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The Origin Of The Battlestar Galactica Action Figure
The Battlestar Galactica Action figure first appeared in 1978, the year after the release of Star Wars and Hasbro's popular line of figures.
But could Mattel duplicate their success with this line of Battlestar Galatica figures?
After the huge and unexpected success of Star Wars in 1977 many film and TV companies jumped onto the "sci fi" bandwagon.
One of the most successful and memorable of these, for me, was probably Battlestar Galactica, a Universal studios TV series that premiered in 1978.
Battlestar Galatica boasted similar effects to those seen in Star Wars probably because John Dykstra, head of special effects on the Star Wars movie, now worked as producer on the show (an argument that eventually ended up in court).
Another element that was "copied" from Star Wars success was that a line of merchandise was produced to coincide with the show.
One of the most popular of these was the 3 ? inch Battlestar Galactica figures from Mattel, these early figures were very crude by today's standards, had little resemblance to the actual characters portrayed and lacked in both detail and coloring. They were also not up to the standard and quality of the Kenner Star Wars figures.
Mattel Battlestar Galactica Figures
The original line of Battlestar Galactica action figure released in 1978 and consisted of Starbuck, Adama, Daggit (the robot dog), two Cylons (silver and gold), Lucifer, Boltar, Boray (a pig headed creature), Ovion (a fly-like alien) and the Imperious Leader (a rather dull pink alien).
Despite its success the show was cancelled in 1980. Richard Hatch tried to re-launch the series in 1998 which ultimately failed but Universal Television became set on a new re-imagined mini series in 2003, which made its tv debut in 2004.
This new and "re-imagined", as it's become known, Battlestar Galactica introduced many new elements and twists (Starbuck is portrayed as a girl rather than the swashbuckling, romantic playboy of the original series) without straying to far from the original concept and as a result has attracted a large and loyal following of fans.
The success of the new series has also led to a resurgence of interest in new Battlestar Galactica figures and merchandising as well as stimulating the market in the old vintage Mattel Battlestar Galactica action figure, which can still be found at very reasonable prices.
The first series of 3-inch Battlestar Galactica action figures was released by Mattel in 1978 and consisted of:
These Battlestar Galactica figures were solid in 6 and 4 figure gift sets as well as the regular individual blister packs.
The second series, released in 1979, included the original figures from series one as well as four new figures:
As is often the case with older figures, such as these, it is the weapons that often prove to be the most difficult to find, although the figures themselves are relatively easy to acquire.
1979 also saw the release of two 12-inch figures, a Colonial Warrior Battlestar Galactica Action Figure and Cylon Centurion Battlestar Galactica Action Figure.
The Colonial Warrior was based on the original mold from Mattel's Major Matt Mason's Captain Laser figure and came with a laser beam, scanner device and Arial and the Cylon had the added bonus of a manually operated moving red eye and glowing chest.
Both these Battlestar Galactica action figure have become extremely hard to find in mint condition with their box intact so are worth keeping a look out for.
Later, in 1980, Mattel also introduced limited edition mail away Gold Cylon offer. In order to get this exclusive Gold Cylon Centurion Leader Battlestar Galactica figure you had to send four proofs of purchase from any of the four figures in the series.
Mattel also produced five Battlestar Galactica ships, three which were based on ships featured in the show, and two made up ones. These were a Colonial Viper, Cylon Raider, Colonial Landram, Stellar Probe, and Scarab.
Initially each of theses came with missiles that could be fired but after a child died from swallowing one they were replaced.
The Colonial Viper was one of the best models that Mattel released and looked exactly like it did in the show and came with a small 2" viper pilot figure.
The Scarab was one of Mattel's "made up" vehicles that was never actually in the series. It came in 3 main parts, the command module, drive section and rocket launcher. The instruction sheet also wrongly labeled the figure that came with these vehicles as a Cylon.
Another vehicle released by Mattel that had nothing to do with the show was the Colonial Stellar Probe 30 which was based very loosely on the Colonial viper.
The Stellar Probe, like the Scarab, consisted of the Command Module, main body, wing unit, tail, thrusters, adapter, nose cone, and lift-off assembly.
By interchanging these parts you could make up to eight different vehicles and like the Scarab there was a grey version with firing missiles as well as the non firing version.
The box artwork also contained a picture of an early prototype Colonial figure with white arms and a red body rather than the all red of the version that was released.
The Colonial Landram is probably the hardest to find Battlestar Galactica toy of them all (after the Battlestar Galactica itself, of course).
Released in 1979 it was the last of the Mattel ships and was only released in Canada. It was was built to the same scale as the other ships and, as with the others, was available in both a non missile firing and a missile firing version.
There were also two types of wheel base available, catapillar tracks and plain wheels in the same style as the Scarab, it also came with two small warrior figures that sat inside the cockpit. One of these sold on Ebay in 2006 for $2,025.00.
