Tuesday, February 18, 2014

80's Cartoon C.O.P.S As Fodder For Your Old School Science Fiction Campaign

C.O.P.S. was a great cyberpunk cartoon from way, way, back when that seemed to feed a need in kids back in the Eighties. This was another perfect example of synergy multi media  marketing done right. They had everything done right with this one. They had the comics, the cartoon, the toys, and the whole cyberpunk look tie in. Now with the Robocop remake and all things retrofuture sort of coming back around isn't it time you as a DM took a look at this one for your old school science fiction campaign?

Someone on wiki did a really nice breakdown of this one : 

  • The Year: 2020.[2]
  • The Place: Empire City.
  • The Situation: Brandon “Big Boss” Babel (along with his gang of crooks) is holding the entire city under the palm of his iron hand and the Empire City Police Department can do nothing to stop him.[6]
As a last resort, Mayor Davis requests federal assistance. The FBI sends in Special Agent Baldwin P. Vess (Codename: Bulletproof) to help take down Big Boss. However, Vess suffered very serious injuries in a car wreck during a fight with Big Boss' criminal henchmen and had to be taken to the hospital. Facing years of rehabilitation, Vess is outfitted with a cybernetic bulletproof torso that allows him to walk again.
While staying at the hospital, Bulletproof, knowing he cannot do all of this alone, sends out Empire City police officer P.J. O'Malley (Codename: LongArm) and rookie officer Donny Brooks (Codename: HardTop) to round up the best law enforcers from all over the country. With these men and women — including David E. "Highway" Harlson, Colt "Mace" Howards, Stan "Barricade" Hyde, Tina "Mainframe" Cassidy, Walker "Sundown" Calhoun, Suzie "Mirage" Young, Hugh S. "Bullseye" Forward, and Rex "Bowser" Pointer and his robot dog, Blitz — he forms a team that is “the finest law enforcement agency there is in the country.” Bulletproof becomes the proud founder and commander of COPS. Together, he and his COPS team are able to take down Big Boss and his gang of crooks and thwart the first of many of Big Boss' criminal schemes.[7]
Each episode has a title that begins with “The Case of...” with a different phrase being added to it (i.e. “The Case of the Iron C.O.P.S. and Wooden CROOKS”; “The Case of the Half-Pint Hero”; and “The Case of the Crime Nobody Heard”) along with the COPS file number. Bulletproof would narrate at the beginning of the episode as well as at the end, concluding by repeating the COPS file number and title, ending it with “Case Closed” with an “Closed” mark being stamped onto the file folder. The two exceptions are the first parts of each of the two-part episodes, “The Case of Big Boss' Master Plan” and “The Case of C.O.P.S. File #1,” where the conclusion of the episode is marked with a “Case Continued” plastered on the files.
In the cartoon, the COPS frequently shouted, “It's Crime Fighting Time!” as a battle cry when it was time to bag the CROOKS and solve a caper. Meanwhile, the CROOKS would shout “Crime's a-wasting!” whenever they went to do another caper, whether it was pulling another heist (as in so many episodes such as “The Case of the Blur Bandits”), giving C.O.P.S. a hard time to the point of replacing (actually disposing) them for good (as in “The Case of the Big Boss' Master Plan”) or taking captive a certain individual to be heldprisoner for ransom (as in “The Case of the Ransomed Rascal”).
The music for the series was created by Shuki Levy, while the COPS theme music was written and composed by Haim Saban.
Numerous characters were featured in the cartoon that did not have action figures (Including Mainframe, Brian O'Malley, Whitney Morgan, Nightshade, Ms. Demeanor, and Mirage).


