June 04, 2006
Do these guys look familiar? They're supposed to. They were designed to trick grandmothers into thinking they were the "Star Wars figures" that their grandsons were always yammering about. Well I wasn't fooled, but I bought them anyway. These guys were a fraction of the price of an officially licensed Kenner toy, and it was time to upgrade my set of classic plastic army men. If you ever played with toy soldiers you'll understand why these were easily as enjoyable as any articulated, hand painted, Lucas-issued playthings. Let's take a look a the line up...
This fellow is even more reminiscent of a "knight" than Darth Vader himself. His head looks like something out of Jason and the Argonauts, his cape is more practical than Vader's and his "light sword" requires an even closer range. My question.. was there any thought put into the color pallet? All black, white, or even green would have done the job. A a fuschia overlord is so hard to take seriously. I shan't even discuss those boots.
I can't be certain of this character's Star Wars counterpart. I thought of him as a Tusken Raider (crab...sand...sand people), but I played him like a Storm Trooper since he is clearly evil and there was an abundance of this model.
Though he's obviously a Buck Rogers rip off, this fellow is the Skywalker-esque space hero. But unlike the fake Vader, they put tons of him in the bag so this left the good guys without a leader. To aid this I used the "hero" of the rarest color to command the group. If there were multiples of that color I would simply "bench" the duplicates. These guys used to have dorky antennae on their helmets. I made the decision to bite them all off.
And of course, the space heroine. I'm assuming it's because she's a woman that the designers felt the need to "add value" by placing her aside a computer terminal. This practically rendered the girls useless. All the ladies were destined to forever wait back at headquarters while the men tended to their brutish battles, because seeing those "cash registers" on the battlefield was just too absurd. My only other choice was to play them as captives who awaited a heroes rescue at the enemy headquarters.
I don't even need to elaborate on this droid. Well Ok, for all those gradmas who are reading.. this figure resembles a Star Wars character named R2-D2.
This guy, as well as the one below, was either recycled from an earlier series, or simply copied from the space toys of the 1960s. I've seen approximations of both poses in Space Race era astronaut sets. My guess is that he was originally holding a flag pole. Even as a kid I thought it was somewhat hilarious to see Buzz Aldrin fighting evil with his cosmic tape recorder.
Is he carrying a gun? A vacuum cleaner? A metal detector? This question annoyed me to no end. I eventually decided that whatever it was.. it was lethal.
Now this beast didn't come in my original pack of space men. He was added to the mix later on. I'm thinking that the success of Star Wars sequels prompted the manufactures to freshen up their line and continue to cash in. This was my favorite character, and there were only two to a bag. I always thought of him as a combination of Chewbacca and maybe one of the creatures from the Cantina. (or even a bounty hunter) I played him as a renegade whose loyalties shifted with the wind. He was always just looking out for number one. He never failed to make things interesting.
The revamped collection also included this wild new space vehicle.
I don't remember what this series was called. I'm sure they were sold under many names. They were available for at least a couple decades and it wouldn't surprise me if the molds were still in use.. churning out fresh troops for the unending cosmic struggle between good and evil.
UPDATE: Fun Blog reader Robert P. offeres this additional info...
...they were called "GALAXY LASER TEAM with space monsters". They were produced by a company called Processed Plastic Company (PPCo) for their Tim-Mee Toy Company brand. (Info from this page, towards the bottom: http://www.angelfire.com/biz/toysoldierhq/Timmeeciv.html)
PPCo was bought out by J. Lloyd International in 2005. You can see a couple of the Galaxy Laser Team figures at the bottom of their About Us page: http://www.processedplastic.com/aboutus.html