In 1983 Coleco struck gold with Xavier Roberts’ Cabbage Patch Kids. After the video game implosion of that year they moved forward with toys and dolls which had brought them success, leaving Colecovision and the Adam behind. By 1985 they stopped production of all electronics and focused solely on toys, board games, stuffed animals, and dolls. In 1985 they also released the short lived toy line, SECTAURS: WARRIORS OF SYMBION.
With the success of Mattel’s Masters of the Universe toys (which in turn was spawned by the success of the Star Wars toy line), every toy company was looking to create the next Sci-Fi / Fantasy money making empire. This made the 80’s a fantastic time to be a kid. We were living in a world were toy companies took chances, some paid off while others did not. The market was toy driven for the most part with toys spawning the cartoons and comics. It feels very different today, with most of the toys on the shelves being spawned by summer blockbusters, cartoons, and a dash of comic books and nostalgia.
Coleco threw their hat into the ring in 1985 with the SECTAURS: WARRIORS OF SYMBION toy line. Sadly their gamble did not pay off and they only produced one wave of the toys. There were only 5 figures (3 good, 2 bad) packed with their insect companions, 4 deluxe figures (2 good, 2 bad) that came with a large puppet infused insect mount, and The Hyve Fortress play set in this single wave. Here’s the back of one of the deluxe figures, in Spanish. It gives a good run down of the one and only wave..
Here is a picture of one lucky collectors collection.
Here is the “Origin” toy commercial and one for the Hyve Fortress play set. Interesting fact, the commercials were episodic with a “story” arc. You can find the videos on YouTube if you are interested.
I remember these toys being of great quality and having great accessories. Every figure came with bandoliers and holsters to carry their weaponry. The weapons were sturdy and ranged from swords and axes to pistols and rifles. All the insect companions had a feature like “biting action” or “water spraying”. The four mounts were also well made and all had a black nylon glove (some plain, some covered in spider hair) to puppeteer their legs and with a ring that would control their pinchers or jaws, some also had battery operated wings.
I had the bearded Mantor with his faithful companion Rapplor. Rapplor had a string that could pulled out so he could aid Mantor with climbing. The young and brash Zak with his fierce companion Bitaur. Bitaur had a button on his back that allowed him to have biting action. I also had the villainous Skito with his dangerous companion Toxcid. Toxcid had a bulb behind that let him suck up water and spray it out. As for the deluxe figures, I had two. The mighty Pinsor and his tough Battle Beetle. The Battle Beetle had two powerful pinchers you could control. And the spider-like Skulk with Trancula. Trancula had furry spider legs that offered not that much action.
I absolutely loved these toys. They were bigger than the average action figure at the time and they had a great range of movement. The arms were formed but they had ball sockets in the shoulders. They also had joints at the knees, which was more than He-Man had at the time. I am always a fan of holsters and stuff to hold the figures gear on them, and these guys had that in spades. The rifles also came with straps so you could loop them around the figures shoulder. I am also a huge fan of sword and sorcery meets high-tech and these toys oozed that charm.
Accompanying the toy lines release was a five-part Ruby-Spears cartoon which ran on syndicate stations in September of that year. I don’t really remember the cartoon but in those days my access to the local syndicate stations was poor due to having a crappy antenna. The one difference I notice between the toys and the show was the characters eyes. The toys portrayed them as a solid bugs eye while the show cave them a cat like eye. Probably to show character’s line of sight.
Marvel comics also produced an eight issue comic series that, as always, told a bigger and better story than the show offered. These are the only thing from my childhood SECTAURS collection I have left.
The SECTAURS: WARRIORS OF SYMBION toys only lasted for about a year but it spawned a cartoon mini-series, a comic book, coloring books, puzzles, children books, and dozens of memories that I’ll keep with me forever. Rumor has it that their frightful appearance and high price tag were what killed this innovated toy line. This is one of the reasons that now the toy shelves are full of uninspired movie and cartoon tie ins and wrestling figures. Thank god we still have Star Wars toys.