Early Science Fiction

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Early Science Fiction
 
 
Go for full size pictures to my 'New Photo Collection 'on http://www.flickr.com/photos/zeist_bouwplaten/6312611024/in/set-72157627992712493/
 
 
The software I am using for this site doesn't always function properly for links to other sites, so I am starting a list at the bottom of this page.
 
I have also started some 'threads' on the American forum Papermodelers.com - look for Early SF. Their page 'Alternate Designss' is fast becoming a useful source of information.
 
TOEVALLIGE RAKETTEN
Ook het leven van bouwplaat-fanaten hangt van toevalligheden aan elkaar. In de jaren '70 had ik een kleine verzameling blikken speelgoed - waaronder natuurlijk ook wat robotten en raketten. Op Google Plaatjes liep ik tegen de eerste papieren fantasieraketten  aan, die veel weg hadden van dat soort blikken dingen. Nadat ik een en ander gebouwd had ging ik dit kleine gebied verder onderzoeken. Er blijken wereldwijd slechts een handvol liefhebbers / ontwerpers te zijn; ik probeer ze te stimuleren meer te doen. En wat bouwen betreft: het meeste van wat hieronder is afgebeeld heb ik zelf gebouwd - en er ligt nog van alles op de plank.
Belangrijk detail: ik beperk me tot materiaal van vůůr het Startrek tijdperk - 2001, A Space Odyssey is zo ongeveer mijn grens.
 
Early Science Fiction Rockets.
In my student's years I used to collect cheap tin toys - fantasy rockets among them. Recently, I came across some paper models on the internet which had a lot in common with those toys. Fun to make, even more fun to search for more. I found rockets and spaceships based on comics, films and paperback cover illustrations. Jules Verne, Die Frau im Mond, Flash Gordon, Dan Dare, sketches by Wernher von Braun, the Thunderbirds, and lots more. It's a very small niche: world wide, there are only a handful of enthusiast designers. I hope to be  able to stimulate them in producing more of these lovely models.
Important detail: I draw the line at Startrek and similar spacecraft - Stanley Kubrick's '2001, A Space Odyssey' is just about my limit.
 
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Early SF tin toys
 
Looking for Early SF in tin toy books, one finds an enormous number of mainly Chinese and Japanese robots and various spacecraft. All very colourful, and great fun to see, collect and play with. Most of them show great imagination and very little scientific sense.  For hundreds of such toys, go to http://www.danefield.com/data/index.php
Just a few examples from my own collection:
 
  
Tin toy spaceship automaton 'Holdraketa',  produced by Elzett MŁvek, Hungary. Early 60ties?
 
In horizontal position, the friction engine will move the rocket forward untill the long nose hits something. Then a clockwork mechanism will release a long lever, moving the whole thing to a vertical position. Then the door opens, the ladder is extended, and we see a rather gracious space suited figure ready to descend. I bought it ca. 1970, and it is still available in shops who have a selection of tin toys.
 
  
Tin toy space racer (made in China, 32 cms) and mini space ships
 
The space racer is quite common - there are many different versions. This variety had a rubber, not plastic, driver's head. The  mini space ships have nice artwork, but plastic fins.
  
Top: Zootian Intergalactic Biz Booster,
22cms. Nice colouring, good instructions, no formers.
Bottom: another tin toy space racer,
late 60ties. One hopes that more card model designers would allow themselves to be inspired by the imaginative colouring of these toys...
 
Early SF paper models
 
Op het internet vond ik al snel diverse sites met (meestal gratis) downloads van fantasie raketten. Delta7 leverde een CD met een ruime oogst aan modellen, helaas in de meeste gevallen nogal haastig ontworpen - geen schotten, saaie kleuren.
Ze zijn meestal gebaseerd op stripverhalen en films, of op de omslagillustraties van goedkope paperbacks uit de jaren '50. Een studie op zich. Jules Verne, Die Frau im Mond, Flash Gordon, Dan Dare, schetsen van Wernher von Braun, Thunderbirds, en veel meer.
Er is ook een stortvloed van modellen uit recentere tv-series en films zoals Startrek
en Starwars. De mooie gestroomlijnde vormen die je in oudere films ziet, bijna allemaal afgeleid van de V2 van Wernher von Braun, spreken me echter meer aan dan al die vliegende staketsels of ruimte-straaljagers. Voorlopig beperk ik me dus, maar uitzonderingen blijven mogelijk!
 
