The '80s and '90s Cartoons I Grew Up With - Part II


The last list covered more mainstream cartoons that most people would have heard of, if not watched. I went through the '80s and '90s cartoons that I used to watch and came up with quite a few gems in my search.


In this list, I will be covering cartoons and animated series that are slightly obscure as requested by a Redditor.


1. Defenders of the Earth (80s Cartoon)


This is one cartoon that I wish stayed on the air for longer with its super-catchy title song. The cartoon had an amazing voice cast with names like Buster Jones (Doc in G.I Joe and Black Vulcan in Super Friends), Peter Renaday ( Splinter in TMNT), and Diane Pershing (Flash Gordon). Peter Mark Richman and Ron Feinberg lent their imposing voices to the cartoon as Phantom and Ming respectively.

80s and 90s cartoons - Defenders of the Earth
Defenders of the Earth

The team-up in this series was legendary. There was Mandrake the Magician who had the magical powers passed on from his father Theron through magical artifacts such as a cloak similar to Doctor Strange, along with a hat and a wand. Phantom was the guardian of the jungle with supernatural powers that imbued him with great strength and agility. There was also a Black Panther-type superhero named Lothar who was supposed to lead the seven nations of Africa but passed on it to assist Mandrake.


Then there was Flash Gordon, who needs no introduction. The space-faring hero and personification of the American Dream - Flash Gordon. The handsome athlete who was taken to space to save the Earth from Ming the Merciless - an alien tyrant.


Animation quality - 7/10

Plot - 6/10

Characters - 8/10

Voice Cast - 9/10

Background score + Title track - 8/10


2. The Centurions (80s Cartoon)


The animation in this series was more anime adjacent than others in this list (except Time Bokan). This might be because the show was animated by Japan's Nippon Sunrise's Studio 7 and the characters were designed by Norio Shioyama who was into anime bigtime. Another name synonymous with comics - Jack Kirby, is worth mentioning since he contributed to the design and concepts.

80s and 90s cartoons - The Centurions
The Centurions- Suit up

The title track of course was dynamite, with this uplifting tune playing against a strong narrating voice, while the 3 lead characters did an Ironman style suit-up. At a time when Marvel movies did not exist, this was as close as it got to a superhero mashup theme, (although the X-Men TAS theme was pure fire!).

80s and 90s cartoons - The Centurions
Where's my LEGO suit at?

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Set in the 21st century, where cyborgs are a part of everyday life, three heroes Max Ray, Ace McCloud, and Jake Rockwell don exo-frame suits to fight the big bad Doc Terror, a cyborg scientist. What are exo-frame suits you ask? they are basically iron man suits that have had a baby with metal legos. Mechanical attachments that are "beamed" down from a Skyport to wherever our heroes choose. The suit-up scene is pretty badass, with the Centurions yelling "Power Extreme!" after the suit-up was done.


Animation quality - 6/10

Plot - 6/10

Characters - 6/10

Voice Cast - 8/10

Background score + Title track - 8/10


3. Time Bokan (Time Fighters) (70s Cartoon)

This aired on a channel called DD2 (Doordarshan 2) somewhere between 5 to 7 pm on weekdays. The wacky cartoon centers around the adventures of Tanpei the lab assistant and Junko the dutiful daughter along with C-robot as they attempt to locate Dr. Kieto (lost in time) while staving off villains. In possession of Dynamond, the most valuable and powerful material in the world, the trio attempts to overcome challenges while getting closer to the doctor's location.

80s and 90s cartoons - Time fighters
Time Bokan

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I'm not sure about the original theme, but the English version of the theme - Time Fighters was a really fun listen. The premise of time travel and the weird insect shape of the time machine that drills underground to travel through time holds your interest. Also entertaining are the antics of the lead characters and their sidekicks which makes this good clean fun.


Animation quality - 6/10

Plot - 7/10

Characters - 5/10

Voice Cast - 6/10

Background score + Title track - 7/10


4. SWAT Kats - The Radical Squadron (90s Cartoon)


I was always disappointed when I missed the title sequence to this series which had notes of heavy metal and punk rock. This is set in the fictional city of Megakat populated by anthropomorphic kats (yes, with a K!). The Swat Kats in this city is a pair of unlikely heroes who pilot a weaponized fighter jet (think of a sleeker F14 tomcat ) hidden in their garage to save the city. Razor and T-Bone constantly protect Megakat city against the machinations of their nemesis Dark Kat.

Cool 90s cartoons
Swat Kats

They share common ground with the members of the A-team, in that Razor and T-Bone were dishonorably discharged from the city's military "The Enforcers." But still, end up doing their best to save the day.

The tech aspect of this show was what kept you hooked, along with the amazing voice cast and pretty decent plotlines with character development. Another cool part of SWAT Kats was the Cyclotron which was the bike used for ground support, highly weaponized, and rocket-powered as well. It somehow reminds you of a thinner Batpod.


Animation quality - 7/10

Plot - 7/10

Characters - 7/10

Voice Cast - 8/10

Background score + Title track - 9/10


5. The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest (90s Cartoon)


The title sequence to this series made every other cartoon series sound ridiculous. With the visuals of the virtual "Quest World" being displayed, the title track to this cartoon series feels like a self-contained movie in itself. I recommend all of you to give it a listen.

Cool 90s cartoons - Jonny Quest
The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest

The main aspect of this series that made me watch it is "Quest World" virtual reality before it was ever in vogue. The graphics of "Quest World" is nothing to write home about, being cringeworthy at best. But the mystique behind another dimension of reality was simply irresistible, and the scenes where people enter and exit virtual reality are really good.

This show played exclusively on Cartoon Network and revolved around the adventures of Dr. Benton Quest and his son Jonny Quest ( the lack of an h anywhere in the name I thought made it cooler lol.) The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest is like if X-files met Indiana Jones in the Matrix. Also on these adventures were a borderline offensive stereotypical Indian sidekick Hadji Singh and Benton's bodyguard Race Bannon. The group travels across the world to unravel inexplicable phenomena and mysteries such as the Nazca lines and giant sea creatures. The paralyzed Jeremiah Surd and Ezekiel Rage served as professor Moriarty to Benton Quest's Sherlock.


Animation quality - 7/10

Plot - 6/10

Characters - 6/10

Voice Cast - 7/10

Background score + Title track - 9/10


6. Mummies Alive! (90s Cartoon)


The 90s were a glorious time for the Egyptian Mummy, with movies and TV series being made to cash in on the trend. The animation industry wasn't far behind, releasing various cartoons to reap an audience hungry for the sarcophagi-borne hero and villain. Mummies alive was part of this hip trend with a pretty decent production value.


90s cartoons - Mummies Alive!
Mummies Alive!

The story is of ancient mummy guardians who awaken from their undead slumber to protect the reincarnation of Pharaoh's son from an evil and powerful mummy villain. The animation is pretty good in this series with a repetitive plotline of the evil mummy trying and failing to reclaim the soul of the Pharaoh's son to become all-powerful. While this wasn't groundbreaking in any way, it was good entertainment.


Animation quality - 8/10

Plot - 5/10

Characters - 6/10

Voice Cast - 7/10

Background score + Title track - 7/10


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