Popeye Met The Defenders Of The Earth In 1972?!

Back in 1985 one of my favorite animated series was Defenders of the Earth. Numerous times on The Retroist I’ve mentioned my fondness for pulp characters. Of heroes of the Golden Age – like The Shadow, The Phantom and others.

Thanks in fact to the 1980 Flash Gordon film. I came across an old collection of comic strips from King Features Syndicate at my local library. Which is of course how I was introduced to the likes of Mandrake the Magician and Lothar. Which like The Phantom was a creation of Lee Falk as well. They even had old Popeye collections from the E.C. Segar strip days!
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So you can easily imagine my joy when the Defenders of the Earth series debuted one morning. Bear in mind that if you didn’t have access to a TV Guide you were generally caught unawares about a new animated weekday show.

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Until last night however I wasn’t aware that the Defenders of the Earth had grouped together before 1985. Back in 1972 in fact for Popeye Meets The Man Who Hated Laughter – which was part of ABC’s Saturday Superstar Movie!

[Via] Muttley 16

When I stumbled on this I felt for a moment like I was reading an issue of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Moreover these early Defenders were joined by another King Features Syndicate hero – Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon.

That is not even the most interesting part of it. The group that we would come to know as the Defenders of the Earth were brought together for a very special mission.

The Defenders of the Earth circa 1972.

In Popeye Meets The Man Who Hated Laughter, the US government asked the team to locate missing comic strip characters. Such as Blondie and Dagwood.

Beetle Bailey and Sarge.

As well as Popeye and Olive Oyl of course!

To say nothing of characters from Henry, Hi and Lois, Tiger and Prince Valiant. In addition to Bringing Up Father, Little Iodine, Snuffy Smith, and more.

Popeye Meets the Man Who Hated Laughter concerns itself with the villainous Professor Morbid Grimsby. A wretch who plans on banishing all laughter in the world – aided by a super computer as well as Popeye’s nemesis, Brutus. Inviting the cast of comic strip superstars aboard a yacht – the S.S. Hilarious. Taking them to the island hideaway of Professor Grimsby, where they will be his prisoners.

It’s up to the proto-Defenders of the Earth to locate the missing characters. Now in view of just how awesome this TV special really is, I should warn you about something. The sound isn’t that good. But in all honesty we are all incredibly lucky that Stupid Dim Bulb was able to upload this rare 1972 movie.

While it would take the Defenders of the Earth 13 years in fact to return to animation. Popeye was back in action in 1978 with The All New Popeye Hour!

[Via] Cartoons Intro

Check Out This 1984 Kidd Video Interview!

When the pilot episode of NBC’s Saturday morning animated series Kidd Video debuted on September 8, 1984. I was hooked. The premise of a garage band getting sucked into an animated universe was right in my wheelhouse.
Kidd Video

Kidd Video scratched that itch I was beginning to develop, which was obviously a desire for music. Music videos in fact. Please keep in mind that music wasn’t a big thing in my household when growing up. It wasn’t banned or anything like that – we just didn’t listen frequently.

Having said that, Kidd Video came out at the perfect time. While it would be a couple of years before I would get access to the likes of MTV. I had already been introduced to the music video by way of Nick Rocks!

[Via] AnnainCA

Now as I just mentioned, I really dug Kidd Video. I apparently wasn’t the only child of the 80s who took to it either. As the show was the most popular new children’s show of 1984 as well as coming in third in the Nielsen ratings for all Saturday morning cartoons.

It wasn’t until many years later that I learned that the cast who played the members of the band. Also lent their voices to the series as well as the original songs they sang. Kidd Video was portrayed by Bryan Scott, Carla was played by Gabrielle Bennett. The band’s resident tech head, Whiz, was Robbie Rist. Yes, none other than Cousin Oliver from The Brady Bunch.

Last but not least was Ash, the keyboardist for the band, played by Steve Alterman.

