80′s cartoons have been the peak of animation industry with its superb innovation on cinematography, animation details and of course awesome soundtrack that turns every episode not just a childish celluloid characters but a vessel of Pop Culture and excellent music you can’t see in todays cartoons. As if you don’t hum and sing the tunes when we were kids hehe. I know some of you have seen these cartoons in the past, but what would you feel if you see them again? I have been an addict of 80′s cartoons as far as I can remember probably because I grew up in that era. But without sounding biased, that of today’s animation seem to be of no match to our old school animation. Even then when cartoons are filled with action and adventure, they never seem violent in a sense that their creators make it sure that the basic tenet of a kid-friendly cartoon is the triumph of Good over evil, and not emphasizing too much on violence and gore (no offenwse to the anime fans) But now, watching the animes and kind of cartoons that my nieces and nephews watch, seem to be too mature for their age. I don’t know maybe it’s just me or my leaning towards the 80′s era. But what fascinates me is that Hollywood is kinda reviving the 80′s cartoons and turning them all into live action films (that’s another post to watch out for). So here is my list of the Top 20 – 80′s Action Cartoons that you’ll definitely watch all over again…
Galtar and the Golden Lance was shown on Philippine TV late 80′s on ABS-CBN. This has been a rival cartoon of its likeness, Thundarr the Barbarian which aired every 4 pm in the afternoon on the rival channel GMA-7. This was not so much of a hit since Thundarr was shown first on TV and kids those days remember Thundarr more than Galtar. Despite this flaw, and later confusion between the two cartoons, Galtar still pierced through the consciousness of viewers because of it’s double sword. Some of the Similarities that Galtar and Thundarr had were: 1) They both had a blazing sword. 2) both had blonde hairs 3) both were barbarians 4) Both have female heroines on their sides. 5) both sidekick beast have striking resemblance (ookla for Thundarr and the Horned Horse for Galtar and 6) both lived in a chaotic and war torn dimension. Galtar and the Golden Lance is an animated television series produced by Hanna-Barbera. The series is about the mythical adventures of three companions: Galtar, Princess Goleeta, and her younger mind controlling brother, Zorn. Galtar, with the help of his Golden Lance, is fighting with Tormack, the tyrannical usurper of the kingdom of Bandisar who is conquering their entire world. Tormack is responsible for the death of both Galtar’s parents and assassinating the rest of Goleeta and Zorn’s family. Tormack, among others like him, covets the power of Galtar’s supernatural weapon, the Golden Lance, in order to combine it with the stolen ancient and indestructible Sacred Shield, which rightfully belongs to Goleeta and Zorn. For whoever holds both cannot be brought down in any form of combat. Also aiding Galtar and his friends is the powerful red dragon known as Ravens Claw. Further hindrances (plus comic relief) to this trio comes from inept father and son mercenaries Rak & Tuk, who have a history of double crossing others at every turn, claiming that it is the only work they know.
Thindarr is obviously more popular than Thundarr in a sense that Galtar is oftentimes confused with former and that it was shown first on TV. Thundarr’s timeslot in the 80′s in GMA 7 was every weekdays in the afternoon at 4 pm. I still remmber going home early just to watch Thundarr. The timeslot which Thundarr left was later occupied by the Thundercats which reigned for years in the Cartoon block and became one of the most popular cartoons ever shown. What attracts kids to Thundarr is its alternate universe wherein Earth was later succumbed into destruction and that they are already living the post-armageddon era of earthm, showing various familiar landmarks that are rotting in ruins. In the USA, Thundarr the Barbarian is a Saturday morning animated television series, created by Steve Gerber and produced by Ruby-Spears Productions. The series ran 2 seasons, 1980–81 and 1981-1982. Action figures of the three main characters were released by Toynami in 2004. Twenty-one half-hour episodes were produced by Ruby-Spears Productions, an independent animation house formed by the co-creators of Scooby-Doo, from October 1980 to September 1982, when the show went off the air. The show ran on the ABC network. Reruns of the program appeared on NBC’s Saturday morning lineup in 1983. Directly inspired by comic books, with the likes of R.E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian and Flash Gordon, Thundarr the Barbarian is set in a future (A.D. 3994) post-apocalyptic wasteland divided into kingdoms or territories—the majority of which are ruled by wizards—and whose ruins typically feature recognizable geographical features from the United States, starting in New York City and working itself to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Mount Rushmore, San Francisco or Washington, D.C. Other episodes with recognizable settings are located in Central America, while one is in London. Another notable feature of this future Earth is that the Moon was broken in two pieces, but the gravity of the pieces drew them back together, orbiting at roughly the same height as the intact Moon once did.
