- Max Steel
Max Steel Type Action Figures Company Mattel Country United States Availability 1999-– Official website
Max Steel is a line of action figures produced by the toy company Mattel. The figures are very similar to the original 12-inch G.I. Joe toys, consisting almost entirely of different versions of Max Steel, the main character, and one or two of his enemies, a couple of vehicles and 2 or 3 special packages.
While little known in continental United States, Max Steel is one of Mattel's most commercially successful products worldwide. Max Steel was developed into an animated series of the same name, which originally aired from February 25, 2000 to January 15, 2002, as well as a number of direct-to-video animated films.
- 1 History
- 2 Comic Books
- 3 TV series
- 4 Movies
- 5 Video games
- 6 Max Steel Alter Ego
- 7 Going Turbo! VS Adrenalink
- 8 Logo Color
- 9 References
- 10 External links
After Mainframe took control of the TV series, every new toy makes a brief appearance in the series or the movies. Also after the Endangered Species movie plot was included in the toy line, every new set of toys includes at least a couple of wild animals too. Waves 1 and 2 included exactly the same Psycho figure, with only minor changes in the box. Wave 3 changed Psycho's mechanic arm, while the rest of the body remained mostly the same.
- All the first Max figures were quite different from the TV character. Most earlier Max Steel toys had military, adventure or sport clothes not related to the series in any way, but quite similar to the 70's and 80's Mattel's action figure Big Jim. Some models wear exactly the same clothes, colors and accessories as Big Jim, and seems to be updated versions of this classical toy. In Latin American market, many Big Jim toys were sold in the 70's under the name "Kid Acero", which literally translates as "Kid Steel". Most Max Steel vehicles used to be blue, with yellow or green accents, as the early 80's Big Jim sport and spy series. This particular combination of colors was widely used on Max Steel toys despite the fact that the character in the series wears a blue, silver and brown uniform. In fact, the first Max Steel action figure to wear the same costume as in the series was "Going Turbo!", released a year, or so, after the initial debut of Max Steel, as part of the Urban Siege sub line.
- Urban Siege line — At the end of 2000, Mattel took the decision to divide the Max Steel figures into different sub lines. All sport related toys, for example, would go to "Extreme Sports Adeventure," while others would go into "Urban Siege," "Snake Island," etc. Vitriol, a new villain, arrived as the main villain in the sub line Urban Siege, the molds used to produce him were similar to those used to produce Psycho. Vitriol and Psycho wear the same pants, albeit different colors. (Some compare Vitriol to Super Attack Psycho, but Super Attack wasn't created until a year after Vitriol.) In fact, the main characteristic of both villains were strange, enhanced artificial arms. The only difference is, while Psycho's right arm is a bionic construction which can be formed into a claw/laser, Vitriol's arms were green, with light up features. Urban Siege is the most controversial Max Steel wave, when the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Vitriol and Urban Siege action figures were recalled because the package mentioned on the back: "The diabolical villain Vitriol is blasting urban buildings to pieces". Rumors say the real reason of this act of empathy were the low popularity and poor sales of the toy, specially because it is the only Max Steel action figure never produced again. Vitriol was available only from April to September 2001. Also, the "Secret Mission" Cards included earlier that same year in boxed figures from the Urban Siege sub line were retired from the packages. Each Secret Mission card contained clues and plots about a fictional persecution of terrorists on or off American soil. Children were supposed to use the cards to be informed of their next mission and stop the terrorists before they could demolish a building, spread a deadly virus or detonate a nuke bomb, among other tasks. The Urban Siege line's card text was: "Vitriol is on top of the World Trade Center ready to blast the city with his deadly energy waves! Your Mission: Stop Vitriol before he destroys New York City!". Once any mention of terrorism in New York was eliminated, the toys returned to the shelves, but as part of the main line this time. The Urban Siege series ended immediately after the recall.
Other figures of different lines retained their mission cards, however, later Max Steel figures had no mission cards at all.
