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Mighty Max, Virgil and Norman ready for adventure

Mighty Max Toys, Playsets and Characters

December 27, 2021

TLDR

Mighty Max is a series of miniature toys from the 90s with a horror theme. The Mighty Max toys came in palm-sized playsets similar to Polly Pocket, but with much more gruesome vibes. Take a look back at all the sets from Doom Zones to Horror Heads.

The wonderfully icky Mighty Max toys are a series of small playsets featuring mini figurines of ominous creatures and the hero, Mighty Max. Naturally, 90s kids fell for the grim characters, outlandish toys, and exciting adventures Max embarks on. Mighty Max toys were first released in 1992 by Bluebird Toys, the same toy company responsible for Polly Pocket. And, like every great toy line from the 1990s, Mighty Max playsets gave rise to a cartoon series.

Like Polly Pocket, Bluebird Toys sold Mighty Max toys in the UK while Mattel distributed the toys in the USA. Mighty Max toys were produced from 1992 until 1996.

Kids watching the Mighty Max cartoon

A brief history of Mighty Max

The 90s were the golden age of television animation, and toys were responsible for spawning many of the decade’s favorite cartoons. Bluebird Toys was at the height of the toy space following the success of Polly Pocket. While Bluebird hit half of the market on the head, the other half (the boys) was still untapped. In1992, Bluebird came up with Mighty Max, a toy resembling Polly Pocket with mini-figures sold in a small container that also acts as a playset. Like Polly Pocket, the playsets were small, foldable, portable adventures that kids could take anywhere.

To help sell the Mighty Max toys, the Mighty Max cartoon made its debut on the coveted Saturday morning cartoon lineup. One of the most imaginative things about this marketing ploy was that some of the episodes of the cartoon would later become miniature toys – meaning kids could reenact the adventure they saw on TV with the toy-version anytime.

Mighty Max cartoon intro

The story of Mighty Max

Mighty Max toys featured a mischievous teenage boy with blond hair, jeans, and a white t-shirt with a red “M.” Max was left an old baseball cap by his father (presumably after he passed). However, this wasn’t an ordinary baseball cap. Max was quickly thrust into the Horror Zone. In this strange and unfriendly world, Max went on one terrifying adventure to another, collecting cryptic clues to defeat his adversaries and escape back to his homeworld.

Max’s greatest foe was the evil Skullmaster (who is still well recognized as one of the most terrifying villains of the 90s). Together with his allies, Norman and Virgil, Max must overcome the Skullmaster’s minions to save the world from plunging into a state of turmoil and evil.


A collection of Mighty Max characters

Most recognizable Mighty Max characters

Mighty Max characters from the toy line, animated series, comic books, and video games feature a few main characters coupled with one-time appearances from various villains like monsters and evil rulers.

Virgil

  is a scholarly bird and one of Max’s allies who happens to get frustrated by Max’s carefree ways.

Norman

 is an ancient warrior. The master swordsman helps guard Mighty Max.

Skullmaster

 is the main antagonist. The sinister, menacing, emotionless warlock trying to destroy the world.

Warmonger

 is Skullmaster’s number one guy. The brutish-looking humanoid beast with horns and dreadlocks is armed to the teeth with brutal weapons.

Lava Lord

 is one of Skullmaster’s minions. He made his first appearance in the large playset ‘Mighty Max Blasts Magus’.

Skull Warrior

 is a bounty hunter who attacks Mighty Max while cruising on his Space Surfer.

Scorpion

, also known as Dr. Scorpio, is another one of Skullmaster’s minions. He’s also the keeper of the Toxic Mine and rides around on his Scorpobot, a giant scorpion robot.

Venom

 is the Mummy King and an inhabitant of the Palace of Poison who rose from his sarcophagus to attack Max.

Magnus

 is Lava Lord’s insane creation. Half rock and half robot, it is on a mission to turn Max into mincemeat. There are a few Mighty Max Blasts Magnus Bluebird 1993 vintage boxed toys floating around the internet – if you’re interested.

