Check Out This Sneak Peek Of Netflix’s The Cuphead Show!

Friends, for as long as I can remember I have always been a fan of classic animation, whether that be theatrical shorts from Looney Tunes, Merrie Melodies, Silly Symphony, or those Saturday morning and weekday afternoon cartoon series of my youth. That is of course why when Gary Burton asked if I might be interested in being a co-host on his podcast about animation, I readily agreed to join the Toon In podcast. At that time we were having an issue getting our schedules to coincide so I asked if I might use the name of the show for a series of articles on the Retroist. Not just because Toon In is a brilliant title for a cartoon related podcast, but in addition I hoped that it might help drum up some interest for the then upcoming show.

All my joking aside by using that GIF taken from 1982’s The Toy, while the Toon In articles might have been a little more popular on the Retroist than here on the PCR site, we had to put the idea for the podcast on the back burner while we attempted to figure out a proper format for the show.

Having said all of that, you can probably imagine how absolutely gobsmacked I was when the Cuphead game was announced. Combining my love of classic animation similar to the Fleischer produced Popeye cartoons with video games – I truly started counting down the days until it was finally released on September 29th of 2017.

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY Fasgort.

When Cuphead debuted for Microsoft Windows as well as the Xbox One, I was blown away by how beautiful the side-scrolling run and gun title looked, it truly was like a playable classic theatrical short. I was also taken aback by just how difficult the title was compared to the standard games being released. Like legions of other Cuphead fans though I totally accepted the challenge of the game, always giving it just one more shot at trying to clear a particular level. And that usually resulted in my failing over and over and over again…

Even with those gamers who were turned off by the difficulty level of the game, it seems that everyone fell in love with the characters from the title. All manner of merchandise for Cuphead has been released in the four years since it was released, including T-Shirts, Funko Pops, plush dolls, and apparently an upcoming animated series from Netflix. So enjoy this short teaser clip from the soon to be released The Cuphead Show!

VIDEO PROVIDED BY Netflix.

That was none other than Emmy award wining Wayne Brady providing his voice as King Dice, and online it has been stated that Tru Valentino (Fast & Furious Spy Racers) will voice the titular Cuphead, with Frank Todaro (Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy) as Mugman. There has been no official trailer or release date for The Cuphead Show! as of yet, but we will be sure to pass along the information when it is made available.

Showtime, Synergy! Jem and the Holograms are now ReAction Figures!

I don’t know about you, but I LOVED Jem back in the day. I was very small, probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 3-5 years old watching the show. Most of it went over my head, but I loved the music and all the color that came with each episode of Jem. That show was, and still is, truly outrageous. I had a Jem wristwatch, and while I never had any of the Jem dolls, my sister and I did get at least one of Mattel’s answer to Jem–Midge from Barbie and the Rockers. I can’t say with 100% certainty, but it’s even possible that the long-dormant subconscious influence of Jem led me to pursue music as a middle and high schooler. I still play music as an adult, and I may or may not have Jem to thank for it.

Gif provide by Giphy

When I was in college, I happened upon a box set of seasons one and two of Jem at my local Borders Books. This was after the set was out of print and I had some textbook buyback money burning a hole in my pocket and some end-of-the-school-year steam to blow off. Needless to say, I snatched up that DVD set like a mom going after the last Cabbage Patch Kid on the day after Thanksgiving. That summer, my best friend and I spent an entire day watching through several discs of the set, munching on snacks, and laughing hysterically at the cheesy delight and unabashed ridiculousness that is Jem

Gif provided by Giphy

Lines such as, “Jem, how does it feel to be the first rock star to win the Indy 500?” and song lyrics like, “We wear a sarong, but it looks so wrong!” from the song, “Misfits in Hawaii” brought the biggest laughs for us. Truth be told, I laughed just writing that down. 

Adventure Con, Knoxville, TN 2008

A few years later, we were fortunate enough to actually meet the voice of Jem herself–Samantha Newark–at our local comic convention. Ms. Newark is one of the kindest celebrities I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. She took time to speak to everyone, take pictures, shake hands, and genuinely seemed to enjoy meeting her fans. As you can see in the photo, we were quite ecstatic to have met our childhood idol.

