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Demanded Throwback Characters: Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future!

Over the weekend, I got a chance to hang out with the family, and, of course, that inevitably led to waxing nostalgic about Easters past. A lot of us do that, I suppose. My sister and I were talking things like My Little Pony, G.I. Joeyou know, the usual stuff that found its way into Easter baskets back in the day. Especially G.I. Joe and the Transformers mini-cars. Those boys were made for Easter eggs. Then, out of the blue, and not entirely holiday-related, my sis asked me:

“Was there a show you used to watch where you would shoot at the TV with a plane?  Or am I making up memories?”

Of course, I knew (at least in this context) she wasn’t recalling a false memory, and I reassured her there was a show, called Captain Power, which you would interact with using the toys. I almost told her if you Google “retro toy blog” or something along those lines, you would find at least a dozen “geek” sites — you know the kind I mean — rambling on about it like they actually remembered it or how cool the interactive game was or something like that. Captain Power comes up often, but very superficially, when people talk ’80s toys.

Well, that’s crap. The interactive game sucked, except on the VHS animated missions. But the TV show and the toys were very, very kickass. And I remember it very well. In fact, it’s one of those properties I think about almost in rotation. But this last little prompting by my kid sis made me decide “eff it, we’re gonna write about it.”

If you’re unfamiliar with Captain Power, particularly the TV show, it’s definitely worth a little rooting around online and digging up some episodes — they’re out there. Written by Larry DiTillo, who would go on to make Beast Wars, and some weirdo named J. Michael Straczynski, the show was surprisingly grown up for a “kids show,” and I remember watching it with my friends, when we could figure out what damn time slot it got moved to. It has a lot of charm to it, kind of like watching some kind of Star Wars and Terminator mashup, and while there’s no hiding its 1987 pedigree, or it’s love for other properties, it is still fairly watchable.

But I want to talk toys. Often maligned as just interactive toys, these, too, have their charm and stand as one of Mattel’s best lines of all time, right up there with guys like Bravestarr. Done in a G.I. Joe style and scale and with some nice vac-metal for the armored parts, the line is one of the few where Mattel went all-in on the vehicles and playsets — no wonder I liked it, right? And the designs were top notch.

Captain Power himself was a pretty badass-looking fella. The blue bodysuit and gold plating always stand out, and the combination of elements give him just the right amount of Judge Dredd and Robocop. If we were to see a new line someday, I would hope they would have the balls to keep him looking just like this — the Power Suit is not made for modern re-imagining. Ugh, I can already picture it. All those clean lines jacked up with sinewy-looking techno-organic crap and lit-up panel lines …

My personal favorite was always Tank. Looking like a good-guy Stormtrooper (since he predates Clone Troopers), the team heavy was always the guy to be. Scout, Hawk, and Pilot have good uniforms too, in that more standardized armored look, but the guy with the large cannon and the bandoliers should always top the list.

Now, the Bio-Dreads were pretty cool, aside their knockoff Vader Lord Dread, in their generic bad guy trooper look. But the standouts were always Starscre — I mean Sauron and Blastaar. The toys and the animation got it best, certainly over the CGI of the show, but hey, the potential is there for some pretty nice modern toys.

Of course, we can talk vehicles and playsets all damn day with this line, but even my flights of fancy have service ceilings. Still, the idea of a Captain Power figure with a “Power on Energizer” base, that’s not too crazy, right? I mean, it is coming up on a 30-year anniversary …

So, if you have some residual memory of the series, like my sister, or never had a clue this line and it’s show ever existed, it’s worth checking out some of the very dedicated fan sites, like where some of these better screen shots came from. There’s been talk of a reboot over the years, even making it to Comic Con, with the series creators still major players. So who knows? Maybe the soldiers of the future might still have some future in them.