Most of you probably know about Ideal's answer to the lack of Star Wars toys back around Christmas 1977, which briefly took over toy shelves as the parent-confusing S.T.A.R. Team! To call this a Star Wars ripoff would be a massive understatement. Ideal basically slapped together a small menagerie of characters such as the R2-D2 wannabe, Zeroid, the C3PO/cantina alien hybrid known as Zem 21 (who I wrote about over on my Abut.com Action Figures page seen HERE) and the stunningly blatant Lord of Darkness.
Now, I've written several times about the Christmas of 1977, during which I went without any Star Wars toys (like every other kid in America) but that didn't stop me from going over to the next door neighbor kids' house and immediately making fun of their newly unwrapped knock-off S.T.A.R. Team figures. I think it went something like, "That's not Darth Vader! That's a FAKE!"
I could be a little jerk back then.
Well, fast forward 33 years and I still hadn't forgotten the toys, which despite their dubious origins, still got played with somewhat regularly. Thus my schadenfreude turned to avarice and I found myself, in my ever increasing fits of nostalgia, wanting a set of S.T.A.R. Team toys for myself.
I managed to score a Zem 21 last year at a local toy show and now, through the magical powers of eBay, finally have my very own Lord of Darkness!
This bad boy was a little hard to find. Not so much due to how expensive he is (he's not), but more in how difficult it can be to find one in decent shape.
The silver chest piece (which doesn't really come out in these pics) is very often chipped off and shredded, probably due to the material from which it's made. But this guy seemed to have most of the silver still on his chest so I went for it. Sadly, no one even big against me and I got him for the starting price. Poor Lord of Darkness. No one loves you!
One thing I remember most about him from my youth was his astonishingly derpy face. I think that the silver part of the mask are supposed to be his eyes, but the round black areas above them and below the brow look like big, goofy cartoon eyeballs, giving him the I'm-so-wittle-and-cute cross eyed look. And his eyebrows just look worried to me.
Another small issue with this figure was the fact that he only came with one boot (not originally, that would be silly... this particular used figure, I mean), but luckily I managed to buy a new pair of boots for a couple of bucks on eBay. Turns out that this dude just wore the standard Captain Action black boots and they're all over the internet for sale.
But one this that sort of freaked me out was his pitch black foot. In fact, his whole body is molded in black, but there's something about seeing his little black foot with its little black toes and little black toenails that gave me the heebie jeebies.
Another thing I'd like to point out is his belt which is such a stunning ripoff of Darth Vader's Chest... ummm... buttons, that I can't believe Ideal didn't get sued. Oh well, it was the '70s.
Still, I know I make fun, but this figure is a major part of my childhood memories, even if he did belong to the neighbor kid. So how he's posed on my shelf, occasionally kicking my poor Zem 21, whose joints are so rattlingly loose that he can't stand up on his own. Man that Lord of Darkness is one mean dude.
Now all I have to do is keep him on that shelf, displayed for all the world, and wait for that moment when one of my friends' kids comes into The Nerdatorium, looks around, points, and goes, "That's not Darth Vader! That's a FAKE!"