M.A.S.K., or Mobile Armored Strike Kommand, was a popular children’s television show/toy brand in the 80s. Transformers were vehicles that turned into robots, and M.A.S.K.s were vehicles that turned into other vehicles, which made for some truly nifty toys. I fondly remember the show as a kid, and while I’m sure it would be terrible outside of nostalgia, it did have a terrific theme song.
It’s almost an afterthought that the members of M.A.S.K and their enemies in V.E.N.O.M. actually wore masks, and that each mask bestowed a power of some kind upon the wearer. Most masks operated like some kind of gun attached to the wearer’s head, some were completely stupid old-timey contraptions that flashed a bright light or fired glue at people, but some were so overpowered it was laughable. They would completely break the show if used properly — and occasionally they did just that. Here they are.
Vehicle Code Name: Rhino
Bruce Sato was an engineer of Japanese descent whose portrayal could best be described as “problematic.” He literally spoke in Confucian-style riddles. M.A.S.K. was “diverse” in that very special 80s way where many races were represented, but in the most offensive way possible. Anyway, his mask shot out anti-gravity rings that could lift up, well, pretty much anything. In one episode, he is able to lift and entire jumbo jet for an extended period of time.
Lifter has no practical limit, and he could easily lift and drop any enemy vehicle that he wants to. Essentially, Sato possesses The Force. Moreover, such technology would have huge implications for space travel, construction, transportation, you name it. This piece of technology is almost certainly the most valuable thing in the Matt Trakker arsenal (save one, which we will get to later), and they should probably scrap funding for the crime-fighter division and focus on this.
Vehicle Code Name: Condor
Mask: Hocus Pocus
Almost everyone who had a M.A.S.K. toy had this one, by virtue of its relative cheapness. Condor was a motorcycle that could turn into a helicopter, and Brad Turner’s Hocus Pocus mask could create extremely lifelike holograms from great distances. At one point, his mask is able to create a photo-realistic army big enough to frighten away V.E.N.O.M. while he hovers safely in his helicopter.
This is simply amazing. The mask seems capable of taking any image in its immediate surroundings and producing an exact three-dimensional copy, in broad daylight, with no loss of fidelity. The virtual reality applications of this technology are staggering.
Vehicle Code Name: Raven
Burns was an architect and a demolitions expert, and he drove a badass Corvette that could turn into a submarine. Raven was one of the more underrated toys as well, but where Burns really lucked out was in the mask department. Gulliver, named for Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, can shrink objects to Lilliputian proportions, or blow them up into Brobdingnagian behemoths. A real-life shrink ray is a weapon of immense power, yet it’s mainly deployed here to move debris around for crime-fighting purposes, though it does occasionally lend some sci-fi flair.
Vehicle Code Name: Firecracker
To activate mask powers in the M.A.S.K. universe, the wearer says “[name of mask], on!” Therefore, Buddy Hawks would frequently yell “Penetrator on!” in the heat of battle. This is unquestionably funny, and Penetrator is a pretty great mask, as it allows Buddy to become non-corporeal, Vision-style. Yes, Buddy can walk through walls at will.
He drove Firecracker with Hondo MacLean, which I mention for two reasons. The first is that the Firecracker toy, which was basically just an orange pickup, had a spare tire on the back that you could fire as a projectile — really hard. Blades would fly out of the tire, and it would become a giant shuriken. It was awesome. Second, Firecracker was, as far as I can remember, the only M.A.S.K. vehicle to be destroyed on the show, and Hondo and Buddy would wind up in Hurricane: a ’57 Chevy that turned into a tank.
Vehicle Code Name: Volcano
We have the ability to lift unlimited weight, project lifelike holograms, shrink and enlarge things, and pass through solid matter. Why not also have a guy who can turn invisible? This French-Canadian lumberjack ninja (not kidding), who drove a monster truck that turned into a monster truck with guns on it, could render himself and anything nearby invisible. All five of these M.A.S.K. agents are on the side of good, and V.E.N.O.M. doesn’t even have anything in the same ballpark. Not that they’d be able to see it anyway.
Dishonorable Mention: Matt Trakker
Trakker had two distinct masks, both of which you could build today, for cheap, with existing technology. The first, Spectrum, simply allowed him to see other wavelengths on the electromagnetic spectrum like ultraviolet and infrared. But mostly it was just night vision goggles. He could also wear the Ultraflash mask, which literally just blinded people with a super bright light. You can probably do the same thing with your smartphone.
Article by contributor Paul Noonan.