It was tough being a kid in the 80’s and 90’s in the UK. We didn’t get anywhere near the same sort of reliable schedule that kids in the States had. If you were rich, you may have had a couple of Sky channels, but the rest of us had to make do with getting up at some godawful hour of the morning to catch an episode on Channel 4, or waiting for Saturday morning marathons on BBC2 or ITV.
But we did okay, and this is my Sacred Seven list of cartoon theme songs of the 80’s and 90s that stuck with me and made me the geeky manchild I am today. This doesn’t necessarily mean that these were my favourite shows, but the theme songs and intro sequences got me so excited back then, and tickle my nostalgia glands now.
To the list!
7) Duck Tales
Duck Tales was so great. I still break into a smile when I hear those first few happy, bubbly notes. Fun fact; it’s impossible not to at least think “Woo-ooo!” when someone says “Duck Tales!”
6) Arthur and the Knights of Justice
Now that is a kickass intro; wailing guitars, knights, some cool-looking bad guys, epic warfare, magical powers… so awesome. A shame that the intro is the only thing I remember about this show, though to be fair it was rarely shown in the UK.
5) Defenders of the Earth
Even as a sprog, I knew that characters like Flash Gordon and Phantom had history; they were the heroes of my dad’s generation, and Defenders of the Earth was an attempt to bring them back by giving them a fresh look. The show followed the usual 80s/90s tropes of kid sidekicks and cute mascot animal, but it was pretty awesome.
Visionaries is probably my favourite cartoon from childhood, and I still watch it now and again, because it’s so good. The animation is great for its time, and the writing was excellent. That intro is sort of like Knights of Justice; you’ve got techno-knights and magic powers in a post-apocalyptic world, and tanks that summon demons! So awesome.
Like all great intros, Thundercats had great animation quality and felt so epic. Mutants and magic swords and cat-girls, giant tanks and mummy sorcerers and evil pyramids… so cool. The show ran for ages, and while there were some goofy episodes and animation quality dips, as a whole it was very strong.
As a side note, the 2011 reboot is even better.
2) Bucky O’Hare
Damn, the 80s and 90s were like a furry renaissance… but aside from that, Bucky was a great series, and that intro is impossibly, hopelessly cheesy and fantastic. I’m betting you could run a Gamma World campaign based on the Bucky O’Hare universe and it would be the best goddamn thing ever.
1) Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors
Just watch that intro, with the thunderous narration at the start, that epic 80s power ballad goodness, and those awesome alien monster-tanks, and tell me that you wouldn’t want to watch at least one episode of this. The worst thing about JatWW? There was a line of toys (because, like most 80s and 90s cartoons, JatWW was created as an extended commercial) but it suffered due to poor distribution and marketing decisions. A shame; I would’ve spent hours crushing Decepticons with Armed Force otherwise.