Mattel SuperStar Sky Show Plane

By | Sep 15, 2017

Back in 1973, I saved up all my pennies to buy one of these at the now defunct Kiddie City toy store in Hatboro, PA. Today, I spent more than a few pennies to nab this example off of ebay.


As a kid I loved airplanes. I’d spend hours tossing around a balsa wood glider from Comet that could be purchased at the impulse rack near the cash register at the local department store. After seeing a commercial about the SuperStar, I knew I had to have one. The Superstar was an electric free-flight airplane with some truly unique features. It was powered by on-board rechargeable ni-cad cells that were recharged by connecting a 6v lantern battery. This gave the plane a couple of minutes of flight.  But that’s not all, the plane could be flown in a designated pattern by choosing one of a set of four flight “disks” and, could drop a parachutist and release a streamer while in flight as part of its flight program.


The side of the box illustrates some of the mechanical features of the plane. The center illustration is the electric power plant, showing a geared propeller drive and two nicad cells towards the rear. The illustration to the right shows a smiling kid loading the flight disk in the bottom of the airplane. The disk had cams (notches and bumps) around its perimeter. When the plane was switched on and launched, the disk would spin slowly, driven by a geared connection to the motor. A lever would ride in and out of the disk’s cams and this lever would move the plane’s rudder thereby causing it to fly a designated pattern.


Close-up of box side illustrations. That kid sure looks happy!


Box contents. On the left is the fuselage, wing panels and various pieces of hardware. The fuselage was thin vaccu-formed plastic while the wings were foam. Middle photo is of the decals. To the right is the literature included.


Instruction manual. Note the four flight disks in the first photo. In the second photo, the manual provides a diagram of each disk’s flight pattern. You could fly it tethered too, but I couldn’t imagine why you’d want to.


Product catalog is a trip back in time. Mattel made a car version of the Superstar plane. The car used the same type of disks to make the car drive in a pre-defined pattern on the ground. And how about those Sizzlers on the facing page? Hmmm, only one is actually a scale model; a Ferrari 512. The rest are a hot rodder’s nightmare!  Remember the ‘Juice Machine’?

 

Originally posted 2013-11-05 06:10:44.

33 Comments so far
  1. steve March 15, 2009 2:42 pm

    As a kid i owned on of these planes, it flew so good mine flew outta site and was never found again, my mom & dad wrote to the company and told them what had happened and they sent me a new plane and everything!

  2. Blackhorse1 April 7, 2009 11:54 am

    I had one of these as a kid, too! My dad and I took it out to the local baseball field to give it a “maiden voyage” flight. We put in one of the free-flight discs and fired it up. Cool to watch it fly up and around…. oh wait! It’s going over the road and past the hill across the road! Oh no! It’s gone!!! My dad was grumbling about this stupid plane, after we spent the money on it and the time to figure out how to put it together, and everything… so we pick up the box and the battery and the other stuff, and start to walk to the car, and I’m crying (well – I WAS six years old…) and suddenly… bzzzzzzzzz – here comes that plane in for a landing not five feet from where we let it go!

    Talk about the COOLEST thing EVER!!! I had that plane for years and years – but it got lost in a move. I just bought another one on Ebay (was probably bidding against the guy who posted the photos at the top…) and am looking for a new powerplant for it. It came with the car, too (but it needs tires…). Great memories!!!

  3. Ron Chung May 16, 2009 5:22 am

    Saw the commercial on TV, bugged my parents to buy it for me on my 10th or 11th birthday. 1974 or 5. Realise now that they weren’t so rich, but they bought it for me anyway. To be honest from memory I only got to the test stage, where you glide it over long grass. Got only one nice glide, but never got to fly it properly with the programmed disc’s. AAhhh memories. Thanks Dad and Mum.

  4. raymond July 23, 2009 6:32 pm

    I had a superstar plane and the foam eagle gliders both after years of service got lost in the trees but I still have my superstar car althought the tires have rotted off but I do have another motor if anyone is looking.

