Peel Here #76, I pity the fool who don’t know a jive turkey pirate when he sees one…

By Shawn Robare

I m starting to get to the end of my personal 80s sticker collection (but don’t worry, I think I have enough material to at least take me through the rest of this year), so I thought I’d share my last Antioch sticker/storybook this week.  I’ve certainly talked about these before (with the Karate Kid II, Bigfoot Monster Truck, and the various Ghostbusters books; GB, GBII, and the training manual) and they’ll always have a special place in m heart if only because with these books I purchased some of my very first stickers as a kid.  Unfortunately these are also some of the hardest stickers to track down because they were mostly a premium that came with a story book and were most certainly ripped out and stuck all over sticker books, dressers, and wherever else kids had the gumption to stick ‘em. 

From what I can gather there were at least 10 other Antioch sticker/story books available (other than what I’ve shared on the blog that is) including 2 Garfield books, 2 Mr. Byte Presents books (which centered on early 80s computing), a couple WWF wrestling books (Hulk Hogan Wins the Belt and one for the cartoon Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling), a couple that centered around the 80s BMX and skateboarding craze, and two more in the series I’m going to share today which centers on the Mr. T cartoon…

Mr. T starring in Pirate’s Gold was published in 1984 by Antioch and was part of a trilogy of books, which also included an Everglades and Wilderness adventures.  Though I’m not positive, I don’t think these three book were adapted from episodes of the Ruby Spears produced cartoon (at least not from reading through the episode titles), so for anyone seriously hooked on the show there are at least three more adventures awaiting you…

Unfortunately the artwork for both the storybook and stickers wasn’t culled from the cartoon.  I say unfortunately because the un-credited artist who worked on both is lacking a bit in the quality department.  Actually the artwork isn’t that bad, it’s just very flat in places and I think a lot of it has to do with the style they were going for.

The drawings on the title page aren’t bad at all, but the interior art, which isn’t just pen and ink, but rather fully painted pieces, is where it all starts falling apart for me.  I guess the artist just doesn’t work well with paint…

Even though I loved Mr. T as a kid (growing up on a steady diet of the A-Team, as well as his appearances in TV shows and films like Silver Spoons and Rocky 3), I never really bought into the premise of the show.  He just doesn’t seem like the type of guy who’d be coaching a team full of teenaged gymnasts. Throw the whole Scooby Doo archetype into the mix with them always solving mysteries as they travel around the country and it gets even sillier to me. I think I was also wondering why he didn’t just ditch the kids, pull out a machine gun and REALLY solve some mysteries if you know what I mean.

I guess it’s just the Ruby Spears touch as they were also responsible for the Rambo cartoon which is another perfect example of taking a concept that was way more for the adults and trying to shoehorn it into a cartoon for kids.  The silliest thing is that I still watched the show whenever I’d catch it on USA’s Cartoon Express (along with another Ruby Spears produced favorite of mine, Turbo Teen.)

As for the story in this book, well lets just say that it’s lacking a certain something.  I didn’t have the heart (or the patience) to scan the whole thing, but here’s a taste of what it was like…

I love that the book ends on a moral much like in the cartoon, which featured live action segments of Mr. T going over what happened in the episodes and what you could learn from them.  I know it’s heavy-handed and all, but it still an aspect to growing up in the 80s that I’ll always love. I guess it’s the price we had to pay to get action back into cartoons…

As a last bit of trivia, while looking through the wiki entry on the Mr. T cartoon I noticed that the voice actor that played Spike (the precocious little red-haired upstart that idolized and dressed like Mr. T) was none other than Teddy Field III, the same kid who played Bobby the Barbarian on the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon.  I wonder if he cared that he was typecast into this type of annoying kid role?

  • Lamar The Revenger

    reading this i kept thinking, ‘I pity da fool who don’t eat my cereal!’

  • Jay

    oh jeez…you just did it…you put me into ’80s nirvana again! lol. Mr.T + Pirates and buried treasure = happy Jay. Nice post. This book series is awesome. I love the Hulk series and the GB series. I still have them at home with the stickers still glued in! I was totally anal. Shawn, do you think if we still had moral messages at the end of tv shows and cartoons that this world would be a better place? lol

  • HooveR

    So THAT’S where the Mr. T stickers I have came from. I have the same set you show, but not the book. Jerzy sent them to me ages ago, and I have used them sparingly ever since. I love Mr. T!! But I agree with what you say, no matter how much I love Mr. T, that cartoon is hard to watch. Those kids were annoying. T makes it worth it, but still, man…

  • Andrew Wilson

    god dammit. why wasn’t i notified that this blog existed years ago? this is all awesome content. i don’t know how many decades it will take to go through all this material but it’s good. I once had a coworker who was punched out by Mr’ T when he was a bouncer in Detroit (i think). This guy was HUGE too… anyhow – he had bothered a girl who told the bouncer (mr. T) that he tried to take her top down – so Mr. T laid him out. The girl then appologized cause she didn’t expect that to happen, and Mr’ T felt bad too, so he bought my friend a drink. anyhow – good post. &Rew.

  • Gilligan

    Great post. Now, all need is a bowl of Mr. T cereal and the DC Cab DVD and I’m in business. Blog greatness is at work here, I can tell.

  • Din Jones

    since i was a kid of 5 years old the A team is my favorite tv series.i can still remember mr.T and his cool hair cut.thanks for the post.3D virtual world kids