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23 Awesome '80s Action Figures That Should Be Movies


The Toy: The ultimate mid-80s craze, as the Mobile Armored Strike Kommand fought the fabulously named Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem (VENOM) with the help of transforming vehicles.

To give it a hint of originality, each vehicle was sold with a mask that gave the driver a useful superpower – sonic sound wave, acidic bolts, holographic double.

Possible Plot: The central premise of the accompanying cartoon – essentially, Thunderbirds for the Rambo generation – is worth sticking with.

The film fleshes out the origins story, explaining how early, failed mask prototypes corrupted VENOM boss Miles Mayhem before M.A.S.K. perfected the technology.

Dino Riders

The Toy: Dinosaurs, with guns on their saddles!

The attention paid to the dinos’ design saw them re-released sans weaponry by the Smithsonian Institute. And if the T-Rex looks familiar, two words: Toy Story .

Possible Plot: Keep the basic premise of the story (warring humanoids stranded in prehistoric Earth) but make our heroes contemporary.

Cue inevitable ending where the humans get back to the present-day, still riding rocket-launcher-firing dinos.


The Toy: Holograms! Then state-of-the-art (and expensive) technology was used to give each figure and its 'staff' a 3D effect.

On the character's chest, the emblem of an animal they could transform into; the staff's graphic signified a useful magical power.

Possible Plot: The toys' modern tech refreshed old-school folklore to tell the tale of rival magic factions the Spectral Knights and the Darkling Lords.

While the TV series didn't last long, there's surely scope here to redo Arthurian myth in the style of Harry Potter , with transmogrifications and magical jousts a-plenty.


The Toy: Actually launched in the 70s, but a craze by the early-80s, the teent-tiny 'Nauts helped to popularise one of the decade's abiding trends: transformation.

But where others imitated, none quite captured the genius of making parts interchangeable between characters, ensuring an unlimited army of toys.

Possible Plot: Allegedly being circuled by J.J. Abrams, a Micronauts film looks certain at some point.

With the comics already a rich combo of the epic (a'microverse'-straddling war) and meta-humour (on Earth, the Micronauts are no bigger, we're happy to leave things to the guy who made Trek sexy.

Changeables aka McRobots

The Toy: Yup, even McDonald's cashed in on the Transformers craze by introducing robots that could disguise themselves as Big Macs and fries.

Possible Plot: Imagine the possibilities. A satire of product placement and healthy living, as the McRobots are exiled by a new line of salad-based robots.

But, when the world comes under threat from a terrifying enemy, the veggies are too weak to defend the earth. It’s meat, fat and carbs to the rescue.

Shogun Warriors

The Toy: Another Japanese anime import, with a decent USP over other robot brands – these guys were giants.

So were the 24-inch toys, with watchdog-bothering spring-loaded weapons for kids to fire at each other.

Possible Plot: The tie-in comic had human operators controlling the Shogun Warriors to fight evil.

Sounds good to us, especially if said evil turns out to be a host of marauding Godzilla-style lizard creatures.

Battle Beasts

The Toy: M.U.S.C.L.E. -sized , but instead of alien wrestlers, the Battle Beasts are, literally, beasts who do battle.

That’s right. Animals with guns.

Possible Plot: The brand’s key gimmick was that each beast had a heat sensitive sticker, revealing its strength: wood, water or fire. Or, the ultra-rare, ultra-collectable Sunburst.

The film would have evil humans subjugating the Beasts and forcing them to fight, placing bets on the randomly assigned powers. Eventually, the Beasts rise up and use the power of the Sunburst to save their planet.


The Toy: Yer standard good vs evil action figures, clearly delineated by the fact that hero Crystar is made of...crystal, while baddie brother Moltar is lava.

Possible Plot: The Marvel comic made to tie-in with the toys, so there’s plenty of mythology to play with.

Most interesting is warring brothers’ uncle, Feldspar, whose loyalties are literally divided by the fact he’s half-crystal, half-lava.

Basically, play it as a LOTR piss-take with Gandalf played for maximum black comedy as he’s forever stuck in the middle.

Action Force

The Toy: A smaller version of 60s childhood classic Action Man, designed to compete with the Star Wars figure craze.

Not to be confused with gung-ho G.I. Joe , the ‘Force – although primarily British – was inclusive enough to add other nationalities.

Possible Plot: The world is held to ransom by terrorists, who have neutralised the U.S. military.

But Team America aren’t the only heroes around, and the E.U.’s Action Force is still in play – suave, sophisticated, debonair...and utterly brutal when necessary.


The Toy: Amongst the oddest of action figure premises, the Sectaurs are telepathic aliens paired up with genetic mutated Insectoids, who share each other’s “pleasure and pain.”

Bit kinky, really.

Possible Plot: Anyone else thinking it’s high-time David Cronenberg did a blockbuster?

Effectively, it’s Naked Lunch for the Avatar generation. Huge set-pieces involving millions of flies buzzing directly at you in 3D combine with weird psycho-drama, as the humans encourage the insects into mind-frying orgies.