  5. Rob G September 11, 2009 10:39 am

    I too owned a Superstar as a kid. I purchased mine at Kidde City in Roslyn, PA. After hours of throughly enjoying flying this aircraft and trying the different cams in Penbryn Park, I started to experiment. I created new cams with bottle caps that I hand filed to create new flight patterns. One time I purposely overcharged the required battery time – turned on the plane, released it and it flew with engine on for more than 15 mins. The plane gained lift and climbed so high, I could just barely see it. It had drifted out over the railroad tracks and I lost track of it as it flew into a residential neighorhood. I took off after it, not knowing where to look. After frantically searching, I finally found it resting on its wheels in someone driveway over 1/2 mile from where I launched it. I never charged it more than the required time again. A few weeks later some kids in the park threw rocks at it while it was in flight and made it crash. The foam wings broke and the engine/prop was damaged.

  6. brian September 27, 2009 4:09 pm

    This is the coolest toy plane I remember from my childhood. Does any of the paperwork list Patents numbers? I would like to look up drawings on the mechanics of the flight controls and see if the patents are still current.

    Regards,

    B

  7. brian September 27, 2009 10:26 pm
  8. Bryan Davis November 16, 2009 5:00 pm

    I remember this toy, I’m the younger brother of two that did not get one in xmas 1974 or 75, but along with a neighbor kid and my brother, I remember taking the SKY SHOW to a undeveloped field and flying them. My brother was always good at isntructions until this project came. I remember him launching his plane-probably without the disc and it kept flying out of our reach and landed on the top of a warehouse building. We tried to recover the unit but the owners were not cooperative with us as kids. On the othere hand my neighbors unit flew perfectly, launching the chute as well.
    Yep I was a kid in the 70’s and remember all the boys stuff, even the girls stuff because of 3 sisters. My favorite was the mattell “Whirley Bird”, helicopter that basically flew on a stick; although I was about 7-8 years old, I could not get enough of this toy.

  9. Mike Calhoun November 20, 2009 10:34 am

    I bought one of these when I was 11 or 12 – one of the few times I actually saved my allowance to get something! It was outrageously expensive, something like $10 or $12 at the K-mart store in Garland, Texas. I flew at at the park adjacent to my elementary school, usually without the discs, so it would just fly in a circle (the park wasn’t really all that big). It flew great until the day it hit a chain link fence and broke the prop. I don’t know how many different ways I tried to glue that prop back together, but it never worked. Wish I’d thought to write to Mattel ………

  10. Steven P. Williams November 29, 2009 9:40 pm

    I too was one of those boys who just had to have a SuperStar plane. My father was a pilot in the early 70’s and that meant that I had to have one of these cool new panes. I can remember seeing the TV ad showing a boy and his father getting ready for a launch. The boy was the actor who played BOBBY on the Brady Bunch show. If HE had one one of these panes then I had to have one as well. My dad gave one to me and my brother on Chirstmas day 1973. We wanted to take the planes to our local school yard SOOOOO badly. The day came for our first flight and sure enough…it took off and did it’s thing and came right back to us just like the commercials showed it would. After a having move and experincing the woeful negligence of 2 liitle boys, the planes were doomed to destruction. Years later BEFORE ebay was invented, I was working on developing an international toy business when some one showed up with a MINT- in- the- box SuparStar… and I just had to have it!. I have been carrying this plane around with me for almost 15 years now and it too has lost it’s sizzle for me.
    I am offering it for sale for the mere sum of $250.00! That may seem like a lot but find me another in mint condition…and then the price MAY go down. Contact me any time…Steven P. Williams email at mrwilliamswhirlingwheels@yahoo.com
    Renton Washington

  11. Tom December 13, 2009 7:01 am

    I also had one when I was 11 or 12. Flew it in the tomato field behind my house. Most memorable flight was one when I gave a “lucky” caterpillar a ride. I put him in the plastic propeller shaft support housing that clipped to the left side of the power plant shown in the picture above. Off went the plane. Flew for a little while then the propeller stopped abruptly. FAA later determined the cause of the subsequent crash was the caterpillar entering the drive gears. Poor little fella. Guess I should have seen that coming though.

