Monday, February 7, 2011

The Mystery of the Missing Space Station

My Mom still pleads ignorance on this particular subject.

At some undetermined point in my youth, likely prior to my tenth birthday, my Major Matt Mason Space Station vanished.  I'm sure I didn't notice it immediately.  I was the type of kid that cycled through my toys.  I would focus on Johnny West for a couple of weeks at a time, dust off the Strange Change Machine about once a month, go on a board game kick for a few days, not to mention heading down the street and working my way through my best friend's inventory as needed.  So the date and time of this crime will forever remain a mystery.

Again, the item in question, as pictured here--the Major Matt Mason Space Station.  Yes indeed, the holy grail of the Major Matt Mason toys.  This was the top of the line.  Your Mom or Dad didn't let you casually toss this one into the shopping cart in say, May or September.  A toy of this caliber, this level of cost, this degree of complexity, required a prerequisite special occasion.  Either your birthday or Christmas.  I landed mine on the latter.  And bear in mind, this wasn't just any Christmas present, this was the main event.  The Major Matt Mason Space Station was, allegorically speaking, my official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle.  Collector Keith Meyer christened his Major Matt Mason website The Space Station and noted on its history page, "The Space Station was perhaps the most impressive toy of the entire collection. It stood just over two feet tall, with towering girders and impressive 'Solar Shields". Many a youngster fell asleep in a darkened room, lit only by the purple glow of the Station beacon."

Major Matt Mason was introduced to the world in 1966, and proved popular until Mattel retired the line in the mid-1970s.  His tenure in the toy chest coincided with much of NASA's peak years, epitomized by the first lunar landing in 1969.  It was quite likely that there was a MMM toy nearby in my bedroom when my Dad woke me up to watch Neil Armstrong take those famous first steps.

The standard MMM figures were notorious for their lack of durability.  Made of rubber, their internal wire skeletons were prone to breaking at the joints, leaving Matt and his crew with sadly dangling arms and legs.  Your average young MMM enthusiast typically had a box full of "crippled" astronauts and a disgruntled parent tired of driving to K-Mart to purchase replacements.  I have often wondered if this in fact was the potential motive behind the aforementioned Space Station crime.

I owned numerous other Major Matt Mason toys and accessories.  The Space Crawler was the one that received the most playtime.  Of the other crew members, I did possess multiple Sgt. Storms, but regrettably, astronauts Doug Davis and Jeff Long never made it into my collection.  The oversize Captain Lazer arrived on another Christmas morning accompanied by the Firebolt Space Cannon Super Action Set.

The mystery of the missing Space Station remains unresolved to this day.  It was last seen near the laundry area in the basement of my childhood home.  My mother, the prime suspect in the case, has never wavered through four decades of questioning.  Her typical response:  "I have no idea what you're talking about.  You expect me to remember a stupid toy from forty years ago?  You're crazy, you know that?"

Sure Mom, sure.  It's a wonder you can sleep at night.


Len said...

I actually lost or destroyed my own MMM toys, so I cannot blame mom. I have managed over the years to re-acquire most of the Major Matt Mason toys MINT IN BOX over the years including the Space Crawler, Space Station and carded figures. The station has never been removed from the box, but I am going to put it together one day. Did you know that MMM was one of Tom Hanks' favorite childhood toys and that he is producing a movie based on the Mattel toy???

Mike Newton said...

That's what you get for leaving your toys scattered around for Mom to pick up. I bet she knew what happened to the Space Station. She threw it out in the trash. That was the rule at our house. Pick up your toys or they go in the trash. That's where those signs come from at work which say" "Your Mother Doesn't Work Here. Clean up your Mess."