M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand) was a unique toyline pioneered by Kenner in 1985, capitalizing on the rising themes of action features and transformation in the action figure market. The series pits the heroic M.A.S.K. led by wealthy philanthropist Matt Trakker, against the renegade V.E.N.O.M. (Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem), led by turncoat tyrant Miles Mayhem. 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-looking vehicles scaled for two-inch action figures which could transform to reveal hidden weapons and armor, or even change into a different vehicle type (such as a car changing into a jet). Most vehicles featured some sort of spring-loaded auto-transformation supplemented by manually positioned parts. Despite not using die-cast metal, the toys were of a high build quality, and detailed with user-applied stickers, paint, chrome, and rubber tires. Some vehicles and tires were even licensed replicas of real brands. Each vehicle included a pilot figure and a removable science-fiction mask which could give the figure pretend superpowers, as well as removable accessories and projectiles. The windowless boxes contained the toy sets, as well as mini-comics, calenders, or colorful product catalogs.
The vehicle sets ranged from low-priced motorcycles to elaborate converting playsets. All were packed in windowless boxes of varying size. Late in the first series or early in the second, the first-wave main character figures were sold in two-packs on blister packs with their masks, while unique versions of the characters were available in carded “Adventure Pack” 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 stunt themes, with the vehicles' disguise modes being various race cars, transporters, or stunt vehicles. The fourth series went another step further in engineering and in the 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, domestic interest in M.A.S.K. waned during the third series. By the Split Seconds series, the toys became quite scarce in the US. As with many toylines, the last series found its way to Europe, where the toyline endured a little stronger, prompting additional Figure Packs and Adventure Packs unique to the region. 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, including many vehicles with designs taken directly from M.A.S.K. More recently, the rise in 1980s toyline nostalgia has prompted Hasbro (who purchased Kenner and all its properties) to homage Matt Trakker as a G.I. Joe figure in 2008 and again in 2017 as part of the IDW Revolutions set, which crosses over multiple historic Hasbro-owned toy brands. There have been numerous rumors about a potential reboot of M.A.S.K. but so far none has materialized.