*ATTENTION HEROES* The Satellite has sustained excessive battle damage on its latest journey into retro..our travels to 1987 has created a wormhole in the space-time continuum and we seem to be temporarily displaced. Ensign..bring up coordinates.
Ensign: It seems our coordinates have taken us not back in time Captain but rather years into the future..its 2147..and it appears we are being attacked by machines known as “Bio Dreads!!
Bringing up Shields..activate Satellite Tactical Systems ...It seems the damage sustained will not keep us in orbit long..we need to land Earthside and find the one human who can help us.. Dr. Stuart Gordon Power. Sending a team down to locate the Doctor and get the technology to repair our hull..take care Heroes..Suit up…POWER ON!!
Transmission Date: Oct 24 2014
In 1987 our version of the future was your regular idea of flying cars and robots. The world had advanced as far as 8 Bit graphics on a Nintendo system in your living room so the flying car and robot society were only alive in our biggest fantasies. Yours truly was a big fan of “The Future” so Movies like Back To the Future, Star Wars, RoboCop, and Terminator were enough to fuel this 13 year olds mind. So in 1987 when I caught wind of Mattel’s new line of Futuristic action figures called Captain Power and The Soldiers Of the Future I could hardly wait! I had bins of figures from GI Joe, Star Wars and Go-Bots that these new toys would be a much welcomed addition to the collection. I had gotten my first taste of this new line of Toys on the back of my favorite literary companion..The Comic Book.
The Toyline and commercials teased that the Toys would be interactive like nothing else ever seen. With select toys from the line, many proud owners could play along with a VHS tape bundled with the Toy and could purchase others to continue the fun. The big drawing card however was the kids could play along with the Television series!! Thats right. If you owned the Captain Power X17 Power Jet or its arch nemesis The Phantom Striker you could engage with the television by shooting at glowing markers on the screen. The catch was..THE TV SHOT BACK!! Certain parts of the show especially the end credits enemies fired bright blasts at the viewer that triggered the sensors on your toy and your toy “EXPLODED”…well at least your action figure in the cockpit would be ejected! This was revolutionary and I wanted these toys!! I had to find out all about this show! As mentioned many times on this blog..Canadian TV networks did not carry many U.S. shows but us Canadians finally hit gold as Captain Power was actually a Canadian made series!! Saturday Afternoons on NTV The Cap and his Soldiers of the Future aired!!
So it would be in the afternoons of 1987 I managed to tune into Captain Power and the Soldiers Of The Future a series created by Gary Goddard/ Tony Christopher for LandMark Entertainment Group. The series itself actually went two seasons for a total of 22 episodes which in its day was pretty remarkable in the waning days of Saturday Morning cartoons. The show was a visual spectacle that meshed live action with some of the earliest computer generated animation!! The result was ground breaking!!
Yes a show set in the future about a group of futuristic soldiers fighting a dark enemy who use sophisticated machinery to take over earth!! Great idea right!! Sure was..however it may have been over the heads of its audience at the time. The Saturday Morning generation was still alive and well and kids still rose from their bed early to catch a virtuoso of cartoons for almost 7 hours on the Week. While we dug into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Alvin and The Chipmunks NTV gave us the post apocalyptic Captain Power.
It was not standard Saturday Morning uplifting fare..instead we got a dark, brooding violent futuristic drama. The reaction was mixed even at times downright HOSTILE. Many kids who flocked to toys stores gathered around the screen and played along with the show loved the product! However parents groups sought to get Cap and friends off the screen ASAP! The violence on the show was pretty excessive for what people were used to at the time. My thoughts? It was perfect! The insertion of CGI really added a layer of novelty to the show. Computer Animation was in its infancy and seeing animated characters and effects blasting back at you on my 32 inch TV was epic!
No great Sci-Fi show can be considered great unless it has a great foil..a BadGuy! Lord Dread fit the bill! He was Captain Powers version of Darth Vader! Part machine..full fledged madman Dread literally attempted to merge himself with technology in his quest to take over the world like any good Superbad would do! In my own opinion the casting for Dread was curious as I always felt he simply looked like the proverbial Old man! Most scenes with Dread were mostly non action scenes of Dread in his chair giving morbid speeches and cursing Captain Power for foiling his latest efforts of world domination. Dread action figure looked far superior to the live action version. Check out the pic above as the Bio Dread Empire looked great in their action figure likenesses as well!!