Getting to watch Jem again as an adult reignited my love for the series. In fact, I turned Jem on my TV last Saturday morning, just because I was feeling nostalgic. By the way, you can watch the entire series for free with ads right now on Tubi TV via the web or your favorite streaming device, along with several other classic 80s Saturday morning cartoons. 

Image provided by Super7

All of this is to say, imagine my delight when I learned this week that Super7 is adding Jem and Pizzazz of The Misfits to their ReAction figure line! Jem comes dressed in her trademark pink dress and microphone, while Pizzazz is rocking out with her guitar, fully ready to shred the competition. The figures have 5 points of articulation and come packed in holographic packaging! Appropriate, right? These figures will set you back about $18 each. 

Image provided by Super7

Have you gotten your hands on these truly outrageous figures yet? I know I’ll be hitting up my local comic shop for a set soon. Thanks to Earl Green for sharing the link to the announcement for this release

Were you a Jem Girl or a Jem Boy? Once you’re a Jem Girl (or Jem Boy), you’re never the same, you know. Do you have fond memories of Jem? Share them with us in the comments. 

If Animated Adventure Has A Name, It Must Be The Adventures Of Indiana Jones!

Friends, when George Lucas and Steven Spielberg got together to craft a film that embodied the exciting elements of the adventure serials they grew up with – they delivered a masterpiece of a movie with 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark. The screenplay for that iconic film was handled by Lawrence Kasdan (Silverado), based off a story idea by both Lucas and Philip Kaufman (Invasion of the Body Snatchers). The results of this amazing pool of talent helped to birth an iconic film character when combined with Harrison Ford’s performance as Indiana Jones.

The popularity of the first entry in what would become a series of films focusing on the adventures of Indiana Jones was enough to produce a toy line, book series, role-playing game from TSR, and even Marvel Comics supplied an adaptation for the 1981 movie. Eventually giving Jones his own series in 1983 – in addition to providing further adaptations for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as well as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Surprisingly with the likes of such Saturday morning cartoons like Droids and Ewoks we somehow never received an animated series for Doctor Henry Walton Jones Junior… at least until Patrick Schoenmaker made this fan made animated intro for The Adventures of Indiana Jones!

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY Frame Order.

That ‘trailer’ took artist Patrick Schoenmaker and his fellow contributors five years to produce, and while it actually came out in 2016, today was the first time I stumbled upon it. Patrick is a character designer that hails from the Netherlands – in the past working with Lucasfilm itself in addition to Topps, Sesame Workshop, ACME Archives, and even Cartoon Saloon. You can check out some of his character design, illustrations and background on his official site. While there are plenty of illustrations from his intro for The Adventures of Indiana Jones – one that caught my eye was for a barbarian – while I have no idea if this was meant to be Conan the Barbarian… my mind couldn’t help but imagine how amazing an Adult Swim series would be.

In closing out this article I would kindly ask Disney+ to look into getting Patrick Schoenmaker on board for an actual The Adventures of Indiana Jones animated series. Can you imagine how awesome it would be with their clout to secure the voice talents of Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, John Rhys-Davies, and Alfred Molina for such a show? Even if that pie in the sky wish fails to come true we have this amazing piece of animation to enjoy, right?

They Made A Lone Ranger Animated Short In 1936?

Friends, originally I was going to write an article about today being the 92nd anniversary of Popeye the Sailor. While doing a little research on E. C. Segar’s iconic comic strip character however, I came across an article by the esteemed Jim Korkis (co-writer of Cartoon Confidential) on the Cartoon Research site about a Lone Ranger short from 1936. In the article itself, Jim discusses the many times that the character of the Lone Ranger and Tonto have found themselves appearing in animated form – whether that be as parody or as the more familiar versions of the beloved characters that originated on radio in 1933. If you happened to follow my work for nearly a decade when I was writing for the Retroist – you might recall on more than a few Toon In articles – where I shared the likes of the 1966 The Lone Ranger as well as the 1980’s The New Adventures of the Lone Ranger television series. While I do enjoy both cartoons, I must admit that I much prefer the animation style utilized by the Halas and Batchelor Cartoon Studios and Atransa Park Studios on the 1966 series.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY Tralhas Varias.

