Billy Blastoff is a toy line produced in 1968 though 1971 at the height of the space race. These toys were designed and manufactured by Tomy in Japan and licensed by Eldon in Hawthorn, California for sales in the US and Canada.
In his original incarnation Billy is a child astronaut but he would quickly branch out into other endeavors.
The primary feature in this toy line is the ability for Billy to provide the motor operations to any of his vehicles and battery power to light-up accessories like his space gun which plug into a headphone jack on the side of his "Jet Pack". A major selling point to parents that only one set of batteries was needed.
To show off his multi-vehicle ability Billy was initially released in the Space Scout set with three vehicles and two light up accessories. Later, individual pieces could be purchased separately.
In 1969 the line was greatly expanded with several new sets including a new side-kick - "Robbie Robot" - and several with Billy in other professions.
Robbie was the first walking figure in the line and was much more animated and visually appealing than Billy. When you flip his switch his eyes and head dome would light up, his radar dish would spin and he would walk with the moving mechanism visible through clear plates on his leg. Robbie could run all the same vehicles and power the same plugin accessories as Billy furthering the appeal of interchangeability.
Other new sets released in 1969 featured Billy as firefighter, scuba diver, cargo jet pilot and construction worker.
If that's not enough, also released in 1969 was a second space set - "Space Base" - with two new very mechnically interesting vehicles. The "Grabber" came with 3 buttons. The two outer buttons controlled forward and reverse motion while the middle button paused motion and cycled the grabber claw through a lower, open, close, lift cycle allowing the operator to pickup, transport and drop off space stuff.
The "Space Saucer" included a clear bubble cover with a spinning radar dish and a swivel front wheel setup that would automatically change direction when the saucer bumped into something.
Fun to run under the kitchen table with all those leg obstacles to navigate. Flip a lever on the bottom of the saucer, and place it on the "Observation Tower" to watch the entire saucer rotate searching for some far out space phenomenon.
In 1970 both Billy and Robbie had their "Jet Packs" updated to a square look with the switch placed on the side and out of the way of the battery cover. Otherwise, Robbie was unchanged but Billy received a complete NASA-like makeover and new walking functionality. Billy's "Space Scout" set received a corresponding makeover with color changes and all new accessories. Walking Billy replaced the first generation Billy in the "Space Base" set but the grabber was also gutted with all of the three button mechanisms removed and only an always forward function remained. The other sets were not changed in any way.
The last trace I have of Billy Blastoff in the US is in 1971 catalogs. There was also one last new set created with Billy in a snowmobile but that set although somewhat appealing visually included only one vehicle with a sled and a non-lighted accessory. Billy's last blast was kind of a fizzle and maybe kids just moved on from space toys at that point.
Meanwhile, Billy was also availble in Japan, Canada, Spain, England, Australia and Mexico as "Capitán Boy".