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Who are The Outer Space Men?

It’s sad, because the second set seems to have been even better than the first. In addition to giving Mercury a representative, it would have included counterparts to many of the previous figures and expanded the places the figures called home like the Hollow Earth or the 4th Dimension. Again, the figures were to receive character specific accessories and individual bios.

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The second wave was scheduled to include: Cyclops the Giant from Beyond the Milky Way, Gamma X the Man from the 4th Dimension, Gemini the Man from the Twin Star Algol, Inferno the Flame Man of Mercury, Metamorpho the Man from Alpha Centauri, and Mystron the Man from Hollow Earth.

One of the standouts from wave two is already slated to get a 4H figure right off the bat: Metamorpho. As a DC fan, I’m familiar with their slightly older character, but this toy doesn’t have much in common with him. Really, he’s best described as a pre-MOTU, pre-Big Jim, Man-E-Faces. A few of the figures in the second wave had a gimmick like glowing in the dark or light-up action. Metamorpho had three faces that could be changed by spinning a dial on top of his head, a feature that was incorporated into a handful of other figures in the ensuing years. In Metamorpho’s bio, it’s revealed that he travels to different planets and assimilates their culture by changing his appearance to that of a local. Even more interesting, he’s been doing this for so long, he’s forgotten what his real face looks like. Yeah, expect to see a Metamorpho review here at IAT.

After the second wave went unproduced, OSM went into hibernation until Star Wars revitalized interest in the genre. Colorforms had been one of the many companies to pass on Star Wars and was looking to try and get something out of the missed opportunity. Birnkrant, still with the company, proposed the return of his Outer Space Men. They sort of made a comeback, now branded as Space Warriors, but only as a Colorforms set and a few jigsaw puzzles. Reading the comments around the web, this brief resurgence seems to have stoked the fires for a second generation of OSM fans. Many seem to remember the Colorforms set if not the toys that were depicted.

After that brief reintroduction, the franchise again fell into obscurity, existing only as pricey collectibles traded among the fans who were in the know. Until now.

With the Four Horsemen resurrecting this property, we have a ton of questions that we hope the 4H will be answering before too long. How soon will we see all thirteen characters? Will the 4H get to stretch their own talents with the possibility for new characters? Metamorpho displays three alien heads, none of which are copies of another figure in the line. That’s the beginnings of three figures right there. Will the figures continue to be in pairs (one from series one, one from the unproduced series two)? Personally, we think that’s cool. Fans are going to get their shot at Inferno and Metamorpho after a forty-year wait. I don’t know how many folks are out there, but can you imagine seeing an unmade toy as a kid and learning that someone, somewhere is finally going to make it decades later? It blows the mind.

What is the Glyos System?

We’ve seen a couple people asking about Glyos, so we thought we’d talk for a minute about the great work that Matt Doughty is doing over at Onell Designs. If you’re not familiar, Glyos is a line of (generally) 3” figures constructed out of interchangeable parts. Think Stikfas or Xevoz, but with even more opportunities to combine pieces. Some fans choose to buy them and keep them as is, others like to swap parts and make new color schemes, while some fans go all out and use the pieces to make these elaborate… sculptures, really… out of the Glyos pieces. This can be accomplished because the joints are uniform in size and can be recombined in nearly any way. It sounds simple, but when you look at some of the things Onell fans build, you can get an idea of just how innovative Matt’s designs are.

In addition to looking great, the Glyos are incredibly functional and, most importantly, sturdy. I don’t know if the same grade of plastic will be used on The Outer Space Men as is used on the Glyos, but it wouldn’t hurt if that were the case. They’re rugged little toys and hold up well to the constant re-arranging of parts.

Simply put, the Glyos System is an inspiration to anyone out there who wants to make their own toy line.

To find out more about Glyos, check out the Onell Design blog.

We’ll know more about The Outer Space Men as we get closer to their release, but two things are certain already. One, the original toys were a bastion of creativity. Mel Birnkrant put together a great line of action figures before action figures even existed. If you look through his designs, you’ll see ideas and elements that were incorporated into other lines for years after.

And two, those designs are now in the hands of the Four Horsemen. Birnkrant couldn’t ask for a better group of sculptors to give his creations new life. From what we’ve seen, they’re staying true to his originals while bringing them into the new century.

If you’d like to learn more about the original Outer Space Men, this site, part of MelBirnkrant.com, features as complete a resource as you will ever find with huge images, tons of trivia, interviews, and the history behind the line. When you go, be sure to check out the individual bios. They might be our favorite part.

All said, I’ve gained a new appreciation for a toy line that I didn’t even know existed a week ago. I’ve also gained a new appreciation for the work of Mel Birnkrant. Browsing through his site, I’m impressed not only by the toys he had a hand in creating, but also in the designs that never made it to the shelves. His website is full of little treasures and I’m the better for having been introduced to his work. If you’re an action figure collector, you owe it yourself to spend some time at MelBirnkrant.com and explore his creations.

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Who are The Outer Space Men?