Newsarama's interview with Adam F. Goldberg, creator of the hit ABC sitcom The Goldbergs, concludes today…with a quiz involving some of the most obscure, insane kids’ things from the 1980s we could think of. But first, if you haven't read them already -- here is Part 1 and Part 2 of our Q&A.
Goldberg was up to the task – and shared some crazy stories, including his Lazer Tag movie that never happened. Plus, we included some links and videos to experience this crazy stuff for yourself – you might just discover a few crazy cartoons and toys from reading this.
Strap in. This gets nerdcore.
Newsarama: Okay Adam – because you’ve had such geeky references on The Goldbergs, I wanted to come up with ten really, really hard ‘80s questions for you. These are all things like cartoons, toys, some things related to comics – and it’s freaking hard. You only need half to pass.
Adam F. Goldberg: Okay.
Nrama: Occasionally, I’ll help coax you, but no Googling or interns! This has to be pure Adam. And Newsarama readers – you can play along at home.
Goldberg: I’m ready, let’s go.
Nrama: Okay, First Question: and this is so obscure I’m going to allow for an alternate Q: Inhumanoids were, according to their theme song, which type of evil?
Goldberg: You know what – I know nothing about the Inhumanoids.
Nrama: They were awesome, is what they were, but I figured this might be the case. They were H.P. Lovecraft for kids, and “The Evil That Lies Within.”
Goldberg: Oh, I wish I’d heard of that. (Newsarama Note: We provided Goldberg with some information on this after the interview. His response: “I now vaguely remember these things... but you're completely right on the Lovecraft inspiration. And how was this ever allowed to be aired? It would scare the living s**t out of my kids. You can see for yourself in the video below,)
Nrama: I’m not sure Beverly Goldberg would have let those in her house.
Goldberg: Probably not!
Nrama: Okay, like I said, alternate question instead. Just want to see if you can name this show – there was also a toy line, and they had infrared things that let you fire at the TV and the TV would fire back.
Goldberg: I want to say Photon.
Nrama: [long pause] I wanted Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, but I’m going to give you this anyway, because I’m not sure anyone, anyone, remembers Photon and “Bodhi Lee, Photon Warrior.” Not even Peter David, who did some tie-in novels as “David Peters.’
Newsarama Note: If you, like most sentient beings, were fortunate enough not to experience Photon, here’s the opening and closing credits.
Goldberg: Side note: They wanted to do a Lazer Tag movie. So I pitched them that Jack Black is this guy in the 1980s who goes to Lazer Tag places and he’s a legend, and then cuts to today and he’s still playing against 12-year-old boys.
And it turns out – and you’ve seen this before – Lazer Tag is really a recruitment thing to find the world’s greatest warrior, and he has the most points on Earth, because he’s the only one who’s been playing it for 30 years.
So I plotted out this whole thing, and then it turns out that was the plot of the Photon TV show. And I was completely unaware of it.
Nrama: I love that you did The Last Starfighter. That’s everyone’s favorite.
Nrama: Okay, Question #2: Two of the Inhumanoids were voiced by the late voice actor Christopher Collins, aka “Chris Latta.” Which two (bad raspy voice) iconic raspy, whiny-voiced villains did he do on two of the 1980s best-known cartoons, also from Marvel Productions?
Goldberg: Hmmm…I want to say Cobra Commander, but that wasn’t a Marvel Production.
Nrama: Actually, it was!
Goldberg: Okay, so…hmm, was he also Dr. Claw?
Nrama: Different actor, I think. (Newsarama Note: Dr. Claw was Frank Welker). Here’s a hint – Cobra Commander has met this other character in a recent comic book.
Nrama: There you go!
Goldberg: I didn’t know Marvel actually produced those cartoons! I thought it was Sunbow.
Nrama: They co-produced.
Goldberg: That’s amazing. Wow.
Nrama: Question #3: E.T. briefly had his own cereal. Which flavor or flavors was it?
Goldberg: We actually have E.T. cereal on the show. It was chocolate…and peanut butter.
Nrama: You got it!
Now, I love finding weird, creepy, obscure Saturday morning cartoons from the 1980s. This one not a lot of people saw, but you might be able to get it based on the context.
