Starriors

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Starriors was a robot toyline created by Tomy in association with Marvel Comics in 1984. They were based on Zoids, but had a new storyline that U.S. Zoids had not had at all. Four Marvel mini-comics were distributed with each toy, and Marvel also produced a four-issue limited series written by Louise Simonson, with art by Michael Chen, Ian Akin, and Brian Garvey, and covers painted by Bill Sienkiewicz.

Six humanoid Wastor-series Starriors and issue #1 and #2 of the Mini Comics

In the future, solar flares threaten all life on Earth. Earth's scientists build three Classes of intelligent machines, Protectors, to restore the Earth for human use, Destructors, to ward off any potential alien invasions, and Guardians to protect humanity after they go into a hibernative state underground. The brains of the Starriors, called control circuits, are crafted in the human image. The leader of the Destructors, Slaughter Steelgrave, becomes craven at the thought of deactivation upon the restoration of the humans, and enslaves the Protectors after what he believes to be a successful attempt to destroy all of the Guardians. Eventually, the human race and the Starriors' mission is forgotten as a reality and regarded as a myth - none of the Starriors had been activated when the humans disappeared. Then the Protector Trashor, Nipper, discovers a human skull. A band of Protectors, eventually joined by a few dutiful Destructors, sets out to release the humans from their overly prolonged hibernation.

The toys were not commercially successful. After the initial wave, it appears that there were only eight more toys produced, and only two additional minicomics, though most of the new toys came with the old ones. The Simonson series told a complete story in itself, and did not include the eight new characters. The principal figures, the humanoid Wastors, did not transform, nor did most of the other robots in the line, though many could be disassembled and reassembled, and had motorized parts. Also, there was a tendency toward making new characters out of the same molds as other characters, in different colors, which is more true of the first wave than of the second. Consumer Reports' Penny Power, when it reported on robot toys, found them the least satisfying of all the lines covered, though it must be said that the narrative aspects of all the lines were ignored, and the magazine would extol the economic value of Gobots ("sturdy and cheap") over Transformers in later issues.

Terminology[edit]

Each Starrior has a Class, and a Series, while several of them have a Model. As the Starriors lived on, and their intellect advanced, they developed more defined personality traits and most took on mental gender characteristics, though with the exception of Geo, a non-toy character exclusive to the comics, their body designs were genderless.

Class[edit]

  • Protector — Originally programmed to rebuild civilization so that structures, facilities, and ecologies would be established and ready for use upon Man's return. The Protectors were forced into the role of a slave caste by Slaughter Steelgrave, and set to the task of fortifying his city and/or menial labor. An underground resistance formed, meeting in secret, though due to their core programming making it difficult to turn their weaponry/tools upon any other Starrior, their resistance actions mostly ran along the lines of repairing or restoring Protectors that had been physically "punished" by their Destructor masters. Their dominant colors are often blue, white or light beige, and silver.
  • Destructor — Originally programmed to defend the works designed and built by the Protectors, and to eliminate the mutant animal lifeforms expected to develop on the Earth's surface during the interim years of high radiation which Man put themselves into suspended animation to avoid. Under the leadership of Slaughter Steelgrave, the Destructors were forged into a militaristic ruling caste, lording over the Protectors, despite their one lack of programming to create the fortress-like city which they depended on their slaves for. Their dominant colors are often red, black, and gold.
  • Guardian — Programmed to defend the slumbering Man. Slaughter Steelgrave erased all memory of Man's true location, deactivated the timing system that was to awaken Man, and set about the eradication of all Guardians, believing he was successful. One Guardian, however, managed to survive, as well as the Armored Battlestation under which Man was actually located.

