The 80s was an interesting time for children's toys and action figures in particular. Earlier in the century laws were introduced in America banning the selling of toys which were linked to television series. It was thought that children were susceptible to the marketing power such joint ventures wielded. In the 80s these regulations were quashed and this prompted a slew of new toy lines (He Man was one of the first). In order to compete in such a busy environment it became necessary for products to have a gimmick which made them stand out. These ranged from transparent pieces to action features (like button-activated arms or LEDs) or even two-toys-in-one transforming abilities.
In the case of Hasbro’s Visionaries, their gimmick was holograms. Holograms on toys were not new, but the exact combination of post-apocalyptic action-men-super-heroes with holograms was. The figures sported holograms on their chest-plates and banner poles which depicted the animals they were aligned to. However, the line did not sell well and was canceled within a year. A planned second wave of figures was not released. I recall the Visionaries competing with Tonka’s hologram-sporting Supernaturals (which I will blog about soon) which may well have something to do with their demise.
I liked the Visionaries for two reasons – the background was pretty cool and the branding was slick. The characters were knights who inhabited a degenerated feudal dark-age world which was the result of a catastrophe. They carried techno-medieval weapons and had awesome armour and helmets. The branding and promotion for the toys was very professional and the logo is certainly awesome. I still have my Witterquick and Darkstorm figures and they hold a special place in my geek collection.