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Shadow Warriors
Shadow Warriors army
The Legion of Darkness
Vital statistics
Name Shadow Warriors
Race Unknown
Home Planet Black Nebula

Character HistoryEdit

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Early "Knight Trooper" concept art

"When I first received the Knight of Darkness "doll" from my folks back in the late 70's, I was really taken by the strange and blunted "Vader-like" look of the helmet, as well as the silver and black color combination. Because I was also obsessed with Stormtroopers at the time, I thought the Knight also looked like some kind of elite version of the Empire's prime military force. Naturally, I expected to see other S.T.A.R. Team antagonists like the Knight show up at the toy store, filling out the "bad guy" ranks like Star Wars was starting to do. Each time my family traveled to The Maine Mall I was on the lookout for new S.T.A.R. Team recruits, but nothing ever materialized beyond the Knight and a few Zem 21 figures. This actually bugged me more than it ever should have, especially since legitimate Star Wars figures were starting to invade the shelves. The Knight of Darkness needed his own troopers to command!

I kept my original Knight of Darkness for many years, losing various pieces of its body as time rolled on. Eventually all that remained was the poor guy's head, battered and scraped from years of service. The Knight's noggin one day ended up on my work desk, while I had some cruddy enamel model paint opened up (80's kids know the kind). I thought back to my desire of seeing a trooper versions of the Knight and I applied some of that nasty enamel paint (a red color) to its worn out dome. Needless to say, the paint refused to dry, but for a small window I was able to sneak a glimpse of what might have been.

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Early "Knight Trooper" concept art

Fast forward to nearly 4 years ago, around the time I started to develop new S.T.A.R. Team (Project X) concepts with Toyfinity's John Kent (who now held the licenses for some of my most beloved Ideal toy lines including S.T.A.R. Team) and our long time collaborator Ralph Niese. During those extensive work sessions, we discussed how we could bring back the Knight of Darkness and give him an army of armored soldiers. The old "trooper" concept then resurfaced from my youth, and things began to fall into focus for the Knight's resurrection."[1]

"As I produced various sketches of the Knight of Darkness and his proposed "troopers" for Project X in late 2012 and into 2013, I started to realize that the core design principles of the original vintage figure had a lot in common with our very own Space Traveler Pheyden. That sneaky domed would-be conqueror from the 70's had actually left an indelible subconscious impression on my tiny brain! It seemed that I had inadvertently discovered Pheyden's long lost cosmic grandpa through the act of drawing oddball pictures.

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Concept Art by Matt Doughty

Strange skull-like swept angled helmet? Check. Simplified segmented chest? Check. Skinny arms and legs? Check. Asymmetrical weirdo belt? Check. That last one really jumped out at me. All that time playing with the original Knight of Darkness had definitely affected my creative choices when I was developing old Pheyden, I had just never really put it all together until I seriously analyzed the basic aesthetics of both designs next to each other.

In many ways, the concept of Toyfinity is truly best proven by the very projects that it undertakes. The Knight of Darkness/Pheyden connection may never have been made if we hadn't collectively decided to bring the original S.T.A.R. Team back from deep space. Being able to collaborate, design and develop with John and the Toyfinity team has allowed us to open up all new dimensions, even without Traveler powers.

Or weirdo asymmetrical belts."[2]

StoryEdit

Target: EarthEdit

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Comic Panel from 1977 promotional comic featuring the Knight of Darkness and his Shadow Warriors

"The fearsome enemy from outer space."[3]

Shadow Warriors[4] follow the orders of the Knight of Darkness and his plans to invade Earth. Only ZEM-21 and the S.T.A.R. (Space Travel And Reconnaissance) Team can hope to keep him at bay as the Shadow Warriors continue to sneak into staging position near Earth.

With the return of Nazgar the Tyrant, the Shadow Warriors have been tasked with special missions to expand the forces of the Cult of Dred.

Encounter at EcroyexEdit

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A page from the Toyfinity Robo Force comic book featuring the Rust Rain of Zeton

The unexpected activation of Maxx Zero - and his subsequent defeat of Hun-Dred - caused a change in Nazgar’s long-term plans. Subjugating the Zetonian robots and finding a Z-Core to prolong his life had brought Nazgar to Zeton; now opportunity had presented him with a functioning machine - a working Z-Core. All he had to do was catch him.

