Saturday, May 19, 2007

VA’s Top Ten ’80s Cartoons

10. TIE -

Rude Dog and the Dweebs

Rude Dog was a white cartoon dog developed by Sun Sportswear in the 1980s as part of a line of surfing- and skateboarding-related clothing. The character was a stylized version of a Bull Terrier, and the name "Rude" had the dual purpose of glorifying bad behavior and referring to the Rude boy subculture of Ska that was popular at the time. The majority of the clothing used angular artwork and neon colors, in keeping with the fashion trend shared by Quiksilver, Vision Street Wear, PCH, and many others.

To further market the character, the Sun company also developed a Saturday morning cartoon entitled Rude Dog and the Dweebs. Rude Dog and the Dweebs was as colorful as the clothing it advertised. The punkish pooch himself drove a 1956 pink Cadillac across a backdrop of Beverly Hills imagined in hues of pastel and neon.

Rude Dog ran an auto shop, where he was assisted by the Dweebs, a motley group of dog assistants. The team included the stuttering Caboose, the uptight Brit Winston, a Jack Nicholson-esque Reggie, Southern-accented Barney, Sach, who sounded like Ed Wynn, and a friendly Chihuahua named Tweek. Rude Dog himself spoke with a Brooklyn accent and had a girlfriend named Gloria.

Their feline foe was the vicious Seymour, and joining him in the chase was the ubiquitous dog catcher Herman and his assistant Rot. Each week, Rude Dog and company balanced their auto shop duties with attempts to elude the persistent Seymour, Herman, and Rot.

The show aired on CBS for one season.

The Raccoons

The Raccoons was a Canadian animated television series, first broadcast from 1985 to 1992. First airing in 1980 with The Christmas Raccoons TV special, The Raccoons slowly began its journey to becoming a regular animated series, using assorted specials over the next few years as stepping stones (The Christmas Raccoons, The Raccoons On Ice, and The Raccoons and the Lost Star), before finally becoming a regular series in 1985. Five series of episodes were produced, airing from 1985 to 1992.

The series featured the adventures in the Evergreen Forest of Bert Raccoon and his friends Ralph and Melissa, particularly in their attempts to thwart the anti-environmentalist actions of a pink aardvark named Cyril Sneer and his trio of pig henchmen (called Lloyd, Floyd and Boyd).

9. Inspector Gadget

Inspector Gadget was an animated television series about a clumsy, absent-minded, and oblivious detective, Inspector Gadget, who is a cyborg with various "gadgets" built into his anatomy. Gadget's main nemesis is the mysterious Dr. Claw, leader of an evil organization known as MAD. This was the merchandising company DiC Entertainment's first syndicated show, and ran from 1983 to 1986 in syndication.

8. Thundercats

ThunderCats is an American animated television series developed by Rankin/Bass in 1983 based on the characters created by Tobin "Ted" Wolf. The animation was provided by Topcraft, a Japanese group who would later go on to form Studio Ghibli. Season 1 was shown in 1985 (65 episodes), followed by a TV movie entitled ThunderCats - HO! in 1986. Seasons 2, 3, and 4 followed a new format of 20 episodes each, starting with a five-part story. They aired from 1987 to 1988, 1988 to 1989, and 1989 to 1990, respectively.

7. Super Mario Bros. Super Show

The Super Mario Bros. Super Show was the only one of the three American Mario animated series to air in syndication. The first part of each episode was live action and showed Mario (played by "Captain" Lou Albano) and Luigi (Danny Wells) living in Brooklyn, where they would often be visited by celebrity guest stars, such as Cyndi Lauper, Danica McKellar, and a Cher impersonator. Occasionally, the main actors would be playing guest stars themselves, forcing their regular characters to leave when it came time for their other characters to show up.

The second part of each episode was a cartoon based on the Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 2 video games, where Mario, Luigi, Princess Toadstool, and Toad battle against King Koopa, often in a movie parody. Getting into the spirit of these parodies, Bowser usually had a different outfit for each one. Interestingly, Wart, the main antagonist of the second game, was never in any of the episodes, yet most of his minions managed to appear. Like most 1980s cartoons, Bowser would prolong the series' run by escaping from his adversaries (which he did through the use of sub-space potions), despite the fact that they could easily catch him. The Super Mario Bros. cartoon was shown on Mondays through Thursdays only.

On Fridays, the show would air the Legend of Zelda cartoons based on the game of the same name, in which Link and Princess Zelda fight against the forces of Ganon. Scenes from the episode were shown during the live-action segments on the preceding days as sneak previews.

6. Transformers

The Transformers cartoon depicted giant robots, each of which had at least two modes. In one mode, the Transformer often resembled a humanoid, or in some cases, an animal. In their alternate mode, they were disguised as vehicles, creatures, or objects. The Transformers were divided into protagonist Autobots and antagonist Decepticons.

5. Muppet Babies

Jim Henson's Muppet Babies aired from 1984 to 1991 on CBS. Loosely based on a sequence in the Muppet movie, The Muppets Take Manhattan, in which Miss Piggy imagined what it would be like if she and Kermit the Frog grew up together, the show portrayed childhood versions of Muppets living together in a large nursery in the care of a human woman called Nanny. The most notable feature of this show is that it started a trend for relaunching popular character franchises as younger versions of themselves. This trend can be seen in A Pup Named Scooby Doo, Baby Looney Tunes, Flintstones Kids, and numerous others.

4. Jem

Jem ran from 1985 to 1988. The show is about a singer, Jem, her band the Holograms, and their adventures. Catch phrases from the show included "Showtime, Synergy!" and "Outrageous!" (the latter usually associated with supporting character Kimber).

