Wednesday, June 8, 2011

#26 MADELMAN 2050 – ZAN and LAGARD (1988)


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.

Update: M2050 Comic Book #1 "La Invasión de los Zarkons"




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

6 comments:

  1. Wow, I loved these as a kid. Only ever had 3 figures (and I think I still have them, maybe) - but the vehicles were the best. The magnets were amazing - you could put the toys on the sides of the freezer or the oven and have them stand in gravity-defying poses. Don't get it why they were not a success. I see you can even get MOSC ones for a mere 25$ online...

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    Replies
    1. Many thanks for your comment, yes, it's ridiculous how cheap these figures are after more than 25 years... the 8 main figures MOSC can be purchased for around 12 Eur each, and there are so many of them!

      I wish they had succeeded, in that case we would today have all unreleased figures from wave 2, which look pretty amazing.

      I wrote about the second wave here, if you're interested: http://toysfromthepast.blogspot.com/2012/09/191-madelman-2050-deltox-zan-ref-1506.html

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  2. My god I had been scouring the internet like crazy for a few years looking for these until I found this post a couple years ago.
    I could not remember their name only some fuzzy details about the magnets, so finding them from that alone was hard.

    O only ever owned these two, 'Zan' and 'Lagard', but I recall drooling over owning some of the other toys in the collection printed on the back, like the "Falcon" and "Batrus" mech-things.

    I never got to thank you for this, but many thanks for posting them online, I was starting to doubt if my childhood memory was playing tricks on me. No one else seems to remember this toyline.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Duarte,
      Many thanks for the comment, and thanks to you for reading. I knew this series since they came out, but never owned any. I bought then only a few years ago as a adult. They are still quite famous in Spain (mosty because of the original Madelmans from the 70s) and they are considered among many G.I.Joe collectors (mostly in the U.S.A.) to be something to add to their collectons. Besides Spain and hardcore action figure collectors, I think they are practically unknown.

      I guess your figures broke at some point, because they were a bit fragile.

      By the way, I also have two robots, Batrus and Taratula, you can check all entries dealing with M2050 here:
      https://toysfromthepast.blogspot.com/search/label/Madelman%202050

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  3. I am from Portugal so I am guessing some of the toys were also eventually commercialized here, but they were not very common. I'm the only person I know about my age that still remembers them.

    I don't have them anymore, but I think they were still in a decent state when I gave them away. Last piece I recall seeing was the lost green backpack of Lagar lying around mixed with other toys.

    Batrus was really cool toy, thanks for the link, and keep up the wonderful blog. Some really nice trips down memory lane :)

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  4. Hi Again

    Interesting to know. These figures didn´t get the attention they deserved, and were often sold with very big discounts.

    Compared to G.I.Joe, they were half the price of a Hasbro figure, and, since they were not selling well, many places offered 2x1 offers, so probably portuguese merchants saw them as an interesting toy to import.

    This is, of course, only a theory. It would be interesting to know who imported them, and if it was a big or a small company. Since nobody recalls them, they were probably imported in small numbers by a small company. Back in the days, most toy-stores were small familiar business with regional distributors, so the figures may have reached your city or area, but not the neighbouring ones.

    Thanks for the comment!

    ReplyDelete

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