In the ’80s there was no shortage of toy lines being produced and it was easy for a series to get swallowed up by the popularity and better media push of other toy companies. Which is what I feel sadly happened to Remco when they released The Saga of Crystar action figures to stores back in 1982. I mean there was the Star Wars toy franchise by Kenner and at the time of The Saga of Crystar‘s release the sword and sorcery setting had been successfully embraced by Mattel’s Masters of the Universe series. That same year, Hasbro had begun producing their G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero toy line – all three of these toy lines had something in common – mass media exposure whether through movies or animated series and comic books. Of course The Saga of Crystar at the very least had the benefit of a Marvel Comic series that was written by Jo Duffy and illustrated by Bret Blevins – that comic however did not hit the shelves until May of 1983. Interestingly enough is that The Saga of Crystar was all started by Marvel, they came up with the characters and history of the series for the intended purpose of a company transforming it into a toy series. It was Remco that decided the idea of a line of action figures made of translucent plastic was a good idea… and it was… it just appears to have gotten lost in the myriad of toy options back in 1982.
To be fair the lore or origin of Crystar was provided on the back of the action figures packaging based off what Marvel Comics had developed – introducing kids to the World of Crystalium – a planet where magic is plentiful and has suffered from a cosmic war brought about by invading demons. After the war there is a peace and prosperity thanks to Crystar and Moltar, twin brothers who rule Crystalium together. Until the duo are forced to choose – should they ally with the forces of Order or Chaos – Crystar obviously suggests they side with Ogeode, the Wizard of Order. Moltar believes that it is Zardeth that the people should side with – which I’m sure you can guess is the Wizard of Chaos. An argument ensues and Moltar lashes out and lays low both his brother as well as their Uncle, Feldspar – who was attempting to calm them both down. Thanks to timely intervention of Ambara, a maid of the Crystal Palace, both Crystar and his Uncle are saved by Ogeode – by way of the Prisma-Crystal – which transforms the young Prince into a crystallized version of himself. Zardeth however has used his own magic to transform Moltar into a lava and rock skinned warrior to better lead his Magma Men.
As you might iexpect the 11 issues of The Saga of Crystar that were produced by Marvel Comics really expanded the story and the backstory of some of the toys. Take Moltar and Crystar’s Uncle Feldspar – he was set up as regent while the two brothers waged war. To prove his neutrality in the matter, his top portion is crystal while his waist is made up of rock and lava. In addition the comics explained further that with Moltar and his men becoming rather large and imposing Magma Men courtesy of Zardeth’s Fountain of Fire – Crystar and his army would have to be changed to better combat this new menace… so they step into the Prisma-Crystal and become crystallized as well. Also of interest is that thanks to the characters and concepts being owned by Marvel Comics – there were some interesting guest stars in The Saga of Crystar – like Dr. Strange, Alpha Flight, and even Nightcrawler.
In total Remco would produce 7 carded figures for The Saga of Crystar but they would also produce four playsets – these were small carded offerings but they each had their own figure too. In addition the company would manufacture the Crystal Castle – which while perhaps not quite as awesome as Castle Grayskull – the fact it was made from beautiful translucent blue plastic means it looked pretty awesome. A Crystal Shatterpult as well as a Lava Shatterpult were produced and even two flying mounts – the Lava Dragon and Crystal Dragon, which also came with special figures.
Now here is the part of this article where I wish I could tell you that in my youth I was able to lay my hands on an entire collection of The Saga of Crystar figures – the truth is I never had a single one. I believe this might have had something to do with which stores were carrying it at the time. I do not remember ever seeing a single one at the local Walmart in my neck of the woods – the only spot I recall seeing these Remco figures was at Kmart which was a little too far away for my Family to make regular trips. However I did manage to get a Crystar figure as a young adult at a local comic book shop and it was most assuredly worse for wear – although he looks mighty nice on my shelf. Looking around on eBay it appears that some of the characters can fetch a quite hefty price… perhaps I can ask the folks at Tee Rex in Eureka Springs to keep an eye out for me instead?