Simply stated, I have never loved a toy more than I love this one. On December 3, 1976 -- my seventh birthday -- my parents gave me this incredible, large-scale ("over 2 1/2 feet long!") replica of the workhouse spaceship from my favorite TV show, Gerry & Sylvia Anderson's Space:1999 starring Martin Landau and Barbara Bain.
The toy you see photographed here is the one I have carried with me from New Jersey to Virginia to my current home in North Carolina, for nearly 30 years. Today, it sits proudly on my new glass desk.
This Eagle 1 Spaceship toy is just so much fun, I don't know where to begin. Let's start with the box copy: "It's a space vehicle, it's a headquarters and living quarters on Moonbase Alpha! With three 3" TV characters." Wow. Very fun. And I love the box art too. Brings back a whole era of futurism that doesn't exist anymore. Not grungy (like Star Wars); not pulpy (like Flash Gordon) and not technology unchained (like Star Trek). This is a utilitarian design from a believable extrapolation of the future. Or so it looked in 1975. Just one step beyond the Apollo program, so I hoped.
The greatest thing about this Eagle is that it was really all kitted up, to use a phrase I picked up from Blake's 7. This means that the cockpit "hatch" opens to reveal the pilot seats inside. This means that the two side doors open to reveal a cleverly constructed ship interior with a winch, a gun rack, and two chairs. This means that the space-suited figures of Commander John Koenig, Dr. Helena Russell and Professor Bergman came fully equipped with removable back-pack/chest packs, space helmets, and laser rifles and pistols. There is also a hatch on the floor of the compartment, through which you can lower your people into a "world beyond belief."
And if you longed to play with a different style craft, you could even take this Eagle apart, and make a smaller scout ship, or a "mini-space ship" as the box suggested.
Produced by Mattel, this toy is simply a beautiful design, and fairly faithful to the TV series. My old Eagle is showing its age these days with peeling stickers and yellowed glue marks, but for me, it will always represent my childhood, hours of fun, and "the future!" I used to take this thing out into the back yard at my house in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, or up into the trails nearby. My Moonbase Alpha team would encounter all kinds of adventures. In particular, I always re-created in miniature the scary episode "Dragon's Domain," concerning a cyclopean, tentacled beast which would kill astronauts (and spit their steaming bones out...). I even remember to this day that I used a giant squid from an old-fashioned (large-sized) G.I. Joe submarine playset as my tentacled space monster. Unfortunately, I didn't keep that!
Can't believe the year 1999 actually passed six years ago. For me, this Eagle will always be "the future" and I will always consider this toy the cat's meow. I intend to be buried with it, when the day comes...
Thursday, November 24, 2005
RETRO TOY FLASHBACK 18: Eagle 1 Spaceship (1976)
"I don't know if it's art, but I like it!" - The Joker, in Tim Burton's Batman (1989) Bob Kane and B...