The shows superbads Lord Dread had 2 completely CGI counterparts the first of which was called SOARON who was a “An arrogant, crafty and intellectual warrior whose total confidence in his flying skills is completely justified. Merciless and cruel by nature, Soaron – who stands just under 7 feet tall – enjoys the sport of war and is fond of playing cat and mouse with enemies.Soaron has a mainframe designed for speed,agility and firepower. His arsenal includes the Digitizer, Photon Blasters, Reflexor Missilesand Implosion Bombs. Soaron can deploy enough firepower to destroy a small city !” (Credit: http://www.captainpower.tv/soaron.html) Soaron was the Winged Bird Like Sky Sentry who was the most prominent of the two CGI henchmen however if you had the toy his blasts were very bright making certain his shots connected with your ship in some form or fashion!
Both Soaron and Blastaar worked together, but dis not see eye to eye despite their programming. Soaron the higher powered of the two often reminded Blastaar of his inferior build there was a clear rivalry between the two. As action figures both were standout parts of the collection and had some of the most unusual molds of the bunch! More over these characters represent a very early look into CGI as we would come to know it today! Many may site these as crude examples of animation but in 1987 this was THE FUTURE!!
Back to the show itself…it lasted one single season as mentioned before, landed a very handsome 22 episodes before ceasing production. The airings on my local television network NTV were not consistent and the time slot changed several times during its run even moving the show to 6:30 evenings. The shows production was seemingly doomed from the start as parents groups lobbied for the shows cancellation due to its gritty violent nature. Looking back this was truly not normal Saturday Morning Cartoon suitable. Most of the shows had an alarming amount of warfare, laser fights and even a death of a core character Corporal Jennifer Pilot Chase in the final episode of the show! Satellite Video screen please..show our viewers the archival footage..
There were adult themes everywhere and what was intriguing was the series had mapped out a second season , one that would never see production and its a shame. The mystery second Season according to head writer of the show in an interview would have seen the Captain relinquish his leadership to Hawk only to go on a revenge mission to avenge the death of Jennifer Chase! Several new characters would have been introduced to the show including a new female to replace Pilot named Chris “Ranger” O’Connor, who was to be a new love interest for the Tank Character. Another character who had been introduced earlier in an episode of the show was set to join the team an appropriately named Chip “TNT” Morrow.
The series even had a planned ending in which Captain Power and Lord Dread (Who sees the error in his ways!) both agree that Overmind, the controlling force over all Bio-Dread tech has a hidden agenda that involves even the destruction of Dread himself. Uneasy allies come together to save humanity once and for all and end the wars! Sounds too good! Sadly it was not meant to be, ratings sharply declined and the toy fad died fairly quickly. With no episodes left to run and production of the interactive VHS tapes over with the Toyline fell apart as well. The show which attempted to capture two audiences both young and old had done an incredible job of NOT garnering either! The show, as mentioned earlier was lobbied against so many kids were simply not allowed to watch. As for the parents or adults, statistics showed what was obvious to us all in that few adults want to watch a show that kids used toys to play along with. Captain Power was a show that literally managed to alienate both target audiences! The shows production costs had ballooned to 1 Million dollars per episode which did not compute with networks who fueled their Saturday Morning Line Ups with cheap animated cartoon shows that produced a much more cost-effective yield. The times in the 80s, plus its target audience was all wrong and Captain Power would abruptly go offline. Captain Power was one of those shows that many remember however due to the fact it was so different from anything on TV at the time. and many collectors are still on the hunt for Captain Power memorabilia! We here at the Satellite love toys as you know..so lets all take a look at the backbone to the show..the awesome friggin toyline! First the core characters..The Soldiers Of the Future!!
Captain Jonathan Power (Dunigan), Inventor of the incredible Power Suits, a One man war machine and natural leader of the team!
Major Matthew ‘Hawk’ Masterson (Peter MacNeill), The winged soldier who assisted the team in air strikes! Also if a second season had been issued would have taken the leadership position in the Soldiers of The Future!
Lieutenant Michael ‘Tank’ Ellis (Sven-Ole Thorsen), My personal favorite outside of the Captain. Tank was the muscle of the team. Ground assault unit.
