Saturday Morning Cartoons! Bigfoot and the Muscle Machines!

I’ve recently been transferring some shows from video to DVD and this is one of them. My own history with it is seeing the trailer for it on a Transformers video as a kid, but never seeing or getting it fully myself. Then a friend of mine picked it up when we were in our teens and we watched it to make fun of it, mocking some of the voices and plot contrivances. As an adult, I picked it up on tape and was able to enjoy it more as what it was intended to be.

This is effectively a “movie”, although it only runs for 53 minutes. Sunbow produced it as a series of small parts to be included in a block they had with Robotix, Inhumanoids and Jem. Inhumanoids went a bit further and Jem went a lot further, but Bigfoot and Robotix didn’t develop beyond getting their “movie” collections of all the shorts stitched together.
Let’s start with the intro and the REALLY catchy theme tune. Very Southern, the lyrics are easily memorable. The animation is produced by Toei, and some aspects of it as far as the design are really high quality and detailed, but the actual movement is very limited, like a Filmation cartoon. This continues somewhat through the actual episodes, although the detail lessens and the woodenness of the movement does too.

The eponymous Bigfoot and the Muscle Machines are monster trucks. The first segment makes use of a commentator at a show to introduce deep-voiced cowboy Yank Justice as the driver of Bigfoot. Orange Blossom is driven by Professor Dee, who is accompanied by his pet armadillo Dilly. Black Gold is driven by twin sisters Red and Redder, one in white and one in yellow, one tough and one softer, although they constantly mix up each one. The team is later joined by hilllbilly boy Close McCall in his funny car War Lord.

To oppose these heroes is Adrian Ravenscroft, a mysterious billionaire, mostly cloaked in the shadow of his limousine through the episode, driven around by a chauffeur who’s easily 7 feet tall. They make use of an equally shady character called Ernie Slye for some of their schemes early in the episode.

To drive the plot, a mysterious woman is trying to get away from Slye and Ravenscroft, carrying with her a scroll that they want. This woman comes into contact with Yank and his friends, who unwittingly end up helping her. The way she comes into contact with them is pretty much through running right out into the middle of a monster truck rally, climbing to the summit of a pile of wrecked cars, and waiting for help. Of course, as is the way in cartoons, no security or police or even fans come out to help her or get her out of there, they just watch. MASK was similarly guilty of this in its abbreviated second season, when the main focus was on the race cars and associated vehicles and equipment.

The animation quality, as noted, takes a dip immediately after the intro. A sign outside the arena promotes an appearance from Bigfoot and the “Mascle” Machines, and billboards around the track advertise Pentax, Canon and “Kobica”. Acting and script-wise, it becomes a meme factory with the constant “What’s the darn deal?!” from Red and Redder and a ridiculous “AVALANCHE!” from Yank. Red and Redder also note regarding Yank’s concern about the girl “That’s the first time he’s noticed a girl!” – I guess he’s a motorsexual, then.

Further silliness, required by the plot and each of the segments needing an action scene, include as many construction and destruction vehicles as Ravenscroft has at his disposal, from cement mixers to wrecking balls. Perils are averted in the silliest of ways. Bikers with viking helmets, carrying axes and maces, are defeated by having makeup thrown in their faces. Dilly pops up and sniggers at one through the window to scare him off. It’s not just the bad guys, though, as Yank gets blinded by Slye at one point by having a fizzy drink can shaken and sprayed in his face (when Slye runs off, Yank yells “Where you going?! I got a soda pop for you!”).

Voice actors for the show include Lance LeGault from The A-Team, who’s good as tough cowboy hero Yank. Arthur Burghardt is incredibly restrained as the scholarly Professor Dee. Sue Blu is pretty irritating as Red and Redder. Jerry Houser plays country boy Close McCall pretty well. Peter Cullen has a funny voice as elderly Ravenscroft. Chris Latta plays Wheeljack as a creep to produce Slye’s voice. Voice director Wally Burr steps in as the bodyguard, so I don’t know if someone was cast and he replaced him. Pat Fraley’s around in the background too.

To both compliment and insult the show, it’s pretty much like monster truck racing – completely brainless, but nonetheless entertaining. Just yesterday I received writer Flint Dille’s book from Amazon, so the plan is to go through those shows that followed Transformers and G.I. Joe, but didn’t get the same longevity, like Inhumanoids and Visionaries. I may even give Robotix a look again, which is a show I’ve found impenetrable. This isn’t, though, so I recommend giving it a look, even if just for a laugh.