Click to viewThe toy movie has finally arrived. Two of the biggest movies next summer will be based on toys - G.I. Joe and Transformers 2 - and more are on the way. Fantastical stories that sprung from the dreams of Hasbro and Mattel are no longer regarded as automatically childish or dumb. So what do we have to look forward to in the fast-growing toy tie-in genre? What toys haven't become movie stars yet? Get a kung-fu grip on yourself as we list the greatest classic toys that haven't yet spawned movie tie-ins. Rom SpaceKnight What's the toy? Has there been a TV show or comic book? Yes, Marvel comics published an ultra classic comic that crossed over with many of its other series. Elevator pitch: The Dire Wraiths are hiding amongst the humans on Earth, so it's up to Rom and his fellow SpaceKnights to come here and scan for them, then wipe them out wherever they're found. Unfortunately, the SpaceKnights may appear to be bad guys to any random human who sees them zapping apparently innocent people.
Captain Action What's the toy? He's a superspy who can transform himself into any superhero, including Batman, Superman, Spider-Man or Captain America. He could even turn himself into Steve Canyon or Aquaman, although I'm not sure why he would. Has there been a TV show or comic book? Yes, DC Comics did a series, and now Moonstone Comics is doing one. Elevator pitch: The fiendish Dr. Evil (a blue guy in Nehru suit and sandals) used to be Captain Action's father in law, but then he went insane (and possibly changed his name to Evil). Dr. Evil wants to destroy the world or something, and it's up to Captain Action to stop him... as soon as he decides which hero he's going to be today. The Phantom? Flash Gordon? Hmmm... Come back tomorrow, 'kay?
The Great Garloo What's the toy? Sort of an evil green monster, who's been domesticated and now carries stuff around for you. Like if you enslaved Godzilla, except more goblin-like. Has there been a TV show or comic book? No, but the TV ads were pretty dramatic. Elevator pitch: The Great Garloo is rampaging across the countryside, smashing railroads and tearing down power cables, but only one kid has the ability to bring his destructive attacks under control. MicroNauts What's the toy? A line of miniature robot guys, known in Japan as the Micromen. The gimmick is that they're little because that's the actual size of the robots on the micro-planet they come from. They come to Earth and disguise themselves as toys. Some of the later Micronaut figures gained the ability to transform and sort of merged with the Transformers line, including Megatron and Soundwave. Has there been a TV show or comic book? Yes, Marvel comics put one out. Elevator pitch: The Micronauts come from the Microverse, and they discover that the evil Baron Karza has killed the micro-royal family. The Micronauts must battle Baron Karza's army of genetically engineered warriors.
Green slime What's the toy? Basically, just what it sounds like. A green food-colored paste, sometimes with eyeballs or worms inside. Has there been a TV show or comic book? Fraid not. Elevator pitch: Probably something to do with toxic waste, or alien bodily fluids. Which help one shy nerdy teenager win over the homecoming queen who always ignores him. M.A.S.K. What's the toy? Not to be confused with the comic book and Jim Carrey movie, this is a series of action figures known as Mobile Armored Strike Kommand. Basically a mixture of G.I. Joe and Transformers, they're a special taskforce, led by Matt Trakker, who fight the Vicious Evil Network Of Mayhem (or V.E.N.O.M.) Later versions of the toys had a racing theme. Has there been a TV show or comic book? Yes, a TV show launched soon after the toy line, and as characters were added to the toy series, they showed up on TV. Movie pitch: Reader Slatz_Grobnik suggested this one. Originally, M.A.S.K. and V.E.N.O.M. are part of one organization, dedicated to world peace. But then the evil Miles Mayhem gets pissed that he doesn't get enough of the glory, so he double-crosses Matt Trakker and kills Matt's kid brother Andy. To make matters even worse, Miles uses some of Andy's inventions to try and destroy Matt, and it is on.
