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Major Matt Mason Newsletter Issue #3 5/26/99






Featuring articles on Great Finds, the MMM Comic Strips/Book, and how to safely Clean Figures.

To contribute to the Major Matt Mason i-zine or to subscribe to it bi-weekly via e-mail, please contact the editor, Alec Peters.

Welcome to the third issue of the Major Matt Mason newsletter! This newsletter is going out to over 500 Major Matt Mason collectors via e-mail. This is a bi-weekly newsletter, and everyone is invited to contribute.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Editor's notes

2. The Major Matt Mason E-mail list

3. Great Finds!

4. Major Matt Mason Comic Strips

5. GoMainline.com

6. Cleaning Matt Mason figures

7. MMM display cases!

8. Coming attractions

1. EDITOR'S NOTES

The Newsletter keeps growing! Thanks to everyone who has written with positive comments on the newsletter! Within a week or so, previous issues of the MMM Newsletter will be archived on both John Eaton’s "Wild Toys" site http://www.wildtoys.com/MMMPage/mmm.html, and Keith Meyer’s Space Station site http://www.majormattmason.net. These are the two premier MMM web sites on the Internet, and I urge you all to check them both out.

This newsletter is going to over 500 MMM fans this week!

This issue starts the "Great Finds" feature. This will explore those unbelievable moments when we find that awesome MMM piece and just can’t wait to tell our collecting friends about it.

Paul Vreede, our loyal Belgian MMM collector, has done an outstanding job on "Major Matt Mason Comic Strips". An exhaustive article on our favorite space toy in the print media.

Then check out the feature on "GoMainline.com". This is the new on-line collectibles only auction and resource site that both Mark Stuart and I work for, so you know there is Major Matt mason stuff on the site!

Finally, I have a short piece on how to clean MMM figures.

And as a recap from last issue, and to all our new MMM readers, since I send this out on Microsoft Outlook Express, all you AOL users will not get this properly formatted. No links or bold headings etc. AOL really is a pain in the butt this way. Sorry. I suggest dumping AOL and using an ISP. With Cable modems set to be the standard in the very near future. AOL will not be the ISP of choice. (And yes, I am an AOL user, but I have an ISP as well).

2. THE MAJOR MATT MASON E-MAIL LIST !

The first, and still the only Major Matt mason list of choice. If you are a Major Matt Mason fan, you need to join the Matt mason E-mail list. Over a hundred MMM fans regularly send messages about Matt Mason. The best way to stay in touch with other collectors and learn about your favorite astronaut.

Just e-mail John Eaton at john@wildtoys.com and ask him to put you on the list! Thanks to John and Claude for their excellent efforts on the list!

3. GREAT FINDS

This is the first in a series of articles written by Major Matt Mason collectors on Matt Mason items that they found in stores, at shows and just about any other way you can fall into a great toy! All submissions are welcome.

RAY KOLASA

We all search the swap meets, hunt the toy shows, and bid crazy in on-line auctions looking for that elusive toy – often to no avail. The untold hours we put into our search could almost certainly be put to better use, whether by spending time with our families, reading a good book, or finding the cure for cancer. But we’re all toy collectors, a special – many might say insane – breed driven by our childish obsessions. Every one of us thrills to the hunt and understands that peculiar excitement that comes from unexpectedly finding that rare piece. The "wasted" hours suddenly become worthwhile when, every once in a while, we strike gold.