Which brings us back to this Lone Ranger animated oddity from 1936 (the date offered by IMDB) – as there is very little information to go on besides the article on Cartoon Research. At the very least we do know that the producer for the nearly three minute long Pathegrams animated short entitled The Masked Rider was Roy Meredith – who not only is credited for producing a 1934 cartoon for Little Orphan Annie but also wrote as well as produced the TV mini-series entitled The American Civil War: A Pictorial History Through the Photographs of Mathew B. Brady in ’59. Apparently Meredith was something of an Civil War historian as before his passing on January 7th of 1984 – he wrote 12 books about the subject ranging from those famous photographs taken by Mathew B. Brady to the dark history of the Andersonville POW camp.

For what it might be worth, in doing my research I thought that perhaps The Lone Ranger short might have been part of the Pathegrams Cine-Vue collection – which featured the likes of Dick Tracy, Little Orphan Annie, Hopalong Cassidy and others. Although after digging deeper, it appears that these offerings were in fact film strips – basically a comic strip that you would turn frame by frame to read the whole story.

From that article by Jim Korkis, he mentions that the current belief is this 1936 animated short was somehow related to Merita breads – who were sponsors of the radio series and would go on to support the television series starring Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels as the Lone Ranger and Tonto. I do know that Merita as part of their sponsorship for the old time radio show created the Lone Ranger Safety Club which included all manner of merchandise like cut out masks, a star-shaped badge, calendars, a silver bullet pencil sharpener, and much more. I wonder if perhaps members of the club could have sent off for The Masked Rider animated short film – although you would assume that Merita breads would have been mentioned in the opening credits, right?

Whatever the true history is for this 1936 animated short – I am very glad that The Lone Ranger has been uploaded to the likes of the Internet Archive, so that future fans of animation can enjoy it for years to come.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY Jim Thorpe of the Internet Archive.

The Mickey Mouse Theater Of The Air: The Pied Piper (1938)

Friends, it has been quite a few months since we’ve last had the opportunity to share an old time radio series with you. I thought that for today we might take a look at The Mickey Mouse Theater of the Air – a short-lived radio show that was initially sponsored for thirteen episodes by Pepsodent. However the series proved quite popular and the toothpaste company signed off for an additional seven episodes – while affording Walt Disney the opportunity to promote films such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, it also allowed the company to once again tackle beloved fairy tales. In truth the Walt Disney studio had covered a few of them already with their Silly Symphony animated theatrical shorts – case in point with 1933’s The Pied Piper.

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY ShaBerger Shortfilms.

It seems that the idea for The Mickey Mouse Theater of the Air was something that was in the works for a couple of years. As I understand it from reading online, Disney was approached numerous times to produce a radio series featuring his studio’s popular animated mascot – it was a belief that the character only worked in a visual medium though that kept him from signing off on it. It appears however that around 1937, probably due to the upcoming release for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – Disney decided that a radio show was too good of an opportunity to pass up. As a matter of fact, the idea that was first entertained was something akin to a talk show, where Mickey Mouse would interview special guests. In the end it was decided to stick with what the animation studio was known for – fairy tales and nursery rhymes but including Mickey and his friends as hosts.

The Mickey Mouse Theater of the Air premiered on the NBC network on January 2nd of 1938 with a presentation of the classic tale of Robin Hood – bear in mind it would be 35 years later before the studio produced their feature-length animated version of the story. The next week was devoted to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with The Pied Piper being the 11th episode of the radio series – which was broadcast on March 13th of ’38.

Without further ado, enjoy this delightful presentation of The Pied Piper courtesy of The Mickey Mouse Theater of the Air:

1983 Animated Nintendo Game & Watch Commercial

Friends, perhaps 1983 is the only time you will have the opportunity to see the likes of Snoopy, Popeye, Mario, and Donkey Kong together in a television commercial. The TV ad in question was for the line of Nintendo Game & Watch handheld electronic games – apparently being offered at your local Toys “R” Us back in June of ’83 – when this commercial originally aired in Chicago.

Video and Article Image Provided by The Museum of Classic Chicago Television.

Now how I stumbled across this Game & Watch commercial is because of a Toy Tomb video by Willie of Arcade USA. He took the time to record himself playing 1981’s Octopus, which was part of Nintendo’s Wide Screen series – and featured Mr. Game & Watch attempting to steal treasure that is being guarded by an Octopus.

Video Provided by ArcadeUSA.

For myself, I was never fortunate enough to collect any of the titles in the Game & Watch series, although I was aware of them thanks to my local ShowBiz Pizza, which offered a few as prizes if you collected enough Skee-Ball tickets. Off the top of my head I can remember seeing the likes of Mario’s Cement Factory, Donkey Kong II, and Greenhouse at that fabled ShowBiz Pizza of my youth.

