Mighty Max (toyline)
The original Mighty Max logo
Mighty Max was a series of toys that were manufactured by Bluebird Toys PLC in the UK in 1992, and designed by Big Monster Toys. The toys were similar to the earlier Polly Pocket toyline; however, these toys were marketed primarily towards young boys. In Canada and the USA, they were distributed by Irwin Toy Limited and Mattel Inc. respectively. The original toyline consisted mainly of "Doom Zones" and "Horror Heads." "Doom Zones" were small playsets with a horror theme and featured miniature figurines of menacing creatures and the hero Max, a young boy with blond hair, jeans, a white t-shirt with a red "M" on it, and a baseball cap (the color varied based on the playset purchased) which also always had an "M" on it. The "Horror Heads" were smaller-sized playsets, also shaped like the heads of creatures and contained miniature figures. It was later adapted into a TV series, as well as a tie-in video game produced by Ocean Software for the Super NES and Mega Drive/Genesis.
- 1 Story
- 2 Television series
- 3 Toys
- 4 Influence
- 5 Mighty Max revival movement
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
The background story of the toys was as follows:
- Max's dad left him 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 colour! 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!
In 1993, an American animated series was created based on the toys. After the series began to air, the characters Virgil and Norman and toys based on episodes of the series were added to the toyline to form a new series. The story on the packaging was revised accordingly, and a short-lived comic book series by Marvel UK was created as well. The appearance of Max changed considerably; he was no longer portrayed as a young boy but as a taller adolescent with longer hair and an untucked shirt, similar to his portrayal in the television series. The older Doom Zones, Horror Heads and playsets were re-released with the original story replaced with the revised one:
- Max was bright and pretty good at getting in and out of trouble, but he'd never forget the day he broke his Mom's mysterious old statue and found the Cosmic Cap inside. How was he to know it made him 'the Mighty One', able to travel instantly from place to place by means of time Portals? And how were Max, his Cosmic Cap and his two friends and protectors, wise old Virgil and fearless Norman gonna' measure up against the ultimate evil of the Skull Master!!?
Some of the toys featured a short comic on the back of the packaging summarizing Max's adventure in that zone.
- Slays the Doom Dragon
- Trapped by Arachnoid
- Terminates Wolfship 7
- Liquidates the Ice Alien
- Escapes from Skull Dungeon
- Conquers the Temple of Venom (renamed to Conquers the Palace of Poison in the USA)
- Tangles with the Ape King (Gargantua)
- Grapples with Battlecat
- Outwits Cyclops
- Stings the Scorpion
- Blows Up Dino Lab
- Caught by the Man Eater
- Sinks the Nautilus
- Bytes CyberSkull
- Squishes Fly
- Traps Rattus
- Lashes Lizard
- Crushes the Hand
Some of the renames:
- Mighty Max Caught in the Jaws of Doom (renamed Mighty Max Caught by the Man-Eater in North America)
- Mighty Max Blows Up Mutasaurus (renamed Mighty Max Blows Up Dino Lab in North America)
- Mighty Max Grapples with Hellcat (renamed Mighty Max Grapples With Battle Cat in North America)
- Mighty Max Stings Scorpio (renamed Mighty Max Stings Scorpion in South Africa)
- Mighty Max Saves the Kingdom of Gargantua (renamed Mighty Max Tangles With the Ape King in North America)
- Mighty Max Grips the Hand (also known as Mighty Max Crushes the Hand) (RARE)
- Mighty Max Lashes Lizard (also known as Lashes Geela Guts) (RARE)
- Mighty Max Sinks Nautilus (also known as Sea Slug) (RARE)
- Mighty Max Bytes Cyberskull (also known as Cyro-Skull)
Some more infos about the doom zones (Wrote by Himber from his playset webside spectrumisgreen):
- The available variants in the Doom Zones line include The Wolfship7,Scorpion, Ice Alien, and Arachnoid. There is talk of a Skull Dungeon and Cyberskull variant as well.
