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
“FIRE and ICE ELECTRON +TM”
“RED DEVIL MYSTRONTM”
“BLUE ANGEL COMMANDER COMETTM”
The "Second Series of the Cosmic Creator Outer Space Men, Birnkrant Edition" offers something to challenge everybody. First of all, they challenged me to go where no Action Figures have ever gone before, into a world of lighting effects that involves a subtlety that well may escape many. At the risk of sounding like the Royal Tailor trying to convince the Emperor that his New Clothes are the pinnacle of good taste, I must suggest that there are aspects of this Second Series that are strictly for the Connoisseur. Some collectors will look at them and say, “They look just like they did before”. Others will see what I was aiming for.
As Shakespeare suggested, “Above all, to thine own self be true,” and that is what I tried to do. I couldn’t resist playing with lighting, and, in some cases that is what the entire variation is about. Tripping the light fantastic! There is a certain glow that has to be seen in person to be appreciated.
These new figures play off of the existing ones, some digging deeper, others taking flight. But all are “in character”. No excursions into the arbitrary. The new figures will be a challenge to the collector to decide if such subtitles are worth the price. And if they choose to acquire them, the challenge, then, will be to light them right. As I have previously discussed, I have a Luxo lamp here on my desk that stays on day and night, and naturally lights the crowd of Outer Space Men gathered beside me, slightly from behind. So that is how I see, and conceive, the OSM. Lit from behind, they look extraordinary. Lit from the front, they will look ordinary.
Perhaps, lighting for dramatic effect, has no place in the world of Action Figures, but it plays a big role, and always has, in mine. I live, surrounded by a thousand objects, all of which are older than I am, ancient, and of little material value. They could easily look old and musty. I try to make them look exciting, fresh and alive, by lighting!
Today, technology has carried us into a world of visual magic so overwhelming and all pervasive that miracles seem commonplace. But I grew up fascinated by simpler things, small optical wonders of the 1940s, flip books , peepshows, radio premiums, stuff you held up to your eye, like the “Kix Atomic Bomb ring”, to see tiny atoms flash inside, or the early View Master revealing a minute universe, real and fictitious, in glorious 3-D.
In Paris, I discovered amazing optical toys that predated and led to the invention of the movies. And I have a rather nice collection of Zoetrope’s, Praxinoscopes, shadow toys and peepshows, all of which aim to please and fool the eye. I even have a magic volume, hand colored in the eighteen hundreds, that permits the viewer to see ghosts, demons and amazing apparitions in the world around us. These simple optical illusions were designed to convince the viewer that they are truly seeing magic. And to be effective, they require one thing only; the lighting must be just right.
Series Two will also be a challenge to Matt’s pal Paul in Hong Kong, who did such an amazing job, the first time. Matt tells me he enjoyed the challenge. This time, I am asking him for even more, with some nuances that have never been done before.
And. last of all, these variations will challenge the Four Horsemen to go that extra mile and bear what’s bound to be extra expense. Last time, all the accessories were the same, Gold plated. That in itself was elegant. Now, along with a unifying gold plated accessory for each figure, I’m requesting colored transparent helmets too, none of which will be the same. And in the case of Commander Comet’s helmet, I’m asking for even more, something extravagantly insane!
Paul, the following is intended as an instruction manual for you. It explains exactly what I did. In most cases you will have better easier methods to achieve the same results. But I will describe how I did it, and you can simplify it. For instance, some of the acrylic paints I had were so transparent that they would not blot out light, so I had to apply an undercoat of opaque black or silver to shut out the light, and then, apply the final coat on top. A better more opaque paint might do the same thing in one shot.
All the figures in the series, when possible, will have one, or more, gold plated accessory. This will unify the line, and give it a common element.
COSMIC CREATORS II
A variation on ALPHA 7, this is the easiest and most straight forward of the figures. It is based on a paint variation I did 45 years ago. The figure would have happened, then, if the OSM had continued. The Original 1968 figure is shown below. In this case, a little bit of history supplies a certain authenticity.
The new paint job is simple.
1. The blue of his suit becomes black.
2. He gets a black head décor, sort of a Mickey Mouse design.
3. The dot on his chest becomes orange, signifying Mars.
4. Nice bright iridescent blue green for his eyes, with black lines.
5. The one change from the 1968 original is the paint I used for his accordion joints and head. The
original flat color is replaced by a metallic yellow green, instead. This is an attempt to add a little extra
sizzle, and bring the figure up to speed with the others in the set. I used, Createx airbrush color
6. His helmet is the lighter “Mars orange” one that was used already on the gumdrop green figure.
7. His weapon is gold plated.
This is the subtlest, and at the same time, the most complex of the figures. It has been engineered, solely for the lighting effect. It represents Electron+ on the frozen planet Pluto, in the process of dematerializing. His body is becoming transparent, turning to pure energy, while the orange fire in his chest and weapon continue to glow bright.
I began this by using the transparent Electron, and combined him with the weapon and chest button and purple helmet from the Infinity edition.
5. A tiny slice of transparent red-orange ink in the eyes.
6. The Bluish Purple helmet is from the original figure.
7. The staff will be gold plated; the weapon remains the original orange, with all but the tip painted silver
then Metallic Ice.
