James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 26: Zummi Gummi

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And so we come to the end of our journey. And what a journey it’s been. But, as part of this whole A-Z journey, I’m supposed to publish a post in a week, to reflect on all of this, so today I won’t dwell on the previous entries in this collection of cartoon characters, conveniently alphabetised for ease of consumption. But just who is our final entry? The letter today is ‘Z’, but I can assure you that this is no ‘Z-list’ cartoon character.

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Z is for Zummi Gummi

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For how could any compendium of cartoons be complete without including the fantastic Gummi Bears?

One of Disney’s earliest 80s TV show offerings, with a theme song that matches the best of them, Gummi Bears was precursor in many ways for the some of the other Disney greats of the 80s and 90s, such as DuckTales and Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers. But it wasn’t really the same as those shows. It wasn’t really like anything else.

Set in a fairy-tale land, it was evocative of Arthurian legend, and other such tales of yore. It was also charming and funny and full of energy. And bouncing bears of course.

I first saw Gummi Bears in the cinema, the first episode was shown as a featurette before the main film. I can’t even remember what the main movie was that day, but the Gummi Bears cartoon made quite an impression.

I can’t think of a better cartoon to finish my A-Z of cartoon characters that I liked as a child.

 

Good Intentions, Bad Results

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This morning I didn’t shower
Because I wanted to exercise
And it seemed pointless to shower
Before I exercised

But the day went on
And I didn’t exercise
Because the requisite motivation
Escaped me

And everytime I found motivation
Something else came up
Like meals
Meals got in the way
Because you can’t exercise
Immediately after eating
But you’ve got to eat right?

And other tasks needed doing
And you can’t neglect your life
While you’re waiting to find motivation
To do something you don’t want to do
But once you’ve started a task
You can’t just stop
Because you want or need to do something else
Otherwise nothing would get finished

So the day went on
And jobs got done
And food was eaten
And it wasn’t a bad day per se
But I didn’t exercise
And so I didn’t shower either
Which seems a gross oversight
With the benefit of hindsight

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 25: Yumi

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Sometimes you just have to ask ‘Y’. But ‘Y’ rarely offers an answer. ‘Y’ is just a letter. But it is a letter that can, and today will, represent a cartoon character in my nostalgic, alphabetical trip down memory lane.

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Y is for Yumi

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Yumi is from the cartoon Ulysses 31. She is blue. Because she is an alien. She’s from the planet Zotra.

Which is all well and good, and you might think Ulysses 31 was just a cartoon show set in space with aliens and stuff, and to me, as a child, that’s exactly what it was. But it turns out it was so much more than that.

Ulysses, is, of course, the name of a book that is notoriously hard to read, by James Joyce. And it turns out that Ulysses 31 took the plot of that novel, but set in the 31st century and, y’know, in space.

And if that sounds improbable, it’s because, well it’s not true at all. But Ulysees 31 was a re-imagining of Homer’s Odyssey. Although, in its own way, so was Joyce’s novel, so actually maybe you could argue the parallels of an 80s space-based cartoon and one of the most lauded works of twentieth-century literature. But you probably shouldn’t

Actually the idea of Homer’s Odyssey being set in space is a bit mad too. And quite a hard concept for a small child to understand.

So I didn’t understand it at all.

But I did really enjoy it.

Because it was set in space, with aliens and stuff.

Also, it was really good.

And the theme tune, when it got going, was pretty catchy too.

 

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 24: X

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X was always going to be the toughest letter in my A-Z of cartoon characters. It’s generally the toughest letter in an A-Z of any subject. Fortunately, the world of cartoons offered me a solution from a time when I thought I’d grown out of cartoons.

X

X is for X

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Professor X that is, otherwise known as Charles Xavier, and founder and leader of the X-Men. When X-Men, the Animated Series first hit our screens in the early nineties, I was already a teenager, and to be fair, not really a big viewer of animation. Some of my friends were into the Japanese Manga cartoons that were doing the rounds back then, but, while I acknowledge there are some excellent Japanese animations out there, it wasn’t really my kind of thing at the time.

No, I’d long sinced moved on from watching cartoons. I was vaguely aware of Batman the Animated Series (a show I would later come to love) but I hadn’t really given it much consideration. Then, one Saturday morning, quite by chance, I caught a few seconds of the new X-Men cartoon. Then I caught a few seconds more. Then I was hooked. Everyone was talking about it in school the following Monday. At first it was brought up surreptitiously, one of my mates dropped it into conversation. Did anyone happen to catch the X-Men on Saturday morning? Turns out we had. Everyone had. And slowly it became apparent that we’d all really got into it.

It was official – cartoons were back on the table.

X-Men: The Animated Series, along with Batman: The Animated Series, paved the way for lots more in the way of superhero offerings, the excellent 90s Spiderman cartoon, The Incredible Hulk, Superman, the list goes on. Obviously there were superhero movies before these cartoons became popular, but I’m pretty sure the current plethora of movies owes a lot to the cartoons of the early nineties recruiting a load of new fanboys who had never even considered picking up a comic book before.

Obviously I’ve chosen Professor X to represent the letter ‘X’ in my little series on cartoon characters, but the character that really resonated with all of us was, rather predictably, Wolverine, and this was when he was depicted wearing yellow spandex, which just goes to show what a cool character he was.

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 23: Willy Fogg

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Who, what, why, where and when? They are all words that being with ‘W’. So are ‘wonderful’, ‘witty’ and ‘wise’. I’m sure you knew that already though. I don’t know what point I’m trying to make really. Except that today’s letter in our A-Z compendium of cartoon characters, from a time period in which I was younger than I am now, has happened upon the letter ‘W’. So let’s see which whimsical creation we’re dealing with today.

W

W is for Willy Fogg

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Brought to you by the same people who brought you the amazing Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds, Around the World with Willy Fogg was another adaptation of a literary classic, with anthropomorphic animals as the protagonists. In this case, the novel in question was Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne. I haven’t read that book any more than I’d read The Thee Musketeers so I can’t comment on the fidelity of the animation to the original story. There were subtle changes that anyone could spot obviously. For example, the protagonist of the novel being called Phileas, whereas (fortuitously for this ‘W’ themed post) the protagonist of the cartoon was called Willy. Also the protagonist of the cartoon was an anthropomorphic lion, and I don’t believe that was the case in the novel. I could be wrong though, maybe he was a lion. Maybe I should read the book. Or a book at the very least. It might be a more suitable pastime for a man of my age than watching old cartoons.

Around the World with Willy Fogg was a fairly diverting cartoon. I remember watching it regularly and I remember enjoying it. It was very similar in tone and aesthetic to Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds, but it didn’t quite capture my imagination in the same way as that cartoon did. But, the theme-tune, if not quite as instantly catchy, certainly grows on you after a few listens.

