Jul 1, 2012


The toy company Ideal released the S.T.A.R. Team (S.T.A.R. stood for Space Travel And Reconnaissance) line of toys in 1968. They were astronaut/ space toys, including a rocket toy and a good assortment of role playing items.

Nearly a decade later in 1977, Star Wars brought forth a renewed interest in space toys. Ideal was one of the many companies that took advantage of Star Wars' popularity, producing a line of G.I. Joe-like figures using their previously established "S.T.A.R. Team" name. The set consisted of Knight of Darkness, Zem-21, and Zeroid... or perhaps Darth Vader, C-3PO, and R2-D2 respectively. There was also Kent (generic space guy) and his Cosmic Cruiser (small, one-man space ship) and also the flying saucer-esque Star Hawk vessel that came with a Zeroid figure.

Here's Zem-21 still in the box, even if it has seen better days. The flap on the left has kinda been folded over, so I've recruited Knight of Darkness to hold it open for the photo shoot. You'll get to see more of him later.


ZEM-21 really does resemble C-3PO, in my opinion. Just imagine if Ideal had produced the figure completely gold...


Here's the fantastic art from the front of the box's flap. It resembles Star Wars poster art, not any one in particular, but just that epic collage style.


The upper portion of the flap displays art of two spacecraft. Is that an X-wing at the top? The tips of the wings are similar, but that's kinda pushing it.


On the back of the flap is the Ideal logo along with the date 1977.


The side of the box has more spaceship paintings...


...while the back features some nice line art.



Now let's take a look at the Knight of Darkness figure.


Can you believe Ideal could resist giving him a sword accessory? The only weapon he came with was a gun, which I don't own.


The Knight of Darkness toy was put out within a few weeks of Episode IV's release. George Lucas tried to sue Ideal because they were clearly trying to cash in on his movie, but Ideal got away with it because they had already established the S.T.A.R. Team concept before Lucas was even finished with THX 1138. Nowadays, anytime anyone brings up these figures, you know they'll mention how they're Star Wars knock-offs.


Not only was the name S.T.A.R. Team used before Star Wars' release, but many elements from the toys were rehashed from previous Ideal toys. I read on plaidstallions.com that, "The robotic ZEM21 was built on a retooled Ideal JJ Armes body. Knight of Darkness, was a Captain Action made "Darthier" with a new head, original boots and a pistol from the Flash Gordon set. Zeroid was exactly that, a Zeroid from the 1966 line of robot toys [as was the Star Hawk ship]." Below is that Captain Action body with that Darthier head.


On the back of his head it says "1977" and shows the Ideal logo. On his upper back it says "HONG KONG".


On the bottom of both of his boots it says "HONG KONG 9" while the tag inside his jumpsuit says "MADE IN HONG KONG".



1 comment:

  1. I love these toys.
    If you think about it, Star Wars (ep. 4)is itself
    A knock-off of the 7 Samurai and The Hidden Fortress.
    It also used characters based on the old Flash Gordon serials.
    So I don't have a problem with these being "inspired"by Star Wars...a film built on a lot of
    "Inspired by's".