||A Story about Major Matt Mason
by Paul Vreede
Paul's MMM experience.
My younger brother 'Pip' and
myself received MMM and Sergeant Storm respectively, and we' re pretty sure
our Dad (the best father in the world!) brought them back from a business
trip to the States. There definitely weren't any 'dolls for boys' available
in Holland at the time, so these were quite a novelty to behold. Also, we'd
seen the Apollo flights on TV and look: these were *space* toys! And real
astronauts too, not some tin & plastic japanese contraption that could only
bump into the furniture.
I can remember being pretty
impressed by them: the attractive way they were packaged, all neatly laid
out on that card, which had a slick, modern look and really exciting photographs.
And then there was the ingenuity of the jetpack, which made our new heroes
whizz up a lampstand or across the floor on the sleds that came with them.
Ingenious and impressive, that was Mattel in those days.
We'd already been thoroughly
intrigued by the two Hot Wheels Camaros we'd received after another of Dad's
trips a while earlier. We had quite a few Matchbox and Husky cars (the latter
of which were Corgi Toys' answer to Matchbox, I believe), but nice as they
were, these were instantly outclassed by the shiny, weighty and *very* smooth-looking,
smooth-running cars in the flaming packaging. (Soon afterwards, two of our
cousins brought theirs back from living in New Jersey, and we got a lot more
of them too, once they became available in Holland.) So, as far as we were
concerned, Mattel was indeed swell.
Shortly thereafter, MMM must
have arrived on the Dutch market, because I remember the strategically placed
cardboard tray full of blister cards in front of the cash register at the
local toyshop, from which the occasional purchase was made from our pocket
Our mutual collection grew
bit by bit, until we finally had all the early accessories sold on card, as
well as a Callisto and a Firebolt Cannon. We didn't have a Space Station,
nor a Crawler, and I don't recall ever seeing things like UniTreds, Bubbles
or any of the stuff that was introduced later, with the exception of Doug
and Jeff. Maybe MMM failed in Holland, maybe the two local toy stores decided
to stop stocking it, I really don't know. Then again, we did have both the
Power Limbs and the Power Suit, but maybe Dad got us those on a later trip.
For a long time, MMM & friends
were top of the bill. The photographs, taken around 1970, show Pip (at left)
and myself playing with them in some sand dunes while on holiday at one of
the islands in the north of the Netherlands.
|We were inseparable and we
had fun. But alas: the wires broke, one by one. The broken ends helped to
sever the rubber bellows of the figures, and after a while, our astronauts
were crippled beyond repair.
The equipment survived a while
longer, eventually being handed down to Action Man (The British GI Joe made
under license by Palitoy). But bit by bit, things got broken or disappeared,
and finally, even MMM and friends were forgotten as new toys were discovered...
Until one day, a couple of
years ago. I was going round the monthly swap meet held in Brussels, Belgium
(we moved here in '75). On one of the tables, amongst a pile of odds and sods
and Action Man bits, right there... There was Sergeant Storm! 'My' Sergeant
Storm, looking cheerfully through his yellow visor... I couldn't believe my
eyes - I'd been going round toy shows for at least ten years now, and he was
the first I'd ever seen there.
Needless to say, he went
home with me. But not before showing him to every action figure dealer I could
find. And one guy said 'maybe' and would I be there next month? You bet! Well,
the next month, I found that dimly remembered packaging again, looking surprisingly
good for a thirty-year old design.
A Space Station, a carded
Moonsuit, Power Limbs and two launchers, some bits & pieces and two of the
grimiest looking astronauts you'll ever see. Every piece I saw unlocked a
memory. I was rediscovering MMM right there on the spot. My brother was also
pretty intrigued to see it all. After my collection grew, I gave him a Matt
and Power Limbs, so he would have one of his toys again too. Then, everybody
at the design agency got access to the internet. No prizes for guessing the
first words that got fed into Yahoo.
I found John's site, this
site right here. Need I say more? --
Paul Vreede, Brussels, January '98
Paul is one of the charter members of the MMM e-mail list
and a huge contributer to this site (check out the Prototypes and Foreign
sections if you don't believe me!). He may be e-mailed here.
Find out about joining either of the Major Matt Mason e-mail groups here.
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