by Corey D. Stinson (September 2001)
The name Madelman originated in the 60's with some larger European Action Man-styled action figures produced by Manufacturas Delgado S. A. In the mid-80's Madel went bankrupt and sold the brand to Exin Bros. in Barcelona, Spain. At that time Exin decided to produce an action figure line that would (hopefully) duplicate the popularity of Hasbro's GI JOE 3 3/4" toy line. The result was Madelman 2050 - a science fiction themed toy line that borrowed from the design concept of the GI JOE figures and vehicles. However, far from being a knock off, Madelman 2050 introduced into the toys a variety of fun and innovative features. This resulted in the line possibily being the single best "GI JOE -like" toy ever made.
The concept for the Madelman 2050 toy line is that earth is being invaded by a militant alien force - the Zarkons - intent on colonizing Earth because their own planet is facing imminent environmental destruction due to a cosmic event. The heroes are C.O.T.A. (Terrestrial Commandos) whose job it is to beat back the invasion.
Release History & Unreleased Items
Madelman 2050's first assortment was released around 1989. In the year following, the assortment was expanded with a few new action figures and vehicles sporting all-new packaging. Sadly, Madelman 2050 was not popular with consumers in Spain and nearby countries so the line went no further.
In fact, most if not all of the expanded or second assortment toys could be considered "tail-enders" and are quite rare. It is not even clear if action figures Nork, Dron, Cranax, and Gornak and vehicles Montrack and Phantox were ever actually released. The only expanded-assortment action figures that I know to have been released were those that were repaints of first-assortment figures (Alactro-Lagard and Deltox-Zan), and the two included with the Clonstar. It appears that some expanded assortment vehicles might have been intended to have unique drivers/pilots but carded original assortment figures were packaged with the toys instead.
Exin borrowed a few ideas from the Masters of the Universe toy line for Madelman 2050. All of the action figures and vehicles included a miniature comic book telling a story about the characters and vehicles. Unlike MOTU, there were only four comic books in total. The primary and most lengthy comic book introduces the Madelman 2050 concept, back-story, and players. Two more comic books contain adventures featuring vehicles from the first assortment. The final comic is an adventure and blueprint for C.O.T.A.'s arctic playset/base - Basertron 2050.
The action figures themselves are designed nearly identically to pre-swivel arm GI JOE figures. Nifty accessories abound: the action figures have guns, backpacks that do things, removable helmets of various kinds, etc. Magnetic features were available on all action figures. C.O.T.A. action figures have magnetic feet allowing them to attach firmly to metallic surfaces. The Zarkons are actually "two-faced" creatures with a lizard-like face and a human (disguised) face. The Zarkons features a magnet inside the action figure's head. When a Zarkon action figure encounters a C.O.T.A action figure, who also have a magnet in the chest, the Zarkon's human face flips around to reveal his true identity! In this way C.O.T.A. can detect the presence of even a disguised Zarkon. These clever action features utilizing magnetic attraction and repulsion were probably fairly complex to design and manufacture.
C.O.T.A. forces include figures Darman, Zan, Bran, and Karsan. The Zarkons are formed from Saurius, Reptis, Lagard, and Serpion. The second or expanded assortment adds Deltox-Zan, Nork, and Dron to the C.O.T.A team. Zarkons new invaders are Alactro-Lagard, Gornak, and Cranax.
(1st assortment carded)
(2nd assortment carded)
Vehicles & Playsets
Forgetting for a moment the sci-fi theme, Madelman 2050 vehicles are also very reminiscent of GI JOE vehicles. They often came requiring partial assembly, included elaborate clear decal sheets + blueprints/instructions, and featured a plethora of cleverly-designed moving parts and action features - all hallmarks of the earlier GI JOE 3 3/4" vehicles.
The original assortment contained the C.O.T.A. vehicles Defender, Tarantula, and Sentinel. Zarkons invade with their Batrus, Scorpion, and Falcon. The expanded assortment added Clonstar, Skytron, and Transcom to C.O.T.A. forces. Zarkons were to receive reinforcements of Dragotrak/Anfitron, Phantox, and Montrak.
Some C.O.T.A. equipment:
Some Zarkon equipment:
Last but not least is the incredible Basertron 2050 playset - C.O.T.A.'s arctic base/fortress. This MOTU Castle Greyskull-inspired playset rivals (if not bests) in quality all similar playset toys released before and after. The base has all sorts of play features, from control and gunnery cockpits to a aircraft landing pad to a mechanical repair bay with crane to a enemy-grabbing bio-mechanical tentacled cage! The floors are made of tin (something you will never see in modern toys, or most 80's toys for that matter). The tin floors allowed for more play features with the magnetically-enabled feet of the C.O.T.A. crew.
Madelman 2050 will probably go down in toy history as another fun concept that was in the wrong place at the wrong time and/or lacked the marketing effort required to achieve real popularity. Perhaps GI JOE collectors will marvel at the clever concepts that Madelman 2050 brought about, and even consider them as the template for what Hasbro could have done with GI JOE's Star Brigade?