Searching the internet I soon the Delta7 CDRom. Most are very simple designs,  no formers, rather unimaginative colouring. Room for improvement there. Elsewhere I found several models inspired by old movies,  novels, book covers, comic books and TV series.
There is also an enormous amount of models based on TV series and movies like Startrek and Starwars. However, the sleek designs of spacecraft in older movies (most of them based on Wernher von Braun's V2) appeal to me more than then all those curious structures and space jet planes, so I decided to limit myself - though exceptions are always possible, of course.
 
  
Models like these are obviously inspired by the tin toys and comic strips of the past. I have not been able to trace their origins. Of course they may be pure imagination.
 
 
1865, Jules Verne, 'De la Terre ŗ la Lune' / 'From the Earth to the Moon'
 
Jules Verne, 1865, Delta 7, 14 cms.
 
Allereerst de kanonskogel uit 'Reis naar de Maan' van Jules Verne. Veel van diens voorspellingen zijn redelijk uitgekomen, maar in een kogel naar de maan geschoten worden en gewoon weer terug komen... Let op het Perzische tapijt met patrijspoort, waardoor de maanreizigers de aarde kleiner zagen worden. Bagage op de bovenverdieping, een pluche bank, een wasbakje, en een geweer 'just in case'. De 19e eeuwer was gewend in luxe te reizen (maar van een wc wordt niet gerept. Erg taboe...).
 
Jules Verne's moon bullet. Many of his predictions have more or less come true, but being shot at the moon from a giant gun, and returning... Note the Persian rug on the floor, with a circular port hole through which one can see the Earth receding. Luggage on the top floor, a comfortable couch, a basin to wash your hands, a gun 'just in case'. The Victorians liked to travelling comfort (a toilet is never mentioned - very much a taboo subject).
 
1901, H.G. Wells, 'The First Men in the Moon'
 
  
Cavorite sphere, design Mike Hungerford
 
English novelist, historian and biologist H.G. Wells was literally the first writer of what he called 'scientific fiction'. Books like The War of the Worlds, The War in the Air, The Time Machine and many more show his extensive scientific knowledge and great imagination. In a very short story, a man (the word terrorist had not yet been invented...) steals a dangerous bacillus and threatens to poison the water reservoir of London...
In 'The First Men in the Moon' (1901) scientist Cavor invents a gravity neutralising material. This enables him to travel through space in a specially constructed sphere. The railway buffers were supposed to cushion a less than perfect landing...
 
 
1929, Buck Rogers
According to Wikipedia Buck Rogers was the very first American newspaper science fiction comic strip. It became hugely popular and ran for nearly forty years, with films, television series etc. The impressive model below catches the athmosphere of the old strips and comic books to perfection.
 
  
Buck Rogers' Space Battle Cruiser, designed by Jason Sutton, 59 cms.
Many of the Early SF designs are fairly simple, not to say amateuristic, with often only very basic artwork. Not so those of Jason Sutton - they are the absolute top, the best I have ever built.
 
 
1935, Flash Gordon
Launched as a competitor to the successfull Buck Rogers strip, this ran on well into the new Millenium. 20 minute films were shown in the movie theatres every week.
I found a lot of material on Youtube. The curious sounds this spaceship makes remind me of the phut-phut of a small steam engine. The physics behind the way the thing lands and lifts off are unusual, to say the least.
 
Flash Gordon, 1930ties. Delta 7, 30 cms.
 
Zarkov's ruimteschip, uit de films en stripverhalen van Flash Gordon. Ze dateren  van de dertiger jaren, dus de ideeŽn van Wernher von Braun kwamen hier nog niet aan te pas. In Nederland verscheen de strip in de jaren '50 in het AD onder de naam  Flits Gordon.
Helaas was het model nogal basic: ik moest zelf een groot aantal versterkingsschotten tekenen.
 
