Thursday, February 25, 2010
THE OUTER SPACE MEN are certainly not the only "out of this world" creation by Mel Birnkrant. Back in 1986, Birnkrant took the tired concept of boring radio-controlled vehicles, and flipped it. What if the DRIVER were radio-controlled?! R.C. MAN literally steers the steering wheel, operates and “gas pedal” and even supplies the power to make them go. The vehicles, on the other hand, are little more than simple shells with a steering wheel and motor. They have no radio receiver or power supply of their own.
Here he is ready to go. Everything but the kitchen sink was stuffed inside his see through body, a motor to turn his head and arms, a dual track radio receiver, a battery power supply, flashing lights, and bits and pieces of assorted junk to make his guts look technical. There was even a speaker in his chest to broadcast his master’s voice. The simple vehicle beside him, which we referred to as a walker, shades of the “Segway”, yet to come 20 years later, consisted of no more that 4 wheels, two connected to a steering column and two connected to a motor.
Birnkrant managed to sell the concept to Galoob. What they produced was called “CYBON I”. It was very complex and expensive. Like R.C. MAN, the driver still exerted a measure of control. But Galoob wanted more speed and power in the vehicle than they could get from just the battery in the figure. Therefore, they souped it up with super power. And the vehicle itself took on a wild unruly life all of its own.
Ultimately, this venture hardly set the World on fire, but it opened Galoob's door for Baby Face to enter four years later.