Tooncrap #11 - Rubix The Amazing Cube

Crap Cubed
Ruby Spears: 1983

Written by: Raymond Gallant

A while back I reviewed Legend of the Hawaiian Slammers. And since that review I've often wondered if there was a way to come up with an even stupider idea for a glorified toy commercial. And lo, the great gods of the animated awfulness opened their butt cheeks, and from out the mighty sphincter shat out something that could be even worse. And that is Rubik the Amazing Cube.

Everybody should know what the Rubik's cube is. The puzzle creation of Ernő Rubik, you would have to try and get all the sides of the cube to have matching colors. It was a fun toy... for about 5 minutes and then you'd just say "screw it" and break it apart, putting the pieces together. But when you look at this, is the first thing that pops in your head "man I wish there was a cartoon of this"?

Because if you were the schmuck who did, you got your wish in 1983 when Ruby-Spears brought upon the world Rubik the Amazing Cube. And if there was ever a clearer example that 80's animation boiled down to nothing more than being glorified toy commercials, then this is the finest example.

So, is it as bad as it looks? Let's solve this puzzle and review this thing.

Let's start with the theme song. The footage shown gives us the general nature of the plot. A Rubik's cube falls out of a magician's stagecoach, and just happens to find itself in the hands of three Hispanic children, who easily solve the puzzle, and...

Give us this high pitched abomination, voiced by Friggin' Horshack himself, Mr. Ron Palillo. Although considering the voice is pitched higher, you'd probably never guess it. So, whenever the puzzle is solved correctly, you get this slow talking goober who can has magic powers, and a droning voice that is trying to sound cute, but is annoying, much like 90% of these 80's toy mascot characters.

Isn't that right Glomer?

Also the theme itself is okay. And it's sung by Menudo of all bands. Though don't get too excited. It's pre-Ricky Martin Menudo. The instrumental is really the only thing that's good about the theme song, as it gives that nice synthesized 80's vibe that is not just fitting of the show it's representing, but also makes you very nostalgic for that time period. Menudo however just sound droning and a little monotone. But then again they're singing the praises of a frigging block.
Also, something about kids and a mysterious alien creature, befriending it, and trying to keep it from the hands of evil. There's something familiar about this concept, but I can't put my elongated glowing finger on it.

Since it's next to impossible to find the pilot episode, we'll look instead at the episode "Rubik and the Mysterious Man".

We open the episode with our protagonists, middle child Carlos, older brother Reynaldo, and little sister Lisa, enjoying breakfast along with the titular block of squeaky voiced annoyance. Carlos is complaining that neither of his siblings will help with the chores, as they quickly split the scene. So, since Rubik has the power to manipulate objects and make them work on their own, Carlos uses him for help.

It goes about as well as you'd expect.

Carlos' mother comes in, and is flabbergasted by the disaster area, and annoyed that Carlos is more focused on playing with the Rubik's Cube instead. So, she takes Rubik, as Carlos whines some more about how nobody cares about him, so he's going to run away. Sure Carlos, running away is a fine idea...

Then some cold loving jackass turns you into a frog thing.

Carlos takes Rubik back later in the night, and uses him to float away. Not before leaving a goodbye note, and talking loud enough to wake up Reynaldo. But despite the pleas of Reynaldo not to leave, Carlos and Rubik snatch a bike and

Oh come on, now that is just blatant!

Also, why was this even needed? We've already established that Rubik has the power to levitate and move people, so Carlos and Rubik could have flied off on their own. If the very idea of this plot didn't already give off E.T parallels, this would feel like a harder slap in the face.

Rubik and Carlos land in a train yard, while Reynaldo and Lisa give chase. The plan is to ride the rails as far away as possible. Though if Rubik can just fly you wherever the hell you want, why is this even necessary. Again, seemingly unlimited power source here. Even if he ran out of gas for a while, it would likely be far enough away that you'd be far away from home.

But this was done to introduce the episode's villains, a mysterious carnival owner (who we never get the name of), and his hunchback lackey named Gogo. Apparently Rubik's been around the "block" (get it? Because he's a block and all.) with plenty of evil people as the mysterious man used to have Rubik in his possession. Rubik is reunited with the mysterious man, and is none to happy. Before Rubik can be taken away again, Carlos comes in with the save.

