Robotix are a criminally underrated toy from the 80s. My parents got me the big set which came with like 5 motors, a huge battery pack and the switch pad you see above. You could make all kinds of crazy toy eating robots with one of these.
If you really wanted to get the most out of your Joes you needs some kind of huge vehicle or playset. The one I had was the Killer WHALE, it held something like 9 figures, and had all kinds of cool moving pieces. The only thing I hate about it now is that if you want to buy one now it's like 200 dollars on ebay.
Kids these days don't know how lucky they are with their DSIs and Sega Game Gears (they still make those right?). Back in the day this Zaxxon table top arcade game was the coolest thing in portable gaming. It had an LED display that was pretty craptastic but was still a huge upgrade from those black and white tiger electric handhelds that were everywhere in the 80s.
Sometimes a simple toy is the best toy. Rough Riders were little cars that ran on a single AA battery. Most had two exciting modes of action, forwards and stop. The real fancy ones like the A-team set I received had a reverse. The best part about Rough Riders is that with them anything from a bathroom floor to a kitchen table became a sweet rally course.
Ok so technically speaking I bought Bard's Tale III myself at a Babbages in Joplin Missouri, but I did it with Christmas money so it totally counts. The thing that was so memorable was that I bought it while I was on Christmas vacation 2000 miles away from my beloved Apple II. By the time I actually got to play the game I had memorized the instructions and the map front to back.
Again not technically a gift for me, this was a gift for the entire family. The TI-99 was my Dad's last grasp at staying ahead of the technology curve. It was pretty much all blinking 12:00s on the VCR from this point on.
As far as I can remember my dad never rocked a yellow headband but I'm positive I had that pink sweater.
This was the most elaborate Lego set my parents ever bought for me. I remember that it felt like it took weeks to put together right, which probably meant it took like 20 minutes. This space buggy set became the base for all my Star Wars and Star Trek lego adventures.
I can't believe how spoiled kids are these days with all the officially licensed stuff Lego makes. I think I'm going to teach my kid some kind of crappy lesson by making him watch me play with his new Lego AT-AT.