Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My 'Top 10' 1980's Cartoons

Ah the halcyon days of children’s cartoons; the 80’s.  My little adventurous mind was set ablaze by these cartoons through my most formulative years (born late '79).   Have any of them not been made into terrible modern live-action versions?

Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors
                -A lesser known sci-fi/fantasy cartoon of the 80’s, the Wheeled Warriors cartoon was created to support the Mattel toyline of the same name.  It worked.  One of my favorite toy sets ever was my Wheeled Warrior “Mobile H.Q” toy set and accompanying customizable vehicles.
                -Any cartoon with a kick@ guitar solo as part of the intro song is going to be kick@.  Silverhawks was basically a more space-themed version of Thundercats and though it didn’t have the same “aura”, it was just really “cool”.
                -What can you say?   Thundercats had everything a kid could want!  From the great animation and catchy intro theme to the iconic Sword of Omens and the eternally frightening Mumm-Ra, every episode was packed chock full of everything an 8 year-old kid hopped up on Bubble Tape could want!  Thundercats HOOOOOO!!!
                -Before you read any further, the first thing you need to do is erase and purge any idea concocted by the modern live-action feature film abominations iterations.  Done?  Good.  So as I was saying…one of the greatest cartoons of all-time pitting two factions of sentient alien robots against each other across the galaxy only to become marooned on 80’s planet Earth.  What could be a better premise for a kids cartoon?  None…that’s the answer.  (Note: a toy tie-in gold mine!)
                -I think the appeal to Voltron to me was that its leader’s name was Keith its ability to fuse old-world and new-world together in an overt good vs. evil space opera that even a child could understand.  Inherent in the Voltron Force were traditional moral qualities such as chivalry, honor, and courage.  Shoot, iconic 80’s cartoon voice actor Peter Cullen’s (voice of Optimus Prime also) intro narration sets the stage for a battle of good and evil that spans the cosmos…and puts chills on your back in anticipation.  I had a crush on Princess Allura.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
                -Only behind the premise of Transformers…what could be a better story for a kids cartoon then a group of teenage turtles turned into cowabungafied ninja super heroes?!  Yeah not much.  Representing everything cool a kid could want in a super hero, the Turtles never failed us until they came out with a live-action movie reboot.

G.I. Joe
                -Apart from the Bible and my family, the next best place I probably learned morality and common sense principles from was G.I. Joe, the real American hero.  A toy company’s dream as well.  I can’t tell you all the “battles” I had within my grand imagination using G.I. Joe characters.  I always wondered though, with so much artillery and destruction, no one actually ever died in the cartoon lol.
Inspector Gadget
                -I wanted to slap Inspector Gadget, Penny drove me insane with her Miss-Know-It-All attitude, and I always felt so bad for Brain getting caught up in Gadget’s shenanigans.  Yet I could not ever pull myself away from watching this cartoon.  It was just too exciting,  mysterious, and adventurous to not.   Was always on the edge of my seat wondering if Gadget was finally done for; he wasn’t :)
                -Any cartoon whose theme song a whole generation can recite verbatim on call 20+ years later deserves to be on this list.  Sure it was a Disney juggernaut cookie-cutter cartoon, but gosh darnit it was really enjoyable.  Just the variety of adventurers and hijinks they all got into was downright prolific.  And nothing beat the underlying premise of the episodic pursuit of fortune and glory Dr. Jones!
The Smurfs
                -Really?  Yes really.  Nothing says “Saturday morning cartoons” more to me personally than the Smurfs.  Every Saturday morning without fail, from about 1985 to 1992, the Smurfs were thee feature presentation on our family television on Saturday mornings.  Perhaps it was the influence of three older sisters on the remote controller, but gosh darnit I took a liking to those small little blue mushroom people who had no business persisting as a people in light of the constant genocidal attempts by Gargamel.

Honorable Mentions:
Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears
                -Perhaps a poor man’s Ducktales, but on par with other Disney favorites of this era like The Rescue Rangers, the Gummi Bears was just a fun show.
Alvin and the Chipmunks
                -I’m not exactly sure what was so appealing about his cartoon, but I remember watching it all the time.  Maybe it was those squeaky singing voices.
Muppet Babies
                -A very underrated cartoon of this era.  The Muppet Babies took the characters and personalities of the adult Muppet characters and threw them into a daycare-like prequel.  You wouldn’t think it to be that great a premise, but boy I fondly remember some great, funny, and exciting adventurers these little guys and gals’ imaginations created.  And let’s be honest, any cartoon with a Tie-Fighter in its intro is going to be awesome.

                -He-Man was unfortunately banned from viewing in my household growing up because of its “magic and witchcraft” elements.  I’m pretty sure it’s mostly Skeletor’s fault, but regardless I never had a chance to embrace a near-and-dear cartoon to most of my peers.  I’d be remiss not to mention it though.  For what it’s worth, I never did like its “americanized” animation though.  I was much more into the Japanese style like Thundercats and Voltron.


  1. SilverHawk, Voltron, GI Joe, Inspector Gadget, Ducktales,smurfs would all make my list, I'm surprised M.A.S.K. didn't make it? Great show as was Littles

    1. Yeah for whatever reason I just never got into M.A.S.K. I remember it, vaguely, but I know I never really watched it much.