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...