Monday, January 19, 2015

SPACE: 1999 Raw Effects Footage


This is pretty cool: raw effects footage from Brian Johnson's Space: 1999 SFX team, of various Eagle transporter landings, on Moonbase Alpha pads and alien landscapes. I think it really demonstrates the care and precision that went into shooting the miniature effects in those pre-CGI days.

Friday, January 2, 2015

January's Space Babe: Tamara Dobson

The first Space Babe of 2015 is the sleek and striking Tamara Dobson, as the mysterious and amnesiac alien, Samantha, on Jason Of Star Command. Discovered in suspended animation within a derelict spaceship by the titular Jason (Craig Littler) at the beginning of Season Two, the stunning Samantha quickly became a valued partner-in-adventure for brash rogue Jason and his Star Command allies. With a variety of vaguely-defined powers, including superhuman strength and assorted psi abilities, Samantha may have been unable to remember where she came from - all she recalled was that her people were conquered by the armies of arch-fiend, Dragos (Sid Haig) - but she soon made a home for herself aboard the Space Academy, and figured prominently in Dragos' final defeat.

The 6' 2" Dobson was a popular magazine model - appearing in publications like Vogue and Ebony in the early 1970s - and actress, who is probably best known for her two turns as blaxploitation tigress "Cleopatra Jones," a kung fu kickin' government agent in two Warner Brothers action films: Cleopatra Jones (1973) and Cleopatra Jones And The Casino of Gold (1975). She also appeared in the Buck Rogers In The 25th Century episode, "Happy Birthday, Buck."

Ms. Dobson passed away in October, 2006.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Coolest Toy Ever - Mattel SPACE: 1999 Eagle 1 (Holiday Re-Post)

This is the fifth in a series of special re-posts for the holidays, remembering the coolest sci-fi toys of the Space: 1970 era. Hope you enjoy these "reruns" and have a great holiday season. Merry Christmas!


On Christmas morning 1976, I received one of the greatest gifts of my entire childhood. Better even than my Star Trek and Planet of The Apes Mego figures. It was Mattel's two-foot long Eagle Transporter playset from Space: 1999.

This thing was a monster and came with small action figures of Moonbase Alpha's John Koenig, Helena Russell and Victor Bergman in their bright orange space suits. There were also tiny accessories like little laser guns, helmets and other bits of exploratory equipment. The cockpit opened and could hold two figures, and the passenger compartment was large enough to reach in and move them around. There was even a hatch in the bottom with a working winch!

The nose section and red engine section were detachable and could even be joined together to make a small reconnaissance craft. It was, without a doubt, the coolest spaceship toy ever.

Sadly, this is not a photo of my Eagle (I wish!) - all that remains of the one I received all those decades ago is the main chassis and nothing else; all the other parts having been lost or destroyed through years of dangerous space missions to the alien planets of my backyard. Oh, the perils I used to subject that tiny crew of Alphans to!

Obviously, I got an awful lot of fun out of that thing, and if my fortunes ever turn around, I'd love to hunt down an intact one one day.

Of course, I later had the Eagle (and Hawk fighter) model kits, and they were cool, too, but once built, there really wasn't much you could do with the ships other than display them. That didn't actually stop me from playing with mine, though... which is why they no longer survive!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Second-Coolest Toy Ever: Kenner's 18" ALIEN Action Figure (Holiday Re-post)

This is the fourth in a series of special re-posts for the holidays, remembering the coolest sci-fi toys of the Space: 1970 era. Hope you enjoy these "reruns" and have a great holiday season.

In my opinion, the legendary 18" Alien action figure from Kenner is a close second for the coolest toy of the Space: 1970 era - though I'm sure that many other Star Kids would rank it at #1.

And I might too, if I'd actually owned one. I do remember seeing one in the store in '79 and being both fascinated and frightened by it. I hadn't seen the movie - only coverage of it in Starlog and Fantastic Films - but I did ask my folks to buy it for me. Unfortunately once my mom glimmed the price tag and got a good look at the sheer grotesqueness of the figure, there was no way she was going to pick it up for me. Instead, I'm pretty sure I got a Moonraker space shuttle model kit... and, you know, I was pretty happy with that.

