Friday, November 17, 2006

RETRO TOY FLASHBACK # 50: Buck Rogers Star Fighter Command Center

Last week for the retro toy flashback, I featured Mego's U.S.S Enterprise Bridge from 1980 (a favorite toy of mine...), and on a similar note, this week I'd like to remember another kindred Mego toy; also from 1980. It's Mego item # 85022. Otherwise known as the Buck Rogers Star Fighter Command Center (recommended for children over 5 years old. Thus, I barely qualify...).

Anyway, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century starring Gil Gerard ran on NBC TV from autumn 1979 to the Spring of 1981. It was a fun sci-fi show, and as a kid, I loved every campy minute of it. How could you not love a series featuring Erin Gray (in spandex...) and Pamela Hensley (showing mid-riff)? . Even as a child, I think I understood that the series was cheesy and inconsistent, but it hardly mattered. No, Buck Rogers in this incarnation was like James Bond in space; with neat spaceships, cool sets, and gorgeous ladies. The villains (which included Frank Gorshin and Julie Newmar), were also quite colorful.

Of course, I collected all of the Buck Rogers action figures of the day, though even my ten year old mind rebelled at the lack of care that went into some of the marketing. For instance, Princess Ardala was called "Ardella" on her action figure card. What, nobody could be bothered to spell check the character's name? And why make a figure of King Draco, who was barely in the show at all? And Kane was called "Killer Kane." He was never called that on the series; though that name came from earlier incarnations. Fine, whatever.

Anyway, Mego released a whole line of very cool Buck Rogers spaceships and toys, including the Directorate Starfighter (my favorite ship from the show), the Draconian Marauder (known as a Hatchet fighter on the series...), a Land Rover, and a Laserscope Fighter (not a design from the series). So it only makes sense that the same company would market a place to dock these ships, the Buck Rogers Star Fighter Command Center.

Christmas 1980 was the holiday of Buck Rogers for me. I'll never forget going over to my aunt and uncle's house in Summit, New Jersey and opening toy after toy -- all Buck Rogers models and figures (though, as I recall, this was also the Christmas of The Empire Strikes Back and my giant AT-AT. But that's another story).

The toy box suggests: "Issue commands to Buck and monitor his flight pattern with this authentic replica of the Buck Rogers Star Fighter Command Center!" Indeed.

The toy also includes "2 level deck with radar screens and railings, "Cut-out landing and launch pad for Buck's Star Fighter," and "landing control console for use with Mego Buck Rogers 3 3/4 action figures and all other poseable 3 3/4 action figures." Wow, railings and radar screens! Okay, maybe not that very exciting on retrospect, but for me as a kid, this was exactly the kind of toy I wanted.

What remains most interesting about this toy is that what you see displayed on the box is not necessarily the toy you get inside. On the box, for instance, the upper deck of the landing pad shows a chair from Star Trek's U.S.S. Enterprise bridge. In the actual toy, a different style chair is molded to the deck.

Also, the decals on the box and the decals of the actual set are completely different. Wonder why? I do know that Mego was juggling a number of licenses at the time, including Star Trek, Buck Rogers and The Black Hole, so there may have been some franchise confusion. Just a guess.

This just goes to show you that back in the 1970s and 1980s, even great toy companies like Mego weren't necessarily paying close attention to the exact details of their (admittedly wonderful) products. This isn't really an "authentic replica" of the landing bay on the series. That's okay, it's still a fun toy, but authentic? Naah.

As you can see from the pictures, this toy today holds a cherished spot in my home office. Bidi-bidi-bidi.

1 comment:

  1. joey-bishop_jr1:37 AM

    Man, your office is like a treasure chest!!!