at the modern action figures which aren’t as valuable.

    cobra commander

    • Cobra Commander—I always was the kid who gravitated towards the bay guys. Skeletor and Cobra Commander were the guys I fantasized about at night. I wished I was causing general mayhem with them—G.I Joe was too boring for my tastes. He always won and he was always predictable. Four year old I wanted some excitement!
  2. Transformers —Regardless of your concerns about a multi-billion dollar film franchise originating as a cartoon show that was meant to market toys to kids; it’s undeniable that it left an indelible mark on everyone’s childhoods. The toys were awesome and the show cheesy, but it definitely provided the kids of the 80s (now 30-somethings!) with awesome day dream fuel. Thankfully the live action movies exist and the new animated series, making children of today curious about the franchise.


    • Grimlock —The slow witted baddies of the Transformers were led by Grimlock, a mechanical Dinobot who spoke in broken English and could transform into a Tyrannosaurus. As a kid, I loved robots and dinosaurs. I was a simple little guy. Dinobots fulfilled every fantasy I ever had. Unfortunately for me, my parents saw through the consumerist aspects of Transformers and refused to buy me the toys. I was delegated to playing with Tonka Toys and Mechano while my friends smashed the toys together. Second grade sure was rough.
  3. She-Ra —Two cartoons that spun a whole ton of toys were He-Man and She-Ra. By the power of Greyskull, Mattel launched wave after wave of these fantasy adventure toys. He-Man may have come first, but She-Ra took the story arc to a whole new level. Credited for bridging the gap from a male dominated cartoon to an independent female main character.


    • Catra —While, the She-Ra line possessed some excellent action figures like Hordak and Scorpia, the best one was Catra. With a furry black tail and long synthetic hair, this Force-Captain for The Horde wears a mask that can turn her into a purple panther. Please note – the toy will not transform. The She-Ra line is perfect for introducing young girls to golden-age of fantasy cartoons.

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