Welcome back to MASK Mondays! This week we take a look at the Switchblade, one of the iconic vehicles used by VENOM, the enemy of MASK. Once again, Kenner made a less than subtle jab at their competitor, Hasbro, by naming MASK’s enemy VENOM, a clear parallel to GI Joe’s Cobra.
VENOM stands for “Vicious Evil Network Of Mayhem” and mayhem didn’t just stand for causing trouble – it was the actual last name of its leader, Miles Mayhem, pilot of the Switchblade. Miles also wielded a mask called Viper, which shot corrosive acid, and had a very striking resemblance to another blue commander. Teasing aside, VENOM was not just a copy of Cobra. For one thing, Miles was far more of brute than Cobra Commander, and had more in common with a hot blooded southern oil tycoon than a terrorist with an undefined country of origin bent on world domination. VENOM itself didn’t care much for world domination, either. All it wanted was to get rich, and it didn’t care how. A lot of the time it would come down to stealing some priceless artifact from its rightful owner, and MASK needing to either stop them, or retrieve the item.
It turned out that this was the major innovation Kenner gave its line; they lowered the stakes to increase the fun-factor. Heck, a kid could even let the bad guys win a few rounds to keep things interesting. Sure, the members of VENOM were not good people, and maybe they roughed up those that got in their way, but they weren’t out to actively hurt people. They were thieves, or hucksters more than anything else, and Kenner’s theory would be that this would alleviate parental concerns about their figures casually wielding Uzis.
However, their toys were still armed to the teeth. The Switchblade was a dark blue helicopter that changed quickly into a sleek fighter jet. While the helicopter looked fabulous and functional, the jet looked deadly with pop-out machine guns on the wings and the ability to drop bombs on enemies. The colors are killer and honestly look more “Cobra” than any vehicle Cobra ever got.
Would this be enough though? Would Kenner’s gamble of taking on two toy-lines with a fun action-adventure theme rather than a war theme bring MASK into the top tier of toy history? Probably not. Come back again next week and we will find out why you may not remember MASK’s epic fight with VENOM.