Wheeled Warriors was a toyline that combined creative construciton with action figures and vehicles, sold by Mattel in 1985. The short-lived, 13-item toyline was supported by a full 65 episode cartoon, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors. While the toys featured innovative parts that were durable, quick and easy to connect, and visually unique, the line had several shortfalls that led to its undoing. The primary downfall is that the toyline did not include any of the characters featured in the cartoon, such as the titular Jayce; the vehicle toys included generic “Lighning League” figures or “Monster Minds Brain Figures”. In the era of media-based marketing for toys (kicked off by Mattel"s own Masters of the Universe), a closer tie may have seen toy sales through the second series.
The mainstay of the series were eight vehicle and driver sets, four for each faction. The good guys, Lighning League, had vehicles themed somewhat around a sci-fi Mad Max aesthetic, with grey bodies and chrome engines and other mechanicals, and opening clear greyish canopies. The evil Monster Minds had vehicles covered in vines and sporting bestial faces, cast in dark colors, most with cockpits that blended in to the overall body. Each vehicle came with either a four-wheel or tricycle chassis that could peg on in different orientations to raise or lower the vehicle on any of its included three matching pairs of wheels. All these parts, including each vehicle's large signiature weapon and other parts, used a durable forked peg that could be popped straigh on or off, rather than twisting and pressing for a friction fit. The wheels rolled smoothly, weapons stayed aimed where they were pointed, and very few parts are actually broken when found today. All these accessories were compatible with any other vehicle set.
Supplementing the main vehicles were a handful of other sets, including two accessory add-on packs with recolored weapons and extra wheels, one for each faction. There was also a pair of motorized four-legged walkers, each with a ramp and flatbed car-carrier on its back. Strangely, the weapons included with the walkers featured a different, much shorter peg type making them incompatible with the regular vehicles. The final item in the series was the Battle Base, a large playset that opens from a carry-case-like vehicle to reveal inner ramps, cranes, and other features for use by the vehicles and drivers. The set included a tremendous amount of accessories, most using the same connectors as the walkers, and a few extra vehicle accessories recolored from the regular sets.
In terms of play value and quality, the series had few shortfalls. One of the advertised features was the “Stack and Attac”, which was supposed to allow vehicle bodies to stack vertically using the two pins for the chassis. However, the holes on top of the bodies were only space properly on Armed Force, making it difficult to assemble a multi-body vehicle beyond that and one other set. Beside that, most pieces including smaller accessories had numerous sockets for attaching and combining parts in very creative ways, and special connectors like the “Weapons X-Tender” and 2-Wheel Adapters allowed a number of monstrosities to be built with adequate parts. Unfortunately, the encouraged behavior of mixing-and-matching sets has led to frustration in trying to correctly reassemble sets in later years, especially given slight color changes between parts. The below list is thoroghly researched and all parts types, names, and colors are accurately placed.
Wheeled Warriors accessories are so ubiquitous in secondhand parts lots, that it seems impossible that sales were low. However, possibly due to the failure of linking the toys to the cartoon, the line did not survive past its first wave. Several toys were designed and planned for the second wave, including figure packs featuring characters based on animation models, but it was too little too late, and none beyond the below 13 sets were produced.