"Damn, foiled by my poor decision to cosplay as the Mad Hatter!"

Rubik and Carlos escape, as Rubik promises to tell Carlos later about the mysterious man.

Spoiler: he doesn't.

They eventually run into Reynaldo and Lisa, who try to convince Carlos that maybe running away isn't a good idea. You know, what with the evil people and all. Carlos is still bitching, so he has Rubik send his siblings on top of a water tower. As Lisa's feminine instincts predict this is not good (really, you needed feminine instincts to figure that one?) Carlos hops into a boxcar that is currently occupied by a hobo. Sure riding in a boxcar with a hobo sounds glamorous and all...

But after the 70th rendition of "Jimmy Crack Corn" you just want to Jimmy Crack his skull open.

After Reynaldo and Lisa stow away as well, it seems like all is well, until what a shock! The hobo was the mysterious man in disguise. Rubik manages to nail his jacket to a wall as the kids escape. Well, technically Carlos escapes while the other two for some inexplicable reason decide to stay for a minute or two. The mysterious man tries to go after Rubik, but the annoyingly cute Lisa says he'll have to go through her first.

Your feminine instincts didn't predict that one, huh?

Carlos and Rubik get cornered on the train (because, you know, staying on the train was a wise idea. Could have gotten far away, but nope.), and a gust of wind knocks Rubik out of Carlos' hands, causing him to somehow be unsolved again. The Man gets Rubik, and escapes, and just leaves Carlos to still live, instead of, you know, killing him. But Reynaldo and Lisa save him, while they wait for the train to stop. They hitch a ride on the carnival van as they listen in on how Rubik and the mysterious man met. Which is of course a perfect time to cut away before we can get any back story at all. Great decision making.

The kids make it to the carnival, and Lisa's big plan is to rush the mysterious man and Gogo. But Reynaldo decides the wisest decision is to go in disguised. As the mysterious man solves the cube, awakening Rubik, the kids rush into the mysterious man's office pretending to be a very tall man. And then, for no logical reason, this happens.

Because nothing says cartoon about a Rubik's cube like pedophillic overtones.

Like, seriously.

But before Gogo can whip out his hunchcock of Notre Dame, the kids get the jump on the villains, and get Rubik back. They get chased around the carnival for a bit. Even winding up in a haunted house (though sadly, it's not Moolah's haunted cave). But every time the mysterious man and Gogo try to get the jump on the kids, they manage to evade their grasp. Rubik eventually decides it's time to fight back.

First by turning into a giant version of himself, which scares the mysterious man. I guess a giant version of this squeaky voiced burden can be quite the fright. The kids dunk the mysterious man in water, and tie balloons to Gogo, causing him to fly off. The duo try to escape, and Rubik eventually gets them dizzy on a roller coaster until they promise to leave him and the kids alone.

Carlos suggests calling the cops, and all of a frigging sudden a cop arrives. There wasn't even a cut to them calling the cop, he just arrived. Unless this was something Rubik did in the middle of messing with the villains, but we didn't see that either. Oh, and the villains escape. That can happen when you, oh I don't know, NOT KEEP THEM FROZEN IN PLACE!

But who needs that when we can have Rubik bring a merry go round horse to life, and give it wings to fly the kids home?

Boy, a lot of horses getting wings lately.

The episode ends with the parents shocked to see the kids actually doing chores (you know, that's more shocking than the piece of carnival equipment on the frigging front lawn!), Carlos gets Rubik back from his mother to continue their elaborate ruse, and that's really pretty much it.

Rubik the Amazing Cube is a stupid cartoon, but I've seen worse. I do like that they went with an all-Hispanic cast of protagonists, which is something even to this day you rarely see unless they really stereotype it up. Hell, Hawaiian Slammers couldn't even bother to make the main character Hawaiian. But everything else is pretty stupid. Rubik has an annoying voice, his powers seem to be poorly used, considering the kids seem to just not get how to use him correctly (though light breezes seem to screw him up). And we seem to get little explanation as to what he is, and the history of him with the bad guys.

And in the end, it's just a thinly veiled E.T knockoff that's tied in with a toy that never needed a cartoon to advertise its existence. And even if it did, this was not the best avenue to do so. This puzzle's solved, and the solution is that Rubik the Amazing Cube, amazingly, is tooncrap.