Western Animation: M.A.S.K.

M.A.S.K. was an animated television series directed by three Japanese studios - KK C&D Asia, Studio World, and Ashi Production; with Korean studio Hanho Heung-Upnote  and produced by the French-American DIC Entertainment (Jean Chalopin & Andy Heyward). It was based on the toyline of the same name sold by Kenner.

A total of 75 episodes were broadcast from 1985 to 1986 in syndication. One of many cartoons produced during the 1980s as a vehicle for toys, M.A.S.K. (which is an acronym for the Mobile Armored Strike Kommand), was essentially a mashup of G.I. Joe (with the whole "opposing factions of terrorist and peacekeepers" thing) and Transformers (with the converting vehicles; here, the gimmick wasn't transforming robots, but seemingly ordinary vehicles that turned into heavily-armed fighting machines). It featured a special task force featuring an array of characters, led by Matt Trakker, with transforming vehicles engaged in an ongoing battle against the criminal organization V.E.N.O.M. (an acronym for the Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem), with an emphasis on super-powered helmets called "Masks" worn by the characters.

The series, like with these types of shows, focused mainly on the vehicles and characters from the toy line. More characters were introduced, both from M.A.S.K. and V.E.N.O.M., as the line expanded. There is a storyline difference in the mini comic books which came with each toy. In the comics, Miles Mayhem knew the identity of Matt Trakker and had originally helped start the M.A.S.K. team but betrayed him later by killing Matt's younger brother Andy.

Besides the cartoon and toys, there were also various merchandising products like sticker books, coloring books and party goods to capitalize on the success of the show, as well as a Comic Book Adaptation from DC Comics.

In that series, the M.A.S.K. team is sponsored by an organization called the Peaceful Nations Alliance, with a guy named Duane Kennedy as their rep. Their exact relationship wasn't explained. Duane and the P.N.A. did appear in the cartoon, although in a smaller role. Similarly, V.E.N.O.M. didn't exactly have a clear goal as to what they did. They weren't the typical villains who sought global dominance, and their schemes mostly revolved around illegal activities and the like. The comics tried to give them a more fleshed-out background, where they were seemingly the main force of a bigger evil group called Contraworld. Like with M.A.S.K. and the P.N.A., their relationship wasn't explained in detail; what Contraworld was trying to use the agents for wasn't clarified either.

M.A.S.K. Agents:

  • Matt "Hunter" Trakker: The Leader of M.A.S.K. as well as a multi-millionaire philanthropist.
  • Scott Trakker: The adopted son of Matt Trakker, who raised him alone. He has great mechanical skills and is always upgrading his robot sidekick T-Bob with some new function.
  • T-Bob: The cowardly robot sidekick of Scott Trakker, who can convert into a scooter. He was built by Scott. He likes making bad jokes and is easily frightened.
  • Bruce "Magic" Sato: Mechanical engineer and design specialist, and Matt Trakker's de facto second-in-command. Is of Japanese origin. Occupation: toy designer. He often talks in Confucian riddles that only Matt and Alex seems to understand.
  • Alex "Megabyte" Sector: Computer and communications expert and Zoology specialist. Hails from Britain. Occupation: veterinarian and exotic pet shop owner. As an action figure, Sector originally came with the Boulder Hill playset.
  • Dusty "Powderkeg" Hayes: Auto and marine stunt driver, all-terrain specialist and tracking and demolition expert. Occupation: pizza cook.
  • Gloria Baker: A champion race car driver and black-belt in kung fu. Occupation: racer/sensei.
  • Brad "Chopper" Turner: Expert hill climber, rock musician, motorcycle and helicopter pilot.
  • Hondo "Striker" McLean: Weapons specialist and tactical strategist. Occupation: history teacher.
  • Buddie "Clutch" Hawks: A master of disguise and intelligence expert. Occupation: mechanic.
  • Calhoun "Stonewall" Burns: A construction and demolition specialist. He works as an architect and enjoys raising horses.
  • Jacques "Trailblazer" LeFleur: A natural disaster specialist and martial arts master. Occupation: lumberjack. Hails from Québec, Canada.
  • Julio "Doc" Lopez: Expert in languages and cryptography. He is of Latino descent. Occupation: doctor.
  • Ace "Falcon" Riker : Former NASA test pilot. Works at a hardware store.
  • Boris "The Czar" Bushkin: A big, burly, bald, bearded Russian who was a former VENOM agent who defected to MASK.
  • "Chief" Nevada Rushmore: An American Indian and Matt Trakker's childhood friend.
  • Ali "Lightning" Bombay: An immigrant from Kandukar, India.

V.E.N.O.M Agents:

  • Miles "Wolf" Mayhem: The Big Bad. The leader of V.E.N.O.M. In the comics, he betrayed the original M.A.S.K. team by killing Andy Trakker, and stealing half of the masks for evil purposes. In the cartoon, the origin of V.E.N.O.M. is a lot less clear, though Mayhem's connections to M.A.S.K. remain the same as the comics, and that he co-created the organisation. Mayhem's catchphrase is "I oughta buy you a new face".
  • Sly "Wrecker" Rax: A Con Artist. In the comics, he has ambitions of replacing Miles as V.E.N.O.M. leader.
  • Cliff "Blaster" Dagger: Demolitions expert and strongman.
  • Vanessa Warfield: V.E.N.O.M.'s espionage and intelligence agent. Becomes the unofficial leader of the team by the beginning of the second season, and is one of few agents besides Mayhem to pilot Switchblade regularly when he is incapable of doing so as well as occasionally riding shotgun with Dagger in Jackhammer. Falls for Brad Turner in series finale "Cliff Hanger". Came THIS close to stealing a space shuttle in "The Everglades Oddity".
  • Bruno "Mad Dog" Sheppard: A kidnapping specialist and another strongman.
  • Nash "Goon" Gorey: Overeager and boot-licking henchman. In the comics, Gorey was initially a new recruit for M.A.S.K., but was revealed to be a mole working for V.E.N.O.M.
  • Lester "The Lizard" Sludge: A smarmy henchman with an annoying signature laugh. Almost succeeds in murdering Matt Trakker in "When Eagles Dare".
  • Floyd "Birdman" Malloy: Biker gangman and expert forger.
  • Maximus Mayhem: Weak-Willed twin brother of Miles Mayhem.

Twenty-five years after MASK left the airwaves, the line was "adopted" by G.I. Joe when a new Matt Trakker action figure was released as part of the Joe figure line under the name "Specialist Trakker", with a character bio explaining MASK and VENOM as special ops units of the Joe Team and COBRA.

In 2011, Hasbro released a re-imagined version of MASK at NYCC, under the "UNIT: E" umbrella, which includes Hasbro's more famous lines such as G.I. Joe, Transformers, Jem, and other, not-so-famous (or even out-of-left-field) properties like Micronauts, Action Man, Stretch Armstrong, and even Candy Land. Here. It seemed to have been roughly merged with another Hasbro property, COPS; it takes place in a futuristic, (even more) dystopian Detroit, where the government has left the Motor City's people to fend for themselves, resulting in widespread chaos. An ancient workshop belonging to the "League of Ancient Wheelmen" was found and used by Matt Trakker (now a police officer) and a new team of civil servants, who use the tech they found to help Detroit's citizenry and combat the decay, as M.A.S.K.

Not to be confused with The Mask, or the docudrama Mask starring Cher (it doesn't help that the latter film came out the same year).

M.A.S.K. contains the following tropes: