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 didn’t 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 "It’s 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 introduce…
"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 didn’t 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 needed something too. That’s where this device comes in. With it, they can defy gravity. The design is a combination of sophistication and almost comical naiveté. 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!” 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 didn’t 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 was to be the color, with black accents, and assorted labels. How those labels were replicated, or eliminated, remained to be seen.
Now, it was 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
As the 21st Century began, America was in decline, struggling beneath the crushing weight of Bureaucracy, its air polluted by vast quantities of Methane Gas, emanating from Washington DC. When, suddenly, the Finding Fathers changed everything, by discovering the Element, “Puranium”. Invisible to the na-ked eye, which makes it difficult to see, Puranium proved to be a source of boundless Clean Energy, by generating “Levity”, the polar opposite of Gravity.
Aboard the “Starship USA”, propelled by great waves of Levity, “TERRA FIRMA”TM, and her Crew, “JACK ASTEROID”TM, “LUNA ECLIPSE”TM, and “ZERO GRAVITY”TM, sail forth to probe the farthest reaches of our Galaxy. Their “Anti-Gravity Generators” contain a single atom of Puranium, enabling them to Levitate, on every World in Outer Space. Endowed with Super Human Powers, they operate, outside the Law of Gravity.
MOUSE OVER TO SEE BACK OF CARD
Now began the process of sculpting Terra Firma. Looking at the emails now, I can certainly see why the 4H thought I was a pain in the ass. I was onto every detail. It might be interesting if this website survives me to someday see to what degree. Here is a small part of the critique. Terra went much more smoothly that any of the figures that preceded her. My suggestions were so subtle an overlay wouldn’t show them. Therefore, I chose to indicate the corrections on the computer.
What the following images show is Eric’s original sculpture in progress, on the left, and my corrections, done on the computer, on the right, sort of like Before and After . The Before is generated from photos that the 4H sent of the sculpture at that stage. And the images on the right represent a wished for After. One that had not yet taken place.
Here are the changes, point by point:
1. FEET, From the front, they are fine, there are some changes that can be seen from the back and side.
2. UPPER LEGS: Extend as above knee joint as indicated by arrows, I purposely did not smooth out what I added. If you look closely it is visible, so you can see how much, arrows also indicate it. This does not add much to the height as neck becomes a little shorter.
3. PUBIC AREA: Mound of Venus, Make it rounder, sides receding, so it does not look Flat. I see from the angle views that there is something there. But I think the sharp edges catch the light and make it look flatter in some photos.
4. LEG HIP JOINING LINE: Round it out a little and minimize it as much as possible. We don't want it to imply a subtle drooping roll of fat, like mine. Make it as invisible as you can.
5. CHEST AND UPPER TORSO: This needs to be built up a lot; what's missing is a ribcage. Even if it's hidden by a collar it should be there.
6. ARMS AND SHOULDERS: Shoulders now move up much higher. This was what was wrong with my drawings. Once you realize it, it's glaring. I didn't see it for a long time, by then I was out of time. The arms therefore need to be longer, surprisingly longer, especially as the shoulders are higher. They should come down below the top accordion line. Also don't let them get too skinny, remember they will sport flag and emblem decals?
7. TUMMY EMBLEM: This should be crafted before the tummy area is finished to make sure it works with both Terra and Metamorpho, and her tummy fills the area behind it so it doesn't stand out in space.
8. NECK: Should be wider and not sliced on the guillotine line, but rather where it joins the shoulders. Again this is the cut to be used if one will see the naked figure. If the collar is an integral part of the upper torso, as i hope it is, then the cut will, most likely, need to be up higher, neck shorter.
9. MOUTH AND LOWER JAW: Mouth Smaller, lots smaller, trim the lower jaw line down. I didn't alter the upper face or the hairline. From what I can tell from the photos the head does not really need to be reduced in size it was the mouth and jaw that were on the large size. Made her look kind of horsy; I'd like a sweet and innocent, bright eyed look. That doesn't mean she isn't strong and determined, I just don't want her to advertise it.
