Oooh Baby Baby it's a Wild World

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.

Meow, man!

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.


  1. awesome find. I had Tongo too and out of 2 or 3 i had he was my favorite of that bunch. he used to be my Battle Cat's brother.

    I liked how sqishy the Blackstar figures heads were. you could dent them a bit and they usually sprang back after a while. Tongo also had cool big ass hands.

  2. Tongo rules! Great find!

    I was actually a huge Blackstar fan back in the day and all of my friends thought I was crazy. I would try to include my Blackstar figures in our MOTU adventures and they'd be all like, "Get that dude outta here!" and then I would be sad.

    I think I embraced Blackstar toys in an attempt to fill the void made by the lack of Thundarr toys. I would have killed for those!

    Good find, Bubbashelby! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I have the Blackstar DVD collection and the toons aren't half bad, but this is coming to a person who has an affinity for all things Filmation. I only owned one Blackstar figure...blue demon. But the Vizir fig was phenomenal. I remember that the figure line was quite amazing even if it wasn't as vast as MOTU.

  4. @wiec - Battle Cat's brother - haha that's cool! His head is rather squishy too.

    @Reis - My Blackstar figures merged into my MOTU too. It was especially easy with the villains who pretty much fit right in. Blackstar himself had a harder time, with his stiff taller stance.

    @Jay - yes the Blackstar line was amazingly diverse and well done all things considered.

  5. Man, Blackstar. This is another one of those "it was ultra cool when I was ten, but now..." Cartoons.

    Like Superfriends and Speed Racer.

    Thundarr held up pretty well, if only for the backgrounds.

  6. Tongo was my only Blackstar figure! SO neat to see him again. I used to go into the towel closet to see his sparking chest dealy. The little green gremlin he came with was forever ensared into a fishing net! Maybe I will get one on ebay.

  7. Coming late to this party...
    So awesome to see Tonga again after all these years! Of course, he's a little goofier looking than I remember him, but that applies to the original MOTU stuff too. I had Neptul and Tonga, and overall I really loved having these guys as additions to my MOTU line-up. At the time, I considered them exotic and superior because they:
    1) were cheaper than MOTU figures
    2) came with an accessory demon
    3) were bigger and lankier than MOTU, so held extra menace
    4) came with more accessories. Tonga had his funky sniper spear, but also a backpack that held 4 other smaller weapons (axe, mace, short spear, and... anyone remember?)

    Also, a fun fact: They're shoulder joints were the same size as MOTU, so you could pop their arms off and add them to an MOTU figure. After Neptul met with an unfortunate accident, his arms ended up on a patchwork MOTU custom figure. Those big, long arms and clawed hands looked really scary on the smaller MOTU body, and the new character was dubbed "Rendor" in my collection.

    Thanks for the pics... a real trip down memory lane!

    1. Better late than never, zac! Thanks for the comment.

      I had Neptul too, and Kadray and Overlord. You can find a nice listing of the toyline here: http://www.action-figures.ca/blackstar.htm

      Also, I recently found John Blackstar himself: http://toyriffic.blogspot.com/2011/07/back-in-blackstar.html