Updated: Jul 2, 2018
The 80s were full of manly men. On TV, in cinemas and on the page. As a child of the 80s I was transfixed by these larger than life characters with their ridiculous muscles and preachy moral compasses.
Below I share the 5 most manly men that I was a fan of and how I failed (rightly) to follow in their muscular footsteps. The main reason being that exercise is hard work. And boring. Biscuits. Biscuits are fun! Grrrrrrrrr MANLY MEN!
Number 1: He-Man
Look at him. Literally no effort has gone into his design. Generic muscular physique? Check! Furry pants? Check!
I was a huge fan of He-Man. I had a lot of the toys and was a regular viewer of the show on CITV, at that time being hosted by Tommy Boyd I think. Good old Tommy Boyd.
He-Man taught me that punching would never solve a fight. But hugging an assailant might. I can tell you that it doesn't. It really doesn't.
Almost every episode was the same. Skeletor has a scheme, He-Man stops it , with the occasional help from a weird friend. Be it a floating magician who may or may not have lost his feet to diabetes, a humanoid bee who had clearly eaten too much Royal Jelly, or a man that had developed learning difficulties from using his head to smash down doors.
He-Man had it all, except for strong female characters. Yes it had Teela and The Sorceress, but what did they really do?
The main effect this show had on the chubby 8 year old me was to make me feel ashamed of my frame as I ate cake and sweets. Thank god I was able to drown my sorrows in cake and sweets.
I know what you're thinking. Lion-O was not the best Thundercat. I know that Panthro was. He had nunchucks and the voice of Bill Cosby's Dad from The Cosby Show. What wasn't to love about Panthro? But he wasn't the main character; that responsibility fell to the Lord of The Thundercats. Even Tigra was better than Lion-O! There, I've said it.
Look at the design. Vest and pants? It looks like he's turned up to Thundercats PE without his kit. The belt does add a little somethin' somethin' though.
Much like He-Man, Lion-O was too much of a goody-goody and was surrounded by far superior characters. I loved the mutants more, mainly for the lazily conceived names like Monkian and Jackalman. Good effort guys!
Another physique to make the fat child me eat more depression cheese.
"I could stop eating the cheese," I would say to myself as I washed the cheese down with liquid cheese. Milk to the layperson.
3. Mr T
Mr T is looking at you with pity in his eyes for all of your foolishness you fool.
The A-Team was a mainstay every Saturday teatime in the same way that Airwolf and Streethawk were. But the A-Team had Mr T(homson?) otherwise known as Bad Attitude Baracas. I wrote to Jim'll Fixit asking to meet him. I am very grateful now that clearly that request was too 'Hollywood' for the creepy BBC show.
He was a hero of mine, and probably the reason I drank so much milk as a child. The Accrington Stanley adverts had no effect due to my indifference to football.
The cartoon series was also a big hit for me. Watching it back now however, it's weird to see a large man wearing very little hanging out with a bunch of teenage gymnasts. It was the 80s though, worse things were happening.
My Mum wouldn't let me get a mohawk. Apparently it wouldn't have suited me. Well, maybe I wanted another thing for the other kids to mock me for Mum. Did you think of that? Selfish!
4. Jean-Claude Van Damme
Every Friday night my Mum would rent out a movie for me that I was far too young to watch (the 80s remember) and I was obsessed with martial arts films.
Thanks to the movies of Jean-Claude Van Damme I thought I knew karate. Especially Kickboxer, which is essentially the same story as The Karate Kid really, but with AC Slater's older mustachioed brother getting paralysed by Tong Po in the first 15 minutes. "Can he move like me?" Yes, and now you can't.
Of all the ridiculous action stars that became famous in the 80s, Van Damme was my favourite. At 10 I didn't notice his repetitive move set, or his inability to act. But by God could he pull an angry screaming face when he kicked something. TAKE THAT SOMETHING, he would scream.
5. Hulk Hogan
"WHATCHA GONNA DO WHEN HULK HOGAN EATS PASTA!" Is what I assume the slogan for the above image was.
I was a huge fan of the WWF (before it became WWE obvs) and Hulk Hogan was a genuine hero to me. Not now of course. He's an awful human being.
I loved the way he would get repeatedly beaten, then get a bit angry and make a face as if he had travel sickness, before kicking ass! Well, leg dropping ass. His thigh must have weighed a ton to knock someone out like that. Wrestling isn't real.
Of course, he's more famous now for making a sex tape while on the phone and saying a bad thing.
♪ WHEN YOUR CAREER COMES CRASHING DOWN AND YOU HAVE TO STAY INSIDE! WHEN YOU SAY A RACIST THING THEN YOU HAVE TO HIDE! ♪
Anyhoo, time to eat a block of cheese washed down with milk. I AIN'T LACTOSE INTOLERANT YET FOOL!
Written by Mark