For those of you who don’t know, Los Angeles has a semi-regular toy show called Toyrific. It’s actually held in Pasadena and, truth be told, isn’t very good. There may be anywhere from 40-80 dealer tables, but since most of the same dealers show up time and again, there are few surprises or bargains, even for those paying the extra $5 for "early bird" admission. There’s always some cool stuff to be sure, but not much that hasn’t been seen before if you’re a regular. Increasingly I find that I go mainly to socialize. But I do go, almost every show, because every once in a while you do get lucky and strike gold…

It was about a year and a half ago – I’m pretty sure it was in December – when I found a key piece that almost wound up in Alec Peters' collection. To this day I don’t think he fully understands how close he came to getting this piece or how close I came to missing it. As I remember it, it was a typically mediocre show. I paid my money and went in early, but not just as the doors opened. Maybe I was half an hour late. As usual, I took a quick walk around to say hello to friends and dealers, and found nothing interesting for sale. The same old sh*t as some might say. It was only later, perhaps as much as two hours after the doors opened, that I took another, closer look at a particular table. I could hardly believe that I looked right past it before, but there behind the table (it was either on the wall display or resting on the floor, I can’t remember which) was a Sgt. Storm still sealed on the rare Flight Card. I’d never seen one before (and haven’t seen another since) and assumed that since it was still there after all this time – two hours is an eternity for a toy bargain to remain unsold – it was probably priced well out of reach.

I’m happy to report that it wasn’t. Now as many of you know, I’m a cheap SOB when it comes to buying toys. I find it limits me from buying everything in sight. For many years I had little money to spend and I have a lot of patience – which is why, years before, I passed up a C-10 Flight Card Matt at $175 because I wanted to hold out for one on the Moon Suit card. Boy was I naïve back then, but that’s another story! I’ve since learned that one can be too patient. Anyway, I wasn’t about to let this one get by me. Fearing what the dealer might say, I nevertheless asked him the price. I was relieved when he quoted me less that $300. Lest he think me too eager, I haggled a bit and got him down to $230, an exceptional bargain by today’s standards.

Now the piece wasn’t mint. At the time, in fact, it looked quite beat-up. The card was slightly warped and it was dirty all over. The blister, especially, was coated in brown gunk. The dealer had obviously made no effort to clean it – which was fine by me. The gunk came easily off the blister – which now sparkles – and some of the warpage pressed out between books. What originally looked like a C-6 card turned out to be closer to C-8. I was very pleased.

The dealer turned out to be a nice guy. We talked for a while and he explained where he found the carded Storm. It came from a collection that some old lady found in her attic. Apparently she also had half a dozen MOC Doug Davis figures, but some other dealer cleaned her out of them before my dealer hooked up with her. In the interim she found a few more old toys, among them the carded Storm, which he was fortunate enough to acquire.

After my purchase, I clearly remember walking around and showing off my find to friends and dealers. Few people seemed all that impressed – which I attributed to them simply not being that familiar with Matt Mason toys. I remember Tim Miller – a dealer I’m sure Alec will say more about – seeing it in my bag and asking how much I paid for it. When I told him, Tim seemed very surprised and said that he’d offered the dealer $300 for it earlier that morning, but had been turned down.

Since then I’ve not found anything nearly as good – and I often leave empty-handed – but finding that carded Sgt. Storm the way I did is precisely the reason why I continue to search the swap meets and hunt the toy shows month after month after month…

ALEC PETERS

The great part of this story is that it can be told by two different people from two different vantage points with the same basic facts.

My toy dealer friend Tim was going to the show and I had urged him to buy any MMM items on card he found as I was going to get to the show in the afternoon. When I arrived at the show, Tim told me about the piece he didn’t buy and my heart sunk! He told me "It was the red guy on a card with the backpack and Space Sled."

I couldn’t believe I had missed a Storm Flight Card for $ 300! The good news is that it wound up in a good collectors hands. Ray beat me to the punch here and I give him crap about it every time I see him. I even mockingly choked him at the October Atlantic City show last year, but all in good fun.

The good news for me is that I recently added a Storm Flight Card to my collection and so now I can stop abusing Ray! A happy ending for all.

4. MAJOR MATT MASON COMIC STRIPS

In the course of the years, there have been a few comic strips about our favorite Major. Those produced by/for Mattel were either outright advertisements, or served publicity purposes as their prime reason of existence. This is hardly surprising, since a comic strip is a most efficient way to reach a young audience, and selling MMM is what Mattel wanted to achieve.

