Mummy Mask and Metal Hawk (Power Commandos)
It’s not often that a turkey of an action figure, particularly one of the knock-off variety, transcends its own weirdness and circles back around to being cool. It’s also rare to find a knock-off figure that shows some kind of care (albeit offbeat and/or misguided) went into its production. Both are the case with the Power Commandos figures, which appeared back in the 90s and have since been a subject of fascination for me. I finally managed to pick up a set of three this summer, and I have to say they’re pretty great. Now I’m torn on opening them up or leaving them sealed.
By far, Mummy Mask is my favorite of the lot. This character is just the sort of nutso creation that sometimes results from attempts to capture the same lightning in a bottle produced by the big toy makers. He’s in the Zartan vein, at least in terms of his role, but as I said before, the design goes beyond what could have been a copy of the master of disguise himself. Mummy Mask’s head wrappings evoke DC Comics’ Unknown Soldier, as well as general mummy imagery–albeit outfitted in a dress cap. See what I mean? This is brilliantly wacky stuff. I won’t regurgitate what the file card says; you can read it for yourself below. Amazing.
Much of the molds for these figures are based on Hasbro designs. They’re not exact copies, rather inspired by the originals. I don’t have a problem with such a situation, as it shows at least someone put some work into these toys. Mummy Mask’s torso closely resembles the padded vest of the Cobra Tele-Viper.
Metal Hawk, the good guy of the set, (and no relation to the Japan Transformers exclusive Pretender) isn’t quite as Bat-poo crazy as his pack mate. He is nevertheless a unique figure. Sharp eyes will recognize bits of the 1985 Viper in the arms and legs, as well as the Techno-Viper in the chest. According to his file card, he was born on Ironrock Comet (sure, why not?) He has an original alien-like helmet design. I can’t imagine a human face beneath that headgear.
The Power Commandos accessories are surprisingly well done. Like the figures, the weapons and backpack aren’t up to Hasbro’s level of detail, but most are unique, although Mummy Mask’s rifle looks similar to the first Viper’s. Finally, Metal Hawk’s swords match up with the world-building elements of his file card.
So we’re not really dealing with an honest-to-gosh turkey this time around. In fact, I’m even more jazzed about these figures than when I started this article. Now to decide whether to open them.