Blackstar was an influential 1981 cartoon that was Filmation's answer to Thundarr the Barbarian and is considered to be the direct predecessor to He-Man. It imbued sword and sorcery fantasy with science-fiction and it lasted a mere 13 episodes but it's format became the nucleus of the successful Masters of the Universe cartoons and toys that followed after it.
The story follows the adventures of astronaut John Blackstar whose space shuttle disappears into a black hole and crashes on the planet Sagar in an alternate universe where he is rescued and befriended by the dwarven Trobbits. Blackstar soon discovers that Sagar is ruled by the oppressive Overlord who lives in his Ice Castle and possess one half of the magical Powerstar which was split into two halves - The Powersword possessed by the Overlord - and the Starsword acquired by Blackstar. When both halves of the sword unite they form the mighty Powerstar which enables its wielder to exert tremendous magical powers. Blackstar allies himself with the Trobbits and is joined by the sorceress Mara and Klone, a shapeshifting alien, in his quest to free Sagar from the Overlord's tyrannical rule.
The similarities to He-Man are obvious. Blackstar is a heroic champion of good (one part Conan the Barbarian, one part John Carter of Mars) fighting against an evil Overlord voiced by none other than Skeletor himself... Alan Oppenheimer... who lives in an Ice Castle not unlike Skeletor's Castle Grayskull. He rides into battle atop his faithful winged green dragon beast Warlock which is the equivalent of his Battle Cat. He wields a mighty Star Sword similar to the Sword of Grayskull, that, when combined with the Power Sword form the Powerstar - by the Power of Grayskull! Like Eternia, Sagar is populated by inhabitants both benevolent and malevolent. The sorceress Mara was the precursor to He-Man's Teela, daughter of the Sorceress of Grayskull and was voiced by Teela herself, Linda Gary.
In 1983, Mattel introduced a new line of toys combining elements of fantasy and science fiction they called "Masters of the Universe" and they looked to Filmation to produce a series of weekday cartoons that would serve to market the toys to kids. Brushing the dust off their 2-year-old concept for Blackstar it was retooled to fit into Mattel's universe for He-Man. Ironically, Galoob produced a series of Blackstar toys to capitalize on the tremendously popular success of Masters of the Universe between 1983-1985 consisting of 3 series of action figures, the Ice Castle playset and the Trobbit Wind Machine but the cartoon was not re-televised to promote the toys which failed to have the market penetration that was coveted by He-Man.
Blackstar was originally envisioned to be of black ethnicity until CBS ordered that it was too controversial and that audiences were not quite ready for a challenge to the established mores of Saturday morning children's television.
On August 22, 2006, John Blackstar will once again ride into history when the influential 80's animated series is finally released on DVD for the first time from BCI Eclipse/Ink & Paint. This 2-disc DVD set includes all 13 episodes and the following Special Features:
* Interviews with creators Lou Scheimer, Michael Swanigan, Marc Scott Zicree, Michael Reaves, Robert Kline, Robby London and Ted Field.
* "The Magic of Filmation" documentary tracking the history of Filmation, and its quarter-century legacy of popular animated and live-action series
* Full episode audio commentary track for Episode 2 - "Search for the Starsword" featuring producer Lou Scheimer and animator Mike Bennett. Hosted by Andy Mangels.
* Full episode audio commentary track for Episode 13--"The Zombie Master"-- featuring creators Michael Reaves, Marc Scott Zicree and Michael Swanigan. Hosted by Andy Mangels
* Image gallery of original "heroes and villains" model sheets and sketches, plus a gallery of presentation artwork and backgrounds uses in the series
* Spanish language tracks for all 13 episodes
* DVD-ROM features - scripts for all 13 episodes, 5 complete storyboards
* Digital restoration
All 13 Episodes:
1. City of the Ancient Ones
2. Search for the Starsword
3. The Lord of Time
4. The Mermaid of Serpent Sea
5. The Quest
6. Space Wrecked
7. Lightning City of the Clouds
8. Kingdom of Neptul
9. Tree of Evil
10. The Air Whales of Anchar
11. Overlord's Big Spell
12 Crown of the Sorceress
13 The Zombie Masters