RETRO REVIEW: StarCom
StarCom was one of the lesser-known toy lines from the 1980’s. Heck, the internet can’t even agree as to whether it’s spelled StarCom or Starcom. The toy line featured a total of 23 figures, a number of playests, and 13 vehicles. Those figures bucked the trend and measured only 2 inches in height. Also, they featured tiny magnets in the feet (known as Magna Lock technology), allowing you – or them - to transcend gravity.
Every StarCom (I’m going with that spelling) figure included a weapon, a backpack, and an identification card (you could cut it out from the back figure card). The figure I was able to snag off of eBay was Sgt. Von Rodd. Clearly, whoever was in charge of naming characters for the StarCom line at Coleco back in 1987 thought they could slip in what I’m going to assume is an adult film actor’s name.
Von Rodd included a V-6 WIP PISTOL and HYERVOLT POWER PACK. In other words, he came with a little gun and a backpack that plugged into the hole on his back. I was surprised that the plastic hose that connects from the gun to the pack hadn’t started to disintegrate after 30 years of likely sitting around in someone’s garage. I mean, look at the card. It looks like some kid spilled his juice box all over this thing.
The figure’s clear shield flips up from his helmet to reveal a face without any eyes. What was it about the 1980’s that toy companies just wouldn’t even attempt painting eyes? I’m also thinking about you Kenner and your M.A.S.K. toy line. Even ugly paint splotches and globs are better than the eerie no-eye look.
Like most toy lines from the 80’s, StarCom spawned a television series – StarCom: The US Space Force. It was developed in conjunction with the Young Astronaut Council (established by the Reagan White House) and tried to gain young viewers interest in NASA and the space program.
The show ran from September through December of 1987. The space shuttle Challenger disaster occurred January 28th 1986. At that point in time, NASA was trying anything to gain positive interest in the space shuttle program. I was only a kid at the time, but the actual events of the Challenger explosion are ingrained in my mind. StarCom, both the toy line and the television series, must have been pushed back to the deep, dark recesses of my brain.
I actually first ran across the line while looking at an old Sears Christmas Wish Book. It’s surprising how the line has held up – both physically and trend-wise. Of course, Coleco, which was bought out by Hasbro, went kaput. And, apparently, Hasbro (or any other toy company) hasn’t decided to revive the line. It makes sense. The first toy or television show StarCom search hit is four pages deep on Google. But a toy line this cool (and I do actually like the figure, a lot) shouldn't be some forgotten-about relic of the 1980's. Right?