Hello and welcome to another edition of Toys on a Tuesday, where members of The Outerhaven share their love of toys from and past, present, and future.
In this edition of Toys on a Tuesday, we go back once again into the nostalgic and toy/cartoon central 1980s, where the company FILMATION brought out 65 episodes of a cartoon that has long since been relegated to quiet legend. Today we talk about that semi-forgotten Indian Spirit Warrior from New Texas (deep in space) Marshall Bravestarr and the toys that come with one of my biggest regrets as a kid and an adult.
For those of you unfamiliar with Bravestarr, here are the basics. The year is 1987 and running on a high from their very successful He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and She-Ra: Princess of Power cartoon series and toy lines, the cartoon company FILMATION bring in a new property to make a cartoon out of and also market a series of toys with. The concept was a simple mix of Science Fiction Space Adventure and a Western Action Series. Those two aspects combined to create Bravestarr: A Space Marshall of the city of Fort Kerium on the planet of New Texas, somewhere around about 1957 million light years from Earth. The Planet of New Texas is mostly barren desert, with only a few tribes of native people living on the land as well as a bunch of mole-people called Prairie People who mine the planet’s most valuable resource: Kerium, a red rock that is used as both currency and as fuel for machines and space ships.
New Texas is a booming mining planet, and of course, that brings about people who don’t want to work hard and just want to steal from people from profit aka Outlaws. The leader of the toughest gang in New Texas is Tex-Hex, a wisp almost skeleton type man with a lot of white hair. He commands his gang to do anything they can to disrupt the town of Fort Kerium and also steal the precious rocks for themselves.
Luckily Marshall Bravestarr is there to protect the town and the planet with his mystical native powers. Bravestarr has the “eye of a hawk” that allow him to see great distances easily, the “ears of a wolf” allow him to hear cries for help from the other side of the planet, “strength of the bear” allows Bravestarr to out-muscle anyone with the strength of a grizzly bear, “Speed of the puma” is a speed boost that allows Bravestarr to travel great distances on foot with ease. While Bravestarr does have all these powers at his command, he is also a great sharpshooter but prefers to stay as a mediator in most things, trying to get both sides to settle differences peacefully… Plus he has a cyborg horse called Thirty-Thirty that talks and loves to shoot things with his gun that he calls “Sarah Jane”.
Each episode contained some sort of message at the end of it all that was related to that day’s adventure. This was done a lot in cartoons at the time to get around FCC guidelines about shows that were created to sell things to kids. As long as it had some sort of educational message, then you could get away with it all being a 24-minute toy commercial. But at the time Bravestarr was tackling issues like racism, prejudice, sexism, family violence and the plight of the native people long before the term “Social Justice Warrior” was ever a thing, and the lead was a representation of the Native American: Now that is progressive beyond its years.
If you want to watch Bravestarr, for free, FILMATION has released a lot of the episodes from the TV series on Youtube via the Official Bravestarr Channel.
So that’s Bravestarr in a nutshell, so let’s take a look at all those wonderful pieces of plastic that we all wanted as fans of the show. Check out the slideshow below for all that I can remember about the characters from the series.
Marshall BravestarrBraveStarr is the main character and protagonist of the series. He is an orphaned Native American from Earth who arrived on New Texas with the Shaman and became a marshal. To help him fight crime, aside from his gun skills, Bravestarr has his "techno horse" Thirty/Thirty at his side and can call upon the powers of four animal spirits. He has the Eyes of the Hawk to help him see beond his normal range, the Ears of the Wolf to enhance his hearing, the Speed of the Puma to help him run real fast, and Strength of the Bear to increase his strength for lifting heavy objects.
Bravestarr's moral code comes from the three creeds of his tribe, which are:
- Honor in all your deeds.
- Respect for all life.
- And be the protector of the weak and old.
Tex-HexTex Hex is the main antagonist of the series and BraveStarr's archenemy. He is the leader of Stampede's gang.
Originally a good man, Tex Hex was corrupted by the promise of wealth that the Kerium rush promised, driving away the woman he loved. Stampede himself used this corruption and used it to transform a mortally wounded Tex into his enforcer and gave Tex his magic powers, including the abilities to shoot energy bolts, destroy mountains, transformations and summoning creatures called fire snakes. And he is also known as treacherous, emotionless, xenophobic, hard-working, earnest, mean, thoughtless, efficient, abrasive, bellicose, ungenerous, traitorous, negative, observant, harsh, erudite and ambitious. Tex Hex displays a cantankerous, ornery attitude and a penchant for sadism. He will not hesitate to mistreat a henchman for failure or if they just aggravate him. He's also shown to make and change allegiances at the drop of a hat in order to serve his own egotistical best interests.
