As I'm working my way through a whole slew of cartoons I missed as a kid, my mind keeps going back to the shows I happened to catch. The ones that got me to wake up, as a 3rd grader no less, at 5:30AM just to watch them before school, and the ones I rushed home to so I didn't miss an episode. I admit I was obsessed with these cartoons as a kid and for good reason - these cartoons were the best of the bunch. That's why today I'm covering my Top 5 Cartoons of the 80s. I talk a lot about cartoons and though I've mentioned a few of my favorite shows and villains, I don't think I've ever spelled it out.
What kid didn't like dinosaurs? They showed up in practically everything. But so few of them took dinosaurs and built a whole show around them. But Dinosaucers took it a whole step further and made them aliens, flying around in space ships and shooting lasers at each other. The Dinosaucers kept close to their roots, being able to Dinovolve - turning into full-fledged dinosaurs! The cartoon included a group of kids called the Secret Scouts, but who cared about them when you have giant talking dinosaur people?
He-Man kicked all sorts of ass. As a kid, I wasn't into comics, so I didn't know much about how powerful Superman was, and I didn't care because He-Man was lifting mountains and pushing moons out of orbit just fine for me. He-man had an array of great character designs, especially on the Evil Warriors side with Skeletor, Trap Jaw, and Triclops. And let's be honest here, we all loved seeing the evil stuff Skeletor planned, and we wanted him to win just once. Sure the stories were hokey, and the PSAs at the end were cringe-worthy, but I just loved seeing big muscly-men wrestle and throw stuff. And any kid from the 80s that said they never held up a stick and shouted "By the Power of Grayskull!" was a freaking liar!
What was better than barbarians and wizards? Ninjas and... turtles? It was a crazy idea, but it became the most popular cartoon idea to come out of the 80s. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is everything a kid could want - you had all the character clichés (the preppie, the nerd, the jerk, and the party kid) kicking the Foot Clan's butt with swords and nun-chucks. It was a like a dream come true for a sugar-addled elementary student. Raphael was always my favorite for being the smart-mouthed insult slinger, but almost everyone else loved the party dude Michaelangelo. I can't think of a single friend I had that liked Leonardo, but as I grew up, I changed to like Donatello the most. The villains were great as well with the samurai-like Shredder, his mutant henchmen and of course, the living brain, Krang.
Mobile Armored Strike Kommand may not have been able to spell its name right, but it spelled huge interest in me as a kid, taking the Transformer formula and adding a bit of GI Joe in. You got the little action figure - each with a mask that gave them special powers - and you got a vehicle that could go from normal to bristling with weapons. Cars could fly, motorcycles launches manned torpedoes, and gas stations became massive armed fortresses. There were codenames galore with vehicle and mask names getting shouted every few seconds. I loved the toys and would often mis-transform my Transformers to add them to my M.A.S.K. ranks.
Easily my favorite cartoon and toyline, and that's going from my childhood to current time. Transformers combined the action figure and vehicle concept so well be merging the two into one toy and they replicated that perfectly in the cartoon. There was plenty of shots of each character in both their modes so you knew exactly what you were getting when you went to the toy store. The characters in the cartoon had such a range of powers like teleportation and electromagnets and big personalities too - from the old, faithful Ironhide wanting to show he's still a soldier after all his years to the scheming, power-hungry Starscream always plotting to take Decepticon leadership. As the show went on more Transformers flooded the episodes and though they didn't get as much screentime, they had plenty of personality to make sure you always remembered them. The episodes were full of laser fire and explosions and though they got silly every so often, the giant robot action kept me glued to the tube.
So those are my favorites, and it was pretty hard to single some of these out. There are so many great cartoons that I watched as a kid, and I'm finding out I missed a lot of great ones too. Leave a comment below and let me know what your favorites are, and I'll be sure to check them out as well!
This post is made in connection with the 80s League as we expand our crossover events. Check out the rest of the league's posts below to see what shows they love too!