Monday, December 22, 2014

Fifth Coolest Toy Ever: Milton Bradley's STAR BIRD (Holiday Re-Post)

This is the first in a series of special re-posts for the holidays, remembering the coolest sci-fi toys of the Space: 1970 era. Hope you enjoy these "reruns" and have a great holiday season. 

In the late Seventies everybody wanted a piece of the Star Wars merchandising goldmine, even companies that didn't have a license. In 1979, Milton Bradley Electronics introduced the best of the wannabe products, though, incorporating then-cutting-edge electronics into a sleekly-designed starship toy that, while original, looked like it should have been in Star Wars. They called it The Star Bird - and it was the coolest 70s space toy that wasn't based on a movie or TV show.

The toy was equipped with electronics that created an engine sound when turned on. If the toy was pointed upwards the sound would be altered by a ball bearing switch to generate an acceleration or taking-off effect, while a nose down orientation produced the sound of decelerating engines. A button at the rear of the cockpit activated the red LEDs at the front of the toy, along with a blast noise, to simulate the firing of the vessel's blasters.

MB offered a couple of variations on the Star Bird design, including a "fighter" configuration known as The Avenger and black plastic-molded version of the fighter, called the Intruder. A Star Bird Command Base was also offered. 

The Star Bird is, in this Star Kid's opinion, the fifth-coolest toy ever - it would probably ranked higher if the ship had actually appeared in a TV show or movie.(And unlike the other really cool non-TV/movie ship, the Interplanetary U.F.O. Mystery Ship model, you could really play with the more rugged Star Bird!)


  1. I remember the commercials for the Star Bird, but I never had one. I did have something better though: the giant Space 1999 Eagle One toy! It was my favorite toy ever, even though I beat it up a lot, crashing it into sand hills and snow piles and even once taping smoke bombs into the exhaust jets! I still have it 40 years later, sitting on top of my bookshelf.

  2. I have an Intruded saved away someplace. The best part was the whole thing came apart and basically turned into a laser pistol. With two or more you could play laser tag with your friends. An indirect hit would make the engines stutter...a direct hit would make it fail for a few seconds.

  3. I had the StarBird Command Base.
    I really grew to love the thing (despite its being nothing more than folded chip-board).
    And it got along with my BSG toys really well.

  4. Starbird was a cool toy that I actually had and actually got for Christmas the year it came out. Of course my cousin got one too, but I expected as much by this point (two or three years after the Space 1999 disaster). This was one of the best and most playable spaceships ever made and sold. Classic design and the up and down sound it made was irresistible. Would love to still have one.

  5. Yeah, this one I remember (Starbird). At one point, one of the leads for the 9-volt battery connector had broken off, and my mom gave it to my grampa to fix. I remember my mom put me on the phone with him while he was at work, and I asked if he could fix it. His answer was accelerating engine sound that it made. That day he became a god to me.