Every generation thinks that the toys of its collective childhood were the best – that’s just how rose-tinted nostalgia works. Still, call us biased, but when it comes to the 80s and 90s, it seems the toys really were as good as it they get.

It was an exciting time for play for all ages: not only were traditional toys like teddies getting clever new updates with the likes of the Care Bears and Beanie Babies, but more elaborate plastic creations like Transformers and Polly Pocket were also emerging.

It was a big time for merchandising, too: as Star Wars toys, based on George Lucas’ blockbuster films, reached peak popularity in this period, the likes of My Little Pony and Transformers were getting their own spin-off shows and movies based on the toys alone.

The 80s and 90s were also when video games became available to the average household for the first time, with games consoles like the SNES and Sega Mega Drive fuelling brand new technological addictions.

Meanwhile, the old classics like Barbie and Lego continued to be popular, spawning new sets made just for the era.

This here list features a bucket-load of favourite toys from our childhood. Now all that’s left for you to do is scroll on down and rank them.

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Barbie

Barbie is a fashion doll created by businesswoman Ruth Handler and produced by Mattel, Inc since 1959. Inspired by a German line of adult-bodied fashion dolls named Bild Lilli - initially, these were made for adults, but eventually Lilli became popular with children - Handler sought to make an adult doll that her pre-teen daughter, Barbara, would be interested in playing with. At the time, the dolls that were marketed towards children largely were made to resemble infants. Seeing a gap in the market, Handler took her idea to husband Elliot Handler and his business partner Harold Matson, who together owned Mattel, Inc. Mattel had been founded by Matson and the Handlers in 1945, having started out selling picture frames and, later, dollhouse furniture. With approval from her husband and Matson, Ruth created Barbie, named after her daughter and built in the style of an adult fashion doll that children could dress up and use to act out their futures beyond childhood. The first Barbie mould was designed by Jack Ryan, the head of research and development at Mattel who had formerly been a missile engineer working for the Pentagon. The first Barbie doll hit the market in 1959. Despite initial reluctance from Elliot and Harold, the toy not only became Mattel's biggest product, but the best-selling toy in history, having been successfully marketed through Disney's The Mickey Mouse Club TV show. Barbie was so successful that, in 1961, a 'boyfriend' doll was concocted by Mattel as a companion product: Ken, named after the Handlers' son. Though the Handlers were forced out of Mattel in 1974 over apparent financial mismanagement, the pair lived on to a ripe old age. Elliot passed in 2011 at the age of 95, while Ruth died in 2002 at the age of 85, but not before having been inducted into the US Business Hall of Fame, in 1997. With Barbie having been on the market now for 60 years, it's estimated that more than a billion dolls have so far been sold. Mattel claims that three Barbies are sold every second.

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Beanie Babies

Beanie Babies is a range of cuddly stuffed toys created by American businessman H Ty Warner in 1993. Warner also founded Ty Inc in 1986. Ty Warner opened his first toy company in 1983, when he was just 39-years-old. The aspiring actor had recently been fired from Dakin Inc., a California toy company specialising in stuffed animals where Warner had worked as a salesperson for much of his adult life. Undeterred, Warner decided to open his own rival toy company manufacturing small stuffed animals: Ty Inc. Warner invested every penny he had in the new business, mortgaging his house and drawing from the $50,000 he had just inherited from his recently deceased father's estate. Thankfully for Ty, the gamble paid off: Warner's first range of toys with Ty Inc, Himalayan Cats, were mocked for their resemblance to 'roadkill', but the toys - filled with plastic pellets rather than the then-typical stuffed animal stuffing - proved enormously popular. By 1992, Warner was making good money on a catalogue of dozens of stuffed animals, but he had an idea to go further. At that time, there were according to Warner no toys "in the $5 range that weren't real garbage" - and he wanted to change that. Warner set about creating a set of quality plush toys that were available for under $5, and by 1994, Ty Inc had begun selling its first Beanie Babies. Called the 'original nine' by collectors, Spot the Dog, Squealer the Pig, Patti the Platypus, Cubbie the Bear, Chocolate the Moose, Pinchers the Lobster, Splash the Killer Whale, Legs the Frog and Splash the Dolphin would within a year be joined in stores by over 40 more Beanie Baby toys. Declining to sell to major toy chains like Toys R Us, Warner instead sold his product only to small and independent toy stores, which drove up demand. Warner furthermore would introduce new Beanie Babies and discontinue old ones, thus increasing the products' scarcity and desirability. As a 'bubble' arose in the Beanie Baby market, the toy quickly became a sensation, with its own secondary line of related merchandise like books and accessories. By 1999, on its toys and associated merchandise, Ty Inc was making a profit of $700 million a year. Today, Ty Warner has an estimated net worth of $2.4 billion. Beanie Babies, meanwhile, remain popular, while some of the rarer toys in the line are collector's items that can go for thousands of dollars.

