Air Raiders battle in the air, for the air. Artists:  Steve Geiger and Jim Sinclair.


Original medium: Collectible toys
Manufactured by: Hasbro
First appeared: 1982
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The trademarked slogan of Hasbro's action figure line, Air Raiders, was "The Power Is in the Air". This could easily have applied to Disney's least timeless feature, Victory through Air Power. But there, the words meant something vastly different. The Disney movie was pure military propaganda, pushing the idea that strengthening America's ability to strike its enemies from above was the one …

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… and only sure way to win World War II. The toys' back-story was about a villain who had cornered his planet's air supply, thus gaining power over the common people, who had no choice but to kowtow to his will in exchange for that which they needed for life itself.

The villain was Aerozar. leader of The Tyrants of the Wind, which may be the only bad guy outfit that actually called themselves "tyrants". He assumed power when a giant comet struck his planet, Airlandia, and destroyed most of the oxygen. Exactly how Aerozar and his henchmen managed to monopolize what was left isn't clear, but they did. As despotic rulers, they were naturally subject to resistance, coordinated by a quickly-assembled group called The Air Raiders. These rebels were led by Admiral Fury (no relation) and General Rokk.

Hasbro (Bucky O'Hare, My Little Pony) brought out the Air Raiders line in 1987. The line was heavy on vehicles, such as The Wind Razor, Thunderclaw, Twin Lightning and Man-O-War, all models of aircraft — appropriate, since most of the fighting seems to have taken place in the very substance they were fighting over despite its dearth of oxygen. Unlike most action figures' accompanying conveyances, these weren't moved solely by the player's hand, but came with air-powered launchers.

The Air Raiders were among the less successful toy lines of the 1980s. Possibly, that can be attributed to the fact that it didn't have a TV show to promote it. It did, like its competitors, Crystar, Sectaurs and Skeleton Warriors, get a comic book from Marvel, this one as part of the publisher's "Star Comics" imprint (Royal Roy, Misty), aimed at younger readers. The comics version was written by Howard Mackie (Hawkeye) and drawn by Kelley Jones (Deadman). It was full of air-related wordplay, like the rallying cry "Free air for free men!" and Aerozar's oath to crush local resistance "even if I have to squeeze the last breath of air from the village!" The Air Raiders' battle cry was "Ride the wind!"

The comics series lasted only five issues, dated November, 1987 through May, 1988. But if it and the toy line were racing for oblivion, the toys won.


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Text ©2008 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Hasbro.