We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, 80s toys were the best! They just seemed to be cooler than a lot of the toy lines that are available today! There were more dolls and action figures than you could shake a wonder stick at, the cuddly toy lines were just as popular. But it was the creature toys that we really loved – the toys that weren’t human or animal but monsters and hybrids and some completely made up! Forgotten Toys!
Boglins were a series of toy puppets distributed by Mattel. They were created by Tim Clarke, Maureen Trotto, and Larry Mass, and licensed by Seven Towns. The original run of Boglins was released in 1987, coinciding with a “creatures” craze that included Ghoulies, Critters, and Gremlins. Boglins were made of flexible rubber and could be manipulated to represent speech and facial expressions. Several series of Boglins were released, themed around goblins, aquatic creatures, and Halloween, or with tufts of hair.
Mattel rejuvenated the Boglins line in 2000 with two new series of puppets: large, electronic ones that talked, and several smaller ones that stuck out their tongues or spat water when squeezed. In 2016 there was a boglin art show in New York by Clutter Arts featuring a boglin mold painted by multiple artists.
2. Mad Balls
Madballs is a series of toy rubber balls originally created by AmToy, a subsidiary company of American Greetings in the mid-1980s, later being revived by Art Asylum (2007-2008) and Just Play, Inc. (2017–present). The toys incorporated gross-out humor in the vein of Wacky Packages and Garbage Pail Kids. Each ball had a character synopsis and an odd name. The toyline was later turned into an animated television series, a series of comics and a video game (which contained some elements from the cartoon) for the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC and Commodore 64.
The toys were tennis ball-sized rubber or foam collectible bouncing balls with horrendous faces and designs which had a fascination particularly on the part of boys; however, the toys only sold well as a passing fad. There were two series of the original round Madballs collectible toys, each series consisting of eight balls each as well as a collection of Super Madballs, a larger version of the original Madballs shaped like other sports balls, such as the American-football-shaped “Touchdown Terror”, the soccer ball named “Goal Eater”, and the basketball named “Foul Shot”.
3. Monster In My Pocket
Monster in My Pocket was best known as a toy-line released by Matchbox in 1989. It consists of small, soft plastic figures representing monsters, and later other tangentially related characters. In its first run, there were 11 series released. There were over 200 monsters in the collection, most of which were assigned a point value. Among the highest valued monsters were the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Griffin, Great Beast, Behemoth, Hydra, Werewolf (25 points) and among the least being Charon, The Invisible Man, The Witch (5 points). Initially, the high point value was 25, which was elevated to 30 for the second and third series; the fourth, “Super Scary”, series introduced the 50-100 point monsters. The toys were initially solid-colored, though later series would gradually add more painted colors, until they became fully colored under the auspices of new toy makers Corinthian Marketing and Vivid Imaginations.
The lines ran into difficulty in the Hindu communities, as the divinities Kālī, Ganesha, Hanuman, and Yama, were all depicted as “monsters”, which included a public outcry by the Vishva Hindu Parishad. After the fourth series, which contained Hanuman (who was removed from the UK run) and Yama, was released, they decided to play it safe and provided follow-up series: Super Creepies, 24 comical (punning) aberrations of real insects and arachnids created by “Dr. Zechariah Wolfram” with point values up to 200, 24 Dinosaurs, released in both regular and “Secret Skeleton” format, and 16 Space Aliens that were essentially original. The point values went up even further, up to 500. A second series of dinosaurs is rarer than series 3, and included only four premium figures released with confectionery, numbered #223 to #226. In some markets, such as Argentina, the dinosaurs were released as Dinosaur in My Pocket. Many of these were not released outside of Europe. The Dinosaurs appear to have been released in the U.S. only through premium distribution by Hardee’s, and these were not the standard figures that were sold in stores.