In 1986, Kenner introduced the world to their newest toy line, the Centurions. Since the excitement from the Star Wars trilogy had died down with its conclusion, Kenner knew that they needed to come up with new and exciting toys. So, they came up with the unique concept where the possibility of action figures combined with the customizability of accessory weapons and vehicles. These new heroes, the Centurions, would wear futuristic battle armor that would give them an edge in battle.
Kenner had been a small company under the wing of General Mills up until the late 1970s. When they had the chance to gamble on George Lucas’s Star Wars, they hit the big time. Kenner revolutionized the toy industry by proving the viability of cross-media merchandising. They also reinvented the standard action figure, scaling them down to a simple 3 ¾” size. Nearly overnight, Kenner became one of the largest toy companies in the world.
However, their success largely depended on the success and continuation of the Star Wars brand. When Star Wars concluded with 1983’s The Return of the Jedi, the brand lost steam. Only a few years later, in 1985, Kenner became an independent toy manufacturer, no longer part of General Mills. Thus, the company was determined to experiment once more and make another smash hit.
To little surprise, one of Kenner’s head designers, Mark Boudreaux helped create the Centurions. Several other designers worked under him, including Alton Takeyasu. However, one other group helped shape this new toy line.
Knowing that toy lines now required support from cartoons and comics to become a success, Kenner partnered with Ruby-Spears Enterprises to produce an animated mini-series that would usher in the new line. They even pulled on the expertise of renowned comic artists like Jack Kirby and Gil Kane. This new series notes from the budding toy line while giving it a story for audiences to latch onto.
On April 7, 1986, the 5-part mini-series officially launched. It presented the battle of the Centurions, Max Ray, Jack Rockwell, and Ace McCloud, against the evil forces of Doc Terror. Each of the Centurions had access to powerful exo-frames that gave them extreme power. This power was even hinted at by the series catchphrase: PowrXtreme.
Not long after the mini-series finished airing, Kenner introduced the first series of toys to stores across the nation. The first and only series of toys featured Ace McCloud with his Skynight armor, Jake Rockwell with Fireforce, and Max Ray with Cruiser. There were also Dr. Terror, Hacker, and two Doom Drones: Strafer and Traumatizer. Beyond the main cast of characters, the line also featured a large array of assault weapons that could be attached to the exo-frames. These accessories included the Skybolt, Swingshot, Tidal Blast, and many more.
After the successful launch of both the mini-series and the toy line, the Centurions returned to television with a full season filled with 60 episodes. Along with the full series came two new characters: Rex Charger and John Thunder. Unfortunately, neither of these characters ever made an appearance in the toy line. The series even featured a dog, Shadow, and an orangutan, Lucy, who both had weaponized armor as well.
While Kenner had made plans to release more than one series of toys for the Centurions, those toys never appeared on toy shelves. The Centurions only managed to last a single year, despite the support of the animated series. Thus, toys like the Awesome Auger and Thunder Knife remained in the prototype stage.
However, there was one last piece of media for Centurion fans. In 1987, DC released a four-issue series that told even more tales of the Centurions PowerXtreme. Bob Rozakis contributed his writing skills to the comic. Meanwhile, artists like Don Heck, Al Vey, and Tom Ziuko worked on the series as well.
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How to use the Identification Tool to find your action figures and toy lines
Do you have an old-school G1 Transformers toy you are trying to identify? Don’t know the name? No problem! I’ll help you use this identification tool. For example, just type in “jet” in the figure name field and hit search. You’ll see all the Transformers G1 Toys that are jets. Maybe try “car” and select the color “blue” and a list of Transformers matching those results will appear. Maybe you don’t know what the finished vehicle will make, so try searching by “red” only. Did you forget to remove “car”? Now search just the color “red”. Perhaps you know the name, but can’t spell it try “Wheljck” instead of “Wheeljack” and all the Wheeljack characters are listed for you.
We have all the G1 Transformers list of characters in our database. You can search by Transformers name, as well as just line or subgroup. You can identify Transformers that are all red or all the figures that are orange. The Transformers toy list can even be sorted by package type. You can identify which came with a sticker sheet, or which came without instructions. Want to know all the 1984 Transformers toys and none of the others from 1985-1990? No problem, just select the release year from “1984” to “1984”. Perhaps you just want to know the list of G1 Transformers “Autobots”, or just the “Decepticons”, our ID tool can do that.
Mostly we made this so you could see if your action figures were missing some accessories or parts. So you can see that too.
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