Still, over the years, I've kept my eye out for one of these treasures, but alas, I've never found one I could afford. I have, on occasion, had an opportunity to inspect other people's Aliens, though, and I'm rather astounded by the level of detail that Kenner managed; I'm sure that's part of the reason for the larger-than-usual scale. I'm also amazed that Kenner got away with marketing a toy like this to kids, not only because it's so scary, but because it was derived from an R-rated horror film.

Ahhh... the Seventies.

Third Coolest Toy Ever: Kenner's BIONIC BIGFOOT Action Figure (Holiday Re-post)

This is the third in a series of special re-posts for the holidays, remembering the coolest sci-fi toys of the Space: 1970 era. Hope you enjoy these "reruns" and have a great holiday season.

The third coolest toy of the Seventies was, without a doubt, Kenner's Bionic Bigfoot from the Six Million Dollar Man.

Unlike the terrifying-but-desperately-coveted Kenner Alien, I did own one of these beauties for a while, although, oddly, I never had a Steve Austin action figure. This meant that Bigfoot usually battled my Mego Superman or teamed up with the Planet Of The Apes Gorilla Soldier against Captain Kirk. Man, those were epic backyard confrontations! Bigfoot wasn't particularly well-articulated, but at a towering 15" he was damned imposing - especially when pitted against the smaller-scale Megos.

On a related note - which Bionic Bigfoot did you prefer - Ted Cassidy or André the Giant?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fourth Coolest Toy Ever: Mego STAR TREK Communicators (Re-post)

This is the second in a series of special re-posts for the holidays, remembering the coolest sci-fi toys of the Space: 1970 era. Hope you enjoy these "reruns" and have a great holiday season. 

When I was in fifth or sixth grade (circa 1975-76), my pal Mark Usher and I formed a short-lived Star Trek "club." There were four of us in all, as I remember, and once a week, we'd all go over to Mark's house after school and basically play Star Trek all afternoon. He lived on an old farm, and his parents cleaned out an old outbuilding for us to use as a clubhouse - or, in our case, "starship." His father even made a sign that said "U.S.S. Enterprise" and placed it over the door. (I vaguely recall that he misspelled it somehow, but I could be misremembering.)

His mother was an artsy-craftsy sort, and she wanted to make sure that we weren't getting into trouble, so she actually created Trek-themed projects for us to do. We made plywood "control panels" for our "ship" - including a "transporter console" with sliding levers (wide beads on strings) - which Mark's father mounted on the walls of the shack. We made uniforms out of appropriately colored tee-shirts, which his mother helped us draw insignias on with fabric paints, and we made papier-mâché planets, which we suspended from the ceiling of our clubhouse/starship with fishing line.

But mostly, we role-played being crew members of the Enterprise, and explored the alien cornfields and woods on the Usher property. We kept in touch with the Mego Star Trek Communicators, which were - as the advertising proudly exclaimed, "real, working walkie-talkies!" But unlike the other walkie-talkies we had as kids, these had flip-up lids, just like the ones on TV. Of course, they were considerably larger than their television counterparts, colored blue, and had telescoping antennae - but they worked.

If you didn't wander too far apart, anyway.

Mark also had the "Command Communications Console," which was a nicely Trek-styled base set tuned to the same CB frequency, and the only actually working piece of equipment in our ramshackle starship. It didn't get used much, as I recall, because no one wanted to be the Communications Officer and stay behind "on the ship" while the rest went exploring.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Fifth Coolest Toy Ever: Milton Bradley's STAR BIRD (Holiday Re-Post)

This is the first in a series of special re-posts for the holidays, remembering the coolest sci-fi toys of the Space: 1970 era. Hope you enjoy these "reruns" and have a great holiday season. 

In the late Seventies everybody wanted a piece of the Star Wars merchandising goldmine, even companies that didn't have a license. In 1979, Milton Bradley Electronics introduced the best of the wannabe products, though, incorporating then-cutting-edge electronics into a sleekly-designed starship toy that, while original, looked like it should have been in Star Wars. They called it The Star Bird - and it was the coolest 70s space toy that wasn't based on a movie or TV show.

The toy was equipped with electronics that created an engine sound when turned on. If the toy was pointed upwards the sound would be altered by a ball bearing switch to generate an acceleration or taking-off effect, while a nose down orientation produced the sound of decelerating engines. A button at the rear of the cockpit activated the red LEDs at the front of the toy, along with a blast noise, to simulate the firing of the vessel's blasters.

