In a time of neon visors, Fun Dip and Rubik's cubes, TVs blared the sounds of vibrantly-colored cartoons, that were devoured eagerly while feasting on Nintendo cereal. Kids watched their favorite heroes in the half-shell, robot-slash-cars and military heroes as they changed the channel from one adventure to the next.
For fans of the '80s and the cartoons that ate up Saturday mornings everywhere, these gifts will bring back a nostalgic playfulness (and might even earn you a freeze-frame high five). Choose from this list for friends with a soft spot for the decade, or to initiate a younger loved one into an iconic time for animated characters.
10 Transformers: The Complete Series
If you're buying for a kid of the '80s, Transformers was everywhere in their childhood - film, television and toy form. The original series is where it all started, with our heroes Bumblebee and Optimus Prime, fighting to protect Earth from the evil Decepticons Soundwave, Starscream and Megatron. This is an action-packed show, beginning with the robots awakening on Earth 4 million years after crash-landing here.
It could be a fun gift for a fan of the Michael Bay franchise who hasn't seen the beginnings of the characters in their original animated forms. If they're not familiar with the series, but they like action, vehicles or sentient robots, they'll enjoy it.
9 G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero - The Complete First Series
In the beginning, there was a toy. G.I. Joes were what originally inspired the term, 'action figure'. They were widely popular figurines throughout the '60s and '70s, and in the early '80s, the toys were relaunched in a line called G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. This was supported by a Marvel comic that came out at the same time. A few years later, this animated series went on the air, based on the toys and comic books.
The set includes all 95 episodes of the cartoon, as well as bonus features to explore the history of G.I. Joe. If you're looking for a family gift, parents can watch this series with their kids, as the combat scenes are tame and violence is kept very PG.
8 ThunderCats: Season 1, Volume 1 Box Set
The first 33 episodes of the series are included in this box set (Season 1 has 65 episodes total). ThunderCats follows a group of half-cat, half-human aliens from planet Thundera. After evacuating their planet, they battle mutants on Third Earth and protect their leader, Lion-O and his Sword of Omens. The emodiment of evil, Mumm-Ra, lurks constantly. They just don't make 'em like this anymore.
This is a show that encapsulates the fun, silly feel of '80s shows and brings back a time when adventure and drama were taken seriously in a very goofy context. It's a great binge watch for a fan, but also for someone who has no idea what they're getting themselves into.
7 Masters of The Universe - Battle Armor Skeletor Funko POP!
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was a charmingly clunky animation that came before the cult classic film, but long after the toys and comics. It was produced for regular weekday syndication as opposed to Saturday morning reruns. The show broke a lot of preconceived rules about censorship on children's cartoons. The violence was more graphic - though at the time that just meant showing some hand-to-hand combat. Each episode ended with a moral of the story, based on core values. '80s cartoon nerds will love this show for its value and significance.
The show followed conflict between the heroic He-Man and the villainous Skeletor. This cackling, comical villain, originally voiced by Alan Oppenheimer, was a very distinct part of the series and a hard villain to hate. This Funko POP! features Skeletor in his purple hood, ready for combat. He stands 3 3/4" tall and can be easily displayed.
6 The Ultimate Guide to G.I. Joe 1982-1994
If your '80s cartoon fan is also an '80s toy fan, this is for them. All G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero characters, vehicles, accessories, weapon systems and playsets appear in this guide, with details such as current values and rare variations. Original prototype art and blueprints are also included, interesting to a collector or a fan who loves delving deeper and exploring history. It would make a fun coffee table book, or a great reference for a serious toy collector.
This is also a great first book for a beginning toy collector, as it's entertaining and filled with colorful images and historical tidbits. This book is written by Mark Bellomo, a top toy expert, who has also published books on Star Wars toys, Transformers and '80s toys in general.
5 He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: A Character Guide and World Compendium
This is a hardcover, comprehensive guide that covers information from 1982 - 2017. It contains over 4000 entries on characters, beasts, vehicles, locations, weapons and magic. Because it is a world compendium, fans can immerse themselves in detailed information about the full Masters of the Universe realm, as well as read profiles and info on their favorite characters.
The publisher is Dark Horse, a well-trusted and authentic comic book publisher and the best source for He-Man facts, since they make the comics. It's a visually pleasing book and each character entry has at least one image (and sometimes more). The chapters are highly detailed, containing much more than main characters and general knowledge about the world of Masters of the Universe.
4 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete Classic Series Collection
The packaging for this set is the most exciting part - the discs are stored in a Party Wagon, also known as the Turtle Van, the turtles' main ground transport vehicle. All 10 seasons of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon are included in this 23-disc set. Donatello, Leonardo, Raphael and Michelangelo embark on pizza-fuelled adventures to protect humanity from the evil characters that lurk. Splinter guides the turtles through clashes with Krang, Shredder and Lord Dregg, and the DVDs contain bonus features from each season.
While DVDs are less popular with a lot of viewers, they still make an amazing gift, because it's something a fan might not buy for themselves. It's nice to have a physical copy of a show that's near and dear to them, that looks cool on a shelf as well.
3 Transformers Legacy: The Art of Transformers Packaging
Often overlooked, the packaging on toys can be the most nostalgic and important part of receiving a gift. It adds to the experience in a special way, and in the case of Transformers, box art was tops. In the first ten years of the toys' release, beautiful, airbrushed paintings appeared on the packages, and this book is a collection of art from the archives of Hasbro, Takara and private collectors. It also includes never-before-seen, rejected artwork that was created for Transformer toys that never saw the light of day.
Catalog artwork and original sketches appear on the colorful pages, with minimal text that gives a general history of Transformers marketing. This is a good gift for an older fan who has memories of receiving toys in these boxes, as it gives them a new perspective on what went into wrapping up their cherished toys.
2 Disney Muppet Babies Kermit Plush
Muppet Babies was a wonderfully strange, very '80s cartoon that featured baby versions of the main Muppets, living in a nursery under the protective wing of a human named Nanny. This is an authentic Disney product with embroidered features and shaggy fabric, with a polo shirt and shorts on Kermit's tiny, childhood frame.
This is a cute gift for a small child who has a Muppet fan for a parent - it's a throwback for the fan but also an appropriate toy for a toddler, who can see themselves in the age represented. Muppet Babies is one of the most fun appearances ever made by Kermit, Piggy and the gang, so this is a must-have gift for a Muppet memorabilia collector - and Kermit the Frog is an undeniable favorite.
1 M.A.S.K.: The Complete Series
In this series, a buff, blond, multimillionaire named Matt Trakker leads his special task force, M.A.S.K. (short for the the Mobile Armored Strike Kommand) in their fight against V.E.N.O.M. (the Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem, of course). Both good guys and bad guys in this series wore special masks that gave them superhuman powers. All 65 original episodes are included in this 12 disc set. This set does not include the M.A.S.K. Racing Series episodes that were added later to the show, as an extra season with only 10 episodes.
It's a great initiation to season one for younger cartoon fans, who haven't yet been introduced to the action-packed magic of M.A.S.K., and is a trip down memory lane for original adventurers.
We hope you like the items we recommend! Screen Rant has affiliate partnerships, so we receive a share of the revenue from your purchase. This won’t affect the price you pay and helps us offer the best product recommendations.