Sunday, 26 December 2010

"WAY OUT IN SPACE TOGETHER..."

 
Steve & Zoonie - but how did they fit in the box. (I know.)
 
Here's a nice little Christmas present for you - a picture of toy firm
GOLDEN GATE's STEVE ZODIAC & ZOONIE THE LAZOON on a
FIREBALL XL5 JETMOBILE. The copyright date on the box is 1962, so
it must have been released to toyshops no later than 1963, as it wasn't
unusual for a toy to carry a copyright date of the year before it came out.
(Another example is MATTEL's MAJOR MATT MASON - it came out
in 1967, but bears the date 1966.) Of course, it may well have come out
in 1962 just like the box says.

I didn't actually didn't get my hands on this friction-drive toy until 1968,
in the Scottish town of Millport (just across the water from Largs) on the
Isle of Cumbrae, so it was old stock when I purchased it. Good as it was,
I'd have loved to get one of Steve and ROBERT THE ROBOT on a jet-
mobile, but - alas - such a toy never existed.

Gordie, Steve, Zoonie & Paul
Here's me as a
9 year old some-
where in Largs (or
Millport), with my
original jetmobile
on my lap. (Taken
a day or two after
purchase, if memory
serves.) I'm holding
a bendy CAPTAIN
SCARLET figure
which I bought at
around the same
time (a day or two
either way). You'll
need to have really
good eyesight, but
if you focus really hard, you can just about about make them out. (Now
all I have to do is track down a replacement Captain Scarlet figure.)

Sometimes I look at these old photos and wish I were a lad again.
Life was so much simpler then. Anyone else agree?


Thursday, 16 December 2010

12 SONGS OF CHRISTMAS...


'Mr Velvet' - Jim Reeves
If you're looking for a way
to relax, unwind, and get into 
the Christmas spirit, here's
probably the best way to do it.
Find yourself a copy of the
JIM REEVES' 12 SONGS
OF CHRISTMAS CD, then
kick back your feet and let
the velvet-voiced King of
Country crooners melt your
worries away.  Described as
having a voice like "someone
who walks through snow but
leaves no footprint" , this is
absolutely the best Christmas
album of all time.  Released in
1963, it's been a perennial
favourite ever since.

You'll probably have to track down the original CD on the internet,
but the 12 Christmas songs are on an album called THE JIM REEVES
CHRISTMAS SONGBOOK, which mixes them with some of his gospel
songs (slightly diluting the pure Christmas effect in my opinion).  Never
mind, this can be overcome by programming your CD player to play only
the 12 Yuletide tracks - available now at your local HMV store.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

THE "OLD" NEW DALEKS...

 
Copyright: Raymond P. Cusick & Terry Nation
   
Back in 1989, RAYMOND CUSICK, the designer of the original
DALEKS, was invited by DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE to design a
new version of the classic menaces - what you see is the result.

Mr. Cusick explained, "The original Dalek design was governed by cost. I
think we produced the original three for something like £250. I visualised
the surface of the new Dalek as textured, some metal or substance quite
unlike anything found on earth. The original Daleks were very smooth and
polished. It (the new version) would be dark green or blue in colour. Also,
 I didn't want to make them any smaller - they should have menace.
Generally, small objects lack that. But they still wouldn't be as big as
humans. I imagine my design would be film-scale budget, but it could
be modified for television. I'd like to develop it further..."

And there you have it - yet another fascinating glimpse
into the world of "what might have been".

FIREBALL 21 or CENTURY XL5...?


Century 21. Art by Derek Meddings

Two posts back, I referred to the fact that, when FIREBALL XL5 was
first envisaged, it was called CENTURY 21. In the accompanying illustration
by the late DEREK MEDDINGS, we can see what the craft was originally
intended to look like. Why did they change it? At this point I don't know -
the original design was certainly more futuristic, so one can only wonder
as to the revision.

Century 21/Fireball XL5 hybrid by
Neville Main
In the next pic (by NEVILLE MAIN),
we see that this is the Century 21 ship
with the Fireball XL5 colour scheme.
This comes from the 1963 TV COMIC
Annual, which was published before the
series premiered on TV, so presumably
Neville was supplied with copies of the
original design as his primary source of
reference. Perhaps the XL5 colours were
added at the last moment before the
contents were shipped to the printers -
any further information from anyone
who knows the facts will be gratefully
accepted. However, going by the shape
of the ship, my speculation seems
to me like a reasonable one, as there
is no other likely scenario I can think
of which would explain the results.
 