As I understand it, we have the late and great Gunpei Yokoi to thank for coming up with the Game & Watch. It has been said that the video game designer happened to take notice of a businessman who to waste time pulled out his LCD calculator and began playing with it. So it was that Yokoi felt that perhaps an LCD gaming device that also doubled as a watch might catch on. From 1980 until 1991 Nintendo produced 59 Game & Watch titles – with different ‘models’ like the Multi Screen, Tabletop, and Panorama to name a few.

Video Provided by Hipotalamo Films.

I think that it is safe to say that it caught on – especially as Nintendo is releasing a Game & Watch for Super Mario Bros. on November 13th!

The Majesty and the Mystery of Badgey

Star Trek’s new foray into animation has been a total delight.

First off – though it may not seem like the most retro of topics, you really need to be watching Star Trek: Lower Decks on CBS All Access. Now, one could argue that this, Star Trek’s second animated series, couldn’t be more different from the 1970s Filmation series if it tried, and there may well be some truth to that. But the new show, with its lovable (and very flawed) characters and its very modern comedy, may be just the Star Trek we needed in 2020. I really didn’t expect, in a year that brought Jean-Luc Picard back to our screens, that my favorite Star Trek show would be “the cartoon”, and yet here we are.

The most recent episode gave us a whole new gift, though. The episode Terminal Provocations shows us that one of our heroes, Ensign Rutherford, has written his own holodeck training program to help him and his crewmates keep their skills sharp. And at the center of that program is a floating, friendly-faced Starfleet badge named Badgey – the 24th century’s answer to Clippy, the omnipresent Microsoft paper-clip-with-eyes, the first “virtual assistant” many of us ever had to deal with. Badgey’s still a work in progress, though, and Rutherford has to give it a few kicks – both literal and metaphorical – to make sure it works. But this just means that Badgey gradually grows more unhinged, attacking its “father” and his crewmate.

I won’t spoil the rest of that story for you, except to say…it’s a good thing that Badgey is confined to the holodeck. (He…is…confined to the holodeck…isn’t he?) It’d be a mess if Badgey could somehow venture out into the rest of the U.S.S. Cerritos.

It’d be even more of a mess if Badgey could migrate to other animated shows. Consider the terrifying possibilities.

Even if Badgey simply escaped to other animated Star Trek episodes, the results would be… well… what is going on in this picture??!?
It looks like you’re trying to survive a perilous one-year journey to and from Iscandar! Would you like some help with that?
It looks like you’re looking for something really sharp to hurl at the Joker! Would you like some help with that?
It looks like you’re trying to utterly subjugate Homo Sapiens! Would you like some help with that?
It looks like you’re trying to rescue the Princess from Bowser! Again! Would you like some help with that?
It looks like you’re trying to accurately steer a Type 40 time travel vehicle! Would you like some help with that?
It looks like you’re trying to dial home on this Stargate! Would you like some help with that?
It looks like there’s a hungry Wookiee nearby! Would you like some help with that?
It looks like you need to summon the Cat Bus! Would you like some help with that?
It looks like you’re trying to have a contemplative moment after narrowly defeating Zoltar again! Would you like some help with that?

Very much like his inspiration, Badgey could be ubiquitous, and simultaneously somehow unhelpful. Something tells me we haven’t seen the last of him.

It looks like you’re trying to escape a long, unending LARP of Dungeons & Dragons so you can go home! Would you like some help with that?

Fractured Fairy Tales: Rumpelstiltskin (1959)

Friends, being Saturday I felt it was the perfect time for another Toon In offering – I thought perhaps a classic Fractured Fairy Tales offering was in order. In this case for today we have Rumpelstiltskin, which originally aired in November of 1959 and happens to feature the voice work of Edward Everett Horton (Arsenic and Old Lace) as the narrator, in addition to Daws Butler (The Banana Splits) and June Foray (DuckTales). Fractured Fairy Tales was of course produced by Jay Ward Productions for the Rocky and His Friends television show for ABC. I am sure you have seen one or two of these before, classic fairy tales presented with a humorous twist – maybe I should say even modernized in some cases?

