Protectors was an ineffective marketing attempt in the mid-nineties
to fuse the Troll Doll craze with the
popularity of the Ninja Turtles in order
to sell toys. I absolutely loved my Mutant Turtles, but as for
Trolls, I'll never forgive those cute exhibitionists for giving
me a mild case of trichophagia when I was very young. (The synthetic
hair smelled so non-toxic nice and was as colorful as cotton candy,
who was I to resist a taste?)
actually go as far back as 1959 when a Dane named Thomas Dam began
making wooden collectibles modeled after the trolls of Norwegian
folk tales. In the nineties, a resurgence of Troll Dolls hit America
hard as one of the biggest fads of the time, overshadowing other
hard-hitters as slap bracelets and temperature-controlled neon
color-changing clothing. The nineties were a wonderful time in
this country's history.
of that era came from one of two toy companies: Russ or Ace Novelty.
The latter manufactured and sold a line of dolls called Treasure
Trolls that differed from Russ in that the trolls contained little
jewels in their belly buttons. Commercials emphasized that the
tummy jewels were meant to be wished on when there was something
you really wanted, such as wishing for cherry cough syrup to really
taste like cherry. (Ah, the simple demands of an innocent child
as determined and written by a shark marketing exec.)
catered towards young girls until 1992 when a third toy company,
Hasbro, looked to expand the market and introduced Battle Trolls
aimed at boys. Despite having all of the essential ingredients
to a win a small boy's heart, like "rude locker room smell"
and weapons that shot plastic projectiles at bothersome cootie
sisters, Hasbro was not very successful. That same year, Ace also
tried their hand with their own boy-targeted troll line: Stone
A year later,
one 13-episode season TV show based on the Stone Protectors property
broadcasted to drum up support for the toys. I would not have
mentioned the cartoon otherwise if not for the rock 'n roll song
in the opening with the chorus lyrics: "We're the Stoooone
Protectors! Our stones of power glow!"
Yes, but apparently
their games didn't. Stone Protectors was released only
on the Super Nintendo by Kemco, and was developed by Eurocom.
The Genesis version was also developed by Eurocom, while Vic Tokai
(Golgo 13, Clash at Demonhead, The Krion Conquest)
would have been the publisher, and had it been released, would
have sat on store shelves in May of 1994 with a T for Teen rating
assigned by the newly-formed ESRB.
to ESRB.org, only the Vic Tokai published version of the game
(the SEGA Genesis version) has ever been rated. Due to an oversight
or whatever other reason, the SNES version was able to slip by
the ratings board even though it saw a later release in November
of that same year. Something like this would have never happened
today, but this was the start of the ESRB, and mistakes happen.
The T rating
might have been reason enough to have cancelled the Genesis game,
as what thirteen-year-old-and-up kid would want to play? But,
really, it's the marketing team's own fault. What rating did they
think they earned after placing a frightening mohawked wrestler
prominently on the game's cover wielding a makeshift whip made
of rotary telephone parts? Did they think a child's parents would
go for that? Children whipping their siblings with the telephone
in the kitchen?
In the second
TMNT movie, the director was clever enough to skirt the violence
issue by having the Turtles attacking the bad guys with yo-yos
and sausage links and not with
their deadly katanas and nunchucks. It's all about compromises
when you're dealing with killing people and wholesome family fun.
hope someone was fired and their MBA shredded.
All was not
lost for devoted Troll fans in 1994, as in the same year Trolls
on Treasure Island was released by AVE for the NES. Correction:
I have played Trolls on Treasure Island, and all was, indeed,
lost for devoted Troll fans in 1994. Shame be upon the Crick family
If you remember
at the beginning of the article, I mentioned that there were two
major companies making Troll Dolls at this time: Russ, with their
non-jeweled trolls, and Ace, with their jeweled take on the little
monsters. AVE was clever in incorporating elements of both: every
copy of their game included a Russ pencil topper strapped to the
front of the box, holding on for dear life, and by no coincidence
they also managed to get the word 'treasure' into the title for
young girls to make a hasty connection to their treasured Treasure
Troll collections (that the game is littered with a rainbow assortment
of jewels didn't hurt either). And AVE did this all without having
to pay either company (or Nintendo) a dime for the licensing!
