I recently took a look at the secondary toys of the 80s, so now it seems only fitting that we take look at the secondary cartoons of the 80s.
I was completely floored that some of these actually made it onto the Saturday morning lineup. At first glance, you'd think that the only prerequisite for getting a cartoon on the air was that it had to be animated. No other thought went into it. With that, we got some pretty strange 'toons. Some good, some bad...let's take a look at a few of them...
The Gary Coleman Show: Ha! Out of all the things in the world that should never have been, The Gary Coleman Show ranks right up there with slavery and the Holocaust. It's that bad. The plot involved Gary Coleman as an angel, trying to prove himself and get into heaven by doing good things for the people of Earth. So basically, someone decided that if Gary Coleman were to have a cartoon based after him, he'd have to be dead in it. That's the only part I agree with. However I can't possibly agree with a thought process which states that Gary would make a killer cartoon. The show was more or less moronic, and understandably short-lived. I know that back then, the midget was pretty popular, but I really can't imagine any kids at school willfully announcing to their friends that they watched The Gary Coleman Show. It'd be instant social suicide. I know I wouldn't have wanted to play with any kids who thought this was quality television.
Rubik, The Amazing Cube: You don't see anyone trying to give a personality to a Scrabble board, so why would they think it'd work with a Rubik's Cube?
In the show, Rubik was the friend of the three socially-conscious Rodriguez childrenóReynaldo, Lisa, and Carlos. Each week, the three sibs tried to improve the standards of living in their neighborhood, with the help of their cubed companion.
So, not only is it a show about a toy that no one under the age of 12 would be remotely interested in, the plotlines dealt with real issues, something no one under the age of 37 would be remotely interested in. Pass...
Visionaries: Ah, finally, a good one! It's a shame the toys didn't do so well, otherwise Visionaries might've had a longer run. The show was stylish, had a lot of a Dungeons and Dragons feel to it, basically a sci-fi fantasy deal. Those kinda shows almost never do well as cartoons, but they gain a loyal following when the people who watch them finally understand the plotlines 15 years later.
Plot: Post apocalyptic Earth. Two feudal-type groups rise to dominance from the ashes. One is controlled by the law-enforcers and otherwise benevolent people; the other, by criminals and miscreants. Magic runs rampant as the survivors of the cataclyism cling to their technology. An old hermit, known to be a wizard extends an open challenge to any brave, strong, or foolish enough to traverse the perils of his castle. The reward: great power. The survivors were granted the ability to transform into an animal whose characteristics they showed during the trial. For leadership and bravery, the lion; for quickness, the cheetah, for climbing ability, the mollusk, etc., whose crest they wore on their chests. Their staves were also charged with magical energy which they could unleash by reciting a rhyme. The embodiment of wisdom, decay, speed, destruction, etc., could be called from the glass plate on their staves once, before they had to seek the wizard to restore the magic. A mix of castles, magic, armored assult vehicles, mythical beasts, as well as the reminder of pre-cataclism Earth ensured the show had action to spare.
So there you have it. More information about the Visionaries cartoon than you could possibly hope to know. Use the knowledge wisely.
Lazer Tag Academy: Bah! Everybody knows that Photon was the true leader of the lazer-gun toy industry. You don't see toys like this anymore, because cops will probably shoot you nowadays if you're just standing outside looking suspicious, much less holding a gun at your friend's face.
Lazer Tag Academy was on television between 1986-1987. It's the story of Jamie Jaren, a thirteen year old Lazer Tag champion from 3010 who journeys back in time to stop the evil Draxon Drear. She joins with her ancestors, Tom, Beth and Nicky Jaren who also share her special powers. For most people, Starlites, the Lazer Tag "guns" are harmless toys. But for others, like the Jarens, they become weapons that allow them, along with the Star Sensor, allow them to travel in time, move objects, and so on.
In other words, you can try to come up with an involved plot for your show...but if it sucks, it's going to get cancelled real quick. Some toys warrant cartoons - but toy guns? Nah.
The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang: This show started the phenomenon. The phenomenom of which I speak is the idea that if you take a television show and turn it into a cartoon, you have to add a comical, talking dog into the mix. I fucking hate comical dogs. If it ain't Scooby Doo, it ain't worth shit.
Oddly, the original Happy Days cast did provide the voices for this show. It was based on the adventures of the Fonz and his talking dog, annoying named 'Mr. Cool'. Mr. Cool? What kind of crap is this? Man, I swear to God...you go back in time, and you'll find out that people will buy into just about anything, regardless of how stupid it is.
You want my opinion on Mr. Cool? Mr. Cool fucking sucks. And so did this show...if there was no actual Happy Days to base it on, it might be a candidate for 'worst cartoon in history'.
Despite being so awful, the show was given the distinction of having it's name and likeness on one of the coolest products in history:
Presto Magix! I loved these things. I must've bought at least 2,500 Star Wars versions of it....but I'd never sink so low as to rub my pencil tip over the Fonz to strategically place him next to his motorcycle. No sir.
Oh yeah, this dumb show also had a even dumber theme song. No, I mean it...it's really awful. It's a cross between bad music and a guy who should be commentating at a race track. It's soooo horrible...but if you'd like to hear it, click HERE. It's a .wav file.
There were plenty more cartoons from the 70s, 80s, and 90s that'll make you turn your head, and I'm sure you'll see them all represented on this site eventually. This was just my little way of telling you...it wasn't all Transformers and G.I. Joe!