6 action figures you wouldn’t want to mess

with from the 80s


When you decide to do a feature post centred on some of the best things you remember from your childhood, this can hardly be described as a chore. This is how many of the team here at Retro Sweet feel about action figures from the 1980s (and 90s)! We’ve actually had to reduce our list of figures from over 50 to six – and even added a caveat to the title to make it manageable. After all, we do have sweets to package for our customers to ensure they arrive in time for Christmas!

 So, while we have had to whittle down the contenders to six, including a contribution from our good friends over at TheToyScavenger.com, we are rather happy with our final selection. Before anyone gets shirty about their particular GI Joe, ThunderCats, Transformers or Star Wars toy missing from the list; in the main we tried to steer clear from some of the more obvious choices, even including a figure that wasn’t really eligible! Anyway, without further ado, here is our proper introduction to ‘6 action figures you wouldn’t want to mess with from the 80s’.


Surely the golden age of action figures

 While we’re sure that every person believes their childhood was the best, we hate to disappoint everyone else who didn’t grow up in the 80s and 90s, but you really can’t compete with some of the action figure (and retro sweet) ranges released during this period. The majority were based on successful cartoons of the time, with many being imitated or reinvented for a new generation of kids (and adults who should really know better).

 We all like to back up our statements with statistics, but unfortunately all we know is that 80s toys sold an awful lot at the time and that they are still cool today – just like Wham Bars. Just take a look on eBay and you’ll see how much these vintage toys still sell for, increasing in value from year to year (especially those that are still boxed or carded).

 A 1999 study revealed that action figures have become more muscular as time has gone on, but it is not just about muscles that defines a badass you just wouldn’t mess with. So, see if you remember any of these toys from your childhood and join with us as we take a trip down memory lane.


1. Mr. T / B.A. Baracus (The A-Team)

 Okay, so we start this off with an obvious one. However, I defy anybody to disagree with this decision to put this fearsome soldier of fortune on this list. Yes, he may have been petrified with the thought of flying, but this blinged-up, mohawk-sporting all-action dude was highly skilled in hand-to-hand combat and had one of the worst conduct records in the army for punching officers.

It is also worth mentioning that he could make anything out of just a few ordinary parts. As a mechanic, his abilities were always put to good use – usually when the team were cornered in an abandoned garage. Just remember: he ain’t gettin’ on no plane, fool!

This toy line was released back in 1983, which certainly makes us feel old. The B.A. figure came with a handy tool box and M-16 rifle.


Mr. T / B.A. Baracus (The A-Team)


2. Mr. Miyagi (The Karate Kid)

Why include an ageing Japanese-American maintenance man on a list that includes some of the fiercest and most terrifying characters from the 80s? Because it’s our list – that’s why. It is also because Mr. Kesuke Miyagi, to give him his full title, happens to be a karate master (and philosopher).

In The Karate Kid (1984), Mr. Miyagi, played by the late Noriyuki "Pat" Morita, displays extraordinary martial arts skills to single-handedly defeat the five members of the Cobra Kai gang, who are savagely beating the new guy in town, Daniel LaRusso, played by Ralph Macchio.

The intervention by the Okinawan immigrant is met by total amazement, as Daniel finds it hard to believe that this guy saved him from further pain by taking on the vicious karate students all by himself.

One of the most endearing things about Mr. Miyagi is his humour and views on life, but this doesn’t take anything away from his abilities in martial arts and the fact he is a highly-decorated army veteran. His unorthodox training techniques and incredibly-quotable lines, such as “wax on, wax off”, make him a true 80’s icon.

The Remco “Tri Action” action figure from 1986 can chop, twist and kick. He comes with a break-away pole for him to train on.


Mr. Miyagi (The Karate Kid)


3. Vasquez (Aliens)

It is reasonably safe to say that this badass space marine from the second instalment in the Alien franchise (1986) wouldn’t be the first female on most people’s lips if they were asked to name the toughest character in the movie.

While there is no disputing the fact that the main protagonist Lieutenant Ellen Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver, lasts a lot longer than Private First Class Jenette Vasquez, played by newcomer Jenette Goldstein – a further two films to be precise (if you count Resurrection as her character still being alive) – she really does manage to make an impression in every scene she’s involved in, until her inevitable demise at the hands of the ceiling-dropping aliens.

In fact, Goldstein won a Saturn award for her performance as the tough-talking (and acting) Hispanic soldier, scooping up the prize for the Best Supporting Actress.

Okay, so technically, this European-only distributed action figure is from an Aliens toy line released in 1992, but as the Aliens film is long-associated with the 80s, we’ve decided to break our own rules and include it here. You certainly wouldn’t mess with Vasquez and her state-of-the-art weaponry (unless you happened to be an alien).