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Cabbage Patch Kids

Cabbage Patch Kids is a range of soft, child-like toys created and distributed by Xavier Roberts, based on the designs of folk artist Martha Nelson Thomas. Initially registered for copyright protection in 1978 under the name 'The Little People', the dolls were rebranded to Cabbage Patch Kids when they went into mass production in 1982. The dolls were recognised as one of the top toy fads of the 80s by Time Magazine, who wrote in 2010 that they were "the doll of the decade." In fact, there were several contemporary reports of parents getting into violent altercations over the in-demand dolls, not least because some dolls were seen as more appealing than others. Roberts had originally made the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls purely from fabric and with his own two hands, but in 1982 licensed a smaller version of the doll with a hard, plastic face to Coleco. By interchanging the faces and bodies, Coleco was able to create a wide variety of dolls at a low cost, adding personality and collector value to the products. It's thought that Cabbage Patch Kids and adjacent, licensed merchandise generated more than $4.5 billion of sales in the 80s alone. While merchandise sales - such as cereals and paddling pools - have steeply declined, the dolls remain popular and Cabbage Patch Kids has become one of the longest-running doll brands in the US. In 1996, a highly sought-after line of dolls known as Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids was pushed to market. These were designed to realistically 'eat' plastic carrots and deposit the items in a backpack. However, they were recalled after several reports of the dolls ripping out children's hair.

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Care Bears

The Care Bears were every 80s girl’s favourite bear! The soft toys were originally created by an American greetings card company, American Greetings, in 1981. Then in 1982, the entire Care Bears franchise was launched in New York City and soon became one of the most popular toys amongst girls in the 1980s.

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Etch A Sketch

A mechanical drawing toy, the Etch A Sketch was one of the most successful toys of the 1960s and has gone on to become one of the best-known toys of all time. The toy consists of a glass screen coated in aluminium powder which can be manipulated with a stylus; the stylus is controlled by two dials on each corner, representing horizontal and vertical movement. By shaking the toy, beads contained within re-coat the glass with powder, effectively wiping the screen of any previous design. The Etch A Sketch was designed by the Parisian André Cassagnes in the late 50s while he was working as an electrician. After discovering that his employer, the Lincrusta Company, created picture frames with an aluminium powder that transferred easily to decals, the idea for the toy was born. Cassagnes would go on to partner with the Ohio Art Company to bring his so-called écran magique or 'magic screen' to market in the US, launching in 1960. Now known as the Etch A Sketch, it sold more than 600,000 units at a price of $2.99 (approximately equivalent to $26 today). By the 90s, and with the rise of video games and other digital toys, sales of the Etch A Sketch had plummeted. This was rectified by a short scene featuring the Etch A Sketch in 1995's Toy Story, which ended up increasing demand for Etch A Sketches by such a margin that the production line was required to work overtime. Sales dipped and then roared back again in 1999, when the toy was featured in a longer scene in Toy Story 2. The Etch A Sketch was once again buoyed by a controversy in the US presidential race in 2012. While the gaffe was soon forgotten, and hardly registered at the time, it was nonetheless enough to boost sales of the toy by more than 30%. After launching the Etch A Sketch, Cassagnes became a designer of kites, specialising in the design of original modular kites in the 80s. He sadly passed away in 2013 at the age of 86.

