Thunderhawk with Matt Trakker

Thunderhawk and Matt Trakker


If you’re a modern era GI Joe collector, you know that MASK leader Matt Trakker is now connected to GI Joe thanks to a 2008 25th anniversary figure. I thought the idea of bringing the two properties together was pretty brilliant, and was disappointed that the concept stopped with Matt. So why am I covering the original figure and his Thunderhawk vehicle? Because today is MASK Day, a new tradition in the online MASK community and a celebration of the beginning of the cartoon and toyline that captivated many an 80s kid with its “Illusion is the Ultimate Weapon” concept.

September 16, 1985 marked the premiere of the first cartoon episode, The Deathstone. I still remember watching that first episode, and being excited to check out the toys. I bugged my parents enough to buy Condor with Brad Turner, since it was the least expensive set. I later picked up Gator, Piranha, Thunderhawk and others. The toys got heavy use during that year, and GI Joe even took a little backseat for a bit (gasp!). The MASK ‘toon became a regular on my watch list, and I even stuck around to catch the second season’s “racing” episodes.

MASK was an effective marriage of action figure and vehicle interaction, and though the individual figures weren’t marketed separately in the same way as GI Joe’s Real American Hero line, the characters are no less exciting. Each one, with its distinctive uniform and mask, was colorful and distinguishable, be it in toy or cartoon form. The smaller size allowed for the vehicles to be produced in close approximate scale to one another, something not often possible with 3 & 3/4 inch lines like Star Wars and GI Joe. It would be great to see Hasbro return to this property, be it in the original small scale (which they’ve recently aped with their Guardians of the Galaxy figures and ships) or in the larger GI Joe style.

Thunderhawk and Matt TrakkerThunderhawk is one of the iconic “leader” vehicles of the 1980s. The Chevrolet Camaro was a perfect choice to bring into a toyline, since it was a familiar ride on the streets, sporty yet attainable as an everyman car. The gull wing doors (used here as literal wings) added a touch of the exotic. I always worried that poor Matt would fall right out, but wait–there’s a set belt. You see, kids, toys can teach us valuable lessons. Buckle up–especially if you plan on taking to the air in your bitchin’ Camaro.

If you’d like to delve deeper into the fandom and the world of MASK, check out the following sites:

MASK Comics Blog


One more thing–and it’s something that’s always bugged me about the MASK cartoon. At some point during each episode, Matt would summon his team members to MASK HQ, and a cutaway shot would show each one doing his or her regular job, only to be interrupted by their flashing MASK wrist signal. Each team member seemed to have a legitimate job, such as a teacher, veterinarian, pizza chef, and even a musician. The exception was Buddy Hawks. Instead of maintaining a low profile cover, Buddy was relegated to working at the phoney-baloney Boulder Hill gas station, the false front of MASK HQ. His real job wasn’t even real! Poor Buddy.

Thunderhawk and Matt Trakker

Thunderhawk and Matt Trakker


  • I have a big MASK collection. I love the toys. I only owned Condor as a child and I dearly wanted more items in its heyday….hence the adult collection.

    Thunderhawk’s a hard one to find in great condition even though its often found on ebay, especially complete and with the special functions still working, then theres the tyres that either are missing or deteriorate over the years….I’ve noticed theres a flaw with some Thunderhawk rear bumpers not completely covering the jet exhausts in car mode, then theres the mechanism to activate the gull wing doors into wings, the figure will push into the spring at the shoulder, thereby weaking its tensile strength if you’re not careful….

    I’d love Hasbro to bring the property back, either as its own line with the same sort of smaller but in scale to the vehicles figures, WITH articulated knees at the very least or as part of the G.I.JOE line….My most recent MASK buy, at a bargain price was GOLIATH….just missing the smaller missiles and steering wheel for the Indy 500 type car….but in great, functioning condition….

  • How do we know Buddy’s job wasn’t real? Matt’s gotta finance this whole deal somehow.

    I had… let’s see here, I know Condor, Rhino, the evil girl’s car, and the F1 racer from the later series. All were great toys. Condor in particular is a brilliant design for something so small.

    Agreed that it was very disappointing that Hasbro never expanded the concept, since it was so perfect for the Joes. Phooey on any of the whiny online fanboys that complained about the idea.

    Anyway, that City Strike Cobra Commander was 99% Miles Mayhem. If anyone has a line on a replacement head for him, let me know….

  • I was a big MASK fan back in the day as well, and like you, there were at least a few birthdays and Christmases in which MASK supplanted GI Joe and Transformers. I still remember getting the Switchblade for my birthday one year. I loved that thing – just a really well designed and executed toy.

    In terms of GI Joe, I was always a figure guy over the vehicles, but MASK really hit it out of the park in terms of vehicle design. Great stuff. Thanks for the links to the other sites. I’ll have to check them out and enjoy some more trips down memory lane.

  • Ah MASK. I wasnt exposed to MASK until i was 11 in ’97. One of the kids breakfast shows was running it and and though i enjoyed it [because i loved ’80’s toons] Scott and T-bob did get on my nerves.
    When i was younger, i used to rent a Gobots Video that had a MASK commercial on it [as well as Silverhawks, Thundercats, Carebears and Pole position] and i always wondered what it was as the commercials overlapped each other so i didnt know what they were for really.

    My guess as to why Hasbro hasnt redone MASK is probably down to financial reasons. Creating all the moulds would be expensive and in this day and age, kids no longer want toys.
    However they did have that Human alliance assortment with the Transformers 3 figures which implies Hasbro still acknowledges MASK.

  • Now I really want the 25th version!

  • Thanks so much for joining #MASKday!! Great post too!!

    I was always bothered by Gloria Baker when she was in the middle of a race and would abandon her car when she got the call. Huh?

    – Jason

  • A full blown Joe/MASK subline would be perfect right about now with the lull in the main Joe line. The first year of MASK didn’t have a lot, it would be perfect for a couple of waves to revive interest. Skip the whole racing 2nd year, or just do those characters as Club exclusives. And if Joe characters need to be included in that MASK Line, then have them as 2nd figure pack-ins with their own masks. Hasbro owns both licenses, be creative!

  • I want to buy the Thunderhawk but I want the short spectrum mask. If the boxed is still seales, how can I know if it’s the short or long mask version?

  • MASK figures were 7POA? Were any other figures ever made with this unique POA?

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