Prof. Zarkov designed and flew the spaceship in the Flash Gordon newspaper comics of the early '30ties.  Wernher von Braun had not yet been heard of...
Sorry to say, the model itself is rather basic. A shape and size like this really needs formers for every segment - which I had to design myself.
 
 
1943, Wernher von Braun's V2 (originally designated A4)
 
     
Wernher von Braun's V2, 1943. Ralph Currell, 1:32, 43 cms.
Daarnaast: de A4b, en een A4 op Meillerwagen
 
De A4 (later algemeen aangeduid als V2) was helaas bepaald geen science fiction, maar het werd de basis voor alle moderne raketontwerpen, en diende als inspiratie voor een hele generatie tekenaars en filmmakers. In het laatste oorlogsjaar werd nog hard gewerkt aan verbeterde versies zoals de A4b, met grote vleugels.
 
The A4 (later commonly known as the V2) was definitely not just science fiction, alas, but it did become the basis for all modern spacecraft, and and an inspiration for a whole generation of sci-fi illustrators.
In 1945, the Americans not only captured and enrolled Von Braun, but also took a large number of V2's home with them. The Russians did the same, but missed Von Braun... To both nations, the V2 became the starting point for the development of ballistic missiles and space rockets.
Ralph Currell's (freely downloadable) models are of superior quality. WMV have a nice model of the A4, complete with transporter / launching vehicle, the Meillerwagen. The black / white pattern was only used on the very first, experimental models (1942-1943). The A4b was tested in 1944 and discontinued.
1950: Dan Dare, Great Britain
 
In 1950, the British comic  'Eagle'  launched the very British space hero Dan Dare. A dramatised version was also broadcast daily  by Radio Luxemburg. Only one year later, Wallis Rigby started publishing a series of very basic paper models, now collectors' items, with quite a few Dan Dare items. Google and Wikipedia provide lots of information and pictures.
 
The Wallis Rigby book.
 
Was the original author / illustrator of Dan Dare perhaps the inventor of the 'swing wing' concept?
 
     
Dan Dare's Anastasia
Anastasia, designed by Gary Pilsworth
 
Gary Pilsworth  is a highly productive designer, who publishes his work on the forum www.papermodellers.com. At my request he designed a paper model of the Anastasia, free download on the same forum.
 
  
 
At my request, Scott Killenbeck designed the Dan Dare Cryptosian spaceship, now available via Ecardmodels.com. Please note the joke the original illustrator allowed himself: doesn't the body of the rocket remind you of a fountain pen"?
 
 
Ca. 1950, Tom Corbett, Space Cadett: Polaris
 
  
 
Uit de Amerikaanse TV serie Tom Corbett, Space Cadett (ca. 1950). De toegangsdeur in de staartvin en de kleine patrijspoort in de neus geven een idee van de omvang van deze fantasie.
Eenvoudig model - maar je moet wel eerst zelf een stuk of tien schotten ontwerpen / maken.
 
The Polaris featured in the ca. 1950 TV series Tom Corbett, Space Cadett. The entrance door in the lower half of the fins, and the tiny port hole in the nose give us an idea of the size of this phantasy. Google pictures gives access to a large number of illustrations. Nice model, and easy to make - after you have figured out how to design about ten missing formers.
 
 
1951: 'When Worlds Collide': the Space Ark
Countless writers and moviemakers have been inspired by the ultimate catastrophy. This is the earliest movie of this type I have come across so far, based on a book written 1931. To save mankind from extinction, a number of 'Arks' are prepared and launched just before the title incident is about to occur. The launching method seems to be inspired by the way the V1 was launched: detachable undercarriage and a long ramp. The horizontal stabilizer is a nice touch.
 
