Copyright Acknowledgment: All images of THE OUTER SPACE MEN , THE WORLD OF THE FUTURE and other Products and Images, created by Mel Birnkrant, are Copyright (c) MEL BIRNKRANT
Mel Birnkrant's “Annotated Archives”
In 1958 when I was 21, I lived a year in Paris. It was there that I discovered the Paris Flea Market. The name itself amused me. There was nothing like it in America. I loved to go there on a Sunday and rummage through the remnants of European history, wallowing in the World as it existed before I was born . It was on one such expedition that I discovered the cast iron bank that kindled in me a lifetime passion for collecting Mickey. I stood and studied it for hours, pondering whether or not I dared spend ten dollars.
Shortly after my return to America flea markets started appearing here. The first was Salisbury Connecticut, then Rye New York. And before long Route 84 became the Yellow Brick Road that led from my front door to Sturbridge Massachusetts where Brimfield was just becoming the ultimate OZ. There was also Shupp’s Grove in Pennsylvania, and Renninger’s Extravaganza. I structured my life around all these markets, attending each and every one.
A really great flea market became my idea of Nirvana! I loved finding an object I could convince myself, if only for a moment, I had longed for all my life. Or better still, discovering something amazing I didn’t dream existed, until I saw it there for the first time. I was never happier than when treasure hunting from dawn to dusk, or by flashlight in the middle of the night.
Have you ever shut your eyes at night and seen images as clear as the most vivid dream, even though you were not yet asleep? Usually the images are fleeting and once you realize you’ are still awake, they quickly disappear. If you have ever experienced this phenomenon you’ll know just what I mean.
On one such rare occasion, many years ago, I closed my eyes to discover I was floating slowly above a giant outdoor market. I could see everything below me with uncanny clearly, million of objects on endless dealer’s tables, extending well over the horizon as far as my minds eye could see. There they were, all the unwanted objects I had rejected or ignored and hurried past in countless flea markets in the waking world, while searching among them for hidden treasures. My God! My brain had recorded a million arbitrary objects in minute detail, and committed them to memory. And so it was that I discovered, one night, lying in bed, that the Biggest Flea Market of all was up there in my head.
For most of my life I thought that designing toys and collecting them were two entirely different things. I told myself I did the one so I could to do the other. Now looking back, I realize they are both one in the same. Inventing toys was only collecting them from the flea market in my brain.
So, here they are, The Outer Space Men , the result of two years of "head hunting" from 1968 to 69 in the flea market of my mind. THEY'RE HERE! Launched into Cyberspace for the first time, is EVERYTHING from the first sketches to the final product. There’s even a couple of interviews with illustrations added. The Gallery images are BIG and beautiful, and hopefully will allow you to experience the Outer Space Men close up with some of the impact and intensity I felt, working on and living with them intimately for two exciting years. If you have a 24” monitor, or one with 1920 x 1200 resolution, then you will see what I do, everything life size or larger. If not, may Heaven help you.
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