I watched a lot of cartoons as a kid. I think I spent half of my childhood in front of the television sucking in as much of the badly animated, high-action shows as possible. However, most of the time it was reruns of the same shows - Transformers, MASK, He-Man, TMNT, and a few others. When I started Old School Evil and went through all the cartoon bad guys I knew for inspiration, I went looking for ones I never watched. And I found a ton of them. Some were good, some not so much, but there was only a handful of them that made me feel like I really missed out on something special.
Galtar and the Golden Lance
Hanna-Barbera and Ruby Spears made a bunch of the non-Filmation fantasy fair I watched as a kid, namely Thundarr the Barbarian and the Pirates of Dark Water. Thundarr had the awesome setting of post-apocalyptic Earth and Pirates had the long running story with a deeper than normal continuity. Galtar would have fit right in there among them, featuring dragons and ghouls and mystical weapons like the Golden Lance and the Silver Shield, which can block any attack. The world, ruled by the powerful warlord Tormack, features a cast of characters that crossover in interesting ways, like Tormack's daughter Maya, that sometimes fought for him and sometimes against. And Goleeta would have totally filled my redhead crush quota.
Dungeons & Dragons
While the fantasy elements in Galtar and the Golden Lance were great, Dungeons & Dragons had so much more. D&D also had six different kid protagonists, each with their own weapons, powers, and personalities for any viewer to identify with. Together with the enigmatic Dungeon Master, they fought one of the best villains ever with Venger, voiced to perfection by Peter Cullen. The story had little continuity. Each episode pretty much ended with the status quo, but the fact that it almost had an episode where the kids plan to kill Venger gives it some massive credit.
If you couldn’t tell from the previous entry, I love when the cartoon features a big team of individuals, each with their own powers or abilities. Bionic Six has that in spades, and all wrapped around a bunch of robotic parts. Each member of the Bennett family has specialized upgrades, giving them ESP, laser eyes, superhuman strength or speed, and more. I love how different the characters are and that we get a villain that's actually funny on purpose, even if his underlings are generic. They even get a cool activation command featuring some decent stock animation that the viewers can act out.
Cool powers that require eerie poems to activate them? Hell yes! It's great that the knights in the show have two different powers with completely different effects. It's got the shape-shifting of Transformers and spells that Edgar Allan Poe could have written. I also really liked that it wasn't just the good guys vs the bad guys for world domination but that they were pit against each other by a higher power, the wizard Merklynn (so much like the Dungeon Master), sometimes for no reason other than to see them squabble. Just as interesting are the episodes where the two teams were forced to work together for a common goal, which happened fairly often in the brief series.
Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers
This show has it all - a cool setting that combined western and sci-fi elements, a bunch of interweaving stories with a ton of distinct characters, and a seriously kick-ass theme song. There are so many great things that I can say about this cartoon, especially that it introduced the main character’s wife only for her to be captured and NEVER recovered through the entire show’s 65-episode run. I still want to watch this whole series and I think it would benefit the most from a reboot or adaptation. Get on it, Hollywood - No guts, no glory!