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Game Boy

The landmark Game Boy handheld games console was released in North America and Japan in 1989, before arriving in Europe in 1990. Developed and manufactured by Nintendo, it succeeded their Game & Watch systems and quickly became a must-have item, remaining in production until 2003. Over the course of this 14-year period, the Game Boy and its variants have sold an estimated 118 million units. Early on in its development, the Game Boy inspired little confidence at Nintendo; initially codenamed the Dot Matrix Game (DMG) for its now-iconic green screen, the Game Boy was derisively nicknamed the 'DameGame' by employees. In Japanese, 'Dame' means lame or hopeless. To the surprise of the naysayers, however, the Game Boy quickly became enormously successful. In Japan, the initial run of 300,000 units sold out in two weeks, while in the US, 40,000 units were sold on the very first day. Within a few weeks, American sales had summited one million. This is despite the fact that the Game Boy was technologically inferior to its competitors. Atari's Lynx system and the Sega Game Gear would release within a few months of the Game Boy, featuring greater processing power. The Lynx even came with an ambidextrous button layout. What stood out about the Game Boy was its remarkable durability and long battery life, with 4 AA batteries allowing for up to 15 hours of gameplay, far exceeding its competitors. The console was the crowning achievement of Gunpei Yokoi, who had previously created the Game & Watch systems as well as several mechanical toys for Nintendo, such as the Ultra Hand. Yokoi had initially begun work at the company as a maintenance man on the assembly line. It was on Yokoi's insistence that the Game Boy lacked a colour display in favour of a longer battery life. The Game Boy would go on to be released in several varieties, such as the smaller Game Boy Pocket in 1996, and the Game Boy Color in 1998.

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He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe

He-Man has been the star of several animated TV series, comic books, and a feature film. Originally, however, He-Man was the muscular protagonist of the Masters of the Universe toy line. Developed by Mattel, early concept art for He-Man dates from 1976, when the company demurred to produce a series of Star Wars action figures. This was because George Lucas demanded a $750,000 up-front licensing fee. After Star Wars performed strongly at the box office, the race was on to produce a rival strand of toys. According to Roger Sweet, one of the lead designers at Mattel, He-Man was created in late 1980. "The only way I was going to have a chance to sell this was to make three 3D models - big ones," said Sweet. I glued a Big Jim figure into a battle action pose and I added a lot of clay to his body. I then had plaster casts made. "These three prototypes," Sweet continues, "which I presented in late 1980, brought He-Man into existence. I simply explained that this was a powerful figure that could be taken anywhere and dropped into any context because he had a generic name: He-Man!" In the early 80s, Mattel was embroiled in a legal storm after the 1982 Conan the Barbarian film sued the company for breaching copyright. The team behind the film had ostensibly approached Mattel to consider licensing the Conan character, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Ultimately, Mattel won the lawsuit, pointing instead to the fantasy paintings of Frank Frazetta as inspiration. For a time, the Masters of the Universe toyline eclipsed even Barbie in sales, but fell afoul of corporate mismanagement. Superlative sales of $400 million in 1986 fell to a meagre $7 million in 1987: the market had become too saturated, and shelves were full of unsold stock. Furthermore, the critically panned Masters of the Universe film, starring Dolph Lundgren, bombed at the box office. Since 2008's launch of the Masters of the Universe Classics toy line, the franchise has drifted out of popular culture. However, a rebooted live action film, starring Noah Centineo, will premiere in 2020.

