In September of 1978, Universal Studios and ABC unleashed Battlestar Galactica on televisions across the United States. The lavish production was all part of Universal Studios attempt to create a franchise to rival Paramount's Star Trek and more so equal the financial success of Twenty Century Fox's Star Wars. The series actually began as a trio of made-for-television movies but due to popularity, a weekly series began. Due to over-budget costs to product a weekly sci-fi film with quality graphics, the series was cancelled less than a year after it began. Only 17 episodes - sad isnt it?
The series was a hit, albeit a costly one. Mattel snatched up the rights to a toy line - hoping to match Kenner's Star Wars success. Amazingly, long after the series ended, the toys continued to fly off of the shelves of toy stores everywhere. There were several types of toys released, the most popular and notorious were the missile-launching toys of 1978. Using a similar spring-loaded mechanism of their Shogun Warrior line, Battlestar Galactica's ships fired tiny red missiles that, as it turns out, tend to get launched into the throats of children.
On December 31, 1978 a four year old boy in Atlanta aimed a Colonial Viper toy into his mouth and launched one of the projectile missiles, inadvertently choking himself to death. On January 11, Mattel issued a recall order for the Viper and three other vehicles. It also issued a missile mail-in for those who had had already purchased a missile-firing version of the toys. In exchange for the little red missiles, Mattel provided a Hot Wheels toys, "for the loss in play value." Mattel redesigned the vehicle line to have non-firing missiles.
The boy's death triggered a national outcry to remove projectiles from all toys. On March 23, the boy's parents sued Mattel. The judge presiding over the case singled out Star Wars space toys as the culprit (which upset Lucas very much.) The controversy had an impact on Kenner's Star Wars' toy line, as it delayed the shipment of its Boba Fett dolls. The action figure -- whose character would star in The Empire Strikes Back sequel -- was part of a mailaway offer on the backs of other Star Wars figurines. Although Boba Fett's original design and promotion included a rocket-firing backpack, this mechanism was removed from its design. No rocket-firing Boba Fett's ever rolled off the line, and only a handful of the unpainted prototypes exist.
Mattel released four vehicles for the line as well as a Viper Launch Station. The vehicles are all available in two versions - the "missile firing" and child proof versions. The ones that fire missiles are worth about twice as much as the safer versions. The packaging is the same apart from a round red-sticker on the box front indicated the newer versions. This sticker frequently falls off, so be careful and dont shoot your eye out!
Colonial Stellar Probe
Viper Launch Station
A pretty hard to find (but not overly expensive) piece of Mattel's Battlestar Galactica line. This thing basically launched little hard-foam vipers at your friends!
Hoping for the same success Kenner had with their small Star Wars action figures, Mattel released a series of small action figures from the show. There were two "series" of figures released with the second series being harder to find due to the limited number produced. Of note should be that two versions of Daggit were produced, a light tan and dark brown.
Series One: Commander Adama, Starbuck, Imperious Leader, Ovion, Daggit and Cylon Centurian
Series Two: Baltar, Lucifer, Cylon Commander and Boray
Mattel also released a "Six Figure Gift Set" that may have included a silver or gold cylon. This set is very hard to find.
12" Action Figures
Mattel released two 12" action figures for Battlestar Galactica - the Colonial Warrior and Cylon Centurian. He bears no resemblance to any character from Battlestar Galactica which is probably why he was a total failure (and can be found boxed today for as little as $10). However, the Cylon Centurian was a smashing success with a lever that moved a red-light in his helmet to simulate the "red eye" from the show and a light-up blaster.
Both figures are fairly common, but loose figures are always missing the accessories. The Colonial Warrior came with two - a scanner and a blaster beam. The Centurian came with one, a jagged clear piece.
Larami purchased the rights to a number of other toys and they, along with Mattel, filled toy shelves with some great (and not so great) toys!
This Daggit was produced by Mattel in 1979. The figure is about a foot tall and resembles Daggit closely. There is also a pull string on his neck. When pulled, Daggit begins to growl and then makes some chirping sounds. Sounds quite a bit like Daggit from the show!
Made by Mattel 1978, this pistol was one of my favorites as a kid. It is an 8.5" long battery operated ray gun with three settings controlled by dial to produce different sound effects. A red light also flashes in the barrel.
The 12" Colonial Warrior is basically a remake of the molding of Captain Lazer (from Major Matt Mason) from 1967!
Have a question about a toy you have or one you are looking for? Send me an e-mail!