Mattel’s Man in Space Major Matt Mason

Well before Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon in 1969 came Mattel’s Major Matt Mason, the Man in Space

Do you remember being a kid in the 60’s and 70’s?

Every kid on the block wanted to be an astronaut.

Well Mattel made that possible, without your ever needing to leave Earth!

Kids were fascinated by space in the 60’s and 70’s and dreamed of becoming astronauts and Mattel answered those dreams so these figures proved to be very popular until the mid 70’s when interest in NASA’s Space Program began to wane.

Mattel’s Man in Space, Major Mat Mason was originally released in 1966 based on design information found in Life Magazine, Air Force Magazine, Jane's, and other aviation- and space-interest periodicals.

In fact if you look through a Mattel catalog is incredible how accurate some of the playsets and vehicles were considering a lot of them were released before the first ever moon landing, they even had a Space Shuttle!

Maj. Matt Mason worked and lived on the moon along with the “Men in Space”: Sgt Storm, Matt Mason’s army buddy; Doug Davis, Space Scientist-Radiology and Jeff Long, Space Scientist-Rocketry. 

These figures were “bendies” rather than traditional articulated action figures but this worked well for this concept. They were made of a rubber-like material called "Plastizol" which was molded over a wire armature, which gave them excellent flexibility, movement and poseability but over the they were prone to metal fatigue due to the excessive bending of the frames causing them to break at the joints and making mint and unbroken figures difficult to find.

Another problem with these figures was that the paint didn’t “stick” to the molds very well and often peeled off to reveal the molding underneath. The initial molds used white Plastizol but due to complaints and production problems this was later changed to black Plastizol.

As with the G.I. Joe and Action Man figures this line relied heavily on the accessories and outfits for its popularity which were all space orientated vehicles, space suites and flight suites which drew their inspiration from the official NASA Space Program.

Despite having common body molds each character featured different head molds and body paint: Matt Mason had a dark brown crew cut and a white space suit, Sgt. Storm had blond hair and a red suit; civilian astronaut Doug Davis had a yellow suit and brown hair; Lt. Jeff Long was African-American, with a blue suit. 

The Maj. Matt Mason line included two alien figures; Callisto, who was an ally of Matt Mason’s; and Scorpio, who was the line’s protagonist. Callisto was a Jovian alien from the planet Jupiter with superior mental abilities which were represented by his transparent green head. There are three known variations of Callisto known to exist: the first of these had taller boots and a white spot painted on its chest; a second with without the white spot and the third with shorter boots.

However all heroes need an enemy to fight and Matt Mason’s was Scorpio, an evil looking insect like creature with a large mouth and eyes that glowed yellow. This figure was released towards the end of the line so had limited distribution. He came with small Styrofoam “search globe” balls in a small plastic bag, which are often missing. The lite up effect on the mouth and eyes were powered by a AA battery in his chest cavity. There was also a Mexican version of this figure released that used the same mold but different colouring.

As well as these figures a 12-inch Capt Lazer figure was released who was advertised as “Major Matt Mason’s friend from Outer Space” but many collectors think he was originally produced for his own toy line as he towered above the other 6-ich figures in the line.

The captain came with several gun attachments as well as other features including glowing red eyes, a glowing breastplate, and a laser pistol permanently attached to his hand.  etc. A little known fact is that the tooling for the Captain Lazer body was later used to make large-size Battlestar Galactica action figures, including Colonial Warrior and the Cylon Centurion.

 As well as the Astronaut and Aliens released Mattel also released several accessories and play sets.Many of these were based on actual NASA concepts and the "Moon Suit", "Space Station” and "Jet Pack" were actually seen as concept drawings in such magazines as Look and Life.

These figures have become prominent collectibles over the years and are eagerly sought after by collectors of both action figures and space memorabilia.

Some of the items featured in Mattel’s catolgues remain elusive with many collectors still searching them out along with the many variations and prototypes still thought to exist somewhere.

Man of the figures and items also received dubious distribution and then add to the mix the foreign releases and bootlegs etc trying to track them down is no easy task and as such genuine Major Matt Mason figures and accessories fetch premium prices and are the mainstay of many collections.

The Major Matt Mason figure and accessories are hugely popular among collectors and mint, MOC or MIB items are extremely hard to find, this is mainly due to the metal fatigue many of the figures suffered and the chipping of the paint and disintegrating of the rubber over the decades.  

This has resulted in the prices of these sky rocketing over the years with the 1970 Scorpio figure selling for as much as $1,000 up.

The carded paks generally sell for between $20-$100 and the playsets for around $150 up. The figuers start from around $200 but a pristine mint condition figure can go for as much as $1000 or more.

The most popular, or expensive of them (at this time), seems to be the 1970 Scrpio figure.

