Monday, December 01, 2008

The Outer Space Men

Here's something that I came across on YouTube awhile back:

I have vague memories of these toys when I was four or five. Most of the characters were too weird for my taste, but I do recall having a Commander Comet action figure. Here is how he is described by their Web site: "From Olympus, largest of the great cloud cities of Venus, the mighty cloud ship Cumulus sets forth. Like a fiery comet it blazes through the blackness of outer space toward Earth. Its captain, Commander Comet, is a direct descendant of the mighty Zeus, leader of the historic first Venusian expedition to Earth, which landed near the Grecian Isles 3,000 years ago. Commander Comet's present mission is one of routine Earth surveillance, and once within the atmosphere of Earth, his ship will join the great fleet of Venusian craft that float like clouds above our planet night and day, watching undetected over our world."

I didn't quite understand all that when I was a kid, but I remember getting him because he looked like a super hero. I figured he was something like Thor; a mythological figure who traveled to Earth to help people in trouble. He was still a little strange looking, though, and I don't think I played with him for very long.

The creator of the toy line, Mel Birnkrant, says that the line was designed to compliment the then popular Major Matt Mason series. The thinking was that these Outer Space Men would give Matt Mason some buddies to pal around with in space other than his human astronaut friends. I guess they weren't aware that Mattel had already made some alien characters of their own for the Matt Mason line. Although the connection is obvious to me now, I never put it together as a kid. I never thought to play with both Matt Mason and Commander Comet at the same time. Perhaps other kids didn't either, because Colorform's space men never experienced the popularity that Matt Mason had. It didn't matter anyway, since interest in space exploration and space-related toys fizzled pretty quickly after NASA put a man on the moon. Here are some videos Mr. Birnkrant put together to explain the history of The Outer Space Men:

Apparently, Mr. Birnkrant is trying to revive the series as a collectible for all us Baby Boomers and slightly post-Baby Boomers who have fond memories of the toy. Currently, a new graphic novel has been released based on the characters. It never ceases to amaze me how these old toys keep resurfacing in new forms.

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