The Ultimate Guide to the Cartoons of the 1980s – Chapter 7: Madballs

1980s Cartoons - Chapter 7: Madballs

Chapter 7: Madballs

Total Episodes: 2
Episode Length: 22 minutes
First Air Date: 1986
Final Air Date: 1987
Day(s) Aired: N/A
Channel: N/A (Direct-to-Home Video)
Reboot/Spin-Off Data: 2017 saw a series of Reboot Shorts which were hosted on YouTube
Based On: Toyline

Creator: AmToy (American Greetings)
Developed By: Unknown
Producer: Michael Hirsh, Patrick Loubert & Clive A. Smith
Director: Laura Shepherd
Voice Director: Rob Kirkpatrick
Writer(s): Heather MacGillvray & John de Klein

Music: Trish Cullen

Production Companies: Nelvana

Component or Standalone: Standalone

What Came First?:
* Toyline: 1985
* Cartoon: 1986-1987
* Comic Books: September 1986 (10 Issue Run)
* Computer Game: 1988

Episode List: (Click HERE for Episode Guide)
Episode 1: Escape from Orb
Episode 2: Gross Jokes

Main Cast:

Freakella: Cress Summer (Ep1), Taborah Johnson (Ep2)






Screamin’ Meemie: Geoffrey Bowes






Dusty Dustbrain: Jeri Craden






Oculus Orbus & Bash Brain: Len Carlson






Skull Face & Aargh: John Stocker






Horn Head: Keith Hampshire






Wolf Breath: Don Francks






Slobulus & Bruise Brother: Dan Hennessey






Skip: Christopher Ward






Sandy: Alyson Court













Madballs was never a series proper but instead was a series of 2 direct-to-video cartoons that aired between 1986 and 1987. There are rumors that 4 others were made but that cannot be confirmed at this time. What makes this entry somewhat unique is the fact that the first and second installment are very different from each other. In the first installment we get a standard cartoon series pilot involving the Madballs, a rock and roll band who are opposed by Commander Wolf Breath and his Badballs. Wolf Breath has outlawed music on Planet Orb and is out to put an end to the Madballs. The cartoon follows that story as the Madballs attempt to escape Orb and make a new home on Earth.

The second installment does not contain a story or connect to the pilot in any way and instead sees the Madballs doing their best Monty Python/Saturday Night Live impersonation as they deliver jokes and comedic sketches for the duration of the run time. We use the term ‘jokes’ and ‘comedic sketches’ very loosely.






Overall Breakdown:

This property is a hard one to breakdown overall due to the fact that the two cartoons are so different from each other. Escape from Orb is easily the better of the two and could have served as a decent pilot to a series had it been given the chance. The music was good, the animation and voice work was fine, and the character designs and style fit perfectly into the time period in which it aired. I could have easily seen it alongside the likes of Garbage Pail Kids (which was produced the next year but never aired, however the film version did air in 1987), Inhumanoids and Ghostbusters as cartoons embraced more of a ‘gross’ vibe and darker color schemes. Granted, the parent censor groups that infiltrated all things animated in that era would have been out in full force to stop it I’m sure.

Gross Jokes is atrocious though. Not only does the ever changing animation styles come across as jarring and clunky but it’s simply hard to consider anyone, even kids of the time finding the skits or jokes even remotely amusing, much less funny! It seems to be a take on You Can’t Do That on Television and Monty Python with hints of the Muppet Show. I’m not sure what the overarching idea was when this special was constructed or what they hoped it would lead to. What it lead to here, is a score much lower than it would have been had we only been basing this score on Escape from Orb.

Overall Show Score: 1.5/5

Behind the Scenes/Fun Trivia: A Care Bear can be seen in the Escape from Orb video. Care Bears were Toys from the era that were also developed by the American Greetings Company (Those Characters from Cleveland)














Related Media/Merchandise:














Comic Books:






Computer Game:













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Kevin "OptimusSolo"

OptimusSolo is a Cartoon Historian and even has an actual History degree to go with it. He's also an avid Toy collector boasting an over 1,000 piece Star Wars collection and nearly 400 Transformer toys. He is one of the hosts of the Powers of Grayskull series. He also has a passion for cartoon Theme Songs, Star Trek, MacGyver, Baseball, and is a major Movie Geek!

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