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Western Animation / Power Players

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Power Players is a 2019 CGI-animated show produced by Zagtoon and Man of Action Studios.

9-year-old boy Axel is staying with his uncle Andrew while his parents are off on a diplomatic trip. Learning from his uncle's neighbor's daughter Zoe that his uncle used to be a famous toymaker, Axel snoops around in his workshop and comes across a pair of mysterious gauntlets known as Power Bandz that attach themselves to his wrists and a mysterious locked box. A voice inside the box persuades him to open it, only for an evil toy known as Madcap to be unleashed. Also freed from the box are a team of toys known as the Power Players tasked with stopping Madcap before he can use Andrew's Minergy batteries to rule over all humans. Using the Power Bandz to transform into the toy-sized superhero Action Axel, Axel works together with the Power Players to stop Madcap and his evil schemes.

In the U.S., it airs on Cartoon Network, and airs on Teletoon in Canada. It premiered in the US on September 21, 2019.

Tropes in this series include:

  • Ambiguously Brown: Zoe is dark-skinned, but it's not clear what her ethnicity is.
  • Ambiguously Gay: In the first episode, after Porcupunk knocks him away, a Galileo with Skewed Priorities comments that Porcupunk is "so green, it's kind of cute."
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Minergy. Anything coming in contact with it can acquire strange abilities once charged by it, from turning toys into "smart-toys" and turning their accessories into live potent weaponry to even accelerating natural plantlife's growth, as seen when Axel accidentally sprayed a seed with Minergy while using his Power Drone.
  • Black and Nerdy: Luka.
  • Creator Thumbprint: Coming from Man of Action Studios, does a show about a 9-year-old boy staying with an adult relative and a sassy girl who is more loosely associated to them while his parents are away, he sneaks off doing something he shouldn't be doing and ends up finding a strange gauntlet that forcibly attaches itself to his wrist, gains powers and has trouble adjusting to them, and the gauntlet and the show's backstory are tied to his relative's secret past sound familiar? Also, Axel is only one year younger than Ben.
  • Disqualification-Induced Victory: In "The Best Team", Cleo LeBall wins the race, but was disqualified since she ditched her partner Zoe. She took Axel's place (since Axel had to join the Power Players), and she and Luka become the victors.
  • Expy:
    • Axel somewhat resembles Adrien Agreste in appearance and voice, as well as being protagonists of ZAG Heroez shows.
    • Zoe seems to be based on Gwen Tennyson, except she is not a relative of the main character and is more nicer.
    • Sarge Charge bares a physical resemblance to Major Chip Hazard albeit more benevolent and not at all xenophobic towards non-human toys.
  • Failed a Spot Check: A lot of the human characters aside from Axel and Zoe don't notice the absurd destruction caused by a bunch of oddly autonomous toys, or only notice the consequences without realizing who or what's causing it. Arguably justified given the toys are not only small, but this show also takes place within the Quantic Universe, where children giving life to their toys, superhero teams with highly advanced technology, shapeshifting town protectors or little creatures of massive destruction are not unheard of.
  • Girl Next Door: Zoe is the daughter of Andrew's neighbor. For whatever reason, she's allowed to hang at Andrew's house as if she were related to him, presumably due to her father's connection to him.
  • Living Toys: Any toy given Minergy comes to life.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Luka is unaware of Axel's living toys.
  • Muggle Best Friend: Zoe is Axel's only human friend seen in the show, but she has no powers. One episode early on has her try to join the toys, but without powers or combat skills, it goes about as well as you expect.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Axel is convinced by Madcap to open the box, despite his uncle's notes on it warning anyone who comes across it not to do so and him acknowledging how suspicious Madcap sounds.
  • Not What It Looks Like: In the first episode, Axel tells Zoe to close all the doors and windows in the house without explaining why. Shortly afterwards, he ends up in his room while properly introducing himself to the Power Players, which is the perfect moment for Zoe to check on him. Seeing him kneeling on the floor while surrounded by a toys, she accuses him of playing around while he makes her do all the work and continues doing his work. Though she comes back a second later to see that the Power Players are Living Toys and lets herself in on the secret.
  • Pet the Dog: In "The Best Team", Axel allows Zoe to drive his race car with Luka when her partner ditched her when Zoe tried to help the boys.
  • Secret-Keeper: In the first episode, Zoe learns about the living toys and helps Axel keep them a secret from his uncle.
  • Shaped Like Itself: This humorous line:
    Slobot: "Unfortunately, that request was not requested."
  • Shared Universe: Intended to take place in the Quantic Universe, where Miraculous Ladybug and Zak Storm are also set.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sliding Scale of Living Toys: Of the "I've Got No Strings" variant. The only Living Toys in the show are the Power Players, Hardcap, and Hardcap's toys, as they are all animate because of Minergy. Doubles as the "Toy Masquerade" variant for the Power Players, who make an effort to hide their true nature from uninvolved humans.
    • At the end of the first episode, the Power Players also celebrate their victory against Hardcap with a pizza slice from Axel, though it's not clear if they can/need to eat and if they were just celebrating.
  • Smurfette Principle:
    • Bobby for the Power Players, technically Two Girls to a Team if you count Zoe.
    • On the villain's side, there's Princess Sugar Salt.
  • Toy Transmutation: The Power Bandz allow Axel to turn into a superpowered action figure dubbed "Action Axel".