Sergeant Robert ‘Scout’ Baker (Maurice Dean Wint), The “Breaker” (GI Joe Reference!!) of the group..espionage and communications.
And Corporal Jennifer ‘Pilot’ Chase (Jessica Steen), tactical systems expert. and the only character to DIE officially in the final episode of the show!
My main concern with the figure line was that the figures themselves were not as durable as you would think. The pin connection used for joints were notorious for breaking so it was not uncommon in this time to have one or two Captain Power toys with a missing forearm.
The toys standout as they looked amazing compared to any figure on the shelves at the time in 1987. They toys fit directly in line with popular action toy-lines of the day such as GI Joe and Star Wars but had a unique design that just stood out! Each toy were suited up with a shiny plastic armor! The figures literally jumped out at you on their card! Each of them had a completely different design and didn’t rely on the clone moulds like GI Joe toys utilized as a cost cutting measure. Each one had awesome armor, were fully articulated (No swivel armed grip sadly!) and of course came with great weapons! My favorite was the gold armored Captain Jonathan Power toy..this one stood out like a gem in the collection with his flashy gold armor and seemingly a semi automatic weapon!!??! Of course what good was old John without his ride..Ladies and Gentlemen..
I loved the PowerJet XT-7 so much..it was my drawing card to the show honestly..I wanted to shoot the screen and defeat Lord Dread myself! If only Star Wars had X-Wings like this with an interactive Death Star…but alas I was left with the good Captain..In truth I would love to tell the readers of my enjoyment opening the XT-7..however I would never own one…Instead..I had THIS..
The redheaded stepchild of Power Jets..
LORD DREADS PHANTOM STRIKER..!!??
Yes, the wonderful folks at our local retail store did not have a passion for replenishing stock at key holiday times leaving this bad boy in stock while everyone wanted the PowerJet. That said our household had a toy that could finally interact with the TV screen! Both ships had the EXACT same function so that alleviated some of the disappointment. I fondly remember stocking that black badass ship with its required batteries and waiting for the show to come on!! Of course it would be a couple of weeks before the show would air due to Captain Powers random schedule and holiday preemptions. So as it would the stars would align one Saturday afternoon and I slapped on the good Captain…..and it was horrible. The light sensor technology was the same style used on Nintendos light gun games of the day where bursts of light dictated your enjoyment and playability. So depending on a variety of factors from room lighting to the contrast on your TV the toy may or may not work. As well..you truly never ever got any true sense of victory as the show rolled on despite you hitting all targets dead on..yet your character somehow ended up on the floor very easily. It was like the game cheated. Large blasts from the show, usually from that cheap skate Soaron, would easily be considered a hit towards your ship with no way to dodge without covering up your sensor on your ship! Facts are facts though..the toy did what it was supposed to do..it was just very deceiving in its delivery. I want to be clear though..Captain Power toys were great..heres a few more!
Dread Fights back with the ultra cool INTERLOCKER!! If you didn’t have a show to watch you could battle your Captain power toys and blow each other to smithereens with toys like these..all light sensor enabled!!
Captain Power merchandise expanded beyond the toyline…but just barely. It is one of the most fondly remembered toy lines to barely break the surface with extra merchandising outside of toys. There were Captain Power lunch boxes..comics, and of course a video game!
In the madness of the 80s technological revolution we were playing the NES or The Sega Master system..The Captain Power Video game never made it to those systems instead in a highly unusual move Captain Power was given to the dying Commodore 64 PC as a Video game? I am sad to report that not only is this game rare but boy did it suck..dont take my word for it..check it out!
This encapsulates the bulk of the Captain Power material that was ever made available and I must say I surprised myself with some of the merchandise that actually existed! If this is your first time seeing Captain Power in any form then you are in for a treat! For the long time fans I hope this whet your appetite for a good stroll through memory lane. A cool place to check out some of this merchandise is through friends of this blog, New Wave Traders! Mike and the folks there love to buy and sell all things Retro , so if you like toys video games, accessories, and other cool stuff like Captain Power merchandise just go and visit their website below! Tell em Hero Sent ya!
Check out their Captain power Collection here!!
It appears our systems are back online team..Lord Dread is still at large but we will have to leave this mission in the hands of our friends the Soldiers Of the Future…its back to our time. Buckle in heroes..its time to go home..