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from the space age




Lost in Space



Lost in Space

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Above left: Bob Kinoshita created the two most distinctive robots in history: Robby from the 1956 film, Forbidden Planet, and B-9 from the '60s TV show, Lost in Space. These two Masudaya wind- ups measure 4.25 inches (Robby) and 4.5 inches (B-9) and were originally available for under $20 each.

Above right: Masudaya wind-up B-9 with Don and young Will Robinson from the 1988 movie , Lost in Space. Leonard Maltin says this film is "hurt by crudely episodic story, grim tone and paper- thin characters". We might add that everyone but Matt LeBlanc is miscast and the plot has enough holes to drive a space chariot through.

However, the good news is that New Line Cinema, along with releasing the movie, licensed Trendmasters to create toys from the original Lost in Space series. Robot B-9 does not appear in the film (although pieces of him are rebuilt into a sort of hybrid robot, in the same way that the film is sort of a hybrid of the TV show, with the original cast members appearing in cameos). Trendmasters' B-9 robots are better than any of the toys made by Remco and other companies in the '60s when the TV show originally aired. Trendmasters followed with great Robby robots from Forbidden Planet (see Robby). Don and Will above are Trendmasters action figures released with the movie. Will came with the hybernaculum shown at the far right.




Above: Two views of the Polar Lights Jupiter II model from Lost in Space.
Johnny Lightning’s space chariot was one of four 1998 Lost in Space-themed diecasts. Others included the escape pod, Jupiter II, and robot B-9. They retailed at about $5.  The chariot is nearly scaled to the Polar Lights/ Playing Mantis Jupiter II model kit. The backdrop is an article on assembling the ship from Model Toy and Collector.

Right: The completed model with the Polar Lights box. It was also released with different box art. This model has been customized with a red LED from Radio Shack mounted in the top dome. The bottom has been drilled out for a small toggle switch, with two AA batteries mounted inside the ship. When the switch is thrown the lamp flashes.






Above left. Benign companions. The B-9 robot toys made by Trendmasters in 1997 are far more accurate than the Lost in Space toys of the ‘60s. In the "room guard" mode, this model (center) waved its arms, frantically sounding off, "warning, warning Will Robinson." This highly detailed 10 inch robot said two phrases. When pulled back, it rolled forward,  and retailed under $30 at Toys R Us. Shown with Masudaya's YM-3/B-9 wind up (left) and a key chain B-9 which said three phrases, retailing for $5 (right). Trendmasters also produced other rare Lost in Space toys, including a two foot tall, radio- controlled B-9 robot and the Classic Jupiter II, below.

Above right.  Masudaya’s popular 5”
YM-3 wind-up robot. The new, licensed box graphics correctly identify it as the B-9 Lost in Space Robot. Retailed under $20.

Below left: Trendmasters' Classic Jupiter II comes with three figures: Dr. Smith, Will Robinson, and this highly detailed B-9 robot. The robot is about 2.3 inches tall. The Space Pod shown is also included, and fits in a bay in the Jupiter II.

Below right: The Jupiter II with collapsible landing gear extended. Will and Dr. Smith are visible through the window of the bridge. The top hatch snaps off to reveal the detailed interior.








Above left: Hatch removed, showing interior of ship. B-9 robot snaps into recharging bay. Dr. Smith and Will at the bridge. The sensor dome is shown lit by a red LED, one of six that constitute  "authentic lights and sounds". Pushing the button  next to the dome activates the blinking sensor dome, the bridge, and four chasing lamps on the bottom of the ship (bottom right). Power for the sounds and lights comes from two AA batteries.

Above right: The dome sits atop an "authentically detailed Astrogator". The interior comes as seen; there are no stickers to apply. The box says this is a "Collector's quality replica of the Classic Jupiter II. I'm inclined to agree. Trendmasters was obviously very proud of this ship, and had reason to be. There is just one place where I question the box claims. "Working Cryo Hibernation Tubes". Working?


Below left: The included Space Pod fits into a bay in the Jupiter II. One figure can fit in the Pod.


Below right: One of four LEDs shown lit, the next barely beginning to glow. These four running lights "chase" around the bottom of the ship.






Below left and right: the front and back of the box, respectively. The box shows white dome and chaser lights. The box art may have been completed before the toy was, or the toy design may have been altered during production. The "blazing light up bridge controls" have been replaced by a red LED. Trendmasters had problems with the ship from the movie (which was not the Classic TV Jupiter II)  which lacked some of the features shown on the box. Ironically, the then- largest toy store chain stocked that ship, and not this wonderful Classic Jupiter II, which, since no one knew it existed, soon became a collector's item. One wonders if there were plans to bring out more Classic Jupiter II items, such as the Space Chariot and more of the cast and crew. Is it worth it? I'd say yes. It was not designed to be expensive, but as with their B-9 robot, this Trendmasters creation is as classic as the Irwin- Allen TV show.

To quote the box: "The Jupiter II-- the classic spacecraft that propelled a family lost in space! For three seasons, millions of TV pioneers were mesmerized by its pulsating lights, far-out sounds and futuristic gadgets. Now Trendmasters is proud to present an exclusive replica of the ship as it was meant to be-- packed with so many authentic features you could get lost inside." The text cleverly combines the story with the ship's features:

"The Jupiter II rockets through space hopelessly lost!
*(removable hatch reveals detailed playset!)
The Jupiter II touches down on another bizarre world!
* (space pod fits inside ship
*working landing gear
*running lights and authentic sounds)
Dr. Smith, Will Robinson and the B-9 Robot prepare to explore the treacherous planet!
*(one figure fits inside space pod).








Above: Space Family Robinson, an adventurous, science fiction comic from Gold Key, evolved into the Lost in Space TV show. These comics are from 1968 (left) and 1969 (right).




Robot B-9, or "the Bubble- headed Booby" as Dr. Smith called him, depicted on the video box of episode one of the TV show, Lost in Space. Although it began with a serious premise, like many Irwin- Allen shows the episodes turned increasingly campy.

Right: June Lockhart as Mrs. Robinson graced this DVD cover from the first season set of Lost in Space.



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