#3. Sectaurs -- Biological Warfare, Slavery, More Mutants
Remember that scene in Big where Tom Hanks convinces the toy makers that a toy shaped like a bug was much cooler than one shaped like a building? This is basically what toy makers had in mind when they made Sectaurs. These action figures were basically human-insect hybrids that came with their own bug to fly around on.
Coming up with the idea for bug people is pretty easy, but when it came time to make the cartoon, the writers needed some background info on how they came to be this way. Was it magic? Aliens who were bug-like? Apparently, kids needed something a little more edgy to watch on Saturday mornings, so the writers finally settled on fallout from biological warfare.
That's from the opening credits.
Therefore, the Sectaurs story goes something like this:
Thousands of years ago, there was a peaceful planet full of enlightened beings (the Ancients) whose scientific advances had fostered the perfect utopia ... until one day something went terribly wrong and the whole planet was almost entirely destroyed by an unknown biological disaster.
From the ashes of the ruined planet rose a race of animal-insect mutants who are in a perpetual state of war:
If you watched the video above, you saw that what they're fighting over is control of "the secrets of the Ancients." You see, instead of saying "my bad" and cleaning up their horrific messes, the wise Ancients decided to store all their knowledge in "hyves" and leave their mutated offspring to work it out among themselves. Fortunately for the good guys, they're each able to bond with the mind of one giant mutated bug, giving them bug superpowers.
The show ran for only five episodes, and they're all the stuff of nightmares. The first episode shows the evil Spidrax attacking a village in his giant flying spider bug. The whole thing is reminiscent of Vietnam War films, with villagers running for their lives as their homes and fields are burned. And that's just the first scene.
Have fun, kids!
#2. P.J. Sparkles -- Lord of the Flies on Ecstasy
P.J. Sparkles is a doll that really doesn't need a back story. It's a little girl doll that lights up. That's it, that's all it takes to entertain toddlers. Hell, the empty box would be enough to entertain most toddlers.
But as with the rest of the toys on this list, the makers felt they needed to come up with a complicated P.J. Sparkles creation myth, and they included a VHS cassette along with the doll:
The short film tells the story of P.J., an orphan who wishes on a star for someone to love. Instead of finding her a caring and stable home, the wishing star sends P.J. to Twinkle Town. Despite its cheerful name, Twinkle Town is a foreboding, polluted place with no apparent order. It's populated by crowds of dingy children who immediately begin to cheer P.J. as soon as she arrives.
P.J. soon discovers that these nameless children were left there by the wishing star, and despite the star's dubious skills, have been wishing for a leader ever since. It's unclear why P.J. was chosen as their messiah, er, leader, but somehow the kids just know by looking at her that she's the one.
Hey, she seems pretty OK, let's worship her.
Let's stop and make it clear that even the people writing this monstrosity couldn't have given less of a shit about it. At one point, P.J. performs magic without meaning to and offers as an aside, "I wonder how I'm doing that?" When P.J. appears out of nowhere to a troubled kid and he wants to know where she came from, her horse tells him, "Just go with it, kiddo, it takes too long to explain."
Seriously, kid, just shut the hell up and watch your movie. Mommy needs her schnapps.
Anyway, the villains of the story, who are inserted almost as an afterthought, are the only adults in Twinkle Town, and they really don't like what P.J. has done with the place. In case you weren't sure they were the bad guys, they carry a bag of filth around with them wherever they go.
Yeah, we were being literal.
Having discovered a "cure" for all the love and happiness in Twinkle Town, the two villains manage to turn all of P.J.'s followers against her. P.J. begins to grow faint and fade away. She's informed by the horrible wishing star that her very existence depends on how much love the children give her. So, unless she can manage to bring the children back under her thumb, P.J. will die. And unless they follow P.J. adoringly, the kids better get used to a dark existence trapped in Twinkle Town forever.
Wait, was this toy just a front for a cult? All the profits went to fund some compound somewhere, didn't they?
#1. Rainbow Brite -- Incarnated Evil, Child Abandonment, Murder Via Rainbow
If you were around in the '80s, you remember the enormously popular Rainbow Brite doll. Here's a video of that kid from Poltergeist trying to sell one to you:
For the most part, the Rainbow Brite cartoon series could not have been more innocuous -- even the "villains" Murky and Lurky were really just a couple of inept caricatures. Really the only objectionable thing about the series was the fact that it seemed to be produced by a bunch of grown-up hippies. But then we have the two-part special, "The Beginning of Rainbowland." That's where we get Rainbow Brite's terrifying origin story.
It turns out Rainbow Brite started out as Wisp, a human toddler who was transported to an unnamed planet and given a quest to save it. Wisp must discover a way to bring color to the desolate landscape. To do this, she must find the Sphere of Light, which is held captive in a castle by a being known as the Evil One. It turns out that Murky and Lurky were just the henchmen for the Evil One, who is determined to keep the land in darkness. There are frequent lightning strikes, rivers of lava and evil creatures who are constantly trying to capture or kill little Wisp.
These guys, for instance.
As she travels, Wisp encounters a field full of statues, which on further inspection turn out to be the frozen corpses of others who've tried to reach the castle. Wisp continues on, gathering new friends with her, until she comes to ...
Wisp then discovers an abandoned baby lying on the rocks and crying. Despite her friends' annoyed protests, Wisp decides that she must help the baby.
Seriously, how the fuck did it get there?
The bad guys decide they need to capture Wisp to steal the source of her rainbow powers. They accomplish this by kidnapping the baby as a way to lure Wisp into a trap. Wisp confronts the Evil One, who brandishes the baby in one huge fist and demands Wisp's Rainbow Belt.
The Evil One, about to beat a toddler to death with an infant.
Now it's time for Wisp to embrace her destiny as the One and bend reality to her will. A beam of rainbow shoots out from her stomach ...
... and wraps around the Evil One like a goddamned boa constrictor ...
... and crushes him until nothing but his empty cloak remains.
Wisp takes her place as Rainbow Brite and restores color to Rainbowland, where she hopefully receives treatment for post traumatic stress disorder. You may think this episode was some kind of an intentionally edgy, gritty reboot of the character maybe meant for girls in their early teens ... then you realize that "The Beginning of Rainbowland" is recommended for kids as young as 3 years old.
For more bizarre origin stories, check out 7 Shockingly Dark Origins of Lovable Children's Characters. Or check out some hilariously bad knockoffs in The 15 Most Unintentionally Hilarious Bootleg Toys.
And stop by LinkSTORM (UPDATED TODAY!) to read our Gobot/Sectaur fanfic.
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