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Rediscover the 80s - Memory Jogger Podcast Special: Saturday Morning Commercials
As a blog that's focusing on cartoons from the 80s, I'm stuck in a quandary; can't the cartoons themselves be considered commercials? One of the reason they only for prominence in the 80s was toy advertising in the form of cartoons was banned by the FCC. Once that ban was lifted, dozen or even hundreds of cartoons flooded the airwaves, each of them jam-packed with images of thousands of toys waiting in the store shelves for kids to snatch up. But even during the commercial breaks in these 30-minute toy ads, we got more ads! For hours a day, kids were bombarded with toys adverts
within toy adverts - the only break we had was cereal commercials and half of those were tie-ins to the cartoons we were watching. What a time to be alive!
As exciting as the cartoons were, the commercials had to be doubly so to get a kid's attention in such a short span of time (you know, in case it wasn't aired in the middle of a cartoon or something). Take a look at the above Transformers commercials - you had brand new animation for the commercials that looks a little better than the show themselves, the toys rolling around through massive sandboxes, a kid with picket-fence teeth and glowing eyes who later transforms himself into a robot - all sorts of awesome stuff. And you have to love the "Does Optimus Prime Die?" promotion for Transformers: The Movie.
Another great thing about these commercials is that the cartoons were limited to what figures and toys they were able to put on screen - there was only so much time and room in the cast list. Though the cartoons were mandated to feature certain toys (leading to characters based on older toys being written out or just disappearing from the show), not everything could be featured. These commercials were the only place you'd see certain characters and accessories. Watch the He-Man commercials above and around the middle of the video, you start seeing a ton of stuff that never made it to the cartoon. And for good reason, because they got freaking weird.
It's amazing how many commercials we got, especially when going through old videos and seeing how many you might have missed as a kid. As much as I loved watching Transformers, I don't really remember any of the commercials they aired. And I'd grown out of some of the cartoons by the time He-Man was introducing the light toys and electric playsets. But what I wouldn't give to have that awesome Eternia toy!