You see these generic-looking super heroes? (The ones that look a lot like Playmobil?) They may look like true knock-offs or bootlegs of your favorite comic characters, but they are in fact a legit toyline from a legit Spanish toy company, Airgam.
"What the hell is Airgam" you may be asking? well, Airgam is a toy company that was established in 1976 and is best known for its miniature figures called Airgam Boys.
Airgam Boys photo courtesy of AirgamBoys.net.
The Airgam Boys had various series which included themes such as Space, Romans, Cowboys, Sports, etc. One such category called "Airgam Comics: Super Stars" was released in 1985... which leads us to these guys – The Super Fantastics and Super Diabolics.
They're a bunch of guys wearing capes, boots, gloves and what looks to be diapers on the outside of their pants. Not only that, but most of them are carrying guns. Even the good guys. I guess there's a higher price to pay for crime in Spain – a bullet to the gut.
Looks like the series more or less uses all the same body parts and accessories. They just get different coloration, paint apps and stickers.
Let's take a closer look at the figures shall we. We'll start out with the Super Fantastics.
First of all, what's up with that name? Ha! Sounds a lot like a bad English translation doesn't it? It makes them that much more charming I guess. And this type treatment is so funky. Looks like some kind of street graffiti.
This is a rough bunch of super heroes. You'd think they were over sized, floating heads, arms and torsos hanging out with miniature, heavily-armed little people. It's a pretty nasty-looking illustration – a weird mishmash up of all the characters piled on top of each other. The characters' scale is all off, and the characters which appear to be in the background are overlapping characters in the foreground. It loses all sense of this thing being a "montage."
The Fantastics characters I have to show you today are Stars Man, Bird Man, Red Masker and Captain Laser.
Stars Man, is pretty much a Captain America ripoff if you ask me. Although, since he's just a "stars" man, I guess his allegiance is the stars themselves and not necessarily to the United States. He could represent any country that really likes stars... or Astronomy.
Bird Man seems to be the Batman ripoff. He's got the big, bat ears... only thing is, he's bird man. Birds don't Have big ears like that. Not sure why they did that. They should've given him a beak or something.
Ha! Now we have Red-Masker... which is probably the funniest name in the bunch. If you can't come up with a good ripoff name for a Spider Man character then you shouldn't be naming toys. Ha. Why "Red-Masker?" Couldn't they have done something like "Arachna-Kid" or "Webbed-Wonder?" How'd they come up with the "Red Masker?" I can picture it now:
"Hey Berto... we need a name for this Spider Man-looking guy."
"Is he wearing a mask?"
"What color is it?"
"Why don't we just call him 'Red-Mask?'"
"I dunno. Seems too lifeless. It's not action-oriented enough. No real 'kick' to it."
"Well, how about 'Red Masker?' You know, he masks people and stuff."
"Man. Why didn't I think of that? The kids are gonna love it!"
(Damn. I went off on a tangent there. Sorry.)
Here's Captain Laser. This guy was obviously inspired by Cyclops from X-Men, but his sci-fi logo style and the word "captain" in his name makes me feel like he's more of a Buck Rogers, sci-fi, leader kind of guy. Plus, I love how happy he looks. He's probably the wise-cracking smart ass of the group.
Oh yeah, and look at this. He may be cracking a smile now, but if you cross him, he'll laser-blast your ass. What did the innocent people in that sky rise do to deserve the laser-beamed wrath of Captain Laser? Maybe some Super Diabolics were hiding in there.
Next, we have the Super Diabolics. I'm actually a bit intrigued that these toylines have separate names... unless "Airgam Comics: Super Stars" is considered the toyline's name. I dunno. Anyway, the same weird English translation thing goes for this toy title too. Love it. The style here is more reminiscent of skateboard graphics or tattoo art or something. So pointy and flamey.
And look at these guys. They seem a bit more unique/diverse and not so ripped-off (at first glance anyway). This montage suffers from the same weird perception of space between the characters. I like their dark and mysterious setting – surrounded by creepy castles, sharp mountain ranges and monster bats.
The Diabolics I have to show you today are Dr. Diabolic, Python, Piranha and Spector.
First we Have Dr. Diabolic... which basically means this guy is the leader. If you're team is called the "Super Diabolics," and you are doctor of Diabolics, then you are definitely the bad-ass leading the bunch. His mask only covers a part of his face for some reason, and it looks like he's even lost an eye in battle. He kind of reminds me of Mr. Sinister from the X-men.
Up next we have Python. Which looks like a weird 70s Dracula. I love the little 'stache and stained vampire fangs. If he's not a weird reptilian vampire, I'd say he's a retro version of G.I. Joe's Serpentor.
Here we have Piranha. I think he's the misunderstood weirdo of the bunch. I'm sure he speaks or acts in some way that any passerby would think he's "special needs." He looks pretty cool. Looks like a cross between an alien and a fish man. Good to see he has a trident instead of the guns everyone else seems to love so much.
Oh. And my favorite of the bunch - Spector. He's definitely the scary, mysterious loner who answers to no one. Question: What's more bad ass than a guy with a skull for a head? How about a guy with a skull head wearing a futuristic leather space suit. What's cooler than a skull-headed guy wearing a futuristic leather jumpsuit? How about a skull-headed guy wearing a leather jumpsuit toting around a big blaster. This guy has to be an undead space biker. He could've been inspired by Ghost Rider.
That's all the characters for now, but we're not done yet.
Not only were these little guys cool, but they had huge freaking playsets.
Here are a couple of playsets that were featured on the back of the packaging. Looks like a city playset with a giant spider web, and a big glowing bad guy along with the castle playset. The castle is kind of wonky and more fantasy-inspired than these comic characters. Just look at these things. Sure they're just cardboard cutouts, but they seem like they could've been pretty fun.
Playsets not cool enough for you? Well, in these pics you can see a lot of these guys had alternative figure versions which came with their own personally-branded vehicles. Looks like they had various airplanes, motorcycles and hovercrafts.
I happened to get my hands on this Red Masker-mobile. And boy is it a thing of beauty. Looks like a weird jetski-speedboat-hovercraft or something. Not sure if he flies this thing or sails it.
Also, notice the Red Masker that came with this vehicle is different than the regular one. This time his eyes are exposed, his costume's original web patterning has devolved to a generic criss-cross design, and now, he has his name written across his chest (so you won't confuse him with Spider-Man).
You may've noticed a couple of characters from the toy packaging that didn't get their time in the limelight. I don't have these figures, but I figured they needed a little mention.
Here we have the Super Fantastics' Panther Man. He's basically a Wolverine ripoff. They tried to throw us off a bit w/ that bow, but we know Wolverine when we see him.
And then we have the Super Diabolics' Bad Tiger. He actually looks pretty nice. Reminds me of a character you'd see in an old Nintendo Pro Wrestling game or something.
Note that they both have an animal theme and the same color scheme. Oddly coincidental.
If you happen to have these figures or know where I can find 'em, please get in touch with me 😉
And lastly, I wanted to share this vintage Spanish toy commercial for the Airgam Comics: Super Stars. You know they had to be legit if they had their own toy commercial. Enjoy.
Oh man. All I can say is I love these little guys. I'm so glad I discovered them. I never knew anything about them growing up (being the little American kid I was in the 80s). Thank goodness for the internet and my buddy, John, who hooked me up with a lot of these figures. Thanks John!
This entry was posted on Thursday, February 18th, 2010 at 12:21 am
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