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
How did the 14th Outer Space "Man" come to be? Some History:
When Harry Kislevitz and I ventured into unknown territory in 1967 to create the Outer Space Men, we didnít have a clue. As Action Figures weren't invented yet, there were no precedents pre-set. Thus, we could do anything we wanted. That's the good news! The fact that we didn't know what we were doing; that's the bad! Our eyes were focused on the Heavens, not on the bottom line.
Although, Matt Mason was technically exquisite, I also found him to be exquisitely boring. Therefore, in 1967, the thought of adding an Earth astronaut to the OSM collection never even crossed my mind. I saw what I was doing, not as competing with Mattel, but rather as a friendly gesture, sort of doing them a favor by injecting some excitement into their line. The goal was merely to add aliens to the Universe of Matt Mason, not to alienate the Mightiest Toy Giant of all time.
Looking back, I realize that the very thought of a young man in Manhattan and a small toy company in New Jersey doing battle with Mattel, Awesome Giant of the Industry, would have been a really bad idea, anyway. If we had emulated Matt Mason with our own earthbound equivalent, we would have had a lawsuit on our hands.
Nearly two years ago, when "Itís all True" asked if there might ever be a woman in the line, I thought a minute, and replied: "Yes, I do believe, without a contemporary Matt Mason to accompany them, the "New" Outer Space Men might finally need a "Man from Earth", but he may turn out to be a woman." I knew at that moment that it was going to happen.
So without further adieu, allow me to introduceÖ
"TERRA FIRMA" TM, The Woman from PLANET EARTH
Terra was two years in the making. Two years of thinking! She had to be just right. In the beginning, the prospects looked quite bleak, a female head protruding from a bulky space suit, was not my idea of femininity. To make matters worse, she'd have to have short hair to fit inside a helmet. At one point, in a rare brief conversation with Eric, I asked him what the fans expected, the image that I just described, or something more appealing. He replied that the fans would expect her to be attractive. Her outfit could be somewhat more revealing.
One criterion that I set for myself was that her equipment, helmet, weapon, etc. could be instantly adapted to create a male astronaut as well. We already had a basic male body, Metamorpho, who was 90% there already. So the image was becoming clearer. His neck was helmet ready, so her neck would have to be the same. His chest emblem could be replaced with one that was the image of the Planet Earth, maybe flatter, so it could hold a tampo print or transfer.
One morning, while watching squirrels in the weeping willow tree, as I used to do at sunrise every day, until the snowstorm this Halloween swept the willow tree away, the name "TERRA FIRMA" suddenly came to me. It felt Heaven sent. I jumped out of bed and ran to the computer. Yes, oh Yes, it wasn't Trademarked yet!
I described her various attributes, high heeled boots, etc. He agreed to every one. Could she have an American flag? Or did he see her as more universal? He seemed excited about the flag, suggesting that when the figure was sold in Japan she could have a Japanese flag etc. Should the flag be flat like the gravity defying one that we planted on the moon? Maybe it could wave just a little, he suggested.
I asked about her chest emblem; could I place it in her navel? I didnít want it to mess up her breasts, which would be "firm" and well formed, as her Name implies. Eric cracked up! The double entendre of the name had never occurred to him.
I tried the name out on the Horsemen. They liked it. That was over a year ago. Then Terra went into hibernation. Nonetheless, the Horsemen continued to mention her name, every now and then, and I could see that she was becoming accepted, and was figuring in their plans.
All along, I had suggested and expected that Eric should design her. Who would be better qualified to create a woman than the master of the Seventh Kingdom? But he insisted that I try my hand, and, at least, show them what I had in mind.
As last year was coming to an end, the Horsemen, in a rush of inspiration, suddenly addressed themselves to the Outer Space Men. It became apparent that they were going to try to complete the original 13 OSM, and even add Terra Firma to the line. The time had come to get serious about her. I requested a rare 15-minute phone conversation with Eric to answer a few questions, before I ran off in the wrong direction, and wasted lots of time.
