Meeting the thirst for transforming, interactive toys, Coleco introduced StarCom: The U.S. Space Force to toy aisles in 1986. Unlike their competitors, Coleco decided to add a unique element to the play of their new toy line. Thus, each StarCom action figure came equipped with magnets on its feet. These magnets not only allowed them to attach to their various playsets, but they also activated unique action gimmicks on the vehicles and playsets. They called this gimmick the Magna Lock system.
Thanks to the Magna Locks on these toys, StarCom vehicles, and play sets has a vast array of play potential. Some could even wind themselves up thanks to the magnetic power. However, most of these magnets activated simple transformations into battle modes and elevators. Some of the vehicles could even transform into compact travel forms, often cubes.
StarCom had high hopes of getting kids excited about space travel. Coleco even collaborated with the Young Astronaut’s Council, a part of NASA, to give the cartoon and toys a special American space frontier feel. Unfortunately, neither fully caught on in the United States. Moreover, Coleco went under in 1989, partially because it never fully recovered from the failure of the Colecovision.
Despite the failure of StarCom in the west, StarCom continued under a new banner in a different territory. In Europe, these toys became a significant hit. Thus, when Mattel took over the IP, they continued to create the toys well into the 90s. Mattel’s toys also removed the U.S. Space Force logo and the American flag.
Presenting the ten most expensive StarCom toys from the last decade
10. Coleco’s StarCom H.A.R.V.-7 Heavy Armored Recovery Vehicle
Coleco introduced several vehicles for the StarCom soldiers to drive into battle in 1986. Amongst these vehicles was the H.A.R.V.-7 or Heavy Armored Recovery Vehicle. This was a motorized vehicle that helped transport cargo across the U.S. Space Force’s bases. It featured a Power Deploy lifter that picked up pods when the magna lock system activated it. Once it picked up the cargo, it placed it on its flatbed. This vehicle also came with a fuel pod, that went along with the container’s “Fuel Type B” label.
Those who bought this vehicle also received one of the 2” action figures from the toy line: Sgt. Champ O’Ryan. Like most other action figures from the line, he had magnets at his feet that worked with the Magna Lock system. Along with its driver, Sgt. Champ O’Ryan, this vehicle could carry a gunner and 6 more action figures.
This vehicle had a few more secrets. First, it could lift up to six other vehicles at a time. It also featured swivel guns on the sides of its cargo lift. Overall, this vehicle alone offered hours of fun.
A mint-in-box version of this vehicle popped up on eBay in 2012. This vehicle was AFA rated with an 80. It was also accompanied by an AFA-graded 80 Shadow Raider. This pair then sold on June 17, 2012, for $350.00.
9. Coleco’s Shadowbat Battle Cruiser
The U.S. Space Force was not the only group to receive vehicles in Coleco’s StarCom toy line. They also designed several action figures and vehicles for the enemy forces: the Shadow Force. This group was led by the cruel Emperor Dark. Notably, most of their vehicles were black or otherwise dark in color.
The Shadowbat acted as the Motorized Power Deploy for the Shadow Force. It had several special weapons like a swing-out decimator cannon, spring-action cockpit canopies, paralaser cannons, and power deploy jolt cannons. It also had a gunner’s station that could seat any StarCom action figure. Moreover, it had a wing-action cockpit canopy where Magna Lock magnetic action figures could lock onto the metal panels. This vehicle had a motorized power deploy cargo bay that opened to carry either vehicles, figures, or cargo pods.
Like most StarCom vehicles, the Shadowbat came with a special Magna Lock action figure: Maj. Klag. When he took control of the Shadowbat, he led the Starmada fleet on attack runs against the StarCom forces.
This vehicle popped up on eBay in 2013. When the auction ended on January 20, 2013, it sold for $347.45.
8. Mattel’s Star Fleet Action Set
After Coleco went out of business, Mattel took over the StarCom brand. While they saw no profit in continuing the toy line in America, they realized that the toys had gained a following in Europe. Thus, they released many of Coleco’s original toys without the US flag and other NASA branding. Amongst these toys was a special gift set, the Star Fleet Action Set.
