I once heard of internet rumors that there might be a film based on the classic toyline- Major Matt Mason, (Written by Tom Hanks and directed by Robert Zemeckis,) in development. The synopsis of the Mattel-based toy revolves around Major Matt Mason and fellow astronauts as they fight for survival on an abandoned region of the moon. Sounds good enough for me, thus the powers that be should, in the words of Commander Picard, “Make it so!”
That being said, here are but a few suggestions of toy intellectual properties that are so deserving of a live action film treatment if handled properly. (I’m looking at both YOU, Transformers and GI Joe! ) Some are very famous and then there are those that are obscure. Here are but a few examples;
Super Joe Adventure Team 1977-1978 (Hasbro)
Basically, the premise is GI Joe with a Sci-Fi setting. Super Joe was actually one of the first action figures I had as opposed to the legendary 12’ G.I.Joe figure with Kung Fu- grip. Despite the shitty quality of the toy-line (i.e. shoddy rubber limbs that deteriorate overtime, uniforms that can easily tear, etc.) there were cool designs and concepts like “The Shield”, “Luminos” and a rocket command center that looks Gerry Anderson-esque and needless to say, impressive.
Give it a War of the Worlds meets Captain Scarlet- vibe by having SJ and his “Adventure Team” fend off constant attacks led by “Gor- King of the Terrons” and “Darkon” who looks like a clone of “Super Joe Commander”, but somewhat cooler (aesthetically speaking.)
Who could pull it off?
This director has an eye for SciFi/Superhero action- cinematography despite the fact that Sucker Punch was a huge letdown (yeah, tell me about it), there were interesting action sequences and Snyder has the talent for it, after all he did direct a movie based on Superman, why not a Super Joe?
ROM The Spaceknight 1979-1980 (Parker Brothers)
An obscure, yet cult favorite action figure, thanks in part to his very own Marvel Comics- adaptation, which was a huge success to the extent that said comic had even outlived the Parker Brothers toyline it was based on.
The setting should obviously mirror the events from the comic in which “ROM”, a humanoid from the planet Galador is volunteered to be transformed into a cyborg warrior known as a Spaceknight in order to fend off the alien threat of the “Dire Wraiths”, be it Galador or… Earth!
Who could pull this off?
Neill Blomkamp, who despite his previous un-compelling films-Eylsium and Chappie- has the talent when it comes to storytelling blended with hard hitting action sequences and a touch of humanity, as ROM questions his “sacrifice” in order to defend sentient life who may or may not welcome him.
Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light Hasbro 1987-1988
From the makers of G.I. Joe and Transformers comes a high concept line of medieval- like action figures that displayed a holographic picture of an animal emblazoned on their chest that was to give a child the impression that said holograph represent some “transformation” from knight to beast.
Let’s just skip contemporary tropes like the ol’ SciFi- premise and base the franchise during the King Arthur- era with plenty of mysticism, copious amounts of swordfighting and epic knights riding dragons in aerial combat and I’m sold!
Although the toyline, comics and animated series were short-lived, there is enough originality to reintroduce this fascinating concept to a new audience. And with the right creative minds, it could be a success.
Sooooo who would I pick ‘n choose?
I’ll throw out a few names here and there: Ridley Scott (Kingdom of Heaven) Peter Jackson (LOTR saga) Kenneth Branagh (Thor) or practically, a director from Game of Thrones.
M.A.S.K. Kenner 1985-1988
To compete against the huge success of both G.I. Joe and Transformers, Kenner develops a toyline that is actually a hybrid of both toylines! Matt Tracker leads the “Mobile Armored Strike Kommand”, a team of agents who utilizes transforming vehicles in order to battle VENOM, A criminal organization led by Miles Mayhem.
The toyline had an impressive shelf life and was considered a cult favorite among collectors and pop-cultured enthusiasts as well. However, the DIC- produced animated series leaves more to be desired with it constant comedic banter with bad puns. Way to tongue and cheek for my tastes (thank god Robotech came along!). Yeah, there have been confirmed rumors that Matt Tracker will appear in the next G.I. Joe– sequel whenever it comes out, but imagine if this franchise had a life of its own in cinema!