Art by Reg Hill

Next up is a presentation illo of the Century 21 logo, as well as a
couple of pictures of, again, far more futuristic-looking (in my opinion
anyway) jetmobiles. These illustrations are by REG HILL, who was
joint designer - along with Meddings - of the Fireball XL5 ship.
 
Steve on jetmobile. Art by Reg Hill

Art by Reg Hill

A fascinating look at what could have been, don't you think?

Thursday, 9 December 2010

A HAPPY ENDING FOR DELBERT DALEK...


Delbert Dalek
This poor, unwanted
DALEK was left abandoned
in a state of neglect at the side
of a busy road, along with some
rubbish awaiting collection.  He
was in a sad and confused state,
not understanding what was
happening, and totally unaware
of the fate which awaited him.
Obviously his owners had got
bored with him and could no
longer be bothered looking after
the affectionate and friendly
alien.  Fortunately, a kindly
passer-by noticed his distress
and rescued him (and his
control unit) from the street,
and passed him into the hands
of a "rescue shelter" for
unwanted toys. (Everyone
say "Aaahh!")

With a bit of love and attention (his missing half-sphere was recreated
and replaced, and he received a two-battery transplant), he was restored
to fully-working condition.  He merrily screams "EXTERMINATE!" and
other catchphrases at the drop of a hat, doubtless having learned them from
his previous cruel and heartless owners.  "Staff" have named him DELBERT
and have grown so fond of the lovable scamp that they've decided to
adopt him.

Remember - A DALEK IS NOT JUST FOR CHRISTMAS!

(Amazing, isn't it?  A £100 toy, discarded because of two dead batteries.
Wish I had that kind of dosh to throw away!  Well - their loss is my gain.
Thanks to Tom C  for 'phoning to ask if I wanted a deserted Dalek that
someone had dumped in his street.)

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

"I'D FLY AROUND THE UNIVERSE..."

 

Hard as it may be for you to believe, the original name for FIREBALL XL5
was CENTURY 21 - and 'though remarkably similar to the shape we all know
and love, was a silver, sleek and shiny futuristic sky-craft which really did look
as if it was a product of the 21st century. In fact, if memory serves, FIREBALL
appeared (or was prepared) as a comic strip in TV COMIC (might've been an
annual) before it had appeared on TV and, although the colours were accurate,
the shape of the ship was more in accord with the original CENTURY 21
design. So why was it changed? Honest answer -  I don't know, but the first
version of the craft looks as if it had been designed today, not back in the early
'60s - it hasn't dated at all. However, you'll just have to take my word for it
until I can dig out the relevant source material and scan it for your perusal.

 
But that's a post for another time. For the moment, you'll just have to be
satisfied with the covers of the four annuals and the GOLD KEY comic from
back in the '60s. Fireball XL5 was the only GERRY ANDERSON programme
to be broadcast on network television in America (the others were syndicated),
and consequently was the most successful of all the AP/CENTURY 21
productions in that country.
 
 
Remember - click on an image to enlarge, then repeat to enlarge again. As
a bonus, here's the box art illo from the 1963/'64 QUERCETTI parachute
toy. (Perversely, this one will actually reduce when you click on it.)
 

Monday, 6 December 2010

DALEKS IN THE 21st CENTURY...

 
 
Back around 1994, MARVEL UK did everyone a favour by gathering
together all 104 back-page episodes of TV CENTURY 21 's THE DALEKS
strip in one handy collectors' item package, with a brand-new cover by
artist RON TURNER. True, they did get one page out of sequence, but we
won't hold that against them as, in every other respect, it was a superb
package and well worth the money.
 
However, I think
the time is right for
a deluxe, hardcover
presentation of
these classic stories
(often referred to
as THE DALEK
CHRONICLES),
which would also
include the six part
follow-up adventure
first published in
DOCTOR WHO
MAGAZINE (again
illustrated by Ron
Turner) and con-
tinuing the story
from the last TV
Century 21 episode.
With the resurgence
of interest in all things
Doctor Who, I'm fairly certain it would sell more than well enough to
justify the endeavour.

