Almost 40 years ago.
Bob Hawke is Prime Minister.
Crocodile Dundee is released into US cinemas, becoming the biggest Australian movie to date.
Most Australians would be driving around in a car that was Made in Australia.
Without internet or mobile phones, it was all about Television.
And the most popular children’s television show, heck, one of the most popular television shows period… was Agro’s Cartoon Connection.
It was a simple formula.
Jamie Dunn voiced Agro, a self confessed ‘wombat puppet made out of a bath mat’, who was smart mouthed and constantly bickering with co-host Anne Marie, often referring to her as a ‘ditsy blonde’ – not exactly politically correct today! Outtakes from the show on YouTube reveal that jokes would occasionally get a bit too risky for TV, despite being filmed in front of an audience of school children. Did it make Anne Maree uncomfortable? Maybe.
In between all this was Samurai Pizza Cats, Sailor Moon, and a Pup named Scooby Doo.
Even more memorable, at least for me, were Ian Calder’s performances as various characters (shown below) such as Crikey the Clown, a somewhat irritated clown who would get locals involved in shenanigans on camera, as well as a schoolkid, an oddball scientist (I think?), and a park ranger. If you are out there Mr Ian Calder, thank you for your work! It is fondly remembered. Contact me, I’d love to pose a couple of light hearted questions!
It was these skits which usually introduced the prizes in the mailbag for that week, and like all give-aways and competitions in the show, were often loaded with Metro RC / GTI radio controlled cars, including the 9.6v Turbo Bandit (see below).
A distant memory of mine was on some mornings they’d have a live audience, and run a competition with half a dozen kids racing Jet Hoppers (or whatever the latest car being promoted was at the time) around a small track inside the studio. Was this just a dream? Does anyone else actually remember this? I’d love to know! Comment below please!!
Update: I’ve figured it out! It was real, but just not on Cartoon Connection. The RC car segment where kids raced around a track was on The Early Bird Show with Marty Monster!
If you were lucky, Santa had got you a Jet Hopper for Christmas just as you’d asked, or your parents got you one for Christmas. Even luckier, and maybe your mate next door would have one too – the other color / frequency, so you could race each other.
In my case, I had a Red 27Mhz Jet Hopper, and an older kid across the street owned a Black 27Mhz Jet Hopper. I raced mine until the rear tires were bald, the battery cover was lost, and the controller was gone.
But I’d still keep it, everyone did, because it was a Jet Hopper, and it was the best toy we’d ever have.
For technical details and history of the Metro RC Jet Hopper, see 1986 Metro Jet Hopper MK1.
Did you watch Cartoon Connection as a kid? I’d love to hear your story! Who was your favorite host? Did you ever win a prize?