Original Toy Art for Colorforms’ The Outer Space Men (1968)



The stunning paintings are by Robert Engle for a gorgeous “bendy” action figure line that influenced space/alien figures and toy design for decades. (Look how closely Orbitron resembles Membros from Mego’s Micronauts line, for instance.) The Outer Space Men followed Mattel’s popular Matt Mason toys (the first great space line) and had an initial run of one series only, as the public lost interest in the space program quickly after Apollo 11. The top painting shows series one. The bottom painting shows the unproduced (at the time) series two.

Following the success of Star Wars, Colorforms and Mel Birnkrant, who created The Outer Space Men, smartly released a Space Warriors Adventure Set and a series of jigsaw puzzles based on the characters in the 1968 line. In 2010 Four Horsemen Studios re-released the original Outer Space Men along with some new figures based on Birnkrant’s designs.

(Images via melbirnkrant.com, where Mel praises Engle’s work.)

6 Responses to “Original Toy Art for Colorforms’ The Outer Space Men (1968)”

  1. 1 Don Gates June 4, 2015 at 4:16 am

    I love this line, and I’m sorry I’ve never seen them “in the wild”. I like how “Mystron, man from the Hollow Earth” has that nice creepy 60’s-70’s occult vibe. Also note how Metamorpho foreshadowed Man-E-Faces from the Masters of the Universe line.

    Also: poor Orbitron… I’m sure he gets lots of “man from Uranus” jabs…

  2. 2 Mark G June 9, 2015 at 5:14 am

    I’ve never seen these before. Wow. Before I read the date of this art, I thought it was from the 1980s. I can see the forerunnings of the “Flash Gordon” (1980) Hawkmen in Commander Comet. And I can see something of Box from “Logan’s Run” (1976) in Gamma X.

    However, I wouldn’t be so keen to give the artist such props for originality. Orbitron is clearly a riff on the Metaluna Mutant from “This Island Earth.” (1955). And the head design for Gemini is ripped off directly from the Twilight Zone episode “Mr. Dingle The Strong” (1961).

    Still, he gets points from me just because of the gothic horror/sci-fi Satan-in-a-space-suit mashup, Mystron. (Plus bonus points for designing a space suit with faux medieval pantaloons.)

  3. 3 Mark G June 9, 2015 at 5:23 am

    And, yes: Before anyone points it out, Gemini is a mash-up of creatures from *both* Twilight Zone’s “Mr Dingle The Strong” AND The Outer Limits “Man From Tomorrow.”

  4. 4 Keith April 25, 2022 at 4:46 am

    I love how I’m not the only one who remembers these. I was in elementary school in the 70s, and I remember having three of these (Saturn, Venus and Uranus). Who’d a thunk that 50 years later, people would be selling these things for a month’s salary. Or more.

    I’d love to get my hands on the entire collection, but it just seems that they’re being sold for exorbitant prices.

  1. 1 Ken Kelly and the Golden Age of Toy Art Trackback on August 26, 2015 at 3:11 pm
  2. 2 Major Matt Mason: Mattel’s Man in Space, 1966 – 1970 Trackback on July 13, 2017 at 1:49 pm

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