 

 

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 22: Venkman

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It’s the 25th day of April and victory is in sight. Well that’s if you can count the the act of writing 26 cartoon-themed blog posts in alphabetical order, within a thirty day period as something it’s possible to be victorious in. Perhaps it is, or perhaps there are no winners in this race. Or more pertinently we’re all winners. Perhaps I should avoid talking about winners until tomorrow, as that is the ‘W’ post. Today I should stick to the term ‘victory’ as the designated letter is ‘V’. But, in the battle to represent ‘V’, just who was victorious?

V

V is for Venkman

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I love everything Ghostbusters. I loved the original 1984 movie, I loved the slightly inferior, but still great 1989 sequel and I liked the 2016 reboot, which was not as good as it could have been but much better than perhaps it should have been.

But more than all of those, I loved The Real Ghostbusters, the spin off cartoon that ran from 1986-1991.

Sorry, did I say I loved the cartoon more than the original movie. Obviously that’s not true at all. It was nowhere near as good as the first film. Let’s not lose our heads in all this nostalgia.

But it was a good cartoon, with some notable deviations from the movie. The most obvious of these was that the Harold Ramis character, Egon, had white hair in the cartoon. Also Slimer, the green ghost who was primarily a minor, though memorable, antagonist in the movie, was part of the team. Because a loveable ghost made it easier to sell merchandise probably. The show was called The Real Ghostbusters rather than just Ghostbusters, was because there was a different Ghostbusters cartoon around at the time, which had nothing to do with the movie. I didn’t watch the other Ghostbusters cartoon (I don’t know anyone who did) but The Real Ghostbusters was an after school favourite for many years.

Peter Venkman was my favourite character. He was obviously played by the brilliant Bill Murray in the movies but he was voiced by Lorenzo Music in the cartoon (who was also the voice of Garfield – so perhaps appropriate that Bill Murray would later go on to voice Garfield in the movie version of that particular franchise). Apparently Lorenzo Music was replaced after season 2, which I don’t recall, although that could be because I was just a kid and didn’t notice such things. Lorenzo Music did have a distinctive voice though, so more it’s likely that I didn’t watch too many episodes after season 2, which is entirely plausible given that together, seasons 1&2 totalled 78 episodes. I definitely don’t remember the show changing it’s name to Slimer and the Real Ghosbusters, but apparently this happened from season 4 onwards. I’m not sure how I feel about that; Slimer was a great image for lunchboxes, but I’m not sure the character contributed as much to the show as the actual Ghostbusters.

Having re-watched a few episodes of the first season in preparation for writing this, I can say they hold up pretty well after all this time. Definitely a fitting homage to one of the greatest movies of all time.

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 21: Uni

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Today I’m looking at ‘U’. Because that it the letter we’re up to in my A-Z of cartoon characters of my childhood. But, and I know this seems grammatically incorrect (even though it isn’t) – who is ‘U’?

U

‘U’ is for Uni (the Unicorn)

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Dungeons and Dragons was a pretty dark show as kids cartoons went. It was also brilliant. And slightly horrifying.

The premise is that some kids go on a ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ ride (whatever that was supposed to be – I’m not sure a fantasy role-playing game really lends itself to a roller-coaster but who am I to judge?) at a theme park, and rather than the thrill of a quick adrenaline rush, they get transported into an alternative reality called ‘The Realm of Dungeons and Dragons’. And it’s a pretty scary place, with a five-headed dragon and an evil wizard called Venger who wants to do them harm. Fortunately they meet someone called the Dungeon Master, who gives them magical weapons and they also meet a unicorn called Uni (brilliant name for a Unicorn no?) who seems to be more of a liability than anything. With these new weapons they set about trying to find a way out of the realm, and back home to their lives.  After many adventures, and one false dawn after another, they finally do get home.

Except, they don’t.

There was never a concluding episode to Dungeon and Dragons, so as far as we can tell those poor kids are still trapped there. Although it’s been, what, over thirty years, so they won’t be kids anymore. That’s if they survived.

Allegedly there was going to be a final episode, where the kids did all have the opportunity to leave, but it never got made.

Which is a bit rubbish really.

But it was a still an amazing cartoon.

 

On a completely separate note, it turns out that this is my 500th post on James Proclaims. That seems like quite a lot, so I should probably be congratulated for achieving this. Feel free to praise me to excess in the comments section below!

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 20: T-Bob

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Is it really time for ‘T’?

Well, in that case I’ll have an Earl Grey. Hot. Like Captain Picard used to have on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

And while I’m sipping on my Earl Grey, I’ll write today’s contribution to my catalogue of cartoon characters from a bygone age, as I head closer to the endgame of my A-Z Blogging Challenge. Because it really is time for ‘T’.

T

T is for T-Bot

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One day, I imagine, two executives at Kenner, the toy company which made many of the toys I loved as a child, sat down for a conversation. In my head, it went something like this:

Exec 1: Those Transformers toys over at Hasbro are doing pretty well, we should totally do something like that.

Exec 2: But we can’t just copy them, that would be unethical and as a major corporation, operating in the nineteen-eighties, ethics are at the cornerstone of everything we do.

Exec 1: I completely agree. But we should do something similar.

Exec 2: But what would be like Transformers, but not actually be Transformers?

Exec 1: Well, as far as I can tell, the bit the kids like is the transforming bit. They aren’t too bothered about what the thing is transforming from or to.

Exec 2: You mean like how originally Transformers were robots who transformed into vehicles, and were quite literally ‘robots in disguise’ but later on they became robots who transformed into dinosaurs, which makes no sense at all, because a giant robotic dinosaur would stand out as much as,  if not significantly more than, a giant robot.

Exec 1: Exactly, and the kids still love all that right?

Exec 2: Yes, kids are stupid.

Exec 1: Have we turned into Harry and Marv off of Home Alone?

Exec 2: What’s Home Alone?

Exec 1: I don’t know. I imagine it’s a film that will be really popular in the early nineties, but as it’s currently the early eighties, I couldn’t possibly know what it is.

Exec 2: Hmmm, this is all getting a bit strange. Have we turned into Vladimir and Estragon from Waiting for Godot?

Exec 1: What’s Waiting for Godot?

Exec 2. I don’t know. I imagine it’s a surrealist play by an Irish playwright who wrote a lot his plays in French and then translated them into English, and was an influential figure in the theatre of the absurd movement. I could feasibly have heard of this play given that it was first performed in 1953, but I haven’t because I’m an executive for a toy manufacturer, and it doesn’t seem like the kind of thing I would be into. Anyway what were we talking about?

Exec 1: Well, as I was saying, it’s the ‘transformy-ness’ of the toy rather than the fact that it’s a robot that makes Transformers so popular.

Exec 2: I think it’s a bit to do with the robots.

Exec 1: No, it’s definitely not the robots that make the toy work. So I reckon if we just copy the transformy bit, but make it ‘not robots’ we could have a hit on our hands.

