THE HERCULOIDSMedium: TV animation
Produced by: Hanna-Barbera
First Appeared: 1967
Creator: Alex Toth
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year, they were airing superheroes of every shape and description — and no series contributed more shapes and more descriptions to the menagerie than The Herculoids, which debuted September 9, 1967 on CBS.
Like the majority of Hanna-Barbera's late '60s adventure characters (Shazzan, The Mighty Mightor etc.), The Herculoids were created by designer Alex Toth, whose comic book credits include Dell's Zorro, DC's Eclipso and much, much more. They consisted of three humans (man, woman and child), a winged space dragon, a huge ape-like alien, a dinosaur-like alien, and a couple of amorphous blobs of protoplasm.
The humans constituted a royal family. Zandor, the leader of the group, was, like The Black Panther and Super President, a head of state (in his case king of the land of Amzot on the planet Quasar) who somehow found time for hazardous adventures. His weapons included a shield which, like Captain America's, would return to him when thrown at a villain, and a slingshot for pelting bad guys with energy rocks. His queen (Tarra) and young prince (Dorno) also wielded slingshots and energy rocks. Despite their high social and political standing, all three wore skimpy outfits that made them look like primitive warriors.
The dragon's name was Zok. He could shoot energy blasts from his eyes and tail. The "rock ape" was Igoo. He had the basic powers of super strength and invulnerability. Tundro resembled a triceratops except for having ten legs, and could shoot energy rocks from his four horns. Gloop and Gleep, the blobs of protoplasm, could assume any shape that might be useful. Exactly how they all got together was never mentioned.
The voices of Zandor, Tundro and Zok were done by Mike Road (Mr. Fantastic in the 1978 Fantastic Four). Tarra was Virginia Gregg (Maggie Belle in Calvin & the Colonel). Dorno was Ted Eckles (in his first voice-only role). Igoo was Ted Cassidy (Lurch in The Addams Family, both live-action and animated). Gloop and Gleep, like most other Hanna-Barbera animal characters that functioned more like pets than people, was Don Messick (Astro in The Jetsons).
Like most half-hour cartoons up to that time, The Herculoids was divided into segments, two in this case. Unlike most, both segments had the same stars. 36 episodes were made, a total of 18 shows, which were aired over and over for two years, after which the show went into syndication. In 1981, 11 new episodes were made for an hour-long anthology show titled Space Stars. The segments were also re-run over the years as part of The Super Globetrotters, Hanna-Barbera's World of Adventure, Super Adventures and several other anthology shows.
The Herculoids were merchandised like most Hanna-Barbera characters, including stories in comic books — they never had their own title, but did appear in several issues of Gold Key's Hanna-Barbera Super TV Heroes, which they shared with Birdman, Young Samson, The Galaxy Trio and most of their contemporaries. Decades later, they were spotlighted in a few issues of DC's Cartoon Network Presents.
The Herculoids still turn up from time to time on Cartoon Network or Boomerang, its offshoot that specializes in older cartoons. But new episodes haven't been made in decades, nor are any expected in the near future.