The problem was, the Cult of Dred did not have a standing army. The Conquest Destroyer was staffed by a skeleton crew of technicians and the Carren – not a warrior among them. The advanced weapons capabilities of Maxx Zero, as well as the unknown energy abilities of ZEM, would be difficult to overcome. The initial answer came from the enslaved Zetonians; Nazgar’s "rust rain" had erased their minds and reduced them to a simple set of commands. A Zetonian robot-construction facility was converted into a factory to build the machines of war. Each mechanoid was stripped down and outfitted with a new unified face and rudimentary Zetonian weaponry. With a set of new internal commands created by the Cult of Dred, these new Guardian robots were sent out to find Maxx Zero and destroy him. However, the limited mental capacity of the Guardians – running a program which did not give them much independent thought – was a major hindrance, along with the available raw materials for weapons on Zeton yielding only basic blasters. Nazgar tasked the Knight with finding him the perfect prototypes off-world to create a new group of elite soldiers.

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Enemy the Dictator

The Knight of Darkness used his abilities to step between the bonds of reality to cross the dimensional barriers in his search. His second stop was inside the fortress of the sinister ECROYEX INITIATIVE, home of powerful cyborg beings bent on universal destruction. A crack team of Darkness Shadow Troopers and the Knight himself slew the Ecroyex warriors, discovering a great prize among their war machines: a new type of mechanical warrior bristling with weaponry - Enemy.[5]

Darkness FallsEdit

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Darkness Soldiers appear!

But there was a greater problem on the horizon for Maxx Zero and the Robo Force as they faced the Hunter Tribe... What the Hunters did not know was that another group had tracked their signal - a group that believed the resurgence of the Zeroids would lead to the destruction of the universe. And so, it was time for the shroud of Darkness to fall once again.

The DARKNESS SOLDIERS entered the jungle with simple orders - bring back any mechanoid powered by a Z-Core (the energy source at the heart of the Prime Zeroids AND Maxx Zero) and destroy the rest. Who will survive this conflict of wills in the primal elements of a planet untamed by technology or men? The Hunters? The Hunted? Or a literal legion of Darkness?[6]

High above the jungle planet the Technician Zeroid waiting in orbit transmits schematics for a new vehicle while observing the battle against the Hunter Neo Zeroids. The DARKNESS SOLDIERS can reconfigure the deactivated forms of fallen Zeroids into new creations. With their newly minted Hover Tank, would Maxx and the Robo Force stand a chance against the Darkness Soldiers?

The Hunter's ChallengeEdit

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Robo Force surrounded by the Hunter Tribe

Zemo had built Zemorian using the modular Neo Zeroid technology developed after the Prime Zeroids escaped from the planet of the beasts. As children are apt to do, Zemorian disagreed with his "father" over the specifics of the Great Hunt - any entities they came across were their prey, where ZEMO believed more in the purity of hunting evil creatures to hone their skills.

Zemorian stole a ZEM Saucer and twenty blank Explorer Neo Zeroids, escaping into the universe. Eventually, they found a jungle planet to settle on, awaiting those who would participate in the Great Hunt.

Zemorian built the Explorer Zeroids to their original specs, later granting those who made a successful kill in the hunt a second form. This was made all the more difficult, as one of the main tenets of being a Hunter was only using the magnet blaster to create spiked weapons and not as a blaster.

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Arjox with a hard light weapon

Explorer mode Zeroids used a specific module as their head, containing most of their brain technology. The dome worn on the Explorer head was mainly ornamental when compared to Zintar's original body, so Zemorian made the dome into a weapon: a deadly cutting disc which could be thrown in the hunt. The chest emblem worn by the Explorers became a mohawk of sorts for these second form Hunters, signifying their passage into Hunter status.

After the Darkness Soldiers were thwarted in their crusade to destroy the Robo Force, Maxx left Zemorian and the Hunters to their own devices. One Hunter wanted more though. Arjox saw the insanity of his creator, asking Maxx if he could join the quest for the Prime Zeroids. Maxx agreed, the Robo Force gaining a new member.[7]

The Origin of the NazareenEdit

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Combing the jungle surface

"The forces of Darkness comb the jungle planet, backed up by the power of CRUEL the DETONATOR...

It was with great disappointment that NAZGAR the TYRANT learned of the defeat of the Darkness Soldiers by MAXX ZERO and his ROBO FORCE on the jungle planet of the HUNTER ZEROIDS. The Zeroids, his greatest enemy... those who had taken his flesh and blood from him... their reappearance did not bode well for Nazgar's long-term plans. Even with his new body, fueled by one of the Zeroid's own Z-CORES, Nazgar still felt the fear which had creeped into his soul during the hundreds of years he was previously trapped in a small meti-plex jar. It could be no coincidence that they were seen again so close chronologically to when Maxx Zero appeared on Zeton - in a Zeroid Exploration Module to boot. If Commander Zogg still functioned somewhere... Nazgar resolved himself. Was he not the subjugator of worlds? The lone warrior in a crusade against the false gods of a thousand worlds? Maxx Zero - the Robo Force - the Zeroids - they were only problems to be solved.

