Your Own Space Battleship, Training Wheels Included
By Jonathan Poet
The Japanese anime series "Space Battleship Yamato" — known in the U.S. as "Star Blazers" — never quite spawned the absurd merchandising that "Star Wars" did in the States. I don't remember seeing many toys in the early 1980s, when I regularly watched "Star Blazers" on TV, wishing every episode would include the crew firing the ship's wave motion gun.
Even today, there's not that much Yamato merch out there, aside from models and figurines. (I have an unassembled Yamato model in its box in my basement, mocking me.) I was mildly surprised, for example, that I couldn't easily find anyone producing a t-shirt of the show's arrow uniform, the kind that an astronaut recently wore into space.
Thirty years ago, however, some lucky Japanese kids could have purchased a bicycle version of the Yamato. Made by Bridgestone, the bike came with a control panel on the handlebars, a reticle on the windshield, various cool graphics, a rear reflector styled like a rocket engine and, best of all, a wave motion gun headlamp activated with the press of a button. Priced at the time around $200, it's hard to imagine what a good condition version would go for these days on eBay.
With a new live-action movie in the works, maybe we can look forward to a re-release of the bike. A man can dream.