popples popples

Growing Up As A Cartoon Fan in Australia


Cat Piano co-director Eddie White, who is also an owner of Adelaide-based People’s Republic of Animation, is writing a series of blog posts about the different “flavors” of imported foreign cartoons they enjoyed while growing up in Australia during the eighties and early-nineties. His first post is about the colorful American product:

They were soooo cute and soooo colourful and happy that it sort of made you want to scream at the TV with happiness. It was an anxious, sugar high happiness that made you want to run around the block laughing. The cartoons were also really tight like a well drilled pop rock group. They were fast, dynamic, pulsating with energy and usually had an element of wit or slapstick humour so they never really depressed. You wanted to hug the TV when they came on and you felt like these cartoons were hugging you back and grabbing your hand and pulling you in to play in their world.

  • LoL I think I still have mine :P

  • I vaguely remember the cartoon.

  • Jeffers

    I never thought I would see the day when Cartoon Brew would have a gigantic picture of “”Popples” as I believe those things were called on the top of it’s homepage. There sure were a lot of those overly cute to a point of being revolting cartoons back in the 80’s.

    Anyone have a vote for the very worst 80’s cartoon?

    Off the top of my head I remember Teddy Ruxpin, The Wuzzles, Shoe People, Care Bears, Pound Puppies, Rainbow Brite, Fluppy Dogs, Potato Head Kids, and Strawberry Shortcake as being particually bad.

  • Another vote for the ‘aghast at Popples on CB’ troop – never thought I’d see the day! I’m under the opinion that Wuzzles on the hand was one of the greatest shows Walt Disney Television Animation ever produced! Brilliant staging/posing and some darn excellent writing at times! 13 episodes was enough, but it’s certainly in my top 10 unappreciated animated series list!

  • Of course, you quoted the most flattering part of his post. :)

    Here’s the other part:
    “These were not organic cartoons but highly synthesised, chemically enhanced and highly produced works that left others in their wake. They tasted like that really fake strawberry flavour and smelt like that even more fake grape flavour.”

    A few more quotes that might be relevant:
    “So the same way that you find the Eastern European animation too slow, overly tedious and heavy, somebody raised in different culture looks at most of the american animation as an annoying hyperactive soulless sugar candie in a brightly colored wrapper.”

    “Animated filmmaking is practically the first art form which is encountered by a child. He can’t even read yet; his attention span is insufficient for watching a feature-length live-action children’s film, a stage show, or for processing any “long” information at all. Yet it is at this very age that the foundations of his future intellect, artistic taste, ability to receive and analyze information, and many, many other things are formed. Personality is formed.”
    -director Aleksandr Tatarskiy, “Making Animation” (1986)

  • Eddie Mort

    naw, growing up in Australia in the late sixties/early seventies was where it was at. Astro Boy, Prince Planet, Space Ace, The Amazing Three, Marine Boy, Speed Racer, Kimba, Princess Knight, Gazula…I think the Australian networks got a ‘buy one – get ten’ deal on Japanese cartoons.

  • Jeffers

    Can I use this forum to also say that I really hate Lisa Frank? Thankfully I don’t think she has been involved in any animated projects.

  • I’m rather pleased to see Eek The Cat mentioned in the same breath as Beavis & Butt-head and Ren & Stimpy. Saturday morning cartoons were a race track filled with low hurdles, and while many cartoonists chose to duck under them just to be on the safe side, Savage Steve Holland always seemed to brush his head against the gymnasium ceiling with every jump. Maybe it was like shooting fish in a barrel for him, but I still marvel at how well those cartoons hold up, even to this day. DVD seasons please!

    Klutter, however, SUCKED. Sucked sucked sucked. Eek-Stravaganza my ass.

  • ViViMoji

    I remember loving this show when I was little. Still have the old toy of the yellow one stuffed in my closet somewhere too.
    Wow how things changed over the years.

  • Jeffers


    I love Eek! too and would also like to see some DVDs of it. I almost forgot that Klutter existed. A quick search on youtube helped revive my memory. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bp4kWk9Rt4g&feature=related

    I remember The Terrible Thunderlizards very fondly. The humor in the show was very sharp. Certainly one of the best things to come out of Fox Kids.

  • dronon

    I’m interested in hearing the rest of his fan experiences. I had a similar eclectic upbringing in southern Ontario – we had all the Canadian stuff obviously (good and bad), US network cartoons from Buffalo NY stations, and two Quebec TV stations playing cartoons from France, a lot of which was low-budget anime. Robotech-type anime was rare where we were, but some occasionally slipped through. Then you had TVOntario importing a lot of British things, half-hour shows but also many 5-minute fillers (Willo’ the Wisp, Land of chalk drawings, etc.). And finally odd random shows would occasionally show up on various stations (Doctor Snuggles, Spartacus and the Sun beneath the Sea). Man, I wish my parents had gotten a VCR when these things were still on.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    I don’t know whether I hated the Popples or not, but my younger sis had one of those dolls back in the day, and the cartoon series had a few goofy fourth wall moments.

  • When I was a kid, my favorite animation programming on Australian television was SBS at 3:00 on Sunday afternoon where they played a program of animation from all over the world followed by a puppet show from Russia called The Yxalon Show that I’d kill to see again.

  • ItsJoseph

    Nice find!

    As a fellow Aussie I can say our animation exposure was very privleged! We got the best from the U.S., U.K., Canada, Japan, France and our own home grown product – it really was a sweet situation.

    Of course it also means I can’t go to an American and ask “Remember Bob in a Bottle?” or ask a Brit “Remember Mot?”

  • Scarabim

    Eek was awesome. Subversive yet sweet. He majorly deserves a comeback.

  • Recent reader here that just wants to comment on the brilliance of Eek the Cat. The subversion was a callback to the nice-nice ‘toons with main characters seeking to help everyone with delightful consequences. Eek’s “it never hurts to help” mantra always blew up in his face, some times literally, and the Squishie Bears are, well, kinda obvious.

  • rebecca

    I’m kinda suprised that there was no mention to Rocky and Bullwinkle or any of the annimation that (by 1994) was being show on ABC or SBS. shows such as Rocko’s modern Life or Liquid Television.

    As for me I really liked Mot Eek the Cat and the terrible Thunder Lizzards and I’m kinda sad to admit that I liked Bill and Teds excellent adventures.

    However my most favourite ones were the 5 minute cartoons that were in between other shows on the ABC especially the one that was drawn on the sand and a program called Kaleidoscope which I think Elliot has mentioned how ever i seem to remember it being on at 4pm weekdays. this was amazing lots of international non english dialogue cartoons from all over the world. I remember sitting down to watch 5 minute episodes of Herge’s Adventures Of Tin Tin (this i think was the only part of the dialogue that I could understand as the rest of it was in french?) and lots of others.

    I really miss Kaleidoscope and the sand cartoon (the dialogue / consisted only of short vowel sounds).