New strategies were needed.

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Cruel and Brutal join the Darkness Soldiers

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Brutal brings up the rear

Nazgar left ZETON in the care of Battlestar the Guardian while Hun-Dred recovered from the Battle at Futura One. He would infiltrate the Zeroids using the transformation capabilities of his new form, in a new body lost to legend and discovered by the Cult of Dred - a "Super Zeroid". At the same time, he sent Cruel and Brutal to the jungle planet with a simple mission: find and capture a Zeroid... for a blasphemous experiment.

Commanding a literal army of Darkness Soldiers, Brutal and Cruel stalk their prey with the dark forces at their command! The terrain of the jungle planet varies, necessitating the use of Hover Tanks for some of the Soldiers. Immense foliage hides the energy signatures of the Zeroids. Cruel's silent form watches over the Darkness Soldiers. He supplies a special weapon to the commander of the Darkness which will be able to stun the Zeroid, should they find one. Brutal sings a ridiculous tune about "devil Zeroids in the tall grass" as he tears up the earth with his hooked arms.

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Hunter Zeroid captured

A Zeroid darts out from its hiding place, but Brutal moves with unearthly reflexes. "I've got one, Cruel bay-bey!" Brutal exclaims. The Darkness Soldiers rush over, weapons at the ready. A Magnet Blaster shot knocks one Soldier unconscious. The hover tank moves into place, blasting the Hunter Zeroid with incredible concentrated magnetic force. The shock sends the Zeroid into a powered down state.

Now the experiment can begin.

With the Zeroid stunned, Cruel signals through his incredible communication antennae with his dark master, Nazgar. A short time later, a Darkness Soldier bears witness to the technological desecration to come. Nazgar has arrived! His brain rises from the shielding on top of his body, no longer stuck in a jar due to the infusion of Z-Core energy and Manglor blood! "Good job, my warriors." proclaims Nazgar. "The experiment can now begin." Though Cruel did not speak, Nazgar could sense that his silent warrior enjoyed the encouragement.

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Enslavement

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Nazareen Neo Zeroid in final form

From his techno-pack, Nazgar draws a biological horror - the Nazareen, a mass of tissue derived from his own superior restructured genetics. Its programming is known only to Nazgar, but it surely does not carry good tidings for the Zeroids. The creature is attached, a secretion of biological rust agents dripping onto the metals of the Hunter Zeroid. It digs into the casing that holds the brain mechanisms of the Zeroid, attaching itself deeply, learning the secrets of body configurations, weapon capabilities. Long dormant self-defense mechanisms take over, erasing the mind of the Zeroid before secret memories can be obtained. The machine and the flesh become one.

In its final moments, the Hunter Zeroid awakens, feels the pain of the Nazareen digging into its circuitry - whatever the approximation of pain the long-ago First Zeroid programmed into his progeny was equivalent to. His final thought before the creature and self-defense programming erased his mind, his personality, his soul forever was of ZEMO THE HUNTER. The Zeroid made a wish... a wish that his Zeroid patron would avenge this blasphemy against mechanical life.

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Nazgar celebrates their success

The creature finished the changes in the body of the Neo Zeroid, creating a mobility system for it to move. Programmed with hate on a biological level, the Nazareen use Zeroid technology against the Prime Zeroids in a quest to subjugate the mechanical beings of the universe! Nazgar and his warriors celebrate the blending of flesh and machine!"[8]

The White of X'Arb'eaEdit

Maxx Zero and the Robo Force have been following the path of the Prime Zeroids ever since meeting Assassin and Striker on Diavolus. It is Maxx's belief that Zintar the Explorer holds some long-lost knowledge about ZETON and how Nazgar can be defeated for all time, leading the Force on a quest throughout the stars.

After leaving the jungle planet of the Hunter Zeroids and adding Arjox to the team, Maxx continued upon the path he felt would lead to Zintar. It was along this path that the planet X'Arb'ea lay. Sensors in the Star Hawk notified Maxx that unique metals from ZETON were housed in the scientific outpost. Imagine his surprise when he found hundreds of half constructed Zetonian robots in storage at the facility, coated in a base white paint...[9]

The LegionEdit

After Maxx Zero and the Robo Force defeated the Darkness Soldiers on the jungle planet of the Neo Hunter Zeroids, Nazgar called upon the Knight of Darkness to send a more powerful group of warriors to defeat Maxx. The Knight called upon a special division of his Darkness Soldiers known as the Legion.

