I don’t know about you, but for me nostalgia plays a huge part in my toy collecting habits.
As I got older, entered into marriage and then parenthood I started to attempt to curtail my collecting habits. I have tried to stop being a magpie collector, picking up every new and shiny thing that caught my eye. Instead I began focusing on things that I really was interested in, and things that had already been a part of my life for a significant period of time, or held special meaning.
The top of that list was GI Joe and super-heroes. And, to this day those comprise the majority of my collection in one form or another. There’s some other things from days gone by such as He-Man, Star Wars and Star Trek and the like. These things stir memories of things otherwise long forgotten. Holding the Namor figure from Hasbro’s Marvel Universe calls to mind a cover from the old Savage Sub-Mariner series where Namor was crouched on a dock as some hulking sludge monster rose up to attack him.
It’s amazing, these memories locked inside of us…just waiting for something to trigger them.
So, it is with The Outer Space Men.
On May 1st the Four Horsemen, a group of toy designers beloved by fans for their work on Masters of the Universe (200X and Classics) and DC Universe Classics (not to mention a long history of past works for McFarlane Toys) announced they’d acquired the license to produce figures based upon The Outer Space Men property released by Colorforms in the late 60s.
The Outer Space Men was a line of bendy aliens done in the scale and style of Mattel’s Major Matt Mason line from the same time period. While the good Major was a mighty cool toy for the time, the Outer Space Men were insanely cool. Wild, far-out designs.
I had Major Matt Mason, the Space Crawler vehicle and 1 or 2 of the Outer Space Men. I know the MMM stuff was hand-me-down from my older brother, but I don’t recall if The Other Space Men were. Either way, I had them, and I played with them. A lot. They were super fun stuff. I wish I knew whatever became of mine. Most likely they ended up garage sale fodder at some point.
Since then I admit, that I hadn’t thought about either line for years. Decades even. Major Matt Mason didn’t enter my consciousness again until Tom Hanks expressed interest in making a movie based on the character. That jostled some fuzzy memories of The Outer Space Men, or the Colorforms Aliens as I better remembered them.
On their forums, the Horsemen posted a link to an incredible site dedicated to The Outer Space Men by the toys designer, Mel Birnkrant. This site will tell you and show you everything you could possibly want to know about the OSM from concept sketches, to inspiration, to sculpts to final product. Fantastic stuff. If you at all interested in the Outer Space Men, vintage toys, or toy design you really owe it to youself to check it out. Not yet! Finish reading this blog first…then go over there, grab yourself a beverage and maybe a sandwich and enjoy.
Now, the Horsemen’s take on the OSM is a little different than the originals. They’re playing in my wheelhouse and going with the 3-3/4" scale. Also, gone is the bendy aspect. For the new line the Four Horsemen have teamed with Matt Doughty of Onell Designs and will be utilizing Doughty’s unique Glyos joint system. While different from the originals in execution, they still evoke that funky late 1960s science fiction aesthetic and are visually faithful. The coolest part, though, is that the Horsemen will be producing the characters from the never-released second series (as seen on Birnkrant’s site) which was called The World of Tomorrow. Some of the design in that second series, like Mystron, the Man from the Hollow Earth, are my favorites of the line.
So, for me, the return of The Outer Space Men is the resurrection of a piece of my childhood. Seeing these again is like a time machine taking me back to the close of the Sixties and the dawn of the Seventies, when I was the age my daughter is now. They take me back to a time when the Space Program was a point of national pride, and the mysteries that awaited us out in the black stirred the imagination like nothing else. The Outer Space Men could have stepped right out of any issue of Amazing Stories or Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine.
Ain’t nothing wrong with that.