Have you noticed that we live in a world where the crappiest of board games get their own movies, but your own favorite childhood toys and games remain tragically unfilmed? I sure have, and, to be honest, it's bullshit. So, in my ongoing campaign to improve the general quality of pop culture-based movies, we're going to take a look at some of the toy franchises that, for whatever reason, never got the credit they deserve, yet could rule the box office with an iron fist, if treated right.
BULLSHIT, I tell you!
Via Friday Nightmare
Let's get the cringing out of the way first: The M.A.S.K. toy line depicts the epic battle between a special forces unit called -- brace yourself -- Mobile Armored Strike Kommand (I'm saying it again because, really? Mobile Armored Strike Kommand) and a Cobra knockoff called V.E.N.O.M., which stands for Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem because everyone in the organization is 8 years old. So, you know, on paper, this is not the coolest concept in the world.
Luckily, the fact that every character has a vehicle that can transform into combat mode was more than enough to distract kids back then from the unfortunate naming choices. All figures also came with a neat plastic helmet that did nothing, but the tie-in comics told us the characters had various superpowers (such as telekinesis or murder beams), which, at the time, was all our imaginations needed.
Also, motherfucking Hurricane.
Give a kid a flame-covered classic car that transforms into
a land attack vehicle, and witness true happiness.
M.A.S.K. was popular enough to get the obligatory crappy cartoon and a couple of C64 games, but, ultimately, it got more or less curb-stomped by the toy lines you have actually heard of -- a not-too-surprising fate for a toy line that found itself competing with both G.I. Joe and Transformers. Still, that's not to say M.A.S.K. doesn't have plenty of movie potential. In fact, I would argue that the franchise could mop the floor with those competitors, at least in terms of pure quality entertainment.
While the Joes are basically generic action movie characters and Transformers have been thoroughly Michael Bay'd, a series of folks with super powerful masks, riding cars that can transform into awesome things without running the risk of slapping the audience in the face with a pair of giant robot balls has all the makings of a massively awesome popcorn flick. Imagine the production value and general plot of the Fast and Furious franchise, only this time everyone has a face hat that can shoot laser tentacles and flames, and their super cool cars can turn into cannons. Can you? Of course you can, and it's awesome.
As befits a franchise with a logo that looks like this.
I'm not the only person thinking so, either. In fact, certain rumors indicate that the people in charge of the G.I. Joe movie franchise have realized the same thing, and the inevitable G.I. Joe 3 might actually revolve around M.A.S.K..
Via Mr. Movie Times
As a kid, I wouldn't even have considered the little known BraveStarr for a list like this -- in fact, had I written this column but a week earlier, I would probably have replaced this entry with a SpongeBob SquarePants-themed take on MadBalls or something. I remember hating the whole line with the kind of childish vigor 8-year-old boys usually reserve for loathing Barbie -- though, I can't for the life of me remember why. Maybe it was the Wild West sci-fi setting or the accompanying cartoon that chose to give the titular character powers roughly on par with Superman (a character I always found extremely boring for obvious reasons). Or, perhaps it was that fucking horse that was supposed to transform into a humanoid but just ended up looking like a horse balancing on two legs.
Yeah, guy. You'll pass as a person.
The BraveStarr universe is basically a Wild West-themed mining planet with some super-valuable ore, of which a number of equally desperado-themed, super-powered Space Bandits want a piece of. Marshal BraveStarr is tasked with keeping peace in this godforsaken place, armed with a bunch of vaguely racist totem-themed powers, a couple of trusty friends, and fucking Balancin' Binky up there. Granted, it's kooky as fuck and pretty damn cliche. However, weird animal powers notwithstanding, as a liberally western-themed space opera with weird and colorful alien characters, it's also pretty much a thematic cross of Guardians of the Galaxy and Firefly.
The more I imagine an unholy union between those beloved franchises, the more I want to see it happen -- and, since an actual crossover seems unlikely to say the least, I think BraveStarr: the Movie might at least be able to capture its spirit. It's not even that far-fetched of an idea: If you look at the figures in the toy line (and the various non-toy characters in the accompanying cartoon), it's basically a movie cast already. You have a hero, a comedy sidekick deputy, a romantic interest, a villainous counterpart called Tex Hex (take a wild fucking guess what his powers are and what he looks like), and a pretty neat rogues gallery. Any solid director with, say, some Marvel chops under their belt should be able to turn that cast and setting into two hours of awesome -- no problem. Even that damn horse thing can probably be a Jayne or a Groot.
Via Nostalgia Rush
Though its cartoon version seems to be keen on pulling a Rocket Raccoon.
Dino-Riders. Dino-Riders. Dino. Riders.
A toy line composed entirely of people and aliens riding armed-to-the-teeth dinosaurs and fighting each other? Nah, can't see any movie potential here.
Via Dino Riders World
Unless you count freaking everything.
The Dino-Riders toy line was introduced to the unwary world in 1988, and I have never understood how it hasn't dominated our collective consciousness ever since. As far as the 10-year-old me was concerned, human culture fucking peaked when I first saw a toy store shelf full of armed-to-the-teeth dinosaurs. Yet, for whatever reason, the franchise lasted only a couple of years before whittling away in 1990. Maybe they were absurdly expensive or coated in every noxious substance known to man, or maybe the same parents who didn't have problem buying their kids bodybuilder figures with pageboy hair and fur underwear somehow deemed Diplodocus tanks questionable. Gun Dinos are no more, and the world is a slightly worse place for this.
So, why not bring them back, Hollywood? Don't you dare tell me an army of weaponized combat-saurs shooting each other in the face is not a concept that wouldn't draw a decent audience. My personal suggestion to direct this thing would be James Cameron (because say what you want about Avatar, the man can create weird sci-fi settings like a boss) or Steven Spielberg (because duh), but really, pretty much anyone that isn't Uwe Boll would do.
Charley Gallay/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
After BloodRayne, it has been OK to tackle this man if he even
attempts to watch a movie with any sort of special effects.
The only truly adamant opinion I have is that Chris Pratt should probably be involved. A man who is a) a veteran of a box office smash hit that features talking raccoons and b) already pretty much a dino-rider should feel right at home in a scene where frog-faced monsters shoot laser cannons at him while he is atop a rabid Tyrannosaurus rex.
And while we're on the subject of high-tech dinosaurs ...