On September 16th, 1985, children were treated to the very first airing of Mobile Armored Strike Kommand, M.A.S.K. The show has been described as a fusion of G.I. Joe and Transformers – but with its own unique appeal. Today is September 16th, 2013, which means M.A.S.K. is now twenty-eight years old. In that time, fans have been privileged to 75 animated episodes, a myriad of toys, an extensive comic book publication and a variety of other merchandise. To celebrate the birth of M.A.S.K., boulder-hill.net has put together an extensive look at different aspects of M.A.S.K., both past and present. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!
To kick things off, boulder-hill.net conducted interviews with Wyatt and Jason of M.A.S.K. Movie Blog and MASKast, here is what they had to say:
b-hill: Hi Wyatt & Jason, can you tell readers a bit about who you are.
Jason: As our motto states on the blog…’Two fans, a movie script, and a dream.’ It’s really that simple. Wyatt and I have been buddies since grade school and parted on different paths after we graduated. Around 2007 (Gosh, has it been that long ago?) we came up with a fun way to keep in touch, kinda by accident. We were on the phone reminiscing and remembered how much we loved the M.A.S.K. animated series and toys as kids. By this time, the first Michael Bay Transformers was out and a G.I. Joe movie I believe was in the rumor mill. After discussing those films, we asked each other “why doesn’t someone make a M.A.S.K. movie?” And then after a few seconds, one of us said “why not us?” Well, our ambition took over even with the little to no writing experience between us and after about 3 years of on-and-off writing, we completed our M.A.S.K. Movie script in 2010. We decided to promote it through the blog and social media in 2011 and began the MASKast podcast in early 2012.
b-hill: What is your favorite M.A.S.K. toy, and why?
Wyatt: This is an interesting question because I really like a lot of the toys, even VENOM’s. I really like Rhino, Switchblade, Jackhammer, Condor, and Boulder Hill but I think that my favorite toy is probably Thunderhawk. Not because it’s the lead vehicle, but because it is a cool sports car (I still think so) that doubles as a jet. The only thing, is I just recently, at the age of 34, I think, acquired the car thanks to my co-writer Jason. As a child, I had to borrow or bring the only M.A.S.K. toy I had… Condor which I still have to this day.
Jason: My favorite toy would have to be the first vehicle I ever owned, Hurricane. I received it for my birthday when I was probably 9 or 10. My dad is a huge classic car buff and appreciated the design and style of the ’57 Chevy as much as I did. It’s the only one from my small M.A.S.K. collection as a kid that I managed to keep. A close second would have to be the Boulder Hill playset. It was my holy grail for a long time and remember asking my mom to buy it for me on the clearance rack several years after its release to stores.
b-hill: What is your favorite M.A.S.K. episode, and why?
Wyatt: As an adult, watching these episodes intently for both the script and again for our MASKast episodes, my favorite episode is a tough choice. I really enjoyed The Roteks and The Golden Goddess but I would have to give more points to The Roteks on the basis that we see the vulnerability of the vehicles…being eaten, crunched/wrecked, etc. However, I did enjoy the drama and the true involvement from Doug Stone on The Golden Goddess. Still, the edge does go to The Roteks.
Jason: Back when we were writing the script, I watched many episodes to get some inspiration. And now that we’ve embarked on the journey to review every episode on MASKast, my favorites have become clearer. The Roteks and Assault on Liberty are my top 2. We’ve reviewed episodes 1-25 now in order and still nothing beats the moment in The Roteks when Thunderhawk falls from the sky and crumbles in a wicked barrel roll down the highway. It’s the first of several moments we’ve found that display the vulnerability and limitations of the vehicles, adding an awesome element of reality to the show.
b-hill: What, in your opinion, is it that makes M.A.S.K. so awesome/great/cool/[insert adjective here]?
Wyatt: There is a variety of capabilities of both the vehicles and the mask capabilities married with illusion of both M.A.S.K.’s hide-out and the fact that they are undercover. The vehicles have their own capabilities, hidden away as everyday vehicles (although I haven’t figured out yet what helicopter Switchblade is suppose to be). Members of either organization use their masks, again with various capabilities and some of these can interact with the vehicle. Genius!
Jason: I’d have to say the element of combining two of the most popular shows of the ’80s. I seem to always describe the show to people who don’t remember it as a mashup of G.I. Joe and Transformers. But it had more elements than even those shows though with Matt Trakker’s almost Batman-like lifestyle and resources. It took human, technology, and superhero elements and made them seamlessly fit. And let’s face it, having essentially two different toys AND an action figure all in one box had to be the best deal on the planet in the ’80s.
b-hill: Would you rather be an agent of M.A.S.K. or VENOM, why? What would your power be, and what would you call it?
Wyatt: Wow, I would have to side with wanting to be a part of the M.A.S.K. organization. Not because of the good vs bad mindset, but if I were on VENOM’s team, I’d be partnered with a guy who can’t stay on his bike for long periods of times or attacks coupled with a leader who runs away once M.A.S.K. gets a little upper hand going. Why work for a timid man and an untalented motorcyclist? Besides, MASK has more money and probably better pay and benefits. What would my mask be? That’s a very difficult question. It would have to be an actual jetpack/flying power. Although Matt has Spectrum hang glider, it eventually glides down. I’d like to be able to fly and be able to fly all over without any hinderance to gravity.
Jason: I’m too nice to be a bad guy although if I had to choose a VENOM agent, I’d probably be Sly Rax. He was always my favorite. I’ve always loved his bike (one of the others I had as a kid) and his personality might be the best on the show. But I’d definitely find myself on the M.A.S.K. team. Never been the leader type so I’d probably have a job as a radio station jock. I’d have the M.A.S.K. watch go off during a broadcast and would have to leave the station with the same song on repeat (or if this was in the mid ’80s, the sound of a record skipping after the song finished.) My vehicle would probably be a classic muscle car and do something cool like turn invisible. Hmm, that would also be a cool feature for my mask too, but I think I’d go with super speed. It would be called something like Octane or Nitro and I could run at least 100 mph.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to boulder-hill.net guys. Both of your mask ideas – flight and super-speed – sound great, maybe you can work them into your script.
The great thing about M.A.S.K. turning twenty-eight is all time it has afforded people to create. Our second part of the birthday bash rewinds the clock about twenty-five years and takes us to the British Isles. M.A.S.K. did not enjoy massive success in American comics, luckily, it was much more popular across the Atlantic Ocean. A friend was kind enough to provide great, high quality images of some of these comics (the same person provided the M.A.S.K. stories from the UK that were previously added to boulder-hill.net). This story, titled Meet MASK and VENOM!, spanned four weekly issues from October 29th through November 19th, 1988. Two of the issues even featured M.A.S.K. prominently on the covers, as can be seen below.
The entire twelve page story can be read right now on boulder-hill.net, in our Comics area.
M.A.S.K. was not just a success in English speaking areas. The show saw a strong run in Germany, France and Argentina – just to name a few. And in these countries, the language was re-recorded for localization. This also meant a different theme song. In France, the theme song was recorded by Israeli born, Noam Kaniel. Noam has performed in a variety of languages including Hebrew, French and Japanese. His voice can also be found in other animated theme songs, such as Mysterious Cities of Gold and Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats. You can find out more about Noam Kaniel on both his Wikipedia and IMDB pages.
In 2012, Noam released Les plus grands succès de Noam (The Greatest Hits of Noam), an album that includes the French version of the M.A.S.K. theme song! This version of the M.A.S.K. theme includes the same instrumentals as the English version, so it will be familiar to M.A.S.K. fans. While you can purchase the complete album from Amazon.fr, you can now hear his version of the M.A.S.K. theme on the Media page of boulder-hill.net.
Not to long ago we launched our web store on redbubble.com. No long speech is necessary here, some new stuff has been added, check it out.
And the train keeps rolling on! Next up, a beautiful piece of artwork showing off Mayhem’s Viper mask. This masterpiece is done by Karsten Klintzsch, a supremely talented artist, boulder-hill.net reached out to him and he was kind enough to grant permission to share his work. He currently has a DeviantArt page full of his awesome creations, with many works featuring ’80s cartoons, including He-Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and G.I. Joe.
Karsten is a professional illustrator, which becomes quickly obvious, looking at the quality of his art. This particular piece was done exclusively with digitals tools. Karsten used a custom brush to achieve the style and look you see.
If you think the preview image of Viper looks nice (and how could you not?) – then you will certainly want to see the full sized version in the boulder-hill.net Artwork area. Many thanks again to Karsten Klintzsch for sharing his creation with us!
Like nearly all children’s franchises of the 1980s M.A.S.K. was no stranger to merchandising. Indeed, we have already amassed a wide range of items on boulder-hill.net proving it. To sell this merchandise to kids across the world companies produced commercials.
And so, now that our upgraded video player is up and running it seemed a good idea to add another clip to our library. In this case, it is a vintage 1980s commercial featuring some of that great merchandising. Starting in the late 70s, Fruit of the Loom introduced Underoos, boys underwear featuring their favorite superheroes, comics and cartoons – the product was a great success and sold better than anyone expected. When M.A.S.K. came out in 1985 it was quick to follow in the footsteps of Superman and Batman.
To watch this classic ’80s moment point yourself to our video player on the Media page.
It is time for the big finish. And what would a birthday be without a new toy?! For the last part of our M.A.S.K. birthday celebration we are bringing our readers images of one of the largest toys in the M.A.S.K. universe, Outlaw. Outlaw was so massive it came with two figures; Miles Mayhem with Python and Nash Gorey with Powerhouse. Both of them have been up in the Figures section for some time, now it is time to give them their vehicle!
Outlaw is bigger than just about every other M.A.S.K. vehicle – and so it has room for lots of amazing features and accessories. The front cab of Outlaw flips forward to reveal a grappling hook gun that actually fires. Inside the tanker portion, which flips back, is a massive cannon that can shoot a giant missile (two were included with each set), these missiles could launch several feet, but don’t worry, the tips were rubber to prevent any real injuries. The toy also features a pop out computer, dual radar scanners and a periscope. While VENOM never had a headquarters like M.A.S.K.s Boulder Hill, Outlaw was so large and action packed it was very much like a mobile base for Mayhem and his cohorts. When you head over to the Toys part of boulder-hill.net you will find eleven new photos showcasing Outlaw in all its vicious glory.
That is going to wrap up our birthday bash. Thanks again to Jason and Wyatt for sharing their time and answers. Thanks to the readers who made it to the end of this long tour through the world of M.A.S.K. – hope you enjoyed it! Plans are underway to bring more exciting developments to the fans of this greatest of ’80s cartoons so we hope you will keep coming back to visit.