One of the best toys aside from Transformers that I really want to have when I was a kid were Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors toyline. The toys of the popular cartoon are fantastic vehicles that you can separate each parts and then re-contruct them according to your own design. The Cartoon series was first seen on Philippine TV during the Saturday morning cartoon block of ABS-CBN. Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors is a French/North American animated TV show which first aired on September 16, 1985. It was produced by DIC Entertainment (originally distributed for syndication by SFM Entertainment), and animated by Japanese animation studios Sunrise, Shaft, Studio Giants, Studio Look and Swan Production. The show, which spawned 65 thirty-minute episodes, was created to support Mattel’s toy line (which was called simply, “Wheeled Warriors”). The show features an ongoing plot; however, like many shows made at the time, it does not have a series finale, and thus the plot was left unresolved. The show featured two duelling forces. The “good guys” are humans, called the Lightning League. They drive white and silver vehicles with assorted weaponry, and are led by Jayce. The “bad guys” are organic green vegetable-based creatures called the Monster Minds, who tend to take the shape of black and green vehicles. They travel via large green organic vines which can grow in and across interstellar space, and sprout seeds that rapidly grow into further Monster Minds. They are led by Saw Boss.
Sky Commanders hit the TV screen via GMA-7 every Saturday and Sunday morning during the weekends. The Sky commanders can be likened to the Centurions and Visionaries in terms of their battle suit. Yet, this amazing cartoon is in itself unique because it is the first ever action-adventure cartoon that featured heroes and villains fighting and riding on zip-lines. It was a great show to watch, not only because of its humorous and witty dialogues but also, it gives a different kind of concept which were new to kids during that time. Zip lines in the 80′s were not yet in trend and was never heard before unlike today in which every park you know, there is a zipline ride for everyone to ride on. Sky Commanders is created by Hanna-Barbera Studios. It premiered in July 1987 (as part of The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera) and lasted for thirteen episodes. It also spawned an action figure line from Kenner Toys. The storyline of Sky Commanders comprises the daily adventures of a multi-racial group of soldiers and mountaineering specialists from all over the world who battle the evil General Plague and his goon squad of villainous mercenaries and miscreants, The Raiders, whose aim is to seize control of the planet. The series is set on a new continent deep in the South Pacific which was created by the emergence to the surface world of a new and powerful, unstable radioactive element called Phata 7. Complicating the Sky Commanders’ objective of stopping the criminal ambitions of The Raiders is the fact the new continent (collectively referred to in the series as “The High Frontier”) is routinely beset by sporadic, unstable and highly dangerous weather conditions and environmental hazards such as landslides, earthquakes, cave-ins, whirlpools, etc. There is also the need for monthly shipments of fresh supplies, new advanced technology and weapon systems. Constant attack by the scheming and underhanded Raiders and the aforementioned environmental dangers make the Sky Commanders mission only that much more dangerous.
Next on our list is one of the Thundercat’s cousins, the Silverhawks. Did you remember the hand gesture of wiping your face as if a metal mask protrudes from your forehead then covers your entire head? I still remember when we used to gather thin aluminum foils and cover ourselves with it pretending to have the Silverhawks steel bodies. These group of intergalactic Bird Men are made of steel bodies and are able to fly in outer space. This was aired in the late 80′s in GMA7 daily afternoon cartoons after the Thundercats ended its run. In the US, a total, 65 episodes were made in 1986. It was created as a space-bound equivalent to their previous series, Thunder Cats by Rankin/Bass and distributed by Lorimar-Telepictures. Like Mum-Ra of the Thundercats, the arch nemesis of the Silverhawks known as Mon-Star also transforms into a hideous beast and having himself a band or alien hooligans that sow menace throughout the limbo galaxy. Notable characters from this cartoon are Commander Stargazer, Quicksilver, Bluegrass, Steelheart, Steelwill and the almost mute Copper kids. The famous line from this series that were imitated by kids back then is the intro line of the opening credits… “Tally Hawk”. This Cartoon rocks!
