1980 J.C. Penney Christmas Catalog: Galactic Attack Dome, Buck Rogers Toys, Star Trek Toys, and Star Birds

First things first. On the bottom left of the first page you’ll see a caption, CONSUMER INFORMATION ABOUT ADVENTURE TOYS. The text underneath reads:

The active, imaginative play that adventure toys stimulate provides children with a socially acceptable way of releasing tension. These toys take children into a pretend world and yet help them to express their feelings about the real world and to act out adult roles. It is the child who controls the action with these toys. This helps the child feel less dependent.

Fascinating. How much bloody tension could we have needed to release? It’s like we were all one empty Ding Dong box away from turning into Macaulay Culkin in that movie where he plays crazy evil kid who tries to throw Elijah Wood off a cliff. The line about the pretend world somehow bringing us closer to the real world is bullshit, but it’s sophisticated bullshit. Sure, the pretend worlds of Beethoven and Shakespeare express feelings about the real world, but the Galactic Attack Dome does not, even though it’s bloody fantastic and I’m seriously bitter that I never got a crack at it. The Navarone set is a beauty too, and a Marx classic.

I don’t remember these Buck Rogers Toys, but I watched the trashy series with my dad, who suffered through the silliness for glimpses of Erin Gray in her skin tight spacesuits (yum). The Star Trek stuff looks so antiseptic, doesn’t it? How do you turn such a cerebral show into a line of action toys? I guess that’s why they didn’t last. The Star Birds were spaceships that, like, made noises and stuff. The Retroist talks about them here.

(All images via WishbookWeb. Click to enlarge.)

6 Responses to “1980 J.C. Penney Christmas Catalog: Galactic Attack Dome, <em>Buck Rogers</em> Toys, <em>Star Trek</em> Toys, and Star Birds”


  1. 1 leftylimbo June 25, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    Good heavens. The Galactic Attack Dome, Navarone and even that Sea and Air Battle Set are freakin’ awesome. I actually remember seeing that huge Navarone box in a store back in the day, but didn’t even bother asking my parents to get it for me, with a whopping price tag of $19.99.

    LoL, in comparison, that Star Trek Enterprise Bridge is totally, totally dry, with that minimalist futuristic look that just didn’t go over well with most kids (including myself) at that time. I tried to get into the ’60s Star Trek series back then, but the show was equally dry and I just couldn’t hang.

    Something of note, though, I did receive the white Star Birds toy in Christmas of ’80, and that thing was AWESOME! Totally advanced toy for its time. One peculiar anomaly which I couldn’t grasp was the actual scale of the ship; the two detachable small black spacecraft on the rear had what appeared to be cockpits, so when I considered how small the pilot would be to fit in there, I thought, “Holy crap, the bridge of the ship is freakin’ HUGE! Talk about a serious custom glass job! Hope they considered that in the project budget. It’s like one huge sunroof!”

  2. 2 2W2N June 25, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    What did the Star Bird do, Greg? It looks sweet, but was there any reason to choose it over, say, the Millenium Falcon?

  3. 3 leftylimbo September 6, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Hmm. Well of course nothing could beat the Millenium Falcon for immersing yourself in the SW universe. But the Starbird Avenger had an electronic engine noise that varied in pitch to match ascent, leveling off and descent maneuvers! It also featured laser cannon fire noises and an IR beam that would sense “hits” on these reflective paper targets.

    If I remember correctly, you could also battle others using the same IR technology, and the ship would register battle damage somehow. Hoo boy it’s been so long though, I would have to dig in and see if some Starbird Nerds out there can confirm.

    Meanwhile, here’s a Starbird commercial (1980) which I found on YouTube. I’ve seen a better one, but this one still cracks me up. Enjoy.

  4. 4 Don Gates August 28, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    I had Starbird and loved it. The neighbor’s kid had the Navarrone playset, and I strangely coveted it.

    I forgot until just now that I had the remote controlled Twiki from Buck Rogers, but don’t recall ever using it in the way it was intended. I DO, however, remember using the inflated body for a pool toy, so apparently the remote control thing didn’t work for long.

    • 5 leftylimbo August 28, 2013 at 8:09 pm

      LOL, that remote controlled Twiki. I have a vague memory of seeing that in person somewhere … dunno if it was at someone’s house or in a store display. I could totally picture it floating in a pool, hahaha!


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