        
  
The Ark is 33 cms. A Delta7 model, so be prepared to design your own bulkheads...
On the right: a plastic model of a V1 on its launchimg ramp
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1952: 'Commando Cody, Radar Men from
the Moon'
 
     
Movie poster / dvd cover, model, still from the movie
 
1952: in de twaalf afleveringen van deze Amerikaanse televisieserie verscheen een raket die duidelijk al wat meer gebaseerd was op de oervorm van Wernher von Braun. De film is nog op DVD te krijgen; leuk om een buiklanding en dito -start op de maan te zien... Hij is natuurlijk in zwart wit, maar het rood van de reclame poster is aardiger. Cor van Haasteren ontwierp deze eerste versie, ca. 17 cm lang.
 
'Commando Cody, Radar Men from the Moon'  (American television, 1952) featured this moon rocket (clearly based on the iconic V2) happily making a belly landing (and a belly start as well!) on the moon's sandy soil... Cor van Haasteren designed this prototype in the colours seen on the movie poster. DVD and Youtube make it possible to view the whole series - fun!
 
 
 
1952, Wernher von Braun and Chesley Bonestell
 
Bonestell and Von Braun with a model of a Moon Lander.
 
 
       
March 1952: 'Man Will Conquer Space Soon'; March 1953: 'Man on the Moon / The Journey / Inside the Moon Ship'; June 1953: 'How Man will meet Emergency in Space / Baby Space Station'; April 1954: 'Can we get to Mars? / Is there Life on Mars?'.
(There were several other articles not illustrated on the cover of the magazine).
On October 12 1951 (Columbus Day), the large American weekly Collier's magazine (circulation 3 million) sent their associate editor Cornelius Ryan (later to become famous for his books The Longest Day and A Bridge Too Far, which both became even more famous films) to a conference on astronautics in the Hayden Planetarium,  Manhattan. Fired by the enthusiasm of Wernher von Braun, he wrote a series of articles, later collected into three books, on Von Braun's prophetic visions. The fantastic  illustrations by Chesley Bonestell and the series of TV documentaries 'Man in Space'  by the Walt Disney studios in 1954 were an instant success, and prepared the minds of several generations to come for the idea of space travel . (Available on DVD as 'Tomorrow Land', but Region 1 only). Many illustrators alowed themselves to be inspired by Bonestell and Von Braun's ideas.
For more of Chesley Bonestell's illustrations, go to > SF Illustrations, or to Google Pictures.
 
           
Wernher von Braun's Saturn Shuttle, drawn by Chesley Bonestell.
Saturn Shuttle, Delta7, 52 cms.
Stamp from Sharjah (issued 1972)
(Is there really such a country? Or is it just an office issuing stamps?)
There are several paper models of the Saturn Shuttle.  As usual, this Delta7 version does not provide enough formers for the very large segments of the fuselage. Nor did it have the supports on which the rocket stands - those were designed for me by one of the visitors to my 'thread' on papermodellers.com, the forum.
There is a lovely paper model of this Baby Space Station somewhere out there, but the files are not yet available.
DESIGNERS WANTED: The Spaceship Handbook (see below) has lots of very useful scale drawings of the Von Braun / Bonestell creations. Only a few have been made into paper models... Please contact me if you are interested!
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Walt Disney / Bonestell / Revell: Ferry Rocket RX1 and Moon ship  XSL-1, 10 cms.
 
Revell launched two plastic kits of models in the Walt Disney documentary (perhaps more - please let me know!). Now very rare indeed.
Designer Wolfgang Perez made this paper model of the Moon Ship, based on the Revell kit. Waiting eagerly for a model of thecomplete space ship, XSL-1. 
 
  
Revell / Walt Disney Space Ship and Moon Ship RX1.
 
Paper Model RX1
 
        
Maly Modelarz published this Disney Ferry Rocket in 1958. Designer Andrzej Mroczjek; 70 cms.
I had never actually made one of these very old Maly's before, and somehow I was not expecting too much in terms of fit. True, alas... Big and quite simple to build - after all, 'Maly Modelarz' means something like 'the young modeller'. One would expect more connecting tabs, and my pet grumble: more formers. The diameter of the bottom parts is rather large, and with this fairly thin paper extra formers are no luxury.
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1953, Kuifje / Tin Tin: 'Raket naar de Maan' / 'Destination Moon'
 
Kuifje / Tintin, paper model by Jason Sutton, 2003, 42 cms.
 
