Welcome to the November edition of LRM’s Retro-Specs! The cartoon world of the 80s and 90s seem to be never-ending at times. There are so many that had potential only to get lost in the mix. One of the franchises that seems to have all of the right parts, but doesn’t last nearly as long as it should have, is Bucky O’Hare!
Alright, so I know I mentioned cartoons, which I will get to. However, Bucky O’Hare begins as a comic. Now there is some legitimacy to it as well. Larry Hama and Michael Golden have their initial anthology: Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars as part of the anthology Echoof Futurepast. While this may be unfamiliar to most, the anthology producer is none other than Neal Adams and Continuity Comics.
Six issues run in the anthology from 1984-1985. It eventually finds publishing as a graphic novel in 1986. After a brief hiatus, the line picks back up in 1991 in the UK. There is a reissue and expansion from the originally. Issues one through five come from the original plot with issue six finishing the storyline.
Issues seven through twenty are completely new. There is the introduction of new characters and a new plot. By the year 2006, Neal Adams releases the title in a Manga version. The graphic novel is in black and white and contains issues one through six and adds the UK’s seventh and eighth issues.
Comic? Check. Next on the list, a cartoon. Anthropomorphic animals are already popular thanks to TMNT. Let’s add a cartoon to the mix. I actually remember the cartoon before ever reading the comic. The cartoon only lasts for one season with 13 episodes, unfortunately.
It focuses on Willy DuWitt who is a child prodigy. He creates to proton accelerator and is thrown into a parallel universe aboard a spaceship, the Righteous Indignation. The crew of the ship is awesome. All have their own unique traits. They include: Captain Bucky O’Hare , Jenny (telepathic pilot), Bruce (a huge Baboon who is the mechanic), Deadeye Duck (the gunner), Commander Dog Star, and AFC Blinky. I always loved Deadeye Duck. One eye, four arms and apparently Scottish. The team is in a battle with artificial intelligence, Komplex, as well as the entire Toad Empire.
They must outwit, and outgun, Komplex, Toad Air Marshall (also comedic relief), Toad Borg, Al Negator and Storm Toads. Think Star Wars meets TMNT, SilverHawks, and Thundercats. They are some great 80s/90s character names.
The best part of the cartoon is the badass theme song. I still remember belting it out when it came on. The intense theme song mixing with the tag line: “Let’s croak us some toads!” seems like it is a recipe for success. Combine that with the next few sections…
The toy line for Bucky O’Hare is awesome! They are great quality as well. In 1991 toy giants Hasbro releases a Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars line. Most of the characters mentioned above made the first, and unfortunately, only wave (sans Jenny). Two vehicles do as well. The Toad Croacker (good guys) and Toad Double Bubble (bad guys). Two more waves were planned, but canceled. There are some prototypes for many of the characters that do not make the first line.
The following of the franchise is strong though. In 2017 Boss Fight Studios release new Bucky O’Hare figures. The company does release a well-done Jenny figure as well. There are whispers that more may come at some point. They even release some deluxe versions as well as others with alternating heads, etc. They held the label until 2020, but unfortunately made the announcement that they could no longer make the toys after losing the license. The 90s were not done with Bucky O’Hare after the comic, cartoon, and toys though.
Bucky O’Hare even gets two video games. One comes out for the NES in 1992. It is actually a really awesome game. You can play as different characters. Each character also have their own strengths and weaknesses. So it’s important to choose wisely depending on the level, ala Super Mario 2. Bruiser unfortunately is not in the game. I always found his toy difficult to find as well. I wonder why.
Another cool concept for the game is that their are different planets to explore. Once a planet is conquered you rescue a character then being able to play as them. Once all of the characters are saved, they are quickly captured. On board the Toad ship, Bucky O’Hare and Blinky break out to finish saving the day. If you can find access to it, I definitely recommend playing it!
Bucky O’Hare also has an arcade game. It can play up to four players like Sunset Riders and TMNT. The characters to choose from are Bucky, Jenny, Deadeye or Blinky.
Finally, there is also a handheld game for Bucky O’Hare. It’s from Konami and is one of those that keep the same background and the main character kind of moves as villains come towards them. I remember playing the TMNT version and felt like it was impossible. I do not ever remember seeing the handheld version for Bucky O’Hare, but it is out there somewhere!
Why Didn’t It Last?
So, comics, a cartoon, toys, and video games on major platforms. Seems like it should be an equation for success, right? So why did Bucky O’Hare seem to rise and fall within a few years? Well, the cartoon is a giant advertisement for the toys. The toys seem to be strong enough since new lines were in the process of being created when the plug is pulled. The budget of the cartoon was part of the issue. And, just like that, Bucky O’Hare ends. Some feel that it may have flourished in the 80s. However, the 90s is loaded with ideas for toys, games, cartoons, and comics. Bucky O’Hare appears to get lost in the mix.
The franchise still has a strong following to this day. Hopefully strong enough to bring it back. Especially now, in the time when nostalgia is higher than ever. Here’s to hoping.
Do you remember Bucky O’Hare? What are your fondest memories? Did you have any of the toys, games, or comics? Who is your favorite character? Leave your thoughts in the usual spot, and thanks for reading!