I watched a lot of cartoons in my day. I still do. With the invention of the DVR, I am able to still work a normal job and program my own fun on a Saturday morning. Thankfully, companies like Shout! Factory are constantly releasing DVD complete series of the eighties classics. Today, they have added M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand) to their vast catalogue (along with GI JOE and Transformers, see columns) of titles. I never watched much of M.A.S.K. growing up and only ever had one of their toys (Vampire Motorcycle). I remember it being a blend of GI Joe and Transformers so with the new complete series release I gave it another whirl.
After a few episodes, I was already bored. This was clearly not for me as the writing of the show had lame plots, huge leaps in logic, and a stupid talking robot. Now I know that M.A.S.K. was written in the eighties for 6 to 12 year olds. I also know that it was one big long toy commercial. Yet, in that era, what cartoon wasn’t? The thirty-six year old me just couldn’t get over the bad Jack Nicholson imitation from one of the bad guys. How the robot one episode would have a device to save the day and the next not have it when they would need it the most. Further more Matt Tracker just didn’t inspire me as the hero should. Not in the ways Duke, Opitums Prime or He-Man ever did. Though, when it came down to it, M.A.S.K. lacked one important key element: good story telling. Not every show can stand the test of time (animated or not). The key factors would be characters we care about and great stories that we can relate to. Here is our picks of animated eighties cartoons that stand the test of time.
GI JOE (1985–1986)
One of the best, if not the best, cartoon to come out of the eighties. Sure it had the juggernaut of a toy line to back it up, but it also had great stories and incredible characters. Its end might have meandered in bizarre science fiction but the original run of GI JOE was packed with incredible adventures. You just have to ignore the fact that no one gets shot.
Equally as impressive as GI JOE in stories and toys were these robots from another world. The science fiction aspect of it kept us entertained every week. What really makes this series stand the test of time is its protagonist Optimus Prime and his antagonist Megatron. Never has there been a better yin and yang on a series.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983–1985)
It was a tad tongue in cheesy from time to time but you cannot ignore this show’s mythology. A perfect blend of sci-fi and magic made the adventures of He-Man worth tuning into. It was also great that not everyone was as cool or as powerful as He-Man. It let kids know that you can still fight the good fight know matter how you look.
Spider-Man and Amazing Friends (1981)
Originally this was our Saturday morning introduction to Spider-Man. It breaks the comic’s mythology from time to time but it is still packed with great tales of old web head. Think of this series today as the lost college years of Spider-Man. Here is where he teamed up with two mutants and tried his hand at being part of a team.
Dungeons and Dragons (1983)
If there was one series that never delivered a definitive ending it was this one. The kids never did get what they were questing for, but if they would have our adventures would have been over. Our time in the realm was packed with heart warming stories about love, compassion and friendship. What kind of stories could be better?
Duck Tales (1987-1990)
Disney found the right combination between modernizing characters, great storytelling, and brilliant animation in this series. Who would have ever thought that the adventures of Scrooge McDuck would have become so addicting? Between foiling bank robbers, time traveling, and questing for lost cities, Duck Tales still delivers adventures of the highest caliber.
This retelling of the Arthurian Legend puts the perfect spin on the coming of age tale for this young king. Mix in a new world to discover, villains at every turn, and the ThunderCats is story telling at its finest.
Fear not if you were looking for a review of M.A.S.K. The Complete Series Mania’s own Tim Janson will be bringing one fourth in a few days. With yet another eighties cartoon out of the way, I wish I could see both The Bionic Six (1987) and The Inhumanoids (1986) again. Do they stand the tests of time or are they, too, a fun memory that shouldn’t be disturbed.
