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!
thundarr-ookla-princess-airel

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.
nbc-saturday-morning

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!
thundarr-the-barbarian-lunchbox-retroartblog

Thundarr the Barbarian - Thermos
thundarr-the-barbarian-thermos-2
thundarr-the-barbarian-thermos-3

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.
thundarr-the-barbarian-thermos-4-the-rat-king
thundarr-the-barbarian-thermos-5-ariel
thundarr-lunchbox-retroartblog
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

Linguistics in The Land of the Lost

The past 3 years of my life have been spent pursuing my M. A. degree part-time at Signum University. I’m getting a degree in Literature and Language with an emphasis in Imaginative Literature (Science Fiction and Fantasy). Part of my degree includes a requirement of two language classes. This past spring I had the opportunity to take my first language course, and boy did I pick a doozie–Language Invention through Tolkien. This is by far the most challenging class and one of the most fascinating classes I’ve taken thus far in my grad school career.

While I was fully expecting to get a crash course in philology and Elvish from my professor and Tolkien Scholar, Dr. Andy Higgins. What I was not expecting was to learn a particularly fascinating tidbit about some classic retro children’s television–Land of the Lost. While Sid and Marty Krofft were out breaking ground in innovative children’s programming with their life-size, colorful puppetry and mystical fantasy worlds, they also set a new standard for science fiction and fantasy television and film. Land of the Lost has the distinction of being the first television series to invent a language specifically for a TV show. The language of Paku, spoken by the Pakumi people, was invented by UCLA professor of linguistics, Dr. Victoria Fromkin. Not only is this the first art language invented for television, it is the first instance of a television show hiring a professional linguist to develop a language for television.

All of this was fascinating to me for many reasons.

1). Who does that for a kid’s show, especially in the 1970s?
2). I also had to ask–“Wait a minute, didn’t Klingon come first?”

Before I could fact check my professor, he stopped me in my tracks. (Really kids, 99% of the time, you shouldn’t have to fact check your professors; I just have a big ego). Land of the Lost aired from 1974-1976. The first instance of spoken Klingon occurred in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), where Mark Lenard introduced a few key phrases; however, the Klingon language did not reach its final form until Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) when linguist Marc Okrand was brought in to fully develop the tongue of our favorite warrior race.

There you have it, Retroids, the first invented language for television wasn’t Klingon, it was Paku. You can now pull this fascinating bit of trivia out of your pocket at parties to impress your friends, or you can take a look at these helpful links to teach yourself Paku!

The Paku Dictionary

The next time you watch a science fiction/fantasy show with an invented language, raise your glass to Professor Victoria Fromkin, and of course, Sid and Marty Krofft. Without them, some of our favorite shows and films would be a little less fun. Until next time,

“Qapla’!”

“Yub nub!”

and

“Kasa!”

I’m Telling

im-telling

I’m Telling was a Saturday morning game show for kids (NBC, 1987-88). It was the same format as The Newlywed Game, only instead of lovers and marrieds, siblings were isolated and had to predict how the other would answer.

It usually featured regular kids, but here’s a clip the final prize round of a celebrity episode featuring Mackenzie “Latter-Day Facts of Life” Astin, and his brother, Sean “Rudy Samwise” Astin.

Pryor’s Place

You may not realize this, but for a brief moment in the 1984/1985 television season, Richard Pryor had a kid’s show on CBS. The show, which starred Pryor in many roles, was populated with a cast of Krofft Puppets (Sid and Marty produced the show) who hung around in a friendly inner city environment. The show kind of resembled Sesame Street, but was more edgier, dealing with topics that Sesame Street would not touch with a 10 foot pole at the time. The show ran late on Saturday mornings (at 11:30 AM E/T) from September 15 to December 8, 1984, with repeats airing until June 15, 1985.

pryors place

The show had a memorable theme song that was performed by Ray Parker Jr. Ray also appears in the show’s opening credits.