Diener Industries: Space Raiders and Space Creatures (1979/1981)

Diener SR 1981-1

Diener SR 1981-2

Diener SR 1981-3

Diener SR 1981-4

Diener SR 1981-5

Lefty Limbo jogged my memory of these novelty erasers earlier this year, and I finally found photos of complete, carded sets (colors varied). They were originally included in McDonald’s Happy Meals from 1979 to 1980, and were very likely sold individually at this time as well. The earliest date I’ve found on the cards is 1981.

I slightly prefer the Space Raiders because that’s what we traded at school, although I think the Space Creatures are more interesting in terms of design and detail. (Check out Neato Coolville’s great post on their resemblance to classic movie monsters.)

Diener SC 1981-1

Diener SC 1981-2

Diener SC 1981-3

Diener SC 1981-4

Diener SC 1981-5

Murray Garrett started Diener Industries in 1957. The company peaked in the early ’80s, when promotional and retail sales combined were reported at $8 million, but the erasers, molded “using a secret process,” gained popularity throughout the ’70s, as dentists across America started giving them out to kids who were scared to death of dentists. (Dentist’s offices accounted for 25% of Diener’s business as late as 1983.) I remember digging through all the squishy pastel colors in the jar to get the one I wanted.

(Jay McDowell and Brian Williams have reminded me of the “prize bin” at school, where many of us were introduced to these guys.)

Diener was sold to Wincraft Inc. in 1993, with Garrett staying on as president. Its last big success came that same year, with the release of Jurassic Park. Dinosaurs had been a Diener staple from the beginning.


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24 Responses to “Diener Industries: Space Raiders and Space Creatures (1979/1981)”

  1. 1 leftylimbo November 19, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    Wow. YES. Totally awesome that you were able to find these on their original carded backs. I had no idea. Like Jay and Brian, I remember receiving these erasers as some kind of prize for jobs well done in school. Kind of weird how some memories are vague while others are crystal clear. I definitely remember owning and playing with them, but don’t really recall how I got ’em.

    Ah, which also brings to mind these “race car” erasers that I also remember playing with. Do you remember those? I wonder if those were also part of Diener’s line.

    • 2 Jay McDowell November 20, 2013 at 2:49 am

      I don’t remember the car erasers; instead, I took those big, rectangular erasers, drew wheels, windows & headlights on them & drove them around my desk. I was usually reprimanded by the teacher after that.

      Lefty, the eraser in your post from earlier in the year – the pink, Buck Rogers-esque one – I remember having that one. And the only reason I remember it is because I always wondered what “Altair” meant.

  2. 3 leftylimbo November 19, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    I’m pretty sure they were these—Imperial Race Car Pencil Toppers—’coz I especially remember that blue one. The year sounds about right too (1978)…it was definitely during the ’70s.


    I guess Matchbox came out with their own car erasers in the ’80s. They’re awesome, but I was already into pencil fights by then, lol.


  3. 7 leftylimbo November 20, 2013 at 9:37 am

    Dood. You won’t believe what I found.

  4. 8 Don Gates November 20, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    THIS is why I love this site. You’re reactivating memories I haven’t thought about in YEARS! I had a ton of these guys and somewhere I think I still have a couple in storage.

  5. 13 James Agee March 25, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    I’ve been looking for these Space Raiders for years! I’ve been driving myself crazy trying to find a Theta-6 spacecraft anywhere on the ‘net! Besides the erasers, I remember having school notebooks with these on the covers, in black and white so you could color them. Boy I wish I could find the pics again.

    • 14 2W2N March 25, 2014 at 9:21 pm

      James, I have a couple of pictures of the notebooks! I’ll try to post them this week. There were 12 in the series, but only 8 Raiders. Not sure if they doubled up on some of the Raiders or what…

      • 15 Bobby January 16, 2015 at 3:20 am

        The notebooks included the original 8 erasers plus 2 more characters and 2 more spacecraft, Propus 1 bomber and Theta 6 fighter. I can remember what 4 of the craft were for (Ceti 3 landing craft, Altair 2 submarine scout, in addition to the 2 I’ve mentioned), but the characters and other craft I draw a blank.

    • 17 2W2N June 21, 2014 at 2:34 pm

      Hi Dan,

      Really cool! If you take some different pics, indoors against a white/static background, I’d be happy to post them here and point everyone to your auction.


      2 Warps to Neptune

  6. 18 DDT April 27, 2015 at 12:02 am

    I visited the Deiner factory many times and saw first hand the “secret” process, metal molds in huge steel centrifuges and I even pored some of the secret ingredients into the machines. They used to recycle the defects in to like colored bins or mixed for some of the swirled colorways. Saw the secret sculpting room, which was fantastic, a small room adjacent the offices, lined with the history of every piece the factory produced. And even hung out on the secret office chairs. It was a decent size place with few employees. And enormous boxes full of every kind of eraser. I used to take em by the bag full!

  7. 19 Jim September 9, 2018 at 3:30 pm

    Guys, I just found this post, and I’m a few years too late, but I have had the bloody Theta 6 on my mind since 7th grade! At the least, know if anyone has some of the notebook covers scanned in? Thank you!
    R, Jim

  8. 21 Scott Andrew Hutchins September 26, 2018 at 2:37 am

    I had both of these. Will always associate the name Horta with Space Raiders.

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