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past-oral staff

M.A.S.K.

M.A.S.K. was an animated television series directed by three uncredited Japanese studios, KK C&D Asia, Studio World, Ashi Production, and produced by the French-American DIC Enterprises, Inc (Jean Chalopin & Andy Heyward) and also the toyline of the same name sold by Kenner.

History

A total of 75 episodes were broadcast from between 1985 and 1986 in syndication. One of many cartoons produced during the 1980s as a vehicle for toy merchandising, M.A.S.K. (which is an acronym for the Mobile Armored Strike Kommand), was a hybrid of popular era cartoons G.I. Joe and The Transformers. It featured a special task force featuring an array of characters, led by Matt Trakker, with transforming vehicles engaged in an ongoing battle against the criminal organization V.E.N.O.M. (an acronym for the Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem), with an emphasis on super-powered helmets called masks worn by the characters on the show.

The original series focused mainly on the vehicles and characters from the original 1985 toy line. More characters were introduced as the line expanded with a second wave in 1986. The format for the last season of the show featured a racing theme to correspond with the theme of the third wave M.A.S.K. toys. A major difference from the first season is by the second, V.E.N.O.M. agents knew the personal identities of the M.A.S.K. team, whereas V.E.N.O.M. did not know their identities during the first season. The second season lasted for only ten episodes. There is a storyline difference in the mini comic books which came with each toy. In the comics, Miles Mayhem knew the identity of Matt Trakker and had originally helped start the M.A.S.K. team but betrayed him later. This was very similar to the second series of the cartoon.

Due to the short-lived nature and new format of the racing series, many characters from the first season were given reduced roles to establish the new cast members and their vehicles, or to reintroduce older characters with new masks and vehicles. Buddy Hawks began using the name "Clutch" and gained a more prominent role with a double-act partnership with agent Boris "The Tzar" Bushkin. Matt Trakker and Miles Mayhem's rivalry remained strong, but the two usually only appeared in their own focus episodes. Other V.E.N.O.M. operations against M.A.S.K. agents were now exclusively handled by Vanessa Warfield.

The toyline's fourth and final wave went to one other variation, "Split Seconds", in which the vehicles sold under the line would split from one whole into two different vehicles for a M.A.S.K. pilot and his/her "clone" holographic partner (a transparent version of the same figure carried with the vehicle), but the cartoon was not renewed for the fourth wave. Besides the cartoon and toys, there were also various merchandising products like sticker books and comics to capitalize on the success of the show.

In the DC Comics series, the M.A.S.K. team is sponsored by an organization called the Peaceful Nations Alliance (PNA). Their exact relationship is never explained. The liaison between the P.N.A. and M.A.S.K. is Duane Kennedy. Duane and the P.N.A. did appear in the cartoon, although in a much more limited role in such episodes as "The Roteks" and "Assault On Liberty".

It is never made clear what sort of criminal organization V.E.N.O.M. is, exactly. They were not the typical world-conquering villains and their schemes mostly revolve around profiting from illegal activities and doing mercenary services. The comics tried to give them a more believable background. They appear to be the foot soldiers of an even higher evil organization called Contraworld. Like M.A.S.K. and P.N.A., their relationship is not explained, nor are Contraworld's larger goals.

See also

VHS releases

Several episodes of the series were released by Kideo Video on VHS in the 1980s, with two episodes per tape. The "racing season" of the series would be distributed by Tempest Video. Several episodes were also released under the label "M.A.S.K The Movie", and "M.A.S.K The Movie II". No true direct-to-video or theatrical M.A.S.K movie was ever made.

DVD releases

M.A.S.K. episodes have been released on DVD in three languages.

  • English: Madman Entertainment released the complete series over two DVD collections for the first time in Australia and New Zealand. Collection One was released in November 2006 and contains episodes 1 - 38, Collection Two was released in March 2007 and contains episodes 39 - 65 as well as episodes 1 - 10 of the racing series. Collection One was released in the UK in November 2007 by Jetix Films which contained the same amount of episodes as the Australian set.. No North American release is planned at this time.
  • French: The entire series has been released, divided across 24 DVDs and grouped into four box sets.
  • German: Three box sets have been released. The first two consist of 24 episodes each. Due to copyright problems the third box set consists of only 23 episodes (bringing the total to 71 episodes). The episodes left out are "The Star Chariot", "Bad Vibrations", "Vanishing Point", and "Riddle of the Raven Master".

Comics

The first M.A.S.K. comics to appear were three mini-comics produced by Kenner and packaged with vehicles from the 1st line of toys in 1985.

Following the success of the M.A.S.K. property, DC Comics picked up the rights and produced a 4-part mini series of comics in 1986-87. This was soon followed by a regular series of comics that lasted 9 issues. Two M.A.S.K. annuals comics were produced as well, one in 1986 and one in 1987.

These DC Comics were reprinted in the UK in Fleetway's M.A.S.K. weekly comic magazine, which later included brand new adventures produced by British writers and artists. This weekly title lasted 80 issues before merging with the second incarnation of The Eagle (comic) , with the M.A.S.K. strip carrying over into its new home (see http://www.internationalhero.co.uk/m/masktv.htm).

Related shows

Vor-Tech, an animated series with a similar premise to M.A.S.K., aired in the mid-1990s.

A.T.O.M., an animated series and Hasbro (now the owner of Kenner) toyline with a similar premise to M.A.S.K., premiered in 2005 on Jetix.

Other media

Robot Chicken episode 'Rabbits on a Roller Coaster' had a sketch featuring M.A.S.K. in which after grounding Scott for holding a wild party at Boulder Hill, Matt Trakker developed an internet relationship with an overweight woman named Darlene. On their wedding day, Matt is shocked to discover that Darlene is actually Miles Mayhem, who only donned the disguise to know all of M.A.S.K.'s secrets and gain legal ownership of half of the M.A.S.K. organization, the sketch ends by humouring the idea of homoerotic undertones in Trakker and Mayhem's past.

Staff

  • Planning: Tetsuo Katayama
  • Character design: Shigetaka Kiyoyama
  • Mecha design: Shinji Aramaki
  • Storyboard: Keiichiro Mochizuki, Toshifumi Takizawa
  • Animation director: Kazuo Terada
  • Animators: Keizo Koizumi, Yukio Ohyake 
  • Camera: Masayoshi Toshima, Trans-Arts 
  • Editor: Toshitaka Hayami, Eiko Nishide
  • Music: Haim Saban, Shuki Levy
  • Production cooperation studios: KK C&D Asia, Studio World, Ashi Production 
  • Producer: Tetsuo Katayama

External links

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