Space Explorers
Mantis
3 3/4 Inch Scale
By: Odyssey Toys
$5.99

SPACE… The final frontier. Today we go to the far reaches of the universe for our next review. Actually, I just went to final frontier known as Tuesday Morning, and in the absence of something cooler, I found this little dude. What is he? Well he’s a bendable alien figure. Good enough, right?


In the early 2000’s, Odyssey Toys started making educational toys for museums and the like. That eventually branched out into a whole variety of toys. While most of these toys were still under the umbrella of educational, like Abe Lincoln and Frederick Douglas, some were a little more out there. The Space Explorers line largely focused on real life astronaut types, but they also included a couple of fantasy aliens like Mantis from Sirius (I guess he’s on the Howard Stern show?) and sort of recapture a bit of that Major Matt Mason/Outer Space Men vibe.

Packaging:
I was actually looking for the aforementioned Abe Lincoln at Tuesday Morning, as he’s been on my list of toys I’ve wanted for a long time. Sadly the only historical character they had was Betsy Ross. Sorry, maybe if it had been Betty White (who also sewed one of the first US flags if my history is correct) then perhaps I would have purchased her. As it was, aliens sounded more interesting.


The package is sort of generic, with the figure simply wired into a backing card. There is a little bit of info on the front and a nice picture of the Earth from space. The back has a run down of the other figures in this particular series. I can totally see this guy at the local history museum and an 8 year old me paying far too much for him on a field trip.


Inside there is a nice little fold out sheet that shows all the other toys available from Odyssey Toys. As an aside, apparently Odyssey Toys was a small US based toy company that hoped to make educational but fun toys. For whatever reason, they sold out to a China based larger company, who continued to run Odyssey Toys as a separate entity for a while. However, now it appears as though the Odyssey Toys portion is defunct. Their website no longer works and it’s almost impossible to find much of their product. Bummer.

Sculpt:
For a toy under the guise of educational, Mantis here is straight out of the classic 50’s sci-fi book. He’s got a very cool look, I think and since he’s made out of a bendable material, I think this guy is definitely the long lost son of the original Outer Space Men line. If you’re into offbeat little red aliens, this guy is for you.


His head has the most sculpting, with a really cool design. It definitely fits his “Mantis” name. I could almost see a little bit of a Jack Kirby type of character in the face. The rest of him is basically identical to all the other toys from this line, in that he’s got pretty humanoid hands and is wearing shoes.


I couldn’t figure out any way to get his outfit off, but underneath it appears as if there is a white plastic “frame” for the torso, with bendable arms and legs attached as separate pieces. Then his head is a solid piece as well. The costume itself is definitely a groovy 50’s Martian invader type of vibe, with a high collar and such. However, his funky pants, I really don’t know what origins they may have.


I suppose the costume could be “skin” of sorts. There is a little bit of fins on the pants that make me think that perhaps they were trying to say it wasn’t just an outfit. It’s hard to say for sure, of course. The figure doesn’t have the greatest balance and is a bit hard to stand at times. This is often a common problem with bendable figures.


Regardless, he makes for a pretty interesting design and the paint work on his face is pretty good. The outfit does the job of the rest of the “paint”. His legs are cast in a gold color so that his feet don’t have to be painted and his arms are likewise, cast in red. Interestingly, if you look at the picture on the back of the package, this design changed a bit from the prototype. Originally his hands and such were slightly differing in color.

Articulation:
Because he’s a bendy figure, he’s in theory is free of limits. Unfortunately that always works better in theory than in execution. He can bend his arms and legs in a variety of positions, but it’s still fairly limited. If you’ve ever had a bendy figure, I’m sure you know what I mean.


His short arms and legs seem to limit those posing opportunities even more. That said, you can get a few poses out of him. His head is a simple cut joint, which is appreciated. Many bendy figures don’t have any head articulation at all, but since this guy has a plastic frame body, he’s able. His hands are a softer rubber and allow you to put things in his hands with ease.


All in all, you can post this guy some, but as usual with these types of bendy figures… Regular joints probably would have been more useful. Making him bendable though, is a nice nod to the old space lines of the late 50’s and early 60’s.

Accessories:
On the package they hype up his “advanced communicator” which is rather clearly… A spyglass telescope. How does he talk through it? Well, I guess it’s REALLY advanced.


All jokes aside, clearly this is a reuse from someone else in a previous line. It’s painted up in silver and gold here and I appreciate that they did give us an accessory… Even if it’s useless. I think they probably could have used one of their other accessories, like the NASA headset. Actually, I would have LOVED a ray gun… But I guess that’s not “educational” enough.


I can’t help but use it as a spyglass. Maybe it’s because he’s from an advanced civilization and that’s why I’m too dense to know how to use this accessory.

Your only other accessory is a “collector’s” card. This gives you the stats and a little bio for the character. Obviously these cards are better when they’re focusing on real famous people, as opposed to imaginary aliens. It does mention a bit about his language and that he speaks through clicks.

Value:
According to the back of the package, this originally retailed for $6.99. I have seen them go for about $10 online from educational toy shops. I imagine this was $6-$8 at a museum. Of course those types of places are known for overcharging. All this talk of space and museum makes me want to eat some of that astronaut ice cream that they always sell at those places… But I digress. I got this guy on super duper Tuesday Morning clearance for $1.99 and I’m fine with that price. I wouldn’t pay more than $3.99 for a character like this.


Score Recap:
Packaging: 6
Sculpting: 6
Paint: 5
Articulation: 3
Accessories: Spyglass, Card
Value: 4
Overall: 5 out of 10

At the end of the day, this is not the type of toy that was meant for a close inspection or an in-depth review. It’s a simple, throw away type of toy that was meant to get kids interested in the space program and general science and knowledge. It’s hard for me to knock it in that sense and had I gotten this on a field trip, I’m sure I would have enjoyed it. For $2 it’s certainly not bad, but not the best toy I’ve ever found, either.

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