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More Ideas for Films Based On Cartoons (Based On Toys)

‘Ello Nerdlers!!

This weekend, the third Transformers film comes out, and it’ll make a billion dollars, despite it probably being a load of incomprehensible bollocks. Transformers was one of my favorite cartoons when I was a kid and it hurts my inner child that they’re exploiting the nostalgia of a generation of nerds to make a quick (several million) buck(s). This is, of course, until I remember that the cartoon Transformers only existed in the first place as a means of selling more toys.

That’s right, friends; the toys came first. Same with GI Joe, Masters of the Universe, and Dungeons and Dragons (remember that shit?). In fact, some of my favorite cartoons as a kid were only the result of toy marketers wanting to increase sales. Later on, knowing the cartoons were so integral to the sales, both the toys and the toons were developed simultaneously. But even so, some of the best animation was a result of this. As such, here are five ideas of toy-based cartoons that’d be pretty cool to see as a feature film.

This show was one of the myriad of toytoons in which anthropomorphic animals (usually created by a genetic experiment) were hip cool guys who fought crime or something. Biker Mice From Mars was the weird example where they were just from outer space. It’s just such a ridiculous concept. Grown men-mice who come from Mars and ride motorcycles. It writes itself.


I had honestly completely forgotten about this short-lived phenomenon until just now when I was trolling YouTube (pun intended). This toytoon added an extra level to the commodity-mongering. In the early-90s, there was a resurgence of Troll Dolls — you know, the weird little plastic things with crazy hair, except they started putting little gemstones in their belly. Well, Stone Protectors tried to make these gemstone Trolls accessible to little boys by making them superheroes. And the cartoon intro puts them all into a band. Seriously, what the fuck? This doesn’t work in context, really, because I think this would make a crap movie, but I had to include it for the sheer cojones it took to think of this idea in the first place.

There’s no two ways about it: Silverhawks was created to be a space-themed version of Thundercats. It’s nearly identical in its setup and execution, but what set Silverhawks apart for me is how kind of weird and dark the cartoon was, though you’d never know it from the toy advert. Plus, I always loved the assertion that they were “Partly Metal, Partly Real,” implying that metal is somehow fictitious or imaginary.

This was an idea to make an American Anime, and I think it more or less worked. It basically told the story of Battlestar Galactica, where a federation of humans is being overthrown by beings originally created to be servants, in this case the genetically superior Neosapiens instead of Cylons. But what made it different, and easier to market for toy purposes, was that everybody flew around in mech suits, sort of looking like the loader Ripley drives in Aliens. I remember the toys being particularly expensive, and I was only able to get a couple, for which I’m apparently still bitter. There are so many characters that it’s nice that the intro let us know who everybody was.

This was such a cool innovative series, it’s hard to believe it started as Polly Pockets for boys. The toys were little, self-contained playsets where a boy hero named Mighty Max would fight various horror or sci-fi bad guys. And that was it. Later, though, they developed this series and spun a whole mythology out of it, complete with a prophecy, a barbarian bodyguard, and a guide who a was a talking chicken from the future. Sorry, he was a fowl, actually. The idea was that Max’s cap opened various portals throughout the universe, kind of making it a TARDIS you can wear on your head.

I hope everybody enjoyed this trip down memory lane, and if any Hollywood-types read this, I could probably have treatments for these done in a week. Except Stone Protectors, because that’s just a stupid idea.

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  1. Mike says:

    I enjoyed the Mighty Max cartoon…

  2. snug fly says:

    mighty max was like my faviorate show i still have the mighty max sega video game. i say full reboot .

  3. Ricky says:

    80’s cartoons that were awesome and should be made into movies but probably (sadly) won’t: Voltron, Thundercats, He-man/She-Ra, M.A.S.K., Silverhawks (as mentioned above) and The Legend of Zelda (obviously a video game and not a cartoon but still awesome). Oh yeah, don’t forget about JEM. You know, she was truly outrageous. That’s right, that’s how I roll. Don’t judge me, you watched it too.

  4. Chapin says:

    It’s not quite GoBots, but it’ll do.

  5. TalkingMute says:

    I was working at the Hard Rock Cafe in Miami when BMFM had their premiere party there. I didn’t think it was a good idea then and still don’t!

  6. Wade says:

    What’s there to get.

  7. Ryan says:

    Tiger Sharks & Rock Lords

  8. Liam says:

    My 5 would be:
    1. Garbage Pail Kids.

    2. GoBots (indie film version of Transformers)

    3. Tamagotchi

    4.Creepy Crawlers.

    5. Teddy Ruxpin

  9. DefconDan says:

    This was fun… I don’t think they made toys for this show but Galaxy Rangers was cool!

    Also the Might Max reminded me of my favorite Star Wars toy, their Micro World series:

    Memories… like the corners of my mind……

  10. I really miss Mighty Max. Even if they made it into some kind of teen adventure movie with Shia Le Oeuf (BAD PUN! BAD PUN!), it could still be decent. It was such an awesome series. That and Mutant League, though I forget if ML had toys before it or after…

  11. Venus2869 says:

    While all of your ideas are great, it should be a “girl’s toy/line” that should be made in to a movie, and that one is JEM!!

