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Manta Force was a toyline produced by Bluebird Plc in the 1980s. MANTA was an acronym for Multiple-Air-Naval-Terrain-Assault Force (true story), which referred to both the "good guys" and their spacecraft, searching the galaxy for a "New Earth". Their foe was called Viper Squad, who traveled in a spacecraft called Red Venom. The back-story involved the sending of a spaceship to find a "New Earth" for colonization by the World Government, given the overpopulated and polluted state of Planet Earth. The Viper Squad aimed to take over MANTA and colonize New Earth themselves.
The plastic toyline consisted of small toy soldiers and much larger spaceships, as well as a "battle fortress". Several of the guns were capable of launching plastic projectiles, including the infamous "Zip Gun", a hopper-loaded, gravity fed. crank handle operated design that launched 5mm plastic spheres at an extremely high rate for a distance of around eight feet. Such was the ferocity of the weapon that in the late 80s more than a dozen cases of 'Zip Gun' related deaths were report. There was a series of books as well as a cartoon strip in the Eagle comic manner. The books, The Enemy Within and Red Venom Attack!, written by Royston Drake, illustrated in Dan Dare style, featured storylines based on the 1984/5 Miners' Strike, an attack by Viper Squadron revolutionaries led by Major Leon Vex, and an encounter with unfriendly dinosaurs. Later the two opposing sides joined forces to fight off attacks from an alien known as Karnock who was served by an army of robots. Another enemy emerged as well in the form of Stinkhorn who led the 'vile' Stenchoids who appeared to be either another alien grouping or the native dominant lifeform on New Earth.
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