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Toys / Mighty Max

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Mighty Max Conquers the Temple of Venom.

Max's Dad left him with his old baseball cap. Trouble was, this was no ordinary baseball cap..."Gotta look the business" Max thought as he tweaked the cap's peak round to the side. "Aaaargh!" Suddenly the world had gone weird and very unfriendly! The cap had changed color! Something very strange was going on! He'd been caught in the Horror Zone. Stumbling from one terrifying adventure to another with only cryptic clues to help him escape...he was all alone. He was scared. But he was MIGHTY MAX, and he'd get back somehow!

Designed by Chris Wiggs and put into production by Mattel in 1992, Mighty Max was based off the Polly Pocket line of toys. Being marketed more to boys, the genre was shifted away from Polly Pocket's "Slice of Life" style to Action Horror.

There were several different varieties of Mighty Max toys released.

  • Doom Zones: The earliest and most common, palm sized playsets containing a Max figure, a villain, and a few monsters.
  • Large Playsets: Exactly What It Says on the Tin; much larger playsets often with many monsters and lots of working parts. Three of these were released: "Mighty Max Trapped in Skull Mountain," "Mighty Max Storms Dragon Island," and "Mighty Max Takes on Terror Talons."
  • Horror Heads: Smaller playsets with fewer working parts.
  • Monster Heads: Even smaller toys containing a Max figure and a villain figure but no ability to open up. (The pieces would usually slide out instead.)
  • Hairy Heads: Also called Dread Heads or Scalps, they were keychain sized heads with synthetic hair and a unique Max figure.
  • Shrunken Heads: The smallest toys which had no detachable villain figure (the monster was usually painted onto the toy itself), but tried to make up for this by having unique Max figures similar to the Hairy Heads and by coming two to a pack.
  • Battle Warriors: Essentially a combination of a Doom Zone with an action figure, a large monster figure that could open up, contained weapons, and places for the Max and villain characters to stand.
  • Mega Heads: A medium sized line notably larger than the Doom Zones, but smaller than the large sized playsets. Of the three planned Mega Heads only one — "Mighty Max Assaults Skull Master" — was ever released.

There were also some wristwatch toys and a few McDonalds Happy Meal toys.

Each toy's packaging also had a mini comic strip on the back, about that particular playset's story.

In 1993 the toys were adapted into the Mighty Max cartoon.