Action Man What's the toy? A British licensed G.I. Joe knock-off, this parachuting action figure had a whole bunch of outfits he could dress up in, including frog-man, sailor, traffic cop (!!), and "red Indian." Later versions had the gripping hands and the "eagle eyes." He spawned a number of spin-off lines including Action Force and Space Force. He fights the evil mad scientist Dr. X, who is always trying to take over the world and sometimes has an exposed brain and laser eye. Has there been a TV show or comic book? Yes! Two TV shows! Elevator pitch: Dr. X has a weather machine and is using it to blackmail the world's cities, it's up to Action Man to stop him, by dressing up as a traffic cop. Shogun Warriors What's the toy? Japanese fighting mecha, with spring-loaded projectiles that put your eye out. The toys are actually a whole collection of Japanese superhero/manga-related figures, repackaged under the brand name Shogun Warriors in the U.S. One of the early ones was http://weirdscifi.ratiosemper.com/shogun/mazinga…Mazinga, based on the manga Mazinger-Z. You had to fly an airplain (brain condor) into his head. Awesome. The coolest were the giant Jumbo Machinders, which included a Godzilla figure. There were also Two-In-Ones, which could turn into a bird or a robot skull. (Dude!) Has there been a TV show or comic book? Yes, Marvel published a comic. Elevator pitch: An alien force called Primal One, who resembles the Star of David surrounded by Kirby Dots, is trying to take over the Earth, and it's up to a whole team of giant mecha, piloted by Ikongo Savage, Genji Odashu and Richard Carson, to save the day. Zoids What's the toy? These Japanese models, known as Zoic Androids or Zoids for short, often have battery powered motors to allow them to move. The dozens of varieties included mechanical mammals, dinosaurs and bugs. Has there been a TV show or comic book? There was an animated show and a Manga series, plus a Spider-Man/Zoids crossover comic in England. Elevator pitch: The Zoids come from the planet Zi, and they're actually a living energy core with a mecha built around it. They live in peace with the humanoid Zoidians on their planet, until overpopulation turns the Zoidians warlike, and they rebuild the Zoids into war machines. An Earth boy named Van Flyheight meets a Zoid named Zeke, and they become friends. Van helps Zeke and the other Zoids to defeat the Death Saurer.
Starriors What's the toy? An American spin-off of the Zoids. Basically a bunch of robot toys divided into three classes: the Protectors (which protect Earth), the Destructors (which destroy alien invaders) and the Guardian, the last remaining robot that knows where humans wait in suspended animation. Has there been a TV show or comic book? Marvel (of course) published a mini-series, with covers by the legendary Bill Sienkiewicz. And there was an animated series. Elevator pitch: In the future, humans have to go into suspended animation due to solar flares, but they leave behind an army of robots to protect, destroy and guard. But the leader of the Destructors, Slaughter Steelgrave, is scared the humans will shut the robots down when they reawaken, so he rebels and enslaves the Protectors. The human race gets forgotten, but finally a group of Protectors and a few Destructors set out on a mission to reawaken the long-sleeping human race.
Sectaurs What's the toy? Basically a post-apocalyptic toyset where you control various monsters and traps standing between the Sectaurs and the lost knowledge of civilization or something. (See video.) Has there been a TV show or comic book? Yes, there was a TV show, plus Marvel (again) published a comic. Elevator pitch: The planet Symbion has suffered a failed genetic experiment, spawning giant insects, and making humans develop insect-like characteristics. There are two kingdoms: the Shining Realm of Prosperon (which is nice) and the Dark Domain of Synax (which is not nice). Both seek control over the Hive, sort of like Castle Grayskull, where the secrets of an ancient civilization are to be found. Also, in the TV show, "Man and beast were so close, they even shared pleasure and pain with each other." (This was a kids' show?)
Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots What's the toy? Basically a plastic boxing ring with two robots inside. Each player controls one robot, which can punch or guard, and the goal is to knock the other robot's "block" off. Plus there was a follow-up Has there been a TV show or comic book? Don't think so. Elevator pitch: In a dark dystopian future, humans force robots to fight each other for their amusement. But one robot has the vision, the wisdom, to overcome oppression... as long as he doesn't have his block knocked off first.
Major Matt Mason What's the toy? An astronaut figure, who lives on the Moon. He has a super cool "Moon suit" that snaps on over his spacesuit, and later on he meet an evil alien named Captain Lazer, plus a green guy named Callisto and a battery-powered giant bug named Scorpio. Has there been a TV show or comic book? No, but he's got his own blog. Elevator pitch: When Captain Lazer wants to invade the Earth, the lunar base staffed by Major Mason and his crew of almost identical underlings are the first line of defense.
Zeroids What's the toy? The robot workers of the future! Battery-powered motorized robots from the Planet Zero with a compulsion to serve humanity, they include Zintar, Zerak, Zobor, and the girly-looking commander Zogg. Plus an alien invader, "the Zeroid alien." Has there been a TV show or comic book? Yes, and a new one is on the way. Elevator pitch: Apparently a direct-to-DVD animated movie, Return To Planet Zero, is on the way. The Zeroids return to their home planet after humans stop sending people to the Moon, which means we no longer need the Zeroids again. Until we do.
Metal House Robots What's the toy? A line of tin robot figures produced in Japan from the 1940s to the 1980s. They included Giant Robot, Star Strider, the Zoomer Robot, Martian Invader, and Smoking Spaceman. Has there been a TV show or comic book? No. Elevator pitch: Smoking Spaceman is getting terrible emphysema, plus he's using up his oxygen reserves at an unfeasible rate, because of his COPD. Zoomer Robot and Star Strider have to convince him to go on the patch.
