The Silverhawks come from one of the more obscured corners of the 80s toon universe, but they still had their share of fans. I can't really say I'm one of them. The show was about a team of spacebound superheroes who were all part-man, part-bird. The good guys were covered in shiny metal, had wings, and constantly did battle with an evil mob who wanted to take over the galaxy. I know that doesn't sound so bad in comparison to other cartoons that aired at the time, but every character was so boring and vapid that you couldn't force yourself to overlook the shoddy storylines and eye-irritant animation. Don't get me wrong, Silverhawks had some strong points. I'm not exactly sure what those strong points are, but I'm confident that someone will point them out to me in an angry e-mail.
While I could never get into the show, the toys were something to behold. The hero characters were all forged using high-gloss plastic, which was pretty rare for the time. This explains why they retailed for nearly double what similarly sized figures sold for. But even though they looked good, they also all looked the same. Sometimes they'd change the color of the bodysuit or add a pair of goggles, but there really wasn't much point in buying seven or eight fairly expensive action figures who all looked alike. Besides, 'space birds' are definitely something that sounds better on paper. Who cares if they're part-bird? Birds aren't exciting! They were so close to hitting a real stride with these guys - if only they would've made them something cooler, like half-snakes or half-wallabies.
While the toyline wasn't exactly my cup of tea, the figures were real successful for a year or two. I can see why kids got into 'em, as they were certainly unique. If a kid woke up one morning with an intense craving for foil-embossed action figures with birdlike qualities, there really was just one place to turn. There was one thing I loved about Silverhawks, though. They had one of the most impressive villain lineups I've ever seen...
I bought these long after the show's popularity dried out, from a Kay Bee that was liquidating their stock for just a buck a piece. Though I never had any real interest in Silverhawks before, I still knew a bargain when I saw one, even as a little wittle baby. This particular Kay Bee was way across town, but I always looked forward to going there because the place had terrible management that rarely restocked the shelves with newer toys. I'm sure this killed their overall sales, but it was a great way to find older figures that were no longer being sold elsewhere. Best of all, they had the complete line of these things. Every figure was there in abundance, and with a 99-cent price tag, I had really hit the jackpot. Unable to persuade my older sister to buy me all the toys, I opted on picking up only the villains. I didn't give them much thought at the time, but they went on to become some of the most cherished figures in my collection. Just a few notches below Warrior Nun Areala and Tim Curry's Congo figure. Stop eating mah sesame CAKE. Amy monkey love love you bad gorillas bad go away.
With that, here's my review of all the villain figures from the Silverhawks line. Granted, I don't know terribly much about their back-story, but I can still recognize an attractive hunk of articulated plastic when I see one. Here they are...
Mon-Star: Mon-Star was the leader of the evil space mob, evidenced by the fact that the horns on his weird head are sorta shaped like a crown. The neat thing about these villain figures was that they all had a gimmick to call their own, and Mon-Star was no different. If you squeezed his legs together, his chest cavity would pop open, letting you switch his scary pointy head to a more grotesque human head with one eye. I loved figures that let me pretend to give makeovers. I vaguely recall the human side of Mon-Star as being his usual appearance on the show. Whenever he needed to really tear shit up, he'd switch to the horny head and scream a lot louder. In human form, Mon-Star looked something like a roided up Wolverine, if Wolverine dyed his hair pillarbox red and hammered a Roman Candle into one of his eye sockets. I obviously preferred his more alieny form. He looked like Lady Liberty with an attitude.
Accessories: Mon-Star came with a small plastic bird named 'Sky-Shadow.' The bird's wings could clasp onto almost anything, or at least anything that didn't exceed 2.5" in diameter. So at least black guys didn't have to worry about kids using it to bite their penises off. Us crackers might be in trouble, though.