Furthermore with the exception of Bennett, they could actually play their instruments. So this made Kidd Video something of a powerhouse for both DIC and Saban entertainment. Which is how the band members and even Haim Saban were interviewed on the program, 2 on the Town.

[Via] Toolbot

Now Kidd Video were also popular enough to appear on Dance Fever!

[Via] toolbot

While the animated series was quite popular, they didn’t have much of a marketing impact in the USA. Although this wasn’t the case in Israel where the group in fact toured. Kidd Video spawned a record album, coloring books, a card game, and even candy bars and yogurt. So why not treat yourself and listen to a track from said album. The song from the intro of the cartoon – Video To My Radio!

[Via] Gen. DeverauX

Remembering The Mouse on the Mayflower

I am a creature of habit.

Every year when November 1st rolls around, I open the Holiday Special Cabinet in my entertainment center. (Yes, I have a Holiday Special Cabinet. Don’t you)? I put away my Halloween specials and bring my Thanksgiving specials to the forefront. The Mouse on the Mayflower

My favorite is 1968’s The Mouse on the Mayflower. The Mouse on the Mayflower was a staple of my Thanksgiving viewing during my elementary school days. I can hardly remember a Thanksgiving where we didn’t watch that particular Rankin-Bass special during class. It’s stuck with me all these years. Rankin-Bass owns a good portion of the holiday special landscape in my head, but The Mouse on the Mayflower is special to me. I am most taken by the narration and songs performed by Tennessee Ernie Ford.

There’s something comforting to me about the special. It hearkens back to a time when things were simpler. Thanksgiving meant good food, cartoon specials, a few days off from school, and playing with my cousins after the feast.

Unfortunately, I think The Mouse on the Mayflower has gone by the wayside in recent memory.  I’ve not seen it on the air since the 90s and it has never seen a DVD release. According to Wikipedia, the last VHS release of the film was by Sony Wonder and Golden Books Family Entertainment in 1998. I have a copy of the VHS, which I found by pure accident in a free bin outside one of my favorite used book/movie stores. Fortunately for us, we have YouTube.

[Via] Kevin Burns

Do you remember The Mouse on the Mayflower? What is your favorite part? Do you have another Thanksgiving special that’s been forgotten? However you celebrate, I hope your Thanksgiving is full of nostalgia and good food.

(I have to chime in here and admit that the very first time I watched this special was at school as well. On actual film in fact! -Vic)

Dragon's Blood

CBS Storybreak: Dragon’s Blood (1985)

Dragon’s Blood is a 1985 animated movie or episode of the CBS Storybreak.
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Which was a Saturday morning anthology series presenting animated adaptations of children stories. Debuting on March 30, 1985 and lasting until 1987 the series was hosted by Bob Keeshan – Captain Kangaroo himself!
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Besides Dragon’s Blood other stories that were adapted included How to Eat Fried Worms, and Chocolate Fever. To name just a few of course. I must be completely honest and admit that I didn’t watch CBS Storybreak on a regular basis. While I certainly can’t remember exactly what was was taking my valuable viewing time I do know it was a rare occasion that I switched to the anthology series.

However I did see Dragon’s Blood when it aired – possibly there was a rerun of Kidd Video or something? Whatever the reason, I watched it and quite enjoyed it. Dragon’s Blood was adapted from the novel by Jane Hyatt Yolen. Part of the Pit Dragon Trilogy of books in fact. The story took some liberties it would seem with the source material. So much so that is has been said that Yolen remarked “it looked as if someone had waved the book in the direction of the camera and done little else.”

While that may be the case I have to argue that while not having had the pleasure of reading the books it still holds up. Entertaining and an incredible score to say the least. The story concerns a young slave named Jakkin. Who is a slave or a Bonder, who takes care of the mighty dragons used in pit-fighting events. The young man harbors a dream of stealing a dragon egg before they hatch in the hopes of training it, earning enough coin to pay his bond. To become a free man.