Top 5 Picks of the Week:
1. Secret Diary of a Call Girl: The Final Season
2. The Battle of Algiers: The Criterion Collection [Blu-ray]
3. Paul (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)
4. Fast Times at Ridgemont High [Blu-ray]
5. The Fox and the Hound / The Fox and the Hound Two (Three-Disc 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray / DVD Combo in Blu-ray Packaging)
ACTION / ADVENTURE / KUNG FU/ THRILLERS / WESTERNS
Clash Starring Johnny Tri Nguyen and Ngo Thanh Van
Dead Man [Blu-ray] Starring Johnny Depp, Gabriel Byrne, Robert Mitchum
Executioner from Shaolin Starring Kuan Tai Chen, Lily Li and Lieh Lo
Five Shaolin Masters Starring David Chiang, Lung Ti and Sheng Fu
Gunless Starring Sienna Guillory, Paul Gross and Dustin Milligan
Jack Hunter: The Quest for Akhenatens Tomb Starring Ivan Sergei
The Last Godfather Starring Harvey Keitel and Jason Mewes
The Lookout [Blu-ray] Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeff Daniels and Isla Fisher
Mad Monkey Kung Fu Starring Hou Hsiao and Kara Hui
Martial Arts of Shaolin Starring Jet Li, Qingfu Pan and Hu Jian Qiang
Nexus: The Drug Conspiracy Starring Grace Kosaka, Andrew Kraulis and Jefferson Mappin
Super [Blu-ray] Starring Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Kevin Bacon and Liv Tyler
Tactical Force Starring Steve Austin and Michael Jai White
Tactical Force [Blu-ray]
Twin Dragons [Blu-ray] Starring Jackie Chan
Warriors of the Apocalypse
Wide Open Starring Christina Lindberg and Solveig Andersson
Ah! My Goddess: Flights of Fancy Season 2 S.A.V.E. Starring Annice Moriarty, Eileen Stevens, Drew Aaron and Vibe Jones
Kobato Collection 1
Mobile Suit Gundam 00 the Movie: Wakening [Blu-ray]
Noir: The Complete Series (Classic) Starring Shelley Calene-Black, Monica Rial, Hilary Haag
Otoboku Lite Box
Soul Eater: The Weapon Collection [Blu-ray] Starring Micah Solusod, Laura Bailery, Brittany Karbowski
Soul Eater: The Weapon Collection
Yu Yu Hakusho: Season Two (Classic) [Blu-ray] Starring Chuck Huber, Christopher R. Sabat, John Burgmeier
The Fox and the Hound / The Fox and the Hound Two (Three-Disc 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray / DVD Combo in Blu-ray Packaging)
The Fox and the Hound / The Fox and the Hound Two (30th Anniversary Edition)
M.A.S.K.: The Complete Series Starring Doug Stone, Mark Halloran and Brendan McKane
COMEDY AND LOVE Mania Style
Dazed and Confused [Blu-ray] Starring Jason London, Rory Cochrane and Wiley Wiggins
Fast Times at Ridgemont High [Blu-ray] Starring Sean Penn and Jennifer Jason Leigh
Paul (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) Starring Seth Rogen and Jason Bateman
Paul Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen and Jason Bateman
Your Highness Starring Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman
Your Highness [Blu-ray + Digital Copy]
The Battle of Algiers: The Criterion Collection [Blu-ray] Starring Brahim Haggiag, Jean Martin, Saadi Yacef and Samia Kerbash
Bikini Girls on Ice [Blu-ray] Starring William Jarand, Cindel Chartrand and Suzi Lorraine
Bikini Girls on Ice
Camp Hell Starring Dana Delany, Andrew McCarthy, Caroline London
Children Of The Corn V: Fields Of Terror/Children Of The Corn 666: Isaac's Return [Blu-ray] Starring Agnes Bruckner, Jonathan Jackson, Meagan Good
Choose Starring Kevin Pollack, Katheryn Winnick and Nicholas Tucci
The Clinic (Rated) Starring Tabrett Bethell and Andy Whitfield
Dream Home Starring Josie Ho, Chu-chu Zhou and Michelle Ye
Evil Things Starring Elyssa Mersdorf, Laurel Casillo, Morgan Hooper
Frat House Massacre Starring Rane Jameson, Chris Prangley and Jon Fleming
The Prophecy 3: The Ascent [Blu-ray] Starring Christopher Walken and Vincent Spano
Tenant Starring Bill Cobbs and Michael Berryman
SCIENCE FICTION / FANTASY
Doctor Who: The Sun Makers (Story 95) Starring Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, John Leeson and Henry Woolf
Doctor Who: Paradise Towers - Episode 149 Starring Sylvester McCoy, Bonnie Langford and Richard Briers
Mars Needs Moms Starring Joan Cusack and Seth Green
Mars Needs Moms (Four-Disc Blu-ray 3D / Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy Combo)
Mars Needs Moms (Two-Disc Blu-ray / DVD Combo)
Von Runte, Fritz - Bowie 2001: A Space Oddity Starring Fritz Von Runte
Secret Diary of a Call Girl: The Final Season Starring Billie Piper, Iddo Goldberg, Cherie Lunghi and Lily James
M.A.S.K. The Complete Series - Opening Credits
Robert Trate writes two weekly columns for Mania the DVD Shopping Bag and the Toy Maniac. Robert also participates in a pod cast that reviews movies, comics and celebrates all things geek. Check it out at You’ve Got Geek on You.com. Follow Robert on Twitter for his for Geek ramblings and criticisms.
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