As a child I think I always feared getting older because it meant you became disinterested in fun kid things like toys. I can’t completely blame self-fulfilled prophecy, but it happened. I spent years constructing an immense Lego kingdom in my bedroom, and by the dawning of what I dub today as the Tween Age, it had fallen into disregard. I remember turning fourteen and struggling with the thought of my kingdom’s deconstruction. In a final effort to regain some sense of childhood nobility, I sat down determined to play with my toys again. I picked up the figurines and started to move them, speak through their little bowl-shaped, half parenthesis mouths, but it was all for nothing. No words came. I was blocked. I returned the trio of good guys to their bunks, took stock of their armory, library, laboratory, stables, garages and landing platforms, and began disassembling what seemed like a lifetime of joy, brick by multicolored brick. It was depressing. I still walk down the Lego aisle every time I go to Target just to reminisce and marvel at all the new innovations. The Lego sets available today are amazing! What adventures my heroes and foes could’ve had with lightsaber accessories, and batcaves, and Avenger outfits?! It’s almost overwhelming, but equally refreshing because some of the familiar characters and sets on shelves today are derived from popular CARTOONS!
Fortunately for me (and most everyone else), television remains an entertainment staple as the years roll by, and because of that, my adoration of cartoons never dissipated. Cartoons of my youth (80s/early 90s) were, by far and away, the golden age of animation. I had the Disney line-up after school and on the weekends, which included classics like Duck Tales, Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers, Tale Spin, Darkwing Duck, and my personal favorite, The Gummi Bears. Then there was The Real Ghostbusters, G.I. Joe, Voltron, and Transformers. Let’s see, what else? Oh yeah, how could I forget, Heathcliff, Garfield and Friends, Inspector Gadget, Snorks, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Muppet Babies . . . the list could go on, and it’s all quality toonage, most of which have such imaginative and elaborate story lines that they could be shared over and over again. I guess that’s why it’s no surprise they have! In the past decade, a few of my all-time favorite childhood cartoons have been given a new life! RE-ANIMATED, if you will, as a reminder, that some precious pieces of youth NEVER DIE!
HE-MAN and the Masters of the Universe
I excitedly snatched up the Best of HE-MAN and the Masters of the Universe DVD a few years back and was so shocked when I watched it. I didn’t remember HE-MAN being so . . . GAY. I mean, it just all clicked in a way my six- year-old brain couldn’t comprehend. The furry boots and briefs, the chest harnesses, Man-at-Arms’s porn star mustache.
Watching Prince Adam transform into HE-MAN was like a reverse drag show. Prince Adam, in his lavender tights, pulls out his sword, screams like a butt plug is being rocketed into his rectum, then goes from platinum blonde and pasty, to a stacked, goldenrod leather daddy. His riding posture didn’t leave much for the imagination, either. Don’t get me wrong, I love/d every single bit of it, but in hindsight, the 80s animators probably had plenty ‘hinds in sight. And thankfully, like a backstage costume change before the big Cher finale, there was a re-boot.
The updated version of HE-MAN and the Masters of the Universe aired on Cartoon Network in 2002. While paying homage to the original TV series, it deviates from it’s roots by introducing individual character origins (like how Skeletor became so skeletal), and debuts familiar faces from the popular toy line that never appeared before. Also, in non-hero mode, the re-boot’s Prince Adam takes the appearance of an adolescent boy, and grows physically in age and mass when he HAS THE POWER! (some “phallicies” remain integral to the plot line)
Teela, Man-at-Arms’s daughter, and Prince Adam’s daily deposit to the spank bank, remains my favorite character in the show. She’s still a feisty red-head, and one bad ass bitch with a cobra stick! And the show wouldn’t be complete without Orko, a Trollan wizard that basically practices the role of the fool. He provides comic relief and a magical element that keeps the series very imaginative and light-hearted.
Like the HE-MAN re-boot, the ThunderCats are edgier than ever before. Their appearance is sharper and more youthful than their 80s counterparts, and taking another note from the HE-MAN remake, their attire is far less crotchy. The original series pilot episode, “Exodus” was actually my first real look at nudity as a child — haha, does that make it kitty porn? In the episode, the ThunderCats have escaped their home planet of Thundera, which has been destroyed, and are all assembled on the flagship’s main deck, bare-furred. I always got really giggly and aroused in that scene; and strangely confused, especially by Cheetara, mostly because I knew boobs had nipples, and she had none, let alone eight.
