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Action Figure Comics Review - Sectaurs

Welcome to the second installment of Action Figure Comics Review, the series where we explore the comic book adaptations of classic toy lines of the 80s. If you missed part 1 where we explored the first issue of Visionaries, go back and check it out. Today we’ve got another toy turned comic that had quite a BUZZ back in 1985 thanks to a company called Coleco.

Sectaurs is a toy line I only experienced from afar, though the iconic logo and commercials that ran during Saturday Morning Cartoons left quite an impression. Have you ever seen these for yourself? There were about 12 serialized 30 second commercials with cliffhangers that actually picked up directly where the previous one had left off. Pretty impressive stunts with the toys and dramatic camera angles were used to make it feel like a mini-movie. You should really check them out on YouTube. Even with these epic commercial spots, all I could really tell was that there were good guy bug-people and bad-guy bug people who battled each other on giant insects, that were actually hand puppets.

Further research has revealed that this is another case of an animated mini-series being created that I had no idea existed. I managed to catch other toy inspired shows like Jayce and The Wheeled Warriors or Dino-Riders with no problem, I wonder how this one escaped my view? Maybe there were just too many competitors and not enough air time. Anyway, just like the toy commercials, the cartoon’s opening credits make a big deal about the Sectaurs having been created by a disastrous scientific experiment, which does not come into play in the comic (at least not the first issue), speaking of which…

I recently found this copy of Sectaurs: Warriors of Symbion #1 at an antique mall and decided 2 bucks was a fair price to pay towards satisfying my childhood curiosity about this ambitious toy property. At first glance, what I find most interesting is that this series was an official Marvel Comics publication, as opposed to last week’s entry that fell under the Star Comics label where they put most of their cartoon and toy adaptations. The reason this matters is that in theory the Hulk or Spider-Man could have popped up in the Sectaurs universe at any time, had it gotten popular enough.

On page 1 the story gets underway in a less than exciting manner as a village is being attacked for harboring “Keepers” or people that believe in the ancient history of the planet Symbion. This should be action packed, but it just feels kind of “blah”, with a lot of exposition from the ugly, insectoid bad guys talking about Heretics and false political pretenses.

One of these Keepers escapes the attack and in a surprising twist projects his astral form, Dr. Strange style, through a rock face to see the secret Hyve of the ancients within (I had no idea Sectaurs would have such powers). As he opens it, villains Spidrax and Skulk follow him in, turn on an old machine that sets off a violent storm that begins decimating the land.

I should also mention at this point that the captured Keeper entered the Hyve after reading the language of the ancients, for which an entire encryption key is provided on the last page of the book, along with a map of planet Symbion. Coleco and Marvel really did invest a lot of time in developing this world.

Eventually we get meet our hero, Prince Dargon of The Shining Realm who is battling a giant Sea-Serpent. It’s a pretty epic assault, but just as we start getting excited we’re right back to more character introductions and politics of the planet including the beginnings of a love triangle between Dargon, his loyal best friend, Zak and Zak’s betrothed future wife, Belana who has feelings for the prince.

Dargon learns that his long, lost father was a believer in the Keepers and is given the sword of the former king which inspires him to fight. Except that there isn't any battle to be had at this point. Instead General Spidrax and his minions to retreat back to their Dark Empress, Devora who spares their lives because she has bigger plans. And thus the rather boring story comes to a close.

Before my final review let’s take a look at the retro advertisement that sparked my nostalgia this time around. The back cover features a full-color ad for the latest Popples toys including Punkster and Punkity Popple (which are just awesome names). I had a Popple back in the day, but it wasn’t even a cool one like the Soccer ball variety being shown here, it was a pink and purple baby one. Which brings me to my real question, why did they think it was a good idea to promote a “girly/little kid” toy like Popples in a macho, action comic like Sectaurs? There was no way an 80’s boy shopping for battling bug people was also going to be walking down the stuffed animal aisle at Toys R’ Us, I’m just sayin’. (Note: This is actually the ad from the back of Visionaries #1, not Sectaurs, but the point being made is still valid.)

So here’s my take on Sectaurs #1. They obviously put a Tolkien-worthy amount of effort into building this new world of adventure and I applaud them for their commitment. The character designs were also varied enough that I could tell the characters apart. However, there was way too much exposition in this book and a slower roll-out of characters over multiple issues would have been appreciated. Plus all the political discussion was definitely way over the heads of the 8-10 year olds in 1985 who would have even bothered to grab it off the spinner rack at 7-Eleven, so I don’t know who they thought their audience was. I love their ambition, I just think they gave us too much, too soon.

So what was your experience with Sectaurs? Were you a fan? Did you memorize the entire Symbion alphabet to show your loyalty to the brand?

If you want some Sectaurs extra credit, you should click this link to read the review of the massive The Hyve playset that was created for this toy line as remembered by Matt over at Dinosaur Dracula/X-Entertainment. It’s a great read. 

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Vaporman87 Posted on Apr 11, 2016 at 06:09 AM

Sectaurs had a cool enough novelty going for it, with the hand puppet insects and the cool character designs. But in the end they just felt like a toy line full of Buzz-Off's relatives. Which really isn't that enticing... no offense to Buzz-Off.

It is nice to see so much effort go into creating worlds and interesting characters for the line. That is something that was still a novel idea at the time. Most companies would have settled for half baked and overused plots and stories. Nice to see that such a thing didn't happen here.

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