Traveling in groups of five, the Legion is primarily used to infiltrate fortresses on worlds Nazgar wants crushed. The Legion would be the backbone of a special trap for the Robo Force...[10]

Sentinel's Last StandEdit

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Sentinel Transmission

Transmission incoming...
  • "Maxx, I'm sorry. I thought-"
  • "They-"
  • "A LEGION-"
  • "If there's time. If there's somehow time...."
  • "It was a trap. Don't activate t-"

Chariot's KeepEdit

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Arrival at Atarikoth Comet

Flashing through "Outer Space" on a mysterious trajectory. The legendary Atarikoth Comet unknowingly receives a group of unwanted visitors, determined to unlock the "Chariot's Keep."

Matching speed with the massive comet, the Edgeliner Marezioc drops off a trained squad. "Let's get down there! This is our chance." commands Evenollus. Leading a pack of well armed Marezioc Guard Protoclones, the team touched down on the comet's rocky surface with ease. Using weapons originally built for other worldly beings, the Guard began blasting into the dense rock surface. "Move swiftly." Evenollus barked at them. He would not let his commander down with this secret mission.

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Inside the ancient vessel

"Evenollus, we've breached the surface." called back one of the Guards. "Commander Viyer was right..." responded another, "...this is no simple comet..." Peering down into the hole revealed a different world than the surface might lead you to believe. Rock became ruins of a different nature. More like petrified vines hardened over time. Against the walls and floor lay the rock-like outer shell remains of something more sinister in nature from outer space. "...it is an ancient vessel!" continued the Guard as they slipped further down their newly created rabbit hole. Each squad member slowly entered the ruins and marched single file. Yet, one couldn't help but stare at the petrified remains as they went deeper into the bowels of the ancient ship.

VersionsEdit

Darkness Soldier StandardEdit

Production Darkness Soldier - Standard edition. Red with White Accents. The dangerous followers of the KNIGHT OF DARKNESS! Based on the classic KNIGHT OF DARKNESS from Ideal Toys! Includes bonus Glyan head! 34 pieces. Released June 24th, 2016. $14 each.

Darkness Soldier LegionEdit

Production Darkness Soldier - Legion edition. White with Black Accents. The dangerous elite followers of the KNIGHT OF DARKNESS! Based on the classic KNIGHT OF DARKNESS from Ideal Toys! Includes bonus Glyan head! 34 pieces. Released September 25th, 2016. $14 each.

VehiclesEdit

Hover TankEdit

Incoming transmission! A Technician Zeroid observing above has issued a new vehicle schematic: the Hover Tank. Two fallen Neo Zeroids and a Darkness Soldier can be combined to give you more firepower in the battle against the mechanoids.

UnreleasedEdit

A series of Test Shot heads were some times added as a bonus stowaway items in Onell Design order shipments. The first two heads offered Esedeth Mobile Patrol (Wave 52) and Esedeth Mobile Patrol Elite (Wave 55) versions of the Darkness Soldier head. They are believed to be paint mask testings ahead of the corresponding Darkness Soldier releases.

EMP Sand matches the Darkness Soldier Standard's paint mask and EMP Elite Warm Gray matches the Darkness Soldier Legion's paint mask. Starting with Wave 64 a Stealth version of the Darkness Soldier began to appear with only black painted eyes.

ReferencesEdit

  1. http://onelldesign.blogspot.com/2016/06/beyond-black-nebula-part-2.html
  2. http://onelldesign.blogspot.com/2016/06/beyond-black-nebula-part-3.html
  3. http://www.wildtoys.com/zeroids/
  4. http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix5/starteam.htm
  5. http://toyfinity.blogspot.com/2016/06/robo-force-zetonian-fact-file-origin.html
  6. http://toyfinity.blogspot.com/2016/06/new-release-this-friday-6242016.html
  7. https://www.instagram.com/p/BIg9v8SBgaS/
  8. http://toyfinity.blogspot.com/2016/10/the-origin-of-nazarran.html
  9. https://www.instagram.com/p/BKucKMOhuac/
  10. https://www.instagram.com/p/BKrX8LNB0QN/
  11. https://www.instagram.com/p/BIg7EP4hVGE/

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