Who would forget this poor rip-off of the Transformers hehe. Gobots was seen by children of the 80′s as a classic copycat of the then famous Transformers. Though this was an imitation in some level yet kids paid more attention to its storyline rather than to its technicality. The Gobots was aired on Philippine TV RPN 9 during the Saturday Fun Machine as an indirect rival of the Transformers that was aired in IBC 13 every saturday afternoon back to back with GI Joe. Originally, Challenge of the Gobots was known as Mighty Machine Men and was aired in the US based on the Japanese Robo toy-line and released by toymaker Tonka. Produced by Hanna Barbera Productions (the same producer of Yogi Bear and Scooby Doo), the show was first broadcasted in syndication on September 8, 1984. The Gobots toys was considered by 80′s children as the poor man’s transformers (haha oo may ganung discrimination noon sa bata) because Transformers toys back then was so famous and expensive that ordinary kid like me can’t afford them. So usually, like us poor kids, we just settle for Gobots as a compensation for our lack of capacity to purchase Transformers. Pero noon ayos na din. Basta may laruan masaya na ako. Though I always consider Gobots as my panakip butas sa totoong gusto ko na transformers, but then again the Gobots is the closest thing to transformers that a poor child could have. The Gobots is on my list as one of the Top Action Cartoons of the eighties era because of its notable, cheesy characters like Leader-1, Turbo, Scooter (the guardians) and Cy-kill, Cop-tur and Crasher (who resembled the vile personality of Starscream in the Transformers).
Centurions were the cartoon characters that wore bionic armors beamed from a space station called Skyvault above earth. Notable lines of these characters were “Power Extreme” whenever they transform into futuristic warriors armed for aerial, marine and terrestrial battles. Kids like us then were so engrossed with this cartoon series that we used to buy the action figures by parts, free in every junkfood pack. Literally, each parts are sold separately haha. The junkfood was so disgusting that we throw it in the garbage after getting the freebie. Then we assemble them into centurions. If we happen to get a duplicate part, we try to swap it with each other to complete the ultimate centurion. The Centurions is one of the US animated science fiction series produced by Ruby-Spears The series began in 1985 as a five-part miniseries and was followed in 1986/87 with a 60 episode series. The series was written by several authors, including prolific science fiction writers Michael Reaves, Marc Scott Zicree, Larry DiTillio and Gerry Conway. The series theme and soundtrack were composed by Udi Harpaz. There was also a line of tie-in toys by Kenner, and a comic book series by DC Comics. Memorable Characters were Ace McCloud (Aerospace centurion), Max Ray (Marine Centurion), and Jake Rockwell (Land Centurion).
Spiral Zone was the most unique futuristic and science-fiction animation series ever aired in Philippine TV because it dealt with human zombies menaced and influenced by the Spiral Zone under the leadership of Overlord – the evil scientist who invented the zone generator that alters the mind of people and produces lesions all over the body. Zone riders were memorable because of the main antagonists’ zone trademark — the yellow eyes and the red lesions all over the body. On Philippine TV, Spiral Zone was aired in GMA7 as its Saturday morning block. This cartoon, like most other cartoon series were originally based from a toy line in Japan created by Bandai which featured highly articulated and detailed toys. Tonka bought the rights and soon released their own toy line calling them as Spiral Zone. The series ran for 65 episodes and was syndicated in September 1987. It took 11 months for the creators to finish the entire 65 episodes of the cartoon. Notable characters in the series were the Zone Riders: Colonel Dirk Courage (commander, American), Master Sergeant Tank Schmidt (heavy weapons specialist, German), Lieutenant Hiro Taka (infiltration specialist, Japan), 2nd Lieutenant Max Jones (special mission expert, American), and Corporal Katerina Anastacia (medical officier, Russian). Black Widows: Overlord (commander), (Bandit – master of disguise), (Duchess Dire (assignment expert), Razorback (bladesman) and Reaper (manhunter).
“And I’ll form the head” is the familiar tag line of the Voltron Force whenever the five lions unite to form the powerful Voltron. Voltron was introduced in Philippine TV via the IBC Channel 13 cartoon timeslot in the morning and was moved to the Saturday afternoon block after the Transformers ended its run. Voltron the Lion Force was compared to its Vehicle version because it was akin to Voltes V and kids were not optimistic with the Vehicle version because of too many characters in the series (there were 15). Actually voltron Lion Force was far more cooler than the vehicle team simply because they are more inept to battle and they are more realistic to exist in outer space than cars and vans floating in the galaxy. The Voltron toy was so expensive back then that only 1 in our elementary batch own a complete set of the lion force. I can still remember my super snob classmate as he wouldn’t let anyone touch his Voltron Toy. we were only allowed to stare at it, touching it would be a mortal sin hahaha (Good thing it wasn’t a vagina). Yet the Voltron Force conquered the late 80′s with its awesome tag lines, cool voice over, and very scary evil villains… I can still hear the har-har of Hagar the witch. Though Voltron is on our number seven list yet I never liked the presence of the mouse of Princess Allura. It made the cartoon too disney-ish. Familiar Characters of the Voltron Force were Captain Keith, Lance Charles McClain, Darrell “Pidge” Stoker, Hunk Garett and Princess Allura.