Tintin's rocket to the moon (1953) is definitely my favourite. This lovely paper model (top quality design!) disappeared off the internet as a result of copyright problems. I managed to trace the designer, who was kind enough to send me the file. Nice detail: when you hold the model in your hands, you notice there are no portholes anywhere.
 
1954, Rocky Jones, Space Ranger: Crash of the Moons
 
     
By 1954, a word had already been coined for space television series: 'space opera'. This one ran for nearly a year in 25 minute instalments. Three of those were made up into a regular movie - in black & white, of course. The recent dvd seems to promise otherwise. Rocky's lovely space ship is called the Orbit Jet XV-2. The middle pictureshows a plastic model.
 
After I had published these two pictures on the American forum Papermodelers.com, designer Mirco came forward and developed a very nice paper model - now available for download. Follow the thread:
http://www.papermodelers.com/forum/alternate-dimensions/16186-early-sf-crash-moons.html
 
 
 
1950ties,1960ties, Wallace Wood (1927-1981) Space Cruiser
 
Wallace Wood worked many years for  MAD Magazine. He also illustrated several science fiction magazines. Designer J.O. Sutton based this absolutely fantastic model on his work. Imaginative touch: the rocket 'stands' on its exhaust flame. Same top quality as the Tintin Moonrocket.
 
 
  
Space Cruiser, Jason Sutton, 58 cms.
It seems based on the one single illustration I managed to find.
 
 
1958 - 1966, Nick der Weltraumfahrer (Spacetraveller Nick), Germany
A series of comics, some A4 sized, many in the narrow format (estimation: ca. 8x20cms?) They were so popular that they were reprinted several times. Lovely drawings:
 
     
 
 
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1959, 'Der Schweigende Stern' ('First Spaceship on Venus'), East Germany
Based on 'The Astronauts', the first SF novel by Polish author Stanislaw Lem. The spaceship Cosmostrator takes the astronauts to Venus.
 
This is another story of coincidence and internet searching. I first found this nameless illustration (part of a book cover? Movie poster?) on Google Pictures. Then, nearly a year later, I came across more information in the Spaceship Handbook (see below). The illustration turned out to be part of a movie poster for the East German 1959 movie,  'Der Schweigende Stern' (the silent star - definitely a more interesting title than 'First Spaceship on Venus').
Both the novel and the dvd can still be found on the Internet, and are very worthwhile.
 
 
Then came a new breakthrough - this picture on Zealot.com, taken at a modellers' convention in the USA. I traced the photographer, who told me that the Cosmostrator was a model by Jason Sutton, who also did the Tintin moon rocket and two other space ships in the background. So I contacted him (the internet is a small world, after all), and he let me have the files - warning me that he never got round to finishing the building instructions.
 
     
The Cosmostrator, designed and built (using shiny silver paper) by Jason Sutton.
 
The lovely shiny paper of the prototype has disappeared off the market. In the end I found a good replacement: aluminium metallic paper, 135 grms/m2, fairly thin, but tougher than normal paper and a pleasure to handle.
Mr Sutton likes working with beam compass cutters. That way, no cutting lines need be printed - a neat way to avoid ugly black lines showing in the finished model. Drawback: I have no experience at all with compass cutters, and need the lines to guide my scissors and craft knife! In the end, I found someone who adapted the files for me to show the lines in question. This way, the central fuselage and the three nacelles were no problem - just a straightforward construction with formers and tabs. The extra pictures Mr Sutton sent me helped me to figure out the construction of the base of the fuselage.
The various fins didn't pose an problems either. The only real difficulty wwas in the construction of the wings between body and nacelles. The large number of pictures and instructions Mr Sutton sent me were invaluable.
I am hoping to cooperate with Mr Sutton in making some adaptations and a full set of building instructions, so that the model can be made available to other enthusiasts.
 
  
Estimated scale (based on pictures from the movie) ca. 1/144th. Height 50 cms.
Built by DAdB.
 