Exec 2: So what? We’d have dinosaurs transforming into vehicles then?

Exec 1: I love that idea, but no, I think dinosaurs and vehicles is still too close to Transformers. What we need is something else changing into something else.

Exec 2: What? Like a helicopter that changes into a plane?

Exec 1; I mean that does sound a bit stupid, but essentially yes, why not vehicles that turn into other vehicles? No-one would think we were copying Transformers if we did that.

Exec 2: And we could give all the people that drove those vehicles really boring names like Matt Tracker, or Alex Sector.

Exec 1: This is going to be huge!

Now I don’t know if that is exactly how the conversation went, I wasn’t there. But that is, I think, a reasonable summary of what M.A.S.K was (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand, if you’re interested. Any yes, they did just change the spelling of the word ‘command’ to suit their needs).

And you might make the reasonable supposition that M.A.S.K was such a bad idea that it was one of the key contributing factors that eventually led to Kenner  being taken over by Hasbro.

But you’d be wrong. M.A.S.K was huge, and for a period of time it was my favourite thing ever. Seriously, I loved it more than He-Man, ThunderCats, Transformers, even Star Wars. I had a T-Bob birthday cake one year and it made me insanely happy.

But my whereas my love for all those other franchises has endured, my love for M.A.S.K burned bright for a time and then disappeared.

Because, really, it wasn’t very good.

And T-Bob was totally a robot who changed into a vehicle. He changed into a scooter. A scooter that still looked like a bloody robot. So he was like the worst Transformer ever really.

But the helicopter that changed into a plane was pretty cool.

Forlornly Fatigued

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Sometimes when I feel tired
I’m not really that nice
And it’s better to avoid me
Or make interactions more concise

I don’t mean to be so grumpy
Like a bear with a sore head
But I’m not very good at coping
When I spend too little time in bed

I’ll be much better tomorrow
When I’ve had a chance to rest
But today will be a challenge
And I won’t be at my best

So I wouldn’t bother trying
To engage with me today
I’ll be morose and sulky
If I cannot get my way

Better just to ignore me
And pretend that I’m not here
I might be a little joyless
But there’s nothing much to fear

Although it might help a little
If you want to cheer me up
To give me lots of chocolate
And pour some coffee in my cup

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 19: SuperTed and Spotty Man

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19 letters in to my A-Z Challenge brings us to ‘S’. Which is all rather super really. And also spotty.
S

S is for SuperTed and also for Spotty Man

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SuperTed was a local hero for me growing up in South Wales. Because he was Welsh. I mean he wasn’t actually Welsh, he was clearly fictional, and in the English Language version of the cartoon he didn’t have a Welsh accent or anything.

Nonetheless SuperTed was made in Wales and originally the show was made for the Welsh Language TV channel S4C, so the cartoons were actually broadcast in the medium of Welsh. But it didn’t take long for an English language version to hit our screens, which was just as well for me because I couldn’t understand Welsh. Well not very well anyway. We did learn it a bit in school, but I was never competent enough to attempt watching SuperTed in the language.

The English version had quite a well-known voice cast for the day, not least SuperTed’s sidekick, Spotty Man, who was voiced by none other than Jon Pertwee, who is perhaps better known for his roles as Worzel Gummidge and of course for being the third incarnation of Dr Who.

Even by the standards of some of the mad cartoons of the day, SuperTed was utterly bonkers. There was a weirdly complex origin story, which was shown at the start of every episode and involved both aliens and magic. Also it was a bit strange that an anthropomorphic Teddy Bear with super powers, who had been brought to life by magic, felt the need to assume a secret identity, as a normal Teddy Bear.  Because a walking, talking Teddy Bear would still be something of a talking point right? Although he still went by the name ‘SuperTed’ even when he wasn’t dressed in his superhero outfit, so it was never a great secret identity. Then again he lived in outer-space most of the time, so it wasn’t much of an issue.

The main antagonists were interesting, but not really in a good way, and they do rather date SuperTed to an era before political correctness was a thing. They were an odd bunch indeed – the leader was Texas Pete, an evil cowboy, Bulk, who just seemed to be a bit fat and Skeleton, who was actually a skeleton, albeit somehow alive. He was also very camp and wore pink slippers. There was recent talk of a SuperTed reboot (it doesn’t seem to have happened yet) and one of the main changes, according to SuperTed’s creator,  was going to be that the villains would be have to be different because literally none of them would be acceptable by today’s standards. Whether they were appropriate back then is certainly questionable, but it highlights how much progress we have made in the last thirty years, even if it doesn’t always feel like we have.

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Still, we all loved SuperTed at the time and one of my favourite memories as a child was going to see the SuperTed stage show. I’m fairly sure that Jon Pertwee actually played Spotty Man on stage, but that could just be my memory inserting information that isn’t actually true. It was my first ever visit to the theatre though and it was one of those experiences when I got so excited I made myself a bit ill.

It was brilliant.

There was also a road safety video that SuperTed and Spotty Man were in, and, although it was animated, it was very clearly set in Cardiff – you can actually recognise landmarks, and I’ve walked down that same street many a time – plus the orange buses were a dead giveaway, although they also date it, because Cardiff buses changed to green quite a few years ago. I’ve attached the road safety video below, because you need to see it, and it starts in the same way as all the episodes did, so you can also see SuperTed’s weird origin story too. Alas Texas Pete et al. are not in this clip, which means you don’t get a true reflection of the regular show in all it’s politically incorrect glory, but maybe that’s just as well.

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 18: Raphael

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Gosh we’re making progress with this A-Z business now aren’t we? We’re already up to the letter ‘R’. I think that calls for a little celebratory ‘Cowabunga’!

I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me. I assure you that will never happen again on these pages.

Let’s just try and forget about it and move on to today’s animated hero of choice

R

‘R’ is for Raphael.

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Raphael, as I’m sure we all know, was an Italian Renaissance Painter. As was Michelangelo, who also did a bit of sculpting. Sculpting was a thing that Donatello was also known for, and as for Leonardo, well he was something of a Renaissance polymath, who notably painted the Mona Lisa amongst other things. He was also a pretty good footballer in the 1990s. Although that might have been a different Leonardo. We should probably use full names when talking about these people to avoid confusion.

Certainly my sister got a bit confused when my family visited the Vatican back in 1990. When told that Michelangelo painted the Sistine chapel, she exclaimed her surprise, noting that she thought Michelangelo was a turtle.

Because of course, Raphael, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Donatello were all turtles too. Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles to be precise.

Sorry? What’s that?

Did I mean to write Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

I mean obviously I’ve heard of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They were also quite popular back in the day, and, to an extent, have retained a certain level of popularity over the years. Enough popularity for Michael Bay, not satisfied with ruining Transformers for everyone, to also ruin Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with some more of his awful movies.

