THE GALACTIC GOONS
One thing that really added to the line’s appeal was the bad guys, who far outnumbered the good guys. It helped that all of the bad guys were unique characters from different planets so none of them resembled one another. All of them oozed menace and danger so you knew defeating them would be no easy task
First there was the insectoid Arkus, a winged Evil dictator with two horns emanating from the sides of his triangular head. He had chrome wrist lazer blasters, two hands with four posable claws each and clear red plastic compound eyes. According to his bio, Arkus didn’t need to eat or sleep. He also sported an amazing 19 points of articulation at a time when other popular action figures like He-man only had six.
Then came Ggripptogg, who was my favorite, because after all, who can resist a brute with four arms and a pineapple-shaped head? And who could forget Disguyzor, the horrible-horned hooligan with a mechanism that allowed his face to flip from one grotesque visage to another, with each one odder than the one before. Then dastardly Drrench, who had three legs, eyes set on the end of stalks and a water-squirting feature. And then there was Bakatak, The Brutal Backstabber, a bully with a flying fist who could shoot deadly spines out of his back and betray you at a moment’s notice.
Toward the end of the line (and some say as a bit of an afterthought) Power Lords also got the Beast Machines – Savor, Evol, Thrash, and Warbot. These half-humanoid, half-tank hybrids were reportedly designed by Pasquale Gabriele instead of Barlowe. They were basically Sci-fi centaurs who had had their equine halves replaced with tank bodies. From the waist up, they bore more than a passing resemblance to He-man (I’m looking at you Savor) and to the kind of heavily-muscled baddies Skeletor might have had in his employ. Armed to the teeth, each was wonderfully bizarre in its own right.
Best of all, there was the Volcan Rock playset, Adam’s awesome high-tech lair carved out of a mountain.
Since this was an action figure line made by Revell, a company known for its model kits, you also got some spectacular techno-organic vehicles complete with shiny chrome accents, highly-detailed interiors and parts made of clear-colored plastic. One of these “vehicles”, Trigore, the Creature Crusher, should’ve won some kind of special award for being one of the ugliest, most disturbing, most monstrous things ever designed for a kid’s toy line. This bug-eyed alien steed not only had sac-like bodily organs on the outside of its grotesque green body, it also had a huge gaping maw and bright red, creature-crushing pincers. Nightmarishly strange, yes, but guaranteed to send any kid’s imagination into overdrive.
So all in all the Power Lords line gave you ten vibrantly-colored, unforgettable figures in two waves, a bunch of vehicles, some windup walkers, some PVC figures, a playset, a puzzle, coloring books, a board game, a video game and a three-issue DC comic book mini series featuring the work of standout comic book artist Mark Texeira.
There were also TV advertisements and a unique Power Lords print advertisement that showed up in comic books. That advertisement featured multiple still images of Adam Power, twisting through his cosmic change as the planet earth floated far in the background below the bold words “NO MAN ON EARTH HAS EVER HAD SUCH POWER.” Those images burned themselves into many a psyche, and are likely to be instantly recognizable to almost anyone that picked up a comic book in the early eighties
What Power Lords didn’t have and probably desperately needed, was a TV series, because this was a time when every truly successful competing toy line relied heavily on those 30-minute animated toy commercials to help sell product. It also probably didn’t help that Revell made these figures with model-kit-type hard plastic that could be somewhat brittle and prone to breakage.
But whether it was that, their far-out appearance, or the fact that they lacked a television show, the Power Lords line lasted only two series.