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Hungry Hungry Hippos

More modestly known as Hungry Hippos in the UK, Hungry Hungry Hippos is a tabletop game produced by Hasbro, the goal of which is to consume as many marbles as possible with one of four competing toy hippos. Invented by toymaker Fred Kroll in 1967, the initial production of the game wouldn't be sold until 1978; it's now become one of the most recognisable children's games alongside other 'Elefun and Friends' products like Elefun and Mouse Trap. Originally, the four hippos were known as Lizzie Hippo (purple), Henry Hippo (orange), Homer Hippo (green), and Harry Hippo (yellow), though as of the 2009 re-release of the game the creatures have been renamed to Sweetie Potamus (pink), Bottomless Potamus (yellow), Veggie Potamus (green), and Picky Potamus (orange). In 2012, Emmett/Furla Films - the studio behind Martin Scorsese's Silence - confirmed that an animated feature film based on the game was in the works, with production scheduled to begin in 2016. A yearly Hungry Hungry Hippos World Championship is currently held at the Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis.

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Lego

Though Lego as we know them - small plastic bricks made to build larger toys and models - first began manufacture in Denmark in 1949, the Lego company originated as something very different. At first, Ole Kirk Christiansen's Jutland woodworking shop produced furniture and materials to build houses, but after Christiansen's miniature models of stepladders, ironing boards and the like - which were used as design aids - proved popular, the shop moved into making toys as well. Wooden piggy banks, cars and houses were in production at the workshop by 1932, with yo-yos also proving popular through the 30s. 1934 was the year that Christiansen named the company Lego, a contraction of the Danish phrase 'leg godt', meaning play well. (Interestingly, in Latin the word can be translated as "I put together" or "I assemble".) It was after WWII ended, when plastics became available in Denmark for the first time, that Lego made a move into plastic toymaking. Inspired by toy bricks produced by the English toymaker Kiddicraft, by 1949 Lego began selling small plastic building bricks with the familiar hollow bottom and round studs on the top. At first, these Lego bricks sold poorly; customers preferred toys made of metal or wood, while the design of the Lego brick wasn't perfected until the late 1950s. By the early 1960s, however, Lego had broken North America; by the 1970s, the company was global, with a wide range of Lego sets appealing to a broad demographic. Today, the Lego Group is worth $7.57 billion. Lego is, by some margin, the most valuable toy brand in the world. There are eight Legoland theme parks worldwide, as well as 138 dedicated Lego stores. The Lego Group also has an entertainment division producing a range of video games, TV shows and films.

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Little Professor Calculator

The Little Professor is a backwards-functioning calculator designed for children ages 5 to 9. Instead of providing the answer to a mathematical expression entered by the user, it generates unsolved expressions and prompts the user for the answer. The calculator was a relatively affordable learning aid, marketed at $20. It's thought to have sold more than one million units in 1977 alone. Taking the shape of a mustachioed, bespectacled man reading a book, the calculator came with a book entitled Fun with Math Facts. The short book promised '18 Learning Games and Activities with the Little Professor'. Developed by Texas Instruments, who had invented the handheld calculator in 1967, the Little Professor was released on June 13th, 1976, and is widely credited as the world's first electronic educational toy. A second-generation version of the Little Professor was released a few years later, with a solar-powered version following in the early 2000s. The calculator is similar to Dataman, another electronic educational toy released by Texas Instruments in 1977. This version resembles a robot and, as per its sci-fi theming, was aimed at older children. While long-discontinued, an emulator of the Little Professor was created for Android mobile systems in 2012.

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My Little Pony

My Little Pony is a much loved children's toy line and media franchise. The brand is mainly targeting girls and was invented and developed by American toy company Hasbro. The first toys were launched back in 1981. The design of the ponies feature colourful bodies, manes and a unique symbol on one or both sides of their flanks. My Little Pony has been revamped several times with new and more modern looks to appeal to a new market. They are still available to this day.

