Knight of Darkness – Random Toy of the Week
This week we’re checking out a nifty science fiction styled figure from 1977……..nope, not anything from Star Wars. We’re talking about the Knight of Darkness from Star Team!
In 1977 Ideal released a line of figures called Star Team. The main villain in the line is the Knight of Darkness. He leads his Shadow Warriors in an invasion of Earth. He is dressed in a jumpsuit with metal snaps in the back similar to Mego figures from the 70’s. The cape is sewn into the jumpsuit instead of being a separate piece like most action figure designs. His head is a molded imposing helmet.
I only recently found this figure last month in an antique mall and even though this figure is older than I am, I never heard of it until a few years ago. The Knight of Darkness hits all the points for me that I’m looking for in figures recently. It’s a nifty, vintage 11 1/2″ figure with a science fiction flair.
The knight’s head has a slightly menacing, robotic appearance, but the design is a little confusing due to the paint job. Apparently the silver mesh part near the bottom is the “mouth” while the two large silver eye looking parts are actually cheek bones. The “eyes” are the round black depressions above the the silver cheek bones and below the domed helm.
The outfit has a plastic belt sewn into the costume with painted robotic details on it. These details reminds one of the classic chest design of Darth Vader (As if the rest of the figure doesn’t remind you of the famous Sith Lord) The chest of the outfit has a silvery material covering that can flake off over time.
As I mentioned, it can easily be believed that the Knight of Darkness is a blatant Darth Vader knock off considering his appearance, the fact that he’s a space villain and that he came out in the year of Star Wars, 1977. There was actually a lawsuit between Ideal & Kenner for copywrite infringement….and Kenner lost! You can read the documents on the case HERE. It’s an interesting read as they go into detail about how Ideal brought about the Star Team toys. It seems the main reasons Ideal won were because they made figures based on the themes of Star Wars (themes are not copy-writable) The brand Star Team had been in use by Ideal for 10 years already and the fact that at the time the only merchandise Kenner had was the Early Bird Certificate which definitely couldn’t be confused for the actual Star Team figures Ideal had on shelves already.
Getting back to the figure at hand, the evil knight comes with a futuristic ray gun. The gun is actually a reuse of the Flash Gordon ray gun that was included with a Captain Action costume set Ideal released back in 1966. This is not the only reused piece with this figure. The boots are reused from Captain Action as is the body. The body was made with black plastic instead of the peach color Captain Action used. Both hands can hold the ray gun, but the left hand seems to hold it better.
Since the body is an old Captain Action body, it has a great amount of articulation similar to a vintage 12″ GI Joe. The neck swivels and has a rounded base that can move in all directions. Shoulders have full movement, elbows are swivel hinges just like the wrists. There’s waist articulation, the hips have a full range of motion and the knees and ankles feature hinge articulation. This allows the figure to have a great range of motion.
This is one of my favorites toys and not just because it’s one of my newest acquisitions. The quirkiness of the 70’s mixed with Sci-fi and 1960’s 1:6 scale construction makes this a fun vintage toy.