The Man-croscope! A highly calibrated scientific device which studies that which we enjoyed as a child, with the cold, cynical eye of an embittered adult! Which nostalgic treasure will the mighty Man-croscope shoot holes through this week!? Why, it's Sectaurs: Warriors of Symbian, the short-lived action toyline (and cartoon!) released by Coleco in best-year-ever 1985!
In a post Masters of the Universe world a toyline could be made by spinning around blindfolded, pointing at a random object, and combining it with a body-builder. This time the hand of fate fell on a bug, and thus the insectoid Sectaurs made a lame attempt to crawl their way into our garish neon velcro wallets. Did they succeed? I'm here to tell the tale!
|Apparently even foreign devils bought them!|
As always, it's best to kick off these things by seeing the toys in motion. How exactly did a 1985 marketing team attempt to whip us into a bug-buying frenzy? This was their attempt.... Tell me if it works...
Were you seduced? I'm kind of confused. Especially by the bald guy in the toga and the beginning? I don't even think he's part of the in-universe lore - that's just how the Coleco executives used to dress. "An experiment went wrong!" Which basically means, "We tried to replicate the success of Masters of the Universe and wound up with this bullshit instead!"
Sadly there's nothing iconic about these generic bug-men that mostly look the same and share a similar drab palette. Masters of the Universe worked so well because the creators weren't slaves to any specific theme - any concept or gimmick they could think of would be turned into a figure. Nothing was barred. "Let's call him Agletor, Heroic Master of Shoelaces! And his legs are made of shoelaces that tie around his enemy! And his arch enemy is Semi-Mongrel! Evil Master of Inconvenient Half-Erections! He will come with a pump!" He-Man figures were brightly coloured, they shot water, smelled like pine leaves, fired caps, sprayed sparks, and we all had to have them!
Meanwhile, Sectaurs? Not so much. They just weren't unique, they weren't detailed enough for their size, and they looked kind of cheap. Although I still wound up with a couple of them. I had heroic Zac and his bug-dog pal Bitaur!
|The toy images are from Final Frontier Toys, who hopefully won't mind me borrowing them if you go and buy their wares!|
The packaging is fun, but how boring are those character designs? Zak is a "fun-loving hero with quick fists and an even quicker wit!" What? Is he based on Zack from Saved by the Bell? And are these character traits we value in a hero? Someone who is quick to punch you in the face and then say a joke about it. And I'll bet you five dollars that most of his jokes are puns about bugs. Bastard.
And don't get too excited about Bitaur's "Jaws of Iron". I've had my nine-year-old finger in those jaws and they're more like Jaws of Bullshit. They called the guy who bites Bitaur? It sounds like Homer Simpson named him.
But seriously, these are just the basic figures. The real meat was in their larger sets of figures and "vehicles". Let's look at a commercial for those:
Yes. The large spider/insect vehicle creatures were all glove puppets! You put your hand in their arse and waggled their legs. SECTAURS: YOU CAN STICK YOUR HAND INSIDE A SPIDER'S ASS. LEARN WHERE WEBBING COMES FROM. DISCOVER AN EGG!
Additional things of note in that commercial: A) I clearly wasn't exaggerating when I said they all look the same. B) If you fall from a great height and land - straddling a beast - you will crush your nuts.
There's no getting around. I stuck my hand in a spider's arse. That spider was Trancula, ridden by multi-eyed douchebag Skulk...
|This makes about as much sense as Goofy riding Pluto.|
It's a fun gimmick. At first. But you soon become acutely aware that it's very difficult to play with your action figures while your hand is buried in a spider's arse. Kids are very dexterous at the best of times, and this only impedes them further. I wouldn't even take him off to eat.
So ultimately Sectaurs suffered from the two biggest toyline crimes: they weren't that cool, and they weren't that fun. And yet despite this, they still managed to crank out a couple of episodes of a Sectaurs cartoon. Here's the intro animation that tells of their unnecessarily convoluted origin. I guarantee that it will be the longest minute of your life...
Does that make them more relatable? The fact that they were normal people just like you and I and then their world got transformed due to some bint with a test-tube? That's another issue - there's no power fantasy here, kids aren't saying, "Golly, mister! I wish I was accidentally transformed into a hideous mutant bug! My thighs cry out for the hairy caress of a giant spider!"
Are you man enough to admit that you owned a Sectaur? Let me know in the comments below!