Let's Explore These Vehicle Concept Art Designs We Recently Found On eBay!

Recently in the Unofficial M.A.S.K. Discussion & Trading Facebook group, I saw a photo that showed original concept art of the Outlaw vehicle. I was taken back that such a thing existed and I actually scrolled down to find even more pics! After commenting back and forth with some group members, I tracked down the concept art on eBay.

I was a little perturbed that I missed bidding on the art, but as I read the description, I noticed that they were just photocopies and not originals. But even though they were just copies, I still revelled in the M.A.S.K. history in front of me. Looking closer at the auctions, I saw that they were all series 2 vehicles, but with one interesting note. All of the concepts have "MASK Force" written on the pages which would lead me to believe they were designed at the very origin of the franchise and not after series 1 was released.

As a collector, I'm anxious to examine each one and compare to the actual final products. Some designs are very close while others incorporate unique concepts that never quite developed. Let's take a look...
Nightstalker aka Hurricane is my favorite vehicle so I was glad to find two concept drawings! The first (above) is definitely the earlier of the two drawings. The first thing that caught my eye was how the wheels fold underneath. This concept fits with the cartoon animation as they seem to fold in rather than drop down like the actual toy vehicle. The other drawings show how the windshield gun and roof turret would have operated. The noticeable difference with these drawings seems to be a fold-out seat for the driver to use rather than just the standup pegs found on the actual vehicle. No indication for the name of this vehicle, but with Nightstalker appearing in the show opening, plans must have begun at the original of the show.
This is the Hurricane we know...mostly. The middle wheels appear to function vertically and the grill guard, turret, and M.A.S.K. symbol are familiar sites. The headlight guns do still match how they were actuated in the cartoon and the windshield gun and driver seat seem to be carried over from the original drawing. From the notes, we can see this was a revised copy from Feb 1985 and the "Nightstalker" name has been assigned.
The original concept for "Firefly" appears to be have lasted throughout the creative process. These designs closely resemble the vehicle on the cartoon and the toy. The only noticeable difference to me is the spoiler on top is missing and the exhaust gun. On the toy, the engine has two exhaust pipes which actually just serve to fit the spoiler, but the rotating gun concept ala Gator is pretty cool.
Raven is another great concept, but it had some different ideas to begin its journey to production. Off the top of my head, I don't remember how it was portrayed in the cartoon (we'll eventually get there on MASKast), but I am familiar with the toy. The original art above shows two bays in the front grill to shoot discs while the actual toy just has one. The doors also seem to fold out to form the wings while the actual toy covers the entire t-top roof area without folding. The wheel guns are shown as well as the lifted spoiler engine for propulsion. Two other interesting details about this concept is the cargo net drawing that appears to be launched from the vehicle. Like I said, I can't remember much about Raven in the cartoon so I'm not sure this coincides with its weapons. Would have been a great feature though on the toy! Also, notice the name given to this design is actually "Vampire". Of course, we know Vampire as the motorcycle/jet driven by Floyd Malloy. This means that sometime during the creative process it was renamed seemingly because vampires are notoriously evil. With the vehicle being black, the Raven name change I think serves it well.
The "Tanker" as depicted here is what we know as Outlaw. This design is so different that it makes me wonder what happened during the creative process. I actually like these features better because the lofty V.E.N.O.M. command center that was actually produced was more of a glorified rocket launcher. This design shows fold-out doors on the trailer to reveal a hidden command center. There are also two hidden guns, one with a platform to be operated by a figure. The MAJOR difference is a tractor that can be removed from the trailer. It reveals raised weapons above the cab as well as hidden guns in the gasoline tanks on either side. Plus it has a hidden vehicle that launches from a ramp!! This design would've been the perfect compliment to battle Rhino.
Stinger aka "Scorpion" is another concept that seemed to make it through the entire production process. The only main difference I see is that the entire body appears to raise up instead of the hood remaining stationary and the windshield armor appearing. I do like the closeable t-top windows depicted because I always thought Bruno Sheppard was a little too exposed when in battle mode. The trunk claw also appears to be much bigger which if I remember correctly, is more accurate to the cartoon.
Slingshot was always an interesting concept to me and I actually like that it was further developed from this original design. It contains the tail wing/van spoiler design that it really fun. I don't like that the hidden jet appears to be on one ski and I'm glad they added the mini ramp to launch. I do like the satellite dish and command center feel that appears in this original design. The "Odyssey/Bullet Van" name it was given is kind of comical. Did Honda steal this name for its minivan? Bullet was later given to Ali Bombay's motorcycle/hovercraft, but naming each part of this vehicle is interesting.
The next piece of concept art is for "Assassin" aka Volcano. This one also closely resembles its actual toy design. The only difference I see is the rear door being able to open and I don't remember any satellite dishes. I wonder if they intended it to be battery operated or how that came into play with the designers because there is no indication here.
Finally we have Vampire which was first known as "Vulture." It also closely resembles the function of the toy and its animated counterpart. It appears the actuator button might have been the top part of the driver seat from the drawing rather than the small button that was placed on top of the toy vehicle.

Hope you enjoyed examining these drawing as much as I did! Would love to hear any more insight to these in the comments.  

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  1. Very cool. I would love to see more of these. Especially on concepts that never came to pass. There must be loads of those.

  2. Very nice to see.
    IMO the Volcano concept art is actually very different to the actual toy. It is much more like the cartoon version, and I must admit that I like this one much more than the actual toy version. In the cartoon it was a very cool vehicle IMO, but as a toy it was always a little strange, a much too big and seperate 'ground floor' compared to the van itself IMO.

  3. I wouldn't be surprised if Kenner ordered some of the changes to make the toys cheaper/easier to manufacture.

    1. Hello.:
      I have for many years a Japanese book about Studio Artmic. The book includes MASK designs. Artmic are the authors and designers of Mospeada, Bubblegum Crisis, Megazone 2 3 etc.
      Then I did an interview with Shinji Aramaki, who confirmed that he works in MASK and Pole Position as mechanical designer.
      I posted the interview on my blog (sakuga80.blogspot.com)
      But who is the author of these concepts? They are unsigned. MASK director divided the work between American and Japanese designers?
      The original American design was stylized by Japanese?
      Or the Japanese original design stylized by Americans?
      Or they have different designs?

      Regards. Thanks for sharing these images.

    2. Thanks for your input drmecha! In our recent interview with Sharon Noble, she indicated that storyboards for the cartoon came from Japan, but I'm not sure if those artists also did the vehicle concepts.


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