- Endangered Species — In 2004, the release of Endangered Species, the first movie, also marked a completely new direction of the toy line. Since then, every new set of Max Steel toys appears in the latest movie. As a result of this decision, several iconic characters and vehicles were removed from the market. The N-Tek minijet and the Sport Coupe which were Max's primary ways of transportation in the series didn't make the cut into the movies, so the respective toys were discontinued before the movie's premiere. Many other elements from the series were also removed from the toys, including any mention of Max' alter ego, Josh McGrath.
- World of Elements — Since the main character of this sub-line, Elementor, has the ability to emulates 5 different elements (water, fire, air, earth and metal), all new sets released includes at least 10 different Elementor variations, 2 for each element. Max figures were re-assigned to a specific "World of...", with arms, equipment and accessories designed to challenge each Elementor's version. Thus, in the "World of Water", Max is dressed as a diver or surfer, uses a surf board, a boat and battles Water Elementor. In "World of Air", he has a parachute, a jet pack, and battles Air Elementor, and so on...
- Max Gear — In mid 2007, Mattel released for the first time "Max gear" to be dressed by kids. The toys included a retractile Ninja Sword, Max's communicator, Max's suit with battle sounds and light, night vision glasses, binoculars and other stuff alike.
- Adrenalink line — In 2007 Mattel dropped the Going Turbo! concept from the toys for the Adrenalink one. The most notorious change in the packages it is that the Max Steel logo was changed from yellow to green. The Adrenalink subline includes almost all sport and adventure versions of Max not related to Elementor.
- Extroyed line — The first Extroyer figure was announced as a special event, released only a couple of weeks before the movie premiered on Cartoon Network Philippines in late 2007. The original package contained both Max and Extroyer action figures, but Extroyer's face and body were mostly covered with the package's artwork, so no one could tell for sure how he looked like. Some time later the same Extroyer was available as a stand alone figure, this time uncovered. Action figures related to Dark Rival movie and this new villain are often denoted by the word "Extroyed" in front of the package.
- Turbo Missions — Released for the first time in 2009, these three different series separated the main toy line into themed missions, in a similar way as the Urban Siege lien intended to separate the military themed figures from the sport ones. The Animal Encounter subset grouped all animal and wildlife related toys with Extroyer as the main villain, while the High Voltage subset was mostly focused in water and lightning versions of Elementor. A third subset named N-Tek Invasion virtually grouped all other items which do not belong to the previous two. The Turbo Missions packages had large set numbers (1, 2, 3) in reference to their respective mission. In 2010 a second set of Turbo Missions action figures was released. This time the themes were "Bio-Threat", "Cyber -Attack" and "Night Strike". Similarly as the previous ones, Bio-Threat grouped all earth pollution related adventures, while Night Strike showcased glow in the dark action figures. Cyber attack was mostly the same as N-tek Invasion, grouping all other enemies focused on causing mayhem inside N-Tek's headquarters.
Several large vehicles, including a mini jet, a boat and a couple of sport cars were released some time ago, at the beginning of the series. The jet is by far the largest toy ever produced on the line, followed a giant child-size Elementor figure. Despite of the constant presence of women in the series as main or supporting characters, no female figures were ever produced.
When the first Max Steel toys were released in 1999, Mattel distributed a free 12 page comic titled "Take it to the Max" to introduce the character to children. The comic was written by Richard Bruning based on the sourcebook by Andy Hartnell, and penciled by Scott Benefiel with Tom McWeeney and Tommy Yune. Inkers were Jasen Rodriguez, Tom McWeeney and Lucian Rizzo. Until now there are four known language versions of this comic: English, Spanish, Italian and Greek. The English version was distributed mostly in America and United Kingdom, the Spanish version was largely distributed on Latin America and Spain, while the Italian one was obviously distributed in Italy and the Greek one in Greece, especially through the Modern Times superhero comics.
The comic consists mostly of two different briefing presentations which are supposed to happen at the same time in DREAD and N-Tek headquarters respectively, in which each CEO explains Max's abilities, powers and capacities from their opposite points of view. While Jefferson Smith presents Max as a great tool to counter terrorism, John Dread considers Max as a Major threat. In the background, while hearing Jefferson's presentation, Josh remembers the accident which transformed him into Max Steel and adds complementary information about his personal life not mentioned by Jefferson or Dread in the briefings. Laura Chen also makes her first public presentation in the comic.
