It is the future and a maniacal cyborg villain is seeking to bend the world to his will using his army of robotic drones. Only a brave band of heroes stand in his way, using powerful suits which enhance their natural abilities and giving them access to advanced weapons and technology. The suits come to their wearers with the cry POWER X-TREA…..wait….wrong show…
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While the series lasted only one season, the toy line got two lines. I own a chunk. The first line of figures covered the main protagonists and unlike a few more recent toy lines, the was an even split between good guys and bad guys. Captain Power himself was joined by Lt Tank Ellis and Major Hawk Masterson. This made full sense, as it provided the main lead and both a land and an air focused combattant. To balance this out, we had the main villain, Lord Dread in all his proto-Borg glory and the bio-dread generals, Soaron the Sky Sentry and Blastarr the Ground Guardian. Again a land and air based warrior. All of these figures were around 3.5” in size, making them comparable to many of the GI. Joe/Action Force figures of the time. Build quality though, they tend to be of a little lower quality than the International Heroes of the time. Articulation was standard, and posability was nothing amazing. The actual designs were good, with the general look of the Soldiers of the Future giving a sense of both classic knights, modern warriors, and robotic future creatures. It was a well balanced mix.
What pushed the figures beyond the norm though was the scale of vacuum metallizing done on the heroes. Captain Power in particular is a great golden god of a figure. Interestingly - well to me - the recent GI Joe collectors line has issued a figure which appears to heavily homage the good Captain. If anyone wishes to donate this to my good self they would get a hearty thank you. With regard to the original figures though,in some cases, particularly with weapons and accessories, there is a high incidence of the equivalent of Gold Plastic Syndrome . Many of my figures have had their weapons perish, and the wings on both of my Soarons have become heavily damaged. This has highly reduced the play value of the figures themselves these days. At times I wished I had airtight Ikea cabinets.
Captain Power (and the energizer)
Major Hawk Masterson
Corporal Pilot Chase
Sergeant Scout Baker
Throughout the TV show there are points that laser beams seem to shoot out of the screen in the middle of action. There are also points where actors appear with odd red fuzzy blocks on their chest. Taken in isolation, they just look like normal action set pieces, or futuristic flourishes in the effects. However, there were an integral part of the action for the toys. With the PowerJet, a child could fire at the villains on screen, but at the same time the jet could take hits from characters. Take too many hits and the magic happened. The jet would screech, shudder...THEN THE COCKPIT WOULD EJECT THE PILOT. Many a child’s blown brain followed. Children also had the opportunity to test their skills when the show was not on air through the training videos included with the toys.
The Dread army version of the fighter was the less aesthetically pleasing Phantom Striker. This jet has more than a look of a Tie Fighter about it. However, the Dreads also had the Interlocker. This was a land based gun implacement. It had the same shooting and receiving action, as well as an ejecting cockpit. However, it went a little further and had a great sighting system. The child could look through two eye holes at the top almost like a reverse periscope. There was also a clearer LCD scoring system built into the unit.
The final element in the main interactive play line was the Power-On Energizer. In the show, the Soldiers of the Future fuel their power suits through the Energizer. Similar to what could be seen as a Borg charging chamber today, the Soldier would stand in the cubicle and receive energy .The Energizer emulated this. The Captain Power figure would plug in and activated by the energizing scene in the show, would also activate, providing lights and sound which made the chest of the Captain Power figure glow.
In all cases though, the vehicles did not just interact with the TV, but with each other, The same emitter/receiver function worked on other toys in the line. The jets could fight each other, the jets could combat the interlocker and firing on the Energizer would also activate it. It meant the story could continue even when the TV show finished.
During the first line, the Power Base was reportedly put to retail. This was lines largest play set. While it looked like a second home for Skeletor, the almost skull-faced mountain set was actually the hidden base for Captain Power, opening up to reveal hangers for the Jet and general base station accrutiments. Examples of this set have been seen, but tend to be rare.
Trans-Field Communication Station
The Captain Power toy line is a mixed bag. Standard fare figures saved by some great aesthetics and their interaction with the vehicles. The initial line of vehicles were what sold the line and I remain hooked on it. Beyond the play scheme of the toys - which was hit and miss (excuse the pun) at times - the collective look is mesmerising. The mystique of the toys is enhanced by the show itself. It was ahead of its time in many ways but at the same time killed by its own ambition - much like the toys themselves.
Paul "Logan Blaze" "Sugar Bear" Anderson has mined the best and worst of geekery for many years. He hosted Shut Up and Watch This, has worked for the Nerdsphere Network, and been a regular on The Underbase podcasts and owns more truly strange movies than you or I could ever do.
He is also the single greatest man bear pimp to have walked the planet.