Monday, February 22, 2010

Shaka Shaka Shark


Sharkman. That name really just says it all. Without knowing anything about this toy, I knew I had to have it immediately upon finding it in some dead store stock. I need to check that impulse more often.

The Legend of Sharkman was a toy line produced by Beyond-Action Figures in the late 90s and inspired by the surfwear of Maui & Sons. I was a little surprised at how recent these were- you would have thought the toy industry learned its lesson about churning out half-cocked superhero toys by that time. The eponymous main character is based on the Sharkman mascot made famous by Maui & Sons. Per the backing card, he was created by the Goddess Hina to guard the islands of Polynesia from pollution and Green Manta, aided by his friends Maui and Iniki. Residents of Hawaii, avert your eyes. An animated series was in the works as well. Unsurprisingly, these action figures (the ones that were actually produced) went directly to clearance bins; I am pretty sure that Beyond-Action did not stick around for much long after.

Legend of Sharkman

Sharkman is a cool toy simply because he is a three-dimensional realization of the M&S logo. If you grew up in Hawaii during the 80s, Maui & Sons was pretty much everywhere. Sculpting is rather nice, if a bit overwrought. The figure does freak me out a bit though, because he really does look like an anthropomorphic shark- take off his surfer-dude shades and he stares back with beady little dead eyes (I've heard these were supposed to light up along with his chest logo, but the electronics were gutted to save costs). But he does own a surfboard, skateboard and snowboard (for that Hawaiian snow), so I'd wager him to be a pretty laid-back dude. You might have a problem when he gets the munchies after smoking out. There is also a variation with a yellow shirt (purple is his traditional color).

So how about those other characters?

Sharkman co-sells

Sharkman's right-hand man and best 'bra' is da kine local guy, Maui. Maui is the stereotypical fat local guy portrayed in nearly every series about Hawaii- but he gets a war helmet and club as accessories. Good thing none of the bad guys own guns. Maybe Maui is really the alter-ego of Sharkman (since the name of the company is, after all, Maui & Sons) but we'll never know. I can't tell if he's trying to fly the shaka or hitch a ride.

Sharkman co-sells

Iniki is the leading lady of this Faux-waiian freakshow. Perhaps the designers were not aware that she shares the name of the hurricane that devastated the island of Kauai just 5 years earlier. Although smitten with Sharkman, she cannot overcome her fear of him accidentally biting her head off during a moment of passion. We can only hope that she will have better luck with the cast of Baywatch.

Sharkman co-sells

Green Manta is the main villain. Why is he trying to pollute the islands of Polynesia? Undersea oil? Unobtanium? (Don't say spite. Don't say spite.) Spite?

If I were to peg a shelfwarmer from this line (beyond, you know, all of them) it would be Doc Toxic. No kid wants a toy with a robe. I feel pretty confident in saying that throughout action figure history, the robed characters are consistently the worst sellers. Hagar the Witch from Panosh's Voltron. The Robotech Master from Matchbox. You know the one. Eclipsed only by the unpopularity of the series itself.

"Hey guys, I don't know what to name this last guy. He's like a big lobster thing with a spiky paddle. I just can... OMG JUMBO PRAWNS AT RED LOBSTER! THE PRAWN. WE'LL CALL HIM THE PRAWN. Ok, let's go get beers."

And there were vehicles planned for this line. These all seem to have been canceled. Not unexpected, as the big ticket items would be first to go if the initial figures could not sell.

Sharkman co-sells

There are two spaceship toys, which I find kind of strange. The Sharkinator is probably the best designed- at least the only vehicle of the lineup that does not have an overwhelming generic toy feel. Oddly, it does not seem large enough to house any of the figures. The other ship is the Quazar Shark "The Quark." This looks like it could comfortably house one or two of the toys, so it has to be enormous. It also vibrates.

And the last vehicle is Iniki's Baywatch Barbie Beach Cruiser truck with the rather nondescript name of Free-wheeling Beach Patrol Vehicle. Ignore the irony of using a gas-guzzling monster truck to save the environment.

Sharkman was both a product and casualty of its time. Maybe a few years earlier it might have flown, however briefly. But kids were too much into their Tama-gatchas and Pokimans at that time to bat an eye at freaky action figures.

And I think you can safely say that Maui & Sons really... jumped the shark.


1 comment:

Lynn said...

Your commentary on the toys is hilarious. Maybe you should write for a TV sitcom or late night comedian. As always your faithful reader and know who I am!