After watching television with Samantha recently, it came to my attention that there is some absolutely wacky stuff going on these days with kids' entertainment choices. But then I thought more about it, and well... I have to admit that 20 years ago my own shows, toys and books were just as weird.
Here's the first of a two-part series of my favorite fringe characters (no Darth Vader or Barney the Dinosaur allowed, thank you). On to part one; my favorites from 20+ years ago. Next time I'll post my favorites from Samantha's generation:
#1 -- Dreamy Smurf ("The Smurfs" cartoon and books)
Who he is: Dreamy Smurf's personality is just like it sounds -- he's a dreamer. Daydreamer, in particular. Sometimes he gets chided for not being very practical, but his imagination brings a vital diversity to the smurf village.
Why I like him: As a child I had this book, which told the story of how the whole village helped Dreamy Smurf experience life on another planet -- quite an elaborate effort! Besides, I was quite the daydreamer myself. I remember one fantasy I had that the school would get taken over by terrorists (although I didn't know that word back then), and I would thwart them all with my awesome kung-fu skills, thus saving the building, the teachers and the students (especially Lisa, the 4th grade hottie that was out of my league). Dreamy Smurf made me think that one day, just maybe, there might be a chance for my ninja daydream to come true.
Why he's weird: He's blue. He's 4 inches tall. Lives in a mushroom village with 100 other guys and one girl. Do I have to keep going?
Dream a little dream of roundhouse kicks...
#2 -- Bib Fortuna ("Star Wars: Return of the Jedi" movie character and action figure)
Who he is: The unfortunately-named Mr. Fortuna is a guard in the palace/cave of Jabba the Hut. His appearance is striking in a "kill it and burn it with fire!" sorta way, which is his only real asset as a guard because he's dumb as a post.
Why I like him: Look at his picture below and you'll understand. He may look scary, but for an adolescent watching the Star Wars movies, this guy just oozed coolness. On top of the fact that his head grows out into a worm-like appendage, his first line onscreen is "Uh wana wanga!" Oh, to one day walk into a gathering and utter that incredible phrase, just to gauge the response.
Why he's weird: Well, he has pale skin and red eyes like an albino. That's a little weird. But mostly he's weird because of the whole worm-head thing. And his first name also means "the thing you tie around your neck to catch food droppings".
I run among ya!
#3 -- Stinkor ("He-Man" cartoon and action figure)
Who he is: I'm sure that from his name alone you've already guessed this, but Stinkor is a bad guy. In the He-Man universe this means that Stinkor followed the evil Skeletor in a battle for... well, I'm not sure what they actually fought for. But they all wore really cool loincloths. Oh yeah, Stinkor also stunk really bad, like a skunk -- that was his special power. But you already knew that from the name too.
Why I like him: His action figure actually smelled like a skunk! I mean, how cool can you get?! He was so awesome that I had two Stinkor action figures, and used both of them in my battles against He-Man.
Why he's weird: An evil mutant with the power of stench? Talk about running out of ideas! You can almost visualize the creative process behind this character:
"Hmm, how about a guy with magnetic powers? No... X-Men already has that. Maybe a guy in a green suit who tells riddles as he attacks? No... Batman did that one. Man, this stinks. Stinks! That's it! Stinkor, the smelly man-skunk who wears a face filter so he doesn't knock himself unconscious! Brilliant!"
Take me to your roadkill
And there you have it, my three favorite fringe characters from my own childhood. Coming up next: the best of Samantha's era.
As You Pass Through the Valley of Weeping
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