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Pound Puppies

Created by Mike Bowling in 1984, Pound Puppies are plush dogs that come in a variety of colours. The brand would later inspire an animated TV special, two animated TV series, and a feature film. While initially developed by Bowling and marketed by Irwin Toys - which, at the time, was Canada's oldest independent toy store - Pound Puppies would gain long-lasting recognition after launching in the US, where the product was produced and distributed by Tonka. Pound Puppies were packaged in a cardboard house that resembled a doghouse, and each came with an adoption certificate (offering the narrative that the dog has just been adopted from a pound). The brand found greater success after a deal was struck with Hardee's restaurants to distribute Pound Puppies as part of their children's meals. The dogs were also featured in colouring books and figurines. Around the same time, Tonka launched Pound Purries, a version of the toy line that featured cats. A Pound Puppies TV special was created by legendary animation studio Hanna-Barbera in 1985; this was swiftly followed by a 1986 TV series. While the series ran until 1989, it underwent a major redesign for its second season and launched as All New Pound Puppies. In 1988, TriStar Pictures released a Pound Puppies feature film known as Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw. The 78-minute film boasts the questionable accolade of being the last theatrically released 80s film to promote a major toy line, but was a critical and commercial failure all the same. Owing to the universal appeal of man's best friend, Pound Puppies continued to sell a steady stream of units into the early 2000s, at which point they were redesigned with barking sounds and as specific breeds. While Pound Puppies were discontinued in 2002, they were relaunched in 2014 and produced by Funrise Toys in collaboration with Hasbro. The relaunch is generally credited to a successful TV series, which won both a CINE Golden Eagle Award and the Humanitas Prize for excellence in children's animation.

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Rainbow Brite Doll

Rainbow Brite is a magical girl who has the power to control all the colours in the universe. Originally designed by Hallmark Cards, the character was introduced in 1983 as part of the company's efforts to reach a younger demographic. In a similar vein to the Transformers media franchise, Hallmark took advantage of the deregulation of children's media in the 80s to promote swathes of merchandise - notably by partnering with Mattel and commissioning animators to create a syndicated TV series. For Mattel's merchandise, which was sold between 1984 and 1987, the company produced dolls, puzzles, a line of costume jewellery, bags and suitcases, clothes, toys, games, doll and child furniture, radios, child cosmetics, linen, towels, personal care items, lamps, figurines, VHS videocassettes, audio cassettes, records, bicycles, bedding, curtains, and more besides. The Rainbow Brite TV series debuted in 1984, featuring the voice talent of Bettina Bush as the titular character. Bush, who had also voiced Megan in the My Little Pony animated series, would go on to star in 1988's Journey to Spirit Island. The TV series ran for only a single season of 13 episodes; however, it aired over the course of two years, concluding in 1986. The series was accompanied by a 1985 feature film titled Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer, which was received poorly by critics but grossed $4.9 million at the worldwide box office. The Rainbow Brite doll line consisted of 111 different items, many of which were quite expensive for the time. As a result, Mattel produced smaller dolls as a more affordable alternative. Rainbow Brite TV commercials frequently featured Over the Rainbow from the Wizard of Oz, famous for its bright technicolor, and starred child actors like Tracey Gold and Heather O'Rourke, who bore a resemblance to the character. Rainbow Brite was temporarily retired in 1987, though the character has returned for stints in the 90s and further decade. A three-part miniseries was created in 2014, starring Emily Osment in the title role and Brat Pack alum Molly Ringwald as the villainous Dark Princess.

