And now, something no one will remember: Shadow Strikers.
Shadow Strikers was a toyline by Kenner in the same scale as its M.A.S.K. line. Instead of having neat transforming vehicles and figure-specific masks, though, it had mostly-transparent vehicles that you could see the “internal workings” of, and the figures became transparent when you dipped them in warm water. The line didn’t last beyond one wave of product, and only had one direct-to-video episode (which I didn’t even know about until a few years ago).
The lone episode plays the concept entirely straight, and has an odd mishmash of 1980s and 1990s styles, clocking in as it does from 1990. To me, it stands out mostly because the lead villain, Dr. Viper, is played by Alan Oppenheimer using his “Skeletor” voice with a goofy German accent tacked on. However, Shadow Strikers may be legitimately noteworthy for featuring a heroic person of Middle Eastern descent in its cast, “Mirage” Omar… although he’s evidently a former terrorist and says his dune-buggy “drives like a camel”.
If one is so inclined, you can watch the entire thing here on Veoh.
Ad for the Pretender Classics, scanned from the back of Marvel UK’s Transformers #230 (containing, among other things, “The Big Shutdown!”). The inset panel featuring the Pretender Classics box-back art was probably done by Hasbro artist Richard Marcej.
The orange face on Bumblebee suggests the colorist (if it was someone other than Marcej) may have actually been using Hubcap for reference. Note also the existence of additional Pretender Starscreams (green tailfins, red tailfins), who presumably would have only looked different from Actual Starscream in the arms and from the knees down, based on the toy’s robot mode color layout.
Various Machine Robo figures, scanned from an April 1987 issue of Japan’s Comic BonBon. In the West, the three toys on the right were sold as the Rock Lords Jewel Lords: Sunstone, Flamestone, and Solitaire. Solitaire, perhaps the first figure in a boys-marketed transforming toyline to be designed as female from the get-go, was featured prominently in the GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords movie, where she was voiced by Margot Kidder. In Japan, she, uh… was sold as a guy.
(OTOH, the other two were renamed Amberman and Rubyman, but… c’mon.)
The bazooka-wielder on the far left is Pro Truck Racer, a Machine Robo toy that wasn’t sold outside of Japan at all.
What I assume are fan-submitted custom G.I. Joe figures and vehicles, scanned from the April 1987 issue of Japan’s Comic BonBon. How utterly bizarre is it to think that kids in Japan were creating customized G.I. Joe toys in the 1980s, let alone sending in pictures of their creationsfor publication in a magazine? Granted, it’s not as weird when you realize that Japan did receive the G.I. Joe cartoon and some of the toys, but this kind of fan/media interaction wasn’t really something you saw from Western outlets at the time… the letters pages in the Marvel G.I. Joe comic are about as close as it got. It does make me wonder about whatever became of the line’s Japanese fanbase…
Also, I want that “FIGHT / FRIENDSHIP / FREEDOM” logo on a shirt.