Split Seconds: Origins And Theories

As I've mentioned before, the M.A.S.K. "Split Seconds" toyline really intrigues me. I've never really found any information into the origin of the toyline or why Kenner deviated yet again from the original concept. But even with mystery still surrounding the 4th series of M.A.S.K. toys, we fans can still follow the clues to our own theories...and that's what we plan to discuss on our next MASKast Chat podcast!

We want your theories and ideas about the Split Seconds series. Here are a few topics we want to explore:
  • Clone Figures - What was their purpose? Were they controlled by the agents? Why does the box art show them just in the flying vehicles?
  • Two-part Vehicles - Why does each vehicle split into both air and ground vehicles? Why did they use a clone instead of two agents?
  • USA vs European Versions- Why was Barracuda's name changed to Jackal? Why did the European boxes not use the Split Seconds logo?
  • Agents - Why were more 2nd tier agents used instead of originals like Brad Turner and Sly Rax? Why did Glora Baker finally get a vehicle?
  • Media - Was there a plan to use Split Seconds in a new cartoon or comics? Why wasn't there an TV advertising campaign?
  • Thunderball/Ramp-Up - Why weren't these vehicles ever produced?
Some of you may have more questions, ideas, or insight in Split Seconds and we'd love to hear it! Please leave a comment to this post below or better yet, join us for our chat next week! Bookmark our Google Hangout for our chat about Split Seconds and join us next Tuesday night, June 30.

In the meantime, check out this promo poster for a little inspiration (click images to enlarge) and be sure to leave your thoughts for our discussion!
Split Seconds: Origins And Theories Split Seconds: Origins And Theories Reviewed by Jason Gross on 12:17:00 PM Rating: 5

13 comments:

  1. Clones: I think it's because of the nature of the transformations of the splitting vehicles. Why the boxart is the other way around is beyond me, it's just not logical.

    Two-part vehicles: I think it's just simple: they (Kenner) wanted to try somethng new to keep kids interested in M.A.S.K., but I think it's just ironic. In my opinion they would do just fine with a new line of 'normal' vehicles. Even back in the day Split Seconds never had the same appeal as the classic vehicles.

    US/European: The Jackal/Barracuda names could be a rights thing. Bandit was called Bullit and Bulldog Bulldoze. The boxart was more like the classic vehicles, featuring a landscape instead of a grid, but why the Split Seconds logo was omitted... I have no idea...

    Agents: I think it's a nice balance from tier one and two agents. But I'd love to see some new agents. It would be a nice twist to see a former M.A.S.K. or V.E.N.O.M. agents on the other side.

    Media: I'm curious about that too, especially a cartoon. Was it in development? How far? Storyboards? Backstory? Someone should know something....

    Thunderball/Ramp-up: They were the oddballs in this whole line-up. Even if there was a cartoon, to my opinion they would feel out of place in the whole Split Seconds theme. They should've been released with the Racing Series (or a hypothetical second tier Racing Series)

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  2. Has anyone noticed how many of the vehicle names were recycled from Centurions?

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  3. I always assumed the Clones were controlled by the Agents. Like the high tech equivalent of Multiple Man from X-Men.

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  4. Well as big of a mask fan as I was this set was one set I never had. I had to leave all my mask stuff behind when I moved. Through I was way over 21 but still had all my mask items. I would have loved to have had some of these items.

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  5. Whoa, i wished they extended that era!

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  6. My feeling is that the seconds or clones are holograms of the driver to pilot the air vehicle as either an attack or distraction element. A cartoon of the series would have been interesting and fun. I really like a previous comment about having a defection from one of the teams or possibly a double agent kind of like Punch/Counter-Punch from transformers. They could have a car with shifting panels to change the vehicle from bad to good as well as the figure. The Ramp-Up and Thunderball are most certainly carry overs from the Racing Series. A Gloria Baker figure is an interesting one. One can only think she and possibly Shark were slated for the Racing Series, but was moved to the Split Seconds and a vehicle change to go with said change. Unfortunately! Maybe Hasbro or a third party will give us a real shark one day, but I'm sure that topics for another time. Keep up the great work guys! Love the site!

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  7. I'm only a fan and have no insight into the origins of the Split Seconds series, but as a fan and collector, I'd like to offer some observations and opinions about Split Seconds:

    -This is the only wave of the toys to feature no new characters (aside from Gloria Baker, who was featured in numerous episodes but had yet to be made in toy form!)

