Sunday, June 21, 2015

#558 STARCOM - SHADOW BANDIT (1988)


Starcom is a really great toyline from the late 80s, that didn´t have enough recognition at the time, maybe because the low sales and their high prices. The toyline from Coleco was very expensive, so most families preferred to buy cheaper toys.




Maybe another aspect that affected negatively to the line was the small size of their figures (2 inches). They are even smaller than M.A.S.K. or Dino Riders, and thus the smallest figure that was for sale then. This was, however, a must, because, being these figures space troops, they needed big starships. This same vehicle I present here would be two times bigger if the figure was a 3.75 inches G.I.Joe, for example. And higher sizes also mean higher prices.

It is interesting to mention that Starcom was one the last toylines to use metallic planes (tin) in their products, which was probably also very expensive to produce and to build in the plastic pieces. Each figure came with magnets in its feet, which is a great feature for figures representing astronats, since at low or no gravity, they will need some kind of invention to walk the spaceship´s corridors or to operate their machines at some planet´s surface. This feature was known as "Magna-Lock". The same feature was used only one year later by Exin´s Madelman 2050.




The vehicles also had some wind-up effects, and button-operated moves which added a lot of playability, in combination to the Magna-Lock effect or by themselves. This vehicle here, for example has: wind-up wings, that turn horizontal to vertical; a cockpit that can be opened to let the figure in; and a magnetic arm that comes out of the lower part of the vehicle to pick up the magnetic box for transportation. These three cool moves are activated by buttons. The Shadow Bandit is also equipped with some tin planes to place the figures over the surface of the spaceship.

I have already talked about the figures in general, although not every vehicle came with one... the Shadow Bandit was sold without a pilot... and the figure depicted in the pictures is not even a member of the Shadow Force, but one of the good guys. No matter what, each figure came with a small backpack and a weapon (kind of rifle) and also with a visor, which in my case is missing, and it is very difficult to find. Every figure is different to each other, and they include army stripes in their decorations, so you can identify who is captain, who is major, sargeant...




The toys were supported by a series of cartoons aired in 1987 and cancelled after just one season. The complete name was "Starcom: The U.S. Space Force" and their characters were young American astronauts who had to fight an evil space empire named the "Shadow Force". Each chapter presented some conflict between both factions that always resolved for the good guys. The series intended to raise interest among the younger Americans for the U.S. Space Program, and the investment in the series was high, releasing a top quality animation series, but unfortunately without much luck/success.







FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: SHADOW BANDIT
  • Toy Line: Starcom
  • Year: 1988
  • Company: Coleco (U.S.A.)
  • Size of the figure: Around 5 cm
  • Size of the vehicle: Around 15 cm

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