This is the latest in a series (of indefinite length and regularity) of blog posts memorializing cancelled toys. Our subject today is Mattel's Dazzler.
Looking to build a flanker brand for their Masters of the Univrrse, in 1984 Mattel got the Marvel Comics license and launched the Secret Wars line. Featuring an impressive array of heroes and villains, the 4.5" line only received two series (and a trio of figures released in international markets) before the end. But there were definitely more planned, including the line's first female figure: Dazzler!
No prototype has ever been found, or even design work, but we know she would have existed, and we know she was close to production because of the art that was done.
Every figure in the line came with a shield that could display a lenticular image - each figure came with four inserts, and kids could swap them out to display battle scenes. Getting art drawn and approved is a much quicker process than designing and sculpting a toy, so it's likely Dazzler was close to completion (or at the very least, pretty far underway; it does take longer than usual to print lenticular images, so those would have been done at least slightly early by normal standards).
While the earlier series' shields had been done by Marvel Comics artists, Mattel turned to their in-house art department for some of these. Dazzler, for instance, was drawn by one of the guys Mattel had been using for their MotU mini-comics: Bruce Timm!
A decade before Batman: The Animated Series, this was Timm's first pro "comicbook" work. You can totally see hints of his later, famous style on this one in particular:
The interesting thing is none of the shield inserts depicted characters who weren't in the line - so Doctor Doom's shield would show him fighting Captain America, for instance, not anyone from the Fantastic Four. So the fact there's art of Dazzler is pure confirmation she was intended for the line.
In addition to appearing on her own shields, she also would have appeared on at least one villain's:
(Hero shields were round, villain shields were square. So it's not just her losing that proves it belonged to a baddie.)
It also seems Mattel were planning some more vehicles, because here we see Dazzler vs. a new glider (there had already been two gliders earlier in the line):
But look who's piloting that thing. Remember what we said about there being no characters in the art who weren't in the line? That means Mystique was also planned to get a toy! Here's shield art of her riding a "Battle Board" (likely a pull-back, friction-powered mini-vehicle):
The reason Iceman, Constrictor, and Electro were released as European exclusives was that they were already in production by the time the line got cancelled, and there weren't enough of them made to supply the entire US. Those three went into production first because they used the existing body and only would have needed new heads; if Series 3 had followed Series 2's lead in mixing three re-releases and five new characters, then the three Euro exclusives probably would have been joined by one figure using the new bigger mold (Hulk or Abomination) and one figure using the new female mold (Dazzler or Mystique). Either way, it's wild to think we nearly got Marvel's roller-disco queen way back in 1985, rather than having to wait until 2017.