In the last pages, the comic also contains biographies of all main characters: Max, Jefferson, Dread, Psycho, Rachel and 'Berto.
Most of the facts mentioned in the comic are present and developed in the TV series first season. There are some details which are slightly different though. The comic it is supposed to be based on Mattel's Max Steel Sourcebook and since the creative control of the TV series changed three times due to the bankruptcy of the two initial animation studios, it is possible that few of the hints mentioned in the comic never had a chance to be developed in the series, or maybe they were discarded in favor of further development of the characters.
Among the most notorious differences, it is mentioned that N-Tek's founder and original CEO was Jim McGrath, -Max's father-, instead of Marco Nathanson. John Dread does not wear glasses as he always does in the series, and it is mentioned that 'Berto is a traditional die hard computer nerd with no experience with girls or real life at all, (in the series he does has a life, and he is even a regular skilled fighter). The comic also insinuates the possibility that Psycho is Max's biological father, and they may have a relationship similar as Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader from Star Wars. This plot in particular was never mentioned in the TV series or movies, but the 2004 movie Endangered Species includes a scene in which Psycho defeats Max, and offers him join forces to rule mankind together. This scene is extremely similar as the one represented by Luke and Vader in The Empire Strikes Back.
No other Max Steel comic books have been produced after.
"Netter Digital" produced a TV series of the same name, based on a 19-year-old college student named Josh McGrath who has super powers and can transform into the powerful Max Steel. The series starts with the episode "Strangers," where, at the beginning, Max and his partner Rachel Leeds are at a UN meeting when Rachel and all attendants disappear—except Max, who was on the roof watching, something Rachel scolded him for. Later, Dr. Roberto Martinez finds out that the floor inside rotated, sending everyone in the room into a hidden chamber under the floor, while a new floor spun into place. The enemy is later revealed to be L'Etranger, and he has taken the UN Representatives as hostages and is escaping on a train with them. Max and 'Berto follow Rachel's tracking signal, hidden in her earring, to the train. Max fights L'Etranger on top of the train, but in the middle of the confrontation, his enemy is knocked off the train.
The first episode doesn't give much background on who Max Steel is or what he does, only that he has a double-identity, works for a secret organization, and is super-powered. Until the third episode, "Shadows," it is revealed through a series of flashbacks how Josh became Max Steel: Josh apparently fell asleep outside of N-Tek while visiting his father. He hears someone break down a back door into N-Tek, so he follows the man down an elevator. Both of them are caught by N-Tek security agents, but the intruder, who is revealed to be "Psycho," Max' future enemy, in human disguise, defeats the agents. Josh then follows Psycho into a room where he sees Psycho stealing N-Tek Nanoprobes. Josh and Psycho battle for a moment, and in the middle of the fight, Josh kicks Psycho in the face, revealing his metal skull-like face. Josh panics, and Psycho fires his laser at Josh, but hits the glass holding the nanoprobes instead, causing the container to burst, sending the probes onto Josh's body. Jefferson finds Josh in an extremely weak condition, infected by the probes. 'Berto tells them that the probes are dying, causing Josh to die with them. They both need transphasic energy to survive, so they put Josh inside the transphasic regenerator (a machine capable of regenerating the nanoprobes). This procedure saves Josh's life, but also gives him powers boosted by the probes, now synchronized with his body. Josh confronts Jefferson to let him work at N-Tek but his stepfather refuses. Then Josh tells him that "Josh McGrath is out of the picture", and transforms into Max Steel.
The first Season lasted 13 episodes. After that, Netter Digital had gone bankrupt, so Foundation Imaging took over Season 2. For similar reasons, Season 3 was developed by Mainframe Entertainment. The third season also took a different approach: N-Tek's counter-terrorism section is shut down due to the events present in "Breakout," the 2nd season finale, so the main characters become extreme sports stars. One could state the plot resembles that of A.T.O.M. and the CG Action Man series (the latter of which was Max Steel's main competition at the time of airing). Season 3 would end up being the final Season of Max Steel, ending with the episode, "Truth Be Told."
