Work has been a stressful and bloody mess this week, so last Friday night I decided to unwind a little bit. I opened up a bottle of Heineken beer (well, several bottles..), went up to my collection room and pulled up my collection of vintage toy store catalogs and advertisements from the 1980′s. Much better! Staring at all that 1980′s goodness really manages to relax me and puts a smile on my face. In the past couple of posts in this series I’ve already looked at Transformers and Masters of the Universe. Tonight I felt like looking at another legendary 1980′s toy line…. none other than Mobile Armored Strike Kommand, a.k.a. M.A.S.K.
“Illusion is the ultimate weapon!”
M.A.S.K. arrived in Dutch toy stores somewhere during the Spring of 1986 and it was distributed here by Kenner Parker Benelux B.V. I remember it well. I was in fifth grade back then and I had already completely fallen in love with the excellent M.A.S.K. cartoon by DIC, which had been showing since late 1985 or early 1986 on pan-European satellite channel Sky Channel, during its weekly Fun Factory kids programming block on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
From June 1986, the M.A.S.K. cartoon was also being broadcast on Dutch national television by public broadcaster TROS, this time dubbed in Dutch! The series was broadcast every Monday at 5 PM and the first episode was show on June 2nd, 1986. The episode broadcast that day in Dutch was episode 35 from season 1, which was originally titled “In Dutch”. Not really a surprise that TROS chose that episode as the first in their series, because it’s an episode that takes place in the Netherlands where VENOM tries to destroy the famous Dutch dikes.
M.A.S.K. cartoon – Veronica TV guide (2 June 1986)
After Mattel’s Masters of the Universe and MB/Hasbro’s Transformers, Kenner’s M.A.S.K. was yet another bullseye in my book. Awesome, awesome, awesome! Just check out the incredibly cool M.A.S.K. intro theme :
M.A.S.K. intro (1985) DIC Enterprises, Inc.
OMFG! Does that bring you back? Good! Now that you’re in the mood let’s have a look at some of the M.A.S.K. toy ads that I found!
M.A.S.K. – Vedes Sinterklaas catalog (1986)
Above is a page from the Dutch Vedes catalog that was released in late 1986. We can see Rhino, Vampire, Thunderhawk, Jackhammer and Gator here. All the vehicles are displayed in their alternate action mode. Damn, I so wanted to have Rhino when I was kid, but it was just way too expensive.
Next up is another Dutch M.A.S.K. ad. It’s from the Speelboom club magazine issue #5, also from December 1986. I remember this particular ad very well. Speelboom was a chain of toy stores in the 1970′s, 80′s and 90′s. In 1986 Speelboom launched the Speelboom Club. Kids could become members of this club and in return you would get a special club card, a freebie on your birthday and you’d get the Speelboom Club magazine in the mail every 2 or 3 months. I remember me and some of my friends and class mates becoming members in 1986.
M.A.S.K. – Speelboom Club Journaal #5 (1986)
Again an action scene with Thunderhawk and Rhino taking center stage. But this time we can also see Miles Mayhem’s Switchblade! The helicopter that changes into an airplane and back! Also pictured are Condor and Piranha. If I could pick just two M.A.S.K. vehicles they would definitely be Rhino and Switchblade.
From around the same time here’s a photo of Switchblade, Rhino and Jackhammer from a French Christmas toy catalog from 1986. This is from a 2-page spread that also features Robo Machines, Transformers and loads of other transforming stuff (I’ll feature the page in its entirety in a future post).
M.A.S.K. – Noël 1986 catalog
The cool thing about these pages is that they show transformable toys in both of their modes, with a little orange arrow pointing from one mode to the other. You can also see Rhino here in vehicle mode. What an absolutely stunning toy! Another thing I also liked about M.A.S.K. is the scale of the toys. They were big!
So check this thing out. Yeah, it’s a bona fide M.A.S.K. costume!! I found it in the same French X-Mas catalog from 1986.
M.A.S.K. Costume – Noël 1986 catalog
I just love stumbling upon shit like this while I’m browsing these 80′s toy catalogs! What you have here is a custome, a laser gun and a Matt Trakker’s Ultra Flash mask! But that’s not all. While I was browsing another French toy catalog a couple of minutes later, I found this:
M.A.S.K. Costume – Printemps catalog (1986)
Yeah boy! It’s a kid wearing the actual custome! LOL. What a blast. This photo is from the 1986 Printemps toy catalog. Printemps is a French department store and this particular catalog is different in the way that it shows only one item per page. There’s another cool page in there with a photo of Thunderhawk taken from the side.
M.A.S.K. Thunderhawk – Printemps catalog (1986)
The next M.A.S.K. advert I found was from the Dutch 1988 Bart Smit catalog that was released late 1988. It showcases the action figures that were being sold in two-packs on blister cards. It also shows Raven (series 2), Manta and Meteor (series 3) and T-Bob and Scott! Contrary to the American release, where T-Bob and Scott were released on a blister card, in Europe they came inside a box!
M.A.S.K. – Bart Smit catalog (Nov 1988)
The last ad I was able to find is from late 1989. It’s another Bart Smit catalog and this one shows a couple of toys from the last series of the M.A.S.K. line. In the US, the 4th and last series was marketed under the name M.A.S.K. Split Seconds. It was called that way, because the vehicle would split into two different vehicles. In Europe, the Split Seconds series was simply marketed under the name M.A.S.K. and released in the same style packaging as the first three series.
M.A.S.K. – Bart Smit catalog (Nov 1989)
What we find on this page is Jackal (called Barracuda in the U.S.), Fireforce and what is my personal favourite of the Split Seconds line: Stiletto! Also, as you can see M.A.S.K. action figures were still available on blister cards, with two figures on the card. Shown here are Matt Trakker and Jacques LeFleur. These were European exclusive releases.
“More to Come”
With 1989 we’ve reached the end of the 1980s and also the end of this toy store catalog post. But not to fear, more toy store catalog posts to come in the future so stay tuned! :-)