||A Story about Major Matt Mason
by Joe Sikora
I took pretty good care of
my MMM as an 8-10 year old boy, and thought I had hit a bad one when the joints
broke on Matt #1. I replaced Matt #1 with Matt #2 and when Matt #2 broke,
I promptly and intentionally broke the remainder of his joints. I continued
to use him as the poseable figure and actually stopped bending the rest of
I think it was the second
year Matt was out. There was a whole bunch of stuff new Matt stuff available
and I wanted it all. We came home from my Grandmom's Christmas Eve to find
that Santa had come early! I ran into the family room expecting lots of Christmas
presents only to find one big crumby box. My heart sank- How Could Santa Have
Left Me Down? I had been a good boy all year! He knew I really liked Matt
Mason; I didn't want this dumb box! Tears in my eyes, I pleaded with my parents
that it must be a mistake, but my NAME was on the box. After about an hour,
I finally came to the conclusion that there just wasn't going to be any Matt
Mason that year and that I should appreciate what Santa did get me. I grudgingly
opened the box.I couldn't believe my eyes! I guess Santa just didn't want
to wrap all those small packages! The box was filled with Matt Mason toys!
I never really liked to modify
my toys as a kid, especially not the Matt Mason; they were usually perfect
just the way they came. One thing did bug me though. The ladder on the inside
wall of the Space Ship case was cut in half by the flight deck. How could
Matt be expected to go from the top level to the bottom? I took out the flight
deck and cut a hole at the foot end of the flight bench to solve Mattel's
oversight- still makes me smile when I see my improvement.
My Grandmom gave me $5 for
doing some chores for her and as usual, I promptly went right up to "Town
Toy" to buy the latest Matt accessory. That was the first time I saw Captain
Lazer and of course I had to have him too! When I got home, something was
missing; where was the lazer shield? Well at the ripe old age of about 9,
I huffed it right back to the toy store to complain. I explained the critical
nature of the problem to Mr. Currelly. He rather apologetically opened another
Lazer, gave me the missing shield and a $1 store credit!
Shortly after having received
the Astro Trac as a present from my grandmom, it stopped working. The battery
was dead so I put in a new one, but it still wouldn't work. It was a pretty
cool toy to push around, so I kept it anyway and eventually packed it up with
the rest of my MMM when I got "too big" to play with them anymore. About seven
years ago, I took my stuff out after the long sleep. One at a time, Space
Station beacon, Command Console, Scorpio, Laser, Space Crawler, Firebolt,
Unitred, I brought everything out of suspended animation. Finally the moment
of truth. I decided to try that darned Astro Trac to see if a little adult
knowledge might help. I put a new battery in and nothing. I figured it must
be a contact problem so I looked inside the battery compartment. Everything
seemed ok. Huh. Well, when all else fails, read the directions. I looked for
the battery installation key on the compartment door. There wasn't one.
Well I didn't figure it could
make any difference other than make the toy run backwards, but I put the battery
in the other way. Guess what, after a 30 year down time, the Astro Trac came
back to life (I can only imagine how NASA would feel if we went back to moon
and found that the Lunar Rover still worked)! When I took the battery back
out to see what was going on, it was obvious that the battery can't touch
the contacts when installed positive end first. The Astro Trac doesn't run
backwards when the battery is installed backwards like most toys, it just
doesn't run at all (maybe a "Man In Space" safety feature)!! I guess after
that first battery went dead, and I no longer had the battery installation
instructions, since there was no battery installation key on the compartment
door, I always installed the battery the way that "seemed right" (positive
end first). Bet that sent alot of them to the garbage can.
I can remember wanting the
Firebolt Space Cannon one year for Christmas as a kid. I had seen it a million
times in "Town Toy"- I knew the size, the shape- even the weight of the box.
Well, about a week before Christmas, this wrapped present appears under the
tree. My Dad said Santa had dropped it off early but I was FORBIDDEN to even
touch it! It had to be the Firebolt! It was the right shape, the right size!
One day, two days three days; it was tearing me up! Finally an idea- I got
up early and used a butter knife to carefully undo the tape on one of the
end flaps. If I could just see the box under the paper, I could make it. Well
just as I lifted up the flap, there was my Dad with this big grin on his face-
and there it was- another layer of wrapping paper!
It was the early 70's and
it was the only time I can remember my parents actually allowing me to play
hooky from school. My Dad used to leave for work long before I got up, but
this particular morning, he came in and woke me up to show me something he
had seen in the morning paper. It appeared that our home town toy store "Town
Toy," Pottstown, PA, owned by a Mr. Currelly, was having a MMM blowout sale-
all items 99 cents! Mom and Dad let me go to Grandma's for the day to go up
town to the sale. I can still remember seeing people walking out of there
with piles of stuff; Deluxe Action Sets, Super Action Sets, you know, big
stuff, I guess they were buying it up for Christmas- all at 99 cents (plus
6% tax) each! Never one to waste money, the only thing I bought was the only
thing that I didn't already have; a Star Seeker. I still have the toy and
I actually passed on the
Mobile Launch Pad as a kid! I remember going to Sears with my Dad to get some
replacment filters for the well water filter and seeing a single blister pack
on a peg board rack. Boy was I disappointed. It looked so cool in the catalog,
but being the cheesy Cat Track type accessory it was, I couldn't get myself
to cough up a whole week's allowance for one. I probably paid more for that
single piece to complete my collection as an adult than my parents paid for
all the rest of my Matt Mason line when i was a kid!
Kids can be cruel and I remember
when I was in about the 7th, somebody finding out that I was still playing
with my Matt Mason. I was basically embarassed into not playing with my favorite
childhood toy anymore, but there was no way I could be made to throw it out.
I remember sadly packing it up, knowing that someday when the time was right,
out it would all come again. I wanted to keep everything, but my Dad convinced
me that in the interest of saving space, it would take up alot less room if
we threw away all of those boxes. I did keep the original Astro Trac box as
sort of a momento and used it to put all of the small Space Station Parts
in. I also kept my Zerak Zeroid, The Zeroid alien spaceship, a Colorforms
Collossus Rex and mace, a Sea Devils boat that fit Matt, and my Strange Change
About seven years ago, after
my Dad died, I was helping my Mom clean out and move. She said that now that
I had my own home and my own family, it was time that I took a few things
that belonged to me- and there he was, Major Matt Mason, just like I had packed
him away over 20 years ago. In contrast to my teenage embarrassment, I now
proudly display my collection in our game room. It has become a new family
tradition to display the MMM under the Christmas tree, and my 14 year old
son is fascinated with the complexity of these vintage toys. Because of my
parents love, I not only originally received the COMPLETE Matt mason series,
but also have something most collectors can only dream about; a complete collection
of my ORIGINAL MMM toys.
Thanks for the memories Matt-
Joe (the moon suit arm guy)
Joe is a member of the Major Matt Mason e-mail group and regularly
contributes to discussions about toys. He also make wonderful replacement parts, including
Moon Suit Arms and Zeroid treads.
He may be e-mailed here.
Find out about joining either of the Major Matt Mason e-mail groups here.
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