Mumbo-Jumbo: If I remember correctly, Mumbo-Jumbo was Mon-Star's main minion. His figure is shaped like a bull who's preparing to perform a cannonball. When you held his legs together, Mumbo-Jumbo's head would pop up and start doing headbutts. I guess that's not as cool as having a transforming head like his leader, but since I only paid a buck, I'll reserve the complaints. Oddly, Mumbo wears gloves on his hands, but nothing on his feet. I guess he handles horse shit more often than he steps in it. One of the fun things about buying figures from a toyline you know nothing about is how it lets you recreate their personal history to suit your needs. Since I knew almost nothing about Silverhawks, it was up to me to decide what Mumbo-Jumbo was all about. I used to pretend he was a common zoo goat who wore a human costume but forgot to buy the necessary mask, ruining his plot and making him appear more like just another silly ol' goat who think it's people. I also figured that the 'Mumbo-Jumbo' moniker meant that he had trouble speaking, so while puppeteering him during playtime, I finally had an excuse to fill my cheek pockets with dozens of marbles. It worked out wonderfully, since my previous excuse of 'admiring hamsters a lot' had plenty of holes.
Accessories: Mumbo-Jumbo also had a robot bird, named 'Airshock.' This creature was a little more interesting than Sky-Shadow, being able to transform into a really odd-shaped hammer. In bird-form, Airshock looked like a bloodied eagle sentry who had to deliver two thermoses full of coffee. Now you know the horrible truth.
Buzz-Saw: Easily the best figure in the entire Silverhawks line. The figure was so nice that getting him actually inspired me to try watching the show again - unfortunately, it was no longer airing by the time I picked it up. I mourned for a brief moment, but got over it when the Looney Tunes episode where Bugs has the magic helmet came on instead. Buzz-Saw was surprisingly heavy, with some body parts made from thick hard rubber instead of the more common cheap plastic. He was adorned with arm-razors that spun around when you flicked them, in addition to having a head that could be moved up and down to illustrate very intense and severe chomping action. If you're the type who still likes to pick up an old action figure every now and then, look no further. Aside from looking cool sitting above your computer monitor, Buzz-Saw serves another purpose - you can wedge his head to open cans of soda. Stop breaking your nails, boys. Buzz-Saw is here for you.
Accessories: Oh hey, look! It's another robot bird. What a surprise! 'Shredator' was an orange condor with a twisting tail and wings. I'm guessing he was intended to be some kind of drill. I like bird drills. So did the Indians.
Mo-Lec-U-Lar: Okay, enough with the damn hyphens. Every character on the show has a name full of hyphens. That's the one button on my keyboard that needs the ol' double-press to work. Why couldn't they separate the syllables with an apostrophe? Mo-lec-u-lar obviously came from a very creative sculptor - it's surprising that the villains got such better treatment than their heroic enemies in the articulation department. I guess the person in charge of making these toys was a sadist. This figure was great - most of his body parts snapped off, letting you create all sorts of creatures and devices out of him. It was like buying an action figure and a miniature Lego set all for the same price. Well, almost. Mo's chest had this strange atomic ball in it. I don't have anything to say about that, but it's still somehow worth mentioning. Even though he's colored yellow and dark yellow, Mo-lec-u-lar still looks more sinister than the other villains. I think it's because the three bulbous protrusions on his head give him a striking resemblance to Napoleon or Lucy from Peanuts.
Accessories: ANOTHER DAMN BIRD! 'Volt-ure' has wings that could snap shut. Not very exciting, but at least Mo came with something else, too. I'm not sure what that something else is - looks kind of like a baton. Mo-lec-u-lar was one of those filthy marching band geeks as a kid. This explains why he looks so pissed off all the time.
The next two figures came from the second-year series. Most of the figures from that set were just revamps of the original heroes, and pretty terrible ones to boot. Still, they continued to churn out interesting bad guys. They're definitely not as cool as the ones up above, but I'll tell you about them anyway because I have nothing else to do and the best thing on television right now is a Lifetime movie where Susan Lucci plays two different characters. And one of them keeps sleeping with that guy from Stir of Echoes who wouldn't stop saying 'this was a DEE-cent neighborhood.' I'd rather write about Silverhawks villains until I get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome than watch that shit.