But the franchise I loved when I was a child was definitely called Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles.

The main characters of Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles were anthropomorphic turtles who were really good at martial arts and were all named after renaissance artists.

If that sounds similar to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles then so be it, but it must have been a different cartoon because why else would it have had a different name? It can’t have been because British censoring laws in the 1980s meant that the word Ninja couldn’t be used because it might corrupt minors? That would be absolute madness!

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 17: Quimby

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Right, time for a little Q&A. Except, of course, we’ve already had ‘A’ – that was way back on the 1st April, when I started this whole A-Z of cartoon characters malarkey. So we’ll have to make do with ‘Q’ on its own today. I must admit that, along with ‘X’, ‘Q’ did present me with the most problems. There aren’t a lot of cartoon characters that start with ‘Q’. But I did manage to find one.

Q

‘Q’ is for Quimby

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Chief Quimby as a matter of fact. From 1980’s cartoon classic Inspector Gadget.

Inspector Gadget was a fun show about a hapless law enforcer, who for some reason was cybernetically enhanced with a load of gadgets, that mostly seemed to involve his arms and legs extending, although I do recall helicopter blades coming out of his hat. Despite all of the gadgets at his disposal, Inspector Gadget was largely useless, and more often than not, if he did save the day, it was entirely by accident. Fortunately his niece, Penny and their dog Brains (who was really a marvellously talented canine) were a bit more savvy and solved most of the crimes on his behalf, only for him to get all of the credit.

There were nods to a lot of pop-culture within the show – Inspector Gadget was quite a lot like Inspector Clouseau (albeit Peter Sellers iconic bumbling detective did not have extending arms) while the primary antagonist, Dr Claw, who was never seen on screen apart from his gaunteletted hands, which were often stroking a cat, was very much like Blofeld in the early Bond films. As for Quimby, well he was the guy that always recruited Gadget for his missions and there was a definite Mission Impossible vibe to the whole thing, with the messages always self-destructing after Gadget had read them. Unfortunately for poor Quimby, they always exploded in his face due to Gadget’s ineptitude and ignorance.

Inspector Gadget was a fun show. The plot was largely the same each week, but it didn’t really matter too much. It was always twenty minutes well-spent.

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 16: Panthro

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“I’ll have a ‘P’ please Bob” was something that was said a lot to the late great Bob Holness, presenter of the seminal 80s quiz show Blockbusters. It was a joke we never tired of (though I’m sure poor Bob did a little). Well now it’s my turn to have a ‘P’. For indeed that is the letter that we’re up to in the A-Z Blogging Challenge. But just who is the cartoon character that is hiding behind the letter today?

P

P is for Panthro

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In terms of 80s cartoons which also had a line of action figures, ThunderCats might have been my third favourite. Star Wars toys don’t count because they were inspired by a live-action movie, so it’s fight between He-Man figures and Transformers for the top sport, with He-Man et al. probably edging out the Cybertron exiles (well he was the most powerful man in  the universe!). But I did like the ThunderCats, partly because they were a reasonable size to be integrated into any games I was playing with my He-Man figures (the ThunderCats were a little taller if I recall, but close enough in size, whereas Star Wars figures were much too small, and had to be played with separately, according to the code I lived by at the time).

The ThunderCats cartoon was also hugely enjoyable. It was a bit of a strange concept, I was never clear if the ThunderCats were people with catlike qualities, or if they were  cats with people like qualities. It doesn’t really matter, they were from an entirely made-up world, which they had to escape from for some reason. Then they went to live on a different made-up world where they were tormented by Mumra. Mumra was, hands down, the most frightening of all the cartoon bad guys of the 1980s. Not as much fun as Skeletor from He-Man, but properly scary.

Panthro was the ThunderCat that was a bit like a Panther. Liono was the leader (and a bit like a lion). There were others that had names which told you which big cat they were a bit like. Panthro was cool because he drove the ThunderTank, which was the toy that everyone wanted back in nineteen-eighty-something. I wanted it anyway. But I wanted a lot of toys. I didn’t get the ThunderTank. But I did have a Millennium Falcon, which, on balance, was probably better, although entirely unsuitable for my ‘ThunderCat/He-Man crossover-inspired’ imaginary play.

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 15: Optimus Prime

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Another day of blogging about cartoons and today we’re up to letter number 15 in the alphabet, which surprisingly enough is the letter ‘O’. Which is OK. Well half of OK anyway. But what delightful animated personage awaits us today?

O

O is for Optimus Prime

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It had to be really. Well it could have been Orko, but we’re already covered He-Man. And it would have been remiss of me not have paid homage to the mighty Transformers, because , before Michael Bay decided to desecrate my childhood with his really bad movies, I did really like Transformers. The original cartoon felt the need to use the definite article and was therefore called The Transformers. It was, quite clearly, developed in order to sell more of the Transformers toys, but to be fair they were really cool toys. I probably had more in the way of He-Man and Star Wars toys than I did Transformers, and I imagine that was, at least a little bit, down to cost. I expect Transformers were a bit more expensive, but then they did do quite a lot more than your bog standard action figure. I mean they transformed from robots into other things that were not robots.

I did have a few Transformers in my collection, including Optimus Prime, who was the one everyone wanted. Well, we all wanted Soundwave, because he turned into a tape player, and Megatron because he turned into a gun, but they were Decepticons and therefore bad guys. Optimus Prime was the best Autobot (who were the good guys) to own. Bumblebee was also pretty cool, back when he was a VW Beetle, before Michael Bay decided that nothing was precious and turned him into a sports car.

The first Transformers toy I remember owning was a small red Autobot who transformed into a plane. I think he was called Jetfire. He was a ‘gift’ from my newly born baby sister (although I suspect my parents might have actually done the purchasing as my sister, being a newborn, had no discernible income and wasn’t especially mobile at the time). I remember being asked what it was that I’d had, by the nurse, when visiting my sister for the first time. With the benefit of hindsight it now seems clear she was asking whether I had a new baby brother or a new baby sister, but, exciting though the arrival of a new sibling was, I was more excited by the arrival in my hands of Jetfire, so I proudly explained to the nurse that I had a Transformer.

The Transformers was a great cartoon in its original format, but the particular highlight was the 1986 feature film, The Transformers: The Movie. It was pretty dark for a kids film, with Optimus Prime, until that point having always been the untouchable leader of the Autobots, getting killed off pretty early on. Other characters also meet quite their ends in quite brutal ways throughout the movie. It is also particularly notable for the fact that it was Orson Wells’ final film performance. He provided the voice of Unicron, the main antagonist. That’s right, Citizen Kane himself was in The Transformers: The Movie.

Optimus Prime was resurrected for subsequent The Transformers TV series. He had to be, he was just too popular and awesome to be dead for too long. Plus, presumably because he was a robot, he could just be repaired?

