Sunday, May 31, 2009

Silverhawks Sunday IV: Diversity

Masters of the Universe, as a toyline, debuted in 1981. Clamp Champ*, the series' first black figure, was released in 1986, in one of the last waves of toys produced. The entire line had precisely three female figures. The story is pretty much the same for She-Ra--Netossa didn't show up until the last wave, although unlike Clamp Champ, at least she made it onto the TV series. Unless you count horses, the only males in the group were Bow and Kowl--though the shows had significant crossover appeal, the gender wall between the sibling toylines couldn't be more rigid. By contrast, though SilverHawks lasted for a brief two years' worth of figures, it included a woman (Steelheart) and a black character (Hotwing) in the first year's group of figures**.

I'll address the main cast of Silverhawks in future posts; I wrote this post mainly to reminisce a little about Hotwing. He was a magician, and his powers (at least according to Wikipedia--my memories of the show are still fuzzy) were derived from more magical sources. I recall him having some kind of hypnotic power, as well as some telekinetic abilities, and I think it's from his character that I first learned the term "sleight of hand." It's a shame none of this really made it to his action figure (though I'm not sure how any of it really would). Instead, his toy had a wind-up-and-spin torso, and he came with a companion bird named Gyro***.

While I always liked the main SilverHawks cast, my favorite characters as a kid tended to be the auxiliary team members--Hotwing, the magician; Flashback, the time traveler; Condor, the old soldier and bounty hunter (as I recall); and Moonstryker, the cocky kid. In another somewhat surprising turn for '80s toy lines, all those major heroic characters got the action figure treatment. The villains and supporting cast weren't quite so lucky; Melodia, Time-Stopper, and plenty of other prominent characters never even made it to the prototype stage.

Wow, this post is really all over the place. I apologize; hopefully with my schedule freeing up a bit, this is the last of these I'll have to do without having watched the show in years.

*Incidentally, despite not showing up in much story material, Clamp Champ has always been one of my favorite characters, due largely to his cool design and weapon.
**G.I. Joe did the same, and shows a notable commitment among '80s toylines to ethnic and gender diversity.
***Who, incidentally, came with a companion named Tzatziki Sauce.

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