Review by The Enthusiast
A century ago,the Britains company pioneered the manufacture of cast lead toy soldier figurines. The quintessential old timey toy outfit, Britains did eventually modernise, transitioning to diecast figures and vehicles in the 70’s. However, modern manufacturing techniques couldn’t alter the inescapable reality that the modern child was scarcely interested in toy soldiers and farm implements.
Determined to adjust to new trends, Britains boldly charted a new course, creating an ambitious, sprawling array of space toys, imaginatively called Britains “Space.”
The modular toys, heavily indebted to Bandai’s Microman and its American counterpart, Micronauts, were fun, inventive, and well made. They were a huge failure. Britains never fully recovered from the Space flop, and the company changed hands repeatedly, eventually winding up as a property of Tomy, who continues to produce soldiers and farm implements under the Britains name.
Stargards was a mid-sized playset, part of the first wave of Space toys. Early releases are either yellow vehicles with humanoid figurines, or green vehicles with alien figurines. The main capsule modules are unique to each side, while both humans and aliens share connective and secondary parts.
The heavy corrugated box was also used to package a different Aliens playset. It must have been confusing to see these things on the shelf. I myself have purchased a set expecting one set of contents, only to find the other inside.
A flimsy plastic tray holds the parts.
The larger vehicle module is a thing of beauty. The central ball cockpit is weighted, so that the figures within are always sitting level. That weight gives the piece some real heft. The two ports on either side of the ball are diecast within as well.
The car module has a retro feel to it. I didn't realize it until I took these photos, but the car completely dis-assembles (see below).
Platforms, etc. That wing piece is solid diecast!
The figures have a charming, anachronistic quality. They look like something out of a mid-century pulp illustration. The diecast bases are a nice touch.
Playing around with the set is a joy. There’s just the right balance of ambiguous parts and detailed modules. I have a few of these sets, and every one of them was thoroughly played with. The parts feel good in the hand. There’s tons of thoughtful details and ways to combine the pieces.
It’s too bad these never caught on. They are fine toys, but difficult to find. There’s a few still kicking around the UK, but the heft and size of many of the sets make them prohibitively expensive to ship.
|Posted 25 November, 2012 - 20:05 by The Enthusiast|