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Sega Mega Drive

Known as the Sega Genesis in North America, the Mega Drive was a 16-bit home video game console launched in Japan in 1988, in North America in 1989, and in Europe and worldwide in 1990. By the time the Sega Mega Drive was discontinued in 1999, it's estimated that more than 35.25 million units were sold worldwide. Where its main competitor, the Super Famicom (known as the Super Nintendo Entertainment System outside Japan), was targeted at children, the aesthetics and game library of the Sega Mega Drive was deliberately aimed at adolescents and older demographics. This was summarised by its famous North American slogan: "Genesis does what Nintendon't." Despite the console being overshadowed in Japan by the release of Nintendo's Super Mario Bros 3, the Mega Drive reached the North American market first, leading to what commentators soon dubbed the 'Console Wars,' a tense competition between Sega and Nintendo for market share supremacy. This was entrenched by the 1991 release of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sega's adoption of the Blue Blur as its company mascot, though the Mega Drive had already garnered acclaim for its multitude of high-quality arcade ports. However, Sega courted controversy after a full-throated recreation of 1992's Mortal Kombat on its system - bloody and uncensored, unlike Nintendo's more reserved version. This led to hearings concerning video game violence that were conducted in the US Senate and the creation of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) in 1994. Sega itself had created the Videogame Rating Council, an in-house predecessor to the ESRB, in 1993. While Sega began work on a 32-bit console (which later became the infamously unsuccessful Sega Saturn), various performance-improving peripherals were released for the Mega Drive. The most successful of these was the Sega CD, which allowed more technologically advanced games to be played on the ageing hardware. In fact, the Mega Drive was so enduringly popular that even executives at Sega underestimated its appeal. Sega president Hayao Nakayama predominantly invested the company's resources in the development of the Sega Saturn, at the expense of producing further Mega Drive units and expanding its library of games. This rush to a 32-bit console, despite even Nintendo slowing its development of 1996's Nintendo 64, became a miscalculation that doomed not only the Sega Saturn, but Sega's presence in the video game console market.

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Sindy

Created in 1963 by Pedigree Dolls & Toys, Sindy was marketed as a British rival to Mattel's global Barbie phenomenon. Sporting a more 'wholesome' look than her glamorous American counterpart, Sindy became the best-selling toy in the UK in 1968 and 1970. Pedigree had in fact been offered a licence to produce Barbie in the UK, but they declined after market research showed the toy was unpopular with British consumers. Instead, Pedigree drew inspiration from the American doll Tammy, even borrowing its slogan: "the doll you love to dress." The Sindy doll was eventually brought to the US in 1978, distributed by Marx Toys. The commercial for the doll, which still focused on its homely image, featured The Brady Bunch's Susan Olsen. In the 80s, however, several changes were made to ensure Sindy's appearance - and, more broadly, image - matched the times. The doll appeared in a series of gowns and even lingerie designed by The Emmanuels, who created Princess Diana's wedding dress. In 1986, manufacturers launched Magic Moments Sindy, whose hair and swimming costume changed colour when immersed in warm water; at the same time, the doll's senior designer, Jane Braithwaite, made regular research trips to Paris to ensure Sindy's style was always on-trend. This was some distance from the original girl-next-door messaging. The doll was also redesigned with a more adult look. In 1989, Sindy was sued by Mattel for too closely resembling Barbie, which was now far outstripping its once-close rival. Ultimately, the case was settled out of court after Hasbro, the new firm behind the doll in Europe, agreed to make alterations to Sindy's face. Amid declining sales, in 1998 Hasbro indicated interest in creating a Sindy doll that closely resembled the recently-deceased Princess Diana. The request was denied. The brand has since been returned to its original proprietor, Pedigree Toys, who continue to market the doll as a child-friendly version of the more cosmopolitan Barbie.

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Speak & Spell

A child's computer designed by Texas Instruments, the Speak & Spell marked a watershed moment in the use of speech-synthesising technology for educational purposes. Development of the Speak & Spell began in 1976, at which point it became the first educational toy to use speech that was not recorded on tape or phonographic record. Gameplay consists of users being asked to spell a word based on a sound generated by the device. There are also several mini-games, ranging from a version of Hangman to a decryption task. Over the course of the 80s, several additional cartridges were produced, each containing digitised speech. This greatly extended the lifetime of the devices, meaning several redesigns were necessary to drive further purchases. One such redesign, in 1980, replaced buttons with a touch-sensitive membrane keyboard, which would quickly become the standard for such toys. The release of the 1989 Super Speak & Spell protected against backwards compatibility for the cartridges, meaning entirely new systems and cartridge libraries needed to be purchased. The Speak & Spell has had a healthy legacy as a musical instrument, with its digitised speech being employed in songs by artists such as Beck, Robyn and Coldplay. Depeche Mode released an album in 1981 with the name Speak & Spell. The device has also featured in several films, such as ET the Extra-Terrestrial, Poltergeist III, and - of course - the Toy Story franchise.

