Before Filmation teamed up with Mattel to bring their barbarian-like toy, He-Man, to television, they created Blackstar. This series was inspired by the booming popularity of Thundarr the Barbarian, a Saturday morning cartoon that ran in 1980. Desiring to capture some of the same energy, Lou Scheimer and Norm Prescott, two of Filmation’s founders, dreamed up Blackstar.
The name was chosen because they initially planned to create an African-American hero. However, during the production, it was decided that he should be Caucasian with a dark tan instead. While it had never been confirmed, many believe the network had pressured Filmation to make the change.
Rather than copying Thundarr’s distant dystopia, Blackstar was set in a far-off galaxy. John Blackstar wound up crashing into the planet Sagar after an unfortunate trip through a black hole. Even though he had been an astronaut from a futuristic Earth, he choose to wear a loin cloth and barbarian-like clothing as he settled on Sagar. He became the wielder of the Star Sword, which granted him super-human abilities and durability. Despite his immense strength, he chose to solve most conflicts by outsmarting his foes.
Blackstar quickly discovered that Sagar was home to the Trobbits who were under threat from the evil Overlord. He also discovered that Overlord held the Power Sword, which was the second half of his sword. If the two halves ever united, they would have formed the PowerStar. Thus, Overlord had many of the same superhuman powers that Blackstar had.
In his quest to protect Sagar, he made allies like the shape-shifting Klone. He also rode a dragon, Warlock, into battle. Meanwhile, the powerful Mara the Enchantress gave him even more firepower. He also briefly reunited with his girlfriend from Earth, Katana, in a single episode.
Blackstar lasted for one season with 13 episodes in 1981. At the time, it had no additional merchandise, let alone toys. However, the craze created by Mattel’s Masters of the Universe gave Blackstar a second life. As Filmation decided to air reruns of Blackstar from 1983 to 1984, Galoob stepped up to create the toy line, which lasted from 1983 to 1985.
As with many companies in 1983, Galoob decided to create toys that mimicked Mattel’s success. Both toy lines featured muscle-bound barbarian main characters that fought against monsters. Galoob’s action figures also stood at around the 5 ½” scale. Notably, they changed the stature of their toys so that they stood tall rather than squatted.
Later, the toys gained a unique feature with the flicker lights that Galoob added in 1984. By rubbing the flint on the back of the figure, players were able to create flicks of light in the figure’s chests. These flickers could be removed and replaced, so many figures currently are missing the flint.
Both Blackstar and Overlord came with the two distinct halves of the PowerStar, the Power Sword and the Star Sword. Unfortunately, these two halves had no way to unite.
There were other gimmicks for some of the figures. For instance, one of Klone’s figures came with a werewolf disguise which signified his shape-shifting powers.
Complimenting the action figures were six different PVC Trobit figures for the good-aligned characters. Many of these Trobits were packaged along with the action figures. However, they also came in 4-packs and separate packaging.
Meanwhile, there was a selection of demon PVC figures available for the evil characters. Most of the series 1 characters came with the yellow demon. However, there were also blue, orange, and pink demons. There was even a green goblin-like figure that had painted-on chainmail.
The line also featured multiple vehicles. There were two different spaceships, one silver, and the other red. Then, there was the Robitt Wind Machine and Battle Wagon. The largest piece of the toy line was the Overlord’s Ice Castle playset.
Despite the years on the shelves, Blackstar has disappeared in the current era. There had been no whispers of reviving either the toys or the series.
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