Long before Buzz Lightyear was blasting off into space, kids have held an affinity for space-related toys – perhaps never more so than during the space race of the 1960s. As man reached for the stars, kids reached for the ultimate astronaut hero of the toy world – a well-equipped action hero known as Major Matt Mason.
Mattel Toys really outdid themselves with the Maj. Matt Mason collection, offering numerous pals and accessories to ensure that youngsters dreaming of their own first space walk had more than a few ways to exercise their imaginations through the adventures of this toy astronaut. Alongside Maj. Mason stood a fine team of cohorts including Doug Davis, Sgt. Storm and Jeff Long, not to mention humanoid Captain Lazer, and, direct from the Planet Jupiter, the impressive Callisto – complete with a transparent green head to show off his mental prowess. Together, this team of astronauts waged battle with their nemesis, Scorpio. With his ability to fire small spherical projectiles from his chest cavity and his eerily illuminated eyes and mouth, he proved to be a worthy adversary to these heroic space adventurers in their galactic war of good versus evil.
These molded and highly pose-able action figures weren’t limited to interacting with each other, however; there was an impressive arsenal of gadgets and scenarios to ensure that the planetary playtime possibilities were endless. Small accessories like a Jet Propulsion pack, which lifted up the space team, thanks to a string that passed through their backpacks, a water-firing Decontamination Gun, and a firing Satellite Launcher were just the tip of the asteroid. There were also a number of more elaborate accessories available including Moon Suits, and XRG-1 Space Glider (that really glided!) and a pair of robotic appendages called Supernaut Power Limbs (similar to those seen in the 1986 film, Aliens.) Of course, no Maj. Matt Mason collection was complete without the grand daddy of accessories, the lofty three-story Space Station. Kids lucky enough to score this little baby were the envy of the neighborhood.
All of these great additions to the Maj. Matt Mason line of toys would serve to win the hearts of future astronauts everywhere, thanks to their attention to detail, coupled with some serious functionality. They sold quite well until the 70s, when space race fever began to diminish among the kiddies. Today, the entire assortment of Maj. Matt Mason toys is coveted by many a collector – who are seemingly willing to pay any price for a chance to assemble a complete collection. They are truly some of the finest space toys to ever emerge from this galaxy.
Did you have a few Major Matt Mason items in your own toybox? We’d love to hear your recollections of “Mattel’s Man in Space” in our comments section, as we tip our hats to a true American hero.