The ThunderCats re-boot explores individual character origins, much like HE-MAN, but changes major plot-lines and character relations as well. The first, and most apparent, is that Lion-O and Tygra are brothers (Tygra is adopted) and princes of Thundera.
The ThunderCats also never escape their home planet after an attack and stumble upon Third Earth. Instead, Thundera is now located on the planet Third Earth. Still, there is a great battle with the mutants, where their father, the king, is killed, and their kingdom is destroyed. Jaga, the king’s advisor, is also the leader of the clerics, a band of mystical warriors charged with the defense of Thundera. After the battle, Cheetara is one of the only surviving clerics, which is an interesting and obvious fact considering her extraordinary speed. Panthro was a loyal solider in the king’s army that questions Lion-O’s ability to lead, but eventually relents. Panthro is still best known for building and piloting the cat’s hot whip, the Thunder Tank. In my opinion, Mumm-ra remains one of the freakiest villains in cartoon history. Both his frail, red-cloaked mummified appearance, and his spike-toothed titan form of Mumm-Ra the Everliving still raise the fur on my back. The mutants in this version are a little more fearsome. They aren’t quite as bumbling and afraid, which I sincerely despise in any antagonist.
The spry and mischievous pick-pocket twin kittens, Wiley Kit and Wiley Kat actually join the band of Thundercats later in the episode after the battle. Perhaps one of my favorite overall adjustments to the series takes the form of Lion-O’s faithful friend and doting caregiver, Snarf. In the original series, Snarf, like Orko, provided a lot of comic relief through his scaredy cat antics, but in the re-boot, Snarf has been given a unique makeover. He’s gone from an annoying fluff lizard to a caffeinated Pokemon. It’s difficult to see that as a vast improvement, but it is, which is hard when a creature’s name is coincidentally, the only sound it can make.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
My #1 dream job right now is to work in any sector of the MLPFIM franchise. I love love love this cartoon. It’s the perfect amalgam of youth, humor, color, imagination, mythology, history and pop culture. It’s incredibly witty and well-written. The series is set in Ponyville, a small town in the land of Equestria (Canterlot is the capitol!), and focuses on the everyday happenings of a small herd of ponies that have formed a unique friendship despite their many differences.
There four main types of ponies in Equestria: Earth, Unicorn, Pegasus and Flutter (there are other minor types, like Big Brother ponies, or “Bronies” is a type of male pony that has spawned a separate gay following, but that’s fodder for an entirely separate blog post :). Similar to the 80s rendition, with deliciously labeled lead roles like Lickety Split and Cherries Jubilee, the re-hooved version features Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie and Apple Jack, which all sound like recipes and ingredients that could be found in an Elton John cookbook. Also, the ever-identifiable cutie marks play a central role as they relate each pony with their separate name and trait. For example, the brilliantly quick, headstrong flutter pony, Rainbow Dash’s cutie mark is a cloud expelling a rainbow-colored lightning bolt.
Apart from an updated look (check out the fabulous mane and tails-dos!), the show manages to cut the cutesy sweetness with an in-depth look at the characters (as you can tell by now, it’s all about the character development) and adventurous settings. Take it from a 31 year old man, this cartoon is for EVERYPONY!
Re-Toon to Sender
Unfortunately, there are a few re-dos that I am incredibly underwhelmed with. Some toons are best left in the past.
Dogs in clothes are waaay “Cooler.” HELLO! If they can talk, they probably have some sense of fashion. Quit barking up the wrong tree.
I’m a sucker for floppy bonnets and visible stitching (hey, we all know that plastic surgery was still a new practice in the 80s), but this new S.S. has lost the endearing baby fat (undoubtedly from shoving a finger down her throat), and that Junior Miss getup just makes her look easy. Excuse me, ma’am, Strawberry Shortcake is your full name, not just a moniker for your muffin!
The Care Bears
Care Bear stare? I think not! Crappy digital animation bear-ly makes me care-a-lot.