According to wiki : 
This cartoon, which ran from 1988–1989, used the tag line: "Fighting crime in a future time, protecting Empire City from Big Boss and his gang of crooks"

There is a ton of material, hooks, crooks, and capers that can be used to hook into your old school science fiction campaign 
Here's a break down of the cast according to wiki : 


  • Baldwin P. "Bulletproof" Vess (voiced by Ken Ryan)[1] - The main protagonist of the series and leader of COPS Baldwin P. Vess is a Federal Agent from the FBI who was called in to help take down Big Boss. During the fight, he ends up seriously injured in a car wreck and is taken to the hospital. To save his life, Mayor Davis had the research scientists from the Overdine Institute perform an operation that gives Baldwin a cybernetic torso to save his life as it would take years for his torso to recover. Going by the name "Bulletproof" due to the cybernetic torso being able to deflect bullets, Baldwin assembles a team of highly trained police officers from across the country to form COPS and stop Big Boss and his gang of crooks. He is representative of a Police Detective or an F.B.I. Agent.
  • P.J. "LongArm" O'Malley (voiced by John Stocker) - P.J. O'Malley serves as a police sergeant for the Empire City Police Department. Second in command of COPS, he is a very compassionate officer who has the talent to convince juvenile delinquents to give up their criminal ways and become law abiding citizens. He wears a wrist device that extends out a handcuff-like device to grab criminals escaping the law, or as an improvised grappling hook. He is representative of a Beat Cop.
  • Rex "Bowser" Pointer (voiced by Nick Nichols) - A police officer who worked for the Chicago Police Department. He loves animals and is the handler of Blitz. He is representative of a K-9 officer.
    • Blitz - Bowser's robotic dog who thinks like a human being.
  • Walker "Sundown" Calhoun (voiced by Len Carlson) - A police officer who was a former Texas Sheriff. He is an excellent lasso handler and sharpshooter known for conducting special investigations. He is representative of a Texas Ranger.
  • Dave E. "Highway" Harlson (voiced by Ray James) - A police officer who worked for the California Highway Patrol. He is a known ace cycle trooper who is not good at baking cookies. He is representative of a Motorcycle patrol officer.
  • Donnie "Hardtop" Brooks (voiced by Darrin Baker) - A rookie police officer who works for Empire City's Police Department. He is the driver of the COPS' Ironsides vehicle and has a crush on ECTV news reporter Whitney Morgan. He is representative of a Patrol and Pursuit Officer.
  • Tina "Mainframe" Cassidy (voiced by Mary Long) - A police computer specialist who works for Empire City's Police Department. She is the best computer jockey ever whose talent in computer wizardry has helped solve even the most chaotic of capers. She is representative of a Police Technical Analyst.
  • Wayne R. "CheckPoint" Sneeden III - A military officer who grew up in Alabama. He works for the United States Army and joins forces with COPS. Very fearful, nervous, anxious, but stays on the case with the team anyway to help get the job done. His toy File Card says his "father was a member of a top-secret military team in the 80’s and 90’s", referencing G.I. Joe character Beach Head(AKA Wayne R. Sneeden)[8]
  • Robert E. "A.P.E.S." Waldo - A police officer who worked with the Boston Police Department. He has a pair of long grappling hand devices similar to LongArm's powercuffs. A.P.E.S. is short for Automated Police Enforcement System. He appeared in "The Case of the High Iron Hoods."
  • Dudley "Powderkeg" Defuze - A police officer who worked with the Washington D.C. Police Department that is known for disarming and defusing bombs and other types of explosives. He helped Squeeky Kleen neutralize the Midas Glove that Squeeky wore in "The Case of the Midas Touch."
  • Max "Nightstick" Mulukai - A police officer who worked with the Honolulu Police Department and is an expert in martial arts. He appeared in a few episodes including "The Case of the Missing Memory."
  • Sherman A. "Heavyweight" Patton - A military officer who worked at Fort Leavenworth. He joined up with COPS where he serves as their A.T.A.C. (short for Armored Tactical Attack Craft) Driver.


