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Western Animation / StarCom: The U.S. Space Force

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"All Star Max and Star Wolves... SCRAMBLE!"

StarCom: The U.S. Space Force was a toyline and short lived cartoon made in 1987 about an astro-brigade operated by the US, to counter the evil Emperor Dark and his Shadow Force. Behind the scenes however, the toys, which made use of magnets instead of molded-in pegs and holes, were more popular in Europe and Asia then in the US, where the Young Astronaut council hoped it would get kids interested in the space program.

StarCom: The US Space Tropes:

  • 0% Approval Rating: Emperor Dark is very unpopular with his underlings, and most of Shadow Force’s generals are constantly scheming to overthrow him. Only General Torvek is shown to be loyal to Dark, and Torvek is a robot — his loyalty is literally programmed in.
  • Absent Aliens:
    • Played with and averted. Someone got those three outside just after they passed out while exploring a city that had been uncovered by a sand-storm.
    • While there is no sapient alien life, Jupiter has birds and gasbags.
  • Asteroid Miners: In "A Few Bugs in the System", an asteroid mining colony falls victim to a series of accidents engineered by a Shadow Force sabotage robot.
  • Anime Hair: Emperor Dark has the same kind of flaring, flattop haircut as Guile from Street Fighter.
  • Attack Reflector: A solar mirror is used to reflect laser blasts in episode 8.
  • Battle Cry: Saying "Power Deploy" was always an indicator that a vehicle was about to transform, or to extend a MacGuffin.
  • Big Bad: Emperor Dark is the evil leader of Shadow Force and a cruel despot who wishes to rule the solar system.
  • Colonel Badass: Dash, Slim, and Crowbar are all colonels, and they're all pretty badass, but it's actually subverted because the Colonel Badass trope is more about being a badass commander, and the main trio are rarely seen commanding lower-ranked personnel.
  • Colonized Solar System: Mars and the moon have both been colonized, with the former having been partially terraformed. There are also mining installations and military bases throughout the system, with StarCom’s main base being parked over the rings of Saturn.
  • Continuous Decompression: Averted in episode 7. Slim and several recruits cut a hole through the hull of a Shadowbat, and the air stops rushing out after a few seconds.
  • The Creon: General Torvek is a loyal follower of Emperor Dark, what is not surprisingly because he's a robot and is programmed to obey him.
  • Cyber Cyclops: The helmets of the Shadow Force's Mecha-Mook pilots.
  • Dark Is Evil: Not only is the Big Bad literally named Emperor Dark, but all of the vehicles used by his Shadow Force are black.
  • EMP: Emperor Dark develops a powerful EMP device in episode 6. His underlings test it out on Mars, leaving half the planet’s cities without power until the device is destroyed.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: The series as a whole ends like this after ex-Star Ranger Lucas Hall saves the rest of the team by canceling the self-destruct countdown in the abandoned Star Ranger base.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Starships have “Trans-Star” warp drives that enter hyperspace by generating artificial wormholes. This allows people to travel across the solar system fairly quickly.
  • Flying Seafood Special: Jovian kites resemble manta rays, and their prey, airwhales, resemble jellyfish.
  • Freudian Trio:
    • Slim, the Superego, insists that everything be done "by the book."
    • Crowbar, the Id, frequently goes against regulations to fix the problem of the week.
    • Dash, the Ego, often has to mediate disputes between Slim and Crowbar. Dash will sometimes act brashly or impulsively, but not as much as Crowbar does.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Crowbar is a whiz with machines, and some episodes have him cobble together devices to solve the problem of the week, such as jury-rigging a force field generator to protect StarCom’s vehicles from the effects of an EMP.
  • Hand Blast: The robot Torvek can fire laser beams from the palm of his hand. Other Shadow Force robots can do this as well.
  • In-Series Nickname: All of the main characters have nicknames. Paul Corbin’s nickname is “Crowbar”, James Derringer’s nickname is “Dash”, and John Griffin’s nickname is “Slim”.
  • Living Gasbag: The "airwhales" inhabiting Jupiter's atmosphere.
  • Loose Lips: The plot of episode 12. When Cadet Flash Moskowitz learns that he’ll be accompanying Dash and Slim on a trip to Mars and Saturn, he immediately boasts about it on the academy message boards, tipping off Shadow Force’s spies that something is up. After later learning that the group is transporting a prototype oscillation hyper thruster to Saturn, Flash happily shares this classified information with the first person he meets: a disguised General Von Dar.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Robots make up the bulk of Shadow Force’s soldiers. StarCom personnel are very scrupulous about using their sensors to verify which Shadow Force vehicles have no lifeforms on board before opening fire.
  • Merchandise-Driven: As noted, this was yet another '80s action cartoon based on a toy line.
  • One Big Lie: Artificial gravity, FTL communications and hyperspace travel between planets exist, but otherwise, thanks to being backed by NASA, this is one of the most realistic depictions of a Colonized Solar System ever to be seen in an American cartoon. Planets and moons of the solar system are more accurately drawn than in, for example, ExoSquad.
  • Outranking Your Job: Dash, Slim, and Crowbar are all colonels, and as such should probably be flying a desk most of the time. However, they are always out flying active combat missions, and very rarely are they seen commanding lower-ranked personnel. What's more, they frequently fly together in the same Star Max, which if they were ever shot downnote  then StarCom might end up with a Decapitated Army.
  • Precursors: Mars was once inhabited by an advanced alien race called the Builders. The Builders are long gone by the time the series takes place, but they left behind ancient cities buried under the Martian dunes. Cities which are still functional, and not entirely abandoned…
  • Power Trio: In addition to being a Freudian Trio, the three main characters have specific complementary skills. Dash is the best pilot, Slim is the best marksman with both personal weapons and ship weapons, and Crowbar is the tech expert.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: The Builder city in episode 4 is fully intact and functional despite being buried under the sand for millions of years. Justified due to the caretaker still being around.
  • Retired Badass: In episode 13, Lucas Hall was the greatest Star Ranger in his youth. He’s been retired for fifteen years and is an elderly man now, but while age and inactivity have slowed him down, he’s still a force to be reckoned with. He comes out of retirement to rescue a StarCom team that got trapped in an old Star Ranger base, where his knowledge of the base’s traps and protocols prove invaluable.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Space Pirates: Episode 8 features bandits armed with stolen Shadow Force technology raiding a farming town on Mars.
  • The Starscream: Malvanna and Von Dar don’t think highly of their boss Emperor Dark, and the two of them constantly plot to usurp control of Shadow Force from him in the early episodes.
  • Suicidal Pacifism: Episode 8 features a farming community that’s regularly plundered by bandits. The townsfolk hate being exploited this way, but their pacifist traditions prevent them from taking up arms to defend themselves. The episode ends with them becoming Technical Pacifists after StarCom teaches them to defend themselves by using their solar mirrors as Attack Reflectors.
  • Terraform: Parts of Mars have been terraformed. The canyons have breathable air, Earth-like temperatures, and fertile soil, allowing people to walk around without spacesuits and practice agriculture.
  • World in the Sky: Jupiter has an ecosystem.