Ok, so reboots can be tricky things. Some, like in Battlestar Galactica, are loved at least as much, if not more than the original. Others, like Robocop, are quickly forgotten. But, there’s a treasure trove of creativity that needs to be tapped and brought back to life for modern audiences. Simply because they’re awesome. That’s why.
Did you ever wonder why the ‘80s had such amazing toy lines and accompanying TV shows? Well, you can thank Ronald Reagan. Seriously. You see, in an effort to kick start the toy industry and the economy in general, the FCC revised its rules on children's programming, specifically allowing for the use of "character marketing" where shows could employ fictional characters based on toys and other real-world objects without counting towards advertising.
Now, everyone remembers Transformers, Thundercats and G.I. Joe. Their accompanying toy lines are still loved and adored by eBay loving geeks like me to this day. But, do you remember these other classics of the era? They were amazing and very much need another shot!
The plot detailed the adventures of an American astronaut brigade as they fought off attempted invasions by Shadow Force, a nasty collection of aliens and robots led by the nefarious Emperor Dark. Developed as part of a program to inspire a new generation of astronauts after the initial space race was over, the show was keen to keep certain aspects of space travel realistic. Ironically, the show wasn’t a success in North America but gained traction in Europe and Asia.
The toys were interesting as each figure had magnets in their feet which worked alongside metal elements in the toys. Despite a small amount of cartoons produced and aired, 13 in total, the series did have potential.
A sci-fi series getting a movie after a dozen episodes? Stranger things have happened…
Reboot potential: Low.
M.A.S.K was a clever hybrid of the two most popular series of the era, Transformers and G.I. Joe. It had the transforming vehicles of Transformers and the action figures of G.I. Joe. Additionally, each character had a unique helmet, or mask, that gave them additional superpowers.
The premise borrowed liberally from other elements of pop-culture: the mansion with a hidden high-tech base underneath run by a benevolent billionaire is pure X-Men. The vehicles are pure Transformers. The bad guys, Venom, were a rip-off of Cobra, G.I. Joe’s enemies. Despite being a merger of other ideas, the show still has a loyal following to this day and the toys still trade regularly on eBay and at conventions. I bought the DVD box set for one of my kids a few years back and they loved it. I’d say there’s still life in this old dog and with a few tweaks to give it some originality, you’d get a toyetic hit for a modern audience.
Reboot potential: Medium
Power Extreme! The Centurions are a team of men dressed in specially created exo-frames that allowed them to fuse with assault weapon systems. The end result is a weapons platform somewhere between a hard-suit and a mecha. Each of the main characters has a speciality: air combat, land operations, or undersea armor. The main antagonists were an evil pair of cyborgs who led an army of drones and unmanned aerial vehicles.
Believe it or not, given the fairly generic premise, the show was developed, in part, by comic book legends such as Jack Kirby and Gil Kane and had amazing sci-fi writers such as Michael Reaves, Marc Scott Zicree, Larry DiTillio and Gerry Conway!
Hard Suits versus Drones… yeah, that could work.
Reboot potential: Good
4. Galaxy Rangers
This was my favorite show as a kid. As an adult I still love it. Galaxy Rangers pulled together hard science fiction and western influences twenty years before Joss Whedon made Firefly.
The basic synopsis is covered in the opening credits, but for those of you who didn’t watch the video above, here goes:
In 2086, two peaceful aliens journeyed to Earth, seeking our help. In return, they gave the plans for our first hyper drive, allowing mankind to open the door to stars. We have assembled a team of unique individuals to protect Earth and our allies. Courageous pioneers committed to the highest ideals of justice. And dedicated to preserving law and order throughout the New Frontier, these are the Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers!
The characters were well defined and avoided clichés. The heroes dealt with criminals, such as the evil Crown Empire and a rogue batch of super-soldiers. The ‘Series-5 Implant’ that gave them their powers was used to good effect and numerous episodes revolved around them using their innate skills as well as their super powers.
Despite only lasting one season and having a dreadful toy line, Galaxy Rangers still holds an impressive 7.9 on IMDB.
Reboot Potential: HUGE!
The '80s were to creativity in cartoons what the '60s were to comic books. There's so much there to mine that it can't be long before we see some of these forgotten series again.
Got any favorite cartoons that I've missed? Comment below!