Visionaries was seen first on Philippine TV during the 80′s aired every saturday morning then later every 4 in the afternoon prior to primetime block in the evening. Visionaries was a big hit during its first few episodes but was later axed because it only has 13 episodes running repeatedly for a a few months. Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light was originally a range of action figures from Hasbro, released in 1987. This action figure range was promoted by two different media, telling the stories of the characters. The better known of the two was a half hour animated television series made by Sunbow Productions in the same year, but there was also a comic book series issued by Star Comics. The toyline was not a big success because the toys did not appeal to kids because of lack of dynamic abilities, which led to both the series and the comic being cancelled after a very short run. The comic lasted only 6 issues, and was cancelled halfway through a four-part storyline. The animated series lasted one season of 13 episodes, and was not picked up for a second, possibly because all Sunbow cartoons came to an end after The Transformers Season 4 three parter; The Rebirth and G.I. Joe: The Movie, when Sunbow lost its contract and could not get it renewed. Set on the planet Prysmos, the Visionaries consist of two groups of knights — the Spectral Knights and the Darkling Lords, both of whom have their magical powers gifted from Merklynn after successfully completing a quest to reach Merklynn’s shrine on Iron Mountain. Each character had a different animal totem power that reflects their personality by allowing the knight to temporarily transform into that animal.
Who could ever forget this multi-racial family of super-heroes called the Bionic Six. This show was a milestone because it is the first action cartoon series that featured superheroes all in one family (Plasticman’s wife was not a hero, baby plas was!, and the Silverhawks and Thundercats were not also identified as families). During that time, sci-fi series like the Six-Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman was on its peak in the US that’s why when Bionic Six was aired, 80′s kids easily got familiar with it. Some of the actors in the Six Million Dollar Man were also casted for the voice of the Characters of the Bionic Six. What is so cool in this TV series was its graphics and animation was so advanced at that time. There were no computer graphics back then but the shots of the fighting sequence of the Bionic Six mimic some of the CGI animation today. Most of the 80′s kids can recall the super-duper cool theme song of the cartoon series and the very popular tag-line of the Bionic Family—-”Bionics On!” before they transform to Bionic Six. On Philippine TV, Bionic Six was aired in ABS CBN during the late 80 every Saturday morning just after Shaider and Bioman pitched agains RPN 9′s Saturday Fun Machine and GMA7′s Saturday Morning Block including their Ductales and Gummi Bears line-up. Bionic Six was produced by TMS Entertainment and distributed by Studios USA and MCA Television (later renamed NBC/Universal Television) on 1986. Popular Characters of the TV Series were Bionic 1, Mother 1, Sport 1, Karate 1, Rock 1 and IQ. Ther villains were the Team Scarab which includes Dr. Scarab, Mechanic, Chopper, Madame-O, Klunk, and Glove.
One of the coolest and shortest animated series ever produced in the US, Mighty Orbots only ran for a few episodes. It was considered by most 80′s cartoon fans as one of the best robot animated series created. Mighty Orbots was Voltes V, Voltron and Bioman rolled into one. The difference with Orbots is that, the parts of the Mecha Orbot are droids that has different powers and fought crime just like the Bio-Man which transform and volts in to a giant robot whenever larger than life danger threatens the galaxy. On Philippine TV, Mighty Orbots was never shown in major networks. But we in our province had the chance to view it on our local Cable Channel 6. Ch. 6 ran VHS copies of the cartoons from the US and Mighty Orbots was one of them. The 13 episodes were shown on the local tv every morning and evening as a filler for its regular program. I have been wondering as a kid why Mighty Orbots were not shown on GMA7, RPN 9, IBC 13 or in ABS CBN only to find out, after the emergence of the internet, that the Mighty Orbots producers and creators had a legal battle between the producers of Challenge of the GoBots in which the latter accused the former that MO was ripped-off from the Gobots series. Watching both cartoons, I think the Orbots never copied anything from the Gobots. Actually if there are people who should rightfully sue, it should be the Transformers people because Gobots is an obvious parody of the TF. Despite its short run, I still consider it as one of the 80′s milestone animation because of its unique characters, storyline and awesome cartoon graphics that are far better from the cheesy Gobots!
