One of my favorite cartoons from my childhood is also one of the cartoons that I know the least about. The Spiral Zone was first broadcast in the fall of 1987 at the tail end of the boom in action oriented toy-based cartoons like M.A.S.K., He-Man, G.I. Joe, Transformers and the ThunderCats. It was never as popular as those shows though, and actually belongs more in the company of toons like Bravestar, the Silver Hawks, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors and C.O.P.S., all of which I believe had only one season and limited toy sales.
I love the show so much probably because I only caught one episode in it’s original broadcast and I always wanted to see more but never saw it again. The little bit that I did see stuck with me, so much so that I could still hum the theme song to the show a decade after I saw that episode.
I think one of the things that’s mystified me about the show is the plot which is about a rogue military scientist, known as Overlord, who manages to cover half of the earth with mist producing generators that effectively turn the populace living in those “zones” to become mindless zombies with weird red growths on their faces. The Zone Riders (the good guys) are an elite military group that is trying to get the world back to normal. I’m sure that’s not exactly right, but you get the drift (sheesh, I only saw one episode…)
Though the good guys were very boring rip-offs of G.I. Joe characters, the evil group, the Black Widows led by Overloard, were awesome. Though they were immune to the minless-ness effects of the Zone, they had all the disfiguring red marks, though albiet in much cooler, more symetrical patterns that made them look pretty badass. I also love the vehicles in the show, even though when I look back they are pretty much just rip-offs of Robotech Cyclones and the tank/bikes from the Venus Wars anime. But they were designed and made by Tonka, so you know they’re tough.
There’s an awesome site that’s dedicated to the show and getting it on DVD. They’ve got a pretty sweet database going with pictures of the toys and what’s much more important, downloads of six full episodes in .avi format. The connection is drastically slow (I have a pretty fast DSL connection and it took two hours each to download the episodes so be warned and take a nap while they download.) Here are links to those 20 minute nostalgia gems: