In 1971, Mattel produced one of the greatest toys of a generation: the Vertibird.
The Vertibird toy featured a miniature helicopter which could fly around in a circle while a “pilot” operated a small control panel which could change speed and even the craft’s pitch.
The box for the original Vertibird noted that the (child) pilot could “throttle fast or slow” the copter, which featured 8-inch rotors. The pilot could also “change altitude, speed, direction…and touchdown.”
But there was more to Vertibird than mere flight.
The pilot could also engage in rescue missions, picking up an astronaut and “his space capsule,” which was appropriate to the Era, when the Space Race was still on.
Described and promoted as “safe flying for indoors and outdoors,” the Vertibird came in many packages throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, and had a multitude of copycats.
Here’s a TV commercial for one rescue police copter edition, circa 1973:
In terms of copycats, Remco created a Star Trek (1966-1969) version of the Vertibird, with a flying starship Enterprise instead of a rescue copter. The toy was called CSF: Controlled Space Flight.
Here’s a TV commercial for this iteration of the toy:
Mattel’s Vertibird got into the space age action as well, creating a Space:1999 (1975-1977) model – in which one could command the series’ trademark Eagle space craft.
Later, Mattel sold a Battlestar Galactica (1978-1979) edition too. In that edition, you could fly a Colonial Viper and knock-down Cylon Raiders.