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Recently, I have started recording some let’s play videos, mainly Fallout: New Vegas,it has been a favourite of mine and it is wonderfully atompunk anyway. This is one of those let’s play videos, with German commentary, because German simply sounds more evil.
First, I go and hunt myself some Deathclaws (they respawn every few days anyway, no harm done. Deathclaws simply have an insane breeding rate).
Next, I go and make the Mojave wasteland a better place by getting rid of a party of Legion troopers who are out to get me.
Living through the 1950’s in the United States must have been great, at least that is the impression you get when you watch the movies of those days, go through popular TV shows like What’s My Line on Youtube. Also, the US was the most powerful nation in the world and had for most of that decade (from 20th January 1953 onward and for the rest of the 50’s) one of the greatest presidents ever to grace the WHite House: Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Republican most Republicans today would call a stinking liberal, but I digress.
The 1950’s also saw the Second Red Scare and McCarthyism and of course the constant fear of a Soviet nuclear attack. It was the latter that spawned a sector of industry which is the real world equivalent of the Fallout universe’s Vault Tech. There was never a single company that dominated the sector, instead, it was local constrction companies that would build shelters for families or at least deliver parts for self-assembly. Shelters were also constructed for showcase purposes as the black and white photograph below shows, complete with fetching young lady to attract male customers (who at the time were still the main money earners of a family by a wide margin).
While some designs of personal shelters were feasable, others were more fancyful and were more like villas and mansions underground and far from what an average US citizen could afford, here are some examples:
Popular Mechanics and other magazines also published instructions for building shelters completely from scratch if your were really on a budget or were seriously into DIY.
The scare past, the Cold War ended in 1990 and now we can luckily look back at those images with nostaligia, I mean, the designs do look great and could be taken straight from a Fallout advertisemen reel, don’t you think?
My word! I happened across Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, by pure chance, but what a wonderful piece of 1950s sci-fi it is, and not simply for the nostalgic value. The tropes, the sheer concentraton of tropes.
Before I go into detail of the tropes, I guess I should give a short explanation and introduction as to what and who Rocky Jones, Space Ranger is.
Rocky Jones is the titular character of a short-lived 1950’s sci-fi TV series of the Space Opera persuasion.
The series centered on the adventures of Rocky, the archetypical 1950’s good-guy hero. Clean-cut, square-jawed and of course most famous of the Space Rangers (a sort of interstellar police force). The Space Rangers patrol the United Worlds of the Solar System in the then not-too-distant future, which may or may not be the current present. Rocky and his crew fly a V-2-like spacecraft, the Orbit Jet XV-2, later in the series this became the nearly identical Silver Moon XV-3. Rocky and his crew always get the most dangerous missions the Space Rangers can assign but of course always succeed. Two things concerning the general topic of conflict resolution are notable: Although the Space ranger crew can destroy spaceships full of evil henchmen with impunity, they never fire their ray guns at people/aliens, this type of opponent is always engaged with good old brave fistfights.
Also, the script writers had serious issues with scientifically correct nomenclature and regulraly mix up planets, moons, stars and constellations, so that the locations where the adventures take place are vague in an almost cosmic sense.
Now for the TROPES, and oh my Cthulhu, do we have tropes:
The Hero, of course. Rocky Jones is smart, brave, handsome and the spiritual ancestor of Captain Kirk, because every single woman in the series (including the evil space queen, see below) finds him irresitable.
The Evil (Space) Queen Cleolanta, who is the main antagonist but also has a crush on Rocky.
The trusty side-kick Winky, who also doubles as comic relief and on top of it all is a hidden bad-ass with quite the brawling skills
The futuristic space lingo: „Sparkling stardust!“ „Roaring rockets!“ „Jumping satellites!“ „Super cosmic!“ „Mighty meteor!“ and the list goes on. Glorious!
There are more tropes hidden in there, believe me. Just feast your eyes now:
Today I have the great pleasure of having Bonsart Bokel, host of the Radio Retrofuture Youtube channel (please subscribe!) as my guest on the Non-Euclidean Æthercast.
We cover a lot of ground during the course of the podcast, from Medieval reenactment, to retrofuturistic reenactment, yes this actually works. Bonsart has founded the RAG-TAG: Regiment Anachronistische Grenadiers, check them out. RAG-TAG are actually supposed to be the goons and evil henchmen, but like so many of the „evil guys“, the 501st Legion is the best example, I think, they do some really great stuff, in their case some „Stormtrooper courses“ for children, with nerf guns and other fun-enhancers.