Series[edit]

Crank, a Protector Wastor
  • Wastor — The humanoid series of Starrior. Roughly the same height as an adult human, though somewhat bulkier. All Wastors have a model, most with their main weapon/tool dominating the front of their torso, but some with an enlarged right arm containing the mechanism. Their control circuits are visible through a facial dome. Wastors with their weapon/tool in their chest have a cruder form of pincer-type manipulator as the hand on one arm, while the other arm ends in a secondary weapon/tool nozzle of unspecified use. Wastors with a primary arm module have their opposite arm equipped with a fully articulated hand with four fingers and an opposable thumb. In the toyline, Wastors made up slightly less than half of the line, however, in the comic series, the Wastors seemed to make up at least 90% of the entire Starrior population. Wastors are found as both Protectors and Destructors, though flashbacks indicate they were plentiful as Guardians in the distant past.
  • Rammor — This series is bulky and vehicular-like. Rammors do not have Models. Rammors are about the same mass as Wastors, though do not stand as tall, due to their body-style. They typically have three or four wheels and a pair of crude manipulators in either a three-fingered thumbless style or a pincer style. A Rammor's control circuit can be seen through a canopy dome on their body. They often, though not always, sport one or two weapon/tool parts. Rammors are found in small numbers among the Protectors, Destructors, and Guardians.
  • Trashor — This series has smaller vehicular bodies. Trashors do not have Models. All are four-wheeled, and have only a single combination manipulator/head. The control circuit of a Trashor is not visible, though damage to one in the comic has shown they are located within their heads. Trashors are seen in both the Protector and Destructor ranks in small numbers similar to the Rammors. It is unknown if any Guardian Trashors ever existed, but above average supposition for their original existence can be found in the fact that the Armored Battlestation has a side launch bay specifically for Trashors.
  • Strazor — Strazors are larger four-legged Starriors with a long neck and tail, and two in-line wheels on the underside of their body. They can fold into a transport mode for faster travel. They have a head much like a Wastor, and a similarly visible control circuit. They do not have models. Strazors have only been seen as Protectors, though one is able to be "disguised" as a Destructor during the course of the comic series, so it is probable that Destructor Strazors do exist.
  • Starrunner — A bird-like Starrior that is able to transform from a winged ostrich-like shape into a jet aircraft. Their control circuits are located behind a cockpit-like dome on their jet mode nose-cones. It is possible that their alternative form is their model, as unlike most things in the toyline and comic, it is a named weapon. Starrunners have only been seen as Destructors.
  • Cosmittor — This is a very large upright dinosaur-like Starrior. They have an assortment of unspecified weapon modules, as well as a primary weapon that is likely their model. Cosmittors have only been seen as Destructors.
  • Scout — Not an official named Series. "Scout" is the only thing that a Cosmittor's smaller partner is known as. As only one Cosmittor and one scout are seen in the comic or toyline, scouts are only seen as Destructors. (In the toy form, the scout is the remote control for the motorized Cosmittor toy, but rather than simply being a control, it is also a character itself.)
  • Vultor — A large pterodactyl-like avian Starrior with an assortment of unspecified weapon/tools. Vultors are able to be ridden by Wastors. They do not have Models. Vultors are only seen as Protectors.
  • Stalkor — A large four-legged dinosaur-like Starrior that most resembles a triceratops. It has an assortment of unspecified weapons, as well as an actual named central weapon, likely meaning is has a model. Stalkors, like Voltors, can be ridden by a Wastor. Stalkors are only seen as Destructors.
  • Citadel of Dreams-- This is the alternative name of the Armored Battlestation beneath which Man sleeps. We see in the toyline that the Armored Battlestation in fact has three control circuits, two located in weapons modules, and one permanently affixed within a dome on the playset's interior. In the comic, the Armored Battlestation is treated just as if it is another character, and it has a fully developed emotional AI, though it is not specifically said to be a Starrior, it is certainly at least extremely like one. The Battlestation's AI continues to speak through the LazerRam when it is detached, meaning it may contain a fourth control circuit by IC definition.

