In the early 1960s, Ideal Toy Corp. designed what is now one of the most collectible of the 'big plastic' (the main unit stands over 18 inches tall) battery operated toys. This is very similar in spirit to the Ideal Electronic Fighter Jet.
The toy ran on 4 D Cell batteries. Besides a power switch, it had several features that includes the following modes of operation:
Astro Scope: Switch to Astro Scope and a scene of spaceships, rockets, and jets rotates through a view finder just below a radar dome on the top of the toy. A button on the console let the user "fire" at objects seen on the screen, which would pause the rotating images and emit a machine-gun style sound.
In "Space Lock" mode, using the yellow rotary control on the upper right you can make the door on the right side to open and a chain hoist with a hook will deploy to pick up things. Reversing the chain hoist, you can bring things inside the Astro Base with the door closing behind the hoist when it is fully retracted.
Scout Car: The scout car can be plugged into a port on the console and controlled by a two position switch marked "turn" and "drive" that can actually be used to steer the vehicle with a bit of practice. The scout car also has missiles that can be launched.
Ideal made two variations of the Astro Base. The original "all red" version featured a lighted Astro Scope that illuminated the pictures spinning around the Astro Scope. Ideal Toys discontinued this version and offered the common "red and white" version.
Download here the original Astro Base manual
What's your 'Astro Base' worth? Here are some recently sold items (USA).
See all sold items for more prices.
Do you want to know more about collectible tin toys, and want to learn about value and identification? Take a look at these books on old toys on Amazon.