Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Behind The Mask

Oh mein gott (bit of German there for those who were wondering)! The 80s toys/cartoons revival must certainly be in full swing in the comics/entertainment world. ToyFare (a subsidiary magazine of Wizard) just released an online article of M.A.S.K, one of my favourite cartoons and toy properties of all time!

What a great time to be reviving these long-lost favourites, in light of the success of the Transformers movie. Here's the review in full from Wizard Universe:

'ToyFare" takes a peek under the helmets of the '80s toy classic!

By Jake Rossen

Posted July 24, 2007 9:15 AM

Illusion is the ultimate weapon! David Copperfield’s dating advice? Nope, that was the motto of special ops squadron M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand), an elite team that used transforming vehicles and powered helmets to battle the forces of V.E.N.O.M. (Vicious Evil Network Of Mayhem). Together, they conspired to separate your parents from their M.O.N.E.Y.

The bastard child of G.I. Joe and Transformers, M.A.S.K.’s formidable history as a cartoon and toy classic is long overdue for honors in the pages of ToyFare. Get ready for a history lesson, only with less George Washington and more flying cars.

A Brief History of M.A.S.K.
Or: Who the hell spells “Command” with a “K”?
Though the elite team known as Mobile Armored Strike Kommand was
ostensibly formed to combat worldwide terrorism, it had ulterior motives: to make Kenner even richer following their billions in Star Wars toy revenue.

Both the cartoon and figure line debuted in 1985, introducing a M.A.S.K. team that was dispatched around the globe to foil the latest plot by the evil V.E.N.O.M. The team was put together Mission: Impossible-style by a computer based on their skills and the usefulness of the two-vehicles-in-one transports they drove.

The 65-episode first season was supported by two waves of toys, totaling 16 different vehicles and the Boulder Hill base, each with one or two figures with removable masks. Everyone’s mask did something different in the cartoon (one shot knives!) and Trakker, who drove four different vehicles, wore four different masks over the life of the toy line.

The mini-comics that came with the toys revealed the origins of both groups, including the fact that Trakker and V.E.N.O.M. leader Miles Mayhem developed the M.A.S.K. technology together. Unfortunately, Mayhem lived up to his name by stealing the technology and killing Trakker’s teenage brother. The DC comic book series further revealed that both organizations were backed by larger groups.

The second season of M.A.S.K. shook things up, pitting the two teams against each other in a race around the world—but it only lasted 10 episodes. However, the third wave of vehicles in 1987 included some great new designs as well as the debut of long-overdue vehicles like Manta. The fourth and final wave was devoted to “Split Seconds,” vehicles that split in two and came with both a pilot and a holographic clone, but the toys were not as good as previous waves had been.

That would have been the end if not for Kenner’s Vor-Tech. The cartoon ran for a single season in 1996 with a similar mask/vehicle conceit, and a single wave of toys—some based on M.A.S.K designs—was available in stores.

Who Was That Masked Man?
How Scott Trakker became Scott Evil
Today, he’s known for turning toys into pimps on his Adult Swim show Robot Chicken. But in 1986, actor Seth Green (Austin Powers) was doing a little toy pimping of his own. That was the year a young up-and-coming actor just happened to scam his way into the Mecca of childhood: the 1986 Toy Fair.

“My dream destination was over in the Kenner showroom, where the second year of M.A.S.K. was being unveiled,” Green recalls. After crashing a tour group and suffering through the specifics of Chuck Norris’ Karate Kommandos, 12-year-old Green finally caught sight of his Holy Grail, being shilled by a faux Matt Trakker. Needless to say, he was entranced.

He returned later in the week when the display was unattended. “As a group of purchasers came through, I found myself welcoming them to the presentation, introducing myself as Scott Trakker, and explaining how, with my ‘dad’ away on business, I would be leading them through the next wave of toys. Somehow, I bullsh**ted my way through the presentation.”