    -Gloria's mask is called New Collider, which suggests that her Aura mask would have been called "Collider" if Shark had been produced. I don't know why the name would have changed.

    -Collider seems to have the largest number of variants of any mask: Yellow/red and transparent gray (with Stiletto), and three black/gold variants (included with Miles and Maximus Mayhem in some rare Buzzards, European two figure packs, and a Racing Arena variant). Some have red or green dots, others have no dot at all and are referred to as "no-dot Colliders".

    -Strangely, the New Colliders seem to fit both Mayhems very well. . . o_O

    -Stiletto is the only vehicle which shares its name with another mask (which suggests to me that Kenner were running out of ideas!)

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    1. -Miles Mayhem from Wolfbeast was also included in some rare later versions of the Venom's Revenge adventure packs.

      -Wolfbeast Mayhem has a new head sculpt - I believe that this is the only instance of a new head sculpt for an old character.

      -In spite of the Venom's Revenge release of Wolfbeast Mayhem, it is very hard to find this version of the character complete with his New Viper mask.

      -The above, I believe, would be probably due to a number of factors: Limited release of both Wolfbeast and the alternate Venom's Revenge pack, the fact that the helmet does not fit particularly well (it falls off, and is therefore lost easily), and the fact that the plastic that most Split Seconds masks were made of has a tendency to dry out, harden, and fall apart. Unfortunate, considering how collectible this series is, and how durable and well-fitting previous masks had been! (e.g. I don't think you will ever see a half of a Lava Shot or Ultraflash for sale on Ebay. I could be wrong.)

      -Somebody on Ebay (from China, in around 2008, IIRC) was selling unreleased Wolfbeast Mayhems with Dusty Hayes (Afterburner) legs and New Viper masks. The New Vipers were a slightly whiter shade of gray. Unfortunately I missed all of these by the time I started collecting M.A.S.K. toys again. Damn and blast!

      -New Magna Beam is very hard to find as well, I believe it is due to the fact that it did not fit well (easily lost) and it also tends to dry out and break easily. (I speak from experience.)

      -New Magna Beam is very fish-like in appearance, which leads me to believe that the proper name of Bruno's vehicle is Barracuda, not Jackal, (although Jackal would have made an awesome name for another vehicle!)

      -It appears that New Magna Beam should actually have an opening in the front. If you look closely, Bruno's eyebrows, eyes, and the bridge of his nose appear to be looking out from the "mouth" of the "fish".

      -Vor-tech's "Road Heat" seems to me to be a cousin of Barracuda, and I think it may be close to what Barracuda would have been like without the "splitting" function.

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    2. -Vandal was originally called Bobcat in the box concept art and in an archive list from Kenner's vaults. The real life vehicle it was modeled after is also known as a Bobcat.

      -Vandal's bomb's are miniature versions of Vampire's bombs, which is interesting considering that Floyd Malloy drives both vehicles (and they both start with a "V".) (This similarity does not appear in any other M.A.S.K. toy
      * , and suggests that there was at least some thought behind it.)
      ~(side note) Other recycled pieces include the gun from The Collector, (included and enlarged in Hornet from Laser Command) and the turret from Boulder Hill, (modified for Billboard Blast.) The lifting mechanism from Wildkat is reused in Vor-tech's Blazin' Fury. Possibly also several wheels and tires for Rhino, Outlaw and Bulldog are the same, but I haven't compared them yet, sorry. :( I am unaware of any other recycled parts in M.A.S.K. or Vor-tech.

      -Floyd's New Buckshot is very reptilian, and very grotesque - it has "eyes" hanging from it, which also become the "eyes" on Floyd's skull outfit.

      -The designs for this series, especially the VENOM agents, are very outlandish and creative, (and in the case of Malloy and Mayhem, very grotesque, depicting a skull and a beetle) but are unfortunately very under-painted - Dusty (especially), Julio, Miles, Floyd, and Matt could have benefitted from a little more paint detailing.

      -Dusty Hayes is the only character to get a repaint in the Racing series (Billboard Blast) and a new vehicle (Afterburner) in Split Seconds.
      ~(side note) in the cartoon, Dusty appears to be wearing his normal Gator outfit in Billboard Blast, but Sly Rax and Alex Sector are recolored to (almost) match the toys. But I digress. . . Oh yeah, have I mentioned that Dusty could have used a few more colors?

