Adam, who wrote the previous article, had no sooner left the booth at the New York Comic Con 2013, than another young man appeared. He identified himself as “Andy B.” and explained to me that he was visiting from Japan where he has a Blog called “Kaiju Korner.” I don’t think he had ever seen the Outer Space Men before. His area of interest was Indy Toys. But the OSM had caught his eye, and he was instantly intrigued. He had happened into the both, at the very moment that I was agitated over a remark one visitor had made, to the effect that it was too bad that the original OSM had not been more of a success. I was in the middle of a heated rant to set the speaker straight, when Andy asked if I would be willing to repeat it on video tape.
Ten minutes later, the interview was over, and Andy knew more than he ever wanted to about the Outer Space Men. When he returned to Japan, he wrote a blog about them. Click HERE to see it all. Meanwhile, I have reproduced part of it, below.
A few days later, Andy B. posted the video. Never was an interview more unexpected, unrehearsed, and off the wall. You can see that too, on “Kaiju Korner,” or watch it right here and now, through the window that follows the article.
New York Comic Con 2013: The Outer Space Men
One of the most interesting and unexpected booths at NYCC was for The Outer Space Men. The booth was part history, part sales, and all enthusiasm. It was staffed by Gary Schaeffer (a superfan who affectionately calls himself "The Money") and none other than Mel Birnkrant, the creator of the original toy line.
The first series of the line was released by Colorforms in 1968. Featuring seven bendable intergalactic characters, they were meant to complement (and compete against) Mattel's popular bendable astronaut figure Major Matt Mason.
In 2010, the toy team The Four Horsemen got together and put out their own licensed version of the toys - pictured above. The figures employ the Glyos system of parts, making heads, hands, and other pieces not only interchangeable with other figures in The Outer Space Men line, but also with other toys using Glyos parts. The figures are well known to indie toy collectors and create a bridge spanning more than 40 years between the original and new lines.
The early 70s was not a good time for space toys in the USA, but I find it very interesting that on the other side of the world. the boom was far from over. The legendary Japanese toy company Takara went on to produce smash hits like Henshin Cyborg and the Microman line, both extremely creative series of toys. A number of Microman toys were later licensed to Mego in 1976, becoming the Micronauts. Then of course Star Wars came out in 1977 and space became hot again!
This case features an incredible collection of Outer Space Men artifacts, including prototypes, test shots, and other rarities that make the display nothing short of a museum exhibit.
The Colorforms line was popular, selling hundreds of thousands of units. Immediately, a second series was designed and prepared for launch. However, it wasn't produced, due to a confluence of factors including shipping delays and, ultimately, widespread disappointment at the fact that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin found nothing but dust and rocks when landing on the moon in July, 1969.
They were also giving away this poster, which I was happy to get signed by Mr. Birnkrant. Here's Mel Birnkrant himself, next to a cardboard figure of one of his characters. Stay tuned for an interview I filmed at the booth with Mel Birnkrant. Coming soon...
In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the line. This glossy graphic novel, which is based on the toys, was sold at the booth and is available for purchase (along with other awesome stuff) on the official Outer Space Men website.
And here, at last, is the video! I have never been more ill prepared. I had just woofed down a “Woody Allen. “That’s a 6” high corned beef and pastrami sandwich that easily weighs well over a pound. It had been hand delivered from the Carnegie Deli, courtesy of Gary. And it was still schmeared all over my beard!