Anybody out there listening?
 

Friday, 3 December 2010

IS THE DOCTOR IN?

 

Forget all the pretenders who have impersonated him since, 'cos there's
only ever been one DOCTOR WHO in my book - and that's the real one -
WILLIAM HARTNELL. Which is not to say that some of the many other
actors who assumed the role down through the years didn't do a creditable
job, but - for my money - the definitive version of the Doctor was
portrayed by dear old Bill.

Was his Doctor a goodie or a baddie? In the early episodes it wasn't
quite clear which side he was on - apart from his own, of course - and
this only added to the mystery and intrigue of the character.

The Doc made his debut on Saturday, 23rd November, 1963 - just
over 47 years ago. So, as a special treat, here's the cover of the very first
DOCTOR WHO ANNUAL from 1965 (for 1966). The artist, WALTER
HOWARTH, obviously worked from a photo of Hartnell for reference
because the likeness is spot-on. It's just a shame that he wasn't also given
a photo of a police box, as that's the worst looking TARDIS I've seen
in my life. You could ski off that roof - and where's the flashing light?
And there should definitely have been a DALEK on that cover!

Oh well, never mind - can't have everything I suppose.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

IT'S A MAD, MAD WORLD...OR IS IT?


Art by DON MARTIN

One day I'll no doubt learn the reason why there's no longer a British edition
of the long-running MAD MAGAZINE, but, up until its inexplicable and sudden
disappearance, for quite a number of years it managed to hold its own amongst
a myriad of other publications on newsagents' shelves and spinner-racks across
the length and breadth of the country. Let's now take a look at a couple
of my personal favourites of this classic and iconic magazine.

Art by MORT DRUCKER

Back in the early '70s, "8 JAMES BOMB BOMB MOVIES" appeared in
issue #146, affectionately ripping the p*ss out of DR. NO to LIVE AND LET
DIE. I might be wrong, but I think this may have been the first time that Mad had
parodied the JAMES BOND movies, and with superb art from the magnificent
MORT DRUCKER, they couldn't fail to strike comedy gold.

Art by NORMAN MINGO

 Another copy of Mad I got in the early '70s was issue #59, 'though this comic
was actually published in the '60s. I only got my paws on it because one of my art
teachers (Mr. BOB BELL) brought it into school one day amongst a box of other
comics. Good bloke that he was, he let me keep it when I mentioned how much I
liked it. This one features a parody of the ADAM WEST/BURT WARD BAT-
MAN TV show, and once again features the superlative art of Mort Drucker.

Art by MORT DRUCKER

I can't remember the last time I saw a copy of the U.S edition of Mad outside
of FORBIDDEN PLANET, and I've certainly never seen one in years in my
local W.H. SMITH's - which makes me wonder why this magazine isn't more
readily available in Britain? And why, after so many presumably successful
years, did the U.K. edition cease to be published?

Anyone know the answers?

FOOTNOTE: Yup - the mighty DEZ SKINN knows the answers.
Read what he has to say in the comments section.

The first British edition, 1959. Art by NORMAN MINGO

GASP! NAKED MAN WITH A HUGE...



...SURFBOARD! Well, almost naked. Seems MARVEL couldn't
quite make up its mind about NORRIN RADD. When he first appeared
(in the pages of FANTASTIC FOUR mag) he was trunkless, but shortly
thereafter he sported a natty pair of swimming trunks to hide his - what
exactly? Couldn't have been his modesty because he had nothing on
display (thank goodness) and, whether trunkless or not, looked exactly
the same apart from some barely discernible outlines of trunks that made
absolutely no difference to his appearance. (And, when he was sporting
trunks, were they supposed to be over or under his silver cosmic
coating? We deserve to know.)


Anyway, here's three more cataclysmic covers from ol' Surfie's
magnificent mag back in the '60s - enjoy! Only another eleven
SILVER SURFER covers to go for the full set - stay tuned.


(And, for those of you who thought you were visiting some other
kind of site - SHAME ON YOU! What would your mother think?)

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

GREAT WOMEN OF OUR TIME - (PART TWO)...


Rihanna

Speaks for itself, doesn't it?

GREAT WOMEN OF OUR TIME - (PART ONE)...


