Hindsight is 20/20. Many things that were considered appropriate in past decades can seem controversial to modern eyes. Like, how Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, a movie made for kids, is objectively a horrifying experience. Still, one has to wonder when it might have ever been appropriate to make a cartoon series about an ex-mercenary suffering from PTSD for afterschool viewing. I guess we can blame it on the 80s?
The Internet went gaga this weekend when word came down that Sylvester Stallone was making a new Rambo movie; this will mark his 5th appearance as John Rambo in a franchise first launched in 1982. Putting aside discussions regarding Stallone’s age, the expired shelf-life of the character, or what Rambo’s return suggests bout the cyclical nature of time and trend, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to discuss the most bizarre chapter in the Rambo series—not a film, but the 65-episode cartoon series that launched in 1986.
Related Article: “M.A.S.K.” is Latest 1980s-Era Toy Line Getting a Feature Film
It’s not unusual for children’s programming to address the issues of the time in a covert way – and this animated series was no different. Granted, you didn’t exactly see Rambo dealing with the Cold War, apartheid and genocide – all of which were major global issues at the time — but they might’ve been a bit too much to get past the censors and parent groups.
What we did see was the action hero taking on forces from fictional places such as Namboola, Tierra Libre, and Bagdinia. It isn’t too difficult to figure out which real-life places and issues these places hint to. Aside from these locations, a lot of real cities, such as Venice and Las Vegas, and countries, like Haiti and England, were also used for settings. We do wonder if Rambo ever managed to find the magical land of Nambia in Africa, though.
The folks at RetroBlasting put together a classic cartoon retrospective on Rambo: The Force of Freedom. From the show’s unlikely beginnings to its controversial legacy, it’s a must-watch for fans of 1980s cartoons, cinema, and nostalgia. Give it a spin and let us know what you think in the Comments section!
About RetroBlasting on YouTube: RetroBlasting is the premier video channel specializing in humorous analysis and deconstruction of 1980s vintage toys and classic cartoons. Our goal is to be an objective voice which initiates new dialogue and spreads information, not just gush about how great we think these properties were.
With our shared backgrounds in film and archaeology, we look back on our favorite Generation X cartoons critically and discuss the good and bad, without pulling any punches. Able to laugh at things you love? This is the place for you!
We are vintage toy collectors and maintain a large archive of vintage and sometimes rare toys. We perform restoration of these toys in order to preserve both history and treasured childhood keepsakes, not to sell them for profit.