Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Collectible of the Week: Battlestar Galactica Action Figures (Mattel; 1978)

In 1978, Glen Larson’s Battlestar Galactica premiered on ABC television amid a merchandising and toy blitz from Mattel. 

The toy company released several small-size Colonial ships (and a Cylon Raider…), two large figures and a line of smaller, three-inch figures as well.

Released in the first Mattel figure series were Commander Adama (“the wise statesman,”) Lieutenant Starbuck (“flight leader”), The Imperious Leader (“Sinister Mastermind”), the Cylon Centurion (“evil warrior”), the Ovion (“Insect Enemy”) and Muffit the daggit (“robot pet.”)

The human figures -- Starbuck and Adama -- came garbed with capes and Colonial laser pistols but oddly, their faces boasted no color or facial detail.  The eyes and mouth were left unpainted, giving them a kind of “blank” pallor. 

The Cylon came with a fierce-looking, show-accurate rifle, and the Ovion was garbed in a kind of webby yellow shawl.

The second series of Mattel Battlestar Galactica figures consisted of the traitor Baltar, his robotic number one, Lucifer, a golden Cylon Commander, and a pig monster called a Boray from the episode “The Magnificent Warriors.”

There are two big omissions here as you likely noticed from the above tally. 

First, no Captain Apollo action figure was produced, and this is roughly akin to releasing a Star Wars line without Luke Skywalker, or a Star Trek line without Captain Kirk. 

Secondly, no female figures were produced.  I can understand why no Cassiopiea wasn’t made, given her non-kiddie designation as a“socialator” (prostitute…). But why on Earth wasn’t an Athena figure released?  Athena (Maren Jensen) was a shuttle pilot and bridge officer, for goodness sake.  I can’t think of another 1970s action-figure toy line off-hand (from Mego Star Trek, Black Hole and Buck Rogers to Kenner Star Wars to Mattel Space: 1999) that featured no female characters. 

At the time -- as a nine year-old kid -- the bigger concern for me was the glaring lack of a Captain Apollo figure.  I would sub-in a Han Solo figure, but the hair wasn’t right, obviously, and neither was the costuming.
I have very fond memories of my Granny from Texas, Tippie, buying me several of these Mattel BSG figures (and even doubling up on the Cylons so I could create an army…), and how thrilled I was to have them.  

Today, I still have all my original figures, though they are very heavily played with, and a few mint-in-box.  If memory serves, Lucifer is among the rarest and most prized of the bunch.


  1. The lack of an Apollo figure ticked me off big time. Was there any official reason why?

  2. Wow, brought back memories with this one. I had the silver cylon action figure, but lost the gun. If I remember right, the legs didn't move at all, but he was articulated at the arms and waist and neck. As such I could never get him in any of my Star Wars vehicles. He was my only Galactica figure, so he and Maximilian from "The Black Hole" were usually part of my Imperial army whenever Darth Vader decided to attack my Star Wars heroes. I also had a remote control Cylon fighter, which was devilishly hard to control and drained batteries like there was no tomorrow. It rolled around the floor real good and was always include in my Star Wars adventures as a dangerous ground vehicle. Ah... nostalgia. :)

  3. Anonymous12:02 PM

    John the missing Apollo figure was truly a mystery to me too as a boy in 1978.


  4. Moncynnes5:18 PM

    Back in the day, no Apollo didn't bother me -- I preferred Starbuck. Besides, with the lack of facial features, you could easily buy a second Starbuck, transfer his blaster to his left hand, and you were in business.

    Nowadays, I wonder how Richard Hatch felt about Dirk Benedict's popularity. Starbuck was supposed to be the sidekick, but he rapidly eclipsed Apollo in publicity materials and merchandising. For a young actor in what was supposed to be TV's biggest show, that must have hurt.

    Just think: if things had gone a little differently, we might have had Apollo coffee houses on every corner...

  5. Grayson8:17 PM

    Love BSG, even though I grew up with the edited episodes during the 1990s on The Sci-Fi Channel. And these toys are awesome!

    RE: Moncynnes

    I have read online that in at least one episode, which was written as Starbuck-centric, Richard Hatch convinced/complained enough to the producers to make it Apollo-centric.

  6. Anonymous10:38 PM

    Attention: on the 09/11/12 SyFy reality series Collection Intervention Richard Hatch stated that there was no Apollo action figure in '78 because he would not sign off and agree to using his likeness on it.