 
What can I say? VENUS - in Roman mythology the goddess of love; in the
21st Century the well-fit burd from FIREBALL XL5 that lucky pilot STEVE
ZODIAC is probably...well, you know. Yeah, probably. I don't think I like
Steve any more, but I have to admire his taste. Although, for all I know, she
might have had a thing for PROFESSOR MATTHEW MATTIC - but that's
just SICK! (Venus - h'mm. Well, I would - wouldn't you?)

FROM THE '30s TO THE '70s...

 
Art by Wayne Boring (main figure) & Joe Shuster

 A book I absolutely loved when it first came out was SUPERMAN -
FROM THE '30s TO THE '70s, published in the U.K. by SPRING
BOOKS. (CROWN BOOKS in the U.S.) I first saw it in W. & R. HOLMES
(a bookshop, stationers, toyshop, artstore and newsagents) back around
October 1972, alongside its companion volume, BATMAN - FROM
THE '30s TO THE '70s. (Okay, they had the apostrophes in the
wrong place, but hey - nobody's perfect.)

For 'Atomic Comics' read 'Action Comics'
 
These books were the bees' knees, being over an inch thick and
containing what was purported to be the milestone adventures of DC
COMICS' two premier heroes, SUPERMAN and BATMAN. I bought the
Superman volume and pored over its contents, absorbing every word of
E. NELSON BRIDWELL's informative and well-written introduction.
Curiously, the back cover claimed that Supes first appeared in ATOMIC
COMICS, whereas, as we all know, it was actually ACTION COMICS
#1 that contained his momentous four-colour debut tale.
 
Art by Carmine Infantino & Murphy Anderson

I didn't obtain the Batman volume 'til its second printing in 1979
(although I now have first and second editions of both volumes) and this
is also a highly commendable publication. There were also WONDER
WOMAN and CAPTAIN MARVEL (SHAZAM) volumes, but I've never
seen the Wonder Woman one - 'though I managed to get a hardback
American edition (complete with dustjacket) of Captain Marvel
from a jumble sale in about 1985.

Only £1.25 - wotta bargain!

The one drawback to the Batman book is that Batman's first
appearance from DETECTIVE COMICS #'27 (and one or two other
tales, I suspect) is a recreated version and not the original. The pages
were taken from an anniversary presentation of the tale from an issue
of Detective Comics in the '60s and has been reprinted several times -
even in the deluxe hardcover ARCHIVE EDITIONS of a few years ago.
The good news is that proofs from the original 1939 version were used in
the MILLENIUM EDITION of Detective Comics #27 ten years ago, so
that's the one collectors should look out for. (I'll have to check to
see which version was used in the 1970s Treasury Edition.)
 
These are two books well worth having 'though, and shouldn't be too
difficult to obtain on ebay. Interestingly, there was an updated version
of the Superman volume, entitled SUPERMAN - FROM THE '30s
TO THE '80s, and that is also worth seeking out.

FOOTNOTE: The second printings of these books (in 1979) were
not quite as thick as the earlier editions, but this was merely due to
being printed on slightly thinner paper - the page count and contents
were not reduced in any way.

ABSOLUTELY THE SEXIEST WOMAN ALIVE...


...is the woman I'd
like to marry. However,
while I'm waiting for her
to discover I even exist,
let's travel back in time
and space to a winter's
evening in Glasgow in
1967 or '68. The precise
location is under a bridge
(now gone) in Stockwell
Street, where I'm looking
in the window of a shop at
the cover of a BATMAN
colouring book which was
simply crying out to me.
The shop was closed, so I
pleaded with my mother to
promise to buy it for me at
a later date for my fast-
approaching birthday.
She did, but I have no
idea whether she obtained the book from another source or had to go back to
that particular shop to obtain it.

I recall once taking it
to school and colouring
various bits in during the
break, and letting ROSS
CAMPBELL colour-in
one of the pages in return
for allowing me to do the
same in his different Bat-
man colouring book. His
book may well have been
the other one featured here
- but then again, may well
not have been - so don't
go betting your house on
it. You wouldn't want to
have to live in a cave,
would you? (Unless it
was the BATCAVE
of course.)


 Ah, many happy hours of innocent fun, to be had from the mere
application of some coloured pencils or wax crayons - why aren't
kids today so easily pleased as we once were?