Of additional note, the toyline also sold a package of Transfer Rings, plastic rings that contained Starrior heads and weaponry. Both a Protector-themed and Destructor-themed Transfer Ring were sold together and was the least expensive Starriors toy. They could fit over most Wastors' forearms, and their narrative function was to transfer a Starrior's mind into a new body if their old one became incapacitated, as happened to a number of the characters in the comics series.

Model[edit]

By simplest definition, a Starrior's model is the named gimmick of a weapon or tool built into the Starrior. This primarily occurs with Wastors, but some other Series possess a similarly named gimmick, such as Deadeye's Demolishors.

Some controversy has arisen with regard to some of the Models, because the Marvel Comic did not consistently use the same listing as the toy packaging did. Often, what the comics did was to shorten the Model. Thus, Hotshot's Model of Duo-Laser was only called Laser in the comics. Similarly, Gouge's Spiked Ream and Crank's Speed Drill became simply Ream and Drill, respectively. Of particular note are Cut-Up, Speedtrap, and the Armored Battlestation. Cut-Up's Chainsaw became simply Saw. This falls more under the category of a correction than a simple shortening of the name, as the tool in question is in fact a circular saw, and nothing resembling a chainsaw at all. Some fans that prefer the toy's listing explain the name by believing that the saw blade is powered by a chain-driven mechanism internal to Cut-Up's form. The actual toy is, of course, a simple system of gears. In the toy box and documentation, Speedtrap's aerial transformation is called a Sky Fighter, while in the comics, it is always referred to as Speedtrap's Air-Ram. Another point of contention is the Armored Battlestation's LazerRam module, clearly called LazerRam on toy materials, but consistently and repeatedly spelled Laser-Ram in the Marvel Comic, which is a respelling rather than a shortening. The Models listed in the character section reflect the information provided by the toy materials, as each model was not explicitly discussed within the comics. All instances in which the comic differed have been discussed in this section.

Characters[edit]

Those loyal to Man, and the ideal of living in harmony with humanity [edit]

Character Class Series Model Gender Brief
Auntie Tank Destructor Rammor n/a Female Heavily armored, high-speed search-and-destroy
Armored Battlestation Guardian Citadel of Dreams LazerRam Male The fortress beneath which Man sleeps
Crank Protector Wastor Speed Drill Male Slow-witted and gentle, with a heart as big as he is
Cut-Up Protector Wastor Chainsaw Male Volatile, wants to be able to turn his chest saw on his enemies
Hotshot Protector Wastor Duo-Laser Male Leader of the Quest for Man
Nipper Protector Trashor n/a Female Amnesiac, with a genius for scavenging
Runabout Protector Strazor n/a Female Imaginative, timid, shape-changing all-terrain transport
Sawtooth Destructor Wastor Buzzsaw Male Stolid, secretly sympathetic to the Protectors
Stinger Guardian Rammor n/a Male Last of the Guardians
Thinktank Protector Rammor n/a Male Wise and ancient, Hotshot's advisor
Tinker Protector Trashor n/a Male Enterprising, the perfect repair assistant

Those loyal to Slaughter Steelgrave, and the ideal of Destructor dominion over the Earth[edit]

Character Class Series Model Gender Brief
Backfire Destructor Rammor n/a Male Unlucky, efforts to help always backfire
Cricket Destructor scout n/a Male Deadeye's excitable deaf-mute scout
Deadeye Destructor Cosmittor Demolishor Male Blind killer with the soul of a poet
Gouge Destructor Wastor Spiked Ream Male Sadistic, ill-tempered, uses his ream for destruction
Grub Destructor Trashor n/a Male Lazy scavenger
Motormouth Protector Rammor n/a Male Messenger, talks far too much
Scrapper Destructor Trashor n/a Male Gung-ho, would rather fight than work
Slaughter Steelgrave Destructor Wastor Vibro-Chisel Male Tyrannical leader of the Destructors
Speedtrap Destructor Starrunner Sky Fighter Female Erratic, dangerloving high-speed shapeshifter