  • Brandon "Big Boss" Babel (voiced by Len Carlson impersonating Edward G. Robinson) - The primary antagonist of the series. Brandon "Big Boss" Babel is a crime lord who plans to rule Empire City with an iron fist...literally.
    • Scratch - Big Boss' pet weasel with metal paws and cybernetic armor. He is always seen in the company of Big Boss.
  • Berserko (voiced by Paul De La Rosa) - Barney L. Fatheringhouse is an impulsive, dim-witted thug who is the proud nephew of Big Boss.
  • Rock Krusher (voiced by Brent Titcomb) - Edmund Scarry is a super-strong thug who works for Big Boss. He often uses a heavy-duty jackhammer in order to get into bank vaults. At one point he was romantically involved with Ms. Demeanor.
  • Ms. Demeanor (voiced by Paulina Gillis) - Stephanie Demeanor is a middle-aged, super-strong woman with the appearance of a normal businesswoman. She works for Big Boss. She has the muscular physique of a champion bodybuilder.
  • Turbo Tu-Tone (voiced by Dan Hennessey) - Ted Stavely is a minion of Big Boss who serves as his getaway driver. He was the one responsible for causing the car wreck that resulted in Baldwin P. Vess gaining a cybernetic torso.
  • Doctor Badvibes (voiced by Ron Rubin) - Dr. Percival "Percy" Cranial is a brilliant, though completely deranged mad scientist. Ever since he was fired from Comtrex Technologies Incorporated for stealing top secret electronics, he works for Big Boss devising inventions and robotic minions for Big Boss's gang. He has a glass dome on top of his head which shows his abnormally large brain and is known to create literal brainstorms by charging electricity through his brainwaves to form a cloud that can produce rain, thunder, and lightning.
    • Buzzbomb (voiced by Ron Rubin) - A robot created by Dr. Badvibes for companionship that works for Big Boss. He has a buzzsaw on one arm and a clamper on the other.
    • WALDO - A small robot created by Dr. Badvibes.
    • Shifty - A shape-shifting android created by Dr. Badvibes.
    • Nightmare the Android - An android that was created by Dr. Badvibes.
  • Nightshade (voiced by Jane Schoettle) - Rafaella Diamond was born into a rich family. She ended up disowned when she turned to crime stealing expensive and exotic jewellery for the thrill of it, not out of financial needs. She now works for Big Boss, and is secretly in love with Mace.
  • Buttons McBoomBoom (voiced by Nick Nichols) - Constantine Saunders is minion of Big Boss. He is seen wearing a red suit and fedora and carries around a violin case that hides his favourite playtoy, a deadly modified Thompson submachine gun with a scope attachment that he uses to blast away at any target at will. Buttons McBoomBoom hides underneath his suit a cybernetic torso that conceals twin machine guns with which he blasts away after he unbuttons his shirt to reveal them in the heat of battle against either the COPS or a bug.
  • Koo-Koo - A time bomb expert that works for Big Boss.
  • Hyena - A criminal mastermind that uses jokes in his crime. He held a criminal contest against Big Boss to determine who will stay in Empire City and who will leave. A challenge like that caused Big Boss to orchestrate Highway's kidnapping in order to get Bulletproof and Barricade to help him. During the criminal games, COPS managed to turn the tables against Hyena and his goons and arrest them. Hyena and his henchmen later inexplicably popped up as minions of Big Boss.
    • Bullit - Bullit is a henchman of Hyena. He wears rocket boots and a bullet-shaped helmet strong enough to break safes.
    • Louie the Plumber (voiced by Ron Rubin) - A plumber-themed criminal who is a henchman of Hyena. He has a mechanical left arm containing a grappling hook.

Minor criminals[edit]