Obviously Transformers are still very much a thing, and as well as the awful live action films, there have been plenty of reboots of the cartoon over the years. None of them have had anyone of the calibre of Orson Wells linked with them but maybe some of them are OK? My nephew is really into something called Rescue Bots which appears to be a Transformers cartoon aimed at smaller children. I bought him the Rescue Bots version of Optimus Prime for Christmas.

It seemed like the right thing to do.

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 14: Nanny

James Proclaims (4)

It’s April 16th and we’re now halfway through this most glorious of months. And it’s no coincidence that we’re very much into the second half of the alphabet in the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Which brings us up to ‘N’. ‘N’ is a sometimes regarded as a negative letter. Its associations with the word ‘no’ are hard to ignore. Some people claim that ‘N’ gives us nothing. But we wouldn’t have any news without ‘N’, or any nougat for that matter.

But on to cartoons and what delightful animation awaits us today?

N

N is for Nanny

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Nanny was a slightly deranged and surprisingly robust hen who was responsible for the well-being of Count Duckula. Brought to us by the same people who gave us Danger Mouse, (indeed a version of Count Duckula first appeared  as a recurring villain in Danger Mouse, though he was a little different to eponymous hero of the spin-off show) Count Duckula told the tales of a vampire duck, who, due to a mix-up between blood and ketchup during his latest reincarnation, is also a vegetarian. A cartoon about a vegetarian vampire duck is as mad as it sounds, and very funny. Voiced by national treasure David Jason (who also voiced Danger Mouse, as well as the brilliant 1989 cartoon version of the BFG, not to be confused with the equally brilliant 2016 live action version) Duckula is one of the more memorable cartoon characters of my youth. Not quite as good as Danger Mouse, but still not a bad way to pass 20 minutes.

Domestic Drudgery

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Oh carpet on the floor
What’s with all the crumbs?
I vacuumed only last week
From where did they all come?

I’m sure that I just ironed
All those crumpled shirts
That they need another pressing
Rather disconcerts

Those dirty plates and cups
Are back sitting in the sink
But I only washed them yesterday
I don’t know what to think

Those walls now look quite shabby
But they were fine not long ago
Is there any point in painting them?
Would it all just be for show?

There really is too much to do
And none of it is fun
And as soon as I have finished
It all needs to be redone

Better not to start at all
And leave things in a mess
I’d rather live in squalor
It brings so much less stress

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 13: Montgomery Moose

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It’s day 13 of the A-Z challenge, which means, if my maths is correct, we’re halfway through the alphabet. Which probably means I should write about a cartoon character that begins with ‘M’, given that ‘M’ is very much the 13th letter in the aforementioned alphabet.

M

M is for Montgomery Moose

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This is probably the most disappointing entry on the list because I remembered The Getalong Gang as being really good. And having recently watched a few episodes on You Tube, I can see that it really wasn’t any good at all. They only made 13 episodes of it and it was a saccharine-fuelled bore-fest that occupied the moral high-ground at every available opportunity. It was commissioned by a greetings cards company to sell…er…. greetings cards. I suppose the clue was in the title – a cartoon called The Getalong Gang was hardly going to be edgy was it?

Still, I did love it at the time.

Montgomery was the leader and according to the show’s theme tune ‘he’s such a good sport’. But from the few episodes I’ve re-watched he was easily the most boring of all the really boring characters. Bingo ‘Bet-it-All’ Beaver had something about him, but his independent spirit was regularly crushed by the other gang members so in the end he conformed just like everyone else. I think I liked the show because the gang’ (or possibly cult) had a cool clubhouse in an abandoned caboose. I didn’t actually know what a caboose was, but it was on rails so I assume it was something to do with trains. I can’t imagine anyone would just abandon one so the gang must actually have been trespassing. Maybe they had a bit of edge about them after all.

To be fair, the theme tune was pretty catchy too.

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 12: Launchpad McQuack

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You want ‘L’? I’ll give you ‘L’! We’re all going to have an ‘L’ of a time!
Because ‘L’ is the letter of the day for the A-Z Blogging Challenge, in which I am currently participating. But which cartoon character of my youth is going to experience ‘L’ today?

L

‘L’ is for Launchpad McQuack

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Launchpad was a duck who appeared in two regular animated series back in the day. He was a main character on the 90s cartoon, Darkwing Duck, which was pretty good when all is said and done. Before that though, he was on the truly awesome series DuckTales, which centred around the adventures of Donald Duck’s rich but miserly uncle, Scrooge McDuck alongside Donald’s’ three nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie. Donald, himself, appeared in a  few episodes, but he was not a regular character. It was something of a game-changing move for Disney in terms of output and paved the way for many other popular shows, such as Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers (which I’ve already written about), the aforementioned Darkwing Duck, TaleSpin and numerous others.

But even alongside those shows, which all had their merits, DuckTales was a bit special. And as for the theme tune, well it might just be the best of all time.

 

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 11: Kermit

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Day 11 of the A-Z challenge and we’re up to ‘K’. I like ‘K’, it’s not a letter that likes to show off too much. There’d be no ‘knowledge’ without ‘K’ but rather than boasting about this, ‘K’ just stays silent. But don’t mistake this silence as weakness. That’s a mistake that could result in ‘K’ giving you a bit of kicking.

But which cartoon character is going to represent this most komplex of letters?

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K is for Kermit

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I’ve always been a fan of Kermit the Frog. I first came across his work through Sesame Street, where he performed admirably alongside the likes of Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch and, of course, the Cookie Monster. But while the majority of the aforementioned characters earned their living on that famous street, Kermit was merely moonlighting. His main job was as de facto leader of the Muppets. I discovered The Muppet Show when I was a bit older, and of course I spent many a happy hour watching the various Muppet movies (including The Muppet Movie). But one of my earliest memories of the Muppets was not in their guise as puppets, but rather the cartoon version of their junior selves in The Muppet Babies.

From what I can recall, the show was absolutely bonkers, but relentlessly feelgood. I know I continued to enjoy it when I was older than the specified target audience, which is generally the hallmark of a good cartoon in my humble opinion.

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 10: Joker

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It’s day 10 of the A-Z challenge, which brings us up to the letter ‘J’, I had to resist my natural urges to go with a cartoon character called James. There is no shortage of them either, and I kind of did like a lot of them. Indeed, it would be remiss of me not to at least give some of them a nostalgic nod, so before we move on to the main focus of today’s post, let’s hear it for all of the cartoon Jameses out there. In no particular order, here are a few of the best:

James the Cat

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James the Red Engine off of Thomas the Tank Engine (I’m not sure if stop-motion animation counts as a cartoon but it’s close enough for my purposes)

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Jimbo  off of Jimbo and the Jet Set

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Jimbo off of The Simpsons

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Jamie off of Jamie and the Magic Torch

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And, lest we forget, the inimitable James T Kirk off of Star Trek: the Animated Series.