    With the great dupilicty shown in “Black Swan”, this toy line is perfctly ready for a movie. Dual identity, holographic images & special effects(CGI in this would be KILLER!!), music industry made-up talent, angsty rivals, internal love triangle…need I go on??

    Of course, we would have to worry about whom they cast & who does the soundtrack….

  12. Rik says:

    Exo-Squad would make an awesome re-launch. Yeah, it follows the Battlestar Galactica formula, so the bitter net douches would scream and post angry blogs against it, but it’s still an amazingly good storyline that holds up well with more than a few deaths, sacrifices, and surprises for an American animated series with an ungodly color palate.

    And Mighty Max was cool, but it was Richard Moll as Norman his bodyguard that got all the best lines. (And Virgil (the chicken) was a Lemurian, so technically that would make him from the past, not the future)

  13. Kyle Anderson says:

    Street Sharks I thought about, but I thought it was too similar to Biker Mice.

    Also, I wanted to put in Bucky O’Hare, but that cartoon was based on a comic book series, and hence not merely a marketing ploy.

  14. DrewL says:

    @Erik A – You would only be first in line if you beat me there. I’m a little older than the base demographic for that show, even when it aired, but I’d still love to see it done.

    I had completely forgotten about it until this article.

    Now that I think about it, there are some strange correlations between Mighty Max and Farscape… Nah, that’s crazy.

  15. Jen McCown says:

    OMG, I forgot ALL ABOUT the D&D cartoon…loved it! Intro:

  16. Samuel says:

    Street Sharks also had a cartoon didn’t it? I believe it did. I loved StreetSharks and Biker Mice From Mars.

  17. tj robinson says:

    I agree with Hunter. we need a street sharks movie. Now that nickelodeon owns the ninja turtles I think that jim henson’s creature workshop should make a street sharks movie using costumes, since the street sharks were basically a rip off of the turtles, they just ate burgers instead of pizza, i guess i could forgive them for using some cgi to show all the city damage done when they destroy blocks of concrete with their fins, and i always wanted to find out what happened to their dad. anybody with me? let’s contact henson’s people and whoever owns street sharks and get this thing going! it would be totally Jawesome!

  18. ericdano says:

    How can you forget GALAXY RANGERS? By far one of the best cartoons on, and it has a lot of potential to translate into a live action movie.

    Silverhawks and those others would be terrible. Galaxy Rangers. I mean, look how well the Yamato movie did as a big screen movie?

  19. Erik A. says:

    Sad to say but, if Hollywood ever made a Mighty Max flick, I would probably be the first in line to see it. -.-

    Of all the series mentioned, Mighty Max had the biggest draw for me as a kid. The writing could be a bit goofy at times but it made up for that with Norman. I could see it translating easily to a kid’s adventure flick. It had some nice horror aspects to it (especially in toward the end) plus the Cap gives folks a nice existing out if a scene gets stuck. It could work well as a film.

  20. Awesome… but hey! I’m a cartoon character. When are they going to make a movie out of me ??

  21. Nathaniel H. says:

    I guess here’s as good a place to mention it as any… seeing these commercials again makes me really happy that I get to see similar commercials for Doctor Who action figures on BBC America now. How freaking cool is that?

    Also, the voice guy in that Exo Squad commercial totally sounds like Patrick Stewart. However, if it’s the same guy as on the show, then it’s Gary Chalk.

  22. Joey H says:

    I loved Silverhawks! Man that took me back. 🙂 I always thought it was funny how that guy was playing guitar when he should have been flying the fucking spaceship. But oh well. 🙂

  23. Michael Bay says:

    I think Wade missed the point entirely.

  24. Hunter says:

    Great post, I think Street Sharks could have made it onto this list as well.

  25. JackBrown says:

    I thought about a Silverhawks movie a few weeks ago when i was watching Brazil. The technology was there 20 years ago to do it perfectly, i can’t imagine what could be done today.

  26. Nick says:

    What about Bucky O’Hare?

    Well, I think I only remember this because of the intro song.

    Or how about Bots Master?

    That show is ridiculous.

    I had some Exo Squad toys too:–frame/dp/B000K508QG/ref=sr_1_20?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1309455544&sr=1-20

    That was the one I had, I forget if I had others.

  27. PapaFrita says:

    I remember enjoying Shadow Raiders, a show based on the War Planets toys. Like Beast Wars and ReBoot, it was a CGI show with a darker tone than other kids’ shows. It has all the awesome spacefights and action built right into the premise. What more could you ask for?

  28. Wade says:

    Why even have movies based on toys? Especially toys from 20 + years ago. What a craptastic idea.

  29. Great article! I was a huge fan of Silverhawks, still prefer it over Thundercats. And Exosquad was by far my favourite cartoon from the 90s, at least one specifically aimed at children.

    I remember the awesomeness that was Dino Riders as well. They were, aside from Transformers, some of my first toys that I really remember wanting. Those and StarCOM, which I had the toys for but never saw the cartoon.

    Thanks for the great article!

  30. Brian Sacket says:

    I totally loved the Silverhawks, I had three or four of the figures. I also was only able to afford two of the Exo-Squad figures, so I feel your pain. Thanks for the trip down the lane o’ memory.