In case you haven't heard of the Transformers before (in which case you are probably too young to remember any cartoons before the 'classic retro' Pokemon, or too embarrassed to admit you worshipped Lion-O and He-Man when you were young), they were giant robots who could transform into Earth vehicles and items, and were divided into to faction - the goody-goody Autobots and the Evil (they want to take over the universe! Gasp!) but dumb (as most 80's cartoon villains are wont to be) Decepticons.
Researching the subject (which I gladly did, for it gave me a legitimate reason to hang out at the Transformers websites) led me to a score of other websites dedicated to 80's cartoons. It brought back a wave of nostalgia, and I had fun remembering how cheesy they were, but how cool it all was to an eight year old boy in the 80's.
One thing that always irritated me about the cartoons was how in end of the episode, a character would always crack a really corny and tacky joke, and all the other characters would laugh along with it. It made me wanna strangle the scriptwriters.
Anyway, here are some of the cartoons I remember quite well (whether I liked it or not is a different matter altogether, I watched them ANYWAY):
- M.A.S.K. - Following the exploits of the Mobile Armored Strike Kommand (M.A.S.K., geddit?), a secret organization that uses specially charged masks to fight V.E.N.O.M. (Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem. Don't you just love the name?), this cartoon also featured vehicles that could er.. transform into other 'battle modes', for instance, a F1 type racing car could sprout wings and missile launchers and fly around shooting bad guys. Cool concept, cool toys, silly names.
- Thundercats - Who could forget this? A bunch of heroes who with the power of big jungle cats, run around saving the world from a skeletal evil overlord called Mumm-Ra. The Thundercats' leader, Lion-O, had this rather pathetic sword that could er... expand in proportions when its powers are called upon (who says cartoons are free of sexual connotations?) .
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and She-Ra- Yer Gods. These two cartoons were one of the cheesiest of all, and probably the most unpolitically correct, but they were still cool to kids back then. They had so many baddies and um.. goodies that it was interesting to watch just for the thrill of spotting a new character (at least that's how I remember it). Other than that, the usual sword expanding thing, changing from 'meek prince/princess' to 'The Most Powerful Man/Woman In the Universe' and ORKO (possibly one of the most irritating characters ever created in TV history), made this one of my worst memories of the 80's. Although Skeletor scolding his stupid minions was always fun.
- Voltron - Giant robotic lions that combined to form an ass-kicking giant robot. What's not to like? Besides the usual bad dialogue, stupid jokes and boring baddies, of course.
Other cartoons that I remember watching but can't remember the details very well are -
- Silverhawks - Silver spandex-clad guys and girls with bird powers flying around saving the world
- The Centurions - Guys clad in 'Exoframe' armour and weapons flying around saving the world
- Jem - Blonde female rock star who sings about saving the world
- Starcom - Peacekeeping force in a planetary community uses sophisticated vehicles and state-of-the-art technology to er.. save the world
- G.I. Joe - Real American Heroes who actually HAVE reasons to save the world from villains who actually HAVE Weapons of Mass Destruction (even if they were a bit tacky)
- Visionaries - Knights with magical powers of transformation battle with Darkling Lords to... yup, save the world. (You were expecting something else?)
- Smurfs - You know the drift. Blue pixies thingies run away from Smurf-eating villain. Plenty of running away and irritating high-pitch voices. No world-saving involved
Lots more out there, but these were the ones that stuck in my head. Now, excuse me while I get back to my 'research'...