MB offered a couple of variations on the Star Bird design, including a "fighter" configuration known as The Avenger and black plastic-molded version of the fighter, called the Intruder. A Star Bird Command Base was also offered. 

The Star Bird is, in this Star Kid's opinion, the fifth-coolest toy ever - it would probably ranked higher if the ship had actually appeared in a TV show or movie.(And unlike the other really cool non-TV/movie ship, the Interplanetary U.F.O. Mystery Ship model, you could really play with the more rugged Star Bird!)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

STARSTRUCK (1979)


I have literally been looking for evidence of the existence of this 1979 failed sci-fi sitcom pilot ever since I started this blog. Couldn't find a reference to it anywhere online. Wasn't even listed on the IMDb.

Then, yesterday afternoon, Star Kid Traie Payne posted to the Space: 1970 Facebook page a link to an A.V. Club article that not only confirmed my 35 year-old memories, but even included video of the entire show - which aired only once, on CBS in June of 1979. Thankfully, Chuck Cirino, who worked on Starstruck as an effects technician, saved his tape of the show and uploaded it to YouTube for posterity. (And, coincidentally, to save my sanity.)

The half-hour show told the story of the Earth-born McAllisters and their family-run restaurant and hotel in space, catering to an intergalactic clientele of bizarre aliens, robots and other space travelers. I remember watching it when it aired, and it stuck in my head, even though I never found any reference to it after that original viewing. Watching it now, I can see that it's not particularly funny, so it's no surprise that it didn't go to series. But the effects, production design and make-up effects/monster masks, are all pretty good for the time.

Anyone else remember this one?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

News: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (1978) & GALACTICA 1980 Blu-rays Coming in May

In a nice bit of synchronicity (since I was talking about it in the previous post), Universal announced just today that the original 1978 version of Battlestar Galactica - as well as the follow-up series, Galactica 1980 - will be coming to Region 1 Blu-ray in May, 2015, in two editions with some significant differences. Here's the official Press Release:
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA:
THE DEFINITIVE COLLECTION

AND

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA:
THE REMASTERED COLLECTION

COMING TO BLU-RAY ON May 12, 2015
FROM UNIVERSAL PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT


UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif., Nov. 24, 2014 - From renowned writer/producer Glen A. Larson, the creative force behind Knight Rider, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, comes the groundbreaking TV series that launched one of the most beloved sci-fi franchises in history, now available in widescreen and high definition as both Battlestar Galactica: The Definitive Collection and Battlestar Galactica: The Remastered Collection come to Blu-ray on May 12, 2015 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. These essential collections for Battlestar Galactica devotees include all 24 explosive episodes of Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series plus the complete 10-episode spin-off series, Galactica 1980.

Newly remastered in 16:9 widescreen presentation for the very first time, Battlestar Galactica: The Remastered Collection features both pioneering series meticulously reformatted to be optimized for the HDTV viewing experience. Battlestar Galactica: The Definitive Collection also includes both series in 4:3 Full Frame as they were originally televised, plus the theatrical version of the premiere episode "Saga of a Star World" presented in 1.85:1 Widescreen for the ultimate collector.

This epic adventure, which provided the inspiration for the critically acclaimed 2004 Syfy reimagined series, comes with over 4 hours of bonus features, including over 3 hours of deleted scenes from Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series! These collections also includes featurettes such as "Glen Larson on the Creation of Battlestar Galactica" and "Stu Phillips: Composing the Score" with an inside look at the genesis of this remarkable production, and "Remembering Battlestar Galactica," a 45-minute retrospective documentary featuring cast and crew on the making of this ground-breaking series.

In Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series, the Twelve Colonies, hopeful for lasting peace following centuries of intense warfare, gather to sign a treaty with their dreaded enemies, the Cylons. But after an act of treachery on the eve of the ceremony, the Cylons launch a devastating surprise attack, destroying the Colonies' home planets and most of their military strength. A lone flagship battlestar, the Galactica, remains to aid the surviving colonists on their epic journey to a new home on a far-off, legendary planet-Earth.

Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series stars Richard Hatch (The Streets of San Francisco), Dirk Benedict (The A-Team), Lorne Greene (Bonanza), Herbert Jefferson Jr. (Apollo 13), John Colicos (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Maren Jensen (The Love Boat), Noah Hathaway (The Never Ending Story), Laurette Spang (Airport 1975), Tony Swartz (Dynasty) and Terry Carter (McCloud).

