M.A.S.K. was a unique toyline pioneered by Kenner in 1985, capitalizing on the rising themes of action features and transformation in the action figure market. Running concurrent to a two-season cartoon by DIC, the series produced four waves of toys before foundering.
M.A.S.K. toys centered around ordinary vehicles (scaled to two-inch action figures) which could transform to reveal hidden weaponry, armory, or even change into a different vehicle type. Despite not using die-cast metal, the toys were of a high quality, and detailed with stickers, tampographs, chrome, and rubber tires. Each vehicle included its pilot figure and a science-fiction which could give the figure pretend superpowers. The vehicles typically sported removable weapons, projectiles, and other accessories.
The vehicle sets ranged from low-priced motorcycles to elaborate converting playsets. All were packed in windowless boxes of highly varying size and shape. The popular characters were available in two-packs on blister packs with their masks, while unique versions of the characters were available in carded sets with transformable figure accessories.
The first two series featured an assortment of different types of vehicles, mostly based on normal vehicles on the road at that time. The third series focused the line on racing and stun themes, with the vehicles' disguise modes being various race cars, transporters, or stunt vehicles. The fourth series went another step further in engineering and fiction with the “Split Seconds”. Each vehicle divided into two independent vehicles for its battle mode. The second vehicle was piloted by a translucent plastic “hologram” version of the driver.
Despite its massive initial success, interest in M.A.S.K. waned during the third series, and by Split Seconds, the toys became quite scarce. As with many toylines, the last series found its way to Europe, where the toyline endured a little stronger, at least to the point that Kenner stopped designing new toys for the domestic market. The concept of combat vehicles disguised as ordinary cars and trucks was not entirely forgotten, however. Kenner would see the line become Vor-Tech in 1996, using many of the same concepts, and even many vehicles with designs taken directly from M.A.S.K.