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Star Wars Toys

Designed and distributed by Kenner, Star Wars action figures were, during the period of release of the original Star Wars trilogy, some of the best-selling toys in United States history. The licence to produce Star Wars action figures was initially offered to the Mego Corporation in 1976, they being the market leader in producing licensed toys, but they declined due to the upfront licensing cost of $750,000. Ultimately, Kenner took on the project. However, they heavily underestimated demand over the Christmas period, only made worse by George Lucas' reluctance to share character and vehicle designs for fear of being plagiarised. As a result, the company was caught entirely flat-footed, but still turned a profit by marketing an 'Early Bird Certificate Package' which could later be redeemed for four Star Wars figures. These were Luke, Leia, Chewbacca and 'Artoo-Detoo' (R2-D2). Even after this debacle, however, Kenner still struggled to keep up with demand for the action figures. It's estimated that 40 million units were sold in 1978 alone, accounting for $100 million of revenue. In fact, Lucas earned so much money from merchandising alone that he used the money to independently finance the rest of the original trilogy. After the release of Return of the Jedi in 1983, demand for Star Wars action figures naturally began to wane. As a result, the line was discontinued in 1985. However, during the seven-year period of the toys' production, more than 300 million units were sold, accounting for more than $750 million in sales. The action figures have since become collectors' items with a long and powerful cultural legacy. For example, the toys are featured in both Poltergeist and ET the Extra-Terrestrial, and a collection can even be seen during the end credits of 2012's Argo. Kenner would eventually be acquired by Tonka, and then Hasbro, and release further action figures in 1995.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Action Figures

Before the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) shocked the summer blockbuster scene with a spate of live-action feature films, and before they received a Michael Bay reboot in 2014, the Heroes in a half-shell were a cartoon, comic book and merchandising staple. In 1986, the creators of TMNT noticed that comic book sales were up, and sought out other ways to make money from their soon-to-be-iconic characters. However, when a licensing agent attempted to sell the rights to the Turtles to various toy stores, only one company expressed interest: Playmates. Playmates were reluctant to take the financial risk of creating and distributing a toy line based on a cult comic property, even if it showed promise, and insisted that a cartoon be put into production first. The cartoon debuted in December 1987 and quickly gained an adoring fanbase, and so the first TMNT action figures were produced in 1988. The initial run of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures included both action figures and vehicles - in addition to the main characters, series goons Rocksteady and Bebop were included alongside the Turtle Blimp and the Foot's Knucklehead robot. These action figures hewed more closely to the comics on which the burgeoning franchise had originally been based, rather than the more child-friendly characters of the cartoon. In 1989, a second series of Ninja Turtles action figures were produced with more vehicles, enemies, and toy variants that included wind-up functionality. This all prefaced the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, featuring costumes by Jim Henson. The film was a surprising box office success and helped reinvigorate interest in the toy line. Several crossover figures were produced, included Star Trek turtles, Safari turtles, and even classic Universal Studios monster-themed turtles. Amid waning popularity, the initial run of action figures was cancelled in 1996, though it was mildly revived in 1998 and fully rebooted in 2003 alongside a rebooted TV show.