 
1959: Space sation and interplanetary rocket
 
Published by the Polish ministry of Defence. The designers have leaned heavily on the ideas and illustrations of Wernher von Braun and Chesley Bonestell. Large and fairly simple models, sometimes terrible fit - but this was long before he computer age... (built January / February 2012)
 
  
 
       
 
 
1960 and later: Gerry Anderson models, Supercar, Fireball XL-5, Stingray, Thunderbirds
 
English puppet film makers Gerry & Sylvia Anderson became famous for their Thunderbirds, ca. 1965. Earlier series were broadcast in Great Britain and elsewhere from 1960 onwards: Supercar, Fireball XL-5 and Stingray. Several models available on the internet. Nice colouring, but why no formers in the Fireball?
 
     
Supercar and Fireball XL-5. Models designed by Pierre Fontaine, 2001
 
1965, Thunderbirds
These have been so popular for so laong that they deserve a separate 'chapter' in this survey of Early Science Fiction. Models are easily found on the internet; I hope to build them all.
 
   
Thunderbirds 1, by Takahiro Kojima, 18 cms.
Thunderbird 3, by Ijoy, 24 cms.
 
Of course scale and size of models is completely arbitrary. Designers vare rarely give in indication. The 5 cms. cube shows the sizes of Thunderbird 1 and Von Braun's Ferry Rocket (the Maly model). Several versions of the various Thunderbird models can be found in the internet.
 
 
1968  remake 2001, Planet of the Apes
 
In the first version of the movie, the spaceship was called 'Liberty 1', and was slightly different from the 'Icarus' of the remake.
 
 
 
1989, Wallace and Gromit
 
 
Based on the animated movie 'A Grand Day Out', in which the two heroes go to find Wensleydale cheese on the moon - which, as we all know, is made of green cheese.
Designed by Jason Sutton; built by DAdB
 
1993, Myst Island
 
Myst Island Rocket, Delta7, 33 cms.
 
Inderdaad een mysterie - vooral de constructie waar hij op ligt is raadselachtig. Hij blijkt een paar keer voor te komen in een Amerikaans computerspel uit 1993 genaamd Myst Island. Ook een model van Delta7 (gelukkig nu eens wel met schotten en heldere instructies).
A mystery indeed - especially the curious base construction. It turns out to be based on an American computer game of 1993, Myst Island. The exception in the Delta 7 series: formers added, nice colouring.
 
 
Stubby Rocket, 10 cms.
 
 
The Stubby Rocket appears to be pure fantasy. Based on the logo of tor.com.
Designed by Robert Nava.
 
 
Computer design, ca. 2000?, Matthias Baas, 25 cms.
 
De massa's Starwars en Startrek modellen spreken me niet aan. Voor deze maak ik een uitzondering vanwege de bijzondere constructie van het model. Het lijkt het resultaat van een oefenopdracht van de Technische Universitšt Karlsruhe: hoe maak je een gecompliceerde vorm met zo min mogelijk onderdelen. Het zijn slechts vijf delen met elk massa's vouwlijnen.
Although I don't really like the more recent Startrek / Starwars stuff, there are exceptions. This was obviously some sort of design project at the Technical University of Karlsruhe, Germany: make this complicated object with the fewest possible parts. Just 5, with lots of hill and valley folds.
 
 
'Steam punk spaceship', ca. 2000
 
 
I found the files for this model via one of the American forums; my own build on the left. The other picture is  from the IPMS/Orange County photo gallery. It was built by David T. Okamura.    
 
2011, Starlance, ca. 40 cms
 
 
At my request, hobby designer Scott Killenbeck completed and perfected this phantasy spaceship.
 
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Lots of detailed information, scale drawings, film stories in this fascinating book, published in 2001 but still available via Amazon.com:
Spaceship Handbook (Rocket and Spacecraft Designs of the 20th Century: Fictional, Factual and Fantasy) by Jack Hagerty and Jon C. Rogers, ISBN 097076040X.
 
 
REQUEST: pictures, and information about similar models are very welcome!
 
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