“Mattel’s Man in Space!”
Space exploration was the dream of many a young mind in the late 1960s, and Major Matt Mason helped bring some of those fantasies to life (or at least to make-believe life) with his assortment of pals, vehicles, and other cool space stuff.
The spaceman himself was an action figure in the classic mold – heroic, handsome, and fully-poseable. With his accordion-styled joints, Matt could not only strike a heroic pose, he could interact with the entire lunar world Mattel built around him.
Sgt. Storm, Doug Davis and Jeff Long joined the Major’s space exploration team, and the human astronauts were occasionally visited by the large humanoid spaceman Captain Lazer and the Jupiter native Callisto, whose mental powers were evident in his transparent green head.
The side of space villainy was represented by Scorpio, who fired tiny balls from a chest pack and whose light-flashing eyes and mouth let everyone see his creepiness even in the dark.
The figures were well-designed and suitably awe-inspiring, but the most coveted items in any kid’s Major Matt Mason collection were always the accessories.
The smaller items were cool enough – the water-shooting ‘Decontamination Gun’, the spinner-firing Satellite Launcher, the spring-loaded Rocket Launcher, the Jet Propulsion Pack (which moved Matt and his cohorts up and down a string line that passed through the pack), and so on.
But the bigger items included everything from a portable moon tent to a rubber-armed Moon Suit (operated with a hose and bellows), the Gamma Ray-Gard (which fired spring-like tubes), the United Space Hauler, the battery-powered Astro-Trac, the XRG-1 Experimental Re-entry Glider (it really glided), a set of Supernaut Power Limbs (akin to the exo-suits in 1986’s Aliens), and the coup de grace, the three-storey Space Station home base (pictured below).
Nearly every item in the Major Matt Mason line was as functional as it was great-looking. These were toys that actually did things while still leaving plenty to the young imagination.
It was love at first sight for space-crazed kids, who kept the Major Matt Mason toys at the top of their wish lists for years.
As the Space Race dwindled and waned, so did Major Matt Mason’s fortunes. After man finally set foot on the moon in 1969, popular enthusiasm for moon exploration died down surprisingly quickly, and so did most kids’ enthusiasm for the Major and his toys.
Faithful space-lovers helped keep Major Matt Mason on toy shelves through the early 1970s, but the Major retired from service before the middle of the decade.