Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Under the Man-croscope: M.A.S.K.'s Gator!

You know when you're a kid and you're exposed to something (not like that) and you just totally, blindly accept it? And then much later, as a swarthy adult, you look back at the exact same thing and you're all, "WHAAA??! WTF?!" Because your innocent, unquestioning child eyes did not realise how wildly infeasible these things you took for granted actually were. This happens to me all the time when I re-encounter old movies, TV shows, books and toys. It's like being lied to you. And you want to travel back in time and punch yourself in the face for being the stupid little idiot you clearly were.

I am hereby going to dub this process of seeing a child's thing through adult's eyes as "putting in under the Man-croscope." Do not worry, ladies, there is also an equally effective woman-croscope, but because it is harder to say it is shortened to 'Man-croscope, thus making the two scopes virtually indistinguishable.

In the inaugural posting I will be turning the Man-croscope on an item from mid-eighties toy line and animated series M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand) (Uh, that acronym doesn't really pass the man-croscope test either, but that's not what we're here for). M.A.S.K. - a simpler successor to Transformers - consisted of a bunch of pretty awesome vehicles that transformed into battle mode, generally revealing a ton of hidden weapons. They were manned by heroic dudes who wore special-powered "masks" and they fought V.E.N.O.M (Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem!) (Imagine the boardroom meeting when the bigwigs at Venom decided to label themselves as that!).

Overall, it was a great toyline and the last one I really collected as a child. A corvette that flew and shot razor discs? Hell yes! I can totally get behind that! But there was one item that wasn't so great, and it will be the victim of the Man-croscope today:

Image gratefully and respectfully lifted from Albert Penello's brilliant M.A.S.K. archive. Check it out!
To rub your weary adult eyes in disbelief and that misguided creation that is Gator, join me after the jump!

So as you can see in the previous image (please do make sure you check out the fantastic resource that is Albert's complete virtual museum of M.A.S.K. items, or he might come after me!) Gator is an off-road vehicle whose hidden ability is to shoot a small speedboat out of its belly. It's piloted by Dusty Hayes who is stunt-driver hillbilly who shouts out inane shit like, "Wheee doggie!" He apparently also works as a "pizza cook", which quite frankly just baffles me. When does he find the time?

As a kid though this all checks out. I never owned Gator but a lot of my friends had it (it was a cheap one) and I guess it's a fairly fun toy, presumably more-so in the bath. But in 2011 the penetrating glare of the Man-croscope is not willing to let that slide. Allow me to adjust the "heavy scrutiny" knob as we take a cynical grown-up look at Gator's specs:

Ok, so WTF? Does this thing even look safe to you? Let's break it down.

- Presuming there's water nearby you can make a pretty hasty transition into it. Say you're driving along by a lake, being chased by viciously evil V.E.N.O.M. agents. Simply aim the car at the water, flick a switch and - SPLASH! - you're speeding along the water instantly. In theory at least.

CONS: (Brace yourself)
- There's a fair chance that the carrying out the above action will kill you. You would want to be pretty damn sure of your trajectory. You might also wish to factor in that there are no seatbelts or guard rails. And the fact that the whole contraption looks as flimsy as a bumper boat at a theme park.

- It has a freeze cannon. You can only use the freeze cannon while in boat mode. What's the range on a freeze cannon anyway?  Even if you're fighting V.E.N.O.M. on a lake and you shoot that thing and freeze one of them, you're probably going to freeze the water around them too, and most likely the water around yourself. Why would you have a cannon that jeopardizes your own vehicle? Unless it's a totally pussy freeze cannon. And then frankly, what's the point? You better be super careful where you point that cannon. Which is difficult when it's attached to your steering wheel.

- There is an exposed depth-charge on the back of the vehicle. We've already established that the V.E.N.O.M. guys are both vicious and evil. They're going to be chasing you and shooting at you. They're going to aim at the big silver bomb at the back of your boat. The resulting explosion is going to kill you.

- The roll bar on your vehicle is also an "atom blaster". If you take too sharp a turn and roll your car, do you really want to roll on a gun that blasts atoms? For that matter do you want to roll your car with a loose depth charge in the back?

- But this is the big one. When you've done gallivanting, how the hell are you going to get this back into your car (assuming you even remember where you left it). Are you going to carry it back and manually insert it into your vehicle? No. No, you're not. Because your rickety theme park boat still weighs a ton and you are a goddamn pizza chef.

- Oh! And if they actually blow up your boat and you somehow manage to crawl back to the shore and find your car, how are you going to escape in its empty shell?

You know what most people would do in this situation? They would attach the boat to some sort of specially designed boat trailer, and they would park their fully-functioning non-hollow car next to a designated boat ramp and they would ease their boat into the water. Sure, it's not nearly as quick as launching yourself recklessly in that general direction - but it's going to make your car easier to find and your boat far easier to reload and transport.

So what I'm essentially saying is that in a world of high-tech transforming vehicles, redneck idiot Dusty Hayes pilots a death-trap that is far clunkier, less practical, and more dangerous than a regular jeep with a boat on a trailer. GATOR. YOU ARE UTTERLY REDUNDANT. Now why didn't we recognise that when we were kids?

And that's why you're a pizza chef.

Man-croscope out.

UPDATE!: I only just noticed the disappointing warning that "product does not float" on the front of the box. So there goes my bath theory. Seriously, Gator, you are a heartbreaking piece of shit.


  1. I had Rhino which was the truck and the back came off to make a tiny car and the body opened to make a huge rocket launcher type thing.
    May I point my Man-croscope at Dusty's Backlash mask which "pretends to cause sonic waves"? So it doesn't actually DO anything but pretend? And doesn't anything that makes a sound cause sonic waves? It's saying that his mask can pretend to be noisy but isn't really.

  2. You're correct! The sad reality is that his mask isn't noisy at all.

  3. The Man-crascope is an awesome idea, I can't wait to see more!