Keith Meyers, The Space Station!

Stock #6360 Major Matt Mason XRG-1 Reentry Glider.


XRG-1 Re-Entry Glider. Mint on Card! Photo
by Keith Meyer. From the collection of Keith Meyer.

Copyright 1968--first year available 1969

The final year for Mattel's Man In Space "Major Matt Mason" brought us one of the most memorable of all space vehicles. Now the Major and crew could return to Earth in a glider with a wingspan that stretched out over 17" inches. Sort of a one man space shuttle, the reentry glider was constructed of two vacuum - formed plastic pieces. The main body of the craft was "white" with the second part being the removable "transparent" canopy.

Wording on the card told us; "This glider flies only with a Mattel astronaut. Put astronauts in cockpit! It will not fly with an empty cockpit!". The card in the upper right hand corner displays pictures of all four Mattel astronauts. Major Matt Mason, Sgt. Storm, Scientists - Doug Davis and Jeff Long. Callisto, our green - skinned friend from Jupiter was the fifth character shown as a qualified pilot. All pilots are grouped together in a green square with white trim.

Overall the card is a very attractive display, with the glider attached in full view on it's 18 1/2 inch x 21 1/2 inch surface making this the largest MMM accessory card. The cards graphics are an artists painting, mainly shades of blues, black and white showing the craft leaving a planet after circling around and heading out into open space.

The glider came with several "orange" and "black" striping decals already applied. A decal sheet sporting the American flag, control panel and the XRG - 1 designation was placed in the cockpit under the canopy for safe keeping. Because of this, most reentry gliders that are found on the card today have these decal sheets missing. So even in store stock versions it's very difficult to obtain the decals.

Each on a 18 1/2" x 21 5/8" x 4 5/8" card.

In standard packs of 1 doz. Wt: 12 1/4 lbs.

There are several color and two mold versions of the glider, as well as three different cards.

First of all the original gliders had a longer totally detachable canopy. The canopy would slide into slots in the rear and the front would snap and form fit into a dimple on the nose. Later the glider was changed to a smaller canopy that the rear still attached by slits in the craft, but the front would pivot on a rivet that held it in place. You would simply swing the canopy to either side and place the astronaut. This eliminated the dimple on the nose and possibly increased the aerodynamics of this space plane.

I speculate that the change could be for several reasons; the canopy could be lost in a crash, the canopy could pop off ejecting the pilot in mid flight. Or perhaps because the front of the canopy was very prone to being damaged by cracking or splitting after repeatedly slamming into the backyard fence or the dog house which would weaken it's fastening ability resulting in one or both of the two previously mentioned reasons.

Now the card of course had the instructions for installing the pilot and operating procedures located on the backside. Since there are two versions of the glider, there are two different corresponding instructions. Only the section discussing how to place the pilot in the cockpit changed. By either removing the canopy in the earlier version or swinging the canopy to one side with the second variant.

The third variation was an early card with the removable canopy instructions being covered up by a large label which had the pivoting canopy info printed on it. Again this was only positioned over the area that shows how to place the astronaut in the cockpit. I call this the "transition" card, this technique was used until the old cards were depleted and newer cards printed.

Color variations:
Though the "white" vacuum - formed body of the glider remained the same color. The canopy was molded in several transparent colors. I have in my collection, both canopy designs in four different colors each, purple, blue, smoke and clear.

This is one of my favorite toys simply because it would really fly! Just toss it and it'll travel several yards. I always make sure there is someone to play catch with though, so as not to wreck it and to maintain it's collectible value. The pivoting canopy does perform better than the original version.

The reentry glider was also included in these Mattel stock numbers:

#6361 Reentry Glider with Major Matt Mason - carded
#6378 Talking Major Matt Mason with XRG - 1 Reentry Glider - boxed

XRG-1 Re-Entry Glider Back of Card. Photo by
Keith Meyer. From the collection of Keith Meyer.


Copyright 1997 Keith Meyer. All rights reserved.
Revised: February 25, 2006.