This set included several vehicles from the StarCom toy line. There was the Starmax Bomber, F-1400 Starwolf, and Missile Fox. This set also contained 6 StarCom and 2 Shadow Force action figures. Thus, this set alone provided hours of play for StarCom fans.
This is a rare piece that was only sold in Europe. So, few of them ever appear on online auction sites. However, one did go up for sale on eBay UK in 2015. When this auction ended on August 18th, 2015, it sold for £250.00, which is the equivalent of $389.99.
7. Coleco’s SF/B Starhawk Strategic Fighter/Bomber
One of the vehicles that Coleco created with the original toy line was the SF/B Starhawk, a strategic fighter/bomber. This vehicle had multiple features to keep players entertained. First, it had motorized power deploy fuselages that extended. It also had folding flexwings and spring-action landing gear. On both sides, there was a cockpit, one for the pilot and one for the gunner. Each of these cockpits in turn had lever-activated cockpit hatches. This vehicle also featured a multitude of weapons such as Terraforce missile bombs, mega laser guns, and a power deploy railgun RIP cannon. Finally, this vehicle’s magna locks allowed action figures to lock onto its metal panels.
Coleco detailed two modes for this vehicle. When the landing gear was down, this vehicle went into standby mode. Here, the cockpit hatches opened and wings folded. Thus, the crew could easily board the vehicle while the crew loaded missile bombs. Once this vehicle took off, it entered Battle Mode, where the fuselages separated to deploy the railgun cannon.
Coleco included one action figure with this vehicle: Lt. Jeff Carrier, otherwise known as “Bronx”. He was part of the Star Wing battle group for the U.S. Space Force. As the pilot, he went on long-range strategic missions. This vehicle could seat one more action figure, a gunner of the player’s choice.
On June 13, 2018, one of these vehicles sold on eBay for $695.95. While this auction highlighted the SF/B Starhawk, it also included the Bandit and the Battlecrane.
6. Mattel’s Six Shooter
When Mattel continued the StarCom toy line in Europe, they repackaged most of the original vehicles and action figures from Coleco. Beyond the new packaging with the Mattel logo, these toys also had a new facelift to remove them from the original line. For the most part, Mattel removed all references to America and the American flag on these toys.
So, while the Six Shooter could be found in both toy lines, the European Mattel figure is rarer and the decals were different. Also, the packaging included multiple information boxes that catered to the various countries where this toy was sold. They had text in English for the UK, French for France, German and Germany, and Italian for Italy.
The Six Shooter was one of the most heavily armed vehicles in the StarCom arsenal. It had six front-mounted cannons that spring out from the front wings. Its center fuselage also split open to reveal a power deploy elevator. With this elevator, it raised any pod to a fighting stance. So, it was ready to defend the Earth from the Evil Shadow Force.
One of these toys sold on Dec 06, 2013, for $799.00 in an eBay auction.
5. Mattel’s Starbase Command H.Q.
Mattel not only brought over the vehicles from the original StarCom toy line, but they also rereleased the imaginative playsets. Thus, the Starbase Command H.Q. returned to store shelves in Europe with Mattel’s new treatment for the line. Like the rest of the re-releases, this toy no longer sported any of the decals or references to America and NASA. It also had informational blurps in four of Europe’s languages: English, French, German, and Italian.
As with most toys from the StarCom line, the Starbase Command appeared both in the Coleco and Mattel toy lines. However, the European version de-emphasized the American motif of the station. However, it still had an American flag next to the StarCom name.
The Starbase Command acted as the deep-space headquarters for the fleet. Thus, it had three important sections: communications, command, and control. Like most play sets in the line, the Starbase Command featured a Magna Lock Action: the Airlock automatically moved figures through the sliding doors into the headquarters. It also featured a Magna Lock exercise Bar that allowed troops to undergo combat conditioning and acrobatics.
One of these playsets went up on eBay in 2013, where it sold for $799.99 on July 24, 2013.
4. Coleco’s Starmax Bomber Transport Missile Cruiser
One of the most iconic vehicles from the StarCom toy line was the Starmax Bomber, the transport missile cruiser for the U.S. Space Force. In many ways, this was the flagship vehicle of the line. It also was one of the largest vehicles that Coleco created for StarCom.