The capacity for good still resides in him, as he allows a shipment of specially treated Kerium to be transported off world to help treat children with visual disabilities. On another occasion Tex Hex shows mercy by not attacking Fort Kerium on Christmas day while Bravestarr was away on personal business, due to his ex-love being present there during the holiday. Tex regretfully wished her a Merry Christmas from a distance, choosing without regret to subject himself to Stampede's wrath for his deliberate failure. Bravestarr speculates that there might yet be hope for Tex Hex to redeem himself.
Earlier on Christmas day, Shaman showed Tex his guaranteed future if he continued in his evil ways, that he would be dead in just a few years. Tex was visibly terrified at the prospect.
Deputy FuzzDeputy Fuzz was a pudgy little prairie dog-like alien, one of the Prairie People, natives of New Texas, who serves almost exclusively as comic relief. Fuzz was similar to other sidekick creatures in other series of the decade such as He-Man's Orko and Snarf of Rankin-Bass's ThunderCats.
His specialties, like all others of his kind, were digging, with even the miners of New Texas not coming close to the speed in which he moves through the ground, as well as high mechanical aptitude for building and repairing all manner of devices. BraveStarr affectionately calls him "l'il pardner". Fuzz seems to have trouble pronouncing Thirty/Thirty's name, rendering it "Doody-Doody".
Fuzz is older than he appears to be. When his cousin Scuzz struck a deal with a purple skinned prospector named Tex to use the Prairie People as a slave work force, Fuzz was part of the workers. Tex had betrayed his mining partner Angus McBride and Fuzz took pity on the human and tried to release him from the ropes with which he had been tied. Fuzz also found a holographic recording of McBride's daughter, which fascinated the little Prairie person so much that he kept it for himself. Fuzz was unable to help McBride when the cliff he had been left on by Tex collapsed, causing him to tumble down and lose the ability to walk. But Fuzz did witness how the mystic Shaman came to Angus' aid.
20 years later Fuzz was still in posession of the holo-recording featuring a young J.B. McBride
Outlaw SkuzzTex's cigar-smoking henchman and cousin of Deputy Fuzz - he was apparently the only Prairie Person to have taken up a life of crime. Like Tex Hex, he was mutated by Stampede, though in his case it was due to a bolt of energy shot by Tex at him after he first transformed, and it was possibly less of a transformation and more of a simple shock to him. As a result, he more closely resembles a haglike human and has gray hair. Scuzz is often reprimanded by the others for his constant smoking. Fuzz even arrested Scuzz for this until BraveStarr pointed out that smoking isn't a crime. Though why Scuzz wouldn't be kept in custody for his real crimes remains a mystery. Unlike Tex himself, he is somehow able to go into Fort Kerium to mingle with the population and aquire info for the Carrion Bunch.
Thirty-ThiryThirty/Thirty was Marshal BraveStarr's talking "techno horse," who could "transform" from a quadruped into a more anthropomorphic biped. He carried a giant Kerium powered blunderbuss he referred to as "Sara Jane." He was the last survivor of an ancient civilization called the Equestroids, a cybernetic breed of sentient equines, and had strength approximating BraveStarr's bear strength. Unlike BraveStarr, Thirty/Thirty was far more quick-tempered, pugnacious, tough, hot-headed, independent, reckless, thoughtful, negative, defiant, tenacious, heroic, insightful, rebellious, truthful and sensitive, which occasionally led to vocal disagreements between them about the use of force in the line of duty.
Thunder-StickA stuttering robot with an arm that deployed a lightning cannon. Not much to this character besides he's a cool looking robot with a gun for an arm.
Thunderstick displayed the greatest amount of visual disparity between his animation model and his actual action figure. More than any character on the show, and even all Flimation toy-based shows.
Handle Barr Handlebar was a hulking, 14-ton, green-skinned bartender with a bright orange handlebar mustache and a Brooklyn accent.
He was formerly known as "Nix Blix" a space pirate from the Rigel star system. After serving time in prison, Nix moved to New Texas to start over with a nice, honest life. On one occasion he nearly betrayed BraveStarr after being blackmailed by someone who threatened to tell everyone about him being a pirate. But Handlebar's personal ethics stopped himself from doing so. He run a Trading Post and Bar, in the town square of Fort Kerium as a meeting place. He mostly serves BraveStarr and Thirty/Thirty a popular drink called sweetwater in his bar, as they sit and discuss the moral lesson learned in that day's episode although he does engage in a fight with a mechanical steer named Rampage in one episode and wins. If faced with trouble in his bar he uses the serving trays as throwing weapons with pinpoint accuracy and considerable power.
Sand Storm A red reptilian alien who could exhale giant clouds of sand, which the Carrion Bunch often used to escape. He acted as the leader of the gang whenever Tex wasn't around. His kind were sometimes called 'Sand Walrus' and are native to New Texas. He could also use his sand to put people to sleep and summon up sand creatures. He was one of the most evil beings on New Texas, so much that the only ones more evil than him were Tex Hex and Stampede. And he is also known as serious, attentive, no-nonsense, determined, stoic, thoughtless, observant, rational, mean, sensitive, accountable, narcissistic, diligent, smart, testy, organized, respectful and menacing.
