I made one entry about Starcom a long time ago, with very generic facts about the toyline.
This time I would like to talk a bit about the production design of this toyline, which is for me one of the master works by any toy company anytime.
The starting point is maybe not very original, as it is based in a conflict between the American space military and an evil empire. The design is not suitable for very small children, but for children age 8, maybe 9 and up.
The space marines have futuristic space suits and weapons. Since they are a real military force, each member has a particular affiliation and a grade. The Star-Wing is the aviation, The Astro Marines are the infantry, and since there is no navy in space, the third group is the Starbase Command crew. Each subgroup´s figures are similar to each other, but they differ in the colour of the uniform or the helmet, again with minor variations.
Among the bad guys, the Shadow Force, there are no subgroups, although they also operate "planes" and ground vehicles. Some of their members are robots (good for cartoon action, since they could be "killed" in the show), other are humans. They are lead by an Emperor named Dark, or Dark Emperor. The Emperor came with a staff and together with the robots are the only figures that came without visor.
Each group has its distinctive logo, represented in vehicles and people's suits or helmets. The weapons are also futuristic, with rather big backpacks and few dozens of small guns that connect to the backpack by a plastic hose. Some are smaller, other are bigger, they look quite good, matching the style of the rest of the elements in the toyline. I won´t go into the magna-lock feature in detail, but it is an amazing feature for little astronauts. So they stand the absence of gravity by magnetically attaching to vehicles, base or somewhere else. The only negative remark I can make to the figures is that all figures within a group are quite similar to each other (this brings additional "realism" to the toyline) and they are not very charismatic (except a few characters), being difficult to learn the names to all figures.
The vehicles also have a futuristic design, with massive vehicles for the Shadow Forces, and more stilized vehicles for the Starcom Forces. The toyline does not priorize weapons or weaponry, but also logistics, communications or mechanics/engineering.
Many vehicles and many accesories have a common shape so they can be inserted, combined, transported by other vehicles. This is one of the fundamentals on what I mentioned before about logistics. Bigger vehicles can carry smaller vehicles, people, fuel, small bases... For me, this is the greatest feature, and seems even plausible to me for future space travel, colonization of other planets and so on. An standarized size would reduce the costs for transport, storage and deployment of space bases, vehicles and goods.
The vehicle shown in this entry is maybe the quintessential example of what I am saying. The small battelcrane, is a light-armoured flying pod intended for transporting those crates, containers and maybe even vehicles (if we consider that vehicles are light enough to be carried, something counterintuitive, since they look so bulky and heavy). When bent, the vehicle is exactly the same size than the crate. Once "activated", it is slightly bigger, and those legs made it double as high as bent.
It has capacity for one person/pilot and it is equipped with two small cannons in the front and a bomb below the cabin. The crate is a simple one, with one door/lid/opening at one side.
The triplet of vehicles shown in this entry are a good example of what I am saying.
The H.A.R.V.-7 (Heavy Armed Recovery Vehicle) is the biggest of the three, it resembles some kind of tow-away truck, or maybe a mobile crane. Its main feature is that it can carry one “unit” of volume, whatever it is. It came with a load that is supposed to be a fuel crate, but it can also carry a small vehicle or mini-base.
The crane arm can be moved to discharge the load, and by pushing the button, it will return to its original position. The load is attached to it by means of a magnet, and if the load is too heavy the feature doesn’t work very well. The detail level is so high, that when you pull the arm to discharge whatever you are carrying, the “stabilizator” opens to get additional stability in the operation. Nice!
Otherwise, the vehicle can carry two figures: a pilot and a gunman, and is heavily armored with five cannons of three different kinds. They are all practicable. It has magnets also in the carrying plane, so figures can be also placed there.
The pilot is Staff Sgt. Champ O’Ryan, H.A.R.V.-7 Recovery Leader.
According to the catalogue, the features described above are:
- Motorized POWER DEPLOY MAGNA LOCK Lifter
- Automatic Cargo Release
- POWER DEPLOY stabilizer, Swiveling Cannons
- Includes Fuel Pod
The M-6 Railgunner (Ground Attack Vehicles) looks like a heavy-armored tank, only in miniature. It has space for one figure in the cockpit and another one half sitting in a platform over the cannon. This toy is missing a protective shield for the gunner, so it is not so exposed to enemy fire. The cannon is its most impressive weapon, although it has two mini-guns in the front.
The front and rear axles are also extendable, so the vehicle can be made longer than it is (and more stable for harsh terrain, I guess).
The pilot is Capt. Rick Ruffing, M-6 Railgunner Anti-Armor Commander.
According to the catalogue, the features described above are:
- Motorized Cannon and Cockpit
- Gunner’s Jump SeatExtendable Axles
The Laser R.A.T. (Rapid Assault Tracker) is a small, compact, 4-wheeled terrain vehicle, intended for assault. It comes with a bigger double-barrelled cannon on top (operated by a gunner) and two smaller guns in the front (operated by the pilot). The cockpit is also rather small and the figure fits only when the vehicle is "open". When bent, it has exactly the standard size.
The axles can be extended to be longer and they can be placed a bit further to the front and to the back so the vehicle is also longer. This feature is often overlooked, even in some catalogues is not depicted!
The pilot is Capt. Vic Hayes “Dakota”, LASER R.A.T. Assault Leader.
- Motorized Cannons, Console and Armor Shield
- Extendable Axles
All three vehicles belong the Starcom group. They have the Astro-Marines colours. Note also that the secondary colours are also the same through the same sub-group. Further, vehicles look similar independently of its size. The stickers are also sometimes similar to each other. The most curious one is a "no smoking" sign, seen in some of the elements like the people carrier crate.
An interesting element in the vehicles is a small hole to "tank" them. There is a fuel crate in white available with the H.A.R.V. 7, and this crate is intended to be used with all vehicles in the toyline. I think all vehicles have a small "FUEL" sticker to be placed near that fuel cover.
Here are some additional pictures of the Mars diorama.
FACTS AND FIGURES:
- Name: H.A.R.V.-7, M-6 Railgunner and Laser R.A.T.
- Toy Line: Starcom
- Year: 1987
- Company: Coleco (U.S.A.)
- Size of the figure: Around 5 cm
- Size of the vehicle: Around 15 cm long the big one, around 9 cm long the small ones.