A good showing, American Video Entertainment.
To remind kids of the Stone Protectors so that they could ask
for them by name and order them alphabetically on their Christmas
wish lists, every episode of the TV show opened with each of the
Protectors introducing themselves and tacking on a ridiculous
rhyme. They did the same thing with their toy commercials, too.
For instance, did you know the one named Chester the Wrestler
likes food? It's totally true! I can 100% relate.
Like all Ninja
Turtle rip-offs at the time, The Protectors had an origins story.
Before they became the Stone Protectors, the guys played in a
failing band called the Rock Detectors. On one fateful day, after
getting thrown out of another gig, they find glowing magical crystals
that give each of the band members a special power, like super-human
strength or the ability to climb shit. One of them gets roller
With new power
and roller blades come great responsibilities, as the Stone Protectors
must now protect their stones from the nefarious Predators. Led
by the evil Zok, he and his number one henchman, Zink, will stop
at nothing to grab at their rocks!
more to the plot than that, but here's the cast of crazy characters
for you to collect on eBay and out of landfills!
Electric guitar Quotes: "I'm Maxwell, and I rip on lead
guitar killer licks!"
"The name is Max, I'm a skater blader! One slice
from me and it's see ya later!"
Drums Quotes: "I'm Cliff, and I scale the drums
let's get vertical, have some fun!"
"They call me Cliff and I like to climb. Put the
drop on bad dudes anytime!"
Electric keyboard Quotes: (in terrible Scottish accent) "I'm
Angus on keyboard and I can lay back, but it's great
to rip with a fast attack!"
"My name is Angus. Gus, to my pals. I'll make anything
into an ars-e-nal."
Bass guitar and saxophone Quotes: "Me, I'm Chester
on electric bass thumping licks all over the place!"
"Chester's my name and I like food. Like to squeeze
bad guys with my wrestling moves!"
Rocks the mic, sometimes the electric guitar Quotes: "I'm Cornelius the singer, front
man of the band, got a voice that can stun yeeeeeeaaah!"
"Cornelius is my name, Samurai is my thing. Fight
like a warrior, sing like the King."
Quotes: "Hey, the
door's unlocked! Come on in! I made some cookies for
you on the table. Did you bring the condoms?"
None Quotes: "Hi, why don't you have a seat
for me right over there? I'm Chris Hansen from Dateline
NBC and we're doing a story on adults who try to meet
teens online for sex."
As pointed out before, Stone Protectors saw a release only
on the Super Nintendo. Below is an incomplete list of differences
between the released SNES version and this unreleased Genesis
at the bottom of the title screen is slightly different. Instead
of Kemco Presents (as seen on the SNES version), it's Vic Tokai
breaks down the text differently.
prototype includes a level select option in the Options menu.
things: the background at the beginning of a level no longer scrolls
but remains static, and gone are the character poses at the end
of each stage.
begins with enemy facing the wrong way and the addition of a little
On the mine
stage, lantern lights flicker and the mice in the background are
moved around. Also, enemies riding in mine carts are not the same.
When you hit the boss, he freezes and turns blue.
On the third
stage, only one enemy falls down at a time to fight (SNES has
up to three fighting together) until the little lava monsters
come at ya - then it's two at a time in the Genesis version, three
together in the SNES. (So Genesis can't handle the mighty Stone
Protectors?) Also, the pit where you fight the boss is not
the same shape.
stage has a NEW SNAIL! There's also a snake in one of the barrels
(and not a mouse). These developers were too ambitious! Characters
no longer leave their footprints in the sand.
Dogs in bazaar
are arranged in different areas.
different background during the final boss fight.
rushes through the ending and goes straight to a looping credits
roll. Some new people in the credits (they must have designed
the new snail).
See how many
more differences you can find after you...