Major Matt Mason Trivia

(from Wikipedia)

  • In the pilot episode of Stargate SG-1, Samantha Carter attempts to defend her femininity by claiming that she played with dolls as a child. On further questioning, she reveals that the dolls were the action figures of the Major Matt Mason toy line.
  • In the first few moments of the motion picture The Wedding Planner, a Major Matt Mason action figure is seen dangling on his flight backpack delivering a toy wedding cake to Barbie and Ken dolls.
  • On Dark Shadows, the popular gothic soap opera of the late 1960s and early 1970s, David Collins had the Space Station in his room at Collinwood.
  • In the British show, Here Come the Double Deckers, there is a toy shop in the episode "The Case of the Missing Doughnut" that has many Major Matt Mason items, including the Space Station.
  • Major Matt Mason USA is the performing name of Matt Roth, a New York City-based musician and record producer, who is active in the Anti-folk and DIY music scene of New York's East Village.
  • In Kenneth Lonergan's play This is our Youth, Warren Straub a 19 year old from the upper west side, reminisces of playing with the Matt Mason line from Mattel as a kid.

Mattel Major Matt Mason Checklist

Basic Series

  • Callisto
  • Captain Laser
  • Doug Davis
  • Jeff Long
  • Major Matt Mason
  • Scorpio
  • Sgt. Storm

4-Packs

  • Space Mission Team
Matt Mason CardedMatt Mason Carded
Major Matt MasonMajor Matt Mason
Gulf ExclusiveGulf Exclusive
Doug DavisDoug Davis
Sgt StormSgt Storm
Jeff LongJeff Long
CallistoCallisto
ScorpioScorpio
Space Mission TeamSpace Mission Team

Space Packs – Carded 1968

  • Gamma Ray-Gard Pak
  • Major Matt Mason & Space Power Suit
  • Mobile Launch Pad
  • Moon Suit Pak
  • Recono Jet Pak
  • Rocket Launch Pak
  • Satellite Launch Pak
  • Space Probe Pak
  • Space Shelter Pak
  • Space Travel Pak
  • Supernaut Power Limbs
  • Talking Major Matt Mason
  • XRG-1 Reentry Glider
Recono Jet PakRecono Jet Pak
Rocket Launch PakRocket Launch Pak
Supernaut Power LimbsSupernaut Power Limbs
Satellite Launch PakSatellite Launch Pak
Space Travel PakSpace Travel Pak
Space Probe PakSpace Probe Pak
Space Shelter PakSpace Shelter Pak
Moon Suit PakMoon Suit Pak
Space Power Suit PakSpace Power Suit Pak
Gamma Ray-Gard PakGamma Ray-Gard Pak
Major Matt Mason & Space Power SuitMajor Matt Mason & Space Power Suit
XRG-1 Reentry GliderXRG-1 Reentry Glider
Mobile Launch PadMobile Launch Pad

Super Packs - Boxed

  • Astro Trac
  • Astro Trac Gift Set
  • Astro Trac Missile Convoy Set
  • Astro Tred
  • Capt. Lazer Firebolt Action Set
  • Fire Bolt
  • Firebolt Space Cannon Super Action Set
  • Gamma Ray Guard
  • Lunar Base Command Set
  • Satellite Locker
  • Space Bubble
  • Space Crawler
  • Space Crawler Action Set
  • Space Discovery Set
  • Space Power Suit
  • Space Shelter
  • Space Ship Case
  • Space Station
  • Space Station & Space Crawler Deluxe Action Set
  • Star Seeker
  • Star Seeker Walk In Space Set
  • Super Power Set
  • Talking Command Console
  • Talking Flying Major Matt Mason
  • Uni-Tred & Bubble
  • Uni-Tred Space Hauler
Astro TracAstro Trac
Astro TracAstro Trac
Space BubbleSpace Bubble
Space StationSpace Station
Space Ship CaseSpace Ship Case
Space Crawler Action SetSpace Crawler Action Set
Star Seeker Walk In Space SetStar Seeker Walk In Space Set
Super Power SetSuper Power Set
Astro Trac Gift SetAstro Trac Gift Set
Astro Trac Missile Convoy SetAstro Trac Missile Convoy Set
Fire BoltFire Bolt
Firebolt Space Cannon Super Action SetFirebolt Space Cannon Super Action Set
Satellite LockerSatellite Locker
Space CrawlerSpace Crawler
Space Discovery SetSpace Discovery Set
Space ShelterSpace Shelter
Uni-Tred Space HaulerUni-Tred Space Hauler
Uni-Tred & BubbleUni-Tred & Bubble
Star SeekerStar Seeker
Lunar Base Command SetLunar Base Command Set
Space Station & Space Crawler Deluxe Action SetSpace Station & Space Crawler Deluxe Action Set
Talking Command ConsoleTalking Command Console
Talking Command ConsoleTalking Command Console
Talking Major Matt MasonTalking Major Matt Mason
Capt LazerCapt Lazer
Space Power SuitSpace Power Suit

Research Sources:

One of the best sources of information I found for these figures and toys was Wildtoys.com, particularly their listings for the play sets and accessories with excellent images and information on the various variants etc.

• The Official Guide to Action Figures – Second Ed Stuart W.Wells III and Jim Main

• Toyfare Magazine

• https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_Matt_Mason

• http://www.wildtoys.com/MMMPage/mmmProfile.asp

• http://vintageactionfigures.com/major-matt-mason-the-man-in-space.html

• http://www.retroland.com/major-matt-mason/

• http://www.figurerealm.com/actionfigure?action=seriesitemlist&id=142&ssid=4

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