So as a kid I played with a lot of toys from the late 60’s and early 70’s with of my favorites being Major Matt Mason. Like most of the nation, I was completely enthralled with science fiction because we had just put a man on the moon. Space toys and anything space related really captured the minds of kids my age. Here’s this cool astronaut that came with a backpack that had a working grappling hook to pull himself up and out of danger.
There was the cool helmet with the visor that opened, a Space Sled, the Lunar Crawler and the Space Station set. He also had buddies with different colored uniforms, one being Space Scientist-Rocketry Jeff Long. The only downside being that he was made of a hard rubber with these semi pliable joints. He had a wire skeleton, so that you could bend his elbows and knees and they would hold that position. You could only bend his arms or his legs so many times before the fatigue would set in and that joint wire would snap. That gave Matt and crew limited playability, since I wanted to keep them in one piece for as long as I could. I don’t remember what happened to the original toys I had back in ’72, but I know I tried my best to keep them safe for a long time.
Before eBay came along, finding something like a Matt Mason in the late 80’s early 90’s you had to really look around for specialty stores or fanzines to try to track them down. Along comes eBay and suddenly I’m finding Matt Mason’s and I’m buying them. Especially the broken ones, as back then I was an aircraft mechanic and one of the things that I worked with a lot was all kinds of RTV’s (room temperature vulcanization silicone). I could repair the Matt Mason’s wire joints by carefully running new wires back inside and then molding out the bellows joint. It was a tedious process but for somebody like me who I really didn’t have to have a mint condition Matt Mason, it was a great compromise. At one point I would buy these broken parts and repair them to flip them on eBay. It wasn’t anything that that was the get me rich but it paid for itself and allowed me to collect some cool toys and fix them to send them back out in the world.
I received an email from a guy wanting to know if he could rent one of my Matt Mason’s. My reply was “Sure!” and amazingly the rental price is the exact same as a purchase price :). I said if you send him back in the same condition, I’ll refund your money. I packed up a really nice Matt that I had repaired and sent him overseas to London. I didn’t really expect to hear anything back from the guy. Flash forward about a year and I check in the mail and lo and behold there is a package that had a Royal Mail postage label on it.
I open the envelope and slide out what looks like a magazine, but is actually a program from a play at the Garrick Theater in London. I get a look at the cover and it covers been autographed by three people but I can’t really tell who they are. So open the program and on the first page is a photo of Summer Phoenix, Casey Affleck and Matt Damon starring in the play This is our Youth.
I have a picture around here somewhere that been included with the program , and it was of Hayden Christiansen and Anna Paquin, who were part of the first cast, holding the Matt Mason I had sent them. The stage manager was the guy that had ordered the Matt Mason and he kept true to his word that he would keep me updated on how Matt was doing. Last I heard, our intrepid space explorer was safely tucked away in the prop room at a theater in London. I just hope he doesn’t let the fame go to his head…