Thursday, November 17, 2011

1961 - The Future is Now!!!

The coolest helmet ever created. Beat this DEVO!

When Yuri Gagarin made his historic first space flight on April 12, 1961 followed on May 5th by Alan Shepard, the entire world got wrapped up with Space Fever.

For most of the next decade, leading up to the landing of Eagle in the Sea of Tranquility everybody was looking to the stars.

But nobody was looking quite as hard as kids.

Toys, games, books, posters, bubble gum cards, you name it and they made it.

So let's take a walk down memory lane when the future was bright, shiny and most important of all, here.

The Monkey in the Rocket (1962)

Written by Jean Bethell and drawn by cinema legend Sergio Leone, 1962's, The Monkey in the Rocket, tells the story of Sam and Bam two fictional moneys who are part of the space program, with one of them taking the a trip up and down into space.

Wonderfully written with great illustrations from Leone, the Monkey in the Rocket is a fine children's book on the early space race, and also a nice little collectible.

Space Travel (1969)

From the later days of the space race, Jeanne Bendick's 1969 book, Space Travel was a more realistic look at the upcoming Moon landing, with a look at what was on the table for the 1970's and 80's including our first voyage to Mars. A wonderfully written, scientifically challenging look at a future that never was.

I Walk in Space (1980)

My last book is actually from 1980, but Alexei Leonov's I Walk in Space, written and drawn by the first man to ever walk in space, is a fantastic first hand look at the Soviet space program written by one of their true hero's. While obviously not the full story, never the less, Leonov's book truly brings the reader into the excitement and enthusiasm of the Russian program and is a book I highly recommend to both kids and adults.

Moving away from the highbrow and into the absurd, I give you Space Food Stick's...

Space Food Sticks circa 1970

It's hard to describe the taste of Pillsbury's attempt to jump onto the space bandwagon. Space Sticks came in Peanut Butter and Chocolate, but neither one really tasted all that much like either Peanut butter or Chocolate.

Instead space sticks had this odd chalky taste, that resembled what was on the label but never quite managed to actually have any flavor.

But never the less, they were what the astronauts ate, and so very much like the horrible fake orange flavor of Tang, we ate the damm things all the time.

That's not to say that Space Food Sticks were the oddest combination of tying in food with outer space.

For example there's this interesting tie in from lunch meat producer Swift.

Swift Meat Premium circa 1962

 While the attempt to tie-in bologna with space travel is a bit of a push, the items Swift offered kids were actually pretty swell.

Swift Solar System map Premium circa 1962

This celestial map was a item you could get from sending in your Swift meat labels. I really like the art on this map, basic, but clear and all the space ships are just a nice touch.

A smaller item was this Space Race Card Game from 1963

Space Race Card Game circa 1963

Again nothing fancy, but the cover art is just too nice to ignore.

From the very later 1950's comes a board game based on a CBS television series about the near future and the upcoming exploration of the solar system, Men into Space.

Men into Space Board Game circa 1959

The box to this board game is nice enough, but what makes this game so spacial is the game board itself.

Men into Space Game Board

I was blown away the first time I ever saw the board for this game, the art is just about as perfect as anything I've ever seen.

Okay, that's it for today, I hope you all had fun, I know I did.

Looking this material up made my entire week.

To finish up here's a color shot of the great space helmet shown at the start of the post.

Tell me you wouldn't want to wear this into work.


  1. "It's hard to describe the taste of Pilsbury's attempt to jump onto the space bandwagon. Space Sticks came in PEanut Butter and Choclate, but neither one really tasted all that much like either Peanut butter or Choclate. "

    And on that note, I'm currently spreading Vegemite onto crackers.

    (Oh I'd TOTALLY wear that space helmet to work, especially if I was working for a large, prestiguous law-firm. Or the government. :p )

  2. We all used to love Tang when it came out when we were kids. I even remember liking the taste of the unmixed crystals straight out of the packet. Haven't tasted it for decades, but from memory I think I'd find it too sweet now.