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The Big Yellow Teapot House

Often erroneously referred to as a Fisher-Price product, the Big Yellow Teapot House was in fact the creation of British toy manufacturer Bluebird; launching in 1980, the Teapot was the company's first product. Resembling a traditional teapot, the toy can be opened up to reveal a living space with wallpaper and furniture. In the other half of the teapot is a bedroom and an access point for a car. Populating the teapot are several miniature figures, including a dog and two blonde-haired children. These are stored in the top of the teapot, which can be lifted up. Bluebird and the Teapot were conceived by Sir Torquil Patrick Alexander Norman, a 6'7" nobleman who was also a pilot and investment banker. The Teapot was one of the first 'container houses', eschewing the typical dollhouse architecture in favour of a more whimsical design. It would later be joined in the company's 'Big' range by the Big Red Fun Bus and Big Jumbo Fun Plane. As a result of these initial products, Bluebird was a roaring success, turning over £1.25 million in its first year and coming within £18,000 of breaking even. However, the company's revenue quickly began to thin. It was saved by a worldwide phenomenon: Polly Pocket, introduced in 1989. Bluebird would be acquired by toy giant Mattel in 1998. Sir Torquil Patrick Alexander Norman has since become a collector of classic planes.

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Transformers

Now known for its multibillion-dollar science fiction action franchise marshalled by Michael Bay, Transformers originated as a wildly successful 80s toy line. The original toy molds were created in the early 80s by the Japanese company Takara, combining their Diaclone and Microman molds and focusing on their products' ability to change shape. US toy giant Hasbro took note and rebranded the action figures as Transformers, beginning in 1984. Hasbro would eventually buy out the full licence from Takara, while still partnering up for Japanese distribution. The popularity of the Transformers toy line was boosted in no small measure by the accompanying animated TV series, which began in 1984. This was no accident: US legislators had recently gutted restrictions on the placement of promotional content in children's television programming. No longer would an animated show be used to sell ads to sell a product: the show itself was the advertisement. The Transformers animated show was soon adapted into a 1986 film, Transformers: The Movie. While the film was a box office failure, it has since become a cult classic, and even features the last credited role of Orson Welles. The legendary Citizen Kane and now Unicron actor is alleged to have told his biographer, Barbara Leaming, "You know what I did this morning? I played the voice of a toy. I play a planet. I menace somebody called Something-or-other. Then I'm destroyed. My plan to destroy Whoever-it-is is thwarted and I tear myself apart on the screen." Off-screen, meanwhile, Transformers toys dominated stores, with dozens of action figures being produced. However, as the 80s wore on, the toys were criticised for transforming into more and more futuristic - and therefore unrecognisable - vehicles. Transformers toys were temporarily discontinued in 1989. The toys were revived in 1992 under the banner of Transformers: Generation Two. Unfortunately, this range sold poorly and was discontinued after only two years. Despite multiple rebrands and shifting focuses, Transformers as a popular brand of toys lasted for more than two decades, with the last major marketing push occurring in 2009. This saw a series of iconic Disney characters, such as Donald Duck, transforming into vehicles (in Donald's case, a simulacrum of a Volkswagen Beetle). Transformers toys are still available today, inspired by the success of the Transformers films, but are far less dominant than they once were.

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Tree Tots Family Treehouse

The Tree Tots Family Treehouse was first introduced to the market in 1975 by Kenner, and quickly made an impact on the youngest 80s kids. Founded in 1946, Kenner was an American toy company - now defunct - that produced a number of iconic 80s toys and licensed merchandise, such as action figures. In its long history, Kenner would be responsible for introducing the Easy-Bake Oven and Spirograph. The Tree Tots Family Treehouse, however, was aimed at a younger audience and intended to compete with Fisher-Price's Little People toy line. The Treehouse initially looks like a normal tree, but with the push of a button on top reveals several rooms in a house, complete with a swing. Also included are tiny figurines (or little people) that come with suitably tree-like names: Treemont, Willow and Chip. And, of course, Barky the dog. These figures were exactly the same size as Fisher-Price's Little People, allowing for the small dolls to be interchanged and used in a variety of playsets - and allowing Kenner to encroach on its rival's target audience. Unfortunately, while the toy was enthusiastically adopted by a core group of fans, the Tree Tots Family Treehouse was less popular than first hoped, and was discontinued in 1980. Kenner would later be acquired by a rival, Tonka, which was itself assimilated into Hasbro in 1991.

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