  • A Dog Named "Dog": The villain of "Werewolf" was a werewolf named Werewolf.
    • Similarly, one of Skull Master's henchmen is a rock monster named Rock Monster.
  • Alliterative Name: Mighty Max himself, and a few of the playsets have this too. The Doom Dragon, Palace of Poison, and Sea Squirm come to mind.
  • All Just a Dream: "Mighty Max Lashes Lizard" was apparently this, according to the mini-comic.
  • Amazing Technicolor World: The toys were known for their very bright color scheme. The page image is actually a lesser example among the toys, even with as bright as it is.
  • Bald of Evil: Skull Master, Dr. Gore and Professor Zygote.
  • Bat Out of Hell: Nightwing, the large humanoid vampire bat villain in "Mighty Max Defeats Vamp Biter."
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: So, so many. There's the giant scorpion from "Palace of Poison", but also several entire playsets built on the theme, including "Mighty Max Stings Scorpion", "Mighty Max Squishes Fly", and "Mighty Max Trapped By Arachnoid."
  • Brain Monster: Zomboid, a big green brain creature with eye stalks, who wants to feed Max to his big centipede-like companion Sluggon.
  • Brain Transplant: A few villains have wanted to get their mitts on the Mighty One's noodle, most famously in the commercial for "Mighty Max Escapes Skull Dungeon," wherein Dr. Gore wants to put Max's brain into the head of Smasher (how Smasher is able to get up and pursue Max without a brain is anyone's guess). In the comic for "Mighty Max Liquidates the Ice Alien," the Cryogenoid wants to put Max's brain into his Iceosaurus (the Thermatron wants to do the same thing with his Pyrosaurus in the "Extinguishes the Fire Alien" Palette Swap playset).
  • Canon Immigrant: Norman and Virgil were created for the series, but began appearing in toy playsets after the series took off.
  • Collapsing Lair: Frequently.
  • Cool Boat: The hammerhead shark sub that comes with "Skull Mountain."
  • Combat Tentacles: The Attack Squids in "Man-Eater".
  • Darker and Edgier: Definitely, compared to Polly Pocket.
  • Death Trap: Played a much larger role in the toys than they did in the show. Dropping Max through the various death traps was half the fun of the earlier toys.
  • Destination Defenestration: Max shoves Ax Man out a window and down a mountainside during their confrontation in "Mighty Max Hammers Ax Man."
  • Deus ex Machina: In the comic for "Pharaoh Phang", where nothing Max does saves the day. A missile shoots out of a pyramid for no clear reason and kills the monster for him.
  • Disappeared Dad: As explained in the mini-comics that came with the early toys, Max's father left him the cap and left hints in the various worlds Max visited to help him survive. It was implied that Max's father may have been a previous Mighty One himself, and finding him was a significant driving force behind the story. The series ignored Max's father completely and eventually the toys stopped caring about him too.
  • Disney Villain Death: Quite a few villains have fallen to their untimely demise. Smasher falls to his death in the commercial for "Skull Dungeon," while the Dead King falls off a ledge in the comic for "Conquers the Palace of Poison." And then there's Ax Man.
  • Distressed Dude: Max, frequently. He also finds and frees a chained up man who'd been captured by Ax Man.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: The toy line really loved the word "doom," giving us, among other things, the Doom Dragon, the Beasts of Doom, the Doom Stone, etc. Not to mention the first line of playsets were called Doom Zones.
  • The Dragon: Warmonger to Skull Master. The "Skull Mountain" playset even describes him as "Skull Master's Evil Henchman."
  • Dub Name Change: A large number of playsets had their names changed for their North American release, for whatever reasons. There's way too many to list them all, but a few notable examples include "Mighty Max Conquers the Temple of Venom" (renamed to "Palace of Poison") and "Mighty Max Saves the Kingdom of Gargantua" (renamed "Tangles With the Ape King").
  • Electric Torture: There's an electric chair in the Torturer's torture chamber in "Cyclops." He uses it to "cook" his victims to feed to his pet eyeball monster by electrocuting them until they're burned to a crisp.
  • Evil, Inc.: Megacorp in "Shuts Down Cybot," who send Cyberskull to destroy the world's databanks.
  • Evil Overlord: Who else but Skull Master? Lava Lord, Lord Lupor, Ape King and a few other villains in the toy line may also count.
  • Expy:
    • Smasher from "Mighty Max Escapes From Skull Dungeon" is a pretty clear expy for Frankenstein's creature. Likewise, the scientist from that playset, Dr. Gore, is a Composite Character of Dr. Frankenstein and his assistant from the movies, Fritz (now more commonly called Igor).
    • The Cryogenoid, from "Mighty Max Liquidates the Ice Alien," looks an awful lot like Mr. Freeze.
    • The titular monster from "Mighty Max Tangles With the Ape King" is pretty much King Kong.
  • Exit, Pursued by a Bear: A few of the villains get eaten, usually by their own creatures on accident:
