Thursday, 12 June 2014

Do You Remember - 01: M.A.N.T.A Force

So, here it is, the inaugural post in a new series looking back at toys, gadgets and gizmos of days gone by. For this first post, I thought I would look at a line of toys that played a large part of my childhood however, most people I mention it to have no idea what I am on about, M.A.N.T.A Force... Allons-y!

M.A.N.T.A Force (Multiple-Air-Naval-Terrain-Assault Force) was a line of toys, produced by a British company by the name of Bluebird PLC, and was available in stores between 1986-1991.

Before getting onto the toys, it would probably be beneficial if I provide you with the strory behind them...

The year is 2012 (soooo futuristic!), humans have colonised many planets within the solar system, including Mars, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn... although, I'm not sure about Uranus (I'm so incredibly childish, I apologise). Earth has become over populated and polluted and, in an attempt to save mankind, the president (who I can only assume was the president of the world) ordered the creation of the M.A.N.T.A ship. This ship is the most advanced ship ever built and is designed to work in any environment and, it's engine is fueled by a substance called Thorium... poor Thor, ground up and turned into batteries (incidentally, after my sarcasm/lame joke, it is named after Thor, oh, it's also radioactive).

The launch of the ship is successful so, the World Government create Red Venom (what could possibly go wrong with that name?) to aid M.A.N.T.A Force colonise New Earth. However, on Saturn many people are not happy, they are fed up living under such retraints and, believe that New Earth should belong to them. During a test run of Red Venom it is overrun by a group called the Viper Squad and is used in an attempt to hijack the M.A.N.T.A ship in a bid to colonise New Earth for themselves.

M.A.N.T.A and Viper battle it out for some time however, they are later forced to join forces to repel attacks from an alien named Karnock who, is served by an army of robots. Once this enemy is repelled, another alien? enemy emerges (poor things have no luck!) by the name of Stinkhorn (insert your own jokes here!) who, leads a group called the Stenchoids.

There you have it, that's the story, now onto the toys...

As you can imagine, considering the subject matter and, how futuristic it was, the main part of the line was space ships. The M.A.N.T.A ship, the flagship vessel of the World Government was a big, grey, monstrosity with a huge blue cockpit window and, go faster lightning bolts down both sides... I'll give it it's due, the back end almost, looked like the back end of a Star Destroyer.

M.A.N.T.A Ship
Image courtasy of

The top of the ship could be removed to reveal the interior, containing crew members and about 8-10 smaller, multi-terrain vehicles (at present, I can't find a picture of this, pictures of this stuff seem to be as rare as rocking horse muck).

Another 'good' guy ship was the Astro Shark which, you guessed it, was designed to look like a shark... sort of. This ship was quite a bit smaller than the M.A.N.T.A ship, it was all white with a few hints of blue and red, and, on the front they gave it shark eyes and teeth. This ship also contained other, smaller ships however, to reveal these the front opened like a pair of doors, as did the back.

Astro Shark
Image courtasy of

The Red Venom, which played such an integral part in the story, as you can image from the name, was a little... red!

Red Venom
Image courtasy of

This ship, despite the fact it was a lot sleeker than the M.A.N.T.A ship, also contained about 8 smaller, multi-terrain vehicles. In the back it contained a Troop Carrier and a Hoverfly (whatever that is) and, in the wings there was a Aquapod, a Skipod, a Molepod and a Skypod (as you can tell from me remembering the names, this was my favourite) and a couple of sleds.

As well as these main three, I say main three, those are the three I had...

There was also the M.A.N.T.A base, otherwise known as a big chunk of plastic with flappy things, firey things and a crane.

There was the Black Barracuda, this was a prison ship, robot factory, multiple strike ship used by Karnock. This ship looked like it used a similar mould to the Astro Shark however, was painted black to look menacing, and at the front had bright red 'missiles' not so menacing. This ship also opened revealing other, smaller ships and a prisoner capture/transport thing called a Gutz.

Stinkhorn's ship was known as, the Bog Rocket... you couldn't make this stuff up! Now I have to admit, until researching this post, I didn't actually know about this ship. From what I can gather, unlike the other ships, this one you stand up before opening to create a multi-level interior. As Stinkhorn and the Stenchoids are vile, alien creatures this ship features goo as well as vehicles etc.

Whichever ship you purchased, they supplied you with crew members. These crew members were frankly, terrible. The easiest way I can think to describe them is, think of a Lego Minifigure... with less articulation. The mould of them wasn't bad, it was your stereotypical 70's/80's comic book 'space suit' however, the arms had a permanent bend in them so however you had them it looked daft, I don't think the heads rotated and, the feet had a small piece of plastic connecting them so you couldn't move the legs independently of each other. One thing I will say for them though, each squad had a different colour suit which, considering my OCD tendencies was good, for me anyway.

So there you have it, a post about a toy series that the majority of you reading will probably know nothing about. Are you one of the few who know it? if you didn't know about it what do you think about it having read this and having seen the limited pictures I could find? leave me your comments below!

Thanks for stopping by, I do hope you enjoyed yourself... Oh, as a bonus for you, how about the trailer for M.A.N.T.A Force, for your viewing pleasure!

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