Defenders of the Earth: Retro review 1986

I got this for around $12, it's the first half of the complete series. It comes on 5 discs, double sided with 33 episodes. Firstly, the picture quality isn't great, this cartoon was made in 1985 so you can't expect a crystal clear picture. The story begins on Mongol where Flash Gordon's wife and son Rick are held prisoner by Ming the Merciless. Mongols resources are running out so he wants to invade the earth. Flash, chased by Ming's ice robots, crashes on earth outside Mandrake's mansion. Mandrake is like a middle aged English magician with an African man servant -Lothar- and a young adopted asian boy.

They both join up with Flash and later recruit the Ghost who Walks: The Phantom, to the team of....... THE DEFENDERS OF THE EARTH!

This is one of those toons so bad it's good and totally 80s kick ass experiences. I have laughed so hard. For a start they are all single dads, the Defenders that is and bring along three sons and one daughter who all live with them and are like junior defenders. The junior defenders are all like in their late teens and wear 80s style tight jeans and bomber jackets.

This is some classic shit. C-L-A-S-S-I-C. It's like the 80s has been distilled into an injection and shot into your arm. It's totally brilliant, totally crap and totally the greatest and worse thing you have ever seen in your life. And that makes it the greatest. There are so many WTF moments that you will be belly laughing half the time and the other half with eyes wide open at the sheer 80s superhero audacity on display.

Let's list some WTF moments. Firstly there is part of one episode where the magician mandrake starts wearing blue goggles for absolutely no reason whatsoevever and in the next scene they magically disappear.

Then there is a scene where huge troll like hands up-end Rick Gordon (Flash's son) and drags him into a tunnel. Inside the tunnel we see that the huge troll hands actually belong to a 30 cm purple fluff toy.

There is the scene where the Phantom's daughter psychically tells her black panther to follow a truck, at which point, said panther jumps off a bridge 80s style and lands on top of the truck. Then in an episode, Mandrake's adopted son throws a rock off a mountain top and somehow manages to crack open the cockpit of a supersonic jet belonging to Ming the Merciless' Ice Robots (yes you read that right). And not only is the jet destroyed, Flash Gordon then flys by and gives the kid the thumbs up. ROFL!

Then the show has awesome moments. For instance the intro for one episode has Flash and the Phantom in space, they engage this bubble shield astronaut suit on themselves, get into a firefight with Mings Ice Robots. So Flash wants to shoot them down but the guns are jammed, the ice robots shoot out their cockpit glass. Phantom suddenly stands up and crouches. Flash says "Phantom, what are you doing?", the Phantom says "Engaging the manual guns." So he jumps out of the jet, onto the wing, breaks a cannon off the wing and shoots down the enemy planes himself. Absolutely AWESOME.

Then later in the same episode Flash engages the Laser Sword. Picture a giant lightsaber coming out of the end of a jet and they use it to ram other jets and then break through Ming's evil dome building, crashing the ceiling down on top of him.

Then there is the episode where the DOE (Defenders of the Earth) computer is infected when they take it to play in a chess tournament LOL! It gets infected by a giant worm and they shrink down Fantastic Voyage style and attack it with little metal rods! BTW did I mention that the DOE computer houses the consciousness of Rick Gordons' dead mother?

Then you find out that the Phantom has a helicopter shaped like a skull! LIKE A SKULL. It's classic! In one scene Flash and Phantom are on foot and suddenly the ice robot jets attack. Flash runs to the copter for weapons. He does a forward somersault into the helicopter and comes out the other side of the copter with a gun and shoots down two planes - in one single movement. Total awesomeness.

Then Phantom can call upon the power of 10 tigers (it's part of jungle law) and he picks up a massive totem and throws it into the sky to trash more jets.

Then there are these inexplicable 80s moments, for instance instead of a dissolve or fade out they have the Phantom's black panther leap towards the screen, the camera entering it's mouth. Or Ming's snake pet looking at the camera and its eye twinkling for NO reason whatsoever.

It throws logic to the wind, they show you these WTF moments at every turn and you can only say "Okay LOL" and go along for the ride. It's hilarious and awesome and brilliant fun at every turn. It makes you feel like a kid again. I'm ordering the rest of the series on dvd now.

This boxset cost me $12 including shipping cost from amazon. If you are a child of the 80s and used to watch this show, just buy it.

The intro from the series can be found (along with much more) in the retro inspired TV cartoon blog here:

Posted by gamingeek Fri, 26 Sep 2008 20:32:36 (comments: 15)
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Sat, 27 Sep 2008 19:14:08
Just realised that the chapter selection pages on the DVD disc have trivia bits and pieces too. This is a pretty decent DVD package.
Sat, 27 Sep 2008 20:18:16
How about buying the series Taboo: Charming Mother! I heard it has a very "deep" storyline WinkWink
Sun, 28 Sep 2008 11:12:51
^Nasty. How dare you sully the purity of the 80s cartoons blogs with such filth.
Sun, 28 Sep 2008 16:04:45
But seriously the Phantom 2040 is actually pretty good, if you can get over the fact that the art design is kinda ugly. The story has pretty adult themes, not as adult as Taboo, but it has to do.
Sun, 28 Sep 2008 18:50:10
I might check it out on youtube to see how it goes. I already have a huge list of dvds to get.

I'm looking forward to november as the X-men boxset of series 1 and 2 complete comes out. You can get them individually but this is cheaper.
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