Not all enemies of COPS are members of Big Boss' gang:
  • The Bugman - A short criminal who uses an insect-controlling device that enables him to control insects to commit his crimes after people stopped showing up to his flea circus. He joined up with Big Boss' gang, but left when he did not get a high pay. This causes Nightshade and Buttons McBoomBoom to steal his bugs and the insect-controlling device and use them in their crimes. When Mainframe and Bowser and Blitz found him after tailing Gaylord, they help him into regaining his insect-controlling device. Though Buttons and Nightshade are defeated, Bugman is also arrested. He was last seen restarting his flea circus in prison where his entertaining of the guards is a diversion for Gaylord who secretly makes for the keys. In "The Case of the Lesser of Two Weevils," Bugman escapes from prison when Gaylord gets captured by his rival the Boll Weevil. When Boll Weevil was defeated, Bugman and Gaylord went back to show business.
    • Gaylord - A weevil who is the Bugman's favorite insect. He leads Bugman's insects in Bugman's crime spree.
  • Jim Vargas - The corrupt head of City Council who was bribed by Big Boss to make the Instant Justice Machines. When the Instant Justice Machines caught Mace and Barricade trespassing in Vetrocon, he called Big Boss on what to do. When COPS storms Vetrocon, Vargas unleashes the Instant Justice Machines on them. When Mace and Barricade catch up to Vargas, he demands immunity and an offer to name names of anyone involved. Vargas even gives himself up and was sentence to prison.
    • Instant Justice Machines - A bunch of robots built by Jim Vargas in order to put COPS out of business. They act not only aspolice officers, but also as judges and jailers leaving the culprit trapped until a police car comes by. Some of the crimes they busted involved a man illegally parking on a spot that is only allowed on Tuesdays, a woman jaywalking, a man littering when his hat fell off in the wind while carrying groceries, and two teens speeding on their skateboards. When it came to Highway busting Ms. Demeanor, an Instant Justice Machine found her innocent of all charges. The Instant Justice Machines ended up fighting COPS when they stormed Vetrocon. Barricade even talked the Instant Justice Machine guarding him and Mac into releasing them. When Mace and Barricade end up cornering Vargas, the other Instant Justice Machines stopped their attacks. Following Vargas' arrest, most of the Instant Justice Machines were deactivated except for the one that Barricade talked into freeing him and Mace.
  • Johnny Yuma - Johnny Yuma is the former partner of Sundown who became an outlaw. He was put away for trying to steal the money they recovered from a robbery and various train robberies. He eventually escapes from the Texas State Prison to take revenge on Sundown. When Turbo Tu-Tone sees him, he calls up Big Boss who instructs him to follow Johnny and know his every move. Sundown hears of Johnny's prison break and manages to confront him when he breaks into the cowboy museum and regains his lasso. Johnny manages to lasso Sundown to a robotic bull. As Johnny heads out to rob the Silver Bullet Express, Turbo Tu-Tone trails him and turns on the robotic bull to stall Sundown. Upon being tipped off by Turbo Tu-Tone, Big Boss sends Berserko, Rock Krusher, and Buttons McBoomBoom to recruit Johnny Yuma. When the three rendezvous with Turbo Tu-Tone to recruit Johnny Yuma into Big Boss' gang, Johnny Yuma tells them that he works alone and defeats them. Johnny then leaves to go rob the Silver Bullet Express prompting Berserko to lead the Turbo Tu-Tone, Rock Krusher, and Buttons McBoomBoom into robbing it first. Sundown manages to catch up to Johnny Yuma on the Silver Bullet Express and ends up fighting him until Big Boss' minions crash the fight. After Berserko, Turbo Tu-Tone, Rock Krusher, and Buttons McBoomBoom were defeated, Johnny Yuma agrees to return to jail to finish his sentence which led to an early release due to good behavior. He now works as a deputy in a small Texas town.
  • Small Guy -
  • Big Momma - An old lady who is Big Boss's mother and Berserko's great-aunt. She is blind to the fact that her son is not as skinny as she thought to have been. When she once visited Empire City to visit her son, Big Boss had to cover up his criminal side by stating that he is a philanthropist and even started an orphanage with his henchmen posing as orphans. Due to his mother being around, he was not able to successfully steal the money and had to donate it to charity. In "The Case of the Lost Boss," she secretly moves to Kansas and orchestrates her son's kidnapping before he can plan a heist on Stargy Island's diamond mines. Big Momma's kidnapping of Big Boss caused his henchman to blame the COPS for Big Boss' disappearance causing them to capture Barricade. Berserko tails the COPS when they run into Big Momma and informs Dr. Badvibes that Big Boss is at Big Momma's apartment. The crooks managed to swipe Big Boss from Big Momma's apartment so that they can get on with their plans to take over Stargy Island. COPS thwarted Big Boss' plans causing him to escape with Big Momma.
  • Mukluk - A tricky Canadian thief.
  • Boll Weevil - An insect-themed villain. He once captured Gaylord causing Bugman to escape from prison to get him back.
  • Addictem - A drug dealer who was selling Crystal Twists that were causing people to become addicted to them. He tried to join Big Boss' gang only to be denied since Big Boss does not do drug dealing. Because of Addictem spreading his Crystal Twist drugs across Empire City and Berserko falling into a Crystal Twist crate trying to steal the Mayan Gold, Big Boss and his gang had to team up with COPS to stop Addictem's drug ring. When Addictem was chased into the hospital and grabbed by Berserko, Addictem surrendered to COPS to evade getting beaten up by Berserko. Addictem was sentenced to life in prison and those who were affected by the Crystal Twists are recovering from them.