The second series, did not appear in the comics, allegiance not definite[edit]

Character Class Series Model Gender Brief
Bolar Destructor Wastor Thrash Whip  ? A formidable warrior in search of the perfect opponent
Clawgut Destructor Wastor Pincer  ? Spiteful and cowardly, quick to instigate trouble for others
Flashfist Protector Wastor Pulsar Laser Male A battery in Waster form; uses his enemies' own energies against them
Ripsaw Protector Wastor Blade Shield Male On a quest for truth, fights only to protect others
Slice Destructor Wastor Double Axe Male Strict spoilsport, loves inflicting punishment on his enemies
Twinblade Protector Wastor Cross Saw Male Brilliant artist, loves his own work more than the Protectors' cause
Twinhorn Destructor Stalkor Laser Tongue  ? Enforces all Destructor regulations, supports any Destructor that uses it for travel
Windstorm Protector Vultor n/a Female High-speed and airborne, she is a useful spy vehicle and a hopeless snitch

Comics[edit]

  • Mini-comics
1. Deadeye
2. The Forest
3. Honor
4. The Trap
5. The Wall
6. Bolar!
  • Books with audio (Continue the story from the Mini-comics, with some direct references to events.)
Odyssey I. Tunnel of Doom
Odyssey II. Escape to Freedom
  • Full-sized Comics
1. Discovery
2. Under Fire
3. Assault!
4. Quest's End!

The Protector band sets off, pursued by the Destructors. Throughout the series, the Protectors have several disadvantages to overcome. They are programmed for non-violence. Until they are able to override that programming, they cannot use their tools as weapons even if they want to. Since they are not designed for combat, they have little armor and only a few, such as the leader Hot Shot, are fitted with cutting lasers. Most have tools that are not very useful as weapons. Finally, Slaughter Steelgrave brings with him Deadeye, a Cosmittor. Deadeye is a huge tyrannosaurus rex-style robot who fires explosive discs from his mouth. Designed to destroy the largest and most powerful mutant monsters on the planet, Deadeye is far larger than any Protector, immune to their attacks, and capable of killing large numbers in a single assault. His presence means the Protectors must flee constantly. It is not until they find the Guardian, the Stinger, and the Armored Battle Station under which Man sleeps, that those who search for Man gain enough firepower to mount a real defense against their enemies.

The mini-comics did not muddle who the good guys and bad guys were, unlike the comics, where the functions the Starriors were built for meant little to where their loyalties lay. Most notably in the cases of Sawtooth, who had always been sympathetic to the Protectors, and Auntie Tank, who questioned her loyalties throughout the mini-series before finally siding with the Protectors, too. The Protector Motormouth was revealed to be a spy for Slaughter Steelgrave as well. When the first human is released, it is decided that the Starriors retain their own identity and remain active amongst the humans. However, Slaughter Steelgrave remains to be reasoned with.

Animation[edit]

There is much speculation about the existence of Starriors animated material. A 1984 trade advertisement released by Tomy stated "There is currently a Starriors television mini-series in production to air in Spring and Fall '85."[1]

Uses of the molds in other toylines[edit]

The Runabout toy was originally developed for the Zoids line, but was instead released as a Starrior. As a result, the toy has a number of stylistic links to the early Zoids, such as the Bigasaur, as well as sharing similar labels and even carrying Helic Republic insignias.

Many Starriors figures and vehicles were recolored and released by Tomy in Europe under the name R.A.T.S. (Robot Anti-Terror Squad).

The molds for Runnabout and Speed Trap were reused, released in at least three color variations each, for the small japanese toyline Transforming Machine Beast Starriors (変幻機械獣スタリアス Hengen Kikaijū Sutariasu).

References[edit]

  1. ^ Starriors.com - Instructions, Promotional Materials

External links[edit]

  • Starriors.com Toy artwork, comic scans, "Book and Record" multimedia