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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Space was ace!

Ask most lads who grew up in the 1960s what they were interested in and "space" would be in the top few answers for many, or at least the imaginative ones anyway. The space race between America and the USSR was regularly in the news and manufacturers of toys, comics, and TV shows were eager to latch onto the huge interest in space exploration.

Even Zoom ice lolly was rocket shaped, and in 1963 it gave away a free space picture card tucked in the sleeve of every lolly. Add an endorsement by Steve Zodiac of Fireball XL5 and who could resist? 

This advert is from Boys' World No.22, dated 22nd June 1963. I was only four then, and ice lollies gave me stomach ache so I never had those cards. (I was always ok with ice cream. It was ice lollies that disagreed with me.) I thought I'd show the ad here today though to stir the memories of those of you who did collect them and its album. Anyone remember it?


Unknown said...

No but in the Space Race vein.....did you ever respond to the numerous 'stamps on approval' advertisements that seemed to be a feature in all the boys adventure comics? The book I sent for contained space stamps which were of course almost 100% Russian and American. For those who are unaware of how these stamps on approval books worked... you were sent free a book of themed stamps, all priced by the page they were on (I think). You simply bought and took out what stamps you liked, sent the money and returned the stamp catalogue back to the supplier. Cue much questions to my father asking if he would like to buy any stamps. Much more exciting than the ones Royal Mail were selling! Interested if anybody else partook of this 'offer' which seemed to be based on the honesty in my case of a seven year old boy. Oh yes and I do think there was a mention in the comic of telling your parents you were responding to any of these or similar offers.


Lew Stringer said...

Strangely enough, despite those stamp ads appearing in practically every comic I never bothered to send away for them. I did have a bunch of international stamps from somewhere though; I think I bought a packet in a hobby shop.

Unknown said...

Hi Lew,

Firstly, as a first time commenter I would like to say how much I appreciate reading your blog.

I don't remember the particular "Steve Zodiac" endorsement you highlighted in the blog but I do remember the strong lure of the Zoom ice lolly because of the association with the space rocket.

This particular advertisement reminded me of a weird anxiety I had as as a child.

When it comes to TV series, I think Fireball XL5 was my first love.

I was a devoted reader of TV Century 21 from the very first issue and for me. TV21 was to comics what The Beatles came to mean to me in relation to music. Fireball XL5 was at the start an integral part of the TV21 comic and that was the source of my weird anxiety: The very nature of TV21 meant that my favourite characters from a TV series that was no longer made, were always in the process of being relegated in stature to being finally dropped from the lineup of the comic.

I was not aware that the fate of Fireball XL5 as a series in a comic was dependent on how the characters (including the beautiful spaceship itself) could be marketed.

It's a shame that Gerry Anderson could never really use the puppets and models that he and his creative team made to build an ecosystem in which the characters could be nourished as marketable products. Access to that ecosystem would provide creative people such as your good self with the possibility to use your talents to create using known characters new stories ready to be enjoyed by eager readers in the UK and the world over.

Finally, in response to Unknown, I responded to a 'stamps on approval' advertisement and got a books of stamps that just I never returned. My parents never knew that I had done this and like all childish acts of deceit, the anxiety of there being a reprisal from the company in the form of the police turning up on a doorstep, grew for a long time before it slowly peaked and began to fade away.

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks for commenting, James! I think the Anderson properties had a good run and were commercially viable for as long as they could be. Thunderbirds enjoyed a huge resurgence in the 1990s (and the new version seems fairly popular) but for example Joe 90 and Stingray didn't gain the same enthusiasm when they were repeated in the 1990s.

Personally, although I enjoyed doing the Zoony strip for the one-off issue of TV21 a few years ago, I don't have any yearning to work on the characters. Creating my own characters has always been my preference.

Hope you'll comment again!

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