Question #4: Menudo did the theme song to this show based on a popular 1980s novelty toy…a very, very creepy cartoon based on one of the best gimmicky toys.
Goldberg: Um…it was the Rubik’s cartoon?
Nrama: Yes! Rubik, The Amazing Cube!
Goldberg: [sings] “He’s magical, loveable…he’s Rubik, the Amazing Cuuuuube!”
And then for some reason, in the opening credits, it’s like old-timey 1800s with a horse and carriage, the trunk opens and Rubik falls out, and you’re like, “Why are we in the 1800s and by candlelight and a horse and carriage, and there’s a Rubik’s Cube? It makes no sense! Watch it again!” It’s classic. (Newsarama Note: And below!)
Nrama: Also the only 1980s cartoon to feature Latino lead characters.
Goldberg: Yes! The only one, I think.
Nrama: Now, Rubik was produced by Ruby-Spears, who also made the most disturbing of all 1980s cartoons, Turbo Teen. which is Question #5....what was the affliction of the title character?
Goldberg: (instantly) The boy turned into a car.
Nrama: Very good! Bonus point if you can remember what triggered his transformation.
Goldberg: Ummm…what triggered Turbo Teen? I know that his head turned into the headlights, but I can’t remember. This is going to bug me.
Nrama: It was heat. And it was really lame, because he’d be eating a hot fudge sundae, and that would trigger it.
Goldberg: Yeah! And it was also lame to me, because the car he turned into kind of looked like the M.A.S.K. car, and I thought they’d ripped off M.A.S.K.
Nrama: In fairness, M.A.S.K. kind of ripped off G.I. Joe and the Transformers. I mean, Cobra…V.E.N.O.M….they even combined the lines for a Matt Trakker G.I. Joe a few years back. I get very pedantic about this.
Goldberg: The show I get the most pedantic about this, and it’s incredibly obscure but we’ve mentioned it on The Goldbergs, is Pandamonium.
Nrama: Yeah! There was like a pyramid…[Newsarama Note: Google turned up Pandamonium was also a Marvel Productions cartoon]
Goldberg: The villain was Mondraggor, and the opening theme song has what feels like three minutes of the most ham-fisted, awkward exposition about the Pyramid of Power and how Mondraggor scattered it, and how in outer space he has these powers, but on Earth he has other powers…I’ve watched it a thousand times, to the point that Erica said “Mondraggor” on the show.
Nrama: That’s like the Cones of Dunshire.
Nrama: Now, Ruby-Spears employed legendary comic book creators such as Jack Kirby and Gil Kane, along with such future legends as Jim Woodring. But for Question #7: Which future legendary sitcom writer got his start writing for My Little Pony?
Goldberg: George R.R. Martin.
Nrama: Sitcom writer! And here’s a hint: He’s worked with an actor who recently appeared on your show…and also co-wrote the theme to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Goldberg: Ummm…I don’t know this one.
Nrama: Chuck Lorre.
Goldberg: Oh! I did hear he co-wrote the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song.
Nrama: He mentions in one of his vanity cards that he was turned down for a job writing for Muppet Babies…and knew they were right.
Goldberg: Unbelievable. Wow! And I know he writes all his theme songs, and I’d thought he did that to get the money, but if he wrote the TMNT song…he is the real deal.
Nrama: His words as to his not getting a dime from that were, I quote: “Not funny then, still not funny now.”
Nrama: Question #8: There were three different toy lines from the 1980s I can think of that either starred or featured in sub-lines characters that turned into rocks --
Goldberg: [immediately] Rock Lords.
Nrama: Full points if you can name two. Hints: One of the other rock-toys tied into a major-major toy lines of the 1980s and tied into the Halley’s Comet craze, and the other was more obscure and featured little rubbery creatures called “Mordles.”
Goldberg: [Deep breath] I know the Rock Lords, because they were spinoffs of Gobots, of course. The other ones…more hints?
Nrama: A couple of them are visible in a poster that’s in little Adam’s bedroom on The Goldbergs. A big group poster featuring a lot of characters, including a purple Tyrannosaurus.
Goldberg: It’s gotta be Star Wars something?
Nrama: You’re so close! You’re killing me!
Goldberg: Star Wars: Droids?
