Lost In Space Toys And Collectibles
Lost in Space toys and collectibles are coming your way! Warning, warning, Danger Will Robinson!
What do you think of when you hear these words, "Warning! Warning! Danger, Will Robinson." If you’re like millions of other baby boomers, you recognize that phrase as part of television history in the form of Lost in Space.
In 1965, producer Irwin Allen took us along on a great adventure. Tucked safely inside the Jupiter II, the Robinson family began their journey with hopes of becoming the first family to colonize Alpha Centaury. They never made it. Thanks to the devilish doings of Dr. Zachary Smith, the Robinsons and their companions ended up hopelessly Lost in Space. Guy Williams gave up the mask of Zorro and became Professor John Robinson, the Dad of the future. At his side was wife Maureen, June Lockhart of Lassie fame. They were joined by their children. Judy, the oldest was played by new comer Marta Kristen. The two youngest Robinson children, Will and Penny, were both played by veteran TV and movie actors. Angela Cartwright and Billy Mumy had dozens of rolls under their belt when they joined the cast. Quite an accomplishment for two who together were less than 20 years old. Finishing off the original crew was Major Don West, played by handsome heart throb of the day, Mark Goddard. West was setup to be a love interest for Judy in the early episodes but network censors found the idea of a "child" having romantic encounters in space to much to handle.
When the Robinsons made their first lift off before the network brass they were without two very important characters. Both Dr. Smith and the Robot were added at a later time. Television staple Jonathan Harris was handed the roll of the villainous Dr. Smith. And in the beginning he was villainous - indeed. In the second version of the pilot, Smith sabotages the Jupiter but is trapped inside just before lift off. The robot became Smith’s evil henchman aiding him in his plot to kill the Robinsons. Hardly the Smith most people remember. According to Harris, changing Smith from all bad to the bumbling adversary became was his way of assuring a steady paycheck. And sure enough, Smith’s scheming and dreaming became the high point of the series.
If you’re a true fan, you probably remember Lost in Space’s black and white beginnings with it’s serious tone and dark mood. Most people, however, recall the later episodes with their colorful creatures, lighter tone and just for fun plot lines. Since the series was well watched by the young, Lost in Space toys were plentiful in the mid-sixties. Today, licensed merchandise from the show are some of the most sought after toys in their category. Well made, highly imaginative toys from Remco and Mattel top the auction charts with prices that soar up to 20,000 dollars for a single item. There is almost nothing in the line that can be bought for under 100 dollars and most are way above.
Topping the market for Lost in Space toys is the Roto Jet Gun by Mattel. The gun was packaged in a large 24 x 14 box. The box art is very stylish with artwork of the cast members using the guns against a couple of marauding Cyclops monsters. The gun was a rifle style with several different attachments including one that shot small round discs.
Right up there in price is the Switch and Go Set by Remco. This Sears Christmas exclusive came with a very detailed chariot that ran around a track with figures and a Styrofoam Jupiter II. It was part of a line of Switch and Go toys that included Batman as well as a few generic themes. Due to the size of the toy when packaged, Sears repackaged many in plain brown boxes for mailing. Only store bought versions came with the full color box. Since there were many little figures and pieces in the set, finding one complete and still in the box is an amazing feat. Boxed sets have been known to sell for over 10,000 dollars at auction.
Though not as pricey as some other toys, Remco’s Lost in Space Robot is one of the most cherished pieces from the line. The 12 inch high motorized robot is not a tough find but still he causes quite a stir. The toy is stout, completely out of proportion compared to the robot on the show and it was molded in red or blue plastic. The battery operated toy walks and blinks and has a lever in his back that moves his claw arms. While hardly a model of advanced engineering, the Robot has a certain undefinable charm. Again, look for the box to really add value to the toy
In the game category look for two items with very varied price tags. The Remco 3-D Fun Set is a board game designed with three levels of cardboard supported by plastic pillars for a futuristic 3-D look. Sort of like the 3-D chess made popular on Star Trek. The game included 4 generic space figures and other than the photos on the box, it had no resemblance to anything on the series. The game is fairly rare and the unusual design keeps it in the over 500 dollar category.
At the other end of the credit card is the Lost in Space Board Game by Milton Bradley. The board uses a grid style playing field instead of the usual trail of squares and the entire background in a highly detailed space scene. This combined with the nice box graphics keeps it in the low 100 range. High for a basic board game of the sixties, but low compared to the other toys in the line.
Aurora, king of the monster models, had several hits with the Lost in Space licensing. The rarest set is the Large Cyclops Diorama which sells for up to 1500 dollars. During the first issue the model came with a Cyclops, figures of the Robinsons and a mountain setting. The box art is excellent and even empty boxes sell for over 100 dollars. When the kit was reissued in 1967 Aurora added a larger base and a model of the Chariot. With this kit, even the model instructions are being sold for 25 to 30 dollars. The model Robot kit by Aurora also sells for 500 to 800 dollars. The 6" high model of robot with a base originally sold for $1.00. The thin vertical box has a terrific graphic of the robot shooting lightning bolts out of his claw. Like most model kits, keeping them un-built in the box retains their value. If you have to have a build up buy a recasting, sometimes called a garage kit. These look just like the original when you’re done but you can buy them at a quarter of the price.
Lastly, you may have heard rumors of a set of Lost in Space action figures. These are actually a set of dolls produced by Marusan in Japan. The dolls came dressed in spacesuits each in their own freezing tube with a colorful paper insert (written in Japanese). The likenesses are poor and the workmanship is terrible but ugly as they are, they are still highly collectable since they were never released here in America. Plan on forking over at least a thousand dollars for each of the seven.
For die hard collectors there are dozens of other Lost in Space items available. Several foreign companies have produced carded space guns, walkie talkies and imitation robots. Highly detailed models have been produced by Lunar Models and Matsudya has a replica of the robot that far beats the Remco toy. Even now, thirty years later, fans are still marketing T-shirts, hats, badges and pins. You can buy Lost in Space comics, the soundtrack on CD and the entire set of episodes in installments from Columbia House. And now with a new movie on the horizon, Lost in Space is bound to soar higher than ever before. Still, nothing is cooler than a good old fashioned sixties plastic toy with blinking lights, and beeping sounds and a box that says "As seen on TV." Get Lost --in space.