Galactica 1980: The Complete Series picks up 30 years after the events of Battlestar Galactica, as the original crew finally makes the long-anticipated descent to Earth. With time running out and the Cylons closing in on their trail, Commander Adama and the Galactica team work harder than ever to help Earth create the technology necessary for battle.

Galactica 1980: The Complete Series stars Kent McCord (Emergency), Barry Van Dyke (Diagnosis Murder), Robyn Douglass (Breaking Away) and Lorne Greene.

Battlestar Galactica: The Definitive Collection includes:

    Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series (Widescreen and Full Frame)
    Galactica 1980: The Complete Series (Widescreen and Full Frame)
    Battlestar Galactica - The 125-minute theatrical edit of the premiere episode "Saga of a Star World"


Battlestar Galactica: The Remastered Collection includes:

    Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series (Widescreen)
    Galactica 1980: The Complete Series (Widescreen)


BONUS FEATURES ON BLU-RAY

    Over 3 hours of Deleted Scenes
    Remembering Battlestar Galactica - a 45-minute retrospective documentary featuring cast and crew on the making of this ground-breaking series.
    Episode Commentary with Richard Hatch, Dirk Benedict and Herbert Jefferson Jr.
    Glen Larson on the Creation of Battlestar Galactica
    Stu Phillips: Composing the Score
    And More!



THE DEFINITIVE COLLECTION - TECHNICAL INFORMATION - Blu-ray
Street Date: 5/12/2015
Running Time: 57 Hrs. 7 Mins
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen, 4:3 Full Frame
Languages:

    Full Frame & Widescreen Versions: English
    Full Frame Version: French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese

Subtitles:

    Full Frame & Widescreen Versions: English SDH, Spanish, French
    Full Frame Version: Dutch, Italian, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Japanese, Portuguese

Sound: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and DTS Digital Surround 2.0 Mono (Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series), DTS Digital Surround 2.0 (Galactica 1980: The Complete Series)


THE REMASTERED COLLECTION - TECHNICAL INFORMATION - Blu-ray
Street Date: 5/12/2015
Running Time: 27 Hrs. 31 Mins
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Language: English
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Sound: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and DTS Digital Surround 2.0 Mono (Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series), DTS Digital Surround 2.0 (Galactica 1980: The Complete Series)
I don't like at all that they're presenting the TV episodes in an artificial, widescreen aspect ratio, especially since that's the only option with the "Remastered" set. Presumably, this means they're matted, and thus, eliminating information at the top and bottom of the original image. (At least, I hope they're matted rather than horizontally stretched! The Invisible Man Blu-rays a couple of years ago stretched the image to fill 16x9 displays, and it was awful!) At least the "Definitive" set includes the original 4x3 versions as well. That's the one I'll be buying.

I'm also not too upset by the lack of new CGI effects. One of the charms of these shows and movies for me are the handcrafted practical effects, and Galactica's were groundbreaking at the time, and worthy of preservation. I genuinely pity people who can't abide by classic (or "cheesy," as they call them) special effects and want everything to be slick and shiny and soulless. In my opinion, it's an insult to the talented and hardworking craftsmen who created them.

Here at Space: 1970, we're obviously all about practical effects and original aspect ratios.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Captain's bLog: 1124.14

Five Years In Space:  This blog was five years old on November 2nd. Quite coincidentally, I'm sure, a couple of weeks ago, right in time for the anniversary, the Space: 1970 page on Facebook started getting dozens of "Likes" out of the blue. This was unusual, because the Facebook page has averaged only one or two "Likes" a month for years. Suddenly, there was a huge influx of new fans (presumably), and before too long, the page had surged past the 2,000 "likes" milestone. Needless to say, this sudden interest got me thinking about this site and how badly I've neglected it over the past year or so.

I recently wrapped up my two weekly webcomics (Perils On Planet X and the crime comic Gravedigger), and completed a couple other long-gestating writing projects. As I slowly clear my commitments from my desk, I'm looking forward towards the new year, and figuring out what I want to do next. One thing I definitely want to do is get back to regular posting here on this site.