TigerSharks is probably one of the most under-rated cartoon series during the 80′s because of its lack of running time and proper exposure. Tiger Sharks are the cousins of the Thundercats and Silverhawks, who lives and fights under the sea world called Water-0 (sounds like Lion-O to me hehe). The Cartoon series was aired here in the Philippines through RPN Ch.9 every 4:30 pm in the afternoon as part of the Comic Strip Show. Tiger Sharks ran for 10-12 minutes or so everyday in Comic Strip episodes and was not given a full 30 minute and independent franchise by the rankin/bass people. Yet those 12 minute episodes were highly laudable because of its colorful characters, impressive fast movements, cinematography and funny one liners. The TigerSharks ran for 52 episodes most of which are divided into two parts because of the short run time of the Comic Strip show. It became a hit when RPN 9 pitched the tiger sharks against the re-run of GMA7′s Thundercats on the same timeslot. Most kids have already watched the Thundercats and the network was airing it for encore so they tuned in to RPN 9 after school to watch the then new hip and cool Tiger Sharks. Like the Thundercats and Silverhawks, TigerShark acquired a huge following because of its unique storyline and cool theme song that compliments the fast paced animation of the cartoon. I used to run going home after school just to watch this series because most of the talk during the morning flag ceremony in our school is about the TigerSharks. One of the good things about being an 80′s kid is that your TV viewing is limited, giving you ample time to do other things and talk about your experiences with other people other than watching cartoons 24/7 on cable lounge on the couch without any live interaction with their playmates. TigerSharks is on our 4th list.
Do you remmeber the animated Spidey, Firestar and Iceman? This Animated series from Marvel has been a fixed show every Saturday afternoon at 4 pm during weekends for so many years in GMA 7. Spidey’s web crawling and web-slinging compliments the personality of the two other heroes in the series. You may not know this, but the voice in the intro is that of the trio’s creator, Stan Lee. Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends is produced by Marvel Productions starring established Marvel Comics characters Spider-Man and Iceman and an original character, Firestar. As a trio called the Spider-Friends, they fought against various villains. Originally broadcast on NBC as a Saturday morning cartoon, the series ran first-run original episodes for three seasons, from 1981 to 1983, then aired repeats for an additional two years (from 1984 to 1986). Alongside the 1981 Spider-Man animated series, Amazing Friends was later re-aired in the late 1980s as part of the 90 minute Marvel Action Universe.
Our 6th Cartoon on the list is the mask wearing secret agents of Matt Trakker called M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand). It is an animated cartoon produced as a hybrid of Transformers and GI Joe. The agents are ordinary people living ordinary lives, but when MASK commander Matt Trakker alerts them through their wrist watches, they become the fighting man and machine of MASK. On Philippine TV, Mask was shown every Saturday morning before Uncle Bob’s Lucky 7 Club. The Catchy Theme Song, lively characters, awesome masks and superb powers contributed to the success of the series. You see, when a cartoon or show is imitated by kids, it is an indication that the show is definitely being watched. And one very popular tag line of the show that proved that it was indeed watched was “Lifter On”.. coming from a certain MASK Agent called Bruce Sato. What makes MASK truly a heart pumping cartoon is the transformation elements involved in the vehicles. Like for an example a motorcycle that can transform into a helicopter or a helicopter that can transform into a Jet Fighter. The Cartoon has also evolved through the years that made it even cooler. Some of the Vehicles in the latter part of the season featured split second vehicles that detaches from the main vehicles and are controlled by the agents’ hologram clones, independent from their own human bodies. Now that was really cool. I can still recall the excitement in watching this cartoon series when I was a kid. It is always accompanied by the MASK toys commercial which makes us drool. I always wanted to kick the butt of the Venom Agents! Notable characters were Matt Trakker, T-Bob, Scott Trakker, Bruce Sato, Alex Sector, Dusty Hayes, Gloria Baker, Brad Turner, Hondo McClean, Buddie Hawks, and Calhourn Burns (MASK AGENTS), Miles Mayhem, Sly Rax, Cliff Dagger, Vanessa Warfield, and Bruno Sheppard (VENOM AGENTS).
