Sunday, 22 September 2013

M.A.S.K. - Just a G.I. Joe/Transformers Mash-Up?

I've heard it said many times that M.A.S.K. is just a Mash-Up of G.I. Joe and Transformers.  I thought it was about time to give my point of view on the subject.

First up we have G.I. Joe - 

A series of Toys, Comics and Cartoons that centre on a group of soldiers.  So, what similarities are there between G.I. Joe and M.A.S.K.?  The characters are human, so I guess that's a start!

The Joe's enemies are Cobra and the V.E.N.O.M. logo has a Cobra on it.

Asides from that, I'm at a loss to find anything more in common.  The scale of the toys is different.  The M.A.S.K. cartoon was great, the G.I. Joe cartoon...  well, I can't say that it made any impact on me.

The G.I. Joe comic was on a par with the M.A.S.K. comic but completely different style.

Then we have the Transformers Comparison -

T-Bob is a Robot that can turn into a Moped - well in the Cartoons and Comics, anyway.  The toy, he is a simple robot trike!

There are no talking alien robot/vehicles in M.A.S.K. so again, no other similarities.  Even if you put the Joes in the Transformers (a bit like the Bay Movies) you still don't have M.A.S.K.

So, what is M.A.S.K. like?  Well, we have heroes who hide behind identities - like spies - and have cool vehicles that convert into something else.  In my opinion, I'd say they are more akin to James Bond - 007!

The fabled Shark Toy that was never made, but managed to make its way into the cartoon, is very similar to Bond's Lotus Submarine.

Perhaps MI6's Q Branch at a hand in creating the weapons for M.A.S.K.

One thing is for certain, M.A.S.K. didn't perhaps enjoy the same kind of longevity as G.I. Joe or Transformers - and that's a shame.  I believe if Kenner hadn't run into problems, M.A.S.K. should've; would've been bigger than it was.

With a massive following in Europe and other countries outside of the US, I'd say it was bigger in those areas than G.I. Joe - perhaps because, although their Boulder Hill HQ was in the US, M.A.S.K. was very much an international organisation.

G.I. Joe was "The Real American Hero" and wasn't as popular in some countries outside of the US - we had Action Man; then Action Force and eventually the Joes.  This may be part of why the first G.I. Joe movie flopped!

I think people should get out of the mindset of M.A.S.K. being a G.I. Joe/Transformers Mash-Up and see it for what it really was - a great product in its own right!


  1. Point taken on your POV outside of the US, but for those of us who grew up here, G.I. Joe and Transformers owned the cartoon and toy market in the early 80s. When M.A.S.K. came along in late 85, those two were widely popular and could see elements of each in this new show. It's easy to call them different in direct comparisons but what was great about M.A.S.K. was the figure/transforming vehicle combination that you didn't get with the other two.

    I think M.A.S.K. did have more elements as you suggested. I can see how the comparison to MI6 can be made. In our recent interview with Boulder-Hill.Net, I suggested Matt Trakker can be compared to Bruce Wayne and Batman.

    Anyway, I appreciate your viewpoint and think the comparison to GI Joe and Transformers is valid here in the US.

    1. Hey Jason,

      Thanks for your comments as always. If I remember correctly, Go-Bots came out over here before Transformers so when they came out everyone said "Transformers are just copying Go-Bots"! They seemed to demise quickly once Transformers established themselves.

      So, yes there were skeptics who also suggested that M.A.S.K. was ripping off Transformers as the vehicles could change. But then should we say that Transformers ripped off Lego as with Lego bricks you could use your imagination to create a robot or a vehicle or an animal or..... and so on. Or perhaps Meccano, plasticine, Play-Doh, etc. In the right hands and the right imagination, far more versatile than a Transformer,

      And let's not forget that James Bond had been around for decades before both Transformers and M.A.S.K. and there are more similarities to James Bond, such as the Aston Martin that has a bullet proof plate that covers the rear screen - Jackhammer has one that covers the front screen. The Lotus Sub and Shark as mentioned above.

      The general array of weaponry that Bond had in his numerous Land, Sea and Air vehicles - along with Gadgets that had similar functions as the Masks.

      What my main point is, people should just get over any similarities that they may share and focus on M.A.S.K. - the characters, the vehicles, the stories, etc. that all set themselves apart from G.I. Joe, Transformers and James Bond.

      As much as I love Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, these are really the only two Joes that I remember.

      Transformers was and is still great (exception being the third movie which I think everyone agrees on). The UK comics were different from the US versions - many of the stories took place in the UK - but this is what true stories are made of. It doesn't matter what town, country or continent you are from, folk stories often share similarities which each other and that exists today. By having characters in stories set in places you now, makes them more real.

      It wasn't only Transformers that had stories in the UK, but many M.A.S.K. comic stories were set in the UK and worldwide. This helped them grow to 80 issues before merging with the Eagle whereas the US only had 13 issues in total.

      Big and Vice Versa - both similar stories, both came out about the same both great movies. Same with Antz and Bugs Life, Whitehouse Down and Olympus Has Fallen.

      I'm sure that if you read my M.A.S.K. script there would many similarities to your script. Yet I'm in the UK, you are in the US and wasn't aware of you writing your script at the point I'd already written 3/4's of mine.

      So let's just say that M.A.S.K. is its own thing and stop judging it against other toys/comics/transformers - because at the end of the day, M.A.S.K. would win!