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The cartoon, which is the focus of today’s entry, also had a character called James, who was reasonably important – Commissioner James Gordon.

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But there was another ‘J’ character who was a touch more memorable:

J

‘J’ is for Joker

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I touched upon the high quality of superhero cartoons in the 1990s in yesterday’s post, but even by the high standards of the era, Batman: The Animated Series was particularly strong. Partially inspired by the Tim Burton movies that preceded it, Batman: The Animated Series was darker in tone that your average cartoon, and dealt with more complex themes and ideas. It was visually very stylish, noiresque and slightly offbeat – the animated Gotham City was a skewed, surreal reflection of reality, which served the narrative well. The stories, were for the most part, pretty well written, but it was the vocal talent that gave the show it’s edge over other animated shows. Listen to Kevin Conroy as Batman, and every other actor who has ever portrayed him just sounds wrong. However it’s the episodes which feature the Joker which really elevate the show above pretty much every other superhero cartoon, and the majority of live-action movies. Voiced by none-other than Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, the Joker is beyond superlatives. Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the villain is often seen as the definitive version of Batman’s arch-nemesis, Jack Nicholson’s performance has its advocates, and I’ve always had a soft spot for Cesar Romero’s incarnation in the sixties TV show. But though he only lends his voice to the character, Hamill’s performance has to be considered among the best. He’s just so unhinged and manic, and it’s never really clear why he does any of the things he does, which is, I suppose, the essence of the character.

Without Hamill’s performance as the Joker, Batman: The Animated Series would probably still be virtually peerless as animated series go,  but with it, the bar is raised considerably higher.

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 9: Iceman

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Day 9 of the A-Z Challenge, and this is where I come into my own. Sorry, this is where ‘I’ comes into its own. ‘I’ can be confusing at times. So can I, but for different reasons. ‘I’ is a first person nominative singular pronoun, whereas I am definitely not a first person nominative singular pronoun. I am just inclined to write confusing paragraphs like this one, whereas ‘I’, being a letter, is unable to write anything as all, though is frequently used in the written form by people like me to write confusing paragraphs like this one.

But enough of this letter-based fun and onto some other letter-based fun involving my love of cartoons.

I

I is for Iceman

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There have been many Spiderman cartoons over the years. I’ve enjoyed quite a few of them. Probably my favourite was the cartoon from the 1990s, which was a vintage period for superhero-based animation. Alongside Spiderman, there were other Marvel offerings such as The X-Men, The Incredible Hulk and The Fantastic Four, which were all pretty great. DC, meanwhile, gave us Batman: The Animated series, which spawned Superman: The Animated Series and subsequently The Justice League, and The Justice League Unlimited cartoons. There have been multiple animated offerings from both DC and Marvel over the years, but the 1990s was a particularly golden time, when the animation was of a high standard and was, crucially, matched by the narratives for the most part.

However, the cartoon I’m focusing on today is from the early 1980s. It was called Spiderman and his Amazing Friends. The ‘amazing friends’ were the aforementioned Iceman and another character called Firestar.

Iceman, AKA Bobby Drake, was originally an ‘X-man’, but there has always been plenty of crossover between Marvel’s various franchises and so it’s reasonable that he was requisitioned for this particular cartoon. Firestar was created specifically for Spiderman and his Amazing Friends, but has subsequently joined the X-Men in the world of comic books. If I speak as something of an authority on the subject of Marvel comics then don’t be fooled, I’ve never read a comic book in my life. I’m pretty handy with a Google search though. Having said I’ve never read a comic book is in no way meant to detract from the fact that I absolutely love superhero cartoons and movies. That I’ve never really explored the source material, doesn’t mean I’m not grateful that it exists – I just prefer my superheroes to be on screen rather than in print.

I loved Spiderman and his Amazing Friends when I was a child. Indeed, it’s something of a testament to how much I was enthused by it that, even though Spiderman was pretty much my favourite superhero growing up, I actually might’ve had a slight preference for Iceman in this particular series. He was both figuratively and, I suppose, literally cool. I loved the way he transformed by freezing himself in a block of ice and then breaking out of it. All Spiderman did, by comparison, was put on a costume. I also liked the way that Iceman travelled around, by creating his own ice-travelator. Firestar, who completed the trio, was also great. I re-watched a few episodes in preparation for writing this post and the show held up surprisingly well. It is a little dated and doesn’t really hit the standards set by the 1990s Spiderman series, but it was really quite watchable. Also there is a surprising amount of sexual tension between the characters for what was, essentially, a children’s cartoon.

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 8: He-Man and Hordak

James Proclaims (4)

Right, this is the point when it all gets a bit confusing with the whole A-Z Challenge malarkey. Yesterday, being a Sunday, was an officially designated day off. That’s why I posted a poem instead of piece about my choice of cartoon character to represent the letter ‘H’. I’ll be doing ‘H’ today instead. Which is where the confusion comes in, because previously the numerical position of the letters in the alphabet corresponded with the date. But today is the 9th April and ‘H’ is only the 8th letter. We’re all intelligent people, I’m sure we’ll all be able to work with the situation, but it feels like we may have descended into anarchy a little here…

H

H is for He-Man

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Star Wars figures made up the bulk of my toys as a child, but if there was one franchise that came close to shifting Luke Skywalker et al. from their coveted status as the greatest  thing ever, then it was He-Man and The Masters of the Universe. Predominantly this was within the sphere of action figures. But I did love the cartoon series too. A lot. As far as after-school cartoon shows went, He-Man was my absolute favourite. I watched it again recently and while it has, in no way, stood the test of time particularly well, I can definitely see why I liked it. Obviously it’s all a bit stupid, and frankly it’s not as if Prince Adam doesn’t already have enough going for him (what with being the heir to throne of Eternia) without being given the additional privileges of becoming ‘the most powerful man in the universe’ (Apparently Donald Trump has taken issue with that claim and is currently engaged in a Twitter war with He-Man). Also, why can’t any of the other characters work out that He-Man and Prince Adam are the same person? Literally all he does is remove most of his clothing, and don some kind of strange fetish gear. He doesn’t even change his hairstyle. And that is quite a hairstyle, even by the dubious standards of the 1980s.

On the plus side, Skeletor is possibly the greatest antagonist of all time.

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He’s genuinely hilarious and for a skeleton, he’s in pretty good shape – we know this because he adopts a similar fashion strategy to He-Man and wears next to nothing. In fact a lot of the characters prefer to conduct most of their business wearing very little. Eternia is obviously quite an open-minded community,

The animation was pretty poor in truth, if a lot of the action looks repetitive then it’s because the same animations were used in multiple sequences to save money. Drawings of characters that appear in one-off episodes, are reused as different characters in later episodes. It’s obvious when re-watching the series as an adult but to be fair to the animators I’m certain I never really noticed this as a kid.