It is only when another producer became involved that MMM tie-ins became more autonomous products in their own right, such as the range of Whitman books and puzzles. It is therefore a pity that apparent plans for a fully-fledged MMM comic strip to be produced by DC Comics were never realized. This too could have been more than just another advertisement.

According to a source quoted by Richard Hallock (on his Virtual Vikki site - all links see below) the reason why these plans were given up is unclear, though "one theory was that DC Comics - then National Periodical Publications - had gotten into hot water with Ideal over the last couple of issues of their Captain Action tie-in comic and it's really heavy political overtones".

Whatever the reason, a great opportunity was lost. In the end, the only MMM comic to grace the pages of DC comics was part of an advertisement:

1967 advertising in DC Comics titles

This campaign centered around a double-page advert made up of one comic strip page followed by a yellow page featuring some of the earliest MMM playsets (Crawler, Moonsuit, Space Station and MMM with Jet Pack and Sled). In addition, the yellow page appeared on its own and also in a 1/3 page version.

Apparently all three adverts were used in no particular order starting in 1967 (possibly even in late 1966). John Eaton tells me he has a single-pager from as late as 1969 and thinks they even continued into 1970. This is rather surprising, since the MMM range had of course considerably expanded by that time.

One intriguing detail is that this strip is labeled as *another* MMM adventure. Since there doesn't appear to be a different comic strip in the campaign, my best guess is that it refers to the comic strip that never was. Most likely, an episode of the comic strip would have been followed by the double page ad, which in such a case *would* be "another" adventure.

In my opinion, this comic strip doesn't show the Major as much of a hero. After muddling about on the moonscape, he falls into a hole and that's that. In advertising terms it does make sense: it is of course the young reader who's called upon to be the hero and rescue the Major, provided he goes out and buys one first.

1968 Italian introduction advertisement

Although made up from photographs, this ad is still a comic strip in that it has a story running over different panels, with the Major holding up his end of radio communications in the text.

Contents-wise it follows the same concept as the DC advertising strip, but combining the product shots with the storyline. The Major does not come to grief however- he merely returns to the Station to wait for further instructions. Thus it is still the reader who will have to take charge and continue the adventure.

The advantage of doing the strip photographically is that the reader gets a much better look at all these cool toys. In the US, chances are that most readers of DC Comics would have seen MMM for real in TV commercials, or possibly in the shops. And as noted before, the campaign was probably meant to blend in with a real MMM comic adventure.

In Italy, it was not Mattel but the importer(?) Baravelli making the advertising investments, and ownership of TV sets was still much below US levels. MMM was just being introduced, so may not have been immediately present in each and every toy shop either. Therefore this particular advertisement does a pretty good job on just two pages. Putting it in 4 consecutive issues of Topolino (the Italian Mickey Mouse magazine) will have made sure that most children in Italy saw it.

1969 Esploratori dello Spazio

When Mattel set up shop in Italy, they brought some advertising clout with them. Moving up slightly in the age of the target audience, they filled many a page of Corriere dei Piccoli magazine with their advertisements.

MMM received preferential treatment, because he (finally) got a 15-part comic strip as well as a series of photographic ads running next to it. Since I have described these in detail on John Eaton's site (inasmuch as they're included up to now) let me suffice here by saying that in this comic strip, the advertising aspects definitely take a back seat to the comic adventure. Although MMM equipment is featured in the story, a lot more could have been done with it. Instead, the story runs its own course, while reality is left for the advertising campaign to take care of - which it does beautifully.

1990's Men from Earth

The final known MMM-related comic strips were made fairly recently by former Mattel designer Joe Ferrera AKA Joe King. The comics were amongst a number of his projects intended to carry on where Mattel left off, such as a revamped MMM toy line and even a feature film. Of the three comic books planned, only the first was really produced, the other two being offered in script form.

The main reason all these projects were curtailed was the legal wrangle between Mr. Ferrera and Mattel over who exactly owns the MMM trademarks, with both sides claiming they do. Since these MMM comics were not produced by / for Mattel, not every MMM collector is interested in them. I must confess I do not have a copy either.

