In the late 1960s, Irwin Allen decided to use the classic tale of The Swiss Family Robinson to develop the science fiction adventure, Lost in Space. Like its inspiration, Lost in Space focused on a stranded family named the Robinsons who needed to adapt to their new home to survive. Unlike the novel, the space-faring Robinsons did not remain stranded on a single planet during the entire run. It stood out in other aspects, like the existence of the saboteur, Dr. Zachary Smith.
Lost In Space began airing on CBS in 1965 with hour-long episodes. The series successfully returned to television for three more seasons before bowing out in 1968. It was one of the few television series that actively saw the transition to color, with its first season being in black-in-white. After its first 29 episodes, the team shot Lost in Space in color. By the end of its run, it had 83 episodes filled with sci-fi adventure.
The Robinsons began their voyage in the far-off future of 1997 with the plan to take their spaceship, Jupiter 2, to a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri. This plan went awry after Dr. Smith reprogrammed the ship’s robot to destroy the ship with the crew inside. While Dr. Smith planned to cleanly escape, he wound up trapped inside the ship with the robot and family. Thus, he woke up the Robinsons before becoming lost in an unknown part of space along with them.
The Robinsons eventually left the first planet that they were stranded on in the second season. However, they quickly found themselves stranded on a new planet. By the third season, the family was once again traveling through space. However, as they were still lost, they continued to visit various new locations. The series left television before Jupiter 2’s crew found their way back to their original destination nor Earth.
The popularity of Lost in Space quickly led to merchandise and toys in the 1960s. One of the first companies to support the new television series was Mattel. Mattel notably made two different toys based on Lost in Space. First, there was the Switch N’ Go Jupiter 2 playset and Chariot Vehicle. Mattel also released the Space Robo-Jet Gun in 1966.
Meanwhile, Remco decided to entertain fans of one of the most memorable portions of the show, the Robot. They produced the Lost in Space Robot toy in 1966. They released both a black version and a colorful red and blue version of this motorized toy. The robot even had lights that blinked.
Even though Lost in Space concluded in 1968, reruns on syndicated television kept its fanbase alive over the decades. In 1985, Masuyada from Japan brought Lost in Space back to the toy aisle with a wind-up toy. Rocket U.S.A., Inc. distributed this toy to the Western market. This figure was also released in Japan as the Robot YM-3.
Lost in Space returned to the public eye when the remake film debuted in 1998. The movie focused on the origins of the Robinson family and their plight in space. Like the original series, Dr. Zachary Smith programmed the robot to sabotage Jupiter II. However, the largest threat in this version was a swarm of spider-like creatures from deep space and a time-distortion wave. They eventually discovered that the youngest son, Will Robinson, created the distortion field in the distant future in hopes of preventing the doomed voyage.
As tie-in toy lines were now expected with major blockbusters, Lost in Space teamed up with Trendmasters. The toy company created two series of toys. First, there were a series of toys based on the original series. This notably included a 24” radio-controlled B-9 Robot. The Classic Series also included action figures of Will Robinson, Dr. Zachary Smith, Major Don West, Judy Robinson, Tybo, and Cyclos. They even produced a toy of Jupiter II.
Trendmasters also created a complete toy line based on the blockbuster remake. This series included the new version of Jupiter II. They produced six action figures featuring Major Don West, Prof. John Robinson, Proteus Armor Dr. Smith, Will Robinson, Dr. Judy Robinson, and Sabotage-Action Dr. Smith. They created two versions of the Robot: Rocket Launcher and Battle Ravaged. Accompanying these action figures was a Transforming Space Blaster role-play toy.
Along with the wave of collector-centric toys in the 2010s, Diamond Select Toys brought Lost in Space back to the toy aisle in 2015. This company released a talking B-9 Robot with lights as well as sounds. It stood at 11” tall.
A few years after Diamond Select released the B-9 Robot, a new Lost in Space series appeared on Netflix. Legendary produced the 2018 series, which once again rebooted the franchise. This series notably replaced Zachary Smith with the female saboteur, Zoe Smith. It also featured an entire colony in addition to the Robinson family.
Accompanying this modern incarnation was a new set of action figures from Well Played Toys. In 2019, the company introduced a dual pack with Will Robinson and the Robot. They also invited fans to collect the rest of their action figures: Dr. Smith, Judy Robinson, John Robinson, Penny Robinson, Don West, and Maureen Robinson. However, these action figures were never released and vanished from their website.
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