Crystar and Moltar face off to the death.

THE SAGA OF CRYSTAR

Original Medium: Toys
Produced by: Remco
First Appeared: 1982
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The 1980s-'90s nostalgia market is littered with action figure lines that didn't survive, from M.A.S.K. to Sectaurs to Skeleton Warriors. They generally had elements in their back-stories that are …

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… also found in tragic opera — kingdoms and usurpers, colorful heroes and villains, stuff like that. Crystar was based on one of the most tragically operatic of all — brother versus brother, a plot device found in such diverse series as Kobra and King Leonardo.

Crystar was different from most, in that its back-story was first written up in a comic book. Marvel Comics put it together with the idea of selling it in toy form. The comic book hadn't yet appeared on the stands in 1982, when Remco, one of the less major toy companies, got it into toy stores.

But it was Marvel that came up with the kingdom/planet Crystalium, where people's names tended to suggest something to do with rocks (which gave the line its identifying theme in the marketplace). Crystalium had recently been at war with The Demon Lord, who commanded The Forces of Chaos. A couple of important things came out of that conflict. One was the death of their king. Another was the so-called "Prophecy of Chaos" on the part of The Demon Lord, to the effect that Crystalium would soon be divided against itself, to the detriment of all.

Sure enough, before long the two princes, Crystar and Moltar, were visited by the Lords of Order and Chaos (no relation to the ones that play a role in the DC Comics Universe), requiring that they choose up sides. Crystar (the bright, beautiful one) chose Order, which, according to the prejudices of this kind of story (in reality, of course, life needs some of both), made him the good guy. Family considerations led Moltar, rough-skinned and reasonably hideous, to do the opposite. It was writer Jo Duffy (Power Man & Iron Fist) and artist Bret Blevins (New Mutants) who crafted the story to order for Marvel.

The most successful action figure lines, such as He-Man or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, had TV cartoons to bolster and be bolstered by the toys. Crystar (whose allies were called "crystal warriors", by the way, but unrelated to the 1992 video game of that name) did not. The story component appeared only in the comic book, which began with a May, 1983 cover date. To promote the title and the toys, Marvel packed it thickly with guest stars — Dr. Strange in #3, The X-Men's Nightcrawler in #6, and Alpha Flight in the final issue, #11 (Feb., 1985).

By the time the comic book ended, the toy line had just about run its course.

— DDM

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Text ©2007-08 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Marvel Comics.