A short while back, I had gone over our next Challenge format: The BOO Battle Box, where Darby and I will be putting together 300+ custom cards to build a Battle Box out of. Battle Box is a great format, and I think that this will give Darby and myself something to channel our creative energy into while everyone is busy doing other things this year.
Thus far, I have looked at my Justice League animated heroes, which started my brainstorming around superheroes, followed by a look at my X-Men characters as well. Today, we’ll be looking at more of my created cards, as my BOO Battle Box set starts to come together and have a more-or-less coherent theme.
Let’s jump right in!
Since I initially started brainstorming cards for this Battle Box, my themes have been all over the place. I started with superheroes and villains, changed that to the JLA cartoon (and from there, by extension, to the 90s X-men cartoon), and I’ve been all over the place since then.
One thing I keep coming back to, though, is that I knew I wanted to do a Battle Box set full of cards that have a lot of nostalgia for me. I kept looking at various 80’s themes, from GI Joe, to He-Man, to Thundercats, and thinking just how cool it would be to have a BOO set full of them. With our last BOO set, Jay had done the 80s Transformers cartoon, and though I didn’t realize it at the time, it did really scratch a creative itch that I didn’t know was there; I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Transformers in play, and playing them. And with that, I had my theme… My Battle Box set will be full of classic old cartoons that I watched as a kid, back in the 80s and 90s. Nostalgia overload!
Let’s take a look at the various main themes that will be in my set.
HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE:
This cartoon was one of my fondest memories from being a kid, as I used to watch it religiously. Prior to He-Man, toy companies were prohibited from using cartoons to essentially sell their toy lines, but that all changed with He-Man. This was one of the most popular cartoons of the 80s, and still has a cult following today. The show’s plot was simple enough for kids to understand: He-Man uses his powers to defend Eternia from the evil forces of Skeletor. Skeletor’s main goal is to conquer the mysterious fortress of Castle Grayskull, from which He-Man draws his powers. If successful, Skeletor would have enough power to rule Eternia and possibly the entire universe.
It was a very classic battle of good vs. evil, with overtones of fantasy and steampunk, and thus this was the first cartoon I looked to introduce into the Battle Box this time.
The main character of the show is He-Man, a character who transforms from the lowly Prince Adam into a mighty superhero using the powers of Castle Grayskull. Whenever Prince Adam holds the Sword of Power aloft and proclaims “By the Power of Grayskull!” he is endowed with “fabulous secret powers” and transformed into He-Man, the most powerful man in the universe.
I knew going in that I’d want He-Man to be the first of a cycle of transform cards for the Battle Box. I don’t necessarily like transform cards in MTG, but it made sense to have a card that depicted Prince Adam turning into the mighty He-Man. As the most heroic of heroes, it made sense to give Adam/He-Man lifelink, and He-Man’s “Tap: Fight something” ability should be quite strong with his vigilance, essentially letting him attack, and then tap to nuke off a potential blocker.
Of course, this would not be complete without his nemesis, Skeletor:
Though it’s only hinted at in the 80s cartoon, the evil Skeletor is He-Man’s uncle, Keldor, who wants to rule the universe, and needs the power of Grayskull to do so. This, of course, leads him into constant conflict with He-Man, who is always there to foil his nefarious plots.
As a card, I’ve made Skeletor to be a strong Lord, pumping all Minion creatures (a creature type that I will likely be pushing in this Battle Box set). He is also repeatable removal, though less strong than He-Man; if his pinging ability doesn’t outright kill a creature, it does tap it down, representing Skeletor’s ability to tie up the heroes.
This should be a strong creature, and I look forward to seeing it in action.
From the world of He-Man, I moved on to brainstorming some cards for the other major cartoon of the 80s: G.I. Joe.
