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The Tiny Red Missile That Shook Up The Toy Industry In 1979.

Battlestar Galactica Missle Crisis

In September of 1978 Battlestar Galactica debuted on televisions all across the US, becoming an overnight hit. Mattel hoping to match Kenner's success with Star Wars, had already snatched up the licensing rights to the toys. So Mattel got to work designing a series of Battlestar Galactica space ships that fired spring-loaded missiles. The ships flew off the shelves of toy stores all across the country that holiday season.

On December 8, 1978 Mattel's troubles with the Battlestar Galactica toys came to light when the Consumer Products Safety Commission announced that there had been 3 formal reports of children inhaling or swallowing the toy missiles. Although the toys passed safety regulations of the time, Mattel agreed to put warning stickers on existing inventories.

But that wasn't the end, because on December 25, 1978, 4 year old Robert Jeffrey Warren was playing with a Cylon Raider ship when the missile discharged into his mouth and got stuck in his larynx. Unfortunately on December 31, 1978 Robert died for injuries caused by the tiny red missile.

On January 11, 1979 the Consumer Products Safety Commission announced that Mattel was instituting a missile recall program, where parents could mail back the missiles in exchange for a Hot Wheels car. Mattel also redesign the ships so that they would no longer fire the missiles.

That wasn't the end of the story for the tiny red missile though. Kenner had their own issues with the Boba Fett action figure they had under development. The action figure had a rocket firing back pack with a missile similar to Mattel's.

Kenner at the time had already invested a lot of time and money into the prototypes, catalogs and displays of the Boba Fett action figure. In the end Kenner decided to err on the side of caution and scraped the firing rocket, for a much safer non-firing fixed rocket. Although no rocket-firing Boba Fett figures were ever released to the public, the few prototypes that were produced can fetch up to six figures in today's market.

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The red rockets were released to the public. I bought one in the store.

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