Mel Birnkrant's
Mel Birnkrant's
All Original Toy Concepts, Written and Photographic content is Copyright MEL BIRNKRANT
Continue to NEXT PAGE                     Return to CONTENTS
          The “Power Patrol” was one of the worst concepts we ever did.  The year was 1988.  Now, twenty-nine years later, the thought of it still makes me cringe.  Not that I’m trying to spread the blame, I nevertheless, have to say, my partners were wholeheartedly onboard with this, urging and encouraging me, every step of the way.  Andy was a big fan of Judge Dread, so I more or less patterned our main character, "Sargent Speed Trapper,” after him.
          So what’s so weird about a bunch of “Motor Maniacs” whose legs terminate in wheels, instead of feet?  Can you believe that, at the time, that absurd premise did not appear to be over the top to me. 
        Sargent Speed Trapper of the Power Patrol was a fully posable action figure, but beyond that, he was the antithesis and reaction to one of my pet peeves, the fact that so-called “Action Figures” never performed any actions.  To my simple mind, names like “Monster Trucks” should naturally be trucks combined with monsters.  This tendency to reexamine common phrases, and take their meaning literally was commonplace to me, although, to some it passed for creativity.  Thus “action figures” should, in my mind, embody some sort of action feature.  And those ordinary dolls for boys, called action figures that didn’t do anything might better be referred to as, “Inaction Figures!”

There were no preparatory sketches for this concept, no pencil drawings, not a single sheet of paper.  I just gathered up a bunch of scraps and leftovers from here and there, and in a process that in my early model making days used to be called “kit bashing,” added heads and torsos of Super Sculpy, and put the whole concept together spontaneously.  Therefore, the objects in the case below are the entire presentation, those and an embarrassing three minute video.
          Here’s Sargent Speed Trapper holding his Single Wheel Bike Attachment, with a working headlight.  His High Speed Laser Rifle was carried in his remote power grip, strapped to his right wrist.
          That’s why Sargent Trapper, living in the distant future, has wheels instead of feet.  He needs them to track down bad guys like “Rex Road Ripper,” leader of the “Motor Maniacs.”  Rex Road Ripper’s legs also terminate in tires.  As bizarre as it might seem, all the members of Power Patrol and the Motor Maniacs are similarly dismembered and equipped with motorized power packs to help them zoom along the highway, armed with an arsenal of wild weaponry.  The rivets on Rex’s vest were made from keychains, embedded in the Super Sculpey.
        Sargent Speed Trapper needs a lift!  He sits on on Road Ripper’s Back Seat, and coordinates his back wheels with Rex’s for extra power.
           Oh oh! Rex Road Ripper is under arrest!  He hangs onto Sargent Speed Trapper’s Auxiliary Backpack Attachment.
          For the “ultimate experience” they combine their Bionic Power on the Two Man, Two Motor, Speed Machine!  Now they have twice the power, twice the action, and twice the fun as any of those so-called action figures concepts!  Follow them to the World of the Future, where Action Figures become Action Vehicles!
         Last of all, we come to the video tape.  It’s one of the first we ever made.   While I fumbled with the figures, Andy attempted the narration. The end result was kind of funny, especially the final combinations.  Everything about this concept broadcast the fact we were naive.  It is a perfect illustration of how to fail at toy invention, while desperately trying to succeed.
          I marvel that in 1988, this outrageous exercise in Road Rage seemed perfectly normal to me. Unfortunately, the toy manufacturing community did not agree.  The general consensus of the toy companies that saw this was that there was “something missing!”  Hmmm... Could it be the figure’s feet?   On the other hand, according to the product sheet in KISCOM’s blue book, they showed this to Fisher Price, Galoob, Hasbro, Kenner, Matchbox, and Mattel. They all remarked: "The styling is strong. That’s all!”