The company behind Netflix’s The Toys That Made Us, the multiplatform A Toy Store Near You, and Behind The Attraction for Disney+ followed the recent news that it’s acquired Ideal Toys’ Robo Force brand with word that the Power Lords — produced by Revell in the 1980s — will join the Nacelle portfolio. The company plans to develop the property into an animated series, a comic book, and a line of toys.
Power Lords: The Extra-Terrestrial Warriors was launched in 1983 by Revell, the company known for scale model kits. Eager to follow the success of Mattel’s He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and the popularity of Star Wars, the company entered the action figure aisle with Power Lords, a new brand with a name suspiciously close to the original name for Masters of the Universe — Lords of Power — dashed with a tagline that was still on everyone’s mind following Steven Spielberg’s 1982 hit, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
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M.U.S.C.L.E. Men started out as a manga comic in the late seventies in Japan called Kinnikuman. It proved to be so popular, that an anime series of it was adapted and ran from 1983 – 1986, and focused around an intergalactic form of professional wrestling. Toy company Bandai quickly started producing the little two-inch figures as the show’s popularity soared. And like so many other things, when it became popular there, toy companies in the United States took notice, and Mattel launched its own line of the little pink warriors. Since the name Kinnikuman translates to “Muscle Man”, Mattel named the line M.U.S.C.L.E., as an acronym that stood for “Millions of Unusual Creatures Lurking Everywhere”. M.U.S.C.L.E. Men were produced from late 1985 – 1988 before finally fading from store shelves. Although their popularity was short-lived, it was impressive, as M.U.S.C.L.E. was listed as one of the 10 Best Selling Toys of 1986.
The little pink M.U.S.C.L.E. warriors were not really posable in any way and were so small that you couldn’t really do much with them. But the fact that they came in multi-packs, and that they were marketed as “wrestlers” was enough to hook me initially. It was intriguing to see who would win in a fight between someone with a motorcycle for a body or a human with a ripped body and the head of a wild boar. Of course, who won that battle was up to the kid in control of the action. That is until the Hard Knockin’ Rockin’ Ring Wrestling Arena came on the market.
Toys have been in my life since I can remember. Of course playing with them as a kid, then picking up what I thought were cool properties in my late teen years, hard-core collecting new stuff in my early twenties, and writing about them ever since. While I’ve always loved all toys, action figures have always been the backbone of my fandom. So with that as a premise, here’s what is sure to be the first of numerous installments of Action Figure Appreciation, where I showcase a few random action figures.
Torch G.I. Joe – 1986
I’ve chosen to start with a figure from the G.I. Joe: A Real American hero line because G.I. Joe always was, and probably always will be my favorite action figure line. Hell, not just action figures…probably of any toy line. Once I got my very first Joe and Cobra figures, the battle started raging and has never stopped. I was one of the lucky kids who had a LOT of G.I. Joe stuff. Not as much as my friend Aaron, but still more than most kids I knew.
While I loved them all, the Cobra side of things seems to contain more of my favorite figures than on the Joe side. And within the ranks of Cobra, I think the Dreadnoks were my favorites. For some reason, while off on a trip with my Dad, my brother brought me home Torch, Ripper, and Buzzer to go along with the Zartan that I already had. I’m sure my Dad was actually behind it, but it was a cool gesture on my brother’s part anyway. Maybe my Dad saw in the Dreadnoks one of the things I saw in them…that they looked and acted like my uncles…Dad’s brothers. But he wouldn’t have known of their antics or attitudes having not watched the cartoon with me. Ol’ Torch here in particular looks like my uncle Randy. And was crazy like Randy now that I think about it.
But as for the figure itself, it’s hard not to love him since he sports shaggy hair, a bandana, and shades. A look that I myself have been known to sport from time to time. Hell, I even sported the same facial hair for a while back about ten years ago. Maybe this is where my inspiration came from, I don’t know. Add in the fact that he carries a flame thrower and isn’t afraid to use it doesn’t hurt his case either.