Who would dare ignore the bulky, muscled and brute persona of the Master of The Universe? With a very Catchy theme and cool action figures that are difficult to stand, He-Man is on our list of the Coolest 80′s Cartoons ever. Though ridiculed by 70′s fans as a gay icon (haha) because of the later appearance of a spin off series called She-Ra, He-Man was nevertheless the idol of 80′s kids in those days, long before Transformers and Thundercats were born. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, just like any business-driven cartoon series, started as a toy-line by Mattel, the very same creator and manufacturer of Barbie Doll (haha no wonder He-Man was rumored queer!). They used the He-Man Cartoons to promote their awesome action figures including Battle Cat and Castle Greyskull. It was a hit because a year before GI Joe plaqued the shelves of toy stores in the Philippines, He-Man was there first. What I like about the Cartoon Series is that it always had lessons in the end of its episodes (same with GI Joe). I was 5 years old when I first saw He-Man on GMA7 on a Friday night at 7pm an hour before the timeslot of the Wonderful World of Disney. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was so hipped and famous among kids back then that GMA7 put it on their prime time slot (a rarity on todays TV slot). It was a wise decision for GMA 7 since kids those days have no computers, Play station or Nintendo to be preoccupied with that’s why they ran the show on Friday nights as a welcoming party for the weekend ahead– no school unlike today that even saturdays and sundays are considered regular school days.. tsk tsk). He-Man made its television debut in 1983 and ran until 1984, consisting of two seasons of 65 episodes each. To this day, He-Man has one of the biggest followings in the world and will continue in the near future as Hollywood break its silence regarding its top secret plan of reviving the He-Man franchise into a live action film. Popular Characters from He-Man were Man-at-arms, Teela, Orko, Sorceress, Ram-Man, Roboto, Skeletor, Beast Man, Webstor, Whiplash, Mer-Man, Buzz-Off, Evil-Lyn, Man-E-Face, Mecha-Neck and off course Cringer and BattleCat.
Tenen ten tenen ten tet teren… goes the very catchy theme song of the Superfriends as it shows the comic book heroes Superman, Batman, Robin, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and the Wonder Twins. This was the first ever Action Cartoons which I laid eyes on when I was a kid. Before the Thundercats and the Transformers came into picture, Superfriends were already the staple cartoon series of RPN 9 in its Saturday Fun Machine block. I have seen all of the installments of this franchise starting from the first ever season which included the infamous and useless Marvin and Wendy to the inclusion of the Wonder Twins up to the expansion of the Justice League both hero and villain-wise. Superfriends was the most memorable true-blue superheroes in tights and leotards (before xmen was born in Philippine TV) because of its familiarity to the viewers. As the cartoon genre evolved around the its era, Superfriends was already considered as a classic, being ran on National TV in endless encore for years during the 80′s. Sad to say, the fate of the Superfriends became ironic when Cartoon Network created so many parodies and ridiculous skits of the Superfriends Characters that it inspired various independent animators to create their own sets of short episodes dealing with stupid storyline that are injected with sexual and perverse contents (Search for the Wonder twins in you tube). Nevertheless, no matter how defiled are todays rendition of this classic 80′s cartoon, it still has a large fan base all over the globe, mostly in the 80′s generation. Superfriends ran from 1973 to 1986 on ABC as part of its Saturday morning cartoon lineup. It was produced by Hanna-Barbera and was based on the Justice League of America and associated comic book characters published by DC Comics.
GI Joe is the epic US toy-line that has been around in the US for almost 5 decades now. the 80′s GI Joe was the 4th generation line of toys that was adapted for a Cartoon Series. GI Joe has been on top of the ratings game in Philippine TV airing in IBC 13 back to back with Transformers during Saturday afternoon before the timeslot of fairytale driven Ora Engkantada. GI Joe has been one of the most sought after toy collection in the 80′s. Not only are they affordable for us average kids, they are also abundant in different characters that are not seen on the actual Cartoons. If you never bothered to watch this in the 80′s then you missed a lot of action. GI Joe is action packed, testosterone filled fight scene fueled and awesome voice characters starting from Duke to Cobra. Though the cartoon is loosely based on the American Military and was often dealing with battle and war scenes, yet death was often avoided in the episodes as characters always escape explosions and crashes in the nick of time. Fight scenes were more visual to compensate for the lack of realism of the cartoon tragedies. One good thing about GI Joe was that they use laser beams as weapons instead of Guns and bullets. And that the show always ends with “safety Lessons” imparted on kids by the characters to further emphasize its format as kid-friendly cartoon and to cushion the psychological effect of war and violence injected on every episodes. Comparing GI Joe with the simpsons and Beavies and Butthead is like comparing a spatula to a knife. Cartoon series then were cautious in usage of words unlike today that cartoons are not only grotesquely drawn but also with a bad mixture of dialogue. 80′s would never be the same without GI Joe and Cobra Khan.
