You know what's better than doing work? Thinking about the awesome cartoons I used to watch in the 80s. What made 80's cartoons so great? Well, for starters, most of them were just extended commercials to sell toys. Well, I guess that's not such a great thing, but many cartoons in the 80s were high-concept off the wall premises with lots of action. Recently, Hollywood has taken to raiding my precious 80s cartoons for movie ideas and the result is often disastrous. So, to soothe myself, I made a list of some of my favourite 80s cartoons.
*disclaimer* This list only contains action cartoons. Does Ducktales have action? I guess, but I guess Ducktales will have to be addressed in another list some other day.
10) He-man and the Masters of the Universe
A sci-fi/fantasy cartoon that is ahead of its time for featuring the first openly gay main character in an action cartoon series. Alternating between a flashy pink blazer and a baffling S&M battle outfit, it donned on me when I was a little older that Adam may have preferred the company of Man at Arms to that of... whatever that girl's name was in the show. The director of the last GI Joe movie, Kenny Chu, is rumored to be involved in making a new He-man movie (the first one being the 80s movie starring Dolph Lundgren). Anyone else think that Shee-ra, the cartoon about He-man's sister, was the better cartoon?
Dinosaurs were all the rage in the 80s. And so was violence. Putting lasers and rocket launchers on Dinosaurs seems like such an obviously good idea to me I am surprised that there aren't a team of scientists working on making such an army a reality right now. The main character's name is Questar and the main villains name is Cruelos leader of the Rulons. Now that's just lazy writing. But who cares I guess? As long as it has frickin' dinosaurs with frickin' lasers attached to their head! Never had any Dinorider toys, but they look pretty sweet.
Robocop was so freaking cool. To this day the first Robocop movie remains the most terrifying thing I have ever seen. It still makes me tense to remember the over the top gore, cruelty and violence that children nowadays cannot even fathom. Surprisingly, back in the 80s they made a cartoon based on the horrific movie and that cartoon was pretty dark and violent itself, at least by cartoon standards. They're remaking Robocop and I can guarantee that this new movie will be one of the biggest disappointments of my life. Paul Veerhoven is already rolling around in his grave. And the movie isn't even out yet! And Paul Veerhoven isn't dead! The movie will be so bad, Paul Veerhoven preemptively bought himself a burial plot so he can roll around in it, moaning in despair over what's been done to our beloved Robocop.
Check out the opening scene to this children show which shows the main character getting gundowned by a cartoon of Eric Foreman's dad.
I never had any thundercats toys. I think it was one of those shows I usually missed on Sunday mornings because of church. You may ask yourself, what kind of God would allow me to miss a mediocre cartoon to worship him every week? I asked myself the same question on Sunday mornings. But what I do remember about the cartoon was pretty cool. The guy's were cats with swords. And they fought a mummy for some reason. Mummies and cats have been mortal enemies since the days of ancient Egypt. They remade that cartoon recently and it was pretty good.
Cool toys about some guys who fight other guys. The hook? Their cars and airplanes transform into cars and airplanes with guns. And for some reason the guys in the cars wear masks. I remember loving this cartoon and having a few of the toys. That being said, I don't remember too much about the actual plot of the show.
Best. Toys. Ever. Just incredible. These guys were some kind of space... guys. They were fired out of this amazing spaceship (for which I had the toy) and then their silvery armour deployed wings so they could fly around in space and fight a red guy who flew around on a giant squid.
Best. Toys. Ever. I know I said it about Silverhawks but these are the REAL best toys ever. COPS was this odd, cyberpunkish cartoon about police officers fighting a mob lead by the Big Boss. The characters were memorable, the action was intense. I may have been only 8 years old at the time, but is it possible that the characters in this show were written a little better than in other cartoons? Maybe it's just my imagination. The action figures for these toys were pretty big had more points of articulation than any toy I can remember and each one came with a cap gun. There were also tons of vehicles to go with these toys. Too bad the show didn't run longer than it did. Bulletproof FTW!
Obviously this one was going to be near the top, though the show didn't age well. Add to that the fact that the franchise has been forever defiled by the unscrupulous and evil, Michael Bay. Aside from the completely incoherent plot of the movies especially the second and third one, they have ruined a childhood icon, Optimus Prime. Optimus Prime, voiced by Peter Cullen since 1984, was a character who was honorable and merciful almost to a fault. Anyone my age will remember the day that Optimus Prime died. Why? Because he hesitated to blow Megatron's head off. In the new live action movies, Optimus Prime blasts Leonard Nimoy's face off, then rips Megatron's head off with an axe AFTER Megatron just saved his life. We won't even get into how every single Transformer character was ruined in these movies. Transformers will forever be the best example of Hollywood ruining my childhood.
2) GI Joe
My mom wouldn't let me own GI Joe's because she thought it promoted war and violence and she was totally right. And it seems that GI Joe used to run at the same time as Jem, about a rockstar/superhero, so my sister and I would have to compete for TV time to watch our favourite cartoons. But the apocryphal story of why I went into the field of Biology is that when I was young I saw the episode of GI Joe where Dr. Mindbender genetically engineered an evil dictator named Serpentor by splicing together the DNA of Ghengis Khan, Dracula, Sergeant Slaughter, Julius Ceasar, Sun Tsu... and more!!! What a cool idea. When I learned this DNA stuff was real, well, I was hooked on science. Thanks GI Joe. Thanks to you I spent way more time in University than any sane person should. I hated the first GI Joe live action movie, but the second one was tons of fun. Of course, the REAL GI Joe movie will always be this...
1) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
I don't' know if Ninja Turtles belongs at the top of the list. But I find this show had it all. It was funny, great action, great characters, amazing toys. (I had tons of these and the awesome party wagon). What sense of humour I have, I owe in large part to the hilarious Ninja Turtles cartoon. Ninja Turtles started a trend of cartoon animals fighting bad guys. I haven't seen any of the recent remakes of the cartoon but I doubt they captured the often corny humour of the original cartoon. What was so funny about Ninja Turtles? The main villains, Shredder and Krang, a ninja and a talking brain, who basically acted like an old married couple. Who came up with that?
Looking back on my list I've forgotten 2 very important and possibly lesser known cartoons. Visionaries, which was one of the best things ever, featuring toys with holograms on their chest. It was kind of a medieval fantasy with knights and wizards. Inhumanoids was a pretty scary cartoon where the main characters turned into monsters. Okay, okay, I'm done. Next week, 90s cartoons?