Welcome to the November edition of LRM’s Retro-Specs! We know that once lightning in a bottle is found in the 80’s and 90’s various ideas follow in hopes of latching on to similar success. TMNT paves the way for many team-style themes, although the concept is not new. The abundance of superheroes for guys meets an unlikely 90’s trend: the Troll dolls. Troll dolls are all the rave in the 90’s, so why not try to see how far they can stretch? Well, just that happens as we look back to 1993’s Stone Protectors!
Troll Dolls Meet Superheroes
The Troll doll market is surprisingly huge in the 90s. It was about a step below Beanie Babies in the decade. However, a majority of Trolls are purchased by girls. In an effort to reach more of the boys, there is the creation of Stone Protectors. The premise definitely fits other 90s trends. There are toys, a cartoon, games, etc. It amazes me how many concepts got the trifecta of toys, cartoons, and games even when there was no indication if they would be successful or not. Companies would go all in for many lines that would only last a year or two.
The gist is that there are five members of a band known as “Rock Detectors” (hell of a name). They find some mystical stones, of course. The villain, the evil Zok, wants them. Zok also hates music and is a reptile. Princess Opal of Mythrandir takes the original, mystical stone and separates them (like the Triforce). Zok has one and wants the rest. The other pieces the band finds provide them with amazing powers. With these newfound powers they look to help Princess Opal against Zok’s plan for domination.
Each character is unique with their own set of strengths (like most groups). Corneilius is the leader. He has the green stone which turns him into a samurai. Not surprising, some of his weapons are cheesy, including the microphone nunchucks. But it would not be the 90s without someone having some form of nunchucks.
Maxwell holds the orange accelerator stone. He is athletic, fast, and has some 90s rollerblades.
Chester has the red stone. This gives him immense strength and he looks like a pro wrestler.
Angus dons the yellow stone, which gives him military combat skills. He can also turn objects into weapons. He often makes them out of everyday objects like lawnmowers.
Finally, Clifford has the blue stone. This gem makes him a rock climber. A bit random. Did the run out of ideas?
All five have their different instruments of the band they play. However, they are not good.
The cartoon series only has one season with 13 total episodes. Only eight make it to VHS for whatever reason in 1994. As recent as 2021 there are strong pushes to get all 13 episodes to be released on DVD. Yes, Stone Protectors actually have a following.
There is a toy line from Ace Novelty Toy Company. Like many others, the cartoon seems to be more of a season-long commercial for the toys. The quality is actually pretty good. While the 80s love their holograms, the 90s has a gem focus with the Troll line, which is also the focus for the Stone Protectors. How do they one-up the regular Troll dolls to make them more “manly”? Well, you can move one of the arms on each figure and a flint would ignite briefly lighting up the gem! It is actually pretty cool. Oh, and they are all completely ripped like most heroic figures and toys.
The toys actually get a second, sports-theme wave as well as some vehicles. However, the series, and toys, meet cancellation shortly after.
Comics and More
Stone Protectors does get a brief comic series. Harvey Comics releases a limited series ranging from issues 0-3. I never had a copy, but I am guessing the series is as good as it looks…
There is also a subsequent board game. They really went all in.
Much like Bucky O’Hare, Stone Protectors has the trifecta of a cartoon, toys, and video games (although Bucky O’Hare is much better across the board). In late 1994 Kemco releases a Stone Protectors game for the SNES.
The graphics are actually really good, but the 10-level gameplay overall is choppy. There is a Sega Genesis version that is not released after the franchise comes to a halt.
Although in 2022 there is a re-release of the SNES version and finally a release of the Genesis version from Piko Interactive.
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They rolled the dice, but Stone Protectors does not end up paying off. Again, this seems like a recipe for success, but Stone Protectors do not go on to make it past 1995. The draw to get more boys into the Troll franchise just is not enough. Even if they try to mimic already popular boy dominant franchises like TMNT. Although they are unsuccessful, Stone Protectors still is a gem (pun intended) for those of us reflecting on our 90s nostalgia.
Do you remember Stone Protectors? Do you have any of the toys? Did you watch the cartoon or play the games? Anyone have one of the comics? Leave your thoughts in the usual spot, and thanks for reading!