Polar Blair's Den Menu Page
Back to "Cartoons"
"Cartoons: Superhero Cartoons" Main Page
History of Blackstar
History of Blackstar:
short-lived cartoon series is pretty much an early version of "He-Man
and the Masters of the Universe". In fact, many of the voice
actors who appeared on this show appeared as similar characters in the
1983 series of "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" and the 1985
series "She-Ra: The Princess of Power." What is even more
interesting is the fact that "He-Man" copied the same basic premise and
ideas of "Blackstar".
"Blackstar" was made by Filmation, the same company
that made "He-Man", and aired from 1981-1982. There were only 13
episodes made. In many ways, I actually like this show better
than "He-Man." I'm not big into TV cartoons, but this series was
fun fantasy adventure!
Buff astronaut John Blackstar, definitely of
Native-American lineage, crash-lands on the distant planet of
Sagar. He's stuck here and can't go back to Earth. Having
nothing better to do, he dons barbarian-style duds and fights evil on
his new home planet with his magic sword and his flying dragon.
He has friends with special powers and abilities, and most of the time
thwarts the ambitious plans of the evil Overlord. Overlord has a
magic sword as well which is actually one-half of a major weapon;
Blackstar has the other half and he wants it. Does this sound
familiar? Blackstar and his buddies also hang out with a troop of
forest elves who call themselves "Trobbits." Perhaps the most
interesting of the Trobbits is Gossamer who uses his oversized ears to
John Blackstar's race was not specified in the
series, but it's commonly held that he is Native-American due to his
look and certainly his last name. Some people think he was meant
to be African-American, hence the "black" in his name. This is
not true. The original concept for Blackstar was to make him
black, but the CBS network didn't think people were ready for a black
cartoon hero. Thus, a lot of changes had to be made to the
character concept to make him a bit more "okay" for their tastes.
Blackstar's look was changed to Native-American, which they must have
thought was passable, but his race was never mentioned, and he had a
very pronounced white voice.
George DiCenzo did the voice of John
Blackstar. He has a good voice...a "dude" voice. Blackstar
is a regular super-stud! In 1985 he became a regular on the
"She-Ra: The Princess of Power" series playing the male leads Bow (a
stud like Blackstar) and the villain Hordak among other
characters. Linda Gary was the voice of the female lead in this
series named Mara. Her character was a blue-skinned beauty with
sorceress skills. She was definitely Blackstar's main
sidekick. Ms. Gary did tons of voices in cartoons. Most
interesting, she did the voices for the major female characters in
"He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" including Teela, Evil-Lyn, The
Sorceress, and Queen Marlena. She had a naturally sexy voice that
was just perfect for the characters she played. Alan Oppenheimer
did Overlord, the major villain of the series who looks and acts a lot
like Skeletor did in "He-Man". Alan was also the voice of
Skeletor, the major He-Man villain, as well as Cringer and
Man-at-Arms. An interesting fact is that Mr. Oppenheimer was the
original voice of Mighty Mouse in the classic cartoon shorts.
With all these similarities, why did "He-Man" go
onto long-lasting fame while "Blackstar" quickly burnt out? Who
knows. One possibility is that maybe the show's producers felt
that TV cartoon audiences weren't ready for a Native-American action
hero. I'd hate to think that was the reason, but shows have been
cancelled for sillier reasons. I think Blackstar is an
interesting looking character and I enjoy seeing him fight bad
guys. The animation of "Blackstar" was a lot brighter and more
vivid than "He-Man", which was primarily dark. Another reason for
its cancellation is that there weren't a whole lot of characters in
this series you could make toys of. A toy series of "Blackstar"
was attempted by Galoob, but did not last long. If you can find
any of these toys, I applaud you. There were few regular heroes
and few regular villains. The Trobbits couldn't do much in the
way of action, but were lively characters. PVC figures of the
Trobbits were included with the regular action figures of the main
characters. Meanwhile, "He-Man" had many, many characters to make
toys on. Although both TV series had beautiful backgrounds and
fascinating character designs (yes, I like the "He-Man" show, too),
"He-Man" featured wilder adventures with many more intricate character
concepts. Plus, the main character was white, which I think the
producers of that show probably felt would be more accepted by the
predominately white audience that watched "He-Man" and bought "He-Man"
toys. The He-Man character is a good design, but I think the
Blackstar character was a lot more colorful and more interesting
visually. I'm not trying to start a controversy or put anybody's
ideas down. These are just some things to think about if you are
interested in the "Blackstar" or "He-Man and the Masters of the
Universe" TV series. Both shows were well-done and set precedents
in 1980s popular culture.
Blackstar first aired on September 12, 1981.
It was cancelled in 1982. In 1983-84, to ride the success of the
popular "He-Man & the Masters of the Universe" series, the
"Blackstar" series was re-run on television. Despite good
ratings, plans for a second season of "Blackstar" were scrapped.
"Blackstar" action figures were also released after the original run of
the series, from 1983-1985. Unlike "Masters of the Universe",
"Blackstar" toys were manufactured by Galoob, not Mattel. There
were three series of "Blackstar" toys, and the first series was
re-released. The toys did fairly well, but without a TV series to
generate more interest, and with the much greater popularity of He-Man,
the toyline was phased out.
- Blackstar was originally conceived as an African-American
character, but CBS thought that would have been a bit too
radical. Numerous changes were made to the character to make him
Native-American, which CBS apparently believed was a bit more "okay".
- The pink-skinned Trobbits were originally supposed to be
blue, but producers caught wind of the upcoming "Smurfs" series and
quickly changed it.
- Warlock, Blackstar's dragon-horse, made cameo appearances in
the later series, "He-Man & the Masters of the Universe".
- "Search for the Starsword" (the first episode to
air, though it was the second episode produced; it was however, the
first scripted episode)
- "City of the Ancient Ones"
- "The Lord of Time"
- "The Mermaid of the Serpent Sea"
- "The Quest"
- "Lightning City of the Clouds"
- "The Kingdom of Neptul"
- "Tree of Evil"
- "The Air Whales of Anchar"
- "The Overlord's Big Spell"
- "The Crown of the Sorceress"
- "The Zombie Masters"
George DiCenzo as John Blackstar
Linda Gary as Mara
Alan Oppenheimer as Carpo/The Overlord
Patrick Pinney as Balkar/Klone/Terra
Frank Welker as Burble/Gossamear/Rif