- The original 6 Doom Zones later came repackaged with a bonus Norman figure, and later issues of the 2nd series Doom Zones came packaged with a Bonus Hairy / Dread Head . Take a look at the packaging variations listing for more info..
- Recently, package variations featuring 2 doom zones packaged together has made itself known . Also discovered are some great Mighty Max 3-packs with multiple Doom Zones and Horror Heads together!
Heroes & Villains
A total of six figure sets were released, each including Max, Norman, Virgil and various villains and monsters. The first three were simply repaints of pre-existing figures that came with recent Doom Zones and Horror Heads as well as from a few of the bigger playsets. The second three, however, were all-new figures done in the style of the cartoon.
- Featuring Skull Master
- Featuring Lava Lord
- Featuring Warmonger
- Featuring Battle Conqueror (RARE)
- Featuring Medi-Evil Mauler (RARE)
- Featuring Pharaoh Phang (RARE)
- Mighty Max Against Droid Invader (renamed to Mighty Max Against Robot Invader in the USA)
- Mighty Max Battles Skull Warrior
- Mighty Max Challenges Lava Beast
- Mighty Max Defeats Nightwing (renamed to Mighty Max Defeats Vamp Biter in the USA)
- Mighty Max Fights Nuke Ranger
- Mighty Max Neutralises Zomboid
- Mighty Max Pulverizes Sea Squirm
- Mighty Max Versus Kronosaur
- Mighty Max Hammers Spike (renamed Mighty Max Hammers Ax Man in North America)
- Mighty Max Hounds Werewolf
- Mighty Max Survives Corpus
- Mighty Max Tangles With Lockjaw
- Mighty Max Zaps Beetlebrow (RARE)
- Mighty Max Crushes Talon (renamed Mighty Max Crushes Clawber in North America) (RARE)
- Mighty Max Out Freaks Freako (RARE)
- Mighty Max Rams Rhesus 4 (renamed Mighty Max Rams Hydron in North America) (RARE)
These were playsets considerably smaller than even the Horror Heads, and did not actually open up. They each came with one monster/villain figure and a Max figure unique to that playset.
- Zombie Commando and Jack Knife
- Mecha Crawler and Octo-Slime
- Gorillabat and Ape Warrior
- Imperial Dragon and Samurai Serpent
- Phantasm and Dr. Destiny
- Basilisk and Zilard Beast (RARE)
Hairy Heads (also known as Dread Heads)
Hairy Heads were only released on single cardbacks in the UK and Europe (where they were known as Scalps). In the US, they were called Dread Heads and released as bonuses with Doom Zones.
- Anthrax 9
- Razorback (also known as Razor)
- Skull Crusher (also known as Crusher)
- Eruptus (also known as Ruptus)
- Berserker (also known as Serker)
The smallest Mighty Max playsets ever, the Shrunken Heads had little play value because of both their tiny size and lack of a detachable monster or villain figure to pit Max against (the majority of the Shrunken Heads did have an embossed and separately coloured monster as part of the molding on the wall or floor of the open set). However, the Shrunken Heads did come with a Max figure, and, like the Monster Heads, it was unique to that set. The first eight sets were original, while the remaining eight were based on episodes of the cartoon. The first eight originally came packaged in sets of two but later were released on separate cards by themselves. They were also available as cereal box prizes in some regions.
- Bloodsucker (renamed Insectoid in North America)
- Lobotix (renamed Brainface in North America)
- Pharaoh's Curse (renamed Mummy King in North America)
- Venom (renamed Wraptile in North America)
- Rat Trap
- Meltdown (renamed Head Case in North America)
- Rok Monster
(The next 8 are all SUPER RARE)
- Skull Master
- Dr. Zygote
- Lava Lord
These were action figures which transformed into small playsets, based on the same principle as the Mighty Max Blasts Magus playset (see below) but on a much smaller scale.