Supporting characters[edit]

  • Mayor Davis - The mayor of Empire City.
  • Commissioner Highwaters - The police commissioner of Empire City.
  • Beamer - Whitney Morgan's camera robot.
  • Brian O'Malley - LongArm's son.

Minor characters[edit]

  • Judge Davis - Mayor Davis' twin brother.
  • Linda O'Malley - LongArm's wife.
  • Mickey O'Malley - LongArm's dad.
  • Suds Sparko - A criminal put away by Mickey O’Malley in the 1990s, who later became Rock Krusher’s cell mate. Before he was arrested he was able to hide his loot in a laundromat.
  • Brannigan -
  • Prince Baddin -
  • Nancy and Kathleen - Nightshade's sisters.
  • Greasy -
  • Audrey Ferrer -
  • Samantha - A tomboy who helps the cops out during an investigation Dr. Badvibes's circus.
  • Captain Crimefighter -
  • Agent Belson - An Executive Protection Unit agent (this show's version of The Secret Service).
  • Brandon Welch Master 5000 -
The Cops Comics DC Tie In 

The DC comic was where the real action was when it came to to the cartoon. This show came out right around the height of the everything is Cyberpunk thing.
The comic ran for fifteen issues which isn't bad at all.

C.O.P.S. (Central Organization of Police Specialists) was a fifteen-issue comic bookseries created based on a Hasbro toy line. The series was written by Doug Moenchand published by DC Comics.
Even though these were kids comics they had a lot more meat then the cartoon. 
 Here's a quick overview of the first five issues according to wiki : 

The Case of COPS File #1 – BadVibes
Dr. BadVibes join forces with Big Boss and his gang of Crooks and creates a device that shakes buildings to the ground. Special Agent Baldwin P. Vess arrives in Empire City to experience the following: get blown up by an attack made by Turbo Tu-tone andRock Krusher on the 647 Precinct (A.K.A. "Purgatory"), fixed with a cybernetic torso, apprehending Berserko, and forming a team of the best law enforcers there is in thecountry known as C.O.P.S. (Central Organization of Police Specialists). Together, Baldwin Vess (Code name: Bulletproof) and his C.O.P.S. team, with the help of Donny Brooks in his armored assault vehicle and Tina Cassidy in front of the terminal, destroys the vibrating machine built by Dr. BadVibes at an old abandoned sewage plant, thwarting the first of many of Big Boss' crooked plans. As a result Bulletproof graciously welcomed Tina (Codename: Mainframe) and Donny (Codename: Hardtop) to the C.O.P.S. team.
The Case of the COPS File #2 – The Long Cuff of the Law
Big Boss takes revenge on Longarm by sending Buttons McBoomBoom to harass his family. Longarm (P.J. O'Malley), after learning about what happened, goes after and arrests McBoomBoom.