About two years after the series ended, a movie, titled "Endangered Species," was released direct-to-DVD. Since 2004, a Max Steel movie has been released every year (with a 2011 one possibly underway. However, nothing has been confirmed). However, while the series focused on chasing terrorists and secret agents, the movie's plots were focused on fighting superpowered mutants and monsters. The movies also changed the continuity, and Josh McGrath no longer exists.
Currently, the movies are only available in Latin America, with an English release unknown. Endangered Species is the only one so far to have been released in the United States. The movies offer a different perspective on N-Tek and the creation of Max Steel. Through this, the world has been retconed. Usually, Max Steel movies are offered as bonus gifts with the purchase of other products, and are not available in other ways. In 2003, in the United States, if you selected Max Steel action figures you would get a free Max Steel: Endangered Species DVD. Countdown was included free in the largest playsets of the toy line in the '06 Christmas and as a free gift by buying a Happy Meal during November in Latin America only. In Mexico, Dark Rival was available inside an ActII Popcorn special promo pack at the end of 2007 and early 2008. For some as yet unknown reason, Bio Crisis premiered with no advertising at all, except a brief announcement to the press in a particular interview in Mattel's regional headquarters. The movie was immediately available as a bonus gift with the purchase of different products, but only at very specific locations, since at the same time, Dark Rival and Forces of Nature were relaunched, as part of the countdown to Max Steel's Tenth Anniversary Celebration.
- Released: 2004
- Length: 66 minutes
Bio-Con escapes from prison and returns to his secret lab to continue his cloning experiments, while it's intercepted by Psycho, who offers him join forces to transform humanity into mutants who will be ruled by them. However, Psycho has his own agenda, and betrays him once a mass mutating device is constructed, and forces him to fight against a Psycho-droid who as soon has it grabs Bio-Con, immediately self-destructs. Bio-con is supposed to be dead in the explosion, but before his decease can be confirmed, Max Steel arrives to destroy the mutating device, fights Psycho and launches him into his own machine, causing a chain reaction. The explosion is so sudden and massive that Max and his friends has to leave the scene without time to check Bio-Con's facilities. A large section of the lab is partially immersed in water, but not destroyed. As an epilogue, at the end of the movie a clone of Bio-Con awakens in the abandoned laboratory. This movie marks the last appearances of Psycho and Bio-Con, along with the last time that figures of them are made.
Forces of Nature
- Released: 2005
- Length: 52 minutes
Forces of Nature is the only movie whose title was changed in Latin America. It was released under the name "El dominio de los elementos" (Element's Dominion). All other movies kept their respective names, even translated in different languages. In this movie, Jefferson Smith gets back to Bio-Con's abandoned base. There he finds several of Bio-Con's clones in stasis, most of them failed experiments, with one exception: one of them, codenamed Elementor, wakes up and escapes from its container. Elementor looks up for five different Elementium isotopes, which Bio-Con originally used to experiment and mutate him with the intention to create a creature much more versatile than himself. Each isotope grants Elementor the power to control and mimic one specific element: Earth, Water, Wind, and Fire. Once in possession of these 4 elements, the power to control metal is granted as an extra bonus. One by one, Elementor absorbs each isotope and gains new powers. Then Jefferson puts Max under arrest without further explanations, but Max is able to break free when Elementor attacks N-Tek's headquarters looking for the last isotope. Max and Jeff find a way to escape but before they can leave the area, Jefferson reveals to Max that years ago when he was transformed into "Max Steel", in order to save his life the fifth isotope was placed inside his body, and that the arrest was just an effort to hide him from Elementor, since nobody knows for sure what would happen if the isotope is extracted from Max's body. After a brief confrontation with Elementor, Berto and Kat discovers that the fifth Isotope makes the others go haywire instead of adding new powers to its wearer, so Max decides to confront Elementor instead of running away. At the final battle, Max releases the power of the fifth isotope until its overcharge causes a reaction that destroys Elementor.
