M.A.S.K. DVD Review

From the fine people of Shout Factory, who brought us gems of nostalgia such as G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero and the Reboot DVDs, has now brought us another blast from the past in the form of the complete series of 80s cartoon series M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand). The box set includes all 65 original series episodes packed into 12 discs which also includes retrospective featurettes. M.A.S.K. was also a fine example of cartoons from the 80s, which was also a (pardon my pun) vehicle for toy merchandising.

For those unfamiliar with the M.A.S.K. franchise, the best way I would describe it would be a combination G.I. Joe and Transformers. The premise revolves around a group of special agents, each with a unique talent in a different field, who wore helmets or ‘masks’ that allows them special powers and a vehicle which can transforms into another type of vehicle.

Personally my favorite vehicle would have to be the Condor, which was a motorcycle that can reconfigure into a helicopter (I actually had that toy growing up as a kid). Favorite ‘mask’ would have to be a toss up between the Lifter, which projected an anti-gravity field, or the Ricochet, which fired an energy boomerang.

The M.A.S.K. organization is led by Matt Trakker, who is in an ongoing battle against criminal organization V.E.N.O.M. (Vicious Evil Network Of Mayhem), led by the aptly named Miles Mayhem, who was responsible for the death of Matt’s teenage brother. Along with engineer and second-in-command Bruce Sato, historian Hondo MacLean, musician Bran Turner, martial artist Gloria Baker, and a host of many other experts, Matt Trakker strives to keep the world safe from Mayhem and his V.E.N.O.M.

Recommended episodes include ‘The Deathstone’, where V.E.N.O.M. steals a space meteorite with strange abilities, and ‘The Creeping Terror’, where V.E.N.O.M. releases a horde of giant caterpillars to destroy a South American jungle.

Bonus features in the box set includes a special interview with two of the series’ writers Mel Giden and Jina Bacarr, who discusses their experiences working on M.A.S.K., and interviews with long time fans of the series. The interviews with the fans were especially entertaining; for example, when a couple of the fans gave their own interpretations of the theme song, as they described the main character’s adopted son’s haircut as the precursor of Justin Bieber’s own locks, or discussions of the ethnically diverse cast.

I got to say one of my favorite parts of each M.A.S.K. series were the accompanying P.S.A.s (Public Service Announcement), such as the robot T-Bob (who can transform into a moped) getting stuck inside an unused refrigerator (remember kids do not hide inside refrigerators), or the one warning children not to hitchhike. Those PSAs reminded me so much of the old school G.I. Joe cartoon series (also available from the fine folks from Shout Factory) and their own PSAs. And with that l leave you with the lyrics to the opening of M.A.S.K.

“M.A.S.K. crusaders,
Working all the time,
Fighting crime,
Fighting crime!
Secret raiders,
Who will neutralize,
As soon as they arrive (at the site)!
Trakker’s gonna lead the mission,
And Spectrum’s got such super vision…

Is the mighty power that can save the day,
No one knows what lies beyond their masquerades,
Always riding on Venom’s trail,
Come see the laser rays,
Fly away!”

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