  12. Matso Limtiaco February 1, 2010 2:15 am

    This was the coolest of its type back in the day. At the time my dad and I were also experimenting with U-control (the Cox P-39, I think), but the Mattel was way easier to handle. I remember flying it on an absolutely still day and chasing it for several hundred yards across a big grassy field near the beach in Guam. The main problem was that a hard landing could destroy the styrofoam wings, and after two or three patches they just wouldn’t hold together any longer. I can’t remember if we ever tried to get spare parts for it…

  13. Kevin Whitelock July 1, 2010 3:32 am

    I absolutely loved this plane! I had one of the originals, not a “Sky Show” model. The thing flew and flew and flew perfectly every time. For years! Then…my cousin wanted to fly it. He was into tethered aircraft and since the wing came with an installed grommet for tethered flight, he asked if he could fly it that way. I hesitated, but I let him try it. He went round and round but couldn’t keep his orbits level. He flew it right into the ground. I was horrified! I ran to it as one might run to an injured puppy on the road. It was OK! The rubber band that kept the wings on detached and that was the only damage. what a great plane! Then…my cousin wanted to try again. NO WAY, I thought, but he assured me that he realized where he went wrong and that it wouldn’t happen again. Not wanting to look like a jerk, I let him. He was right…This time he flew it right into the side of our barn. The poor thing could only take so much abuse. *sigh* Memories. Oh well. I’m better looking than he is.

  14. rcgrabbag July 4, 2010 12:04 pm

    GREAT stories everyone. That’s why I’ve created this website.

  15. Chris Oliver November 27, 2010 9:48 pm

    I received the SuperStar plane for my 12th birthday in 1972. I absolutely loved the plane. First thing out of the box, I tried to glide it across my yard and broke the wings. Mattel was able to send me replacement wings. I played and played with this great toy. Had to be careful where it was flown, as it could fly out of sight or on top of a building. Wish someone would come up with a new version of this plane.

  16. scooter June 1, 2011 1:29 am

    How do I figure out selling a mint never opened Matell battery 1972 r/c plane – signal command plane. Its a 4 feet wingspan ect. Its still in the shipping box. Thanks Steve
    The mattell model # is 6699. Thanks Scooter

  17. rcgrabbag June 1, 2011 4:33 pm

    I would try selling it on eBay. You would probably do quite well there.

  18. Steven P. Williams June 1, 2011 6:43 pm

    DO NOT take less than $300.00 for it from any one! Ebay is a waste of your time and money. The fees will eat away at the low ball hits you will get. Besides, Ebay is NOT he ruler and final authority of the value of ANY THING!

    Sell it direct to another collector and have fun!

  19. rcgrabbag June 1, 2011 7:06 pm

    That’s one way to look at it, but consider the size of the eBay audience. You can just as easily waste time trying to track down a single worthwhile collector when eBay can expose your item to many more. Sure, they take fees, but that’s a part of any business. The flip side is that you will likely receive more for item due to the competition for it. eBay is also a good benchmark for the value of an item because of the aforementioned reasons. I’ve bought and sold hundreds of items on eBay over nearly ten years and my experience has been overwhelmingly positive.

  20. PixelOz October 24, 2011 8:51 pm

    Oh yes I do remember this toy very well. I wanted one for Christmas very, very badly but I didn’t get one 🙁 Boo hoo, ja, ja, ja but… I got it’s brother!

    Many people don’t know it cause it was far less known than the plane but the Mattel Superstar airplane had a brother car that used the same mechanism (or a very, very similar one).

    What happened to me was probably that my father realized that I could have lost the plane too easily cause there was not a place near where I lived in which to fly it without it getting lost quickly on the roof of a house or something like that so he brought me the car instead.

    It was called similarly, it was called the The Superstar Racecar if I’m not mistaken and it used a very similar rechargeable battery with electric motor unit just like the plane except of course that it was driving the wheels instead of the propeller. I remember the unit being yellow in color.

    It used several yellow discs (4) just like the airplane. I remember clearly the 4 discs patterns, One was for straight driving (kept the wheels always straight), one made it go in perfect circles, the other one made it go around in an oval pattern and the last one had a pattern that completed a circuit too like the last two but was a bit more elaborated sort of like those simpler slot car track shapes.

