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Captain Power and the Merchandising of Brand

Video Games | Thursday, December 11th, 2008 | 8 years, 11 months ago

When I was but a wee lad I was as influenced by flashy toy ads and packaging as any kid, but when I saw commercials for Captain Power I was absolutely riveted.

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My parents were kind enough to buy the toy for me and for as nerdy a kid as I it was the zenith of awesome.

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The toy consists of a sort of light gun in the shape of a space ship, and a VHS cassette with a live action introduction to anime-stylized flight combat with which the toy could interact. Aiming and shooting at objects flashing red and black would score you a point, while simply aiming at obstacles flashing yellow and black would subtract a “power point”, of which you had only five until your ship was destroyed and your Captain Power action figure literally ejected from the toy’s canopy.

These low-fi YouTube rips don’t do the original justice, but to stand in front of a big television and guide and careen the ship in response to the onscreen action was really something special.

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In response to excellent sales the concept spun off into a surprisingly mature and engaging live action television series. The premise surrounded Captain Power and his rag tag company of “Soldiers of the Future” whom together battled Lord Dread who strove to “digitize” the entire human population (by zapping them, effectively converting them into computer chips which were added to the big evil central SQL database or something). The show stood on its own merits but was also compatible with the toys! Enemies would have red flashing zones on their torsos which would score you points, and they’d shoot yellow lasers which would damage you. It wasn’t anywhere near as seamless as the proper mission cassettes for this purpose but it was quite a clever work-in, without which I probably wouldn’t have been turned on to the show.

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