Sunday, April 12, 2015

At Flashbak: Ideal's STAR Team!

Another one of Flashbak articles from this week remembers one of my favorite Star Wars (1977) knock-off toy lines: Ideal's STAR Team.

"The year was 1977 or 1978, and the thing I wanted most in the world as a second grader was simple.

Star Wars action figures. Lots and lots of them.

Kenner was releasing its first line of the small action figures, and if memory serves, my best friend already had the Early Bird box (a sampling of the first releases, which included Luke, Leia, R2D2 and Chewbacca.)

Then the figures came out in general release, and I wanted to collect them all, and fast. My parents asked my grandparents to buy me Star Wars toys for my upcoming birthday, and I was certain all was right with the world. The Force was with me.

But then there was a disturbance in the Force: My grandparents gave me my birthday present in a huge box. It was much too big to be Kenner action figures.

I opened the package with great anticipation and trepidation only to find inside not a Star Wars toy, but a knock-off one instead: Ideal’s S.T.A.R. Team Zeroid (a domed rip-off of R2D2) and the Star Hawk, the “spaceship of the ZEROID” according to the box.

The Star Hawk came complete with four gray landing "pods," the ZEROID robot himself (sometimes blue; sometimes red), and a special motor that would rotate the canopy and open the ship's front hatch.

I was so disappointed.

My grandparents had been duped…or at least confused. These weren’t Star Wars toys.  They were blatant knock-offs.

And now here I was with a toy that wasn’t from Star Wars at all.

But a funny thing happened. After a short time playing with the ZEROID and his flying-saucer ship, I realized they were awesome toys. Instead of recreating the events of Star Wars, I was suddenly creating a whole new space universe instead.

Before long, my love of the S.T.A.R. Team grew. I found at a yard sale somewhere in my home-state of New Jersey the Zeroid's mortal Enemy, KNIGHT OF DARKNESS.

"This fearsome enemy of Zeroid and ZEM-21" is a Lord Darth Vader look-alike or knock-off with a black-and-silver uniform and cape. He came equipped with a nasty laser gun, and in his black boots and control paneled belt stands at 11 inches tall.

The Knight of Darkness is indeed a fearsome adversary, and now I had a new villain to chase Zeroid's Star Hawk around outer space...." (cont. at Flashbak). 

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