Saturday, March 5, 2011

Mirro Satellite Explorer Helmet

Calling all stars! Real out-of-this-world headgear, for spacemenr (and space-women!). Make believe natenna and earphones. One-way-vision shield (you see out, no one sees in). Of shining, satrdust-resistent aluminum!

This is one of my favorite vintage toys, so reminiscent of the Wernher von Braun-inspired helmets popularized in magazine illustrations and books in the early Fifties, it's the Mirro space helmet.

Made by the Manitowoc, Wisconsin firm, the Aluminum Goods Manufacturing Co., the Satellite Explorer Aluminum Helmet By Mirro can be dated back by an advertisement in a parent's magazine for November 1956.

through a blurb describing it's preview at an American toy fair, in early 1957 describes the helmet is topped with a realistic spring communication antenna and a cosmic ray face plate (both of which are usually absent from surviving pieces) which allows the wearer to see out but no outsiders can see in.

Link to forums

Some illustrations later on show an extension to the spring antenna with a flat shape, perhaps a propellor, fixed on top.

My helmet is a typical survivor. The face plate was replaced by clear plastic, the "original antenna" as described by the seller was just a piece of twisted coat hanger pretending to be, and the top of the dome was dented. Unfortunately it's difficult to find these soft aluminum helmets completely dent free, even otherwise pristine examples. But it was at a low price, and it cleaned up well for a display.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

British-Built Space Port

Here's an eye-popper I ran across on eBay from two years ago.

This is a British-made space play set, at least that's according to what the seller described. Apparently it's fashioned from wood (plywood? masonite?), dowels or tubes and a few plastic domes, giving it a wonderful hand-made feel not seen in most vintage space toys. It's much different than those we're used to seeing back in the States. Leave it to the British to add their own charming twist in space toys. I love the multiple boomerang platforms and the sky-scraping towers. And those free-form antennea towers... It's sculptural. It's artistic. It's all very googie! The metallic blue and silver paint shows off the amorphic shapes to the fullest effect.

The larger Archer-sized space figures fit nicely in this futuristic play set, as seen in the photos. I only wish I had the manufacturer for this one so that I could research a little history behind it.

The real cool thing about this set is if you're handy at all with a saw and some sandpaper, you could construct something very similar to this space port toy.

. . . You know, it'd be really funny if it turned out that someone with the right artistic talent actually did make this theirself . . .

Space Patrol Chart of the Universe

Captain Midnight's Secret Squadron - Join Up!

This is to certify that the undersigned is an official 1957 member of the Secret Squadron
Non-transferable – Carry this card with You at All Times

Justice through Strength and Courage

Welcome to the 1957 Secret Squadron

I will be Faithful I will be Honest I will be Ready

Signed by Captain Midnight himself

Flight Commander's Promotion Application

Three Space Helmets

Here the are: the General Mills premium for Captain Video, the Arant Plastics bubble and the Banner Plastics helmet with Radar Goggles.

I wonder what General Mills is doing for a cereal premium nowadays?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Captain Video

A vintage episode of Captain Video and his Video Rangers, circa 1950.

The Captain Video Oath

Congratulations! You are now eligible for membership in the honorable order of Video Rangers!

Now repeat after me, the oath:

"We, as official Video Rangers, hereby promise to abide by the Ranger code and to support forever the cause of freedom, truth and justice throughout the universe."

And just like that you are one of the members of the 22nd century crime fighting force on the children's science fiction series Captain Video and His Video Rangers (1947-57).

Led by Captain Video (Richard Coogan/Al Hodges), the Video Rangers patrolled the solar system in the rocketship Galaxy.

Reciting the oath along with Captain Video and His Video Rangers were thousand of young TV viewers who religiously sent in for their official memberships and Captain Video Helmets ($1.00 plus Box Top), Captain Video rings (25 cents plus box top), and plastic ray gun (25 cents plus wrapper from Power House candy bar).

"I am Ready Oh Captain Vide-O!"

The Honeymooners
Episode 1
"TV or Not TV"
aired October 1, 1955

"I, Ed Norton, Ranger third class in the Captain Video Space Academy, do solemnly pledge to obey my mommy and daddy, be kind to dumb animals and old ladies in and out of space, not to tease my little brothers and sisters, and to brush my teeth twice a day and drink milk after every meal."

"Official space helmet off, Captain Video... Wherever you are!"

