Michael Knight & the Mystery of K.I.T.T. and the Blue Prowler!

By Shawn Robare

Sometimes the most exciting aspects of nostalgia are those moments when I discover something that I never expected to exist.  There’s a feeling I’ve tried to describe before, this jolt and tingling that I feel first in the pit of my stomach and then it travels up my spine when I see something that I had or loved from my childhood that I completely forgot about.  I get a similar physical reaction when I uncover something that just shouldn’t exist.

So what is this thing that just should not be?   Basically it’s the branding crossover.   For the most part, whenever you have a property, be it a television show, film, or toy line, it generally exists in its own universe separate from other brands owned by the parent company.   Matthew Broderick’s Ferris Buller never had the opportunity to face off against Judd Nelson’s John Bender (from the Breakfast Club), even though John Hughes wrote and directed both flicks.  That doesn’t mean that there aren’t exceptions though. In fact in the realm of comic books, crossovers are an integral aspect to a companies branding, and when ever one of the big two (Marvel or DC) got their hands on licensed characters from outside companies it wasn’t uncommon for them to mash them up.   The first example that springs to mind is the Transformers Vs. G.I. Joe comics from 1987…

Though the two Hasbro toy lines weren’t designed to be integrated, that surely didn’t stop kids from staging mock battles with Cobra and the Decepticons teaming up against a convoy of Autobots and Joe artillery.  Marvel, who had a lot of their in-house talent wrapped up in producing licensed comics and helping Hasbro to build the back-story of their toy lines, saw this and gave kids an outlet for their fantasies with this four-issue mini series.

In the 90s we had comics to thank once again for another couple of franchises merging. Dark Horse had the licenses to a bunch of 20th Century Fox movie franchises, in particular the Alien and Predator films.  Naturally they produced a series of Aliens Vs. Predator comics and later on, when Fox was making the second Predator film the production design team took a cue from the comics placing an iconic Alien skull in the background of one of the Predator’s spaceships.   Fans of the franchises that noticed this went nuts and for years there was speculation on the movie universes from these two properties combining to form one huge filmverse.

Even so, these mash-ups are pretty rare and it’s pretty darn cool when one turns up.  A month or so ago I reviewed the Transformers Find Your Fate series of Choose Your Own Adventure style books and I pointed out a couple images in one of the entries that hit upon this kind of rare crossover.  The artist, William Schmidt, ended up using a couple of iconic Star Wars vehicle designs in one of the books, most likely because he also illustrated some Star Wars novels and had the reference lying around in his studio.

Well I found another example of this, though I haven’t completely confirmed this insane crossover and I was hoping that someone out there on the internets would be able to conclusively help me solve a mystery!  I call it “Michael Knight and the Mystery of K.I.T.T. and the Blue Prowler!”.  Recently while surfing around on eBay I found an auction for a Greek Knight Rider read-along storybook and tape set.  At first glance I wasn’t all that interested in the set, but then the font used for the book title caught my eye.  There was something familiar about the shiny red and silver letters that I couldn’t quite place at first, but then it hit me, it was very similar to the Transformers packaging font…

Here’s an example of the TF font…

There were some more pictures in the auction, so when I was flipping through the rest I let out a little gasp.   Did I just see another storybook on the back that featured K.I.T.T. facing off against Prowl from the Transformers?!!!

Now the image file isn’t the greatest quality and the picture I’m referring to on the back of the packaging is kind of small, but if there’s one thing that’s imbedded in my memory from childhood it’s the silhouette of characters from their packaging art.  For some reason these have stuck with me, most likely because the packaging art was repurposed for a million and a half other bits of merchandise over the years, and I could swear that I was seeing Prowl blasting away at a speeding K.I.T.T.  When I looked up Prowl’s original packaging art to confirm this, I was a little bummed because I apparently wasn’t remembering it correctly…

It was similar but not exact.  But then I realized that not only did Hasbro re-use the packaging art all the time, they also took full advantage of repurposing (aka re-painting) the toy designs as well and it struck me that the Autobot Bluestreak also used Prowl’s toy design.  A quick search reveled that Bluestreak’s packaging art pose is almost identical to the one on the Greek Knight Rider storybook image even though it appears to have Prowl’s black and while color scheme…

What do you guys think?  Here’s a close-up of the image (in terrible quality, but I’m not a miracle worker…)

The right arm of the robot was brought down just a bit to fire the laser at K.I.T.T., but I’m not just seeing things am I? 

My quest now is to find a copy of this Greek Knight Rider storybook called POMIIOT ENANTION KITT so I can finally get a good look at this unlikely team-up.  I’m sure the person who illustrated this cover (and most likely the rest of the book) was just using the Transformers art as reference for a robot much in the same way Schmidt did on the Find Your Fate book for sake of ease.  But the idea of a Transformers/Knight Rider crossover is just too cool to let go.

Is there anyone out there that can hook me up with a copy of this Greek Knight Rider storybook?!?!

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  • Shawn Robare

    Steve – Thanks for translating the titles man! I finally got my hands on a copy of the book, and it’s really interesting that you say they had the license to both properties. Here’s the book: http://brandedinthe80s.com/mystery-solved-

  • Steve

    the transformers font letters say “?????? ??? ????????” which translates (thanks to google) to “KNIGHT OF ASPHALT”… the storybook you’re referring to says “?????? ???????? KITT” which translates to “ROBOTS VS KITT”. they were made by El Greco, who had the only Mediterranean license to Transformers during Generation 1.

  • Paxton Holley

    Holy crap, Shawn. That\’s amazing! It does look like Prowl. Hope you find it. I loved those GI Joe vs Transformers comics. They ruled.