Continuing my research into possible toy connections to Project SWORD toys, I would like to look at the Scramble Bug.
As seen above, the Bug's pilot is a golden astronaut with his arms at his side moulded in a seated position. I can't show you one outside of his dome as I don't have one loose [anyone?]
I would like to suggest that he looks very similar to the silver pilot in the Alps Lunar Explorer, as you can see in this comparison.
Similarly, the ribbed wheels of the two vehicles are also very similar in design.
You can see more closely in this comparison of the outer/ inner Bug wheels and the Alps wheel. It is the inner Bug wheel, with its flattened edge [bottom left], which is most similar. A comparison of the two toys actually side by side would help here greatly particularly with scale.
Another rarer version of the Alps Lunar Explorer even appears to have EXACTLY THE SAME wheels as the Scramble Bug, complete with rounded edge and red hub cap! [ courtesy of Alphadrome: Joe K].
There are other more circumstantial similarities too: the Scramble Bug is numbered 6 and the Explorer is numbered 7 and both of them have a red arrow emblem: the Bug has the SWORD emblem and the Explorer has double arrowheads in white and red.
There is also one other connection between Alps and Century 21 Toys. Both companies borrowed elements of the 1960 Ideal Astro Base Scout Car for their own toys: the Century 21 Moon Ranger pilot [blogged previously] and the Alps/Rosko Rocket Man Rockets [courtesy of Alphadrome: Gernot].
The chronology of these two toys is difficult. We know that the Scramble Bug was released in 1967 by Century 21 Toys. The year of manufacture of the Alps Lunar Explorer is less clear to me. Some online sources state it as 1966, which would certainly help the case that it may have influenced the Bug. However, the year is as yet unconfirmed until I find a definite source [anyone?]
So what do you think readers? Is there a connection between the Bug and the Explorer?