No matter what you call them—toys, action figures, dolls—these plastic playthings have been the subject of imagination, staged battles and collectors’ wish lists for decades. In fact, toys are more relevant today than perhaps ever, albeit in a different medium. Nowadays, toy-inspired movies are becoming box office hits. (To be fair, toys have seen their fair share of film flops, too, but that’s an entirely different list.)

Here are three toy lines that went on to become Hollywood blockbusters.

Image via Pixabay
Image via Pixabay

Making Toys is Half the Battle (“GI Joe”)

The moveable action figures that once held the toy realm in a chokehold, GI Joe has a long history atop the toy food chain. The Real American Heroes inspired a cartoon series (several actually), comics, videogames, two films, and a slew of other collectibles. Let’s not forget that the toy line was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.

Yes, the films (GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra and GI Joe: Retaliation) had their shortcomings, but they boasted a star-studded cast, a big Hollywood budget and no shortage of action. Those are quite the accolades for Duke and his troops. And to think, it all started from GI Joe: America’s Movable Fighting Man, back in the 1960s.

Life-size Transformers from the film, image via Pixabay
Life-size Transformers from the film, image via Pixabay

Robots That Transform Into Silver Screen Successes (Transformers)

Originating from a Japanese toy company (later to be purchased by American toy company Hasbro), Transformers hit the market hard in the early to mid 1980s, and these good guy robots have been battling their nemesis, the deceptions ever since.

The toys keep coming, the cartoon series keeps rebooting and the movies seemingly do as well. If the GI Joe movies boasted a big budget, the Transformer film franchise commands a colossal budget, befitting only director Michael Bay. There have been four movies thus far ( Transformers, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Transformers: Age of Extinction), with at least four more movies on the docket.

Image via Pixabay
Image via Pixabay

Everything is Awesome. And so is this Movie (Lego Movie)

Raise your hand if you’ve played with Legos? The oldest toy series of the list and the only one to have a theme park under its belt, the Lego Group has been around since 1932 and recently surpassed Mattel as the world’s most profitable toy company . The buildable plastic toys as we know them actual started as wooden toys and houses. Years later, Legos built a global phenomenon, color-coated block by color-coated block.

As far as the movie goes, Lego Movie took the creativity-inspiring toys and threw them into roughly 90 minutes of fast-paced, ADHD-induced action and comedy. Viewers were also treated to an oddly infectious theme song, “Everything is Awesome.” The first film was such a hit that it inspired a sequel and a spin-off of Lego Batman, both of which are currently in the works.

From Shelves, to Play Things, to the Big Screen

We’ve all loved toys at some point in our lives—many of us still do—so the nostalgia of seeing a bit of our childhood transposed on the big screen likely has something to with the success of these movies. It’s that multi-generational appeal that keeps viewers of all ages entertained.

If you’re looking to collect some of the aforementioned toys, browse and get lost in an endless web of collectibles. If you’re waiting for the next part of this list, stay tuned for not-so-successful toy-inspired movies.