Meet Mattel's Man In Space: Major Matt Mason

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Dec 17, 2020, 2:50 PM EST (Updated)

The outer space awesomeness of Mattel's Major Matt Mason line of toys in the late '60s was my first taste of geekiness that is still reverberating in my professional life.   With incredible attention to detail and produced at the height of NASA's Apollo program, the successful series of space exploration toys has become a hot collectible in recent years, with mint-in-the-box and mint-on-the-card prices for some of the more extravagant multi-tiered sets soaring straight into the stratosphere.  Serious collectors track down the more rare examples of Major Mason and his astronaut friends' lunar equipment like treasure hunters searching for rare gems in Burma.

The moon-bound fun ended in 1969, but not before Mattel's Man In Space entered the geeky hall of fame as one of the greatest sci-fi toy lines in the history of the universe, and the California-based firm's best-selling boys products for three straight years.

A pristine, bendable Major Matt Mason figure sits front and center on my writing desk, helmet visor flipped up so he can observe my daily scribblings.   Designed in 1966 to take advantage of America's infatuation with anything having to do with the moon, rockets and astronauts, it immediiately became the must-have gift for the Christmas of 1966, with initial action figures and vehicles based on actual NASA concept art, then later leaping into the realm of science fiction. The set of four original action figures were created with a new rubber-like material named Plastizol. Besides the main white-suited Matt Mason figure, the series also included three space buddies: red-clad Sgt. Storm, yellow-wearing civilian astornaut Doug Davis and the blue-suited African-American figure, Lt Jeff Long, and two aliens, Callisto and Scorpio.

Back to the Future director Robert Zemeckis is planning a feature film adaptation of the iconic toy line, written by screenwriter Graham Yost (Justified, Speed) and starring Tom Hanks, so if you're even remotely interested in grabbing a few pieces for your Major Matt collection in the near future, now is the time to start!  

Collector prices for MMM collectibles in Near Mint condition range from $70-$1500.  Below is a primer on collecting individual figures, playsets, space stations, battery-operated uni-treads, transparent space bubbles, jet packs, supernaut power-limbs, reentry glider, a motorized lunar crawler and the badass Thunderbolt Space Cannon so you too can command your own moon base from the privacy of your own home.