    It had a blue body (a color very similar to.. let’s say cookie monster’s fur) with a very beautiful shape and just like the plane it was its own design meaning that it wasn’t a scale car like a camaro or similar.

    It had a totally black plastic part representing the car glass windows and if I’m not mistaken it had decals that were white, black and perhaps red too.

    It had foam tires that were somewhat greyish and unfortunately were the weakest part of the design cause they were the part that got worn the fastest. Despite that they lasted long enough to have lot’s of fun with it and I remember it being quite sturdy cause it took quite a few hits without breaking and it was quite fast for a toy car.

    I also remember that it had this peculiar electric motor sound, it was this rhythmic kinda high pitched whine when it accelerated that I never forgot: wee, wee, wee, wee, wee, whee, whee, whee, wheeeeeeeeeeeeee… it was very cool ja,ja,ja I loved it!

    It was one of the best toys that I ever had and one I loved a lot as a child, I always remember this plane and the car with lot’s of nostalgia but those were good, good memories. 🙂

  21. cj November 16, 2011 11:06 pm

    Back when the unnecessary gulf war II started, the drone predator reminded me of this plane. I described it to a friend and he said I was making it up (Fellow child of the 70s but he did not recall it)
    Anyway, I went looking on the internet EVERYWHERE for any mention of this since I so vividly remember it. Searched on Superstar, plane, Mattel , etc — NOTHING ANYWHERE. So happy I found it now.

    This was way ahead of its time. One thing I remember that I did not see talked about here was that they provided (or maybe you could “send away for” ) a blank disk that they said you could cut yourself to make your own flight pattern. I know I am not making this up about the blank disk. Does anyone else remember that

    Anyway, now that I found this i will send him the link and so boastfully give him a big “I told you so”

    or as they say up in my neck of the PA woods… I will “chuv it down his troat”

  22. Toni December 20, 2011 2:21 am

    I am trying to reach rcgrabbag. I searched your website and did not see a direct email, so hopefully this will reach you. I am looking for someone selling a Mattel Superstar Airplane or car. My husband has mentioned how special his were when he was a kid, and they were taken from him. He’s obviously never gotten over it! You seem to have a lot of knowlege on this and google keeps bringing up your name! Please help if you can!! Thank you!

  23. rcgrabbag December 20, 2011 12:24 pm

    Hi Toni, I sent you a private email to the address you gave me, and am also posting here in case you check back. There is a Mattel Skyshow airplane on Ebay right now (see ebay links just above the Comments section on this page). It’s not the Superstar, but the same type of airplane.

  24. Cathy Riely June 2, 2012 11:08 am

    I was googling to see how much to list one for on ebay and ran across this posting. I thought I’d ask if anyone was interested before posting. My husband had one of these when he was a kid and crashed it so his Dad bought him another one. It was never opened and we inherited a bunch of stuff, including this still in box, unopened. If not interested, suggestions on listing price? Thanks, Cathy

  25. rcgrabbag June 2, 2012 5:19 pm

    You should be able to get about $200-$300 in unopened, pristine shape. Good luck!

  26. Keith February 7, 2013 2:33 pm

    Oh the stories I’ve read brings back memories.
    My experience on this is I saw this is I saw this
    Commercial on tv when I was 12 and I just had to
    Have it as I was heavily into air planes when I was
    A kid. My parents wouldn’t but it for me so I saved
    And saved until I could buy it. I thought it cost like
    35 dollars but then I was shocked to see it was only
    12 dollars. Wow. So I purchased it and flew it with a
    Short charge so it wouldn’t go far cause there was no room.
    This thing was awesome. So then I went to the high school
    Where ther was what seemed like miles of area. I put a full
    Charge on it with one of the discs , it took off and flew like an
    Eagle for about what seemed like 5 minutes , then a wind burst
    Came and drifted it off course went about 600 yards out toward the street
    , hit the power wires 20 feet still in the air , came to the ground and got
    Run over by a car and damaged just the wing but could not fly. Needless
    To say bummed out for sure never to fly again.