Pixel Chix What's the toy? Sort of a more sophisticated version of the Tamagotchi virtual pet, the Pixel Chix are girls who live in their own virtual "homes." You have to feed them popcorn and burgers, and play with them, and the more attention you pay to them, the more sophisticated they become. You also can put their "homes" together to allow them to visit each other. Has there been a TV show or comic book? Don't think so. Elevator pitch: A movie version is rumored to be in the works. I can totally see a movie about someone's virtual pocket girlfriend getting more and more demanding, until finally she's asking to "visit" a major bank's insecure website and hack in to get herself more "popcorn."
Robot Commando What's the toy? A remote-controlled robot figure that you can direct using a controller that's supposed to look like a microphone — giving the illusion of voice control. He fires missiles from his head, and throws balls from his arms. Has there been a TV show or comic book? No. Elevator pitch: When Earth is overrun with a deadly alien plague that weakens the humans so they can only talk instead of fighting, the only hope is a voice-controlled missile-shooting robot that fights the invaders. ManTech Robot Warriors What's the toy? Cyborgs with some human components. The gimmick was that all the parts of all of the robots were (supposedly) interchangeable. Has there been a TV show or comic book? Comic book, published by Archie. Elevator pitch: Judging from the Archie issues, there's an evil robot named Octobot, who launches his vicious Warbots against the good Robot Warriors. And then humans show up on the ManTech world and wrongly believe the Robot Warriors are robots, maybe because of their name. The Robot Warriors have to convince the humans they're actually part human.
MadBalls What's the toy? Pretty much what it sounds like. They were rubber balls with weird faces. One of them sort of looks like the Mask, that green-faced mask hero that Jim Carrey played in a movie. Other ones look like a cyclops, or a deformed baseball, or a unicorn, or a skull. Mostly they're an excuse for lots of bad jokes, like when you don't put out and your boyfriend has Mad Balls. And check out the Japanese variant. Has there been a TV show or comic book? Yes, there was a Saturday morning cartoon, plus a direct-to-VHS movie, and Marvel (of course) put a comic book out. Elevator pitch: The Madballs are an intergalactic rock band from the Planet Orb, who travel around the galaxy rocking out and having fun, until they land on Earth.
Air Raiders What's the toy? A bunch of futuristic looking robot air glider toys, some of which are good guys and some of which are evil. They fight for freedom on the planet Airlandia, against the Evil Tyrants of Wind. Has there been a TV show or comic book? A comic, once again published by Marvel. Elevator pitch: General Rokk leads a rebellion against the Tyrants of Wind, but then the evil Emperor Aerozar kidnaps Rokk's daughter Eeleta, and he must rescue her. His only weapon: the power of wind. And some cool airships. Bonus: Visionaries: Knights Of The Magical Light. What's the toy? A set of action figures, including the Spectral Knights and the evil Darkling Lords, plus some cool vehicles like the Lancer Chariot. Has there been a TV show or comic book? There was a TV cartoon, plus a short-lived comic book published by (wait for it) Marvel. Thanks to various commenters who suggested adding this one. Elevator pitch: The world of Prysmos is in chaos, because the old high technology has been lost, and in its place has come a new era of magic. So the Spectral Knights (who can each transform into a different animal) must battle the Darkling Lords for control over this new magical era.
Battle Beasts What's the toy? A series of little animal figurines from Japan, that each had a heat-senstitive sticker on its chest. When you rubbed the sticker, it would reveal if the Battle Beast's sign was fire, wood or water. (And that would let you know which type of Beast could beat which other type.) A later set, known as the Laser Beasts or Shadowbeasts, had stickers that would reveal what clan they belonged to. And they carried guns that looked sort of like the creatures they belonged to. Has there been a TV show or comic book? There was a short-lived comic. Here's the first issue cover. Elevator pitch: On the Planet Beast, a war brews between the Cybertron Beasts and the Destron Beasts. At first the Cybertron Beasts are winning, but then Red Phoenix the Flaming Fortress gets dropped down a ravine, and White Leo gets bushwacked in a swamp. But when all seems lost, White Leo gets the power of the Sunburst. (Thanks to commenters who suggested adding this one!) Dino-Riders What's the toy? A set of dinosaurs with futuristic weapons and armor that could be added on to them, usually by means of a "belly band," or rubber band. They would also come with figures - for example, the T-Rex came with Krulos, Bitor and Cobrus. Has there been a TV show or comic book? Yes, there was a short-lived cartoon series promoting the toys. Elevator pitch: The super-advanced Valorians live in peace, until one day the evil Rulons attack them, and all but wipe them out. The last surviving Valorians escape via a time-travel device to prehistoric Earth, pursued by a force of Rulons. The Valorians are able to make friends with dinosaurs using a telepathic gadget, and they recruit dinosaurs to their side, arming them with high tech augmentations. Meanwhile, the Rulons brainwash and enslave some dinosaurs as well, and battle is joined.
Note: I left out the Go-Bots, partly because it turns out they actually had their own theatrically released movie, the 1986 classic GoBots: War Of The Rock People, featuring Margot Kidder and Telly Savalas. With a cast like that, who needs movie-quality animation anyway?