10. HAIR: I added a lot to the outside but didn't alter the front or hairline from the side it wouldn't hurt to have the hair part to show a little of the ear.
Double click to edit
1. FEET. Heel line should go up higher, maybe even more so than I showed it in the Photoshop alteration. Also NOTE the Indication of an Ankle Bone.
2. UPPER LEG: Here the un-retouched amount I added to the bottom is even clearer.
3. ARM LENGTH: Thee arms are really deceptively larger. Surprising how much I had to distort them to get them in proportion.
4. BUTT: Make it hang over the accordion joint more. I like a look, like the accordions are holding her in, and she is protruding over them.
5. PUBIC AREA: Note break at pubic line and tummy could be a little more pronounced coming around the side a little, not quite so subtle and frontal.
6. BELLY BUTTON: This can be either slightly rounded or flat depending on how the World is to be decorated, decal? tampo? spray mask?
7. BREASTS: Can you believe I trimmed them down a little? But they are fine as they are. They certainly are her dominate attribute. And you surprised me by not holding back, Yes , we're not in Kansas anymore.
8. SHOULDERS AND RIB CAGE: This is the biggie, the major change. She needs some anatomy up here, even if the collar is permanent, and completely hides it. It needs to be implied. Again this was the most badly realized element of my drawings, Note how her back is built up too, maybe a little bit too much. Just feel it out.
9. HEAD AND NECK: Chin and Mouth trimmed down a lot! Neck thicker! Note indication of hair parting on the side to offer a peek at an ear. Hair built up at top and back. room for hair and scull under there.
1. FEET: Here the inconsistencies in the feet show up, left foot appears to be a different size, In the Photoshop version I evened then up and the heel lines rise.
2. LEGS: Same as indicated before, Right Foot size adjustment might help to even up a tilt to the right. I changed the position of the legs slightly in the photo on the right to even them up.
3. BUTT: Hard to see, here but should protrude over the accordion more.
Also Note the little protrusion in the cradle of the V above the line. This little nuance is something I never failed to notice in figure drawing class,
4. ARMS: Note again Arm Length and POSITION which has also changed. Some of this was due to body tip.
I am reluctant to suggest this without seeing it in person, but as these arms really need to be enlarged I wonder how it would look if you tried the existing upper arms of the men?????? Just saying, But with her smaller gloves they might suffice.
5. BACK HOLE. What I put here is a guesstimate, Please try the angel wings and put the hole where they work best. I may have it down too low here. Also try to add a little bit of an indication of anatomy to the spine, not just a line, maybe a subtle but more decisive indentation. I was too tired to research the area, when I did this rendition, last night. Of course the shoulders get higher.... and think: Rib Cage!
6. HEAD: Less tip to the right, more hair on the left. I moved the shoulders up and the head down a little bit.
There are two areas the head and the lower arms. On the head she looks a little shy and sullen I'd like her, above all to be up-beat and bright eyed, I can't quite make out how the eyes are sculpted along the upper lid line, maybe they are fine, the shadows make it look like the eye lids may be slightly lowered. Just make sure that when the pupils are painted in they can look slightly upward like the drawing below.
More important, is the tip of the head, I could only tip it effectively in the side view, below, the front view hasn't been changed so don't use that as a guide the side view is where it’s at.
Also please add more to the back of her hair, and scoop her neck out a little in the back as seen in the side view. I believe her lower arms should be a little longer , and there is a funny angle like a bend only visible from the side, again the very subtle photos will show what I mean.
I feel like I am turning a dead horse into whipped cream by beating it incessantly. But I really dislike the naked neck views; says decapitation to me. She looks much better with a collar
CARD NOT AVAILABLE YET
The following corrections were suggested after the figure returned from SDCC. I won’t include the comments, the photos are self-explanatory. The images on the left are actual photographs of the real figure. The images on the right are not real. They are my suggestions of how I would like to see the finished figure look after the changes are made. They were created by cutting small pieces of the original photos and moving them around.