Archive for the 'UFOs' Category

Starcruiser UFO Ad (Cox, 1979)

Cox UFO 1979

They’re waving because that damn thing’s never coming back. See the actual product here.

Star Cruiser UFO (Cox, 1978)

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I talked about the Star Cruiser UFO many moons ago. It was one of those Christmas catalog items that was always out of reach. The problem was not getting it to fly, apparently. The problem was getting it to land.

The box design is lovely and reminds me of all the rocketry catalogs and packages of the era.

Model Kits: The U.F.O. from The Invaders (Monogram, 1979)

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The original model (seen below) was released by Aurora in 1968 and has a long history that you can read here. The Invaders is an influential sci-fi TV show about an alien invasion and one man’s attempt to stop it (think Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets The Fugitive).

The original Aurora model—apparently based on the notorious George Adamski photo taken in 1952—makes an appearance on the box of UFO: Game of Close Encounters.

UFO 1968

Board Games: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Parker Brothers, 1978)

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The game doesn’t look terribly different than Avalon Hill’s UFO: Game of Close Encounters from the same year. The first board game named after and featuring UFOs may be Flying Saucers, published in 1968 by Funland.

Star Wars Screen Print (Pattern Rights, 1978)

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What the holy hell? Luke and Leia are identifiable, if absurd, but everything else is madness. Is that Manhattan blowing up? Is that a red stretch limousine? And why the holy hell are flying saucers sucking humanoids off of the planet with a tractor beam? I want to see this movie.

I don’t see Star Wars written anywhere on the pattern, so it has to be a knock-off. And it’s a brilliant one.

(Images via eBay)


Reedley High School Yearbook, 1955

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Reedley High School (public) is in Fresno County, California. The illustrations are gorgeous, and telling. Historians generally cite 1955 as the year the Space Race began, and the phrase “flying saucer” dates to 1947 (“UFO” was officially adopted by the U.S. Air Force in 1952). The futuristic Reedley is a great example of the Mid-Century modern aesthetic.

Take some time to read some of the notes when you can. Here’s one from the first page:

I hope you get cheer leader, at least I voted for you. You’re a real cute kid with a personality to match keep it up – don’t get to conceited – have much fun

lots of luck

“Real cute kid” and “real swell girl” come up often, and both sexes use it.

(Photos via eileensbooks/eBay)

UFO Past & Present: A Sticker Book (Whitman, 1978)

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Along with the sticker book, Whitman published two coloring books in 1978: UFO Seeing is Believing and UFO Space Strangers. There was also a comic book series the same year, UFO & Outer Space, reprinting select issues of the long-running 1968 series UFO Flying Saucers.

The books followed in the wake of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and shows like In Search of… that sensationalized ‘the unexplained’.

The astronauts of Gemini VII and Gemini X really did sight UFOs. Too bad they weren’t the awesomely kitschy craft seen here.


Troubador Press: Paper Starships (To Color, Cut-Out & Fly) (1979)

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The thing about Troubador books is that you need two of each: one to color and/or complete, and the other to preserve and enjoy as art.

The beautiful starship designs above are by Yoong Bae, who also illustrated volumes on UFOs and alien starships, among others. Troubador published many fascinating space- and robot-themed titles following the space craze set off by Star Wars.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: I had the honor of interviewing Malcolm Whyte, founder of and creative genius behind Troubador Press, about his iconic company and his ongoing publishing career. The interview will run next Monday. Please share it widely. I can almost guarantee that if you grew up in the ’70s and the ’80s and dreamed of other worlds, you held a Troubador book in your hands at some point—and prized it.

I’ll be on a break starting next Tuesday. Posts will resume on December 2nd.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Board Games: UFO: Game of Close Encounters (Avalon Hill, 1978)

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UFO Game Ad 1978

Like ‘UFO’, ‘Close Encounters’ was also immune from trademark, as it was the name of a preexisting classification system introduced by J. Allen Hynek in The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry (1972). The game was published originally (as UFO) by Gamma Two and bought and redesigned by Avalon Hill, Simulations Publications’ (Dawn of the Dead board game) primary competitor.

What Carl Jung said about UFOs in 1959 (Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies) is just as relevant today:

In the threatening situation of the world today, when people are beginning to see that everything is at stake, the projection-creating fantasy soars beyond the realm of earthly organizations and powers into the heavens, into interstellar space, where the rulers of human fate, the gods, once had their abode in the planets…. Even people who would never have thought that a religious problem could be a serious matter that concerned them personally are beginning to ask themselves fundamental questions. Under these circumstances it would not be at all surprising if those sections of the community who ask themselves nothing were visited by `visions,’ by a widespread myth seriously believed in by some and rejected as absurd by others.

Jung’s interpretation was that UFOs represented a modern “savior myth“: instead of looking to the heavens for God, who we have infantilized, rationalized, and pestered into insignificance, we look to the heavens for touchable yet godlike alien beings, who validate and ennoble our crass race by condescending to visit and study us, and whose technological miracle-crafts may offer us a means of escaping our boredom with ourselves.

(Images via Board Game Geek)

Whitman Coloring Books: UFO Seeing is Believing and UFO Space Strangers (1978)

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UFO 1978

Close Encounters of the Third Kind was released in November, 1977. Luckily for kid’s book publishers and toy/game makers, ‘UFO’ can’t be trademarked.

The cover artist for the first book is Irv Gnat (front and back covers are identical). I’m not sure who did the second cover, but the Camaro (or Cobra, or whatever) is boss! I’ve got my eye out for both books.

(Images via Vintage Toy Archive and Matt Perry/Pinterest)




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