- Released: 2006
- Length: 51 minutes
After a battle against Psycho's remaining androids, Max discovers that Elementor (after having been destroyed over a year ago) has survived as an unstable energy form. Elementor invades N-Tek, takes over Jeff's body, and goes to the Transphasic Generator in an attempt to use it to reconstitute his physical body. 'Berto reverses the power, and accidentally forces Elementor to divide himself into his different versions (meaning, Max has to face 5 different monsters, each one with a different power). Max is attacked by the Elementor's, and is injured by them. 'Berto uses his updated Nano-probes to save Max' life. However, it is revealed that Kat is infected with Elementium, and is dying. Now, the Elementor's, each with a mind of its own, and controls only its respective element, work as a team and try to take over the planet. However, Max, using the new steel Nano-probes, tricks Elementor by telling him that, if the world is going be controlled by the monsters, he prefers to destroy the planet instead. All the Elementors attempt to kill Max, but insteand fall into his trap. Max, 'Berto, and Kat (poisoned with Elementium) manage to reunite them all in a desert wasteland. 'Berto reconstructs the "Imploder," a blackhole device found in Psycho's base at the beginning of the film, to only affect Elementium. The process nukes Elementor and strips all the isotopes from his body, leaving him in his original Bio-Con clone state. It also takes the Elementium out of Kat's body, saving her.
- Released: 2007
- Length: 51 mins
Unknown thefts of N-Tek property have Max Steel on the tail of a new super agent, Troy Winter, who claims to be superior to Max in every sense. The chase is on when Team Steel realize Troy's goal is to obtain a piece of a comet named Morphosos using the stolen N-Tek technology and deliver it into enemy hands. During a battle with Max, Troy falls into a volcano with a piece of the comet. The chemical reaction between the extreme heat and the comet's components transforms Troy into a sharp dark mineral crystal like creature, with the power to "extrude" other living being's life force and abilities. Troy then adopts the name of Extroyer and attacks N-Tek headquarters. In the middle of this confrontation, Elementor is once again released. Extremely weak, Elementor chases Extroyer seeking the comet fragments as a new source of power, but he is "extruded" and defeated. Troy takes 'Berto, Kat and Jefferson as hostages and forces Max to obey him. Extroyer uses N-Tek's stolen magnets powered by Max to redirect the comet Morphosos near earth, so he can take as much crystal fragments as he wants, but it's too late when he realizes it was all a setup, and he's sent into deep space instead, stuck into the comet's surface.
- Released: 2008
- Length: 47 minutes
Max has to investigate a contaminated jungle, and travels from outer space to the center of the earth in his quest to unveil this mystery. At the beginning of the story it is mentioned that the last battle against Extroyer has permanently crippled the Adrenalink system, forcing Max to go back to an updated version of Going Turbo!, (A complete explanation of this new energy system appears in Turbo Missions Episode 12: Relaunch). In this movie, a new enemy, the nefarious Doctor Grigor Rendel makes his first presentation, and it is revealed that Iago has been working for him from the beginning, secretly stealing technology from Eclipse. Rendel has constructed an android named Cytro, who's prime directive is to help him in his plans to take control of the contaminated jungle and destroy Max in the process. Accidentally, the programming of Cytro is scrambled and for a couple of hours thinks he must protect Max instead of fighting him. However, he is aware of the malfunction, and constantly mentions how much time is left until he will be "authorized" again to kill Max. Thanks to the information retrieved by Iago, Dr. Rendel locates Elementor immediately after the battle in Dark Rival, and taking advantage of his unconsciousness, takes him prisoner to perform new experiments. In an effort to synthesize Morphosos Crystals, Dr. Rendel uses fragments recovered from Extroyer's body, partially contaminated with Troy Winter's DNA. As a result, creates an Extroyer clone instead by accident. Taking his opportunity while Max is busy fighting Elementor, the clone absorbs the comet fragment into his body, and becomes a giant monster. Despite the fact that he is currently in "evil mode", Cytro makes one last supreme effort to stop him and reverts the effect of the crystals, causing an explosion which reduces both to smithereens.