I gather the story is about MMM dying in an accident after having been on the moon - even before Neil Armstrong. The government hushing this up, MMM's son then goes out to clear his father's name. Also featured are a number of female(!) Callistians, a space-race against Japan and the Firebolt cannon MMM apparently left moth-balled on the moon which becomes an important factor in the story's conclusion.

The above are all the comic strips that have come to light. So far. Because I don't want to rule out that others may not yet be found. Before John heard about the Italian material from Simone (an Italian student in the US), no collector knew it existed. There are still countries where MMM was sold about which we know little or nothing, so who knows what may yet turn up?

Webliography:

- Virtual Vikki site by Richard Hallock:

http://www.snowcrest.net/fox/mm.html

(point 2 after the first 'new' bullet)

- DC advertisements on John Eaton's MMM advertisements page:

http://www.wildtoys.com/MMMPage/MMMmisc/Magazines&Ads/mmm4Ads.html

- Italian material on 'my' MMM Italian page on John's site:

http://www.wildtoys.com/MMMPage/ItalianMMM/mmmItaly.html

- Joe King is included on our 'Real Space Oddities' page:

http://www.wildtoys.com/MMMPage/MMMprototypes/mmmProtoOddities.html

and also on Keith Meyer's Space Station:

http://www.majormattmason.net/proto.htm

note:

I wrote earlier that I thought storyboards might actually have been made for the proposed MMM comic strip by DC Comics. I can't find any reference to back this up, so probably must have mixed these up with something else.

5. GoMAINLINE.COM

Ebay is certainly the king of on-line auctions. But there is a new collectble only auction site that you will be hearing lots about over the next few months. GoMainline.com was started about a year ago and developed a fairly loyal following among toy collectors. In the beginning of February a new management team was brought in with Mark Stuart (astrotrac@aol.com) taking over as President and COO and your truly, Alec Peters (alecpeters@aol.com) taking the role of Vice president of Marketing. The site was recently re-launched April 16 and there is a growing number of toys on the site every day.

The site is only for collectibles, and half the site is dedicated for resources for collectors, such as links, publications, organizations etc. I have sold a number of MMM items on the site the past month and am listing more over the next few days. Please book mark the site, register to be a user and bid away! If you don’t you may miss some great stuff!

6. CLEANING MAJOR MATT MASON FIGURES

I have been asked many times how I clean my Matt figures. There are many solutions. I use Pine Sol and a soft toothbrush. NO, it does not peel the paint. I simply dip the brush in the Pine Sol, and then scrub away. After a section of body parts, I wash off the figure thoroughly so the Pine Sol doesn’t have a chance to do any damage. My figures turn out amazingly bright and never damaged.

If you have similar success with another method, please let me know and I will put it in the next issue!

7. MMM DISPLAY CASES

I have recently been hunting down display cases to protect my MMM collection. I will be selling display cases for All MMM products over the next few months.

The first item I am selling is an AWESOME domed display for a single MMM figure. This is unbelievable and I strongly urge you to get these to protect those sharp MMM figures. The dome is made of acrylic and the base is solid wood.

You can see the dome at :

http://members.aol.com/alecpeters/sjar.jpg

Each dome is $ 19.95 delivered

Four domes for $ 69.95 delivered

COMING ATTRACTIONS

The next issue of the MMM newsletter will feature whatever I happen to have at the time! But PLEASE contribute! Many thanks to Ray Kolasa and Paul Vreede for their great articles!

Happy Hunting!

Alec



To contribute to the Major Matt Mason i-zine or to subscribe to it bi-weekly via e-mail, please contact the editor, Alec Peters.



All Mattel images and captions are copyright Mattel and used without permission. All other content is copyright © 1997-2017 John Eaton and/or Alec Peters. If there are any comments or objections, please contact John Eaton, by clicking here. E-mail Alec Peters by clicking here.


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