Back in 1987, around the time I was nine or ten years-old and in the 5th grade, I was always in a mad rush after school. My elementary school let out at 2:30pm and my appointment television cartoon block started at 3:00pm sharp. I was lucky in that my school was located within my subdivision in Central Florida. I lived in a small town just north of Orlando called Castleberry, and our subdivision, Deer Run, was rather large encompassing like five or six other distinct neighborhoods. My school, Sterling Park was at the head of the main subdivision, right across the street from a 7-Eleven, and my house was in a neighborhood about a mile into the area. So I had exactly 30 minutes to get the hell out of my last class, rush to the bike rack and unlock my badass baby blue GT Preformer, and then hightail it through a few housing developments (using shortcuts through strangers yards and the subdivision golf course) to get home in time to catch the opening beats of the theme song to one of my new favorite shows, The Silverhawks! If I was on my game, I’d be jumping off my bike (letting it careen and crash into the yard in my wake), bursting through the front door, dropping my backpack on the kitchen floor and then grabbing the remote from the counter, and literally launching myself in the air, landing on the couch and if all went right I’d be screaming “Tally-hawk!” right along with the cartoon as it began.
Though the series debuted in the fall of 1986, my local UHF station was playing it in second run syndication in a block along with Bravestarr, Transformers, G.I. Joe and Jem and the Holograms. So from 3:00pm until 5:30 I was in heaven every day after school (I’d even manage to catch most of an episode of the Facts of Life afterwards before my father got home and yanked the remote away from me.) I can’t quite explain why the show resonated so much with me, but I suspect that I was at the peak age in terms of the targeted audience, and the mix of better than average animation (being a Rankin/Bass production) and amazing theme song just really sucked me in. Oh, and the badass Boba Fett-esque face-masks on the Hawks were and are so damn cool. As much as I loved this show, I really couldn’t convince my mom to snag me many of the toys or merchandise. At some point I ended up with a Quicksilver figure, but that was the extent to which my mother diverted her (mainly G.I. Joe) toy-buying budget at the time. There was one afternoon though, when I convinced my father to take me to Burger King because they were running a Silverhawks kid’s meal promotion. I must have seen one of the two commercials for it during a break in the show (even though I have no sense memory of every watching them.) Thank god for the fine folks who digitize old VHS tapes and share the commercials on youtube, because this piece wouldn’t be complete without the following minute of nostalgic bliss…
I have no way of knowing, but if I had to guess I probably snagged the chicken nuggets meal with a 7-Up, as that was my jam in late 80s for sure.
I have a vague memory of very mixed emotions as I opened the branded box to find a lone sticker as my “toy”. On the one hand, I’m pretty sure I was expecting some sort of action figure or toy and was bummed to just get a sticker. But on the other hand the sticker was made with chrome foil and was amazing, featuring one of my favorite characters, the Copper Kid. But there was a lingering sense of feeling like I missed out on something more awesome that might have fed my Silverhawks action figure desires. Based on the commercials above I feel like I must have known that there were no real toys in the meals, but my memory of being disappointed is very strong. Maybe I really wanted that lenticular hanger or the Tallyhawk pencil topper? More than likely I probably lusted after the sweet Mon*Star ring. If my memory serves, I’m 92% sure that when I got home that day I peeled off that Copper Kid sticker and stuck it to the side of my dresser (joining some sweet Hallmark X-Men and Zero Heroes stickers), so it managed to stay in my life for the next three years before my folks ditched it in a cross-country move.
Well, 30 years later I’ve finally reconnected with that piece of sticker nostalgia as I finally decided to pull the trigger on a cheap one on eBay a couple weeks ago.
The scan above really does the sticker no justice. Because of the silver foil paper it’s near impossible to get an accurate scan as the light from the scanned reflects oddly on the chrome. Here’s a better idea of what the sticker looks like in person. It really is a beautiful piece chrome ephemera.
It felt a little silly writing an entire piece just to highlight this one sticker in my collection (no matter how cool it is), so I figured I’d use this opportunity to share the rest of my Silverhawks collection starting with the full set of Gordy puffy stickers that were released in tandem with the show back in 1986.
As I mentioned when I originally wrote about these almost 13 years ago, it’s really strange that in a set of 28 puffy stickers they didn’t manage to include one of the main Silverhawks characters, SteelHeart. I mean they included two Melodia stickers, so it couldn’t have been a completely misogynistic design decision. But they also managed to throw in a Hot Wing sticker, which is a character that wasn’t part of the core five members of the Hawks squad. They also repeat Tally-hawk in every package with the same puffy sticker design, so this was a huge oversight in my opinion. Also, how did they manage to released four packs of stickers and not have stickers of either Hawk Haven or the Mirage?!
As far as reclaiming my childhood Silverhawks collection goes, it’s really not all that tough when it really only consisted of one action figure and a single sticker. But finding a reasonably-priced Quicksilver figure proved much tougher than I anticipated. I finally found one a few years ago, but not after hunting for years to find one that was in decent shape. For those who don’t remember, the action figure line, debuting in late ’86 and continuing into 1987, was very reminiscent of later 80s toy lines in that the figures were a little larger than most lines (where companies like Hasbro and Kenner had made 3.75″ figures the defacto standard at the time), and they also all had an action feature built in. All of the main Silverhawks characters featured a mechanism that allowed the characters arms to flip out to their sides exposing their wings when you pressed the figure’s legs together. So finding one of these that still worked and still had the detachable wings was challenging. On top of that, since the figures all had vacuum-chrome-plated paint which chipped and wore off extremely easily, made locating nice specimens even harder. Lastly, the paint on their faces is also fragile in that it was applied directly over the chrome-plating. So figures where the paint hasn’t chipped off the nose is extremely rare.
I even managed to snag a Mon*Star figure so that I have Quicksilver’s counterpoint as well (even though I never had one as a kid.)
Aside from the DVD sets, the only other piece of Silverhawks merchandise that’s made its way into my collection over the years is on of the Happy House brand coloring books called Sky Shadow.
This coloring book was published in 1987 and features some pretty great artwork (by Richard Courtney) all things considered. All of the pieces that feature the Silverhawks main characters are all very tight and detailed, but not overly so, making it a fun exercise to color I’d imagine.
Also, I love the page with Quicksilver, Steelheart and Steelwill peeking around a corner. So silly, but also kind of awesome.
But what I really love about Courtney’s artwork is the slight looseness that he gives the villains, its more angular and organic, playing against the tone that these characters bring to the table very well. In fact, overall I think this book is illustrated with far more care than the Transformers books I wrote about recently.
Like in the Transformers piece, I think I might just have to take a stab at coloring one of these in photoshop…