One thing that has always puzzled me though, is why, in the opening credits, after He-Man has explained to the viewer who he is, (and he is talking directly to the ‘camera’), does he then seemingly punch the viewer in the face? Seriously, watch the video below – it’s at 50 seconds in.

‘H’ is also for Hordak

Hordak

Hordak was the primary antagonist in She-Ra: Princess of Power, a spin-off of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, in which we meet He-Man’s twin sister, She-Ra. Quite why we had never heard of He-Man’s sister in the original series is explained in the opening episodes of the series. Indeed the first five episodes of the show were combined and released as a feature length animation called The Secret of the Sword. I was so excited when that movie came out. It’s not brilliant, but it’s still a billion times better than the live action Masters of the Universe movie which starred Dolph Lundgren as He-Man (and also features a young, pre-Friends Courtney Cox, who, alas, does nothing to redeem the film).

Hordak was nowhere near as good a villain as Skeletor, but, in the main, She-Ra: Princess of Power  was every bit as good a cartoon as it’s precursor, and She-Ra herself, dare I say it, might even have been a bit better than He-Man. Certainly she seemed to have a lot more powers than He-Man. His main power was being really strong, whereas she was just as strong and could talk to animals, and her sword could turn into basically anything she wanted it to (including an ‘ice-making machine’ at one point…)

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If my last entry, the Care Bears, was a show predominantly marketed towards girls then I’m not sure who She-Ra: Princess of Power was aimed at. It seemed to be aimed at girls but I definitely watched She-Ra and so did all of my male friends, and in a much less secretive way than we might all have watched Care Bears. The toys were marketed in a strange way, with all the female characters sold almost as if they were Barbie Dolls, but all the male characters were packaged differently and actually sold as He-Man toys, even though they weren’t ever in He-Man. It was all very confusing, Thank goodness that toys don’t come with such obvious gender-marketing  bias these days.

Oh wait…

Where Did All The Chocolate Go?

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Where did all the chocolate go?
I had so much last week
But now I cannot find it
No matter where I seek?

It seems strange that it is gone
There was a plentiful supply
But it’s nowhere to be seen
And I really don’t know why

Ok I did eat some of it
Back on Easter Sunday
And I consumed a little more
During Bank Holiday Monday

And yes I might have had some
On Tuesday after lunch
And a delightful bit of Easter Egg
On Wednesday I did munch

But on Thursday there was plenty left
I know because I had some
And though I tried hard to abstain
On Friday I did succumb

But I hadn’t finished all of it
As Saturday was dawning
So I might have had a smidgen
To see me through the morning

But now it seems to have all gone
What has become of it?
And here’s another mystery
My trousers don’t now fit!

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 7: Grumpy Bear

James Proclaims (4)

Can it already be the 7th April? Why, that must mean that we’re up to ‘G’ in my mawkish retrospective of the cartoons of my youth. And today doubles as something of a confessional, as I reveal one of my guiltier pleasures from back in the day.

G

G is for Grumpy Bear

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The Care Bears were really aimed at girls and I was very much a boy. Add to this the fact that it was the 1980s, when it was generally considered ‘not ok’ for a boy to like stuff that was aimed at girls (I’d like to imagine that today we live in more enlightened times, but I expect I’m wrong about that) and I wasn’t really supposed to like the Care Bears. But I did quite like the Care Bears. Perhaps I’ve always been a sensitive soul and the notion that all the world’s problems could be solved by just ‘caring a bit more’ appealed to me on some level. Or maybe I just liked the bright colours. I was a small child back then – who knows what was going on in my head?

Obviously the makers of Care Bears didn’t really care about making the world a better place, they really only cared about selling lots of overpriced stuffed toys to children.

The cartoon massively fails the test of time. It’s overly saccharine and hard to watch. But, for whatever reason, I did really like it at the time. Especially the 1985 movie, which might have been a tiny bit better than the TV series, (but probably not much better). I was far from the only kid (male or female) that liked Care Bears though – they were hugely popular.

My sister had a Care Bear.

I didn’t.

You can get them again now. If my mum is reading this, then I need to point out that she is in no way obliged to make up for me not having a Care Bear as a child by getting me one now…

I had loads of toys as a kid. Mostly He Man and Star Wars figures, but also some ThunderCats thrown in for good measure. I didn’t need a Care Bear. I’m not even sure that I especially wanted a Care Bear. I’m just saying that if I had wanted one, there would have been nothing wrong with me wanting one.

If, by chance, I had owned a Care Bear, it would definitely have been Grumpy Bear…

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 6: Ferocious Ness

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Well if it isn’t Friday and, moreover the 6th of April. But who really gives an ‘F’?

Well I do as a matter of fact, because ‘F’ is very much the letter I’m on in my quest to write about the beloved cartoons of my youth in this year’s A-Z blogging challenge.

F

‘F’ is for Ferocious Ness

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The Family Ness was a cartoon all about a family of Loch Ness monsters. They all had names that made the most of the word ‘Ness’ by using is as a suffix to nominalise adjectives in order to create their names, although rather than creating an actual noun, the adjective was used as the character’s forename and ‘Ness’ became the surname. It was grammar lesson and a cartoon all in one.

Some examples of Nessie characters were:

Lovely Ness

Sporty Ness

Forgetful Ness

Clever Ness

Ferocious Ness was the main one and he appeared in the most episodes. He wasn’t particularly ferocious, although he was, perhaps, a little curmudgeonly at times.

 

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 5: Evil Edna

James Proclaims (4)

It’s the fifth day of April and, if all is going according to plan, then I should be on to ‘E’ in my quest to come up with an alphabetic guide to the cartoon characters that made me the man I am today.

And, as luck would have it, I appear to be very much on schedule, which is fantastic news.

But before I get on with all that, I’d just like to say a huge thanks to everyone who sent me birthday wishes yesterday. I was genuinely touched to know that so many people care.

I assume I was anyway. I’m writing this a few days in advance so as I type these words, I have no idea if anyone did bother to wish me happy birthday. Frankly I’m going to look pretty stupid if nobody actually did.

But let’s set aside my troubles and the ignorance of all those people who failed to acknowledge my birthday and get on with the matter at hand.

Although would it have killed you to wish me happy birthday? Really. All it would have taken was a few seconds out of your day and you could have made a real difference…

No, it’s too late now…

No, it’s fine, let’s just get on with it…

No, I’m not crying, there’s something in my eye…

Look, I’ll be fine, it doesn’t matter. It wasn’t even a big birthday. It’s just I thought, y’know, what with everything we’ve been through…

Hmmm, I seem to have written myself into a cul de sac with my mock self-pity. How to move on? I could pretend that everything I’ve written above isn’t there and just get on with the A-Z Challenge malarkey. What letter was I on? Oh yes. Today’s letter du jour is ‘E’:

E

‘E’ is for Evil Edna

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I remember watching Willo the Wisp as a kid, but I couldn’t tell you what it was about. Indeed so vague was I about the whole thing that I was genuinely surprised to discover, a number of years ago, that Willo the Wisp and The Magic Roundabout were completely different things. Although, they both were utterly bonkers so maybe that’s why I got confused.

