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M.A.S.K.: Remembering Saturday Morning Cartoons

Like a blast from the past, Mobile Armored Strike Kommand aka M.A.S.K. drives its way into our hearts and memories.

What was M.A.S.K.?

M.A.S.K. was a special task force led by Matt Trakker built to combat the evil criminal organization V.E.N.O.M. (Vicious Evil Network Of Mayhem). The mission of V.E.N.O.M. was to obtain riches by any means necessary and with the use of transforming super-vehicles, the two sides would face the age of battle of good versus evil.

This Canadian TV show mashed up the best of two great TV shows: G.I. Joe‘s wide range of specialized operatives and Transformers morphing vehicles. This found them a faithful fan base that supported 75 incredibly unique and fun Saturday morning episodes.

Why do we love M.A.S.K.?

M.A.S.K. had incredibly fun character designs derived from the helmets (or masks) that each character wore. Couple that with the vehicle concepts and you were racing along with every member from the driver side of your couch.

The series intro music was simultaneously intense and hopeful, giving each episode of M.A.S.K. a playful and positive backing. Plus, the toys were amazing.

Sadly, I didn’t have the privilege of growing up while watching Transformers or G.I. Joe, but I did manage to catch a VHS of M.A.S.K. and was hooked from episode one. It would have been a great gateway cartoon had I known of the other two.

M.A.S.K. Characters and Vehicles

  • The Thunderhawk was a Chevy Camaro driven by Matt Trakker himself. The doors folded up like wings so the Camaro could fly, as is typical.
  • The Rhino was perhaps the 2nd most popular vehicle. The Rhino was a tractor rig that transformed into a mobile defense unit.
  • The Condor was a motorcycle that turned into a helicopter, while VENOM had a motorcycle called the Piranha that had a removable sidecar that doubled as a submarine. They go low; you go high.
  • The Gator was a jeep. But the entire body would pivot up, allowing a speed boat to shoot out the front. Dusty Hayes was the driver, but I pretended he was Dusty Rhodes, the American Dream.
  • The base of operations was a filling station called Boulder Hill. This HQ had everything a kid could dream of: an anti-aircraft current, a helipad, and gas pump lasers.

Where is M.A.S.K. now?

Alas, M.A.S.K. did not have the incredible fortitude and consistency of the two cartoons it had taken inspiration from. Only 10 episodes into its second season, M.A.S.K. changed the concept from fighting V.E.N.O.M. to racing. Production was shut down not long after.

However this was not the end for our masked heroes. In 2016 the M.A.S.K. comic book was started up by IDW. Written by Brandon Easton and drawn by artists Tony Vargas and Tommy Lee Edwards, they designed the comic to bring M.A.S.K. into a modern setting.

Sadly, I have grown up and gotten my own car but I often wonder (usually when I’m stuck in traffic) what it would be like to hit a button to transform my sedan into a jet that could burst off into the clouds.

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