Sky Commanders was a Merchandise-Driven animated television series made by Hanna-Barbera that premiered in July 1987 as part of The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera, lasting for only thirteen episodes. It was based on a Kenner action figure line.
The story of Sky Commanders follows a diverse group of soldiers and experts from all over Earth, led by General Mike Summit, who battle the evil General Lucas Plague and his force of baddies, "The Raiders," whose aim is to Take Over the World. What's their plan? The series is set on a new continent deep in the South Pacific — "the High Frontier" — which was created by the discovery of a new, unstable radioactive element called Phaeta-7. This unusual energy can only be stabilized for containment by exposure to temperatures of 200 degrees below zero. Whoever could manage to harness it would be the ruler of the world; a goal that General Plague is dedicated to. It is up to General Summit and his crew to stop him.
As if things weren't already bad enough, the Commanders and Raiders would both have to routinely deal with lots of bizarre weather patterns, natural disasters, and horrifying, mutated creatures — all aftereffects of Phaeta-7's instability and the High Frontier.
Thankfully, travel throughout the High Frontier isn't a problem. You could either fly, or use "Laser Cables"; a specialized rappelling cord emitted from specialized backpacks worn by both forces. When used, the cables shoot out from the backpacks in the form of energy beams. When contact is made with a solid object, the Laser Cable solidifies into a solid metal cable line upon which travel is possible.
- Awesome Aussie: Jack 'Spider' Reilly.
- Badass Bookworm: Books Baxter, the technician.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: In "Back in the Fold", the Raiders do this to RJ Scott after they capture him. RJ eventually almost cuts a cord that holds a few Commanders from falling into a pit, until General Plague orders him to stop.
- Calling Your Attacks: "Hot wire!" Not an attack, but is the term they use when they quickly travel on the wires.
- Cold War: Likely to be the cause of tension between leader Mike Summit and new recruit Yuri Androv from the Soviet Union. They eventually get along.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The Sky Commanders wear uniforms with bright primary colors, while the Raiders wear green and purple.
- Cool Old Guy: Some of the Sky Commanders appear aged, but in "Welcome to the Fold", the younger-looking Spider Reilly's age was brought up, indicating he's a lot older than most of the Commanders.
- Cut Short: Only thirteen episodes were done.
- Death World: The High Frontier is a dangerous, geologically unstable environment, even without the monsters. Kenner's 1987 dealer catalog, which introduced the toy line to retailers, describes it in vivid detail:"A terrifying new continent emerged from the earth's core — deadly and ever-changing. Hurricane-force winds and tornadoes of poisonous gas veil the bizarre new continent. Within lies a nearly endless variety of mutating environments, all different, but all sharing one sobering quality: man can survive only in the peaks and highlands. The horrors of the surface promise certain death! Christened the 'HIGH FRONTIER', towering chunks of stone rise up out of molten rocks and float like icebergs, topped with spires and columns that soar to dizzying heights. This is a volatile and unpredictable land, where mile-high plateaus can rise and fall in a single day. Whole islands can form overnight — then disappear as the thin crust riding on the elemental ocean breaks apart like a shelf of melting ice."
- Dumb Muscle: Mordax.
- The '80s: Very much a product of it, including the theme tune and hair styles.
- Eldritch Abomination: The creatures formed in the High Frontier. One of them is a Man-Eating Plant that gobbles Cutter Kling, until the others save him.
- Enemy Mine: A very difficult mission requires both the Sky Commanders and the raiders to work together. While the leaders (Mike and Lucas) keep their differences aside, their deputies (Reilly and Raff) can't stop squabbling. Subverted, however, when this is the case only during the mission — outside of it, the remaining Raiders attack the other Commanders.
- Episode Title Card: Each episode begins with one.
- Fake Defector: Books Baxter, the Sky Commanders' Gadgeteer Genius, turns against the Sky Commanders and joins the Raiders because the Commanders have rejected his new technology — or so it seems. Eventually, it turns out that Books is a Mole in the enemy camp.
- Five-Token Band: The Sky Commanders are composed of characters of varied backgrounds, including an Eskimo (Kodiak), Soviet (Yuri), Australian (Spider Reilly), Jamaican (Striker), a technician who sounds British (Books) and a Fiery Redhead Irishwoman (Red McCullogh).
- The Gimmick: Sky Commanders was similar to Kenner's earlier line M.A.S.K. (and later lines Shadow Strikers and Vor-Tech) in that the toys were tiny figures that came with gimmicky vehicles. Here, the gimmick is pretend Flight — a child could fasten the Laser Cables and larger vehicles to the furniture, then attach the smaller vehicles and let them "fly" around.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Name all the Sky Commanders in the show. Then give us a little information on all of them.
- Mad Scientist: Dr. Erica Slade from the Raiders.
- Man-Eating Plant: The first episode has Cutter fall victim to one of these briefly. Fortunately, the others are able to rescue him before he can be digested.
- Merchandise-Driven: While a few have good memories of their Sky Commanders toys, this toyline was a poor seller and the toys are now very hard to find.
- Multinational Team: Both the Sky Commanders and the Raiders.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: General Lucas Plague.
- Nepotism: One episode reveals the only reason General Plague keeps Mordax around is that Mordax is his brother-in-law.
- Opening Narration: It was added after the first few episodes; the announcer was Danny Dark note .
- Power Armor: Not so much armor as they are high-tech backpacks for rappelling across the High Frontier.
- The Smurfette Principle: Each faction had one female member (Red McCullough from the Sky Commanders, Dr. Erica Slade from the Raiders). Both of them were Toyless Toyline Characters.
- Steven Ulysses Perhero: Mike Summit.
- Surfer Dude: RJ. Even Raider Kreeg calls that one out.
- Technology Porn: Too much of it, as well as Scenery Porn (and Scenery Gorn).
- Unobtainium: Phaeta Seven.