Review by The Enthusiast
M.A.S.K. was Kenner’s shameless attempt to exploit the popularity of both the Transformers and G.I. Joe. The story pitted a diverse team of quasi-militant do-gooders (the titular Mobile Armored Strike Kommand) against a shadowy organization of evil snake enthusiasts (V.E.N.O.M., or Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem). Though clearly opposed to one another’s goals, both teams shared a predilection for groan-inducing acronyms, elaborate helmets (or MASKS- get it?) and seemingly normal vehicles (including a red semi-truck) with the ability to transform into battle machines. The less said about the cartoon the better. It was okay.
The toys were sweet. My impression is that Kenner always did better with vehicles than figures. Its Star Wars ships and playsets were always beautifully done, but the figures were uninspired. So M.A.S.K. really played to Kenner’s strengths. The boxes were top-notch, with striking paintings and tons of photographs and feature shots.
Rhino was the largest and coolest of the first wave of M.A.S.K. toys. I dearly coveted this piece as a child. In its default configuration, Rhino is a healthy fourteen inches long; it’s a solid beast of a toy.
Lavish chrome details abound. All of the plastic is sharply molded. The tires are heavy rubber, and pristine even after twenty-five years. Rhino would be a success if it were just a toy truck, but it is so much more.
The set comes with two figures. They are smallish, only barely articulated, and come with unique soft rubber helmets.
They are fine, but they are totally beside the point. The point of this toy is cool action features. Two features are actuated by discreet chrome button at the rear of the cab.
The left button releases the spring-loaded grille and bumper as a kind of battering ram.
The right button activates the spring-loaded ejector seat at the passenger side, flinging a figure out the door. It’s pretty cool, and remarkably effective.
The smokestacks can be turned horizontal to become cannons.
A rear section of the truck snaps out to become a separate vehicle, complete with a rocking suspension and cockpit.
The sleeper section of the cab slides towards the rear to reveal a rocket launcher and control room. You can shoot the rocket high into the air with a lever on the back of the cab. The control room has some nice details.
Rhino is a marvel of engineering and quality, with miles of play value.
The concept may be hackneyed, but the M.A.S.K. line produced some of the finest American toys ever. "But Enthusiast," you say. "Where are the robots? All I see are two guys in helmets--er, I mean, MASKS." Fine. I give you young Scott Trakker and T-Bob!
|Posted 24 April, 2010 - 15:05 by The Enthusiast|