We went over her attributes, point by point, and spoke about using her body for other figures too. The call lasted exactly 15 minutes, and when it was over, I knew exactly what to do.
One aspect remained open-ended, her appearance. What would she be wearing? It had to be something that was consistent with Metamorpho, and at the same time, more alluring. There is a simple lesson that I discovered back in high school: Don't be wishey-washy or pussyfoot around. Whatever you do, make it look like it's on purpose.
Clearly, I was not enthusiastic about a lady in a bulky space suit. Therefore, should I aim for something more petite, and yet discreet? Hell, NO! I would go to the opposite extreme, exotic and erotic. After all, these toys will never grace the shelves of Toys-R-Us. They are for Big Boys. So, why beat about the bush? TERRA FIRMA would be sculpted as if her Heavenly body were completely naked, including a well defined, and not so little, "tush"! The Accordion joints and collar would disguise what I was doing. And her actual apparel would consist of nothing more than a thin coat of body paint. A white line down her middle to represent a zipper would be merely painted on, so as not to mar the surface for other figures that might follow.
Now, the Accessories:
The Helmet: This will be made of white PVC that, because of its perfectly round shape, may have to be molded in two halves. Even though, I left a very wide-open window, the seam might have to run right up the middle of the halves, which would snap together with plugs, one at the top, above the head, another at the back, behind, and hidden by it.
Then the half round styrene visor, with subtle plugs on either side, would clip over it to hold the two halves together, and be able to be lifted up and down.
At first, I visualized it yellow orange like Matt Mason. Then I realized that would be too much like him, and as the helmet can open wide to reveal the wearer's face, it would be all right to hide it with a very dark almost black visor like the astronauts use today. On the other hand, a mirrored visor would also be OK.
This might be a transparent pole, with only the pole part painted silver, and flat flag area with a decal added, or the Flag might be painted! Difficult! Or it might be just a pole with a two-sided paper label wrapped around it, as is the case in this recent offering from "The Bad Taste Bears"
The Weapon: "Atomic Disintegrator"
The Anti Gravity Generator:
This name may change. I really had some fun with this. All the Outer Space Men have some sort of "power". So, the Earth Astronauts need something too. Thatís where this device comes in. With it, they can defy gravity. The design is a combination of sophistication and almost comical naivetť. There are two elements combined: 1. A simple magnet shaped devise that repels the magnetic poles of any celestial body. 2. A Sphere of anti-matter that appears to float suspended in a transparent case. If the tolerances are just right, a viewer will not be able to see the rod that holds it up. There will also be two transparent lightening bolts of magnetic power that serve as both a design element and a stylized visualization of what's going on. The entire unit is held out from the back of the wearer as if it, itself, is floating in Space.
As a guide to size and compatibility to the line I designed TERRA, side by side with her male counterpart. And many a morning, while squirrel watching, I wracked my brain to find him a name, something elemental, maybe monumental. For a while, I considered "Adam Atom". A trip to the computer revealed that that name has been taken by a Rock musician. OK, I didn't like it that much, anyway. Now, the tree is dead, the squirrels have fled, and the other day, staring at the empty sky, the name "JACK ASTEROID" came to mind. "That will do, Pig!Ē said I.
How beautifully this all came together! Circumstance has answered all my questions, and the one remaining, Color, was easily answered too. White was out of the question, as I didnít want to do Matt Mason. Furthermore, because of Metamorpho, it was already taken! This photo of recent NASA astronauts, what they are (or were) wearing lately, served as a guide throughout. So, Orange will be the color, with black accents, and assorted labels. How those labels are replicated, or eliminated, remains to be seen.
Now, itís up to the Four Horsemen, to blast TERRA FIRMA into Outer Space!
Seeking to convey "Retro", I based the weapon on a combination of the first two toy ray-guns, the Daisy Buck Rogers Rocket Pistol and the Atomic Pistol. They were first introduced in the 1930s, and continued for many years thereafter.
MOUSE OVER TO TRANSFORM
MOUSE OVER TO TRANSFORM
MOUSE OVER TO TRANSFORM
MOUSE OVER TO TRANSFORM