STARRIORS: GONE IN A SNAP

If you were a 7 year old at Toy-R-US and saw a line of robots with various pointy and sharp weapons coming of their bodies, ranging from giant jagged saw blades that would cut a car in half to rotating drills that could pierce through solid steel, your little mind would be blown away and like a fish with a hook in its mouth, you’d be on your way to being a fan of all things robot.

This is how it happened to me with Starriors. Released in 1984 by the toy company Tomy, which, if you’re a fan of wind-up toys, produced a number of windup toys during the 1980s and, most recently, would eventually produce Z-Wind Ups, the Starriors toy line was given birth and became another contender of the Robot Wars of 1984.

Consisting of a four issue comic book limited series from Marvel Comics and a six-issue mini-comic book series, also from Marvel, that would be inside the packaging of each toy, the Starriors mythos and backstory would unfold. Due to intense solar flares ravaging Earth, the entire human population went below ground and lived in hibernation inside a secret underground base called the “Armored Battlestation.,” with the intention that they would eventually resurface to the ground once the solar flares had passed and the Earth was safe again. In the interim and in order to prepare for the resurfacing, mankind and its scientists created giant artificially intelligent robots called Starriors. The Starriors consisted of three models or classes.

The first class of Starriors were the Protectors. Protectors were programmed to transform the Earth to make it habitual for mankind for their grand return. This meant that their purpose was to terraform the Earth so that the air would be livable, the soil would be devoid of radiation, and that there would be buildings, roads, and infrastructure in place for their master’s return. The Protectors were the good guys of the toy line headed by its leader Hotshot, and were identified with the colors of blue, white or light beige, and silver.

HOTSHOT, LEADER OF THE PROTECTORS

The second class were the Destructors. These robots were more of a warrior class and were like the Spartans of the Starrior world, who were programmed to defend Earth from alien attacks and mutants from the radiation. However, unlike the movie Sparta in which King Leonidus was the hero of Greece, the Destructors were the bad guys who wanted to destroy mandkind. Headed by Slaughter Steelgrave, the Destructors were identified with the colors of red, black, and gold.

The third class, and who really had no real appearance in the toy line, were the Guardians. These robots acted as caretakers to the humans while they lived underground in hibernation in their “Armored Battlestation.” Their responsibilities included maintaining the hibernation machines, making sure they were functional, and making sure that the humans stayed alive in the machines.

According to Starrior lore, these three classes of Starriors co-existed at first, with each one doing what they were programmed to do. Hundreds of years passed. However, the leader of the Destructors, Slaughter Steelgrave, eventually became jealous of his human masters and instead of waiting anxious for their return, he and his Destructors waged war on the humans by attacking the Protectors and Guardians. After the attack, most, if not all, of the Guardians were killed, the Protectors were enslaved and forced to do menial labor for their Destructor overlords, and all remnants and records of humankind ever existing or that they were still hibernating underground were deleted and destroyed. Eventually, the remaining Protectors, including its leader, Hotshot, and those Destructors still loyal to mankind, revolted together and escaped their captors in their attempt to locate the humans and revive them from their hibernation, with Slaughter Steelgrave and his Destructors trying to stop them, pursuing them all across Earth to the bitter end.

Each Starrior was a windup toy, and after you wound it up, its main weapon would then move. Hotshot, the leader of the Protectors, for instance, had duo-laser guns jetting out of its chest and they would pump back and forth after you wound it up. Slaughter Steelgrave, the leader of the Destructors, had a yellow crab-shaped claw that would extend back and forth after it was wound up. Twinblade had two crossing saw blades that would spin out of its chest, Cut-Up had a giant chainsaw that would spin round and round from its chest, Clawgut had two pinchers that would open and close from its chest, and Gouge had a spiked ream that would spin around. My favorite was Crank, which had a gigantic speed drill coming from its chest, and I would just imagine the raw damage that it would inflict.

All of the Starriors, both Protectors and Destroyers, had body parts that would join together easily, making all of Starriors easily interchangeable. Accordingly, if you felt like creating your own unique robot, you could mix and match the body parts, so that it would have different legs, arms, body, and even a different head.

Interestingly, the head of each Starrior was also unique in that each Starrior also had a pilot that would sit in the cockpit of its head. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Starriors had some influence over Director Guillermo del Toro as many of the weapons and characteristics you see in his Jaegers, you also see in the Starriors.

Unfortunately, just as many other robot lines in the 1980s, such as Robo Force, without a continual weekly cartoon tv series to remind kids of their brand, and with so much competition from other toy lines during that time, kids soon forgot about the giant spinning saw blades or drill that first captured their imagination. It wasn’t too long that instead of sales going up, they went down.

Almost as quickly as they had appeared in 1984, Starriors were no more and they were gone in a snap.

Today, however, if you’re lucky, you may be able to score one on Ebay for $20-30 loose, and that’s in a non-working condition. If it was functional, meaning the wind-up mechanism still worked, then you’re looking at upwards from $40-60 loose. Furthermore, if you still had the box and the box was in relatively good condition, then you’re looking at hundreds of dollars.

Why would Starriors, such an obscure toy line, fetch such prices? The answer is once a fish has a hook in its mouth, that hook will remain in its mouth pretty much forever.

MY COLLECTION

Do you remember Starriors? Do you own any? Please post your collection here. If you don’t remember Starriors, what’s the first robot toy or toy line that got you hooked?

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