At the end of the eighties, many figure collections in 3¾’’ size were made and sold everywhere. The reason for that was obviously the great success that G.I.Joe became those years with their ARAH (A Real American Hero) series. In Spain, (one of) the company (companies) that tried to repeat the success of Hasbro was Exin. Exin had bought the rights of Madelman when Madel went in bankruptcy in 1983. The Catalonian company planned the figures as a sci-fi, futuristic heroes (Hombres C.O.T.A. – C.O.T.A. Men) in war against some extraterrestrials Earth invaders (Zarkons)
The figures were made with high quality, with great moulds and paints, but their most remarkable characteristics were their special features: the villains have a double face (reptilian and human). The reptilian identity is revealed when one of the heroes stands in front of one villain, and this is possible because of magnets hidden in the chests of the figures. Both the C.O.T.A. men and the Zarkons had magnets at their feet, which allowed them to stand upside-down in the Basetron 2050, which was built with some metal parts.
Enlarge to see the special features at the right side of the backcard, and the catalogue (figures and vehicles) of the first wave at the left side.
The plastic casts of the figures are absolutely great. Their only flaw could be the slightly thin arms. Considering that the series had a lifespan of only one year, the variety of casts is absolutely great: all 8 figures are different and have different weapons! This is not true for the vehicles, which share some common parts with other vehicles. The second series was planned with a few figures made of new casts, but those were actually never produced massively. The only figures released from this 2nd series were repaints of two figures from series 1 (apart from the Clonstar pilots).
The figures were more fragile than their American counterparts, and their arms broke sometimes during the play. Their waist articulation is very resistant (no O-ring), and we have to highlight the magnet feature, rarely seen before in an action figure collection.
The figures were not a great success at the time. Maybe they came 1 or 2 years too late, or maybe the thematic was too different to G.I.Joe: ARAH. Hasbro´s collection was very popular in 1988 in Spain and, although Exin’s line was serious and very well done, it had very few chances to success. We recognise the great bravery of the spanish company trying to compete with a quality product, instead of just copying the Hasbro soldiers like other companies did (for instance Unifighters –Galoob- or the Corps! –Lanard-). At their market release, the figures were priced slightly cheaper than G.I.Joes (around 600 pesetas instead of 800), but shortly afterwards, it wasn’t strange to see 2x1 offers in toy shops.
Comic book included
Exin even created several comic books in which the history of the Madelman 2050s was explained. These comics remind quite a lot to those from Masters of the Universe. 4 of them were printed. All the figures in this first wave included the same comic book, that’s the one with the title: “La Invasión de los Zarkons” (Zarkons’ Invasion). Curiously, the comic is copyrighted earlier than the figures (December 1987).
The first series (1988) consists of 8 figures, the fortress Basetron 2000 and several vehicles. The second series (1989) was partly manufactured because of the early cancellation of the series. Only a few of the figures and vehicles displayed were built for the market, and they are very difficult to find. The rest were probably just prototypes.
The first two figures I wanted to show are the commanders of each faction: Zan and Lagard (Reference Numbers 1500 and 1600). Zan is described in the box as: “Commander and Pilot of the C.O.T.A. Men”, while Lagard is “Commander of planet Zarkon’s first attack unit”. They include the above mentioned comic book, and their box has an amazing artwork that can be counted among my favourite artworks for toys. The card’s halves were glued together, but with the years, the glue dried, and they do not stand together anymore. Because of this, the comic book is sometimes lost.
Zan also includes the little robot named "Mascota" (in english "Pet" or "Mascot"). Curious about this figure, is that its head is inspired by the Madelman figure from 1977 known as "Suárez" (that received its name because of its resemblance to spanish president Adolfo Suárez, who won the first democratic elections that same year). Here's a comparison among them.
Comparison between President Suárez, Madelman Suárez '77 and Madelman 2050 Zan '88. Original pic courtesy of Juan (Madelman Blog Show), modified by myself.
NOTE: This article will be continued soon, with more figures from the first series, as well as many other interesting facts.
FACTS and FIGURES:
- Name: ZAN (Ref. 1500) & LAGARD (Ref. 1600)
- Toy Line: Madelman 2050 (Wave 1)
- Year: 1988
- Company: Exin (Spain)
- Size of the figures: 3¾’’ or 9,5 cm