G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO:
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero is a military-themed line of action figures and toys in Hasbro’s G.I. Joe franchise. The toyline lasted from 1982 to 1994, producing well over 500 figures and 250 vehicles and playsets (and much like He-Man, these toys were put in the cartoon to boost sales). The storyline here was that the goodguys were an elite counter-terrorist team code-named G.I. Joe, whose main purpose is to defend human freedom from Cobra, a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world.
As with He-Man, this show emphasized good vs. evil, but put it in a much more military setting, as opposed to He-Man’s science fiction/fantasy setting.
Duke is the leader of the G.I. Joe team, and constantly leads them into battle against Cobra. His rallying cry of “Yo Joe!” is instantly recognizable to anyone who ever watched the cartoon, and thus I thought that a card reminiscent of Hero of Bladehold would make a lot of sense here. Duke brings members of G.I. Joe with him when he attacks, and pumps them all up with his battle cry.
No set with G.I. Joe would be complete, however, without the leader of the Cobra organization, the evil Cobra Commander:
Cobra Commander is notable amongst evil supervillains in that he started off as basically a used car salesman, who eventually becomes a dangerous terrorist. Despite an unstable personality, Cobra Commander always manages to find a way out of every situation, and became a constant foil for the G.I. Joe team. His charm can twist intentions and morals, so that his rhetoric actually reads as plausible and relatable to his minions. Psychoanalysts who have studied his case files, have described him as an ingenious hustler with visions of grandeur.
As a card, Cobra Commander also pumps up your Minion tokens (much like Skeletor), and also generates them each turn, giving you a supply of Cobra soldiers to attack with. His unique ability is to let other creatures be a scapegoat for him; so long as there’s another creature on your side, damage will never ever stop him, he’ll just get away again.
Creature cards aren’t the only thing I created to represent G.I. Joe, however. There are a number of spells and effects I’ll be using to represent the show as well, and here’s an example:
Destro is one of Cobra Commander’s lieutenants, and is a mercenary Cobra employs for his weapons-making skills. Destro often criticizes Cobra Commander, and so setting up a Wrath effect for him seemed fitting. In a set that will have as many legendary creatures as this one likely will, this should be an excellent sweeper.
From G.I. Joe, I moved onto another beloved property of the 80s: The Thundercats.
Thundercats was a property that was not quite as popular as He-Man, Transformers, and G.I. Joe, yet is still beloved by many for having a great animated series. Thundercats tells the tale of a band of humanoid cat-men, who travel through space and crash-land on a world called Third Earth. The show tells the story of their struggles against the evil Mutants, and the villainous Mumm-Ra, an undead wizard mummy.
Lion-O is the heroic leader of the Thundercats, and the wielder of the mystical Sword of Omens, a mighty blade. As such, he comes into play with the Sword, and should be a very strong creature to attack with. As with Duke, battle cry should make Lion-O a great creature to boost the rest of your team.
Our final franchise is one that my brother had done some cards for in the BOO III draft:
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES:
The final franchise we’ll take a look at today is that of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a fantastical franchise full of humanoid animal-people, from turtles, to rats, to warthogs and rhinos, and everything in between. The Ninja Turtles are a group of turtles that were transformed into humanoid forms, and learned ninjutsu from a rat named Splinter. TMNT was a huge property when it debuted, immensely popular, and has remained so in various incarnations over the years since.
I loved the TMNT franchise as a kid, so naturally, I knew they’d have to be part of this Battle Box set.
Splinter and the turtles are the main heroes of the TMNT franchise, and so it was only fitting that they be the first cards I designed. Both are transform cards, that turn from one form into the final form they use in the show, and each should be very fun to play. The Turtles are combat monsters, letting you provoke and kill off any small creatures with ease; meanwhile, Master Splinter lets you slowly train your own creatures, and turn them into better and better martial artists.
I think these should play very well, and should end up being quite fun.
Conclusion: So there you have it, there’s a quick look at some of the themes I’ll be building into the BOO Battle Box! Stay tuned to see more as it unfolds, it should be a very nostalgic set!