  27. Steven P. Williams February 7, 2013 4:43 pm

    In 2009 I offered for sale my mint in box Super Star plane and sold it for $250.00 shortly after the posting was made. Please make a note and stay level!

    🙂

  28. clark jauernick July 22, 2013 6:12 pm

    In 1974 when i was 9 years old my father bought me the superstar airplane for christmas. Not far from my house was an abanded air strip that teenagers used to drag race on. We went on a sunday morning when nobody was around and on the first flight the plane started to rise above the pine trees that were seperating the air strip from a main road. I guess a strong gust of wind blew the plane off course and it started to fly straight over the main road, my father and I jumped in his van and actually got under the plane as it was flying perfectly down the middle of the road. When the battery started to die the plane landed perfectly in the middle of the road with my father stopping the van behind it, cars were flying by left and right. I remember my dad getting out and retrieving the plane. It was the best flight. And we always brought up that conversation even when my father was in his 70’s he still remembered it.

  29. Scott Wien August 26, 2013 5:19 am

    Fantastic memories…like the rest of you – without question – this was one of my favorite toys. Actually it was this plane that got me started in flying RC Planes which I am still currently active. I remember receiving the Superstar on Christmas 1973 – I can remember my excitement even today. Living in the Northeast we had to wait sometime before the weather cooperated for our first flight. I am chuckling thinking about the site of this plane gently rising off the field and traveling far further than my father and I anticipated. It climbed past the apple trees at the end of the field and darn near disappeared from site – but exactly as designed she banked and return within feet from its departure. I was lucky to have numerous successful flights – but the doom came from the battery – which due to the many test charges…simple gave up. I would love to find one and add it to my collection of 14 RC planes – showing where it all began.

    Thanks for starting this post

  30. Steve November 27, 2013 4:21 pm

    Going going gone, I went through about 6 planes, there was never a field big enough, great patterns , my fav toy, by the end of the day it was up in some pine tree

  31. scott December 1, 2013 2:45 am

    Early 70s. I flew mine on the tether out in the yard most of the time because I wanted to be close to the flight, take-offs, altitude changes, driveway landings. Plus too many pecan trees around the place to fly it free; had to make a special trip out to the park for that a mile away. The only one time I used a disc, it flew great–I was surprised it not only attained such height but maintained it evenly, with some really clean maneuvers.

    Fragile. Not the fuselage, but the foam wings. My one complaint was the battery life, which just got shorter and almost unusable as it was recharged over time.

  32. Rafael Azuero Díazgranados January 29, 2014 11:31 am

    En 1975 compré un modelo Superstar en la isla de San Andrés, Colombia, y aún lo tengo. Está un poco descolorido por el tiempo pero completo, con su caja original, paracaidista, discos de vuelo, conector de carga, cartones y papeles de las calcomanías. Lo hacía volar en un estadio de fútbol de mi barrio, el Barzal, en Villavicencio y era todo un espectáculo para los espectadores. Lo he conservado porque me parece, aún hoy día, un juguete maravilloso, sencillo y muy bien fabricado. El único problema es que las baterías se sulfataron y para evitar daño al motor se las quité, pero las conservo. Pienso conseguir una caja para guardarlo armado por más tiempo. Saludos.

  33. Phil May 17, 2014 10:20 am

    BEST TOY EVER, they should bring it back. The first ones didn’t have the parachute or streamers and retailed for about $10 – $12. We flew in a treeless park in Williamsville (Buffalo) NY, and occasionally at the SUNYAB campus, or Akron State Park; the cam discs that programmed rudder movements were cool, but if you didn’t insert one the rudder defaulted to a gentle right circle. The thing would occasionally end up in one of the tall trees in a surrounding neighborhood, whereupon my dad would attach a large steel nut to a length of twine, loop it over the branch, and yank until the plane fell free. The plane was remarkably tough (it was pretty light), you could buy replacement wings if the originals couldn’t be taped any more, but eventually the NiCads would wear out. I couldn’t sleep the night before my next birthday when I (correctly) guessed I’d be receiving a replacement. Can you imagine how great this would be if they DID bring it back with new battery tech?

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