Thursday, May 19, 2016

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS (1977) Bendable Alien

There wasn't a whole lot of Close Encounters merchandise released to tie-in with Steven Spielberg's UFO epic - a novelization, a Warren souvenir magazine, a few other odds and ends - at least, not compared to other sci-fi blockbusters of the era, and certainly not a lot merch aimed at kids.

One exception was this cheerful extraterrestrial "bendy" from rack toy specialists Imperial. All things considered, it's a pretty fair likeness of CE3K's featured alien, goofy smile and all.

Friday, April 29, 2016

News: THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME (1979) Coming to Blu-ray this Summer

On August 30th, video label Blue Underground will be releasing director George McCowan's 1979 Canadian space opera, The Shape Of Things To Come on Blu-ray disc.

Although frequently cited as among the worst of the 70s Star Wars rip-offs, I have admitted here on this site more than once a certain fondness for the low budget interstellar "epic," and I am looking forward to having a high definition edition on my shelves next to Battle Beyond The Stars and Starcrash.

Yeah, it's a pretty dumb movie, but I find it kinda charming in its low budget ineptitude. I like the cast, which includes Space: 1999's Barry Morse, and Buck Rogers veterans Jack Palance and Eddie Benton (a/k/a Anne-Marie Martin) and I also enjoy the miniature effects, which are surprisingly decent for such a cheap production.

The Shape Of Things To Come Blu-ray can be pre-ordered now through online retailers such as Amazon.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Happy Birthday, Colonel!

And speaking of bionics (as we were in the last post), today marks the 77th birthday of the original Six Million Dollar Man, Lee Majors! Colonel Steve Austin is still - and will forever be - our favorite cyborg secret agent!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

BIONIC WOMAN U.K. Annuals


As with most popular television series of the Seventies, The Bionic Woman (along with its older sibling show, The Six Million Dollar Man) was popular in the United Kingdom, and received the uniquely British "annual" treatment for young viewers. There were two of these hardcover collections of fiction, games, articles and comic strips, published by Brown Watson and with artwork by Ian Gibson, released in 1977 and '78.

Special thanks to Star Kids Scott Weller (for much better cover scans) and Jeremy Briggs (for additional publication info)!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

News: FUTURE COP (1977) Now on DVD

Somehow I missed the announcement, but another short-lived 70s sci-fi series has come to DVD. Mill Creek Entertainment released the 1977 sci-fi police actioner, Future Cop - The Complete Series, last month.

Future Cop starred veterans Ernest Borgnine (The Black Hole) and John Amos as beat cops who are assigned to work with an android police officer named Haven, played by Michael Shannon.

The original pilot telefilm aired in 1976, and then in '77 ABC aired six episodes (including a two-part story, with both parts debuting back-to-back the same night) before cancelling the show. An eighth story was produced as a TV movie, airing on NBC in 1978 as a second "pilot" to try to get the show back on the air with a new network, but it didn't get picked up. The 2-disc DVD set contains all of the episodes, including the TV movies, and retails for around fifteen bucks, although Amazon currently has it for under $10.

I just ordered my copy!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Behind-The-Scenes Pix #52: THE BLACK HOLE

When the inevitable robot rebellion comes... will it look like this?

Some of the cybernetic stars of Gary Nelson's 1979 sci-fi epic for Disney, The Black Hole, pose for a group portrait, presumably during a UK publicity tour. The 'bots are on the Gateshead side of the River Tyne with the Tyne Bridge in the background.

Thanks to Star Kid Jeremy Briggs, who identified the location of the photo over on the Space: 1970 Facebook page.

Friday, April 1, 2016

BUCK ROGERS (1981) "The Golden Man" TV Guide Ad

Here's another TV Guide ad for the second season of Buck Rogers In The 25th Century, specifically the episode, "The Golden Man," complete with misleading and titillating ad copy!

For other Rogers TV Guide promos, check out these earlier posts:

BUCK ROGERS TV Guide Advertisements
BUCK ROGERS 2nd Season TV Guide Ad 
More BUCK ROGERS 2nd Season TV Guide Ads!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

RETURN FROM WITCH MOUNTAIN (1978) Poster Art

Yeah, I like me some Witch Mountain - what kid of the Seventies didn't? The original two-film series from Disney featured a couple of likable adolescent leads in Ike Eisenmann (who would go on to star on TV's The Fantastic Journey and a play small part in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) and Kim Richards, some genuine menace thanks to veteran heavies like Ray Milland and Christopher Lee (and Bette Davis!) and some all-too-brief glimpses of a cool flying saucer!

