The X-ploratrons were Corgi’s short-lived (and ill-named) answer to Matchbox’s Adventure 2000 line. They seem to have been produced for one year only, and there were four vehicles in total, each featuring specialized equipment: Lasertron (reflector), Magnetron (magnet), Rocketron (firing rocket, working compass), and Scanotron (magnifying lens).
The X-ploratrons, according to the backstory, were created to combat a nature that’s gone wild in a 21st century post-apocalyptic world. While the the actual product doesn’t match the quality and imagination of the Adventure 2000 line, the art is superior: all of the package illustrations were done by Carlos Ezquerra, a longtime 2000 AD alum and the co-creator of Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog. Interestingly, Adventure 2000’s Raider Command vehicle appears in a 1978 Judge Dredd story arc called The Cursed Earth.
More views below, and more on the X-ploratrons later.
(Images via The Saleroom, Vectis Auctions, and The Toy Cabin)
Raider Command (K-2001), the signature vehicle of Adventure 2000, was used in a famous early Judge Dredd story for 2000 AD called The Cursed Earth. Dredd and his unit must travel across the radioactive desert of the former U.S. to deliver an antidote to Mega-City Two, and they need a kick-ass super-tank to do it in.
In the story, inspired by Roger Zelazny’s Damnation Alley (1967) and its boring 1977 film adaptation, the “Land Raider” and the “Killdozer”combine to form a “modular fighting unit” that crushes the irradiated “muties” and scares off a T. rex named Satanus. (Interesting note: After finding and extracting his DNA, scientists cloned Satanus for the opening of a Dinosaur National Park, an original concept that was ripped off by Michael Crichton for a 1990 novel I don’t need to name.)
I don’t know how the cross-promotion came about, but Adventure 2000 was being developed in and has a copyright date of 1976, and the Dredd story ran in 2000 AD from May to October, 1978. There were ads for Adventure 2000 in 2000 AD, but I haven’t been able to track any down yet.
(2000 AD images via the 2000 AD Tumblr and Dredd Alert)