July 22, 2012
RETURN OF THE GALAXY LASER TEAM
One of the first things I ever blogged about is an assortment of mysterious vintage plastic space figures I bought at a grocery store when I was a kid.
Since then, clues about the series have popped up around the web, and now they are commonly known as the Galaxy Laser Team (except for the time they were packaged as Star Patrol.) They were initially produced at the Processed Plastic Factory in Illinois and sold by Tim-Mee toys in 1978. Five-inch jumbo versions of the characters showed up in 1979, and later they became a product of Mexico. The set combined the fun of classic, plastic soldiers with our unquenchable craving for all things Star Wars, thus, during the handful of years that they were available they generated countless fond memories in young brains around the globe.
The supply of GLTs on ebay doesn't always match the demand, but now folks seeking a little outer space action have another option. The entire set has been reissued by Tim-Mee Toys and they are produced from the original molds.
The new 48 figure (and 2 starship) sets are available on Amazon for $12.50. The neon green and fuchsia color combos are gone in favor of the more logical black and gray. Unlike the seemingly random assortments in the sets of yore, each modern bag includes six of each figure design, three of both color which means that the forces are finally equally matched and countless skirmishes among friends and brothers can be avoided.
UPDATE: Jeff Imell of Victory Buy, the man we can thank for the reissue, comments:
"While researching the Team, I learned that Processed Plastic (Tim Mee) had some pretty tricked out machinery to not only manufacture, but to package their various figures. Figures were packed randomly according to weight from large bins, so they tried to keep all the different poses in a set about the same weight when they created the molds. The factory that's producing the reissues isn't using that packing machinery. Instead, the figures are cast in one color and immediately dumped into the plastic bag, and then those bags are run through again when they cast the second color. That's why the original sets were somewhat random, but the reissues contain an exact number of each figure. In this case, the mold contains 3 of each figure and one ship. This difference in the packaging part of production is also a big part of why the reissues are only in two colors. We'll have to weigh some of the GLT figures and see if they might have reworked the molds to balance out the weights of the different figures in the set"
Here's a look at one of each of them...
And here's an up-close comparison. The new one is on the right...
The new sculpts seem to be identical to the vintage figures with the slight exception of the robot and the turtle-crab guy. The robot's back is hollowed out and the turtle's shell is a bit flatter with a pattern of different proportions.
UPDATE: Regarding the differences, Jeff Imell says:
"I'm glad you mentioned the robot and turtle variants. These changes to the mold were not done for the reissue, but were made at some point in the past. You'll find original figures of both variants. It may have been done to save on plastic. I've also noticed that the robot feet are bigger on the hollowed out version, so it may not have been to save on plastic, or maybe the hollowed out robot was less stable than the full-figured predecessor."
Thanks to a Fun Blog commenter named Gustavo from Buenos Aires we also know that these characters made an appearance in Argentinan Children's magazine called "Anteojito" in 1980. They had their own monthly supplemental story line called "Ekaton, The People Lost In Space." Here are a few panels...
The full stories are available here...
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
It's not clear whether or not the story was designed to promote the toys, or if it's the product of a resourceful storyteller who was inspired by them. Regardless, I think it's thrilling to see the artist's interpretation and watch the team in action. Hollywood take note, the world is ready for a Galaxy Laser Team motion picture!