Monday, November 14, 2016

Memory Bank: Electronic U.S.S.Enterprise (South Bend; 1979)



The toy you are looking at was the holy grail for myself as a nine-ten year old kid. 

The year was 1979, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture was coming to theaters.  At the same time, new toys and model kits were landing in the toy stores by the droves. It was an amazing time to be a kid, and a Star Trek fan.

South Bend produced a pair of dueling phasers, and this amazing toy, which the box art described as a "replica of the NEW U.S.S. Enterprise," complete with "integrated circuitry."

This toy also featured "throbbing warp engines" and "phaser firing sounds," plus "flashing bridge lights," and a "space docking cradle," (better known as a stand).  

But the cool thing about this easy, "snap together" toy (besides the fact that "no gluing is necessary") is that it could be disassembled and re-assembled as other vessels.  The Enterprise thus "offers choice of 5 exciting Starfleet ships."

I thought this was amazing, but finding a toy store that carried the South Bend Toy was nearly impossible, at least where I lived. 

I finally saw a rack of them at Two Guys in Totowa, but the Enterprise cost 19.99 at that point. In 1979, that was a lot of money, and I couldn't convince my parents to spring for it. Especially because they had already bought me the expensive AMT model kit.

It was not until 1999 -- twenty years  later -- that I got my hands on a used South Bend Electronic U.S.S.Enterprise. It was being sold at Sweet Union Flea Market in Monroe, NC, for ten dollars.  I happily forked over the cash, and the toy is now on display in my home office. 

Now and then, I still take it off the "space cradle" and re-configure the ship to be another vessel in the fleet. And the "integrated circuits" still work, after all these decades.



3 comments:

  1. John, great story on your quest and final acquisition of this wonderful toy. I love the displays in the picture above of Star Trek, Space:1999 and UFO items in your office.

    SGB

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  2. I remember seeing these in the store and lusting after one too. I really loved the way they updated the design of the Enterprise for the movie. Sadly I never got one. I did get a poster that was a cutaway view of the new Enterprise though and it had pride of place on my bedroom wall for quite some time.

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  3. I remember how excited and amazed I was to discover a small stack of these for sale at a store on a Virginia Beach Navy Base in October of 1979...two full months before the movie opened! I begged my stepmom to buy me one and I took it to a nearby Trek convention, which got me a lot of attention ( after all, most fans had yet to see the new Enterprise in three dimensions ). Not only that, but it served to introduce me to NASA scientist and technical consultant on Star Trek The Motion Picture, Jesco Von Puttkamer, who was a guest at the con. He was a fascinating gentleman who entertained us for hours. A few years ago I was able to acquire an unused specimen in box, but I still have my vintage one, proudly on display in my geek room.

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