- Challenge #1 - Battle Conqueror (also known as Mighty Max Defeats the Conqueror)
- Challenge #2 - Double Demon (also known as Mighty Max Head to Head With Hydra)
- Challenge #3 - Lava Beast (also known as Mighty Max Melts Lava Beast)
- Challenge #4 - Pharaoh Phang (also known as Mighty Max Strikes Fang)
- Challenge #5 - Medi-Evil Mauler (also known as Mighty Max Shatters Gargoyle) (RARE)
- Challenge #6 - Megahert (also known as Mighty Max Shuts Down Cybot) (RARE)
It should be noted that Mighty Max Defies the Dread Star and Mighty Max Takes On Terror Talons are in fact the same playset, but came boxed differently and with different pieces. For instance, Dread Star featured a total of six alien villains, plus a "Skelemonster Robot" and a "Scavenger Vehicle." Terror Talons meanwhile had only five aliens, and no Scavenger Vehicle.
Mighty Max Assaults Skull Master was the only playset for a planned "Mega Heads" line. A second playset, based on Skull Master's minion Warmonger, was planned, but never produced despite being featured on a free poster depicting most of the later playsets.
- Mighty Max Blasts Magus
- Mighty Max Defies the Dread Star (Terror Talons + one extra alien and Vehicle)
- Mighty Max Takes On Terror Talons
- Mighty Max Storms Dragon Island
- Mighty Max Trapped In Skull Mountain
- Mighty Max Assaults Skull Master Mega Head
- Mighty Max Warmonger Mega Head (Unproduced, completed made prototype is found)
- Mighty Max Doom Mega Head (Unproduced, with concept drawing, completed made prototype is found)
- Wolfship 7
- Ice Alien
- Skull Dungeon
- Doom dragon
- Doom dragon
Official known released color variants
- Wolfship 7 blue color variants
- Wolfship 7 skin tone color
- Ice Alien black color (renamed Fire Alien)
- Arachnoid black color
- Rat trap black color
- Scorpion golden/purple color
- Skull Dungeon with brown/gray face
- Horror head Corpus light blue color
- Horror head Lockjaw dark blue color
- Horror head kronosaur red color
- Battle conqueror gold/red color
- Conqueror shrunken head purple color
- Skullmaster megahead with pure black wing
On the trail of the popular Mighty Max, other companies would soon implement the miniature playset style into their merchandise for properties including Star Wars, Godzilla, and Batman Forever. Such toys would often feature a character's head as the unfolded playset and an environment familiar to the property at hand (i.e. Batman's head unfolding to reveal the Batcave). Galoob's popular Micro Machines line already bore a similar scale to Mighty Max and created a variety of miniature Star Wars "head" playsets ranging in size. Playmates also introduced mini Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles playsets in 1994 and continued producing them the following year.
Mighty Max revival movement
A campaign has started to revive the Mighty Max toyline, which Mattel has acknowledged in an Infinite Hollywood interview.
- Lawson, Carol (28 October 1993). "In Itty-Bitty Toys, Mega-Mega-Profits". The New York Times.
- Stevenson, Tom (19 October 1995). "Bluebird sets up Disney link xxxx Bluebird". The Independent. London.
- Pope, Hammond 1998: 84
- Pope, Hammond 1998: 169
- 1994 Playmates Toys Catalog NinjaTurtles.com. Retrieved on 12-13-08.
- Original Story was obtained from a 1992 Irwin packaging of a Mighty Max Doom Zone.
- Revised Story was obtained from http://www.omegacron.com/mighty_max/toys.htm.
- Mighty Max Playset reference
- Pope, Gail; Keith Hammond (1998). Fast Food Toys. A Schiffer book for collectors (Expanded 2nd Edition with Updated Values ed.). Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd. pp. 84, 169. ISBN 0-7643-0321-X.