Who can ever question the popularity of the Thundercats? Hooooooooooo!!!. the Thun-thunder-thundering action filled animation sequences were breath taking that it even surpassed the abilities of the Superfriends and the Masters of the Universe with their cunning moves, agility and cat-like features. It’s such a wonder to behold those animated cat-people jumping and tumbling all over the screen as if they are lightweight rubber bands being sligshot from the ground to the top of the trees. One secret of a successful Cartoon series is its inclusion of origin. Kids are very inquisitive when it comes to the genesis of a particular character “where did they come from?”, “What planet are they from?”. “who is that?” etc. etc. Unlike other Cartoon series that just came out of the boob-tube having ambiguous and mysterious histories, The Thundercats however gave its kid audience a feel of being with the characters from start to finish. Of all the hundreds of 80′s cartoons produced during that era, it was only Transformers, He-Man and The Thundercats that gave a clear and well told origin of their existence. This somehow enabled the kids to relate with them and journey with them in Television. One factor that also made the Thundercats a hit is because of its element of Lion-O being a Child. The show gave the kids what it feels like to be forced to grow up and being given responsibilities that seem to be too much of a task for kid Lion-O. The Era of the 80′s as I have mentioned earlier is the era were kids really enjoyed their childhood years and somehow also learned in their various houses the responsibility and discipline suited for their ages. Thundercats has all the elements of being a kid in the 80′s. Another factor why Thundercats became so popular is because of its divergence from the stereotypes. Most of the Action cartoons run in the same genre of being military inspired, robo-inspired or scifi-triggered Cartoons. Thundercats was not one of them. Thundercats was a mixture of Medieval lore, fantasy and Sci-fi action rolled into one. If there are any evidence of futuristic gadgets and vehicles on the show, yet it was not the corner stone of the storyline. In the US, Thundercats was developed and produced by Rankin/Bass Productions, debuting in 1985, based on the characters created by Tobin “Ted” Wolf. It was first syndicated in 1985 (65 episodes), followed by a TV movie entitled ThunderCats – HO! in 1986. Seasons 2, 3, and 4 followed a new format of twenty episodes each, starting with a five-part story; these aired from 1987 to 1990. Popular Characters of the Thundercats were Lion-O, Jaga, Tygra, Panthro, Cheetara, Willy-kit, Willy-kat, Snarf, Mum-Ra and the Evil Mutants.
And on our No.1 spot is the all time popular 80′s cartoon series, The Transformers. I believe no one will ever object on the Transformers for being the coolest cartoons of the 80′s. It’s unique, advance, catchy, not-too-cheesy, innovative, creative, entertaining, mind boggling and above all—-CAPITAL COOL! 80′s would not be the era of the Cartoon Glory if not for the Transformers. Before its existence, Voltes V, Mzinger Z and Daimos ruled the Robot World in the Cartoon world, all of which were created and aired during the 70′s. But Transformers overshadowed them all with its newest feature that people in the 80′s have never seen before– that is robots transforming into earth designed vehicles that caught the imagination of the kids of all ages. It was so awesome that Kids then were puzzled on how the animation was done with its split second scenes of transformation. The Sound effects were so new at that time that the series took the future of robots into new heights. Aside from their superb appearance and fantastic personalities, Tranformers were also the First Robot Cartoons that showed human emotions and human-like manner of talking. The growth of new plots and addition of new characters on both protagonist and antagonist fences kept the Children of the 80′s atuned to this new sci-fi action adventure cartoon. The Transformers were re-syndicated in different seasons but the following versions did not match with the success of the Generation 1 autobots and decepticons. Truu to the unverified popularity of the Transformers in the 80′s, the live action movie in 2007 pave the way for its official claim to stardom and worldwide acceptance. In Philippine TV, the Transformers was first aired on IBC 13 back to back with GI Joe during it’s Saturday afternoon block. For so many years IBC 13 had the rights of the Transformers and GI Joe until the 90′s came and RPN 9 was able to air its encore. In the US, it first aired on September 1984, then in the United Kingdom in early 1985. The pilot introduced Optimus Prime’s Autobots (Brawn, Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, Gears, Huffer, Windcharger, Bluestreak, Hound, Ironhide, Jazz, Mirage, Prowl, Ratchet, Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, Trailbreaker, Wheeljack, and Hauler) and Megatron’s Decepticons (Starscream, Skywarp, Thundercracker, Reflector, Soundwave, Laserbeak, Buzzsaw, Ravage, Rumble, Frenzy and Shockwave. After the success of Season 1 and 2 of the franchise, Hasbro then made an animated movie of the same title in which Optimus Prime died and was replaced by Rodimus Prime. After that, the Transformer’s popularity gradually declined and the following seasons did not met or surpass the popularity established by the Generation 1 Transformers. The Charisma of these Robots are seemingly endless that even in the CGI version of Hollywood raked money and fame in its showing last year. Truly, the title “King of 80′s cartoons” belong solely to the Transformers—More than Meets the Eye.
