Moon McDare and Space Mutt are futuristic toys from the previous century. They were once stars in a growing supernova of daring toy spacemen who flew a parallel orbit with man's first steps into space.
REWIND - I first met Moon McDare and Space Mutt in the 60s. An aloof older cousin, who was a sportsman, not spaceman, had them gathering dust on a shelf beyond my reach.
At the time I'd no idea who Moon McDare and Space Mutt were? But I was fascinated by them... they made a magical impression on me. My cousin moved away and McDare and his Space Mutt were lost in space. It would be a long time before I'd see them again.
Maybe you remember the mid-60s as the era of the Space Race. No, not the Cold War Space Race. I mean the Toy Space Race, fought by the toy titan's of the day! Mattel, Marx, Hasbro and Gilbert, raced to land a variety of plastic toy astronauts onto our toy shop shelves.
Their mission... to scout, probe, and excavate the pockets and purses of pressurized parents. The race was a moonshot to beat the competition and plant the product flag into the minds of bug-eyed young Space Cadets like me... and possibly you?
In the 60s Gilbert was selling a number of successful movie and TV spin-off action dolls such as 007 James Bond and Man from UNCLE. Then Moon McDare, a new 12 inch tall, chisel-jawed astronaut with a NASA flattop, made one giant leap onto Gilbert's gantry and became their front-runner in the Toy Space Race.
Mattel's Matt Mason had a crew of colourful colleagues and Johnny Apollo had Jane for the journey. McDare blasted off the launch pad with mans best friend and fellow space pioneer, Space Mutt.
Moon McDare's product box was eye-catching and promising. It featured a vivid artist's impression of McDare clad in his authentic spacesuit, although text stated he came in a jump suit with NASA insignia. He was described as the ACTION SPACEMAN.
The box said, 'POSE McDARE IN HUNDREDS OF SPACEMAN POSITIONS' . This was optimistic for a Spaceman with a hollow-blown plastic body and limited articulation, including simple wire bendable arms.
But that wasn't a concern. Kids understood that once inside his space suit McDare's movement would be restricted with everything except lunar golf.
McDare's beautifully designed space suit and the Space Mutt were sold separately. Additional accessory packs of varying sizes contained other essential equipment, including the retractable umbilical cord, communication set, spring action space gun with spears, and the colourfully imaginative oxygen tanks/power pack, with a battery operated blinker light attachment.
Without these McDare couldn't venture to the stars. This drove Space-obsessed kids to harass bewildered parents for additional funding to keep the Space Program alive and on track.
FAST FORWARD - 2001 came and went. There'd been no Space Odyssey. The Space Race was over... I noticed I was older and I hadn't become a Spaceman. Decades had passed since I'd last seen McDare at my cousin's house, but I'd never forgot him.
Then one starry night out of the blue I heard a rumour from Ground Control... McDare and Space Mutt had appeared as a blip on an auction radar scope. After decades of silent running they'd finally found their way back to Earth.
The countdown began... I nervously tracked their re-entry path. At the critical second I put Plan 9 into action and fired the 'bid' button. A week later McDare and his faithful Space Mutt made a safe splash down.
They'd finally made it home to a heroes welcome from the other old toys I'd gathered over the years.
It may seem odd, but I sometimes catch them quietly gazing at the stars... maybe they're remembering their glory days as pioneers of the Toy Space Race, which has been all but forgotten... except perhaps by a few bug-eyed, middle-aged Space Cadets like me...
and possibly you to?