|the gang's all here, ready to raid|
Here's the basics on the Space Raiders:
- The set consists of 4 alien/robot characters (BRAK, DARD, HORTA & ZAMA) and 4 space ships (ALTAIR 2, CETI 3, LYRA 4 & KRYGO 5)
- All figures are typically seen in 5 standard colors (blue, pink, green, yellow & orange), although I've seen other colors such as white/light gray and brown show up less frequently
- They are made of a very soft, almost squishy rubber, but it's actually pretty sturdy and most seem to have held up fine over the decades
- While Space Raiders are most often remembered for being offered in McDonald's Happy Meals in the late-'70s/early-'80s, they were released in a variety of ways over the years, including in carded 2-packs and individually at book fairs, school supply stores and as prizes at dentists offices. I remember buying some individually well into the 1990s
|carded 2-pack example (front and back)|
- At least three of the Space Raiders character designs were inspired by characters from the 1970s Japanese TV show Ganbare!! Robocon
- In 1978, Diener also released a set of Space Raiders notebooks to go along with the figures (a fact I learned thanks to the 2 Warps to Neptune blog). The notebooks featured black-and-white artwork as well as bios for all the characters and space ships
- The Space Raiders are the more rubbery cousins of the Space Creatures, another classic Diener set that includes 8 different designs inspired by retro B movie monsters
CETI 3 and BRAK: While I've always found the space ships less interesting than the aliens/robots, CETI 3 is undoubtedly a very nice, detailed sculpt. Of course, BRAK, who I called "cranium creature" as a kid, has sentimental value to me because of the reason I described at the beginning of this post. But he'd probably be my favorite regardless. I find anything that looks even vaguely like the Metaluna Mutant to be awesome. Plus, I just love his head/face design, with that cranium circuitry and those zoned out eyes. BRAK's design was clearly "borrowed" from that of the Robocon character Robo Gari.
KRYGO 5 and DARD: The KRYGO 5 spacecraft doesn't look too exciting on its own, but it's a nice addition to the full set when viewed together. DARD has always looked like a villain to me. Maybe it's because he has a slight resemblance to Darth Vader. Actually, the character seems to be a cross between Vader and Getter 1 from the Getter Robo anime series (thanks to universalmonsterarmy.com forum member NekroDave for making me aware of the Getter Robo connection).
ALTAIR 2 and ZAMA: ALTAIR 2 is sort of like the mother of all space ship erasers. It's definitely the tallest. The one-eyed ZAMA seems to be based on the Robocon title character, but with a different head. He looks like he'd probably be the lovable bumbling idiot of the group.
LYRA 4 and HORTA: I remember having a knockoff of this flat spaceship as a kid in a firmer rubber, but it was the last one I got to complete my genuine Space Raiders set. Of all the ships, it's the one that most makes me think of how incredibly out of scale they are with the robots, but I guess you're not supposed to think about that. HORTA would have to be the old curmudgeon of the bunch, as indicated by his fist-shaking and unkempt robo-stache. He was based on Robocon's Robo Gaki.
Wait, what do we have here? Two additional Space Raiders? Honestly, I don't know what they are, but they sure go nicely with the Space Raiders. I'm pretty sure I got these guys sometime in the '90s and I'm pretty sure they were sold individually in a big tub of Dieners. Comments on the aforementioned 2 Warps to Neptune post about Space Raiders notebooks mention two additional characters (Draco and Alcor) being included as part of the notebook artwork, which makes me wonder if these figures might be Space Raiders after all. Unfortunately, I can't find images that show the art for Draco and Alcor, so I can't say for sure either way. Who can help shed light on their true identities and origin? Anyone?
And there you have it! One of the classic eraser sets from the much-missed Diener Industries. What do you think of them? Any Space Raiders memories you'd like to share?