Here are some of the one sheets for the second film, released to U.S. cinemas in March of 1978, Return From Witch Mountain. Personally, I think it's the weaker of the two movies, but I always enjoy Chris Lee.

I really like the striking and atmospheric poster above. I don't know the identity of the artist, but I really dig the other-worldliness of the image, which is superior to the rather TV-like look of the actual film.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

PLANET OF THE APES Toy Guns by Mattel

These toy weapons definitely wouldn't fly today (can't give kids toy firearms anymore), but you have to admire Mattel's shameless repackaging/recycling of some leftover plastic Western & WWII rifles and revolvers as Planet Of The Apes playthings. Just add a couple of POTA logo stickers and a cheap, Ben Cooper-styled ape mask, and you're ready to go!

This ad appears to have originated from a retailer's sales brochure or industry trade magazine. Does anyone remember seeing these as a kid? Or have one?

Monday, March 21, 2016

Kelly Freas STAR TREK Portfolio (1976)

In 1976, legendary science fiction illustrator, Frank Kelly Freas, published the Star Trek Portfolio, featuring gorgeous charcoal portraits of the officers of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Needless to say, it's a highly-desired collectible these days.

Beginning in 1950, Freas provided the covers to hundreds of science fiction and fantasy magazines, including Weird Tales, Planet Stories, Astounding Science Fiction (and Analog), among many others. In the field of genre paperbacks, he created cover illustrations for DAW, Signet, Ballantine Books, Avon, all 58 Laser Books (which are now collectors' items), and over 90 covers for Ace books alone. He provided many covers for MAD Magazine, artwork for NASA's Skylab program, and in the Eighties, for numerous gaming publications. He also painted the cover to Queen's classic LP, News of the World, and was the first person to win ten Hugo Awards.

He passed away in 2005.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

QUARK (1978) TV Guide Ad

Here's the original NBC TV Guide ad heralding the debut of the short-lived sci-fi spoof, Quark, on February 24th, 1978. This hour-long series premiere - "May the Source Be With You" - came almost nine months after the pilot episode, which had aired the previous May.

As I've opined on this blog before, I think the show had a lot of potential, even if the handful of episodes aired were decidedly uneven in quality. I sincerely believe that had it received a full season to work out the kinks, it could have become something a lot more memorable.

Friday, January 15, 2016

JASON OF STAR COMMAND (1978) Stop-Motion Monster

Stephen Czerkas with his monster.
Photo ©Mark Wolf. All rights Reserved. Used With Permission.
Back in 1978, producer and special effects artist Mark Wolf dropped by the studio where the team of Stephen Czerkas and Jim Aupperle - both veterans of Planet of Dinosaurs - were slaving away producing stop-motion animated sequences for Filmation's ambitious live-action Saturday morning space opera, Jason Of Star Command. During his visit, he snapped these exclusive, behind-the-scenes photos of the monster of the week - an insectoid alien with an electric tongue(!) featured in the first season episode, "Planet of the Lost!"

 The Jason monster designs and filming models were outstanding (as the photos show) and the animation always top-notch... even if the animators, due to the network's restrictions on violent action, found their work extra challenging at times.

According to Mark, "I recall Steve and his partner, DP/animator Jim Aupperle, both remarking about how the show went to extreme lengths not to do anything too violent, which put a crimp in delivering anything  too  dramatic for Saturday mornings.  I believe it was Jim who said, 'How are the humans supposed to fight-off the monsters?  Use harsh language?'"

Photo ©Mark Wolf. All rights Reserved. Used With Permission.
Photo ©Mark Wolf. All rights Reserved. Used With Permission.
Photo ©Mark Wolf. All rights Reserved. Used With Permission.
As fans of the series - which I'm guessing is pretty much every reader of this blog - knows, the effects work on Jason was truly exceptional, going far above and beyond anything else produced for Saturday morning kid shows of the time. Much of the work was of feature film quality. Even today, most of it still holds up, especially the imaginative (and plentiful) stop-motion alien monsters.

Special Star Kid thanks to Mark Wolf for sharing these photos with Space: 1970.