    • Cave Man in "Versus Kronosaur" gets devoured by his pet dinosaur, Big Steggy.
    • Zomboid in "Neutralizes Zomboid" gets chomped by Sluggon ("Looks like Sluggy's having boss for breakfast!" Max observes).
    • In "Out Freaks Freako," Freako swings on a trapeze trying to chase Max and right into the jaws of Grovel the Mutant Wolf, who was aiming for Max.
  • Fat Bastard: The Parasite Prince is particularly fat and very disgusting. Professor Zygote is also a great big fat guy.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: A giant crab is one of Skull Master's Beasts of Doom, and guards the entrance to Skull Mountain.
  • Giant Spider: Creep the Spider in "Trapped by Arachnoid" and Arak Nid in "Traps Rattus."
  • Greater-Scope Villain: In an odd bit that was apparently ignored, Skull Master is seen answering to a more powerful bad guy than himself briefly in "Dragon Island".
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: The fate of Cyberskull in the comic for "Mighty Max Shuts Down Cybot", courtesy of his clumsy cyborg sidekick (with a little help from Max).
  • Human Resources: Beetlebrow wants to utilize Max's body parts to power his ship.
  • Humongous Mecha: Lava Lord's ultimate creation, Magus, is a walking nightmare that's part robot, part lava-spewing rock monster. On a (slightly) smaller scale, Scorpion also has his Scorpobot, essentially a drivable scorpion robot complete with claws and a tail, whilst Fly (the villain in "Mighty Max Squishes Fly") has his Maggot, which is an insect-legged craft along the same lines as Scorpion's Scorpobot.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Oh, God. Expect Max and the villains to spew all manner of groan-worthy puns in the comics and card art.
  • Kill It with Fire: Lignin in "The Hand" is an evil tree monster. Max defeats him by just setting him ablaze. The end.
  • Land Downunder: In "Shuts Down Cybot," Megacorp stooge Cyberskull and his giant Mecha Mook Cybot attack the Sydney Opera House.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: At the end of the comic for "Mighty Max Defeats Vamp Biter," Nightwing dives at Max, who throws a rock into his face, and Nightwing spirals out of control and promptly explodes in an enormous gout of blood and guts upon smacking into the ground.
  • Mad Scientist: Oodles of 'em!
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: Dr. Gore has Skull Dungeon (the Haunted Castle variety) and Professor Zygote has Dino-Lab (a Volcano Lair type setting).
  • Mecha-Mooks: A few times, notably in "Mighty Max Against Robot Invader," wherein the evil Master Brain has an android servant, and in "Mighty Max Shuts Down Cybot," where Cyberskull has an enormous (but not terribly bright) cyborg sidekick named Cybot assisting him in his endeavors. Cyberskull (also a cyborg) may count as a Mecha Mook himself, considering he works for Megacorp.
  • Monster Clown: Freako.
  • Mook Lieutenant: Lord Lupor has one in "Wolfship 7." He's literally just called "his Lieutenant."
  • Motive Decay: In "Shuts Down Cybot," Cyberskull and Cybot are supposed to be attacking "the world's databanks," but by the time Max teleports in to stop them, they've suddenly decided to destroy the Sydney Opera House.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Arachnoid in "Trapped by Arachnoid" has four arms, while Boris in "Out Freaks Freako" has three arms.
  • Multiple Head Case: Boris, the two-headed, three-armed giant in "Out Freaks Freako." The two heads will finish each other's sentences when he talks (although very little of what he says actually makes sense).
  • Mummy: The main villain of "Conquers the Palace of Poison" is an evil mummy named the Dead King. He's rather easily defeated. There's also the evil mummy Venom in "Pharaoh Phang" and the Mummy King in the Shrunken Head of the same name.
  • Nature Spirit: The villain of "The Hand" is a tree spirit named Lignin. But because Nature Is Not Nice, he's evil and commands a legion of the undead created from his worshipers who he tricked into becoming his mindless slaves, wants to kill Max, and is a real jerk.
  • Nuclear Mutant: Even more so than the cartoon. A lot of villains had nuclear contamination or mutation in their backstories, including ones that didn't in the cartoons, like Freako the Clown. There's even a toyline villain called the Nuke Ranger!
  • Oculothorax: The Mighty Eye (a.k.a. the Eye of Cyclops) in "Mighty Max Outwits Cyclops" is an enormous yellow eyeball monster with tentacles. He (it?) is the pet of "the vile Torturer," a purple whip-toting medieval Torture Technician who regularly feeds people to him. How he actually eats his victims is anyone's guess.
  • Of Corpse He's Alive: In "Fights Nuke Ranger," Max manipulates the skeleton of one of the villain's former enemies so that it "attacks" him. This so freaks out the Nuke Ranger, thinking that his dead enemy has come back from the dead to get revenge, he backs up and falls to his death in his own nuclear reactor. Max then gives the skeleton a high-five.
