At the beginning of this month, the famous toy design team the Four Horsemen announced their newest venture: a resurrection of the 1960s alien toy property “The Outer Space Men.” (For a detailed history of the Outer Space Men, check out the list of links at the bottom of the article.)
I got in touch with the Horsemen–Eric Treadaway, Jim Preziosi, Chris Dahlberg and Eric “Cornboy” Mayse–to get the official scoop on their first-ever licensed property.
PG: How did this project come about?
ERIC: We noticed the Glyos figures a few years ago, and really appreciated the style and innovative play feature of them. We quickly became friends with Matt Doughty, the owner of Onell Design and creator of the Glyos system.
CORNBOY: We discussed many times about collaborating on a project, but the timing just never seemed right, until we started discussing the possibilities of re-introducing the Outer Space Men.
JIM: We’d been considering the possibilities of re-doing and re-introducing the Outer Space Men in some form for a few years, but just like with the collaboration with Matt, the timing and collector climate just never seemed to be quite right until we started discussing the possibility of combining the Outer Space Men with the Glyos system.
CHRIS: The opportunity to take the scale, style and playability of the Glyos system and combine that with the cool quirkiness and distinct look of the OSM seemed to be the perfect method to re-introduce the Outer Space Men to today’s market.
ERIC: We contacted Eric Hayes, who is the writer on the first (and hopefully future) Outer Space Men graphic novel, and he put us in touch with Mel Birnkrant – the creator and owner of the Outer Space Men. We discussed with both Mel and Matt Doughty about the possibilities of re-introducing the Outer Space Men action figures and incorporating the Glyos build system, and things just kind of fell into place.
PG: Did any of you own any Outer Space Men toys as kids?
ERIC: I didn’t have any of the figures as a kid, but I did have the Outer Space Men Colorforms playset with that awesome photo of the prototypes for the action figures on the box cover. I used to play with the OSM Colorforms playset a lot, but even more than that, I would stare at the awesome looking characters on that box cover thinking about how awesome it would be if these guys were actually action figures. Little did I know that they were also action figures, and the figures on the Colorforms playset box cover were actually prototypes of those figures.
CORNBOY: I had a couple of the figures when I was a kid. Xodiac and Orbitron (I kind of remember Alpha 7 hanging out at our house too, but that may have been my older brothers’ figure). I found my Xodiac and Orbitron figures at two different times at two different garage sales, and by that time the series had been and gone, and I had no idea what they were or even that they both belonged in the same line! All I knew was that they were cool, and a couple of my favorite early action figures. I played with Orbitron so much that the bendy wires in his arms and legs were broken and poking through to the outside.
PG: The original figures were bendies, and varied from 3 1/2″ to 6″ tall. Why did you decide to go with a 3¾” scale, articulated line?
JIM: There were many different factors that brought us to our decision of scale. One of the biggest decision makers was production costs. The costs of creating an action figure have increased exponentially since we first began creating and releasing our own figures. The scale and construction of the new Outer Space Men will alleviate a lot of that cost, while also allowing us to build up some extra capital to allow us to go back into production on some of our other lines.
ERIC: The 3¾” scale is very popular right now, and the play system for the Glyos figures just fits perfectly into that scale.
CHRIS: Even though the first four releases are pretty close to the 3¾” height (give or take – they are aliens), the actual size of the characters throughout this line will vary greatly. Alpha 7 is going to be tiny and Cyclops & Colossus Rex are going to be massive compared to the rest of the characters.
CORNBOY: Our current plan is only to do the figures, but who knows what the future might hold. Our hopes are that this line can continue indefinitely. We’d love to have the opportunity to not only do the original 13 characters, but also to expand into some of Mel Binrkrant’s other unused designs and work with him to create new Outer Space Men characters! We’d love to do “army builder” versions of the 13 main characters as well.
JIM: If the Outer Space Men turns out to be as popular as we hope, we’d love to get the chance to do a highly detailed, fully articulated, larger scale run of these guys as well. We’ll see how things go…
PG: This is the Four Horsemen’s first license. If the Outer Space Men is successful, would you consider trying to pick up other licenses–say, I don’t know, Power Lords, perhaps?
ERIC: Don’t even tease me. The Power Lords was one of my favorite toy lines of all time, and to get the opportunity to go back and re-do those would be incredible! They had a look and style that was just too far ahead of their time. Hey… Those guys would fit pretty well into the same scale and style that we’re doing the OSM in right now wouldn’t they?… Hmmm…
To learn more about the Outer Space Men: