Thursday, August 25, 2005

Retro Toy Thursday Flashback # 7: Ideal's S*t*a*r* Team


Back in that magical and happy year, 1977 (when I was but seven...), when Kenner's Star Wars action-figures were tearing up the toy market in a way not seen since Mego's Planet of the Apes line, a number of other companies wanted to get in on the outer space action too. From that great company called Ideal came a toy line with a special place in my heart, a modification of a long-standing toy-line called Zeroids (from the 1960s). These robot figures and ships were brought out of mothballs and re-imagined for the post-Star Wars kids, and christened...S*T*A*R* TEAM!

My grandmother and grandfather on my father's side bought me my first toys from the line for my eighth birthday, in particular, a red and white flying-saucer like spaceship called STAR HAWK (No. 4601-1). This is, as described by the box, "the spacecraft of ZEROID." Zeroid, in case you are wondering, is a nifty robot with a "twin tread base" that looks a little bit like R2-D2, if you're inclined to make comparisons (pictured left, with the ship). His arms have positive/negative symbols for hands, and his head dome lights up and flashes when activated with the two AA batteries (not included).

Anyway, the STAR HAWK came complete withfour gray landing "pods," the ZEROID robot himself, and a special motor that would rotate the canopy and open the ship's front hatch. All I can say is that with this toy, I was in Heaven. It was great. I sent that little 'droid and his spacecraft on a number of cosmic adventures, mixing-and-matching with G.I. Joes, and Mego superhero kits to build a universe around the toy.

But soon, I really got into the STAR TEAM action when I found at a yard sale somewhere in New Jersey the Zeroid's mortal Enemy, KNIGHT OF DARKNESS (Number 4603-7). "This fearsome enemy of Zeroid and ZEM-21" is a Lord Darth Vader look-alike (again, if you're into comparisons), with a neat black and silver uniform (and cape). He comes equipped with a nasty laser gun, and in his black boots and control panel belt stands at 11' tall. The Knight of Darkness is indeed a fearsome adversary, and now I had a new villain to chase Zeroid's Star Hawk around outer space. Though I still lacked minions and so had to rely on Apes figures, Six-Million Dollar Man figures (like Bigfoot or Maskatron!) and the like. The Knight of Darkness is pictured to the right.

And hey, did the box mention a fella called ZEM-21? Whoa! I soon found out who he is. Well, Zemmy Baby is sort of the C-3PO of this particular toy line, (No. 4602-9), a bipedal, green-faced "metal plated humanoid robot." His metallic skin is silver, and he proved to be the perfect companion to ZEROID on those adventures. He is pictured immediately to the left. You can see, his box isn't in such good condition these days.

Last week, I wrote a little bit about the joy of my Starcruiser 1 model kit, from Gerry Anderson, and how I liked to invent the universe around the kit. I found the same joy with these robots, their neat spaceship, and their black-and-silver nemesis, designed by Ideal for ages 5 & up. Even if the toys appear modestly derivative of Star Wars, this was yet another opportunity (as a kid) to put my own imprint on original adventures. I'm sure that somehow, someway, these toys contributed to me becoming a writer in adulthood.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun sharing time with these 28-year old toys, and today, the Star Hawk, Zeroid, Zem-21 and the Knight of Darkness have a shelf of honor in my office (see below). Does anyone out there remember the Zeroids? I know there are a lot of collectors of the 1960s versions (which are some friggin' awesome toys). But can anyone remember having played with or seen on shelves the S*T*A*R* Team? Sometimes I think I'm the only one who remembers 'em...

5 comments:

  1. Anonymous5:00 PM

    I recently picked up the Knight of Darkness a garage sale myself. I'm in the process of ebaying it. After doing a little bit of research, it has been determined it would be more valuable in the hands of Captain Action Collectors, as it is the same made from the same mold. However the color is black.

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  2. Anonymous7:25 AM

    ..And Zem 21 was created from Ideal's Action Boy figure (the Captain's sidekick). I have Zem 21 and the Knight too, though secondhand quality.

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  3. Anonymous7:18 PM

    I wondered what that robot I sold as part of a lot on Ebay was!!! Now I'm selling the Knight on ebay with another mixed lot...Thanks for tickling my memory bank!

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  4. Anonymous8:54 PM

    I just picked up the Star Hawk robot without the space ship. Does anyone know if the light inside him works without the space ship? If so, how do I get to the battery space?
    Thanks!

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  5. I had Zeroid, and the Knight of Darkness. But don't remember having Zeroid's spaceship. I wonder if you could buy him without the ship.

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