The Case of COPS File #3 – The Vibe Piper of Empire City
Dr. BadVibes unleashes an army of mechanical rats to free all of the inmates at the Empire City Prison. His plan is thwarted by C.O.P.S. officers Highway (Dave E. Harlson) and Sgt. Mace (Colt Howards), who shoots his laser bazooka and destroys Buzzbomb while stopping the parade of crooks who were making their way out of prison, only to get stopped in their tracks by Highway. Meanwhile, Buttons McBoomBoom escapes.
The Case of the COPS File #4 – Sundown Hates Bugs!
Like Buttons McBoomBoom in the cartoon, Sundown (Walker Calhoun) in the comics hates bugs. Big Boss takes advantage of this and sends Ms. Demeanor to plant all over the 647th Precinct mechanical bugs to serve as radio transmitters that will send out messages to Big Boss about what's going on with the C.O.P.S. However, thanks to Bowser (Rex Pointer) who turns on his electric razor to shave his mustache only to pick up the signal coming from the bugs, the C.O.P.S. found out all about it. At once, the C.O.P.S. team located the bugs and destroy them. Then they geared up to defend the precinct from the attacks from the crooks who laid siege on the precinct to get their hands on the 5 million dollars in cash the C.O.P.S. are assign to guard. The C.O.P.S., however, stopped the broadcast and defeated the Crooks while Ms. Demeanor carries out a much different plan to usurp Big Boss and become the new crime lord of Empire City.
The Case of COPS File #5 – A Bowser and his Blitz
Rock Krusher destroys Blitz, leaving Bowser deeply traumatized. Bowser reminisces about Blitz and his first dog Maxie while the lab boys rebuild Blitz. Bowser decides to avenge Blitz by going after Dr. BadVibes and Rock Krusher. Blitz broke loose after being rebuilt and joins Bowser in taking down Rock Krusher and send him behind bars.

Using C.O.P.S For Your Old School Science Fiction Campaign 
C.O.P.S. had the potential to really be used lampoon some of what was going on in the world of the 80's and certainly it does now. There are numerous retroclone games that can easily emulate and take this property into a solid retro future campaign. 
Both Stars Without Number and Xplorers has the potential to use this cartoon to its ends. Simply have the PC's pick up one or more of the leads from where the cartoon left off and go.
Another potential that I've used with this one is that the city depicted in the cartoon is actually a an android construct and the criminals are actually A.I's being used to keep the C.O.P.S busy and trained until they can arrive planetside for their real mission. They're all aboard a vessel straight out of Metamorphosis Alpha first edition. Things start going off course when the mutant monsters begin to show up!
 I've also used this one for a straight up Cyberpunk 2020 style campaign which surprised the hell out of the players when the gloves came off . Perps and C.O.P.S. died and the game got very interesting very fast. Use the DC comics for this approach. They're cheap, easy to find, and mostly ( this is the last time I checked in the dollar bins of comic stores).

On Line Support


A solid large entry on C.O.P.S 
This blog entry is not meant as a challenge to the copyright or trade mark to any of the holders or owners of C.O.P.S . This blog entry is for entertainment purposes only. 


  1. I like how their filecards were written by Larry Hama. The same guy who wrote the comicbook and filecards for G.I.Joe. I really like the early G.I.Joe filecards, as they gave enough info to give the characters a believable personality and service background, while being short and simple with the descriptions, and avoided obtuse statements about how great or naturally awesome they are. Unfortunately, the C.O.P.S. 'n' Crooks cards did not benefited from this design philosophy.

    Beyond that, it was a great show. The characters where interesting, and I quite enjoyed the relationship between Mace (who I related to from the start) and Nightshade (who I find sexy).

  2. Mace and Nightshade were one of the real highlight of the show for me. The cartoon was fun and pretty interesting.
    The file cards were one of the highlights of the toys and the comics. I loved the files cards were great because they gave a DM a base line for generating C.O.P.S. as NPC's. The show had a lot going for it. It as had a lot more potential then I think it was given. All in all C.O.P.S. really gave a great amount of itself for Old School science fiction action.
    Thanks for the comments.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.