The Mutant Menace
- Released: 2009
- Length: 47 minutes
After being reconstructed, Cytro becomes Max's mission partner, but now both are placed under the direct orders of Faron Ferro, a new N-Tek field commander instead of Jefferson. This new boss is a freak control with an aggressive and all-for-the-team attitude which contrasts with Max's free spirit, causing several conflicts among them. In response to an emergency call, Max and Cytro are sent to an Antarctican subterranean lab which is also a prison for an unstable N-Tek agent who suffers some kind of mutation due to heavy exposure to chemical contamination. After fighting several "toxoids" (little creatures born from chemical waste), and directly disobeying Ferro's orders, Max gets into the prison level thinking he can save the injured agent, just to discover it's just a scheme plotted to free him. The agent is then revealed as ToxZon, a mutant who feeds on chemical waste with the ability to create and control the little toxoids, powered with a Nanotech armor similar to Max's Nanosuit, but way more primitive and bulky. Due to his vast knowledge of N-Tek fighting techniques, ToxZon defeats Max and Cytro and escapes, trying to locate and destroy N-Tek headquarters in retaliation for what he considers a long time in prison and suffering, refusing to accept his long incarceration was actually a desperate effort to save his life, since his mutated body is not capable to survive on a clean environment without the help of a containment armor. During the final battle, it is revealed the same machine which caused ToxZon's mutation is still working, now packing hazardous material as it was initially intended to be. While trying to make Max fall into the device, ToxZon falls in instead, being trapped in an unbreakable container which becomes his new prison.
The Toxic Legion
- Released: 2010
- Length: 48 minutes
After ToxZon's capture, Max and Cytro are sent to space to detonate and destroy Morphosos comet once for all. In the middle of their mission, they found Troy Winters trapped inside the comet. Somehow, the comet radiation has cleaned him up from his Extroyer state, and he apparently has been reverted to a normal human being. His memory has also been wiped, so he has no memory not only of the entire Extroyer episode (as appeared on Dark Rival), but also of any negative feelings against Max Steel. In fact, he considers himself as a long time friend of him. While back on earth, ToxZon realizes he can use some of his toxoids to re-contaminate Troy's body and use him to escape from N-Tek. ToxZon also frees other N-Tek's prison inmates to increase the chaos and leaves the place in company of Elementor. The trio lands in a major US city, where ToxZon convinces Elementor to transform into a giant air mass, powers him up with a new isotope stolen by Extroyer, and then contaminates him to produce a large toxic cloud that will spread all over the world, erasing all life on the planet. Max purifies Extroyer and convinces him to stop ToxZon, but during the final battle, a news reporter named Mike Nickelson is contaminated by the toxic cloud, which transforms him into a scrap metal monster.
- Released: 2011
- Length: 49 minutes
Mike Nickelson, a news reporter who suffered a mutation due to a radioactive contamination caused during a battle between Max Steel and the Toxic Legion comes back with a vengeance plan. Blaming N-Tek for his current condition, Nickelson, who now calls himself "Makino", tries to capitalize the fame and notoriety Max has gained as a people's hero to turn the public opinion against him. Makino causes a satellite accident that burns to ashes a ghost town, but "leaks" to the media that N-Tek was responsible for it, releasing a digitally altered version of the incident, which causes the group to be in the middle of a legal investigation for its covert operations. During the process, Berto is detained by local authorities, but taking advantage of the situation Makino kidnaps him, and forces him to reveal the secret of N-Tek nanotechnology which allows Max to hypercompress weapons and spy equipment to add them to his personal arsenal. Since Makino can partially transform himself into a battle machine, Cytro is upgraded with transforming abilities, (similar to those of Transformers) which allows him to change into a giant robot, and later a tank. After Berto's successful rescue, Makino publicly challenges Max to an ultimate fight to determine who's the real protector of the people: in the same stadium Berto was hold prisoner, both contenders will have to fight while being watched by the world, and demonstrate their true motivations and reasons to fight for mankind. However, the challenge really is a scheme to ruin N-Tek's and Max reputation. Thanks to his expertise as media reporter, Nickelson delays and edits the "live broadcast", so the audience actually sees him as a hero. Since Makino also has the ability to control any machine he has contact with, Cytro leaves Max fight alone, but teams up with Berto to disrupt the computer's systems and connect the stadium's camera's to internet and TV satellites around the world, so everybody can learn the truth behind Makino's plot. With the defeat and public confession of Makino, N-Tek's name is finally cleared and Makino is sent to prison.