In this Fractured Fairy Tales adaptation of the fairy tale – the Miller’s Daughter whose name is Gladys dreams of becoming incredibly famous. This is where Rumpelstiltskin makes his appearance, not as just a little man or Goblin with fabulous powers but as a public relations manager. As this short has a running time of a little over five minutes in length, they’ve skipped the part in the original tale where Rumpelstiltskin aids the young Girl/Woman three times. Instead opting to go straight from earning her fame for her ‘supposed’ ability to spin straw into gold and then aiding in securing her the King as a Husband and the title of Queen. Thanks to a signed contract, after the birth of the King and Queen’s firstborn child – Rumpelstiltskin shows up to collect the infant. Like in most versions of Rumpelstiltskin, the Queen has three days to attempt and learn the name of the little man before the baby is handed over. Having said that, unlike the original fairy tale – everything has a decidedly comedic bent.

Video and Article Image Provided by Devil5on.

Retro Records: The Hobbit (1977)

Friends, what better way to start your day off properly than going on an adventure with Bilbo Baggins as well as Thorin and Company – courtesy of The Hobbit. This is a Book and Record adaptation of the 1977 animated classic by Rankin and Bass… which will eventually be the subject of a future Pop Culture Retrorama podcast. Disneyland Records produced this particular 45rpm book and record adaptation – which was also released on cassette – interestingly enough it features the music composed by Maury Laws (The Flight of Dragons, Frosty the Snowman) but none of the original cast. Having said that though it still features some incredible voice actors – such as Bob Holt (The Lorax, Wizards), Corey Burton (The Transformers, G.I. Joe), and even Jymn Magon (A Goofy Movie) who is best know for being a Writer of animated series and films. In addition the book features some of the artwork, the character design illustrations provided by Lester Adams – who had in fact provided artwork for an excerpt of The Hobbit in an issue of Children’s Digest!

To be completely honest, while many fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit have some issues with the Rankin and Bass adaptation – I have always enjoyed it quite a bit. To say nothing of the fact that it also was my first introduction to the most fantastic Fantasy race – I am speaking of Dwarves of course!

One of those reasons I mentioned that some fans of The Hobbit take umbrage with the 1977 film is because of the changes in the source material. Although I would counter that Rankin and Bass did a fine job – getting the gist of the book within a running time of 77 minutes. Believe it or not this Disneyland Records adaptation manages to par down said running time to a little over 13 minutes long – but to be fair that is because two of the songs from the film are excised from this particular video. So take a few moments and journey along with Bilbo as he experiences the hospitality of Wood Elves and Goblins, plays a game of riddles with Gollum, and faces the dreaded Dragon known as Smaug!

Video and Article Image Provided by Jon Knutson.

Did You Know Apple Jacks Will Not Be Sold To Bullies

Friends, I talked a bit about this with my article on the Hostess Twinkie and Fruit Pie mascots – but it is true that I do more than my fair share of thinking about the various characters that act as spokesman for food products. For example, were you aware that the very first mascot for Kellogg’s Apple Jacks showed up in the mid to late ’60s – and he was known as the Apple Guy? In fact the character is made up of an apple, wearing pants, gloves, and even a hat and bow tie. Not only could he sing and dance but as the fruit produce spokesman for Apple Jacks cereal – he could also deny the sale of the cereal to bullies!

Video and Article Image Provided by TastySurrealBowl.

While I am not 100% positive on this I believe the animation for these animated commercials were handled by the DePatie-Freleng animation studio – the same folks behind those great Pink Panther openings and theatrical shorts. The comments section for this particular ad state that is was Paul Frees (The Haunted Mansion, The Hobbit) who voiced the Apple Guy – considering the iconic actor’s vast amount of voice work I have no reason to doubt it. In addition just like with this second television commercial for Apple Jacks cereal – one of the bullies is most definitely voiced by the legendary Mel Blanc.

Video Provided By VintageTVCommercials.

As I understand it, the Apple Guy acted as the mascot for Apple Jacks until 1971 – when he was replaced by The Apple Jacks Kids – a boy and girl who looked like they had been doodled by a child. They would appear as mascots in commercials and even show up on the boxes of Apple Jacks cereal until 1992 – it would be 12 years later after focusing on real children – when two new mascots would show up. These were a cinnamon stick known as CinnaMon and an apple called Bad Apple – although to my knowledge they have yet to deny sales to bullies.