The late ’70s were a fantastic time to be alive and to be a kid addicted to action figures. Once Kenner struck gold with Star Wars, the race to snag the license to the Next Big Thing was on, especially if it was a TV or movie license set in space. Mattel gave us Battlestar Galactica, Mego paid top rights for Buck Rogers In The 25th Century, The Black Hole and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and best of all, all of these figures were in more or less the same scale as Kenner’s venerable Star Wars range.
After all, Kenner had proven that this smaller scale – almost unthinable prior to George Lucas’ epic, when foot-tall G.I. Joe figures ruled the boys’ toy aisle – made affordable vehicles and playsets practical, and Kenner’s competitors decided to jump on that bandwagon with aplomb. For the want of a rare Enterprise bridge, Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock commanded the second floor of the Death Star with its permanent control consoles which, while virtually unlike anything ever seen in Star Trek, kinda sorta approximated the layout of the Enterprise bridge. Kinda. Sorta. Buck Rogers’ starfighter was a space-rated version of the Rebel snowspeeder, because they were somewhat similarly shaped…kinda. (Sorta.) C-3PO and R2-D2 went on big adventures with the Battlestar Galactica robot dog and VINCENT. It was a grand universe where anything went, because everyone fit in everyone else’s ships and playsets.
But there was one license whose failure to happen seemed to mark the beginning of the end of this era. […]