Monday, December 2, 2013

BUCK ROGERS Toy Art by Earl Norem

Despite the low quality of the above scan, it's still clear that this painting by Earl Norem, which graced the box of HG Toys' Buck Rogers In The 25th Century Galactic Playset back in '79, is a pretty fine representation of the Gil Gerard series and its universe (although the blonde bears no resemblance to Erin Gray, whatosever).

The "Galactic Playset" was a repackaging of a space toy that had been around since the late Sixties under various names, with the addition of a few Earth Starfighters and Draconian Hatchet Fighters to tie it in with the series. A quick look around the Internet shows that this set is commanding fairly high prices on auction and collectible sites - though not quite as much as the original Norem painting, which is currently being offered on eBay with an asking price of $1,800!

UPDATE: Here's a higher-quality scan of the left side of the painting:


  1. Awesome piece of art. It captures the look and feel of the show perfectly. I also learned after doing a search that Blam! comics is releasing a new series of comics based on the 1970's series soon - featuring some restored artwork. The image on their site is actually a restored image of the artwork you featured here.

  2. Norem! Never knew this existed, thanks for sharing!

  3. I remember wanting that playset from the JC Penney catalog (for the little Starfighters and Marauders mainly) but not getting it for Christmas; rats... =)

    Of course, when this artwork was commissioned (along with that for the Burger King poster), Erin Gray had not been confirmed for the series. What is less well known is that for the first episode of the series filmed ("Vegas in Space"), the late Juanin Clay began filming *as* Wilma Deering. Watch the scenes with Cesar Romero, which were probably the very first ones shot; all dialogue containing the name "Major Landers" was clearly dubbed in post. The producers likely wanted Gray for the role, but she was probably holding out for more money so the producers played hardball and used Clay as a pawn never intending to keep her in the role. When Gray signed on sometime during the shoot, all remaining script references to "Colonel Deering" were replaced with "Major Landers" (there are shots where Gil Gerard and Richard Lynch clearly mouth the words "Major Landers"). Gray's scenes bookending the episode are obviously inserts shot later, probably at the same time as her "epilogue" scene added to the network version of the premiere ("Awakening"). Had to suck for Clay; I wonder if she knew she was beiong used this way. At least she didn't shoot almost an *entire movie* as the producers/director of Back to the Future did with Eric Stoltz, who they planned all along to replace with Michael J. Fox when he became available, but that's a whole different story (and not the '70s of course). =)

    Not sure who the generic blonde in the artwork is supposed to be though; it clearly isn't Gray or Clay...

  4. My cousin had this. Since I had a bunch of miniature Star Wars playsets (still have them :) ) I probably didn't think that this playest was cool back then, but looking at it now it looks so retro (50s meets 70s) that it may be even cooler than the miniature Star Wars playsets.

  5. I had this one! Man,that flying saucer was cool. It ended its existence in a shower of exploding glory as it was wiped clean offa the drive way by some taped on cherry bombs! Mamma took me to my first drive in theater in Texas when the movie came out. I remember it raining for 5 minuets and the windshield wipers going on. The sound was a bit underwhelming coming out the speaker hanging in the window. They were selling fried chicken at the concession stand........