What Could Have Been: Secret Wars the Animated Series by Jerry Whitworth
The success of the Star Wars toyline from Kenner almost single-handedly jump started the collectible action figure market that helped give rise to Hasbro’s G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero and Transformers and Mattel’s Masters of the Universe. DC Comics wanted to capitalize upon the growing phenomenon and courted toy companies to develop a line adapting its properties. Previously, the Mego Corporation produced the World’s Greatest Superheroes line which incorporated characters from both DC and Marvel (which later evolved into Pocket Super Heroes following Kenner’s success with Star Wars). By 1983, Mego had gone out of business and Kenner snagged DC’s license. On the chance that superheroes might be the next big fad (as Tonka rushed production of GoBots to set the stage for Transformers to dominate toy aisles the following year), Mattel sought Marvel to have its properties competing for space against Kenner’s Super Powers toys. Previously, Marvel had worked closely with Hasbro to develop its G.I. Joe and Transformers brands including comics and cartoons to promote the lines. With Mattel, Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter envisioned a limited series bringing together the company’s most prominent heroes and villains. The toy company’s test groups demonstrated the words “secret” and “war” were popular with boys providing the name Secret Wars for the comic and toyline. Sadly, the series only spawned two waves of figures (with three figures dropped exclusively in Europe to dump them), ending a year before the action figure market bubble burst in 1986. However, could the line have performed better had it been accompanied by an animated series?