Looking Back: Britains SPACE
February 2, 2014

Back in 1981 I went on a cruise to Bermuda. Lucky kid, I know. I had these relatives, Connie and George, who were really good to me. I have a handful of memories from that trip. Like, it was the first time I ever ate chicken cacciatore. Not surprisingly though, one of my best memories had to do with a toy.

BLOGbritainsSpace-Doric

One day we were exploring the city of Hamilton and walked down a windy alley. I seem to remember it was cobblestone and that it was damp. At the end of the alley was a small shop that sold toys. Recently, a friend of mine whose wife is from Bermuda asked his in-laws about my fuzzy recollections. They feel pretty strongly that the name of the store was “Jack n Jills”. What Connie and George bought me that day from that little store is the subject of this little blog.

Britains was a UK company that got its start back in the late 1800′s making lead toy soldiers. Their style and scale became the industry standard for many years. Over the years they expanded the range of their product to the point that, in 1981, little kids visiting Bermuda could find an eye-catching line of Britains space ships and figures.

BLOGbritainsSpace-ad

Unfortunately, I do not still have the figures and ship that I got on that vacation back in ’81. But every now and then I’ll run across an image of something  from the line and the nostalgia kicks in. Well, this past Christmas ‘ol CantinaDanny and his colleague, Professor Pretticute, got engaged. For our honeymoon we’ve decided to take a cruise to Bermuda. At some point in the planning I decided I needed to finally figure out what those little alien space toys were I got on that trip over three decades ago. After some detective work I found out about the Britains SPACE line.

Now, since these toys were largely distributed in the UK and its Oversees Territories, it ain’t easy for someone living in the U.S. to track them down. But some eBay UK searches have definitely helped. However, the other day when I stopped by the AZ Collector’s Marketplace, friend and proprietor, Neil Kotler, brought me over to a case I’d passed by a hundred times. In it were three Britains SPACE vehicles in their original package. One was the very round, green UFO style ship I got as a kid in Bermuda.

BLOGbritainsSpace-pkg1 BLOGbritainsSpace-pkg2BLOGbritainsSpace-pkg3

Yeah, so I bought it. This ship was really cool for the gyroscopic cockpit that housed two alien pilots.

BLOGbritainsSpace-loose1 BLOGbritainsSpace-loose2

I REALLY loved those black body, red head aliens. Here is about the best pic I’ve found. This comes from gibbspaulus Flickr photo stream:

BLOGbritainsSpace-closeup

 

I must have gotten one of these figure multi-packs because I definitely had some of the yellow suit spacemen, as well. Would love to get my hands on a set like this before my honeymoon so that I can bring these guys to Bermuda for a very nostalgic photoshoot!

BLOGbritainsSpace-figSet

 

Danny "CantinaDan" Neumann
Action figure anthropologist, Professor Cantina Dan Neumann has been a scholastic contributor to the online community studying the complex world of parumplasticus populus {little plastic people} since the turn of this millenium. His primary focus is the visual cataloging of species exhibits through photo-journalism.
Read other articles by Danny "CantinaDan" Neumann.

 

 

 

3 Comments »

  • Mark Harvey says:

    I loved these things! (I’m English) I used to play with them at my grandparents house, we had a box full of them – it never really occurred to me to check now what they actually were. I think they’re mostly in my Dad’s loft. I loved the little black aliens with the red heads too, and I’m pretty sure I had some yellow spacemen. I had a white version of your green ship I think, and I’m sure I had the yellow ship in the above picture of the range. Aww nostalgia.

    • CantinaDan says:

      Oh, very cool, Mark! I failed to mention the great connecting aspect of these toys. Its kind’uv shown on the back of the box where different sets are combined. “Aww nostalgia” is right! Feel like I’m spending my adulthood recapturing my childhood!

  • Cookie_TXPSY says:

    I Remember Britains as well! My Father traveled to Europe a lot for business in the early 80′s. I never had the space toys unfortunately but I had a lot of Nazis and American soldiers. Really cool die-cast rafts and jeeps and a really cool Nazi Volkswagen Thing with a mounted machine gun. I also had this cool Howitzer that launched little shells. If I remember correctly there was a toy store in the Cleveland area that started to sell these toys along with the Space stuff. I remember those little red headed aliens and always thought hey were cool.

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