Live action movie
Paramount Pictures plans to remake Max Steel as motion picture. Originally, Taylor Lautner had been confirmed to star in the lead role as Josh McGrath. As of March 2010, Lautner had dropped out of the film in favor of Hasbro and Universal's Stretch Armstrong. The films' status has yet to be updated.
- Mattel Interactive made a Max Steel video game Max Steel: Covert Missions for the Dreamcast.
- Each new Max Steel toy released starting in 2007 and later contains a "credit card". Depending of the toy's value, the cards contains a specific amount of credits named "Max Points" that can be used to log in and unlock and play different missions in Max Steel online video game. The online videogame can be accessed through the Max Steel Official Website only.
Max Steel Alter Ego
In the TV show's initial run, Josh McGrath was a white, blond 19-year-old. After the accident in which the N-Tek nanoprobes infected his body, he gained the ability to transform himself into a dark-haired athletic adult, older and stronger than Josh. This grown-up alter ego is Max Steel. 
Contrary to most heroes with secret identities, Josh's wasn't an issue except with his personal relations, mostly with his girlfriend and fans from the Extreme Sports Circuit. At different times, both Psycho and Dread witnessed Josh's transformation into Max from a remote location and don't show any surprise about it. In at least one episode, Josh transforms in Psycho's presence. In another episode, Psycho chases Josh, forces him to separate from his friends and obligates him to transform into Max Steel. It is not clear how many of Max's enemies knows about his secret identity. However, in the first episode of season 2, 'Berto, assuming Dread died in the plane crash at the end of the season 1 finale, states that Psycho is the only one who knows about Josh's secret identity. At the end of the first season, it is revealed that one of the most trusted Directors of N-Tek, Jean Mariot, was really a DREAD mole, which explains how their members knew about Max's true identity, but does not explain why Max himself never cares about keeping his identity a secret. In the Season 2 episode "Old Friend, New Enemy," Max reveals to Bio-Con his true identity.
In the Third series, due to a combination of factors- the change of the creative design team, a change in the animation company, and the lack of market in the US- all companies involved in the production of Max Steel gradually dropped the secret identity concept, but still had them going on "secret missions," with little-to-no help from N-Tek. The movies, released after the TV show ended, took a different approach: Officially, his Josh identity was dropped and Max does not transform at all. This decision wasn't difficult to take, since all Max Steel merchandising and licensed products, promos and advertising campaigns always portrayed him as a brunette. The "Josh" concept was present only on the TV show and in the first movie, Endangered Species. Josh is also seen in a flashback scene in "Forces of Nature," when Jeff reflects on when the creation of "Max Steel" took event.
By 2006, "Josh McGrath" was almost forgotten, and all references to him and his personal life were removed. Even in normal situations, the character was still referred to as Max. Apparently, Josh was slowly phased out until he was simply eliminated from the story continuity, which was readjusted to eliminate any trace of him. Any mention of Josh was removed from action figure boxes and all other licensed merchandising. The 2005 movie Forces of Nature shows Josh for the final time in a flashback in which the origin of Max Steel is briefly explained. The 2008 movie Bio Crisis recreates the same scene when Psycho infects Max with the N-Tek's nanoprobes, followed with a brief explanation of the process used to save his life. However, this time, it is stated that Max Steel (not Josh) is the victim. The character in scene is Max Steel indeed, with his exact appearance. In the movies current continuity, Josh never existed. It is unknown why they decided to drop the "Josh-to-Max" concept.
The initial concept used by Mattel to explain Max's enhanced abilities was named "Going Turbo!". It was present in all episodes of the TV series and the first two movies, and all Max Steel's merchandising and advertisements.
The basis of Going Turbo! was explained as thus: Josh McGrath's body has two bracelets grafted onto it, one on his left wrist, the other on his left ankle. These devices are named Bio-Links and can be used as a communications device, a way to record and broadcast Max's activities. Max also uses them to manipulate the nanoprobes inside his body, which grants him his superpowers. By activating the Bio-Link, Max can become invisible or receive an instant rush of energy, which allows him to move faster and be stronger than any other human for a short period of time. It is not clear for how long the rush lasts, but after it, Max seems unaffected, and can reuse it over and over, receiving new bursts of sudden power every time he activates the Bio-Link.
