Filmation closed out the 70′s with one of their finest cartoons: The Adventures of Flash Gordon. Unfortunately, it lasted only 2 seasons. That may have been for the best given the wrong turn NBC forced it to take, ie: abandoning the serial format and adding Gremlin the Dragon. Recently, I rewatched most of the series. At times I squirmed. At times I was surprised by segments of beautiful animation. Whether you loved it or hated it one thing was for certain – there was great potential for toys!
Mattel picked up the property (probably hoping to capitalize on Star Wars’s success) and released 3 waves of figures and two vehicles. Here’s a site that has images from Mattel’s 1980 catalog. The first wave of figures consisted of: Flash Gordon, Ming the Merciless, Lizard Woman, and Thun the Lion Man. Wave two included: Dr. Zarkov and Beastman. Finally, wave three presented Captain Arak and Vultan. From the first wave to the third the figures are increasingly rare. For instance, Vultan with original, unbroken wings has sold on eBay from a low of $40 to a high of $120. (I was fortunate to get mine on the low side!) In this writer’s opinion the sculpts were outstanding for the time. I’m still of the mind that some of the face sculpts rival those found on 3 3/4" scale figures on the pegs today. Articulation ranged from 4 to 5 points depending on whether or not the figure had a swivel neck.
Wave 1: Thun, Lizard Woman, Flash Gordon, Ming:
Wave 2: Beastman, Dr. Zarkov:
Wave 3: Vultan, Captain Arak:
These first 3 waves were a great start. There was a good combination of main and secondary characters. But, dang, if it couldn’t have kept going. Besides the many intersting residents of Mongo that played smaller roles there were a few main characters that are sadly missing from this short lived line. Most notably: Dale Arden, Prince Barin, and Prncess Aura.
Dale Arden is Flash’s companion from Earth and is a main character that appears in every episode. This despite the fact that Flash flirted with just about every race’s female leader he encountered! She certainly deserves a figure for that fact alone. Prince Barin is the leader of the people of Arboria and, although he got off to a shaky start, became one of Flash’s closest allies and friends. Princess Aura is Ming’s daughter and forms an amusing love triangle with Flash and Prince Barin who eventually wins her love. She’s one of those characters that really makes us feel like geeks because even though she is just a cartoon we think she’s hot. Definitely needed a figure. I would add Metal Man to an imaginary fourth wave as these robot soldiers of Ming showed up often.
CantinaDan’s Picks for a wave 4: Dale Arden, Prince Baron, Princess Aura, Metal Man:
Early in the cartoon series the heroes (Flash, Thun, King Vultan, and Prince Baron) form an alliance in their struggle against Ming. I don’t know about you, but I get collector’s melancholy knowing one of the four, Prince Barin, will never grace the shelf that displays the other heroes.