Mighty Max Magnus commercial


Three 90s kids playing with Mighty Max playsets

Mighty Max playsets

The original Mighty Max toy line mainly consisted of “Doom Zones” and “Horror Heads.” Still, as the toy progressed, toymakers introduced several larger Mighty Max playsets, Mighty Max “Monster Heads” and eventually “Dread Heads” and “Shrunken Heads.”

Doom Zones

These are probably the most recognizable Mighty Max toys. Doom Zones are mini playsets starring several figurines, an adventure theme and were always packaged along with a mini-comic story. Doom Zones typically included a Max figure, a villain figure, and one or two monster figures or accessories. There were three series of Mighty Max Doom Zones released between 1992 and 1994, featuring eighteen playsets. If you used to watch Mighty Max commercials, they were likely advertising the newest Doom Zone.

Later Doom Zone Series 1 and Series 2 editions came with a bonus Dread Head or a Norman figure.

Mighty Max Doom Zone commercial


90s kids playing with some of the most popular Mighty Max Doom Zones

The most popular Doom Zones:

Mighty Max Palace of Poison

 – This particular Doom Zone with an Egyptian theme always comes to mind when looking back on Mighty Max toys. The Palace of Poison set comes in a shell that resembles a snake, and it was filled with spooky Egyptian paraphernalia like the Dead King Mummy figure.

Mighty Max Dragon

 – Mighty Max Slays the Doom Dragon boasts a medieval theme complete with figurines of the grand sorcerer Ravendark and the Doom Dragon, who breathes fire – you had to use your imagination on this one.

Mighty Max Ice Alien

 – Ice Alien has an arctic theme and introduced characters like the Cryogenoid, an ice alien who plans on using Max’s brain to complete his questionable creation, the Iceosaurus.

Mighty Max The Hand

 – The totally creepy severed hand with a Mighty Max logo ring still in tow opens up to reveal a spooky graveyard theme filled with skeletons.

Mighty Max Traps Rattus

 – One of the last releases in the Series 3 collection, this Doom Zone with a sewer theme includes the evil Rattus, who has begun operating his malicious schemes from the sewer system. The set also includes giant, mutated drain creatures like the Arak Nid spider.

Mighty Max Tangles with the Ape King

 – A jungle-inspired Doom Zone with the case resembling a mean-looking gorilla. The set is a replica of Zantar, the dark jungle, and includes figures of the Ape King.

The big playsets

The larger Mighty Max playsets veered away from the compact Polly Pocket-sized sets and moved toward more playability with less portable but bigger toy sets. The large sets often represent significant villains in the Mighty Max cartoon series.

Only four of the larger-sized playsets were released. Some of the more memorable large playsets include Mighty Max Terror Talons, which features alien-infested mega talons of some unworldly creature. Another fan-favorite was the Mighty Max Castle, AKA – the Mighty Max Skull Mountain Volcano. This is the largest set in the toy line, and it’s filled with features like a ‘skelevator,’ dragon lair, retracting bridges, a face-changing villain, weapons, a guillotine, and finally, a submarine bay. Skull Mountain seemed to have it all, making it one of the better selling large playsets.

Mighty Max Skull Mountain commercial

A personal fav is Dragon Island, check out the commercial below.

Mighty Max Dragon Island commercial

Horror Heads

Basically smaller versions of Doom Zones, Horror Heads often contained set-exclusive figurines with a standard Mighty Max figure. There were two series released with sixteen playsets in total. Some of the Doom Zones were mass-produced, while others were harder to find.

Kids playing with some of the Most

The most popular Horror Heads:

Mighty Max Kronosaur

 – The Horror Head with a prehistoric theme and mean-looking dinosaur. The Mighty Max Versus Kronosaur came with a buff club-wielding Cave Man and his pet Big Steggy, which is essentially dinner.