Green’s stunt attracted the attention of security, who approached him along with some higher-ranking types. To his surprise, they endorsed his work. “Seeing a kid so excited about the product made the line more desirable,” he says. “I got offered a presenter position at the following year’s Toy Fair.” Sadly, it wouldn’t be for M.A.S.K., but for a new line called Sky Commanders.

Five Masks We’d Like to Own

At a certain age, the ol’ paper bag with eyeholes doesn’t cut it anymore. We’d love to rock these M.A.S.K. helmets and their corresponding powers.

WORN BY: Brad Turner
Allows the wearer to create a holographic double. Perfect for skipping work and prostate exams.

WORN BY: Alex Sector
Grants the ability of flight. We’d tell U.S. Airways to stuff it, and maybe poop on their control tower.

WORN BY: Buddy Hawks
Not what you think; it allows the wearer to pass through solid objects. Good luck keeping us in the pen, pigs!

WORN BY: Sly Rax
Who hasn’t wished they were able to shoot sawblades at people just by looking at them? Not us, that’s for sure.

WORN BY: Bruce Sato
With a glance, this helmet allowed the wearer to levitate objects using beams from his eyes. Beer me, Superman!

Pimp My Ride
What was once science fiction is now science fact

Let’s face it, no one tuned into M.A.S.K. for its intricate plotting and character development. We liked to see shape-shifting vehicles blow crap up. And with some extra cash and a spare stick of dynamite, now you can do it in your own town! Human ingenuity has placed transforming vehicles within our grasp, and these are some of M.A.S.K.’s real-life equivalents (RLEs).

5 Condor

Driven by: Brad Turner (M.A.S.K.)
Traffic too backed up? No problem! Just flip a switch and Brad’s motorcycle sprouts helicopter blades and becomes an airborne threat.

RLE: The Super Sky Cycle, an amalgamated wonder created by a former test pilot. The bike goes 60 mph on asphalt and can reach 20 mph in the air. It’s yours for only $25,000!

4 Gator

Driven by: Dusty Hayes (M.A.S.K.)
How many times have we been driving a Jeep, only to feel compelled to crash it straight into the water? Too many to count. Gator can go off-road and right into marine adventures by ejecting a little speedboat.

RLE: Several car-boats have been built, including one model preferred by Cubans trying to cross into the U.S. illegally. For $250,000, you can score the Gibbs Aquada, which tucks its wheels in for amphibious travel.

3 Jackhammer
Driven by: Cliff Dagger (V.E.N.O.M.)
Is your journey to work riddled with gunfights between warring gangs? Have no fear: Dagger’s ride can turn from innocuous Ford Bronco (wait, is that an oxymoron?) to death machine in mere seconds. In addition to armored plating, a turret pops up.

RLE: Most any vehicle can be pimped out with bulletproof glass and a reinforced body, assuming you have an extra hundred grand collecting dust. The rotating gun turret, however, might cost more.

2 Piranha
Driven by: Sly Rax (V.E.N.O.M.)
What motorcycle gang wouldn’t want to dash underwater and extort money from tuna? Rax’s motorbike can discharge its submersible sidecar for submarine subterfuge.

RLE: The Scubadoo, a personal submarine that operates like a bike underwater and sports a helmet for users to breathe underwater. It has no use on dry land, but who cares? You can try one out at participating diving expeditions, but try not to get too excited. You’ve only got air for about an hour.

1 Thunderhawk
Driven by: Matt Trakker (M.A.S.K.)
Team poobah Trakker reserved the coolest wheels for himself. On the road, Thunderhawk is a sleek Camaro. Once the winged doors open, it becomes a flying menace.

RLE: Flying cars have been under development since the early part of the 20th century. Of the current prototypes being tested, the most impressive is the LaBiche Aerospace FSC-1, which can convert at the touch of a button and features dummyproof satellite flight plans. The less you think about the included parachute, the better.

No comments: