Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Collectible of the Week: Star Bird Command Base (Milton Bradley; 1978)

One of the greatest of all Star Wars knock-off toy lines came from Milton Bradley in the late 1970s.  The Electronic Star Bird (Milton Bradley) came first, and later the The Star Bird Avenger and The Star Bird Intruder.  The designs for these plastic, interactive starships were fantastic, and the vessels could even come apart and re-form in new combinations, not entirely unlike the Micronaut Hornetroid or the Mattel Eagle One that I covered here last week.

My (now-deceased) grandfather drove me all over New Jersey in 1979 in an effort to find a Star Bird.  We finally found both at Willowbrook Mall in what I believe was a Radio Shack.  He purchased the ship for me at a price of thirty dollars, and then took me to lunch at Roy Rogers.  It was a day I’ll never forget, and which means a lot to me, especially now.

From the same Milton Bradley set comes the Star Bird Command Base, a huge “action control center” for the Electronic Star Bird. 

As the back of the box describes it: “The command base is a fabulous, fun accessory for more great excitement with your Star Bird.  Assemble the strikingly detailed fiber board and action plastic parts.  When you’re done, you have a specially equipped elevator base and control tower.”

Features of the base include:

Anti-invasion laser guns: Set the turret bases into the corners of the tower cap. Mount the anti-invasion laser guns into any two of the bases and you can rotate them to return enemy fire.”

Real working crane and hoist: Fit the working crane and hoist into any one of the four turret bases.  Pick-up the transport vehicle and swing it into the maintenance tunnel.”

Transport vehicle:You’ll have lots of fun with the transport vehicle.  It has four rolling wheels and a special carrier unit designed to hold the laser guns, Star Bird’s escape pod, its power thruster engine, or interceptors.”

Interceptor landing deck: Star Bird’s interceptors sweep onto the Control Tower’s special landing deck.  Rush them over to the main landing platform on the transport vehicle using the multi-purpose carrier.”

Requiring assembly, the Star Bird Command Base is absolutely huge at a height of over 25”.  I had one of these for the longest time, but then in a fit of over-generosity gave mine away to a friend’s child in 1997.  I’ve regretted being so nice ever since. What was I thinking?

Just kidding!

I recently got my hands on the very Command Base you see pictured in this post, and Joel and I assembled it together last week.  He promptly manned the control tower with Zama, Horta, Dard, Brack and other rubber Diener “robots” from the same era.  All the orange, plastic astronauts that actually go with the set, however, have been termed “Under Men” by Joel and can only work under the base, not on the actual tower.  Don’t ask me why.


  1. Anonymous11:06 AM

    John your Grandfather was truly awesome for what he did that day in 1979. It is obvious why you will never forget it. I won't ask, but if you ever find out why your son has designated them "under men" please let me know. I think he will probably explain it to you while playing with it one day and it will be logical.


    1. Hi SGB:

      My grandfather was a big, gruff, growly-voiced man, and an absolute sweetheart if you could get past the sense of bluster that sometimes accompanied his loud and booming voice. I loved him very much, and he passed away in 2003 after a long illness. The last time I had the opportunity to see him, I came down with chicken-pox, and couldn't get close, lest I infect him, and damage his impaired systems. So that kind of stinks.

      But I have wonderful memories of that day, going to Willowbrook Mall, and to Roy Rogers afterwards. He took me to Toys R Us and other stores to find the Star Bird, and then we finally found it. But he was very patient, going to place after place!

      I'm not certain why Joel calls the Star Bird Command Base personnel "under men." I think it has something to do with the fact that the base stands on support struts, and has an "under" section beneath the tower. For some reason, that's where he wanted them to go, while the robots took prime real estate! :)

      I'll ask him about the nomenclature, however. I'm sure you're right; there's probably some rational explanation for it...


  2. Anonymous11:54 AM

    This used to be one of my favorite toys when I was a kid. I never had the actual Starbird ship though, just the base. My grandparents surprised me with it one day. My best friend and I would spend hours playing with it with any action figures and ships we could find. Great quality cardboard too. I still keep my eyes open on Ebay now and then for this but it usually runs for more than I'm willing to pay. Thanks for posting this - it sure brought back memories.

  3. Anonymous8:08 AM

    WOW...that takes me back. I don't THINK I had the Command Base, but I did have both the Starbird Avenger and the Intruder. Very good, very special toys. Does anyone have an idea of how much they're worth today?

  4. Anonymous5:52 AM


    I do have Starbird, Avenger, Station and Intruder for sell
    send me a message with in title starbird

  5. I still want to buy this toy, or at least, a new version of it.

  6. I had one as a kid too, fantastic playset.
    I think my mum gave it to my cousin in the end, he probably set fire to it like he did everything else. :/