Sunday, January 2, 2011

Callisto

 
When I was a kid, my all time favorite toys were Mattel's Major Matt Mason line. America's space race was in full swing and MMM was Mattel's attempt at cashing in on the sudden interest in all things space related. I was crazy about rockets, planets and aliens, so the MMM toys were right up my alley.

I loved all my MMM toys and played with them constantly for years. The line started out with just Major Matt and several vehicles and accessory packs. Most of these early accessories were based on actual NASA equipment and plans. Later on Mattel added more fanciful, sci-fi hardware. They also added three more astronauts to the lineup, and then as Star Trek started to become popular, they included several aliens in the mix as well.

The first of the alien figures released was Callisto, the Man From Jupiter. That's my drawing of him above. I remember the package boldly called attention to his green transparent head, complete with brain that could be glimpsed inside. Of course his "brain" was just the post holding his head to his body, but I thought it was cool anyway. Callisto was a friendly alien, and he accompanied my Major Matt Mason on many dangerous missions.

Like Many of the MMM figures, he came with an air-powered weapon. You hooked a plastic bellows and clear tube to his gun, squeezed it and a yellow string would flick in and out of the end of his weapon. Simple but effective, and best of all, no lost projectiles. By the way, Mattel's official word was that the flicking yellow string was a "sensor line to gather planetary samples." We kids knew better-- it was a laser beam!

Most of the figures in the line were bendies; rubber bodies covering wire armatures. Unfortunately no matter how careful I was, the inner wires didn't hold up to too much posing, so after a while my figures had "dead" limbs that would no longer bend.

Each birthday and Christmas I'd get a few more figures and vehicles, and my little space program would expand. There were a few of the larger playsets that I wanted but never managed to acquire, but I still had an impressive space fleet.

Then as so often happens, I grew older and entered college and decided I was "too old" for toys. I boxed up all my Major Matt figures and equipment and sold them in a yard sale, no doubt for next to nothing. It's a move I've regretted every day since. It still makes me sick thinking about it. Why I got rid of them instead of leaving them in the closet, I have no idea.

You can still find MMM toys online, but mint condition copies are prohibitively expensive. I doubt I'll ever have any again. Excuse me while I go kick myself.

Here's my original digital sketch of Callisto. 

Callisto was drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

7 comments:

  1. Fascinating. I've never used a graphic tablet or Photoshop. Very nice work. I enjoy seeing your art.

    Happy Drawing.

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  2. Thanks! Glad you like my work!

    I couldn't live without my graphic tablet. Drawing with the stylus is much more natural than trying to draw with the mouse; it's just like using a pencil. The big advantage is if I make a mistake, I don't need to erase or start over, I just hit undo!

    By using Photoshop I can experiment much more than with pen and ink as well. I can try out different colored backgrounds to see which one looks best just by moving a slider.

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  3. Awwww too bad you got rid of your toys! I know what you mean about how expensive mint condition toys are. I check out eBay every now and then looking for a couple toys of my youth. I just can't seem to justify spending all that money on an old board game (SURVIVE!) or a Tree House made for Weebles (the basket elevator was amazing)

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  4. AND another thing.......Callisto is super cool. I love his limbs and brain!!

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  5. Thanks, Dawn!

    I've never heard of the Survive! game. We had a ton of board games at our house but I guess we missed that one. My sister had some Weebles, if I remember correctly, but I don't think she had the treehouse. She was more of a Fisher-Price kind of gal, and had a ton of the FP playsets.

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  6. Awesome art!!! Have you done also Matt Mason????

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  7. @Peter Parker: No, so far just Calisto. Maybe I should draw the rest of the crew one of these days.

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