Windhammer: He's pretty mundane compared to the rest, but on the plus side, Windhammer is absolutely huge. Looks like Lion-O after eating bad Mexican food. Windhammer had the largest feet of any action figure I've ever owned, and I'm pretty sure his feet were even bigger than mine. And before you get all fresh on me: no, my parents didn't indulge in the ancient Chinese art of foot binding. They used to make me wear rainbow suspenders, though. Windhammer seems way too powerful to have just been another of Mon-Star's henchmen, but what do I know? He wears tattered robes because people who are thirty feet tall with fangs don't need style on their side.
Accessories: Holy shit, stop the presses, Windhammer doesn't come with a plastic bird. He's too much of a loner, even for robot pets. Instead, he gets a giant tuning fork. When Windhammer strikes the ground with the fork, the figure emits a strange electronic noise. It would've been a bit cooler if the noise didn't sound like the further trials and tribulations of Windhammer's bad Mexican dinner.
Hardware: An ugly little troll who couldn't have been very popular with the young toy-craving public. Though well-crafted, Hardware looks like crap standing next to the others. He's short and stout, and since they painted his pupils off to the left, you can't make him converse with any other toys straight-on. And that sucks, because I really wanted my Hardware figure to have a romance. Now he looks too deceiving. I can work around the ugly, but I can't make Princess Leia love him if he looks ugly and deceiving. It's too big of a challenge.
Accessories: Since Hardware was such a shitty figure, they made sure to give him much cooler accessories than the rest of the characters. He comes with a cylindrical backpack and, you guessed it, a robot bird. No special name for it - just 'Prowler.' I suppose trolls don't care about giving their robot pals cute names as much as monstrous bulls and guys made of molecules do. See below...
Hardware's bird can fit inside his backpack, and with the push of a button, the bitch squawks his way outta there like lightning. The spring-loaded contraption gimmick is common in the world of toys, but the mechanism within Hardware's schoolbag works far better than with most of toys I've had.
There were a few vehicle toys within the line, and again, the villains got much better treatment than the virtuous birdmen. Take a look...
Mon-Star doesn't fly around space in any normal kind of spacecraft, no sir. Instead, he drives a giant squid. Give the boy some credit, folks. He is the only person living, dead, or who will ever live to actually fly around space in a giant squid. The toy fired missiles, had rubber tentacles, and even a hand grip in case you were the type who was too pristine to handle even fake squid. I'm not sure why Kenner felt that the natural enemy of half-birds would be a giant squid, but then again, this line's full of shit I can't understand. The ship was called the 'Sky-Runner.' They would've called it the 'Skyrunner,' but that name doesn't have a hyphen. I'm really sick of the hyphens.
Remember Mon-Star's little bird buddy, Sky-Shadow? They also sold it in a super-sized version. Really, really large toy - the wingspan had to be 24 inches or so. The downside? Kids who were holding onto the wings and flying Sky-Shadow around their homes would typically get so engulfed in their fantasy worlds that they'd totally forget their real surroundings and crash into a dresser, headfirst. Of course, this is only a 'downside' if you don't find the thought of kids getting concussions amusing. Super-Sized Sky-Shadow's box featured some serious comedy...
I take issue with their chosen method of advertising. The descriptions under each picture were written for the parents who bought their kids toys, not the children themselves. That's all well and good, but you've gotta wonder if there's more pertinent selling points to make than telling parents that the Sky-Shadow will allow their kids to pretend to be the leader of an evil mob. On the plus side, at least we learned that Sky-Shadow's giant claws were called 'retracto fangs' and not 'retracta fangs.' It would've been such an easy mistake to make, too.
And those are the villains, one and all. Silverhawks are some of the cheapest 'collectible' figure lines you could hope for, so if you've got any interest in 'em, it won't cost you much to nail the entire lot of them. Just don't blame me if you end up getting so sick of hyphens that you throw up whenever you see Tiffani-Amber Thiessen's name scroll by during the opening credits of Saved By The Bell.