One of my favorite items to collect are vintage space-themed toys and ephemera. Whenever I go to flea markets or antiques stores, I am always on the lookout for spacemen, and here are some that I’ve been able to pick up over the years…
These are commonly referred to as “Archer Spacemen” and are some of the easier figures to find. They are made of a hard plastic and were made by multiple companies from similar molds back in the 50’s, but Archer was the original manufacturer. A company called Glencoe reproduced these figures not too long ago and distinguishing them from the originals is no easy task. Archer Spacemen like these usually sell for around $2-5, which makes them great for building an army!
Here are a couple of figures that are similar in size and style to the Archer figures, but they’re not quite the same. The plastic on these is less dense and sort of waxy to the touch. They were probably made by another company that used the Archer molds.
These Ajax figures are more detailed than the Archer figures and were also made by several different companies over the years. I love the expressions on their faces.
Here’s a single-packed Ajax figure in a generic package. These figures have no markings on them so determining who made them and when is difficult.
This is a package of the same style of Ajax figures, and these are even garishly painted! I’ve seen similar figures listed on eBay as vintage cake toppers by Wilton, but this package has no markings to that effect.
These Premier Flash Gordon figures are also fairly common. They stand a bit shorter than the Archer figures but are made from the same sort of hard plastic that makes a clinking sound when they bump together. These definitely are not like the old green plastic army figures we used to play with as kids.
Buying these guys is a passive activity for me–when I see them, I buy them, but I don’t really actively pursue them on eBay (well, not often), but over time, I’ve been able to amass a fairly sizable invading force. Anyone else collecting vintage spacemen? If you know anything about the figures in these photos, I’d love to hear it!
Dex (@Dex1138) says
How tall are those Archer figs? I had some that were similar maybe later 70s/early 80s that were probably 4″ or so. I remember having a red one and a white one and maybe a couple more.
The Archer figures are just under 4″ tall. Maybe someone was using the molds in the 70s too!
Michael Lauck says
I had those too! That is what I am looking for… pretty sure they were purchased at a Woolworth shortly after Star Wars came out!
I found a whole big bag full. I’m about to list on eBay. All starting bids 9.99$ plus shipping.
Brian F. says
In the mid 70’s I went to a flea market at my local church.I wasn’t expecting to find much more than a bunch of grey haired ladies selling homemade crafts.Boy was I in for a surprise.I came across a table with 4 giant Plastic bags.one of those bags was filled with Johnny Lightning cars,and the other three were filled with spacemen of various makes,mostly those silverish purple-ish guys who were made by Archer or Ajax.There was also some Marx figures and other assorted brands.Having a dollar in my pocket,I promptly bought all four bags.My mother wasn’t thrilled,she was trying to sell junk that was cluttering up our house at the time.Needless to say,for the next several years,I had more spacemen than I knew what to do with.That led to alot of them getting buried in the sand,or given away to friends.I still have 3 of these figures left;2 Marx Tom Corbett figures and a yellow Lido robot.I wish there was more especially now that I see their potential worth
I love great stories like this. Glad you were able to hold onto a few of the figures–who knows, maybe I have one from your flea market purchase in my collection today!
These are just wonderful! Thanks for sharing them Brian.
The Goodwill Geek says
This post inspired me to plead help from the internet to help me identify some mystery toys I’ve found over the years:
Brian… HELP ME.
These are cool. I used to love the tiny, plastic and rubber dinosaurs. Those were fun too! Ahhh simplicity….where has it gone? Kids these days wanna go from a rattle to an iPad!
Can you blame them? IPads are awesome. 😉
Actually, vintage Archer figures and Glencoe re-issues are not hard to distinguish from one and other, see my review on Alphadrome using the below link. On Alphadrome you’ll find all kinds of information on space toys, robots, etc.
Excellent! Thanks for that link, now I’m going to go through my box of figures and see if I have any reissues in the mix.
The mint-green and red ones will be Glencoe for sure, Archer never produced them in those colors. Also, ones with lots of “flash” (excess plastic) around the feet, ect. will also be Glencoe cause Archer releases were very clean.
Your second pic shows Archer “Men of Mars” commonly called “Mars Men.” All Mars Men are vintage cause they’ve never been reproduced, the molds have probably been lost. Your examples are from a later date and made of soft plastic (sold as “unbreakable plastic”); the earlier ones were made of hard plastic like the common Archer spacemen. The earliest Mars Men were made in hard black plastic and later released in green, silver, brown-gold.
Thanks again Bill for the awesome input! I always wondered about those mint green figures, because they just seemed off somehow–now I know!
You are now my “go to” guy for all things Archer Spacemen!
not sure if you saw this one, but I added a few more spacemen to my collection last week: https://www.coolandcollected.com/the-spacemen-have-landed/
Trevor Sproston says
I enjoyed finding this page. I have garnered a collection of nearly 400 toy spacemen. It all started as an educational project, designed to show how toy spacesuits stared to reflect changes in design once reality caught up with fiction. I can post photos if you wish.
I’m always happy to see pictures of spacemen!
robert dunn says
hi I recently purchased a archer space port and missing the cars that came with the set im wondering if you any for sale or know where a person can purchase them
Nice find! Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone who is selling any of the cars, but maybe comment will alert somebody. Happy hunting!
Jay Jacobsen says
I have 8 of the hard plastic ones molded in green and dark copper. They were my uncles from the 50s. When I was younger i remember they had clear plastic domed helmets with a magnifying lens in front. Those are now missing. Does anyone know where to find those clear helmets?