      -Julio Lopez drives Fireforce, and his older vehicle was called Firefly (*but they share no design similarities). Coincidence?

      -Fireforce is the only Split Seconds vehicle that can actually accommodate both figures in vehicle mode.

      -There is no "gold chrome" variant of Fireforce - it is an effect of aging. You wouldn't want to spend extra money on a Yellow Stiletto, now, would you?

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  8. -Skybolt is almost an exact copy (concept-wise) of Meteor from the Racing Series, (and another suggestion that Kenner were running out of ideas.)

    -It would appear that Thunderball and Ramp Up were ready for production before Skybolt was, but Skybolt was eventually released while the others were shelved. Thunderball and Ramp Up appeared in promo catalogs and posters before Skybolt. (
    -==>"Coming Spring '88!" Yeah, where's my Thunderball?)

    -Thunderball and Ramp Up were very similar in concept to the Racing Series' Pitstop Catapult, Billboard Blast, and The Collector, but Hondo and Cliff would have gotten new outfits rather than repaints. (side note - And I would love to have both of them!)

    -There is a pencil concept drawing (somewhere on the internet) of the box art for Ramp Up which depicts two Hondos, which suggests to me that they were toying (no pun intended) with the idea to include clones with Ramp Up and (maybe) Thunderball. Not sure how that would work, though.

    -The overall design of Dynamo was almost entirely reused for an unreleased toy from the Vor-tech series called Head Hunter. The engine block/propeller seems to be an exact copy.
    ~(opinion) what the heck is Dynamo supposed to be, anyway? An "off-road vehicle"? Unlike any I've ever seen before!

    -Calhoun Burns and Nash Gorey got neither a Racing Series nor Split Seconds vehicle. Sly Rax and Alex Sector only got repaints. Hondo MacLean and Ace Riker are the only non-leaders to receive alternate vehicles and masks during the run of the cartoon. (Firecracker with Blaster/Hurricane with Blaster II and Slingshot with Ricochet/Meteor with Cruise Control, respectively). Had Ramp Up been released, Hondo would have been the only character aside from Matt Trakker and Miles Mayhem to have more than two different costumes (not counting repaints).

    -In addition to that, no character introduced in the Racing Series was given a second vehicle/mask for Split Seconds.

    -There was another possible fifth wave of toys which featured android infiltrators with recolored masks, but this was shelved. (Somebody with connections and money has a Jacques LaFleur with a kitbashed "droid" head and a blue Lava Shot mask, but I can't remember who it is!)

    -In my opinion, this series of toys was released hurriedly, as an afterthought. There seems to be no rhyme or reason for it, and the poor design of the vehicles, the poor fitting and badly-made masks, the under-painted figures, and the total lack of promotion in cartoons or comics indicates (to me, anyway) that Kenner were trying to wring a few more dollars out of a concept that had (possibly) run its course. In spite of this, I would have loved to have seen a fifth wave, whether another Split Seconds series (clones for Calhoun and Nash?!), a return to the old style, or some other concept entirely. Ideally for me, Split Seconds would have been released as a second Racing Series Wave - Stiletto, Wolfbeast, Fireforce, Afterburner, Barracuda, and Skybolt all look awesome in their vehicle modes and probably could have been amazing as Racing vehicles, without the splitting function. Only Vandal and Dynamo are the real turkeys of the line - they don't look great in vehicle mode and their attack modes are laughable! (Detonator may be great in the eyes of some, but I think it's fugly - notice that I don't think enough of that one to even mention it in any of the above comments!)

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    1. Dynamo also featured a slight variation: Red clasps in the box art and promotional booklets as opposed to the black clasps in the production models.

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  9. Honest to God(s) (or Goddesses, or whatever you do or don't believe in) I would have loved for M.A.S.K. to have continued in any way, shape, or form. It broke my heart when the toys disappeared from the stores, and the show from the airwaves, long before the advent (and availability) of ebay, cable, and DVD.

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  10. I actually quite like this series. Some of the vehicles are a bit crazy like Afterburner, Dynamo and Jackal. I don't know if anybody else noticed this but most of the vehicles in the Split Seconds line are mostly rear engined or mid-engined. The only vehilce in the line that is Wolfbeast. Also I noticed that Wolfbeast and Detonator were licenced by both Chevrolet and VW. You can see the VW logo on Detonator and the famous crossed flags on split windows of Wolfbeast.

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