Fate it would seem agrees with that plan as an unhatched egg comes into his possession. Naming it Heart’s Blood the two form a friendship…but can they overcome the odds and win in the arena?
Dragon's Blood

Find out for yourself as you watch Dragon’s Blood!


By the way, there are some wonderful vintage commercials included in the video below. Such asRainbow Brite, Pop-Tarts, and My Little Pony!

[Via] Adrian Forte

Bugs Bunny And Friends By Jerrod Maruyama

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I’m a big fan of Jerrod Maruyama artwork. When I’m not blogging on the Retroist, I can be found at my Pop Culture / Food Blog – Between the Pages. My blog’s mascot – Ace – was created by Jerrod.
ace

Jerrod just released a wonderful print called Bugs and Friends for Dark Hall Mansion.


Bugs and Friends - Jerrod Maruyama - Dark Hall Mansion
The detail on this print is amazing!

The silver carrot holder beside Bugs is engraved with his initials.

There is a framed picture of Playboy Penguin from ‘8 Ball Bunny’ over Bug’s TV.

In addition to his most famous foes like Marvin the Martian, Yosemite Sam, & Elmer Fudd, this print also includes the Gremlin (from Falling Hare), Witch Hazel, Gossamer (the heart shaped monster), Pete Puma, “Babyface” Finster, and Rocky.

This print brings a smile to my face and makes me long for Saturday Morning Cartoons.

(Karen’s post and lament for the lost days of Saturday morning cartoons made think we need to watch Playboy Penguin. So for your viewing enjoyment we present 1950’s “8 Ball Bunny”! – Vic)

[Via] Alex Webb

Lords Of Light! A Thundarr The Barbarian Lunchbox!

Thundarr the Barbarian was a show that was ahead of it’s time. Perhaps some kids just weren’t ready for the shattered Earth of 3994 AD. As a matter of fact I doubt that the parents were happy with the sword and sorcery violence either. I’m not truly sure why it didn’t survive past two seasons…or why it took 24 years to finally get some action figures!
Thundarr The Barbarian

On the other hand I can tell you in all honesty that I ate up Thundarr The Barbarian with a spoon. A spoon covered in stuck on Boo Berry marshmallows mind you but a spoon nonetheless. Furthermore I beg you to answer the question how anyone couldn’t love this show. You had character designs by the likes of Jack Kirby and Alex Toth. Then the whole series was dreamed up by Man-Thing and Howard the Duck creator, Steve Gerber!
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On the other hand my love of the show may have had a little something to do with seeing 1982’s Conan the Barbarian in theaters. I will admit I was probably too young for it at the time…or maybe I was actually at just at the right age?

Now Thundarr The Barbarian was produced by Ruby-Spears and aired on the ABC television network from 1980 to 1982. In all the series had 21 episodes. However that isn’t where I saw the show. I actually watched it in 1983 when it made the jump as a rerun on Saturday Morning on NBC.
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If you frequent The Retroist I’m sure when you think of Thundarr the first thing that pops into your mind is that stunning intro!

Jedi Juggernaut

Now check out this Thundarr The Barbarian lunchbox!


Thanks to the generosity of none other than RetroArtBlog we can totally drool over this vintage Aladdin produced lunchbox. I believe that RetroArtBlog picked it up on an online auction. A thing of beauty I bet you will agree – even it it was manufactured after the age of metal lunch boxes!
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Thundarr the Barbarian - Thermos
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I want to point out something odd about this 1981 lunchbox and thermos. The folks at Aladdin decided to forego the villainous Gemini. Instead as is evident they went with the King of the Groundlings! Not complaining, just addressing an interesting design choice.
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A super thanks to RetroArtBlog once again. Not just for granting me permission to share his recent acquisition with you but for also taking the photographs!

Want to know more about Thundarr The Barbarian?


You are totally in luck as The Retroist Podcast #48 is totally all about that classic cartoon series!

retroist-podcast-thundarr-the-barbarian