Symbion warriors at war. Artist: Mark Texeira.


Original medium: Toys
Produced by: Coleco
First Appeared: 1984
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By the 1980s, the success of He-Man, Micronauts and others of that nature was making it apparent that the surest path to success in the toy industry was through coordinated media campaigns, where the toys and the stories support each other, making the property into a lucrative superstar in both areas. Coleco, a …

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… leather company that got into toys and video games during that decade, demonstrated its realization of that reality by introducing Sectaurs in 1984 as a toy line, 1985 as a Marvel comic book, and 1986 as a syndicated TV cartoon (tho promotional comics and animated commercials had been there from the start.)

The toy aspect was a collection of action figures, i.e., dolls, but designed to act out action-packed scenarios rather than tea parties. For that to work, you needed to know how the characters related to one another, which is why every action figure line had a back-story. Sectaurs (which was subtitled "Warriors of Symbion") had a back-story set on the planet Symbion, which at some time in the past had suffered a failed genetic experiment, resulting in land-dwelling arthropods (insects, spiders, et al.) growing to enormous size, while humans developed insect-like characteristics.

On Symbion, Prince Dargon ruled The Shining Realm of Prosperon, where the good guys lived. The bad guys came from The Dark Domain of Synax, which was ruled by Empress Devora. At issue was The Hyve (currently held by Synax), a fortress left behind by an ancient civilization, where the key to ultimate power was to be found. Adding spice to the play was a telepathic link between each Warrior of Symbion and his steed, a so-called "insectoid", a species of local fauna. Man and beast were so close, they even shared pleasure and pain with each other.

The story, as well as others springing from it, was told in the comic book, which Marvel published for eight bimonthly issues starting with a cover date of June, 1985. Bill Mantlo (Alpha Flight) wrote the story, and Mark Texeira (Black Panther) did the art. Mantlo stuck with it for the duration of the series, but Texeira was replaced by Steve Geiger (Doc Samson) as of the third issue.

But a different version of the story was used in the five-episode animated mini-series, which started March 1, 1986. There, the genetic mishap occurred on-stage, and its results included Spidrax, who organized similar mutants into The Terror Troops, and harbored ambitions of using them to destroy the universe. The chastened scientists then created the relatively humanoid characters to oppose Spidrax. This series was produced by Ruby-Spears, the outfit that did Thundarr the Barbarian. Voice talent heard in he show included Arthur Burghardt (Venom in Ultimate Spider-Man), Dan Gilvezan (Cooler in Pound Puppies) and Peter Cullen (Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh).

But this version wasn't as successful as the first, because by then, the line had pretty much run its course. Even Coleco is no more — its assets have been acquired by Hasbro, the toy giant that also controls My Little Pony, Transformers and many other properties. But Sectaurs, as defunct as the average '80s action figure line, isn't one of its major holdings.


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Text ©2008-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Coleco.