If you watch episode 1 of Gerry Anderson’s gloriously sexist 1970 television series UFO, you will discover that he invented the best machine in the entire universe. That is all.
While the superpowers were busy spending billions on a Space Race that would ultimately lead to a series of blurry television pictures, there was another, far more real, Space Age unfolding. In my head.
As B Smith said, in the 1960s there were snap-together rockets in Kellogg’s breakfast cereal boxes, including reasonably detailed models of the actual Apollo spacecraft, some of the more speculative NASA designs — even, as this close-up photo shows, vehicles from Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons.
The real imagined future of US and Soviet space exploration blurred with the imaginary imagined future of Gerry Anderson to create, in my mind at least, a gloriously unfolding set of possibilities.
My favourite breakfast cereal toy of all was the Kellogg’s Molab, pictured above — although I’m pretty sure mine was blue. Apparently it’s loosely based on NASA concepts for a manned MObile LABoratory for cruising the Lunar surface, much like this book cover illustration. General Motors even built a mock-up. However once the Moon Landings had happened, the follow-up programmes to Apollo were killed off.
I kept losing my Molab’s wheels. Probably because I didn’t glue in the axle pins. But that didn’t matter. I re-imagined it as a spacecraft. The wheel mounts became fold-down exit ramps for rapid troop deployment.
[Photo: Kellogg’s Molab cereal packet premium image thanks to Wotan of the Moonbase Central blog. If you grew up during the Space Age, you’ll lose yourself there for hours.]
Here are the web links I’ve found for 23 August 2008, posted automatically with mirth and cabbage.
- Boston Dynamics’ BigDog | YouTube: An amazing video showing of the capabilities of a 4-legged robot. Impressed.
- Liu Xiang Sent to Olympic Death by China’s £1 Billion Image-Building Exercise | China Digital Times: An example of how China’s Internet users avoid the censorship of the Great Firewall of China: using the words “Surrender Liu” (刘降 vs 翔) to avoid censorship of any negative comments about athlete Liu Xiang’s withdrawal from the Olympics. The words are pronounced the same, but different in writing.
- Stingray TV intro (1964) | YouTube: “Standby for action! We’re about to launch Stingray!” Another opening theme from another Gerry Anderson favourite.
- Putting A/B Testing in Its Place | Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox: While the A/B testing of website design changes can be important, this article from 2005 points out its limitations as well as its strengths.
- The Avengers intro 1960s | YouTube: I’m on a bit of a 1960s bender at the moment. Here’s another superb opening sequence for a fine TV program starring Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg.
- Olympic Medal Count by Population and GDP | A Stubborn Mule’s Perspective: Sean Carmody’s done another fine bit of data mining, this time seeing how Olympic nations rate when compared in the basis of their population of GDP.
- Marine Boy (1968) | YouTube: Opening theme for one of my favourite childhood TV programs, Marine Boy.
- Sticky Tuk Tuk | Out To Space: My partner Trinn ('Pong) Suwannapha’s video Sticky Tuk Tuk has been shortlisted for this year’s Marrickville Contemporary Art Prize.
Following on from our discussion of Gerry Anderson TV series the other day, Anthony Taylor of FAB Gear USA emailed me to point out the official Mike Trim art website, and to plug the new book The Future was FAB: The Art of Mike Trim, which he co-wrote with Mr Trim himself.
“Featuring hundreds of full colour and black & white drawings, paintings, marker comps, and photos from his entire career,” the book includes work from Trim’s work on Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Joe 90, The Secret Service and UFO, as well as the feature films Thunderbirds are Go, Thunderbird 6, and Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (a.k.a. Doppleganger).
Anthony’s obviously trawling the blogosphere looking for Thunderbirds postings to connect to — good on him! — so it’ll be interesting to see how successful that book is.
Meanwhile, perhaps I should mention that it’s only three weeks until my birthday… I’m sure I can find somewhere to put a 3m model of the Seaview from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Then again maybe not. I’m not that much of a nerd.
Last weekend I mentioned Fireball XL-5 and a conversation about Gerry Anderson Supermarionation TV shows ensued. So tonight I was very pleased to stumble upon Peter Cook and Dudley Moore’s wickedly accurate parody, Superthunderstingcar.
Thanks to BoingBoing for the pointer.
It’s totally safe. Our journey involves YouTube, a cleanskin Cabernet Merlot and that blurry hour before the sleeping pill kicks in. There is no need for alarm. Let us begin…
- All systems are go!. And once you learn the lyrics, sing along!
- Play the Countdown version and/or the Bandstand version, and explain which you prefer.
- Discuss whether the follow-up single release was a mistake or not.
- Should I admit to owning an autographed copy of that band’s album, or explain how it came to be in my possession?
- Does the knowledge that the album was produced by Ian “Molly” Meldrum change your answer to the previous question?
- Are cover versions ever acceptable?
- Does Adam Richard speak the truth?
- Come to Daddy.
- Grand Finale.
You may now each ask one question related to the above. I shall answer truthfully.