In the late 1970s, thanks to the popularity of Star Wars and sci-fi in general, there was a giant resurgence in the popularity of space-related toys. Many were licensed, such as Buck Rogers, Battlestar Galactica and Black Hole toys. There was also a flood of generic, non-licensed toys as well. One popular line of such toys was Tim-Mee’s Galaxy Laser Team.
Tim-Mee is known for releasing small plastic toys of almost everything. From farmers and farm animals to army men, circus animals, policemen, firemen and fantasy monsters…you name it, Tim-Mee cranked ’em out. If you spent any time at all on the toy aisle like I did as a kid, you probably remember them. Most of them were packaged in clear plastic bags, sealed with a cardboard label at the top.
As a kid and huge Star Wars fan, my favorite was Tim-Mee’s Galaxy Laser Team. The figures came in four colors (black, white, pink and green), although as I later discovered, bootleg figures from Mexico came in all sorts of funky colors. None of the figures had names, allegiances or back stories; those details were left to our imagination. A quick glance at the figures shows a strong Star Wars influence, although different enough to avoid a lawsuit.
If you remember these figures as well and are interested in picking up a set of them via eBay, think again. One of the biggest hurdles in finding these figures is that very few sellers remember the name “Galaxy Laser Team.” Over the past year I’ve purchased two different sets of these figures via eBay, and only one of them mentioned the companyâ€™s name (Tim-mee). The fact that these figures have no identifiable printing on them makes it difficult for sellers to know what to call them. When auctions do mention things like â€œGalaxy Laser Team,â€ expect the price to skyrocket. A current eBay search for â€œGalaxy Laser Teamâ€ returns one auction: a single, sealed bag of 28 figures for $64 (including shipping). If you are trying to avoid bootleg figures, make sure the characters you’re bidding on are in one of the four original colors. I recently purchased a batch of figures from Mexico which, upon closer inspection, were obvious fakes — cheap knock-offs made using the original figures as molds. The biggest clue was the package included yellow, red and blue figures.
And now, a brief review of Tim-Mee’s complete line of Galaxy Laser Team figures. Let’s begin with “the good guys.”
First up is “guy that kind of looks like Han Solo,” with a splash of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers thrown in for good measure. Originally these figures had one antenna on top of his helmet, but these have been robbed of theirs (they typically broke off within minutes of opening the package). Apparently in outer space, antennae are directly tied to people’s sense of balance because every figure I have who is missing antenna constantly falls over. This guy is really good at lying down and shooting peopleâ€™s toes through the cracks under doors.
Another familiar looking fellow was known around my house as “the guy that resembles Chewbacca.” He’s furry, he’s tall, he’s naked, he’s got a rifle, he has … antennae? Well, he used to. The green version kind of looks like the Creature from the Black Lagoon, but trust me; underneath this guy’s shoddy manufacturing, he’s all Wookiee. Almost.
Bringing up the rear is “the robot that kind of looks like R2-D2.” This looks like every home version of R2-D2 I tried to build as a kid after discovering that building a round robot with a dome-shaped head is pretty hard. I now refer to this robot as Square2-CB2. CB stands for Cereal Box. Unlike Han Solo, this guy is sturdy thanks to those big blocky feet.
Just like Star Trek has red shirts, apparently the Galaxy Laser Team also needed people for target practice. Rounding out the collection we have “female with computer,” “pink astronaut with Geiger counter” and “green astronaut with Geiger counter.” These figures always kind of baffled me as a kid. The green guy looks like he’s toting his lunch around, and his other hand appears to be holding an imaginary beer. Then there’s the pink guy, who looks more like he’s carrying around an intergalactic gas can, ready to help anyone low on space petrol at a moment’s notice. Finally there’s the lone female figure, who instead of a laser rifle or pistol, gets to model a futuristic cash register like she’s on an outer space version of The Price is Right. These guys were all pretty useless in combat unless you needed someone to deliver lunch or refuel your gas tank. If anyone got the old “firecracker treatment” is was typically one of these three.
And now, on to “the bad guys.”
There’s no question who the guy on the left is supposed to be — why, it’s “the guy that kind of looks like Darth Vader!” Note the helmet, cape, and lightsaber. Because of the open-faced helmet, this guy comes off as a cross between Darth Vader and a Roman soldier. I’m pretty sure my grandpa had a giant belt buckle that looked just like this guy’s.
Next up is the “alien-turtle-lobster-monster.” He’s got lobster pinchers, a turtle shell and some funky antennae. I’m not actually sure who or what inspired this guy. The best thing about him is he stands up really well because of his tail. Turtle-Lobster Guy’s special power is the ability not to fall over when someone bumps the shelf. In a space earthquake you can bet only Lobster-Turtle Guy and Square-2 would be left standing. Han Solo, Darth Vader, and Chewbacca would have to continue the battle from their backs, shooting at peopleâ€™s kneecaps.
If you were lucky, down at the bottom of a bag of Galaxy Laser Team figures you might find one of these. Half X-Wing Fighter, half F-15, these jets came in the same color combinations as the figures and were good for attacking from the skies (or just poking people with those arrow-pointed guns).
And there you have it — the entire Galaxy Laser Team, created a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (but pretty close to that other one where Star Wars took place, apparently).