Maybe you were wondering why some of the famous cartoons in the 80′s were not included in the list? There were also cartoons in the 80′s that were aired and shown but somehow fall short of our category. One of this is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles which was created in the 80′s but were only shown in the early 90′s on Philippine TV. That;’s why in hindsight, TMNT became nostalgic not on the 80′s but on the 90′s. Bioman, Shaider, Maskman and Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future were also very popular in the 80′s. In fact they were so popular that they beat some regular cartoons in the ratings. Bioman and Shaider were shown back to back every Saturday at 5:00 and 5:30 pm respectively on ABS-CBN 2 after the National Geographic documentary. Maskman was aired in IBC 13 every Frday at 7 pm and Captain power was shown every Saturday during the morning cartoon block. Despite these shows’ popularity they were not technically cartoons therefore we did not include them in the current list. In the same vein, Daimos, Voltes V, G-Force, Astroboy, The Inhumanoids and Space Ghost were all popular in the 80′s but inherently they all were from the 70′s and 60′s. Daimos, G-Force and Voltes V were all from the 70′s while Astroboy, the Inhumanoids and Space Ghost all started from the 60′s. Worthy to mention also is the Voltron Vehicle team, you might be wondering why its not on the list, obviously, the Lion Team was more popular than the Vehicle team so I excluded this series from the list.
80′s Cartoons are nostalgic. They give me goosebumps whenever I see them again on DVD. To say that the 80′s cartoons are primeval and cheesy is an understatement because these Cartoons made childhood years in the 80′s fun, exciting and full of meaning. In these cartoons that we grew up with, the lessons in life are often mirrored on those talking celluloids which somehow prepared us in our adolescent years. Comparing the Cartoons of the 90′s to the 80′s is like comparing Pinoy idol to American Idol. It’s true that the 80′s generation has no gadgets, no computer graphics and no tech savvy generated cartoons. But that’s actually a good thing because the difference of people who grew up with 80′s cartoons from the the generation of the 90′s and 2000′s is that we from the 80′s knew how to have fun in life, as what is shown in almost 500 cartoon series aired on that decade. Life is sometimes a cartoon, there will always be choices between good and evil yet life remains colorful as ever. Given the choice to choose between Celluloid Cartoons and computer generated animation, I say I’ll go for the former… it is the trademark of the 80′s and no one can ever see what our young eyes have seen during Saturday mornings, Friday nights and 4pm every afternoon. Wherever an 80′s baby go, may it be in bars, coffeehouses or parties, a conversation about 80′s cartoon will give their eyes a glow, just like the Thundercats, because inside that adult being is a child within ready to watch the cartoons over and over again, reminiscing the wonderful era of the 80′s cartoons that we once had.
Romuald Matthieson: a.k.a. "bluepanjeet" has been writing in cyber space since 2005. In 2006, he jump-started his Catholic blogging a few years before the Catholic Church utilized social networks and blogs in spreading the Gospel. In 2007, in response to a realization of the growing need for Catholic Bloggers online, he officially launched his own self-hosted Catholic blog and called it "On The Wings Of My Dream" or simply OTWOMD which is a metaphor of his favorite psalm in the Bible, Psalm 63. Since then he has been blogging, (and sometimes podcasting) for the Catholic Church using his enthusiasm in the New Media, his inclination on visual and digital arts, his passion for the written word and his love for the Catholic Church. You can follow Rom's tweets on Twitter @rommatthieson