The original Power Lords from the Eighties
By Zack Smith
Anything, anything from the 1980s can come back. Case in point: Power Lords!
Hardcore fans of 1980s toys might remember the Power Lords, a 1983 line of heroes vs. aliens from Revell, designed by famed extraterrestrial artist Wayne Barlowe. Now, Four Horsemen Studios who’ve done new toys of everything from the Masters of the Universe to the Outer Space Men, are reviving this lesser-known line – and you’ll be seeing the results of their work very soon.
The Horsemen have already launched a new website, Power Lords Return, which includes a detailed history of the series and a gallery of the older figures. In addition, it chronicles Horseman Eric Treadaway’s lifelong passion for the Power Lords line, and mentions how they’ll be working with Wayne Barlowe to bring the new toys to plastic life.
More importantly, the website announces that it’ll be premiering their figures at a special art show at the TT Underground gallery in NYC during Toy Fair in February – and fans can submit their own art and custom Power Lords figures for inclusion in the show.
“But wait?” you might ask. “Who were the Power Lords, anyway?”
The toy line and its many tie-ins chronicled the battles of young Adam Power and his friends against the “Galactic Goons” of giant alien-butterfly-horse-thing Arkus, including such bad dudes as “Drrrench” (guess what weapon he came with?) and “Disguyzor” (guess what his skill was?). The line is most-remembered for the many advertisements for it in 1980s comics – and for the bizarre sculpting of Adam Power – if you pushed a button on his waist, his body would flip around to reveal a different, blue body sculpted on his back, the heroic “Power Lord.”
Power Lords was one of the odd men out of the 1980s – though there were a variety of action figures and merchandise, there was no “anchor” movie or TV show that it tied into – this was just before Masters of the Universe broke ground by having a daily cartoon advertising it on TV.
The toys were in some ways ahead of their time with their innovative sculpts, action features and articulation (Arkus alone had19 points), though the limitations of 1980s technology meant that their joints got a bit flimsy sometimes. Also, the dark, alien look of the characters (not to mention the double-sided sculpts) might have scared off a few kids…not to mention their parents. Arkus might have looked creepy, but a skinny horse/butterfly thing wasn’t as instantly iconic as Skeletor.
There was a surprising amount of Power Lords merchandise, though, including a DC comic (the column “Nobody’s Favorite” had an amusing feature on this last July), and a video game for the Colecovision and Magnavox Odyssey, thus cementing Power Lords as one of the most 1980s toy lines ever. Here’s a video of the Odyssey version, which can be described as “shoot a giant cobra in your spaceship, then wander around blasting giant butterflies."
It looks like the new Power Lords line will take a different track than the original, with a storyline involving Mayan mythology (insert cheap December 2012 joke here), and figures at a 3 ¾ inch scale that will be compatible with the Glyos toy line, enabling fans to build all sorts of new weapons and weird extra limbs for their Power Lords.
Though I kid, I was actually quite fond of the Power Lords, and it’s very exciting to see a concept that never got to fully realize its potential revitalized by some of the most acclaimed toymakers working today. All I wish to note are:
1) If they don’t make a variant two-sided Adam Power/Power Lord, they’re leaving money on the table, and;
2) Please, someone bring back Inhumanoids!
You can check out more information at http://www.powerlordsreturn.com/. Anyone here excited to see them back – or remember them in the first place?