Let’s face it, in all of the M.A.S.K. mythology, Thunderhawk may have been the must-have vehicle of the franchise, but it was the little neon green motorcycle-turned-helicopter codenamed Condor that captured the cool factor and would lift many a child into a brave new world where illusion is the ultimate weapon.
This isn’t the first post about this classic eighties toy line and cartoon (you can read my first one at my Medium page here), and it won’t be my last, since I’m about to start a crusade to get Hasbro and/or IDW Publishing’s attention so they’ll read my book proposal for UnM.A.S.K.ed: The Komplete History of the Mobile Armored Strike Kommand in Toys, Television, and Today. I figured I’d start with a quick piece on one of my personal favorite vehicles: Condor, with its yellow clad rock star pilot and M.A.S.K. agent Brad Turner and his mask, Hocus Pocus.
Now, for those of you who’ve never had the privilege of experiencing this action-packed cartoon, which ran from 1985 – ’86, it’s a true classic, right up there with Transformers, G.I. Joe, and Silverhawks. Okay, probably not Silverhawks, but that’s another of my personal favorites, though it’s a tad too similar to its progenitor and more successful brethren, ThunderCats. Anyhow, M.A.S.K. pitted the titular team, their super-powered masks and mild-mannered vehicles that transformed into weapons against the Vicious Evil Network Of Mayhem, or V.E.N.O.M., for short. Each week the dastardly plots of Miles Mayhem were foiled by Matt Trakker and his highly trained Mobile Armored Strike Kommand. And yes, you guessed it –– the cartoon was a way to market and sell more toys, and it worked like a charm, at least for a time.
Condor was an inexpensive (around $6 back in 1985) way in to the toy line for most kids, being that the vehicle itself was a sleek motorcycle which quickly converted into a helicopter in three simple motions. As if the eighties neon green paint job didn’t make Condor cool enough, Brad Turner plays the guitar in a rock band when he’s not called to action by Matt and the gang, and he seems to always wear shades. The figure was no different.
As a seven-year old kid, I remember owning Condor, but somehow I never owned Brad Turner, which is very strange being that Brad comes with the motorcycle! Or perhaps I did own him at one time, and he must have gotten lost somewhere. Apparently it happened a lot to me as a kid –– Here’s a piece I wrote a while back about misplacing my black costume Secret Wars Spider-Man, which I think I’m still scarred from and subconsciously searching for in my dreams.
It’s only fitting then that Condor (complete with Brad Turner) marks the first M.A.S.K. vehicle in what would seem to be my 2.0 collection. See, back when I was around sixteen years old or so, I started this thing called “growing up,” taking interest in music, playing the guitar, hanging out at the corner shop sipping quarter juices with my headbanger friends, and such. So one day kicked all of my favorite toys to the curb except for select ones that had extra special meaning to me, like my original Star Wars action figures. Sadly, my Transformers, SilverHawks, He-Man, and yes, most regrettably my massive collection of M.A.S.K. toys were all coffined in their boxes and left for the garbage man or any less fortunate kids who happened to pass by Liberty Place and wanted to lug them to their homes. (I like to think someone did.)
I’ve carried this weight with me ever since –– like the titular Mariner, who shot and killed an albatross that was flying over his ship in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. (Actually, let’s stick with the eighties theme here: Listen to this interpretation by Iron Maiden instead.)
Now, I mentioned that I “started” growing up because I never really finished. Around that same time, give or take a year or two, Kenner (purchased by Hasbro in 1991) unveiled its Star Wars: The Power of the Force actin figure line, and I began collecting them. All of them! Today, I’m doing something similar, but with what are now classified as vintage toys. I’m hunting down M.A.S.K. vehicles across the Ebay expanse in an attempt to (slowly) piece a new collection. (I’ll keep you posted on the progress; since the writing of this piece about Condor, I’ve acquired my second vehicle –– codenamed Piranha!)
Appropriately, Condor marks my first foray into this revisited world of M.A.S.K. and its very cool and practically cult toy line. And though I still have no recollection of ever owning Brad Turner himself, I’m reveling in this near mint, short mask (early figures came with short masks, later ones with slightly larger ones to prevent kids from choking if swallowed) as a strong start to what will hopefully mimic the grandeur of my original collection that I remember with verve and childlike enthusiasm.
Until next time, tell me: What was your first M.A.S.K. action figure you remember owning (or your first action figure in general)?