This figure is intended to be lit from behind. Then Watch it SHINE. Lit from the front it will look just
like the existing Infinity edition. This variation, more than any other, tests the viewpoint of the viewer, and
separates the commonplace collector from the connoisseur. We’re talking about nuances here, fine-tuned
sophistication. I fully understand that if these figures were for young kids, they, frankly, wouldn’t give a
1. I wanted this to have a different look and feel,
so I began by spraying a tint of transparent blue
ink on the back of the head and joints, only,
leaving the fronts untouched. This creates a
unique crystal look and coloration, when lit from
behind. Different and more magic than if it
were all simply cast in blue PVC.
2. I then I cut a mask the size of the orange
button, and masked off the front of the box.
Other parts of the chest piece needs to be
masked off, too, so they will remain transparent
and emit light. The very bottom of the
abdomen also must be painted, so a bright
light does not appear below the box and
distract from the effect.
3. I applied a coat of Rustolium silver to the
selected areas that I wanted to be opaque,
leaving the joints etc. bare, except for the little
back spray of blue.
4. Then, I over painted the silver areas with “Ice
Blue Metallic" acrylic.
This figure, too, is all about the lighting. I hope you find it exciting. It is quite complex. It involves both the use of my favorite magic paint “Pearle Purple", and also transparent gold, the sort of thing that happened, last time, perhaps, unintentionally, on Inferno's tummy. This requires a light spray of gold, intended to catch the light and appear solid, when lit from the front, but becoming transparent, when lit from behind.
1. I began with the transparent red Mystron, and masked off certain body parts and accordion joints;
please study the prototype carefully. Then I gave the areas I wanted to be opaque a coat of black.
Silver would have done as well. Over that, I used some purple acrylic, which wasn’t quite purple
enough, as it tended to look silver in certain light, so I sprayed over that with Pearl Purple. When
sprayed on quite heavily, over a lighter color, it appears a slightly iridescent purple.
2. Notice how many areas are left unpainted to emit light.
3. Then I painted in the black areas around the eyes, trying to leave the eyes unpainted so they can also
4. Then I masked off the flesh areas of the head, those that are white in the Infinity inferno, and sprayed
on a light coat of Transparent Gold, only from the front and sides. The back should remain unpainted,
again, to emit light.
5. The horns and pants are a different, darker, richer, and non-transparent gold.
6. The black wings and weapon have a light spray of Pearl Purple, just enough to give them a tiny touch
of magic, a light spray. This will appear blue, when it catches the light. Sprayed too much, they will
7. The helmet is the darker orange that came with the original Mystron.
8. The staff is plated gold.
Visually, this is the most radical departure. Frankly, if I had a transparent clear head, or a blue one I might have gone that route, but going with what I had, he becomes Comet as we know him, attired in a blue outfit for some purpose, yet to be determined. I was determined, nonetheless, to inject some visual magic, and that takes place in the helmet. OY! Yes, I know this will be an extra expense, but I hope that you will feel that it is worth it.
1. His body is Folk Art Sapphire Blue metallic.
2. The joints are Topaz, mixed with some Pearl White.
3. The emblem is similar to what you are using now, Folk Art Royal Gold.
4. His hair is Folk Art Amethyst with an overcoat of RC Pearl Purple.
5. His wings are the color you have now, sprayed over with RC Acrylic Color Change Blue, another
magic color, pale blue iridescent when the light hits it right.
6. His staff is Gold Plated.
7. And last of all, his helmet. The front half is the warm Plum Purple from one of the transparent series,
and the back is Alpha Seven's Infinity series Blue-Green basic helmet color. I adapted an Alpha
Seven helmet to illustrate the effect.
8. Please handle the prototype helmet with care, and don’t try to take the halves apart. It will come off
the head if you do it carefully, but it is held together with just a few drops of crazy glue. The two
colors in combination create a magic color that casts multi-colored shadow across the wings,
depending on the lighting angle. Once again, this stuff is pretty subtle; such delicate nuancing may
not be everybody’s cup of tea.
Nonetheless, with the back lighting tricks and double color helmet, I think we may be attempting to do
some stuff, here, that, up till now, has never been done in action figures.
It’s probably not my place to say this, but I will, anyway. Speaking not as a “Cosmic Creator”, but
rather as a collector: I’ve been one, now, for 50 years, or longer, and I’ve seen trends come and go. I’ve
seen some objects become Hot, and others, Not, and learned that, over time, some items, like cream, rise
to the top. It really is too bad that the first four Cosmic Creator figures turned out to be so expensive.
Nonetheless, there will come a time, sometime in the future, when many a collector will wish they could turn
back the clock, and grab these figures at today’s price. And if anyone is still collecting, or even
remembers the Outer Space Men, these few unique figures, the Cosmic Creators Series, will be
considered the “Cream of the Crop”.
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Here is one final photo, the dramatically lit version of the shot on top. It can be used interchangeably, as was the similar photo for Futuretro.
In case you haven’t noticed, something quite extraordinary is taking place here, in this tiny slice of time. When the Four Horsemen undertook this project, now several years ago, the intention was to “recreate” the Outer Space Men, and produce something that would always be, to some degree, a “reproduction”. But something different happened, and these turned out to be far more than mere reproductions, or even recreations. Forty five years have been cut out of the equation. The project that was begun in 1967, is continuing as if, half a century had never happened. These ARE the Outer Space Men! They are in every way Authentic, and because of their limited production, ridiculously Rare!
So here they are: “The Cosmic Creator Outer Space Men, Birnkrant Edition”, the line as it stands right now, alive, ongoing, growing, and still Glowing.
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