Thursday, June 26, 2014

For the Astronaut In Training: The Ideal Astro Base

It's always fun to see old toys at estate sales.  But this one didn't seem all that old to me.  That's probably because the Ideal Astro Base and I -- well, we're not exactly contemporaries, but we both came along when space toys were (okay, pun intended) really taking off in America.

I bought it and brought it home.

It's easy to forget that, not so very long ago, the idea of space travel was relatively new.  Jules Verne H. G, Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote of traveling to the moon and beyond.  My parents' generation spent countless hours at Saturday movie matinees watching Buck Rogers, and listening to his adventures at home on the radio.  

Larry Crabbe later became known as "Buster."  The rest, as they say, is history.

They also watched Flash Gordon and read about him in the newspaper comics.

In the post-World War II era, the idea of space travel appealed to a new generation of American kids. And in the early 1960s, Ideal Toy Company released the Astro Base.

Someone has posted a copy of the 1960 TV ad for the Astro Base on YouTube.  It's worth it to take a look:

The Astro Base with a Scout Car, two rockets and an astronaut originally cost $19.95 -- the equivalent of $158.14 today.  (Batteries not included.) For another $3.98, you could get a helmet that would fit the young astronaut in charge of the mission.

The Astro Base I found did still have the Scout Car, but the rockets, the astronaut and some of the other parts were missing.  

This Astro Base just found a new home with a former young space explorer who wanted it for his personal collection. 

Perhaps that's one of the good things about being a grownup in 2014 -- you can go online and find all the toys you wanted as a kid, or replace the ones that your mom gave away when you went off to college.

Collectors Weekly has an article on vintage space toys:

Here's a website that explains more about the Astro Base and shows the original instruction sheet:

This website shows a print ad for the Astro Base, and features comments by former wannabe space explorers who remember owning this toy:

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