Major Matt Mason
Synopsis of Toy
“Mattel’s Man in Space!”
The outcome of the space race may still have been in doubt in the late 1960’s, but the space toy race? Please. America had that one in the bag. Thanks to one Major Matt Mason and his assortment of pals, vehicles and other space stuff, the lunar surface was there for the playing, and Mattel made sure kids had plenty of great accessories to explore it.
At the time, space exploration was the dream of many a young mind, and Major Matt Mason helped bring some of those fantasies to life (or at least to make-believe life). 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 were a spaceman-in-training’s dream come true.
Major Matt’s mission equipment 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 Unitred 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-story Space Station home base.
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 program went, so went Major Matt Mason’s fortunes. After man finally set foot on the moon in 1969, popular enthusiasm for moon exploration died down, 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 1970’s, but the Major retired from service before mid-decade. But even in retirement, Major Matt Mason has become a hero to a new group—toy collectors—who gladly pay seemingly any price to reclaim this icon from the space race’s glory days.