Marvel Toy Tie-Ins

Marvel Toy Tie-Ins

Neither DIC nor Sunbow will produce an animated show to sell your toy line? No problem. In the late 70s and early-to-mid 80s, Marvel ran several comic book series based on toys, typically those toys that didn’t have (or couldn’t get) an afternoon cartoon of their own. These series/toys included:

Now there were some Marvel toy-based comics that did have cartoons, most notably G.I. Joe, Transformers, Biker Mice From Mars, and Captain Planet & The Planeteers. And some of the above did have a cartoon mini-series, such as Sectuars, or almost had a cartoon series, like Starriors. Beyond that, some of these toys came with mini Marvel comics, again like Starriors.

Most notably of all, though, many of these series were quite good. From what I understand, the creators took these works seriously despite the fact that they were obviously commercialistic tie-ins. And it showed. The Micronauts is regarded as having a compelling storyline that went beyond the mere not-so-subtle advertising of toys, and so is ROM (I had a few issues of ROM as a kid and didn’t even realize it was a toy line tie-in). Several of these series even outlived and outgrew their toy lines.

Still, it is odd that Marvel would have produced so many toy-related publications, especially when those toys weren’t really the top shelf toys (sorry, Air Raiders fans). They way I see it, though, all that means is this: even the toy companies were saying, “Make mine Marvel.”


Doug is a child of the 80s who was raised in Ohio and is now living the life of oblivion in the bay area of California.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Actually, Visionaries had an awesome cartoon!

  2. But it only lasted 13 episodes. That’s not nearly enough to drive the desire for toys into the impressionable minds of latch key kids everywhere. It takes a five-day-a-week afternoon cartoon to do that.

  3. Three of these – Sectaurs, Rom and Micronauts – were penned by the greatest writer Marvel ever employed: Boisterous Bill Mantlo. I’m in the process of tracking down each issue of these series’.

  4. At which point, S.H., you must scan each cover and send it to us to share! :)

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