Despite the fact that the show was originally designed by Hasbro for the purpose of marketing a line of dolls, it was acclaimed for its interweaving storylines and complex backstory, which were almost unheard of in an animated television series at the time. The show also features two-minute music videos, tying it in with the concept of MTV and its burgeoning popularity. The animated series still retains a very loyal fan-following and to this day is still widely regarded as one of the 80's finest cartoons.

3. TIE -

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is an American animated television series produced by Filmation based on Mattel's successful toy line Masters of the Universe. It made its television debut in 1983 and ran until 1985, consisting of two seasons of 65 episodes each. The show, often referred to as simply He-Man, was one of the most popular animated children's shows of the 1980s and has retained a heavy cult following to this day.

She-Ra: Princess of Power

She-Ra made her d├ębut in the five-part opening adventure to the syndicated series which premiered in 1985. This five-part story (comprising of "Into Etheria", "Beast Island", "She-Ra Unchained", "Reunions" and "Battle For Bright Moon") was later re-edited into the full length animated movie, He-Man and She-Ra: The Secret of the Sword. The syndicated series was cancelled in 1986, after 2 seasons and 93 episodes.

2. The Smurfs

In 1976, Stuart R. Ross, an American media and entertainment entrepreneur who saw the Smurfs while travelling in Belgium, entered into an agreement with Editions Dupuis and Peyo, acquiring North American and other rights to the characters. Subsequently, Ross launched the Smurfs in the United States in association with a California company, Wallace Berrie and Co., whose figurines, dolls and other Smurf merchandise became a hugely popular success. NBC television executive Fred Silverman's daughter had a Smurf doll of her own, and Silverman thought that a series based on the Smurfs might make a good addition to his Saturday-morning lineup.

The Smurfs secured their place in North American pop culture in 1980, when the Saturday-morning cartoon, The Smurfs, produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions, finally debuted on NBC from 1981 to 1990. The show became a major success for NBC, spawning spin-off television specials on an almost yearly basis. The Smurfs was nominated multiple times for Daytime Emmy awards, and won Outstanding Children's Entertainment Series in 1982–1983. Parts of Modeste Mussorgsky's 1874 classical musical composition, Pictures at an Exhibition (Gnomus, Tuileries, Gargamel's theme variation about 1.5 minutes in, and a scene segue part about 10 minutes in), are used in the cartoon. The series currently airs in reruns on Boomerang, and 26 selected episodes were aired in DiC Entertainment's syndicated programming blocks. The series is still being shown regularly on many channels throughout the world. The cartoon was formerly distributed by Television Program Enterprises (the later name of Rysher Entertainment) and WorldVision Enterprises, Inc. by having some episodes with those company names. The cartoon is now distributed by Warner Bros. Television.

1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

On December 10th, 1987, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' first cartoon series began, starting as a 5-part miniseries and became a regular Thursday morning syndicated series on September 8th, 1988 with 13 more episodes. Starting on September 4th, 1989, the series was expanded to weekdays and had 65 more episodes for the new season. On September 10th, 1990, the series (with a different opening sequence and end credits) began its run on CBS. The weekend edition presented a full hour of Turtle Power, initially airing a couple of (then) Saturday exclusive episodes back to back. The series ran until November 2nd, 1996. The popularity of the series gave rise to numerous imitators, including Battletoads, Street Sharks, and Biker Mice From Mars.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Playin’ in The Sandbox: Street Fighter Previews Ryu Mini-Review

Why mini? Because it's 10 after midnight as I type this.

A couple years ago, I made a bonehead move. See, SOTA Toys had just launched it's Street Fighter action figure line. It flew somewhat under the radar at first, but soon word spread in the collector community, and hardcore and casual SF fans a like picked up the line.

Me, being the tight fisted bastard I am, knew this one June day, when I walked into Hot Topic, and spotted a lone Ryu figure in his white Gi. Sure he looked cool, but I only had 30 bucks on me, and he was 14.99. "I'll pick him up later." I said to myself. WRONG. So fucking wrong. He was gone the next day, and I've lamented that decision ever since. Especially since that figure now fetches 40 bucks on the secondary market.

Since then I've gone a long, picking up certain figures from each subsequent wave, knowing there's a huge gap in my collection. Ah, but SOTA bailed me out. Last year they announced they were going to reboot if you wheel, the SF line, in a new scale, and new body type. The first three figures would be released under the "Previews" banner, consisting of Ken, Akuma, and you guessed it, Ryu.

During a jaunt at Sam Goody today, I spotted these figures, and thanking God for second chances, picked up Ryu.

Now this is normally the part where I'd show you the packaging, but I have to admit, I popped him open in the parking lot, and ditched the box somewhere. Basically it's just a large white box, with pictures of the figure on it, and some kanji written on the front, and the word "Previews" prominently featured. You'll know when you see it, trust me.

Anyway, on to the figure itself:

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As you can see, Ryu is fairly impressive, and the scanner doesn't do him justice. He has about 33 points of articulation, so you'll get him in pretty much any pose you want. His Gi is made of a soft vinyl plastic, as is his head band.

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He comes with two hands, closed fists, and open "Shoryuken" palms. He also has a clear base, which can be used to pose him doing the hurricane kick.

Now, while I love this figure, I feel kind of cheated. First off, the original figure came with an extra head, and a duffel bag, in addition to the hands. Secondly, the price. Ryu rang up at 19.29, while the other SF figures generally run from 13 to 15 bucks at retail. I almost feel as if I paid extra for the packaging. Also, if you do have the older figures, Ryu is slightly out of scale, so be warned.

That being said, it's still an oustanding figure, and not a purchase I regret. For anyone that collected the old line, or for anyone that was looking for a new jumping on point to start collecting them, you can't go wrong here.

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