The Starmax Bomber featured special power deploy actions, typical of most of these toys. The motorized changes allowed the vehicle to switch between battle mode and cargo-deploy model. Moreover, this vehicle had a motorized power deploy cargo bay at the back of the ship. The other features included a working bomb launcher with four bombs, spring-action canopies, swing-out guns, and swivel guns. Thanks to the magna lock system, action figures could lock into place on the vehicle’s metal pedals.
The Starmax Bomber included one magna lock action figure: Capt. Rip Malone. As the captain piloted the vehicle, it could seat one navigator, one gunner, and six more action figures. Otherwise, this plane could carry up to six different vehicles.
A mint-in-box version of this vehicle appeared on eBay in the last five years. It sold on June 17, 2018, for $849.99.
3. Coleco’s “Propell-it” prototype Vehicle
Not every StarCom vehicle that has appeared on online auction sites in the last decade has been officially released vehicles and action figures. Sometimes, prototypes pop up for collectors to get a once-in-a-lifetime chance to purchase. Such was the case on May 17, 2016, when a handmade StarCom prototype appeared on eBay.
According to the auction’s notes, this vehicle originated from the collection of the former Director of Product Development at Coleco, Dexter Liu. His tenure at Coleco lasted from 1982 until 1986. During this time, he obtained this resin prototype for the StarCom toy line.
The prototype was described as a hand-made solid resin prototype. It included a working radar dish along with friction rolling wheels. It was also around 9” long and 5” high. The seller labeled it as a “Propel-It” prototype vehicle.
As a unique, one-of-a-kind product, there is no surprise that this prototype hit a high selling price. At the end of the auction, it sold for $990.00 on May 17, 2016.
2. Coleco’s Starbase Station Strategic Deployment Platform
The Starbase Station was one of the largest products from the StarCom toy line. Its centerpiece was the motorized Power Deploy Cargo Conveyer that could move both cargo and Magna-Lock-enabled action figures. This elevator began operating once a Magna Lock action figure was placed on it. Likewise, it would stop when the figure was removed.
Like most of the vehicles for the line, the Starbase Station had different forms that it could convert into. It could either become a cargo platform or a 3-level tall defense tower. Moreover, the playset featured a Manga Lock URP laser cannon that fired automatically as soon as a figure was set on it. There were also a revolving cargo turntable and 4 deployable cannons.
Accompanying this set was Sgt. Maj. Bull Gruff from the StarCom forces, or U.S. Space Force in Coleco’s version. He acted as the commander of this base and led the troops into battle.
One of these gigantic play sets appeared on eBay in 2018. When the auction ended on June 13, 2018, it sold for $1,000.00.
1. Mattel’s Shadow Upriser
One of the most notable vehicles from the Shadow Force’s fleets was the Shadow Upriser. This massive tank also served as a mobile playset for the StarCom toy line. As with most parts of the line, it appeared in both the Coleco and Mattel version of the toys. For the European-exclusive Mattel toys, the packaging had descriptions in English, French, German, and Italian, covering most countries where it would appear in.
This vehicle had two distinct modes that players could place it in. First, there was the Defense Mode, which resembled a mix between a tank and a stealth bomber. With the touch of a button, it extended to become a mobile landing pad that small air vehicles could use. In this form, it also had a high-powered elevator that brought figures from the ground level to the platform deck.
The Shadow Upriser came with a formidable arsenal of weapons. Its nine weapons could easily protect any Shadow Force vehicle attempting to land on its platform.
While it is not uncommon for one of these vehicles up for auction, most are loose. So, mint-in-box StarCom toys are highly valued. As such, a Shadow Upriser sold for $3,000.00 on November 14, 2020, when it appeared on eBay.
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About the Author
Author: Chris Ingledue
Bio: I am the founder and owner of Wheeljack’s Lab pop Culture and Toy Shop. My vision has always been to reunite customers with their favorite childhood toys and pop culture, triggering fond memories, and reigniting their imaginations. Every day, I work in the “lab” where it’s Christmas 365 days a year. I scour the internet, like when we had the Sears Catalog of yesteryear, for the next great treasure. Then, I await the arrival of the postman as if he were Santa Claus himself and helping collectors worldwide with their versions of Christmas. Every day as a vintage toy buyer is an absolute joy!