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Monday, April 23, 2018

#900 FAR MEN - GUERREROS DEL ESPACIO (Around 1985)


Here is one of the most interesting MotU "Made in Spain" bootlegs. At this point, most people will already know them, not only in Spain, but also in other countries. They have been easy to find for quite a long time already (since eBay and other platforms became mainstream), but this is starting to change, since each time there are fewer and fewer available.

The Guerreros del Espacio (lit. Space Warriors) is a short series of six figures made around 1986 by the Spanish toymaker Far Men. This company was based in Beniparrell, Valencia. I wrote several years ago a first entry dealing with another famous toy made by this brand, but at the time all information was quite uncertain.

Last year, our friends from La Cueva del Terror Podcast interviewed the founder of the company José Iniesta and his son (Kiko Iniesta, who is a great MotU fan) in one of their podcasts. The interview was focused mostly in this particular toyline, although they also talked about other products and toys. I would recommend you to listen that podcast (if you can understand Spanish) because it is great how father and son explain what they did, how did the factory work and so on.

If you cannot understand Spanish, I will summarize the most important information here:
The toy company was a spin-off of a bigger company specialized in casts (manufacturing and repair), plastic casting and other types of casting called Matrival. This company was founded in 1975 in Valencia as a small casting workshop by José Iniesta and a partner, but it is now a great company producing parts for brands like Peugeot, Mercedes, Ford, Magna…

By the beginning of the 80s the owners decide to expand their business making toys. Their first toy was a cap gun made in metal, but they had to stop production after some legal changes in 1983 following the accidental death of a boy using a similar gun from competitor Redondo. The decision to make metal guns was influenced by their partners Bullycan, since they did not want to directly compete with each other.

After that, they produced only plastic toys, like Bullycan, but initially in different scales or different types. Among the toys they produced were again some guns that shooted plastic caps (similar to bottle caps) and the famous Far-Boys, inspired at the time by the even more famous Airgam Boys.




The Guerreros del Espacio was launched shortly afterwards, around 1985. Far Men decided to make a version of such a successful figure, but with low costs. Most parts of the figure were produced by Far Men themselves, except the body part, which is hollow and needed a plastic blow molding procedure that, at the time, was not available at Far Men, so it was outsourced, just as the cards and bubbles. The figures that are decorated with some paintwork were finished and assembled in a nearby prison (by prisoners) but also in private homes mostly by housewives for an extra income.

The design of the heads is different from the ones used by Mattel. The sculptors were people very especialized in creating wood or plaster models that would later transfer into an injection cast. They were hired for that work, but they were not employees of the company. The company didn’t make any backstory or gave name to the figures.


The inspiration for these figures was clear to Mattel, who sued the company. The trial was won by Far Men, since Mattel had no copyright for their Masters of the Universe at that time in Spain.

For the following two years or so, the company was producing lots of cars, trucks and other vehicles until the concurrence in the toy sector became higher, and Far Men was finally shut down. Their owners focused their efforts in Matrival, which was growing and receiving the first orders for the automobile industry. Far Men was very small compared to the main business.

Despite producing toys under their own brand, Matrival was also producing casts for other toy companies, like Hasbro’s or M.B. One example is the Action Man toyline from the 90s. This cooperation continued until M.B. closed their Spanish branch in Riba-Roja in 2003.

Far Men sold mostly to distributors Spainwide, who then offered the toys to shops, press kiosk and street vendors who offered toys in fairs, festivals and other popular festivities.

Back to the Guerreros del Espacio, note that the packaging is barely a small cardboard (not printed at the back) that holds the figure inside of a blister bubble. Both parts are attached by means of staples, and the yellow background is actually smaller than it should be, or the figure is bigger than it should (10.5 cm tall), since it is covering the header of the blister with the name of the toyline.
This logo is already quite remarkable: it shows the two main characters, that is, a He-Man and a Skeletor lookalikes. The hero has a headband and the villain carries a horned-helmet.
In the lower part of the card, there is some legal information and the logo of Far Men.


This small card was intended to fit a larger display to be hang in the wall of the shop. Each corner was inserted in one slot, so six toys could hang on the wall while for sale, and be removed individually when sold.

There is a second type of blister, simpler, with a lighter shade of blue as background colour and without the small He-Man and Skeletor on the top corners.


The weapons included (one per figure) are also very imaginative. This one is a copy of an Airgamboys accesory (some kind of harpoon).


The body cast for Guerreros del Espacio was used for a series of American Football players with helmet, ball and a plastic T-shirt. There was even a figure of B.A. Baracus that came with metal chain on his neck. Both are very sought-after nowadays.

Out of the scope of this entry is the other MotU bootleg line with the same name but slightly bigger figures (14 cm tall) that were saled under the brand Guerreros del Universo (Warriors of the Universe). These were similar in construction, but had no waist articulation and were clearly based on MotU casts, without many modifications. My guess after listening to the interview is that the 14 cm figures came earlier than these, and both are made by Far Men (Mr. Iniesta cannot recall very well if this other line was also produced by them or not). These other two toylines were not marked in the blister with the name of the maker, so it is up to this point unclear if it was really Far Men that built them.


FACTS and FIGURES:
  • Name: (No Name)
  • Toy Line: Guerreros del Espacio
  • Year: Around 1985
  • Company: Far Men (Spain)
  • Size of the figures: Around 10.5 cm

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