Vasquez (Aliens)


4. Hordak (Masters of the Universe)

In 1985, Mattel decided to introduce Hordak and his Evil Horde to their successful toy line and cartoon, in a bid to provide He-Man and Skeletor (and the Masters of the Universe community) with more of a challenge; there’s only so much plotting and scheming one can do on his own.

Hordak is his own man; we doubt he’ll be sharing his Love Hearts with anyone. On the one hand, the ruthless sorcerer is looking to destroy He-Man and take over Castle Grayskull; yet he also wants to wreak vengeance on his old pupil, Skeletor, who he is certainly a match for. This makes for far more interesting (or more difficult to fathom) storylines.

The shape-shifting baddie and purveyor of dark magic can turn his arms into numerous weapons and devious devices. This particular Buzz Saw Hordak action figure, released in 1987, is now a very rare and highly-sought-after collector’s item. It is not easy to out-creep Skeletor, but this bad boy actually manages to do it, so fair play to him.


Hordak (Masters of the Universe)



5. ED-260 (Robocop and the Ultra Police)

This entry was kindly put forward by Paul Boulton from TheToyScavenger.com.

TheToyScavenger.com is a UK-based vintage action figures website with a large selection of new and old collectibles from the 80s and 90s for sale. The retro figures range from loose to mint-on-card.

“My choice is from the 1989 Kenner Robocop and the Ultra Police toy line. The entire figure collection is set apart from any other line of action figures, both past and present, as they all fired real caps! This is a feature that would not pass today’s safety standards.

“I think most people would agree with me that Robocop himself is pretty badass and would not be messed with, but the action figure I have opted for is Robocop’s ultimate nemesis, the Enforcement Droid Series 260 – better known to everyone as (a more advanced version of) ED-209. The ED-260 is even more deadly than its predecessor.

“This figure version of the droid is extremely sought-after, even today, and it’s no wonder. The character may be popular but it is also extremely feared – it had me scared stiff as a child due to the fact it can’t even direct traffic without opening fire on civilians, destroying everything in sight; you wouldn't want to be up close with this guy, even if you hadn't broken the law, as there’s no reasoning with him and like the rest of the toy line, he also comes with a cap firing action, taking out all other action figures in one fell swoop.

“The ED - 260 action figure will be forever feared and is definitely an action figure from the 80s that you shouldn't mess with.”


ED-260 (Robocop and the Ultra Police)



6. Grimlock (Transformers)

If this list was purely about sheer power and brute strength, there’d be more like Grimlock (and indeed Megatron and Starscream) included in this article. However, we’ve tried to vary our choices and so instead of the awesome Decepticon warlord, who happens to change into a don’t-mess-with-me Walther P38 pistol, we happened to go for the Generation 1 (1985) Dinobot Grimlock.

Not only is Grimlock a robotic Tyrannosaurus rex, he gets to wield a cool “Energo” sword too (when he’s not tearing his enemies to pieces with his bare hands). While he may officially be on the side of the Autobots, he doesn’t really get along with them and their leader, Optimus Prime. This strong and durable Dinobot can certainly give the other Transformers a run for their money.

Like B.A. above, Grimlock is another character that struggles to communicate with others and he does refer to himself as a “badass” (we’re not quite sure whether this is a good or bad thing).

The Dinobot Commander is a great toy to get your hands on and is still holding his own in the Transformers collector’s market.

Don’t let the serene-looking boxed figure in the image above fool you; Grimlock has a strong (but poorly executed) word to say about anyone who doubts him: “Me Grimlock am greatest warrior!” Okay.


Grimlock (Transformers)


 Party like it’s 1985 again – with Retro Sweet

Well, that’s it. We’ve enjoyed our nostalgic trip back in time to revisit the toys of yesteryear. We hope you enjoyed reading our selections too, but if you have a burning desire to tell us who we should’ve chosen instead, feel free to leave your comments below. And if all this talk of the 1980s has got you yearning for all things retro, get ready to go back to the future, as we have some great offers on at the moment when it comes to sweets. Hop in the DeLorean and go back to 1985 – or if that sounds like too much effort, simply check out our impressive 80s favourites range right here.

For those feeling particularly festive, we do have some excellent stocking fillers in our Christmas selection. However, you’ll need to get your order in pretty quickly though, as the big day is now only two weeks away but make sure you use our special discount code of “TOY15” at the checkout.

Once you’ve done that we give you permission to sit back, relax and ponder the wise (and now definitely) old words of Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

 Merry Christmas from the team here at Retro Sweet!



Merry Christmas From Retro Sweets