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Thursday, December 22, 2011

SWITCHBLADE REDESIGN - FROM THE 80s M.A.S.K. CRUSADERS CARTOON

Concept spaceship redesign from the Classic MASK 1985 animated series!

In my childhood I spent a few years growing up in the Netherlands, with my family. And at that time, in the 1980s, I was introduced to an animated series called MASK CRUSADERS aka M.A.S.K - the Mobile Armored Strike Kommand. And it featured a host of entertaining characters, playing out the classic tale of good vs evil. Also, like the cartoons titled Transformers [for boys] and Jem [for girls], most of the popular kids series contrived back in the 80s were based upon toy lines, so that companies like Hasbro, D.I.C and Mattel could make millions of dollars from their magnetic hooks dangled with the alluring baits from serialized animated TV shows.

I have nothing against those toy manufacturers. In fact, their ingenious ideas dating back to over 25 years ago brought us classics like HE-MAN and SHE-RA, G.I.JOE, THE CENTURIONS, HULK HOGAN'S ROCKIN WRESTLING, GALAXY RANGERS, GOBOTS, GUMMI BEARS, VOLTRON, THUNDERCATS and SILVERHAWKS, along with the TRANSFORMERS MOVIE TRILOGY that became a mega hit here in the 21st century. BTW, classic cartoons like the outstanding series GARGOYLES, The XMEN, SPIDER-MAN [the Best Version ever made], TOXIC CRUSADERS, SWAT CATS, BONKERS and TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES are from the 1990s, and they all had toy lines.



[Image on the right is by Blair Shedd, and his Website is onegemini.com]

Now lets stay focused on MASK, which was an animated series that involved transformable vehicles driven by...
human heroes wearing customized masks - and these masks could perform different offensive/defensive functions, such as thermal blasts, spike-shaped projectiles, EMP blasts, illusions, levitation etc. Back in the 80s, these toys were the exact items that little boys in Europe and the USA wanted to find under the Christmas Tree on the 25th of December. Matt Tracker and his transforming sports car, Thunderhawk, are shown above on the right, and in the two images below:

 


And there is another indy blog I found that hosts bios of all the major heroic MASK characters, HERE


  


If you look closely at the untouched screen of the "Intro video clip" above, you can actually see Optimus Prime parked at the rear of the set of heroic vehicles; that's no surprise, because M.A.S.K was literally based on a careful fusion of Transformers and G.I.JOE. In the MASK cartoon, The blue helicopter shown above, called Switchblade, was the vehicle utilized by Miles Mayhem, the main villain and leader of the evil hordes of VENOM. [V.E.N.O.M was a cool acronym for the "Vicious Evil Network Of Mayhem"]. As stated previously, Matt Tracker was the name of the lead hero out of a core team of about 9 [more characters would show up occasionally], and per a sarcastic coincidence, he was always Tracking the bad guys.

While browsing the Web, I came across a futuristic image of Switchblade by concept artist Lance Wilkinson.


I'm not completely certain that Lance was focused on reinventing a classic, but the insertion of the sleek cockpit, the rear mounted wings and an underlying alloyed frame with a pointy rotor-like beam could indeed be the symbols of a transformable futuristic jet with VTOL capabilities. And if you mentally slide this new image between the other two images above, you'll keenly note their coded similarities.


Perhaps the most nostalgic website that I've come across [for those who are actually familiar with the MASK franchise is: http://www.virtualtoychest.com/mask/mask.html and at that site, there are sample toys from all of the 2 Seasons of the MASK animated series which had a total of about 75 Episodes. Maybe Hollywood will eventually consider making a M.A.S.K Movie, Since the  G.I.JOE 2: Retaliation New 2012 Movie is already sliding into post production. We'll just have to wait and see...

Check out the classic blog article featuring Hovercopters and futuristic Helicopters, which has been recently updated: HERE!

And check out the New article featuring Sci Fi Armor and Mech designs HERE!

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