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Arant 'Egg' Helmet

Vintage photo of space boy drawing a bead on a few ne'er-do-well space aliens while keeping his head comfortably pressurized thanks to the egg-helmet

Vintage photo of a grown-up space girl wearing the Arant Plastics egg-helmet. Notice the stares of the crowds behind her, wishing they too owned rhier very own Egg.

The designation of this model on the box simply reads "Space Helmet"... but for my purposes I like to refer to it as the Arant "Egg" helmet.

I've seen these pictured in quite a number of vintage photos, manufactured by Arant Plastics of Patterson, New Jersey. It may not have been as popular as other brands, but it is a marvelous example of toy space helmet technology.

Unlike the Space Patrol bubble helmet, this model completely covers the wearer's face, with just a few air slots over the mouth. It seems to be designed for both younger and older space people alike, a one-size-fits-all invention, thanks to it's revolutionary egg shape.

Also ahead of it's time is the intellegent use of wind-power through the pinwheel tipped-antennea. Or maybe its there to provide lift? Or maybe just to cool-off the wearer during those trips to Venus or Mercury? We may never know...

By the way, either some models of this helmet seem to feature just the simple spring antennea with no props, or the pinwheel was removed by the consumer.

Captain Meteor Holster

Sometimes a little accesory added to the main showpiece can be a work unto itself. Such is the case with this silvery finished leather ray gun holster. Originally paired with belt and buckle, this housed a small yet deadly sparkling space pistol measures 7.5" in length, of plastic construction with replaceable flint.

There were at least two versions of a Captain Meteor ray gun holster. This one is the flashier of the two in my opinion. Judging from the strong atomic graphics I'd date this as a 1950's issue.

Space Kids

Taken from the series of photographs featured in the earlier post, The Day Ricky Won a Rocket taken by LIFE photographers in 1954.

Space Patrol Outer Space Helmet

Scene from the movie "The Rocket Man" featuring a Space Patrol Outer Space Helmet

The most classic space helmet of them all, the full clear plastic bubble. The Space Patrol Outer Space Helmet, came with an inflatable oxygen tank and hoses. They didn't come any closer to recreating the real deal than this one! The perfect example following was offered on auction two years ago, complete with the box and instruction sheet.

These helmets are seen in toy catalogs dating at least back to 1953. There's also reports that the vinyl part may have also been offered in other colors besides blue. When considering a purchase, check whether the clear plastic has become discolored and if the vinyl has become stiff and brittle. Often this part may be missing all together.

Below I have another near-pristine example of this fantastic helmet, seen up for auction on Unfortunately for me, and very lucky for someone else, this one was offered (and immediately sold) through a "Buy Now" option. The Space Patrol helmet is still supposed to be quite common. But for many years this holy-grail of toy space helmets has persistently eluded your friendly neighborhood Space Commander over and over.

Oh well, nobody claimed that being a collector of things vintage and spacey was ever for the faint hearted ;)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Curtains for the Spaceman's Bedroom

Genuine barkcloth drapes with colorful depictions reminiscent of the 1950 movie Destination Moon.

Magic Outer Space Cape

Where would the junior spaceman be if he didn't have a styling cape like this one? With this, all one would need is a bubble helmet, a disintegrator ray gun and and a rampaging horde of Martians.

But what's this? The small box at the spaceman's feet reads "This Plastic Cape Is A Toy And Has No Magic Qualities."


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Day Ricky Won a Rocket

Januaray 12, 1954 - It was a chilly winter day when Ricky Walker beheld the sight of his life, a full-scale rocket ship roll-up into the driveway of his family's modest home in Washington, D.C.
Today was declared "Ricky Walker Day!" Today at 3:15 pm at the town square he was to be officially presented as the grand prize winner of the Terra V "Ralston Rocket." And here the rocket would complete the final leg of a promotional tour for the television program Space Patrol, Weather-Bird Shoes and Ralston Cereals.

It all began back in September 1953 with the announcement of the "Name The Planet Contest," a 10,000 pound "contest to end all contests" as kids all across America clambered to become the lucky winner of the rocketship clubhouse.

Rocket ship prize winner, Ricky, wearing his space helmet

Kids greeting ship in Washington's square in cardboard space helmets, truck on which it came is also part of prize, Ricky will sell truck and keep space ship in backyard of his parent's modest home.

Inside the ship is equipped as a clubhouse, with eight folding bunks, table, benches, phone, kitchen and power generator.

From the Photographers of LIFE
Location: Washington, D.C., US
Date taken: January 13, 1954
Photographer: Yale Joel

Launch this excellent fan site for more: Space Patrol Terra V Rocket