The Viper Launch Station came with the runway, two launch-able vipers, two laser turrets, solar sensors, catapult grip, and two raider targets. This is one of the more difficult items to find, particularly in mint condition with all the pieces in tact and often sell more than $60
Then we have the Holy Grail of Battlestar Galactica figures or models, The Battlestar Galactica Command Ship. The Ship was to feature electronic sounds, launching vipers and was a massive 22 inches in length! It was, however, never released as it was deemed to be to expensive to produce and sell and hence why you will probably never see one for sale.
That said a prototype DOES exist and sold on Ebay for $5,100.00 in 2006.
Trendmasters Battlestar Galactica action figure
Nothing much was released until 1996 when a company called Trendmaster released a new series of 12-inch Battlestar Galactica action figures.
The initial series included four figures, a Cylon Centurian, Cylon Commander, Imperious Leader, Starbuck and later a limited edition Stealth Cylon Battlestar Galactica figure (which was just a normal cylon in black). Each of these figures was also available as a talking version and was based on the comic book, rather than the TV series, that was produced by Richard Hatch and his friend in the late 90's.
The Imperious Leader looked as he does because the comic featured Glen Larson's original concept of the Cylons being a lizard race that had become cybernetic warriors. (In the TV series they were all turned into robots because they were not allowed to have the heroes killing live beings on a show that kids would watch.)
These figures remain reasonably collectable but had some major flaws, for example Starbuck and Imperious leader were unable to hold their weapons, and the Imperious Leader's mask kept falling off.
Joyride Studios Battlestar Galactica action figure
Next up came the Joyride Studios Battlestar Galactica figures in 2005, with a set of six 6-inch figures: Cylon Centurion, Cylon Raider, and Colonial Viper, in the first series and and Apollo, Starbuck and a Cylon Commander in series two.
Although the Cylon Battlestar Galactica figure in series one in itself was a really nice sculpt it was more a statue than a true action figure as it only really looks good in its base pose although some of its' limbs are articulated. Also the "red eye" is only represented by a blob of red paint rather than have a plastic red eye.
The series two Battlestar Galactica action figure suffer from the same fate as the Centurion in series one. All three of these figures are great sculpts with good paint jobs but are again more a kin to statues than action figures. These figures come with a removable helmet and gun which can be fitted in the leg holster.
Each figure stands approximately 7" high and will feature 7 to 12 points of articulation and include accessories.
Konami Battlestar Galactica action figure
Konami of Japan also released a set of miniature Battlestar Galactica figure in 2005. These "trading figures", as they are often referred to, are very popular in Japan. Each figure is packaged in a "blind" box so it is impossible to tell which one you are getting until you open it.
These Battlestar Galactica trading figures were based on the original show and featured a Cylon Warrior, Cylon Commander, Cylon Basestar, Cylon Raider, Viper, Galactica, Atlantia, and Pegasus.
The Atlantia, Pegasus and Cylon Commander figures were much harder to come by than the other figures as they are produced in much smaller numbers and therefore sell for a lot more.
Each of these miniature plastic figures were from 2" to 5" long, Battlestar Atlantia 4"
Majestic Studios Battlestar Galactica action figure
2005 also saw the release of Majestic Studios highly detailed Limited Edition Battlestar Galactica figure which featured a Cylon Centurion, a Cylon Commander, Apollo, Starbuck, and Adama.
These figures have become highly collectible and are considered to be among the Battlestar Galactic figures to have been produced over the years with their excellent sculpting and careful attention to detail as well as great articulation.
The Cylon Centurion miniature Battlestar Galactica action figurehad detachable armor as well as a nice fabric body suit and came complete with a rifle, gun, sword, and stand, the only minor fault with this figure was that it was missing the "skirt".
A an identical gold version of the Cylon Commander was also produce as a Tower Records exclusive in the USA.
Another fault with these figures was that Majestic possibly tried to cut corners and save money on the packaging as the figures featured on the box often didn't match the figure inside.
In 2006 Majestic released a and Space Toys exclusive Apollo and Starbuck Battlestar Galactica action figure set. This special edition boxed set of 12" collectible figures, based on the "Experiment in Terra" episode from the original series, was limited to only 500 sets. In this episode, the characters' uniforms and accessories, from their Viper helmets down to their boots, miraculously turn white when in the presence of this protecting white aura. The figures in the boxed set display an amazing attention to detail with each uniform, including guns and accessories, reproduced in pure white.
The deluxe packaging featured a unique white flapped window box in a clear acetate sleeve and each set was individually numbered with a 'Certificate of Authenticity' personally autographed by actor Richard Hatch, who portrayed the lead central character, Captain Apollo.
Diamond Select Toys
Diamond Select Toys have been releasing Battlestar Galactica figures since 2007 and despite the series recently coming to an end in 2009 they have a steady stream of figures scheduled to be released over the coming year with more hopefully to come.
Series 1 consisted of seven figures, including two exclusives. Each Battlestar Galactica figure features extremely detailed sculpting and stands about 7-inches tall with deluxe articulation and accessories right from the show.
Battlestar Galactica action figure Series 1 included:
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