M.A.S.K. is a gem of a cartoon that it seems the world has forgotten. However, it is such a cool concept and would be extremely ripe for turning it into a big budget blast of a movie. Clandestine organizations, both good and bad, covertly wage a war against one another in broad daylight while hidden in plain sight. How? Their ordinary looking vehicles turn into armored tanks and battle stations.
I was careful not to say that their vehicles “transform” because these aren’t transformers. No, they’re SUV’s, tractor trailers, jeeps, cars, trucks, and motorcycles that secretly house lasers, machine guns, rocket and missile launchers and more. With the push of a button, they convert to battle ready mobile assault vehicles.
M.A.S.K. stands for Mobile Armored Strike Command. Led by Matt Trakker, the team goes up against V.E.N.O.M. otherwise known as the Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem. While that acronym is in dire need of an update to be a bit less goofy, the organization was out to make as much money as they could, regardless the illegal methods they used. They were led by Miles Mayhem.
Miles had previously worked with Matt and his brother, Andy Trakker, to create the Mask technology. Worn as helmets, the Masks gave technological powers to their wearers. Miles killed Andy so he could keep the tech for himself and use it for his own illegal ends. Matt, then, created the M.A.S.K. organization to bring Miles down for good.
Part of the push of action cartoons in the 80’s, M.A.S.K. fits perfectly with the more well-known properties like GI Joe, Transformers, Thundercats, or He-Man. Premiering in 1985, the show was clearly operating off the specific successes of both GI Joe and The Transformers, combined into one sleek package. It ran for only one full season of 65 episodes with a shortened 10 episode second season. Though it was an extraordinary concept, it was eclipsed by the more popular series that it had borrowed from.
Being an 80’s cartoon, it suffered from the obligatory goofy comic relief in every episode, forcing the show to be more kid-like than the premise would suggest. Matt’s son and his pet robot were featured heavily in every episode, taking away from the spy versus spy story line. Additionally, the art was a product of the time and looks badly aged now.
The writing tended to be a bit weak and one-dimensional as well. However, even though it had poorly written plotlines like most of its contemporary cartoons, it was a fun, action-packed watch for kids in the 80’s.
One phenomenal aspect of the show that sticks with me to this day was the setup of the team of good guys. It wasn’t always the same guys. Rather, Matt would assess the needs of that episode’s mission and pull the most fitting team members in for the job. So, whereas GI Joe had a guy named “Snow Job” show up in the desert wearing a parka or a shirtless “Quick Kick” hanging out in a blizzard, M.A.S.K. tended to only use agents that made sense in that environment. If a jeep popped open to spit out a boat? That guy would be used in a water adventure!
Granted, M.A.S.K. was partially a 30-minute toy advertisement as was its GI Joe and Transformers counterparts, so the variation on starring characters simply provided the toy makers a means to making greater sales. However, the concept made perfect sense.
Researching M.A.S.K. for this article since the show was only a fondly remembered thing in the recesses of my memory, I discovered that my hopes are coming true! They’re making a movie. I had recently heard that Hasbro wanted to turn its toy properties, which include Transformers and GI Joe among others, into a shared universe.
I had originally heard this shared universe would begin with Bumblebee, but unless there were hidden Easter eggs, I didn’t notice it. Now, it seems their hopeful “next MCU” will begin with this year’s GI Joe one-off, Snake Eyes. Soon after, expect to see M.A.S.K. connected in along with ROM and the Micronauts.
Though it suffers from being a product of the 80’s and is, therefore, dated, M.A.S.K. is still a fun action-filled cartoon. The series has a great concept that can easily be turned into a cool movie visually, so I’m excited to see if it gets done right.
M.A.S.K. – A Hidden Gem that Deserves Revisiting
Writing - 7.5/107.5/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Acting - 8/108/10
Music - 7.5/107.5/10
Production - 7.5/107.5/10
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