  • Off with His Head!: In "Survives Corpus," Mort the Gravedigger takes a swing at Max with his shovel, but misses and decapitates a zombie instead.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Several. A few examples...
    • Dr. Kalamarus from "Mighty Max Caught By The Maneater" was a scientist turned into a squid creature by a freak lab accident who went mad and tried to destroy all life in the ocean.
    • The Nuke Ranger from "Mighty Max Fights Nuke Ranger" wanted to overload a giant nuclear reactor in order to blow the Earth to bits.
  • Our Gargoyles Rock: One of these was Max's enemy in the Battle Warriors sub-line.
  • Random Transportation: Unlike in the cartoons, Max in the toys (at least early on) never knew where he was going to end up when the cap transported him, nor did he knew when he would be able to return home.
  • Palette Swap: A few playsets had recolors, but only "Ice Alien" was actually sold as a completely different set in its recolored form, as "Fire Alien", with the villainous Cryogenoid and his Iceosaurus renamed to "Thermatron" and "Pyrosaurus," respectively.
    • Then there's "Mighty Max Tangles with Lockjaw", which presents a rather interesting case. The villain in that is an insane lumberjack named Big Red, and, as his name implies, he has red skin. However, the recolored variant is blue, and at this time we don't have a carded version to see if Red's name changed along with his skin color.
  • Public Domain Character: Generally avoided, although Smasher is clearly an Expy of Frankenstein's monster. However, the third series of Doom Zones gave us the actual Captain Nemo as its villain, albeit as an undead green aqua-zombie.
  • Repulsive Ringmaster: Monster Clown Freako is also the ringmaster of his own twisted circus.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Subverted. Reptiles are commonly associated with villains in the toys, particularly snakes and dragons. At the same time, Max has a pet lizard named Thor who apparently does care greatly for his owner.
  • Ret-Canon: Skull Master's appearance. In his first toy appearance, "Mighty Max Trapped in Skull Mountain", he was a slender sorcerer in a robe. After the series happened and his look changed, the toys followed suit, with his subsequent toy appearances used his updated design (though it did keep the robed sorcerer, as a unique character). "Trapped in Skull Mountain" was eventually re-released as well, with a new Skull Master figure, and Virgil and Norman figures.
  • Rock Monster: In "Skull Mountain," Skull Master's other main henchman besides Warmonger is a rock monster. Named Rock Monster.
  • Scary Scorpions: There's one in "Palace of Poison," as well as Scorpion's "Scorpobot" in "Stings Scorpion."
  • Scenery Gorn: There was always a lot of attention given to small details in the playsets. "Small details" here usually referring to mutilated corpses, heads on pikes, monsters hiding in the shadows, etc.
  • Spear Counterpart: To Polly Pocket.
  • Sssssnaketalk: The Parasssite Prince.
  • Staircase Tumble: In the comic for "Skull Dungeon," Max knocks Dr. Gore down the basement steps ("Take a hike, Dr. Doombrain!").
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: Smasher in the comic for "Skull Dungeon." He just kind of wedges in in the actual playset. Max himself finds himself in such a predicament (unlike Smasher, very much against his will) in the Shrunken Head playset "Brain Face."
  • Torture Technician: The aptly-named Torturer in "Mighty Max Outwits Cyclops."
  • Toyless Toyline Character: Many of the villains in the Horror Heads were absent from their own playsets; their faces made up the exteriors, but they lacked a corresponding figure, usually to make room for a large, typically useless accessory or vehicle. For example, in the case of "Werewolf", the main villain was a werewolf, abetted by two creatures called Horror Hounds; both Horror Hounds merited figures in the actual playset, but Werewolf himself is MIA. The other Horror Heads affected in this manner were "Freako", "Beetlebrow", "Cyber Baboon" and "Talon".
    • "Battle Cat" and "Dino-Lab" over in the Doom Zone department suffered similar issues, although they weren't missing their main villains; instead, they were missing a saber-toothed tiger and a triceratops, respectively.
    • The comic for "Ax Man" features another character imprisoned in Ax Man's castle, but he doesn't appear in the playset except as a permanent part of the background and doesn't get his own figure.
  • Villain Ball: The villains frequently hold it. Max is less the Mighty One because of any actual skills he possesses than he is because his enemies are all such gigantic klutzes.
  • Whip of Dominance: The Torturer in "Cyclops" wields a vicious-looking cat-o-nine-tails as a sign of his sadism.
  • Womb Level: "Mighty Max Lashes Lizard", which is also one of the few times Max doesn't use the cap to enter the world of the playset. Instead his pet lizard, Thor, grows to gigantic size and swallows him whole so that he can fight the Parasite Prince that has taken up dwelling inside it.
  • You Dirty Rat!: Lao Shin (a.k.a. Rattus in the playset of the same name). There's also a rat-themed Shrunken Head.