June 04, 2006

SPACE SOLDIERS


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

18 comments:

dr.dave said...

Thanks for THAT flashback...

God, I can't wait till my Dad finally kicks it so we can raid his house and dig up all this old stuff!

dean reusser said...

could be a microphone, but my guess is a nuclear sensor. nice line-up, I assumer they are the same height as the starwars.later DTR.

2complx said...

The green dude way cool!

Flamen Dialis said...

Great post! My 8 year-old son still has some of these, and believe it or not, they can still be found on shelves in cheap $2 bag assortments! They're still molded in the exact same colors! Just the other day I was in a Dollar General Store and spotted a bag of astronaut figures very similar to the 1960s astronaut that is depicted here - essentially the Marx molds - but they were packaged with way cool moon rover vehicles with sitting astronaut figures that I'd never seen before. Molded in grey plastic. There's another set that circulates fairly frequently of Marx astronauts, molded in classic red and blue colors, with the "skinny" Marx astronauts - the ones holding the absurd coils of rope and weird looking right-angle micrometer contraptions, and many holding those indistinct tape-deck looking things. I love this stuff!

Flamen Dialis said...

By the way, did you know that the green martian chewbacca-styled creature figure was also marketed in a larger size? It was about 4" or 5" in height, molded in that very same lime green plastic. My guess is that the smaller version was roto'd from the larger one, because the details in the large version were softer. I kid you not - I had one sitting on my desk at work for years...

Kirk D. said...

I'll cover multiple responses here...

Dr. Dave.. You're welcome!

Dean.. I was already thinking I should have put a penny in the photo for scale! These are about half the size of traditional Star Wars figures.

2complx.. You said it man!

Flamen..
I'm thrilled to hear these are still entertaining the kiddies. I sense a dollar store raid coming on. (I've got at least five in the immediate area.)

And I'd completely forgotten about it but yes, I have seen the large version of the green guy on ebay. (At first, I thought I was seeing things.) Suddenly, I need one.

Melissa Marsh said...

Oh wow...I saw the photo of these guys and memories came flooding back. My two brothers and I had these - I immediately had to email them and point them to your site to see if they remembered them.

LOVE the Secret Fun Spot site! I stayed up way too late last night walking down memory lane. :-)

Kirk D. said...

Thanks Melissa! I'm glad to hear the site did its job.

Travis said...

Great Post, Kirk!

AWG said...

Nice pix! Very sharp quality.

Kirk D. said...

Thanks travis and awg, I'm happy to please.

JLS said...

The robot looks more like Huey, Duey and Louie from the 1970s movie "Silent Running".

Kirk D. said...

I haven't seen Silent Running. I'll check it out!

shornk said...

Wow, I remember these from childhood. Thanks for the memories.

Gus said...

I can't believe I found these figures here. I always thought these characters were the companion figures of a cartoon called "Ekaton, the people lost in space", that was part in 1980 of the "Anteojito" magazine for children of Argentina. Take a look at this:
Episode 1: http://www.mediafire.com/view/?3g2on5wdv741qpq
Episode 2: http://www.mediafire.com/view/?qpxa9ch5hcvfnv3
Episode 3: http://www.mediafire.com/view/?mbut5dvx71zgu43
Episode 4: http://www.mediafire.com/view/?osy8p6ruaf82o86
Unfortunately, I could find the last episode ...
Regards from Buenos Aires ...
Gustavo

Kirk D. said...

Gus- Wow, that's incredible to see these figures in an existing story! I had no idea. I'll be writing a new post about these soon because of the re-release of the figures and I'll be sure to include some shots from these comics. Thanks very much!!

Gus said...

You're welcome Kirk! I'm very intrigued now, question is: what was first, the comic or the figures? In a before-Internet era, It could be very tempting to take a story written "in a far far away Country" to market the characters as figures without royalties or viceversa: Bulk-buying an already existing character set from "North America", writing a story around and distribute them as companion figures of the magazine (I'm more akin the second). Being a 80's kid, the story and figures are a very fond memory, I'd like to have the answer ... Regards!

Kirk D. said...

Gus, I was wondering the very same thing. It would seem strange to create a whole set of toys based on a story that didn't even get it's own comic book, or show. The magazines are from 1980 so I wonder if any of the packaged figures pre-date that.
I've also wondered if the astronaut molds were around before the others because they are such a different style and don't have a Star Wars influence.
Hopefully we'll know the answer someday.