I doubt I'll ever get back to the nigh-daily updates of a few years ago, but I'd very much like to manage a post two or three times a week. I have a surprising number of unfinished articles, dating back a couple of years. One of my goals is to finish those up, along with a few long-belated reviews (The Aliens Are Coming, Star Maidens, Beyond Westworld, Space Stars, Meteor, Saturn 3, etc.) and get back to some old features (like "Fave fives" and "Favorite Episodes"). I'm also considering doing an episode-by-episode review of The Fantastic Journey television series, one of the few shows from the era that's still not on DVD (many episodes can be found on YouTube, though). We'll see how I do over the next few months, I guess.

For what it's worth... I have been re-watching a lot of 70s sci-fi shows over the last few weeks....

HD News: Basically, it's all good news/less-good news on the hi-def 70s sci-fi front. Rumor has it that Universal will be releasing a Region 1 Blu-ray set of the original 1978 Battlestar Galactica in early 2015. That's the good news. The less-good news for some folks is that it will apparently not include any re-done CGI special effects (although it seems that they were considering it for a while), but will instead use the same HD masters as the German Blu-rays from a couple years ago.

To be honest, though, I'm kinda glad they didn't replace the effects with new CGI, no matter how nice and slick it might look. Part of my love for these shows is the handcrafted practical effects, and I'm glad they're being preserved.

The long-awaited second season Blu-rays of Space: 1999 appear to finally be on the way, as well. Network has announced that Year Two will be released on Blu-ray in the UK in the Autumn of '15. There will also be a standalone HD release of the two-part "Bringers Of Wonder" episodes.

Before American fans get too excited though, here's the less-good news: there has been no official word as yet about a Region 1 Blu-ray release through A&E, the show's US licensors.

Stuff to Check Out: My virtual pal Rob Kelly has recently revived his Power Records blog, which means, of course, lots of cool Star Trek, Six Million Dollar Man, Planet Of the Apes and super-hero 45 rpm audio bliss, not to mention scans of the fantastic comics and album covers that graced these nostalgic faves. He's posting pretty much daily, so click over and visit.

I've mentioned it here before (a long while back), but I'm quite taken by what I'm seeing of Spectrum Games' Retrostar RPG, which endeavors to recreate the feel of the kind of 70s space operas we celebrate here at Space: 1970. I get a very strong Star Frontiers vibe off the thing, so you Old School gamers might want to give it a look.

Space: 1970 Still Wants You: As mentioned in my last "Captain's bLog" (back in July!), I've always been open to - and grateful for - submissions from my readers. Now I want to outright encourage you folks to send me any cool Space: 1970-era stuff you might think would be interesting to your fellow Star Kids. Rare photos and production art, behind-the-scenes stills, nominations for "Space Babes" or Reader Polls, personal photographs of you and your friends with your favorite 70s sci-fi toys, pretty much anything, really. Hell, even if you'd like to write a Guest Post, just e-mail me. I'll do my best to credit any contributions I use, of course.

That's it for now, I guess....

Friday, November 21, 2014

Behind-The-Scenes Pix #50: PLANET OF THE APES

Who says apes and humans can't get along? Here are a couple of gorillas playing cards with their usual prey between takes on the set of 1968's seminal anthropoid epic, Planet Of The Apes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Happy (Belated) Life Day!

Yesterday marked the 36th (!) anniversary of the much-derided Star Wars Holiday Special, which aired on CBS in 1978. Sure, I've kicked the bizarre variety special around some myself over the years, but I admit that I was watching it that night, sitting on the floor about two feet from the tube, and fourteen year-old me enjoyed the hell out of it. And if truth be told, whenever I pop in my bootleg DVD to torture the wife each holiday season, I still enjoy it.

Well, parts of it, anyway.

That awesomely strange cartoon, of course, introducing to the universe the intriguing Boba Fett. Some (very little, admittedly) of the domestic wookiee stuff. (And the Stan Winston wookie suits are fantastic and full of character.) Mark Hamill's heavy makeup. Harrison Ford, trying to stay in character and keep a straight face amid the nonsense. And I genuinely enjoy Bea Arthur's musical number - and whoever thought I'd admit that?

The less said about Carrie Fisher's singing, on the other hand, the better.

When the only Star Wars was Star Wars, (and the Marvel comics) even this bizarro Seventies artifact was something to look forward to and even celebrate. Have yourselves a happy (belated) Life Day and may the Force be with you, Star Kids!