StratocoachThe Stratocoach was one of the main ways characters traveled around New Texas. The coach is pulled by a single Turbo-Mule, robot cow-like creatures created to do the work of normal animals in a harsh climate. The Stratocoach has two modes, one a ground mode like a normal stage coach from the Western America era, and a flight mode that looks a lot live the hover conversion from the DeLorean from Back to the Future 2. The Stratocoach's in-canon driver Molly was not included in this package as it would fit a maximum of 2 figures, one on the outside and one riding on the inside.
The Skull Walker was Tex Hex's preferred mode of transport. It has two modes, a walking mode that takes it's strides from the AT-AT from Star Wars, and a sleeker jet type mode that allows Tex-Hex to travel long distances at fast speed. All the members of his gang have similar looking transports, with Tex-Hex's being the only one with a skull on the front and being able to be summoned from nowhere by magical means.
Fort Kerium is the fictional town at the center of New Texas which housed all sorts of people and creatures from all over the galaxy. In the show, the town had two modes: The living town and a Fortress mode which sealed off the center of the town in order to protect the main bulk of the Kerium housed in the bank. The playset on the other hand only had 3 pieces: A Command Center, where Bravestarr could lock down the area before climbing an attachable tower which protects more Kerium and also allows access to two laser guns on the roof, the Planetary Jail where you could hold a figure inside, which they could escape through a falling open jail window; and the 1st Kerium Bank, which housed the Kerium safe (which would "blow open" thanks to an air pressure kit included in the playset) and a telescope to see far off villains. The only thing that would make things better was if there was the Bar which Handlebarr works in as well, but since it's a kids toy, we couldn't do that.
Unreleased: Bravestarr Wave 2The second wave of Bravestarr toys were planned since the show was doing alright in the run it had, however a change in times caused viewers to stop watching and stop buying the toys. You could also contribute the rise in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles during the end of the Bravestarr run to it's downfall as well since people were flocking to that show and the toys that came with it. While there are no documents nor concept pieces for the Bravestarr Wave 2 toyline, the rumor had it that there were going to be 4 more figures based around characters in the cartoon series along with some more vehicles like Handlebarr's cyborg steer named Rampage and even Tex-Hex's lair: The Hexagon being the big new playset. As for the figures, rumor had it that they were:
- Judge J.B. McBride - Fort Kerium's principal (and perhaps only) judge and lawyer, BraveStarr's ally, consultant, and occasional paramour. In battle, she uses an electronic gavel (called a "hammer of justice" in the series) given to her by the Prairie People.
- Shaman - An otherwise-unnamed mystic, capable of teleportation, time travel, psychokinesis, and near-omniscient clairvoyance. He is BraveStarr's mentor and foster-father. BraveStarr would often telepathically contact Shaman for advice on how to handle certain situations.
- Howler - A humanoid dingo from the Leaper Riders Gang
- Vipra - A Reptillianoid female villain who has the power to hypnotize people. She is the assistant to Tex Hex, but envious of his high rank among the villains.
So there you have it, all of the Bravestarr crew and the playsets to go with them. Now I did mention at the beginning that I have some personal regrets to do with these toys. Well, would you believe that during the time that Bravestarr was popular, I owned a full set of the figures and playsets? Well obviously I did or I wouldn’t be speaking about them would I? So the regret with these toys comes from the simple fact that out of all the toys that were sold when I was a kid, these are the ones I regret seeing sold, or sold myself depending on the story. But at the same time, the end result was worth the regret… kinda.
You see, back in the early 1990s, my mother and I participated in a community center second-hand sale. This event was put on by the local community center to give people a chance to offload some bits and pieces laying around their homes to the local community. One, of the things that went up for sale, was my entire Bravestarr set. Now the point of contention was between me and my mother because according to her I actually wanted to sell the set at the time as I had gotten bored of it. Now I remember it differently as I was forced to choose between the Bravestarr set and my collection of Transformers or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I wasn’t allowed to have that many toys at the time and was forced to sell off a lot of items that today would be considered collector’s items.
Story versions aside the result was the same: The set sold. I’m not too sure how much it went for, the only thing I remember was that the mother who bought the set had a child who was in the hospital sick with cancer and he was a fan of Bravestarr. So in the end, a much more worthy child ended up loving the Bravestarr set until he passed. In the end it was worth the sacrifice to help a dying child spend time with his favorite hero as he battled the biggest battle there is.
Sorry to end on such a downer of a story, but as much as I regret the sale now as I’m a selfish man-child who doesn’t want to pay $60+ to get his toys back, I still know I did the right thing…
….Next week on Toys on a Tuesday: Keith might finally post his Gunpla article.