Before there was He-Man, there was Blackstar.
Blackstar was a concept very similar to He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, following the same basic Sword and Sorcery meets Star Wars story and characterizations.
Blackstar was a Filmation cartoon like He-Man but was initially launched without a toyline (remember those days?)
The show was a flop, but the success of another Filmation endeavor immediately thereafter - He-Man - gave rise to a Blackstar toy line and a re-release of the Blackstar cartoon; but still the success of the line/characters/concept paled in comparison to Masters of the Universe and today is merely a footnote in the annals of eighties toy and cartoon history.
As a kid I had a few Blackstar figures, but they just didn't exhibit the same level of charm that my MOTU figures had. Regardless, they weren't half bad, and actually had some keen features and characters too. None survived in my collection to adulthood, but the other day I came across this furry fellow, Tongo, at the flea market and picked him up for a quarter.
I remember having Tongo as a kid, but remember nothing about his character from the cartoon. I also had Blackstar, Neptul, Overlord, and Kadray.
Tongo was available in this version and also with a spark-action chest medal. I think I had the sparking one when I was a kid. The badguys all came with little rubber demons and the good guys all came with Trobbits. The demon was there at the swap meet too, but he was missing a leg so I left him there.
Another of the gimmicks of the Blackstar toyline was glow-in-the-dark weapons. Sadly my Tongo has none of these, but I remember that as being a very cool feature when I was a kid. There's nothing better than turning out the lights and playing with your action figures. I mean, there WAS nothing better...I am an adult now, it's not like I'd be playing with my action figures after dark anymore. Or any less. HA!
Tongo shares a lot of similarities with the original MOTU figures, but he's a little bit larger. He shares the same type of articulation, similar taste in clothing (or lack thereof,) same squatty stance and similar construction.
I was actually considering buying a Tongo on eBay last year because I wanted a Blackstar representative in my toy collection. I never followed through, so thanks to the Swap Meet for once again bringing a piece of my childhood back into my hands. He's really pretty silly looking, and comes across as more of a knock-off MOTU than a legitimate Galoob made contemporary, and it's fun to imagine him and his cronies being both first (in cartoon form) and runner-up (in toy form) to the juggernaut that was Masters of the Universe back in the early eighties.
Anyways, I may have to track down a couple more of these Blackstar guys. they are pretty cool after all, and are probably pretty cheap and easy to find, since the line didn't last too long and isn't very big in the collector circuit.
Also, all this Blackstar talk also has me wondering about the famed Wonder Bread He-Man, and if the similarities to that toy's design and the look of Blackstar holds a clue to his origins. Hmmm.