Monday, June 25, 2007

Going Down With Tigersharks

[Opening Title: awesome fonts, and before Photoshop was ever released as well]
Written by GL

Ah, now here's a cartoon that many of us may not remember. Although I can only barely recall the TigerSharks - I can't seem to remember if I first saw it in Brunei or in Singapore - they were around for sure. Surprisingly, the memory of the cartoon is more vivid than the action figures themselves. I guess when to get to an age such as mine, you tend to get a little fuzzy.

[Intro: the funkiest opening theme goes to the TigerSharks]

TigerSharks was a series developed by Rankin/Bass (the dudes behind ThunderCats and Silverhawks) and distributed by Lorimar-Telepictures in 1987. The series involved a team of heroes that could transform into sharks and other marine animals. Unsurprisingly, the TigerSharks looked a little like the ThunderCats and SilverHawks as well.

To display the characters' and the show's reputation as a calculated failure: the series lasted only one season.

TigerSharks is considered a knock off of the ThunderCats and the SilverHawks by many, since it followed the team based formula (established by the two other shows) and was animated by the same Japanese studio. However, TigerSharks featured some fresh ideas that helped it to stand apart a little bit.

[The TigerSharks: the first and only online photo of the team. I know, I checked]

Mainly, the principal difference was that unlike the ThunderCats (who had innate feline abilities) or the SilverHawks (who were humans with bionic parts), the members of the TigerShark team were normal humans who had to use a device called the Fish Tank in order to transform into their marine forms, and enter it once again to revert back into their human forms.

Another difference is that, while both the ThunderCats and the SilverHawks had a base where they lived, it was always in the same place. The TigerSharks' base, however, was a spaceship that could also go underwater. The ship was called the SARK and contained the Fish Tank along with other research facilities.

While ThunderCats featured a mix of sci-fi and fantasy elements, and SilverHawks a fusion of sci-fi and police adventure, TigerSharks was strictly a fast-paced sci-fi adventure program.

The action took place in the fictional world of Water-O (not the most imaginative of names) which was covered almost completely by (you guess it !) water. The planet was inhabited by a race of fish men called the Waterians. The TigerSharks arrived there on a research mission and ended up serving as the protectors of the planet against the evil T-Ray - T-Ray, however, was the first character to arrive on the planet.

[Mako & T-ray: hero and villain]

The TigerSharks action figure line was based totally on the cartoon series. The sad thing is: following the fact that the show only lasted one season, only the very first series of the TigerSharks action figure line was released, and that was in 1987.

[The Debut Wave: check for color-blindness with this image]

The heroes feature transformable heads which flip when a trigger on the arm is pressed. This resulted in the back panel being missing from many loose figures. The villians, such as T-Ray had other features such as water squirting action.

[Lorca: a play on the word Orca, which is a type of whale. Learning is power]

The TigerSharks have, sadly, faded to the recesses of memory - with only a few true fans remaining. Its ironic the failures of one era could turn out to be the pop-culture of another. Now, let's go for a swim.