VENOM steals a powerful Bio-fuel compound that may solve the impending energy crisis. However, Mayhem and his criminal organization has other intentions as in harnessing the compound for experimental weaponry and vehicles that can give a new meaning to the term “climate change”!
It’s up to M.A.S.K. to thwart VENOM’s schemes and save the World. Ending with a Steven Segal-esque speech about the dangers that face our ecosystem. Ha!
That being said, M.A.S.K. had an interesting concept that was more than just some wannabe.
Who could drive this forward?
The Fast and The Furious’ Justin Lin shows potential, I guess. Because he sure as shit wasn’t a “logical” choice for Star Trek Beyond!! On second thought, is George Miller available??
Inhumanoids: The Evil that lies within! Hasbro 1986-1986
Between the Joes, Transformers, Air Raiders, Jem and Visionaries, the mid to late 80’s was a prolific, if not pivotal year for Hasbro. So again here is yet another obscure toyline that didn’t receive much success but had an interesting concept especially for a Feature film adaptation; The Inhumanoids focuses on a team of scientists called “The Earth Corps” that battle giant subterranean monsters called “The Inhumanoids”.
For a series aimed at children and used as another vehicle to promote toys, this series contained subject matter that was controversial, images of gore like decomposing and deaths by corrosive acid gave this an edgier feel and raised the bar on the FCC’s standard and practices along with other cartoon series that are deemed violent. But this would be a sure fire hit if handled correctly.
Just base it loosely on the Sunbow- animated series but with better story content and you have a instant sleeper hit!
I’m thinking Sam Raimi or more likely Guillermo del Toro who has a background for fantasy action and horror. He’s also known for working on films that involve “Mecha vs Giant Monsters”, so why not?
Now if I really had my way, I would kill to see a Feature Film based on…
The Micronauts! Mego 1976-1980
This incredible toy franchise pre dated Star Wars and deserves its place in cinema. From Diecast Figures to interchangeable vehicles and playsets, Micronauts, originally known as Micromen from Takara had a very respectable run despite direct competition from Kenner’s Star Wars line and this was in part due to Marvel Comic’s Bill Mantlo and the incredible Michael Golden who breathed life into these otherwise lifeless toys, to the extent that their concept was far different from Star Wars and in some ways, better!
Micronauts was not only the very first official comic book toy tie- in, but the subject matter from said Marvel comic touched on many issues that often occur in the real world such as; class warfare, harvesting of organs, fascism, racism, Aryanism and human genocide (the assault on Acroyear’s homeworld “Spartak” served as a political allegory to the massacre on Native American tribes during the Old West).
Mantlo’s original Marvel 12 issue run. Duh!
Now I have often read that Gale Anne Hurd was interested in optioning the film rights for the ‘Nauts, but that was over 6 Years ago however, a screenplay is still being worked on and shopped to Paramount as a potential distributor. Ergo, there’s still hope I guess…
Obviously, James Cameron would be my first pick. Imagine the original duo (Cameron and Hurd) behind Terminator and Aliens reuniting to make this fucking movie? Say what you will about his silly undersea obsession, but the man is a genius! Unfortunately, Jimbo has his own intellectual property to focus on.
Soooooo who does that leave? JJ Abrams? (Who was originally interested in handling the project but then dropped out.) Spielberg? Nope, the man has lost his edge when it comes to iconic films and toy franchises *Cough*Bayformers*Cough*Kingdom of the Crystal Skull*Cough*
Shogun Warriors (1976-1977) Mattel
Motherfuck a sequel to Godzilla or Pacific Rim! Why not have the most classic Mechas of history battle it out with the big “G” only to team up against more serious threats like Monster Zero or Mecha Godzilla? C’mon Gareth Evans, you know you want to do it!
Jem and The Holograms…..
Here’s my reaction.