Mighty Max Zomboid

 – Zomboid is the Horror Head with a parasite theme featuring what’s described as a “repulsive brain-beast.” The set includes Zomboid, a vile brain creature, and his sidekick Sluggon.

Mighty Max Lava Beast

 – This lava-themed toy set features Lava Beast, a being Lava Lord uses to try and kill Max inside the Earth’s Core. The Mighty Max Challenges Lava Beast Horror Head toy comes with Lava Beast, the Energoid who plots to conquer the world from the core, and the Lava Beetle, Energoid’s creepy-crawly minion.

Mighty Max Lockjaw

 – ​​Lockjaw is a maniacal killer. Mighty Max Tangles With Lockjaw is the popular slasher-themed Horror Head from the bunch. The set comes with Big Red, a maniac lumberjack, who attacks his victims with an axe.

Hard to find Horror Heads:

Mighty Max Terror Talons

 – Alien-infested mega talons of some unworldly creature.

Beetlebrow

 – The creepy beetle-monster hybrid.

Freako

 – A circus-themed Horror Head with an unwelcoming clown and a “circus freakshow” inside.

Mighty Max Horror Head commercial

Monster Heads

The Mighty Max Monster Heads are even smaller than the Horror Heads. These playsets couldn’t open up, and each came with one enemy figure and a Max figure unique to that playset. There were only six Mighty Max Monster Heads.

  • Zombie Commando (with Jack Knife)
  • Mecha Crawler (with Octoslime)
  • Imperial Dragon (with Samurai Serpent)
  • Phantasm (with Dr. Destiny)
  • Basilisk (with Zilard Beast)
  • Gorillabat (with Ape Warrior)

Monster Heads didn’t have the same appeal as Horror Heads, Doom Zones, or the larger playsets, leaving Bluebird Toys with the decision to scrap the line after just one series.

Mega Heads

Mighty Max Mega Heads are larger playsets representing significant villains in the Mighty Max series. However, only one Mega Head made it to production. The Mighty Max Assaults Skullmaster set is based on the evil villain of the same name. Bluebird canceled two other Mega Heads following ambiguous circumstances.

Battle Warriors

Battle Warriors or Action Monsters are larger action figures that can open up similar to the Doom Zone sets. But rather than representing a random place or sticky situation Max got himself into, Battle Warriors represent powerful characters from the franchise. Some of the more popular Battle Warriors included figures of Norman and Virgil, along with the Lava Beast, a Medi-Evil Mauler, and the Double Demon.


Some Mighty Max prototypes were never released

Mighty Max toys you may have forgotten about

Capitalizing on the franchise’s success, Mighty Max would go on to sell Heroes & Villains sets, which are packs of six miniature figures, Mega Heads, digital watches, and of course, McDonald’s Playsets featured as part of their Happy Meals. However, these later toys didn’t see the same success as the earlier Mighty Max playsets. Perhaps Max was fizzling out to make room for the following big 90s toy.

Unreleased Mighty Max toys

Toward the end of the Mighty Max reign, a couple of toy sets never made it to store shelves. Under unknown conditions, the Mighty Max Warmonger, a Mega Head Battle Fortress initially intended for release in 1996, never got past the prototype phase. Another proposed toy series was Mighty Max: Into the Battle Zone, featuring a Mega Head. Into the Battle Zone would have been the toy series featuring an older-looking Max with a black jacket, sunglasses, and weapons in the Doom Battle Fortress.

Despite never entering stores, artwork from the Warmonger and Doom Battle Fortress Mega Head can be seen on some Mighty Max collector’s posters. Additionally, prototypes of the unreleased Warmonger sets have been spotted on reseller sites like eBay, although they’re extremely rare. Unfortunately, the Doom Mega Head prototypes have not been made public; maybe it’s time to bring back and remaster this iconic 90s toy line for new generations to enjoy.

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