Sunday, January 1, 2012

Starcom




Continuing my series on science fiction cartoons from the eighties, we will take a look at Starcom today.

I know this will come as a complete and utter shock, especially in light of previous features in this series, but Starcom...or more properly, Starcom: US Space Force...was based on a toyline.  Perhaps even more shocking was that the main thrust of the series' plot was standard space opera: humanity moves out to colonize the galaxy and discovers that there are unfriendlies out there in the void.  Namely, the alien conglomerate known as the Shadow Force led by Emperor Dark (didn't exactly expend a lot of thought on the names, did they?)  The human characters were your typical square-jawed astronaut, starpilot, space marine types.  The first episode of the series opens with a Shadow Empire spaceship (which looks remarkably like a B-2 stealth bomber before its time) dropping killer drones (a sight that is not unlike a Star Destroyer releasing Probots for those of you enjoying the comparisons) over an extrasolar planet.  "Col. Dash" delivers his scientist sister and mother to a..ahem..."cloud city" amid herds of "air whales" and "kites" (airborne predators that seem to resemble manta rays).  Actually, this sort of alien ecosystem is one that exobiologists consider to be somewhat probable.  The cartoon even gives us about thirty seconds or so of Wild Kingdom-style footage of the cruel circle of life on this planet.  But I digress...
One of the robotic killer drones shows up and butchers all of the creatures and then homes in on the hovering station to "destroy destroy destroy."  Missiles strike the unarmed research station and things look grim for the scientists.  You can see the whole thing here.
   
Yeah.  Not breaking the bank around here  in the originality department.  Not exactly a startling amount of innovation, no.

But what is unique about this series and toyline is that they were sponsored and supported by The Young Astronauts' Council in an effort to get young people involved in the space program.  This is laudable.  Too bad the series was short lived and never really got the chance to create such inspiration.  The toys themselves were very unique as well.  My younger brother had a few of them.  They each had a "MagnaLock" magnet that allowed each unit to connect to any other in the toyline.  They were also motorized and yet required no batteries.  Most impressive of all, a few of the vehicles actually looked like they could be real spacecraft.  Sure you had your streamlined, fighter jet types, but many of them were more functional than anything.  Case in point:



Well, I mean except for that big gun-thing at the front.

Starcom really wasn't a bad idea.  Not at all.  It might have succeeded along the lines of the Starship Troopers series with a bit more marketing push.  Then again, this was the day of G.I. Joe and The Transformers.  Kids didn't want "functional" or "educational" anywhere near their entertainment.


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