Nrama: Want me to just tell you?
Nrama: The first one was the Comet Warriors in He-Man --
Goldberg: Arrgh! The Comet Warriors! Yes!
Nrama: And the other was a very, very obscure line called “Rocks & Bugs & Things.” (Newsarama Note: And you can buy updated “Mordles” on this website!)
Goldberg: Never heard of that one. “Rocks & Bugs & Things?” That’s the worst. (Newsarama Note: See commercial below and judge whether you agree with Goldberg)
I should have gotten that He-Man one because I loved He-Man, and…[sighs] I have many of the Rock Lords, Magmar I’m obsessed with. That’s a sign of how versatile the Rock Lords were, that they could come out with toys that turned into rocks.
Nrama: The Rock Lords had really good sculpting and articulation, but when they transformed, all you could do was throw them at your brother and get spanked.
Question #9: This is one that is very near and dear to me, because it is sitting on top of my refrigerator right now. There was a board game from the late 1980s, and it was awesome but super-complicated to play, where you had a 3-D game board and had to steal a jewel dodging marbles shot at you from an idol head…
Goldberg: Fireball Island.
Goldberg: Had it, tried to get it on the show – can’t figure out who owns it. Copyright law is too confusing.
Nrama: Best-designed game board ever! Tried to play with friends, takes like three hours.
Question #10: Easy one if you know it. Finish this lyric: “Magic and mystery are part of their history…”
Goldberg: [sings] “…along with the secret of Gummiberry Juice. The legend is growing, they take pride in knowing…” [We join in singing; it’s Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears)
Nrama: We will spare our readers by not putting that audio on YouTube.
Goldberg: Thank you.
Nrama: Last Question (Newsarama Note: Yes, he lost count): These “Warriors of Symbion” rode on giant puppets. Name that toy line!
Goldberg: “Warriors of Centurion?” Centurions?
Nrama: No, “Symbion.” They had like, hairy, monstrous puppets with flapping wings and stuff.
Goldberg: Oh! Sectaurs!
Nrama: Yes! From Coleco!
Goldberg: They were like buggy guys, with antennae coming out of their heads.
Newsarama Note: Experience one of the most elaborate action figure origin stories ever with this classic Sectaurs commercial.
Nrama: Their playset, the Hyve, was one of the biggest playsets of the 1980s, up there with G.I. Joe’s USS Flagg and the Transformers’ Fortress Maxmimus.
Goldberg: My best friend had a bunch of those. I was never much into insects, but they had those puppets – there was like a big furry fly, and a tarantula one --
Nrama: I had that one!
Goldberg: Clunky name, though, “Sectaurs.”
Nrama: A friend of mine was offered to pitch a comic of that like a decade ago, when all these 1980s properties were becoming comics.
Goldberg: A M.A.S.K. movie has come to me like three, four times now. But I just don’t think I’m the guy for that.
Nrama: I only really liked the theme song. I hated that kid with the robot.
Goldberg: But a truly underrated toy line of the 1980s. I would say I liked them better than G.I. Joe. Is that a crazy thing to say?
Nrama: No, no – I worked at a toy shop, and we sold a ton of them.
Goldberg: They were so damn sturdy by most toy standards. I felt like Transformers, for example – they got very plasticky with the Insecticons, the Constructicons. But M.A.S.K., a lot of those were thick and rubbery. Very durable.
Nrama: No – it’s why I like Masters of the Universe Classics. They use good thick PVC, so you get the posability and the sculpting, but you don’t have to worry about limbs snapping off.
Goldberg: My wife has banned me for life from Mattycollector, because it’s such a rabbit hole. I would spend hours on that site, and I wanted every single figure from there, and every day another one would appear at our doorstep, and my wife was like, “Shut it down!”
Nrama: You’re going to kill me. My Ninjor/”Ninja Warrior” literally arrived just before this interview.
Goldberg: I hate you. I love that site. I could blow my entire paycheck on that.
How’d I do on your quiz?
Nrama: You actually got very close to complete! You missed…two questions, and one I had to give you anyway because seriously, you freaking knew Photon.
Goldberg: It’s still driving me crazy, because Inhumanoids is a complete blank space for me.
Nrama: We’ll catch you up.