One thing I do recall about Willo the Wisp was that there an evil magic television set called Evil Edna. An evil television set? In the woods? I really must watch Willo the Wisp again soon.

In fact, lets watch an episode together now…

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 4: Danger Mouse

James Proclaims (4)

It’s the fourth day of April and that can only mean that in my quest to alphabetise the cartoon characters of my youth, we must have arrived at the letter ‘D’.

What’s that you say?

Isn’t the fourth of April also my birthday?

Well I wasn’t going to bring it up but now that you mention it, it is indeed my birthday today.

There’s no need to make a fuss. It’s just a day like any other. No, there’s no need to give me lots of really expensive presents.

Well, ok if you insist.

But there’s plenty of time for all of that. For now let us return to the matter at hand. And that matter is ‘D’

D

‘D’ is for Danger Mouse.

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There were a lot of 1980s rodent heroes as I recall. The Rescue Rangers had a whole team of them, Basil was a Great Mouse Detective, Fievel had his fair share of adventures in An American Tail and if Speedy Gonzales and Mighty Mouse pre-date the 80s, then that’s the time period in which I discovered them so they absolutely still count.

The greatest of them all was, without a shadow of a doubt, Danger Mouse. Seriously, just listen to his theme tune – it literally opens with the line “He’s the greatest…”

I loved Danger Mouse as a kid. I love Danger Mouse now. I own a Danger Mouse t-shirt. I literally would be Danger Mouse if it were at all possible.

But, alas, when asked the question “are you a man or a mouse?” I reluctantly have to concede that I am a man.

And Danger Man just isn’t the same thing at all.

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 3: Chip

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It’s the third day of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2018, and, having dispatched the letters ‘A’ and ‘B’ with ease, let us see what I can do with ‘C’

C

‘C’ is for Chip

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Chip ‘n’ Dale were cartoon chipmunks, but not the ones who sang with Alvin. They were the ones who annoyed Donald Duck in classic Disney cartoons.  They were revamped in 1989’s Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers. In this show they were given a team and an awesome theme tune and they tackled crime and helped people. I’m not sure why anyone thought this was a good idea. It doesn’t sound like a good idea. And it wasn’t a good idea.

It was an AWESOME idea!

Crime fighting chipmunks? How cool is that?

Unlike in their original incarnations as duck-botherers, during which time they were largely interchangeable, in this series Chip and Dale had distinct characteristics from each other. Chip was very much the adventurous Indiana-Jones-esque leader of the Rescue Rangers and Dale was more comic relief in the main. It was all entertaining, though ultimately forgettable stuff for the most part. I can’t ever forget that theme tune though…

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 2: Bananaman

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It’s Day 2 of the month of April and by sheer coincidence, it’s also Day 2 of the A-Z Blogging Challenge. If I’m not mistaken (and I rarely am) the second letter of the alphabet is ‘B’

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‘B’ is for Bananaman.

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I used to read the Beano as a kid. I did not read the Dandy. You couldn’t read both. It wasn’t allowed. You had to pick a side and I opted for Dennis the Menace, Minnie the Minx and The Bash Street Kids, over Desperate Dan, Korky the Cat and Winker Watson. Because they were much much better.

But the Dandy did have one character that might have persuaded me to change sides. And that was the incomparable Bananaman.

Fortunately there was a TV adaptation of Bananaman so I was able to have my banana cake and eat it, getting to enjoy the Beano in comic book form and Bananaman as a televised cartoon.

Without Bananaman it is distinctly possible that I would never have eaten fruit as a child. But to this day, whenever I eat a banana I retain the hope that it will give me superpowers.

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 1: Athos and Aramis

James Proclaims (4)

It’s Easter Sunday, a day of not inconsiderable religious significance for some people, which I absolutely respect, though I am not especially of a religious persuasion myself. It also is a day on which we’re encouraged to eat lots of chocolate, so long as that chocolate comes in the shape of an egg,  and this is something that I’m more than happy to get on board with. I’ll certainly be having my fill of egg-shaped chocolate today.

Easter Sunday is not always on the 1st April – given that the need for it to specifically happen on a Sunday precludes it from occurring on a consistent calendar date. I imagine there are other factors, which also determine when Easter occurs, because it’s sometimes in March and sometimes in April and sometimes it’s right at the start of April, but other times it’s at the end of April. I don’t know what those factors are. Perhaps I’ll look them up, or maybe I’ll continue in my ignorance. As long as I get to eat lots of chocolate I’m basically fine with it happening whenever it happens.

What does always occur on the 1st April is the much loved April Fools Day celebration, where we all go out of our way to make our family and friends look a bit stupid, while hoping that they don’t make us look a bit stupid in return. If you are going to embark on a little ‘fool-mockery’ today then be sure to observe the key rule – humiliating people is a morning activity only. If you catch someone out with a witty fabrication in the afternoon then tradition dictates that it is you who is the fool, not them. Even if they still clearly are fools for falling for such an obvious prank…

This year, April 1st is also the day on which I down my usual blogging tools and pick up my specially commissioned alphabetised tools in order to take part in the, now traditional, A-Z Blogging Challenge. This year (as you’ll know if you bothered to read this explanatory post) I’ll mostly be blogging about cartoon characters that I liked in my youth. Which brings us neatly on to my first cartoon character (or in this case characters) of choice. Today, being the first day of the challenge is is all about the letter ‘A’:

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‘A’ is for Athos and also for Aramis.

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They were two of the fabled ‘three musketeers’ from Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel ‘The Three Musketeers’. Which I’ve never read. But I have seen numerous adaptations which, as we all know, is exactly the same as reading the book.

And my favourite adaptation, beyond a shadow of a doubt, was the brilliant 80’s cartoon Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds, in which all the protagonists were portrayed as animals (and mostly, but not exclusively, as dogs).

I was never quite sure why they were called ‘muskehounds’ in the title and theme tune and then referred to as musketeers in the cartoon itself. But no matter, it’s a tiny criticism of what was one of the seminal cartoons of my youth.

Another criticism might be that the characters of Porthos and Athos seemed, in the cartoon, to have been mixed up – ‘Porthos the muskehound’ largely had the character traits of  ‘Athos the musketeer’ from the book and vice versa. It never bothered me too much, but it does seem a strange mistake to have made.

However, let’s not dwell on that now. Instead, let’s all sing along with the fantastic theme tune.

All together now:

One for all and all for one
Muskehounds are always ready
One for all and all for one
Helping everybody…