Thursday, December 25, 2014

Coolest Toy Ever - Mattel SPACE: 1999 Eagle 1 (Holiday Re-Post)

This is the fifth in a series of special re-posts for the holidays, remembering the coolest sci-fi toys of the Space: 1970 era. Hope you enjoy these "reruns" and have a great holiday season. Merry Christmas!

On Christmas morning 1976, I received one of the greatest gifts of my entire childhood. Better even than my Star Trek and Planet of The Apes Mego figures. It was Mattel's two-foot long Eagle Transporter playset from Space: 1999.

This thing was a monster and came with small action figures of Moonbase Alpha's John Koenig, Helena Russell and Victor Bergman in their bright orange space suits. There were also tiny accessories like little laser guns, helmets and other bits of exploratory equipment. The cockpit opened and could hold two figures, and the passenger compartment was large enough to reach in and move them around. There was even a hatch in the bottom with a working winch!

The nose section and red engine section were detachable and could even be joined together to make a small reconnaissance craft. It was, without a doubt, the coolest spaceship toy ever.

Sadly, this is not a photo of my Eagle (I wish!) - all that remains of the one I received all those decades ago is the main chassis and nothing else; all the other parts having been lost or destroyed through years of dangerous space missions to the alien planets of my backyard. Oh, the perils I used to subject that tiny crew of Alphans to!

Obviously, I got an awful lot of fun out of that thing, and if my fortunes ever turn around, I'd love to hunt down an intact one one day.

Of course, I later had the Eagle (and Hawk fighter) model kits, and they were cool, too, but once built, there really wasn't much you could do with the ships other than display them. That didn't actually stop me from playing with mine, though... which is why they no longer survive!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Second-Coolest Toy Ever: Kenner's 18" ALIEN Action Figure (Holiday Re-post)

This is the fourth in a series of special re-posts for the holidays, remembering the coolest sci-fi toys of the Space: 1970 era. Hope you enjoy these "reruns" and have a great holiday season.

In my opinion, the legendary 18" Alien action figure from Kenner is a close second for the coolest toy of the Space: 1970 era - though I'm sure that many other Star Kids would rank it at #1.

And I might too, if I'd actually owned one. I do remember seeing one in the store in '79 and being both fascinated and frightened by it. I hadn't seen the movie - only coverage of it in Starlog and Fantastic Films - but I did ask my folks to buy it for me. Unfortunately once my mom glimmed the price tag and got a good look at the sheer grotesqueness of the figure, there was no way she was going to pick it up for me. Instead, I'm pretty sure I got a Moonraker space shuttle model kit... and, you know, I was pretty happy with that.

Still, over the years, I've kept my eye out for one of these treasures, but alas, I've never found one I could afford. I have, on occasion, had an opportunity to inspect other people's Aliens, though, and I'm rather astounded by the level of detail that Kenner managed; I'm sure that's part of the reason for the larger-than-usual scale. I'm also amazed that Kenner got away with marketing a toy like this to kids, not only because it's so scary, but because it was derived from an R-rated horror film.

Ahhh... the Seventies.

Third Coolest Toy Ever: Kenner's BIONIC BIGFOOT Action Figure (Holiday Re-post)

This is the third in a series of special re-posts for the holidays, remembering the coolest sci-fi toys of the Space: 1970 era. Hope you enjoy these "reruns" and have a great holiday season.

The third coolest toy of the Seventies was, without a doubt, Kenner's Bionic Bigfoot from the Six Million Dollar Man.

Unlike the terrifying-but-desperately-coveted Kenner Alien, I did own one of these beauties for a while, although, oddly, I never had a Steve Austin action figure. This meant that Bigfoot usually battled my Mego Superman or teamed up with the Planet Of The Apes Gorilla Soldier against Captain Kirk. Man, those were epic backyard confrontations! Bigfoot wasn't particularly well-articulated, but at a towering 15" he was damned imposing - especially when pitted against the smaller-scale Megos.

On a related note - which Bionic Bigfoot did you prefer - Ted Cassidy or André the Giant?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fourth Coolest Toy Ever: Mego STAR TREK Communicators (Re-post)

This is the second in a series of special re-posts for the holidays, remembering the coolest sci-fi toys of the Space: 1970 era. Hope you enjoy these "reruns" and have a great holiday season. 

When I was in fifth or sixth grade (circa 1975-76), my pal Mark Usher and I formed a short-lived Star Trek "club." There were four of us in all, as I remember, and once a week, we'd all go over to Mark's house after school and basically play Star Trek all afternoon. He lived on an old farm, and his parents cleaned out an old outbuilding for us to use as a clubhouse - or, in our case, "starship." His father even made a sign that said "U.S.S. Enterprise" and placed it over the door. (I vaguely recall that he misspelled it somehow, but I could be misremembering.)

His mother was an artsy-craftsy sort, and she wanted to make sure that we weren't getting into trouble, so she actually created Trek-themed projects for us to do. We made plywood "control panels" for our "ship" - including a "transporter console" with sliding levers (wide beads on strings) - which Mark's father mounted on the walls of the shack. We made uniforms out of appropriately colored tee-shirts, which his mother helped us draw insignias on with fabric paints, and we made papier-mâché planets, which we suspended from the ceiling of our clubhouse/starship with fishing line.

But mostly, we role-played being crew members of the Enterprise, and explored the alien cornfields and woods on the Usher property. We kept in touch with the Mego Star Trek Communicators, which were - as the advertising proudly exclaimed, "real, working walkie-talkies!" But unlike the other walkie-talkies we had as kids, these had flip-up lids, just like the ones on TV. Of course, they were considerably larger than their television counterparts, colored blue, and had telescoping antennae - but they worked.

If you didn't wander too far apart, anyway.

Mark also had the "Command Communications Console," which was a nicely Trek-styled base set tuned to the same CB frequency, and the only actually working piece of equipment in our ramshackle starship. It didn't get used much, as I recall, because no one wanted to be the Communications Officer and stay behind "on the ship" while the rest went exploring.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Fifth Coolest Toy Ever: Milton Bradley's STAR BIRD (Holiday Re-Post)

This is the first in a series of special re-posts for the holidays, remembering the coolest sci-fi toys of the Space: 1970 era. Hope you enjoy these "reruns" and have a great holiday season. 

In the late Seventies everybody wanted a piece of the Star Wars merchandising goldmine, even companies that didn't have a license. In 1979, Milton Bradley Electronics introduced the best of the wannabe products, though, incorporating then-cutting-edge electronics into a sleekly-designed starship toy that, while original, looked like it should have been in Star Wars. They called it The Star Bird - and it was the coolest 70s space toy that wasn't based on a movie or TV show.

The toy was equipped with electronics that created an engine sound when turned on. If the toy was pointed upwards the sound would be altered by a ball bearing switch to generate an acceleration or taking-off effect, while a nose down orientation produced the sound of decelerating engines. A button at the rear of the cockpit activated the red LEDs at the front of the toy, along with a blast noise, to simulate the firing of the vessel's blasters.

MB offered a couple of variations on the Star Bird design, including a "fighter" configuration known as The Avenger and black plastic-molded version of the fighter, called the Intruder. A Star Bird Command Base was also offered. 

The Star Bird is, in this Star Kid's opinion, the fifth-coolest toy ever - it would probably ranked higher if the ship had actually appeared in a TV show or movie.(And unlike the other really cool non-TV/movie ship, the Interplanetary U.F.O. Mystery Ship model, you could really play with the more rugged Star Bird!)