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Steve Yorks 12" Major Matt Mason Conversion

This is a series of photos detailing my project to construct a team of 12" astronauts and a space station inspired by the 60's Major Matt Mason toy line. My base astronaut uses the Ultracorps Series 2 Astronaut suit on a variety of Ultracorps bodies. So far only one suit has been seriously accessorized, and even it isn't complete or final, but it give you a good idea of the final result. The station is still in the early stages of construction. The material is 1/2" PVC pipe, and what you're seeing is the structure for the upper platform, center console, and roof, along with a single set of support girders. Shortly I'll add a lower platform and a second set of girders. Obviously, there will be a lot of work finishing and detailing the console roof, and adding solar panels, among other things. I've thrown in a scattering of accessories to give it more of that old Matt Mason catalog feel.

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Major Mike Mycroft
This is Major Mike Mycroft, my "hero" astronaut, showing some of the basic modifications to the Ultracorps suit. I've added bands of 3/4" black sewing elastic to the legs and arms to suggest the joints in the old bendy. A black hair elastic has been added to the neck. Later I'll probably paint the visor frame silver, and replace the orange crotch strap with another one. Boots are from the GI Joe "Intruder Defense" carded set. A couple of prototype silver packs (neither is a final design) are Velcroed to the legs. The name/flag patch is also attached to existing Velcro on the suit. Backpack is from a carded Action Man set. Accessories are a mix of Ultracorps, Joe and pink isle items. The backdrop is a platform from an original Major Matt Mason station.

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Space Station and Figure Overview
This picture gives an overview of the Space Station project. Various figures and accessories have been included to give some sense of scale and what the final project will be like. On the right is an original 1/12 scale Matt Mason station for comparison.

What you see represents only the upper platform, roof, center console, and one set of girders from the original station. The lower platform and girders will be added shortly. Note that none of this is an attempt to do a direct upscale, but rather to take inspiration from the originals and create something completely new with a "Next Generation" feel. In some cases liberties will be taken for ease of construction or to use found materials. In other cases, I'm making changes to clear up some of the logical problems with the original station.

For instance, the upper platform floor is solid rather than an open grid, and the lower part of the center console will be closed too. A door on one side of the console will open into a central airlock. The 4" round fitting in the middle (with a Star Wars Pit Droid sitting on it) will be sunk into the floor and act as the outer hatch for the airlock. A roof hatch will also be added, provided I can fit it in, as will ladders going up and down. I may also add a panel in the airlock marked as a fold down toilet, allowing the airlock to double as a bathroom. This makes a certain kind of sense. What better way to get rid of foul smells than to vent them directly to space?

One major structural change is that because of the limitations of the PVC pipe fittings available, this station is an octagon, not a hexagon. The console will have four major sections rather than three, but one of these will mainly be the airlock hatch, leaving the remaining three to take on pretty much the same overall function as the originals. Obviously there are four sets of support girders, not three.

You'll note some drooping and misalignment of parts. Actually, only a few pieces have been glued yet. Most are "dry-fitted" at this point in construction.

The chair is the seat from a Vintage AT escape car, some hardware from my shop, and the base from a Labtech computer microphone.

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Space Station Side View
A side view. That's a redressed "Intruder Defense" Joe in the background. Near the girder is "Captain Action as a alien." The mask is a squirting novelty I got at a party shop for a quarter. I cut out the flat bottom, put a slit up the back of the neck so it would fit over a figure's head, and painted in the mouth (which was just a molded recess) with a black Sharpie pen. He's wearing an Ultracorps flack vest (backwards) and has a Intruder Defense minigun over his arm. Except for those lilly-white hands and forearms, he makes a pretty good "next-gen" Callisto.

The canisters on the platform are from the Tuskeegee Bomber Pilot set. I know they're someone's coffee and lunch, but they looked NASA issue to me.

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Space Station Top View
A top view, more clearly showing the roof construction. Actually, under the floor the platform is built much the same way, except the pipe sections in the outer ring and spokes are longer. There are also eight additional "T" connectors for the girder attachment. A center platform will probably be much the same except for the open flooring and that it will have 90-degree cross fittings instead of the "T" connectors, allowing the girder pipes to attach top and bottom. The floor is 1/8" hardboard.

I plan to add a beacon or antenna (or both) to suggest the lighted beacon on the original. This one won't retract though. I need to provide an attachment point for it, and I'm trying to decide if I should add a cross member with a T in the central ring for this purpose, or simply make a removable wooden lid that gives clear access to the airlock.

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The Astroteam!
My current Astroteam. Matt Mason was USA all the way, but I'm going for an international feel here. Middle is base commander Major Mike Mycroft, USA. To the right is surface operations chief CPO Stepka Burankov (a relatively unmodified, as-yet, Ultracorps 'naut), Russia. (One translation of "Buran," by the way, is "snow-storm," just so you know.) The one on the left is an as-yet unnamed Brazilian astronaut. Behind them is an unnamed Space Marine assigned to defensive duties, and a Strange Visitor from Another Toy Company. I'd like to add a few more ethnic types and a female or two to the team.

Obviously the console uprights are about an inch two short to allow for helmeted figures, and will be modified before the station is finished.

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Major Mike Mycroft
If you look closely at one of my prototype MMM leg packs, it's covered with... duct tape. I've been having a bitch of a time finding a silver material that lends itself to making those little packs. Most of the stuff frays, doesn't like to fold, doesn't glue well, or has other drawbacks, so in desperation, I tried duct-tape. Unfortunately, it looks pretty much like duct-tape, so I'm still working on it.

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All images and text are © 2001 J. Steven York - Writer Generation X Novels: Crossroads, Genogoths Bolo, Old Guard (Now in stores, from Baen Books), and used with permission.

You can contact Steve by clicking here or visit his website here. Or you can contact John Eaton, by clicking here.

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