Monday, April 1, 2013

Toy Review: Fisher Price Adventure People Alpha Interceptor

It's time for something a little different.  Today's review is of a nearly thirty-year old Fisher Price toy.  From around 1974 and for the following decade, Fisher Price produced three inch sized figures and playsets under the "Adventure People" line.  This line had no particular focus, starting with early sets like "Rescue Truck", "Daredevil Sports Plane", and "T.V. Action Team."  These toys hit the street before Star Wars action figures did, and were the first such toys that I could remember.  Eventually, though, Fisher Price had to get on the space bandwagon, as Star Wars was just steamrollering its way through the toy market, and those who didn't adapt were going to be left in the dust.

So, a few years later, one birthday, I opened up a present to find inside the Fisher Price Alpha Interceptor.  Unusually, I was completely surprised by this toy, never having seen it in any catalog at any point (yes, this was quite a long time before the Web, and obsessive fan-boys poring over Internet toy rumors).  I had a few of the other space Adventure People sets, and I was extremely happy to have received this one as well.  Tearing into it, I noticed that it was being sold as an "Adventure Kit."  In this case, all that meant was that it didn't come completely assembled already.  One had to grab a phillips-head screwdriver and put a very small number of parts together.  Still, that and adding stickers made it more than just a fun toy to play with.


The Alpha Interceptor was a medium-sized space vehicle, with a slick design.  Unlike many contemporary space-toy makers, Fisher Price actually managed to avoid recycling space toy ideas that were floating around a decade before.  As nice as the Major Matt Mason toys were, in a post-Star Wars era, that design sense was just no longer fashionable.  The toy featured a main ship body, and a smaller patrol-type craft that could separate from it.  




The cockpit could seat the single male astronaut figure that came with the set.  Note the positioning of the arms and hands on the figure.  This was pretty standard for Adventure People  action figures, and it allowed them to grip control sticks or steering wheels in the various vehicles the figures came with.  




The designers went out of their way to add interesting little bits of detail here and there like this recessed engine compartment.




Normal for the day were stickers like these that added to the look of the toy.  Nowadays such a toy would feature these graphics printed directly on the plastic surface, but not so then.  This particular one was likely "factory applied," but most of the rest needed to be placed on by hand.




Quite a few thrusters adorn the rear of the vehicle.  It was definitely built for speed.




I remember feeling as if I could use the Alpha Interceptor along with my Star Wars toys.  The design seemed perfectly in-line with them.






The underside is where you can see the screws I've mentioned above.  Despite the model-like need to assemble the parts, this was definitely a toy, with rigid plastic and built for rugged play.




Here's the smaller patrol craft separated from its larger carrier.  In the above photo, you can see also that the smaller craft was able to rotate 360 degrees when seated inside.




Cockpit details were many, but were left unpainted or adorned with stickers.






If you were lucky, you'd manage to get the stickers on nice and straight.




A neat feature that Fisher Price added was a simple space walk tether made of stiff, but flexible plastic.  It had a + shape at the end designed so that each point of the shape could be inserted in a hole on the surface of the vehicle. 


The other end of the tether could be inserted into the back of the astronaut.  This gave a fairly convincing impression of the astronaut floating in space.



The astronaut himself is a standard "three and three quarters" sized poseable action figure.  Articulation is limited to shoulder and hip joints to allow the figure's limbs to move forward and back.  Having arms positioned to drive a vehicle is pretty cool - at least when actually in the vehicle - but they look somewhat awkward otherwise.


The transparent helmet faceplate cannot be removed or opened, so there is no possibility of head movement.  The ends of the binocular-like protrusions originally had gold chrome accents.  Sadly, this specimen is lacking in bling.




Silver painted gloves and black accents have seen better days, but this only means this toy actually got played with!




It's hard to tell, but the soles of the boots were painted silver as well.



The astronaut's backpack had some gold and silver chrome accents as well.  These ones have fared a bit better, and the big printed three is perfectly intact.  Generally, vacuum-metalized plastic doesn't hold up too well to prolonged handling, but I think most kids would agree that it looks pretty cool.



Some older Adventure People toys got awfully loose at the joints, but our astronaut still can hold a pose and stay stable in it, even if all he's doing is sitting down.




Unfortunately, as a collector wanting to go back and maybe pick up a few old sets for the sake of nostalgia, the Adventure People toys are quite expensive these days.  Sets that probably went for about fifteen to twenty dollars in the mid 70s are now sold for more than a hundred dollars on Ebay.  Ah well, maybe one day I'll tire of robots and monsters enough to trade them in for a few more of these.  Hmmm, probably not, but it sure is nice to have this little bit of my childhood waiting there for me and my kids in my toy room.  I remember the Adventure People with great fondness, and thank my loving parents for a nice birthday surprise that I still remember to this day!






1 comment:

  1. I came across your pics when doing an unrelated Google Images search, and couldn't believe what I was seeing. I have that exact same spaceman set at my folks's house (pretty sure it's still there), which is complete with the exception of the space tether. I never knew of anyone else who had one like it, or even knew what it was called. To me, it was just some odd, generic toy that my one of my older cousins passed down to me when he apparently felt like he was too old to be playing with it anymore. Like you, I also used to play with it alongside other assorted "three and three quarters" action figures. Thanks for posting this!

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