The use of the "Going Turbo!" power caused some controversy. Max Steel detractors stated that the temporal "injection" of power could be interpreted as a metaphor for the use of steroids or other illegal substances, and that the TV show was inadvertently promoting drugs consumption. This idea was reinforced by the fact that Max Steel is an extreme sports athlete, at a time when the use of drugs among sportsmen was a constant public issue.
To remove the negative connotations of "Going Turbo!," in 2006 Mattel made the decision to impose major changes on Max Steel. In the 2007 movie Countdown, Max's body starts to reject the nanoprobes. The nanomachines can no longer feed from external chemical resources and a new source of natural energy must be found before Max dies.
Taking advantage of the same concept which initially caused the problem, it was stated that since Max is a sportsman, he generates a lot of adrenaline, particularly when participating in a challenging sport. The natural adrenaline of Max's body is then redirected to the nanoprobes, creating the Adrenalink. The major difference between this and "Going Turbo!" is that Max does not receive a sudden burst of infinite energy. Instead, since the probes use the natural adrenaline generated by Max' body while making a physical effort, the more challenging the task, the more adrenaline is generated, so the probes are capable to boost Max's energy only as a result of exhaustive and constant exertion. The energy boost takes time to charge, since it draws from Max's physical activity. If he stops or pauses, the adrenaline levels of his body return to normal.
The 2007 advertising campaign was totally based on the Adrenalink concept. Mattel included a Thumbs-up! ecological green logo in the front of the toy's packages, accompanied by the slogan "More courage equals more power!". This logo was present from the beginning on all N-Tek related characters, scenarios and accessories, but its meaning was not explained until it was adopted as the Adrenalink image. The main Max Steel logo was also changed from yellow to green, and retains that color today. The TV ads also included the catch phrases: "Max Steel's power does not comes from an external source, but from within!" and "The bigger the risk, more adrenaline Max generates!". In the end, Adrenalink works in the same fashion as "Going Turbo!," but makes clear that no questionable substances are used, and insists that Max's healthy workout is the source of his power.
For 2009, the company decided to return to the initial "Going Turbo!" concept, but combined it with certain aspects of Adrenalink. Simply called Turbo! this time, the Bio-Link is used to activate the Turbo state by voice commands. The nanoprobes act as rechargeable batteries, holding the energy inside Max's body until needed. When activated, Max receives a sudden rush of power for a few seconds. After exhausting the energy, Max needs to recharge again connecting the Bio-Link to a recharge device.
Over the years, Max Steel's logo has varied, while still keeping the same style, the color has varied. The logo represented in the TV series featured the words "Max" in orange. It also had smaller letters within the letters, which also read "Max." These were a burnt orange. However, some toys sported different colors; some had the words "Max" in red on the top, and faded to yellow at the bottom; with black words within reading "Max," while others were a more yellow, with less red, and featured the words "Max" within orange. However, some were just similar to the TV series'. However, for the first movie, the color of "Max" was changed to blue, and stayed that way through "Forces of Nature." Then, after the Adrenalink system was introduced, the color of "Max" was changed to green, and featured a lightning bolt through the words (replacing the original "Max" letters within the word "Max"). The green one is still being used, and it is unclear if it will change.
It is unclear why the color was changed various time.
- ^ http://www.mwctoys.com/REVIEW_101701.htm
- ^ http://www.seattlepi.com/mediaManager/?controllerName=image&action=get&id=619894&width=628&height=471
- ^ http://www.slashfilm.com/2009/07/12/paramount-to-make-max-steel-movie/
- ^ Siegel, Tatiana (December 4, 2009). "Taylor Lautner to star in 'Max Steel'". http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118012273.html?categoryid=13&cs=1&nid=2562&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+variety%2Fheadlines+%28Variety+-+Latest+News%29.
- ^ http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2010/02/vulture_exclusive_taylor_lautn.html
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