But I am not going to spoil the podcast here, just tease it.
Oh yes, the good ol‘ days of the 1960s, when men were still real men, women were still real women and small fluffy creatures from Alpha Centauri… You get the idea. It was also the time of heavily gendered toys and a Real Boy™ needed a big gun to be a soldier, because, he was going to be one. Obviously, the 1960s are a handful of decades before the invention of the iconic BFG, but there was this one toy, that was so over the top as a toy gun, it would deserve the title of BFG anyway.
I am talking of course about the Johnny Seven Toy Gun, it really defies proper description, it is so over the top, and the marketing as well. It is the must-have toy for a Real Boy™, but I am repeating myself. I also think it is delightfully atompunk and captures the spirit of the time:
America has the biggest guns
Our technology is the best
Our Real Boys™ are more real than yours!
And now, without further ado, here is the official advert for the Johnny Seven Toy Gun. It is somewhere between absolutely awesome and high-powered cringe-worthy, depending on your perspective.
Let me introduce you to a wonderful little craft from the dawn of the Atompunk Age and the Cold War, the Convair XY-1 Pogo:
The Convyair XFY-1 is another of those fantastic designs which emerged just after the end of the Second Word War and the beginning of the Cold War.
An experimental aircraft, if it would have been adopted for military service, it would have provide first line of airborne defense and reconnaissance capability for ships and convois operating without aircraft carriers, as it could theoretically be launched from any ship, military or civilian that was big enough. To be able to be launched from any ship, the Pogo was designed to be a VTOL aircraft, which explains the strange and memorable shape.
Ultimately, only three Pogos were built in 1954 and only one of them flew before the project was scrapped.
The cancellation had several reasons:
The design was relatively light since it had to be able to be carried by regular freighters without specially reinforced decks. The light airframe proved unstable at higher speeds
Handling and especially landing proved complicated.
Only the most experienced pilots would have been able to operate the Pogo safely, which made the planned one ship – one Pogo unrealistic.
The rapid advancement in jet engine technology and the tremendous speed advantage of jet fighters against the Pogo cancelled out its effectiveness as an interceptor.
So, the Pogo remains a footnote in the anals of aviation, just like Lockeeds parallelly developed VTOL fighter, the Lockheed XFV, which I will feature next.
Luckily, there is still footage around of the Pogo being tested, enjoy!
And these are the general stats of the craft:
Length: 32 ft 3 in (9.8 m)
Wingspan: 27 ft 8 in (8.4 m)
Height: ft in (m)
Wing area: 355 ft² (33 m²)
Empty weight: 11,139 lb (5,060 kg)
Loaded weight: 14,250 lb (6,470 kg)
Useful load: 13,250 lb (6,016 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 16,250 lb (7,370 kg)
Powerplant: 1 × Allison YT40-A-14 turboprop engine, 5,100 shp (3,803 kW)
Propellers: 3-bladed contra-rotating propellers
Maximum speed: 474 mph (412 kn, 763 km/h) at 15,000 ft (4,600 m)
Range: ≈500 mi (308 nmi, 805 km)
Service ceiling: 37,500 feet (11,440 m)
Rate of climb: 9,980 ft/min to 20,000 ft (3,045 m/min)
Max. wing loading: 38.1 lb/ft² (186 kg/m²)
Minimum power/mass: 0.34 hp/lb (560 W/kg)
Guns: 4 × 20mm (0.79 in) cannon, or
Rockets: 48 × 2.75 in (70 mm) Mk 4 Folding-Fin Aerial Rockets
What a lovely thing to find, please enjoy while it is online (no copyright infringement intended, I did not upload the video, I found it, it is public on YouTube):
Gigantis – The Fire Monster
Now, as you can see, Gigantis is none other than the mighty Godzilla and in Japan this is officially the second Godzilla movie. For some reason the American distributor of the movie decided to rename the creature Gigantis, even though Godzilla had been a huge success in the USA, too. Suffice to say, Gigantis was not a sucess at all and no other Godzilla movies have since renamed the titular character, although other abbominations have happened (especially recently)
Almost three and a half minutes of high-density greatness, the best parts of the Space Race from Leica all the way to Armstrong’s first steps on the moon, sit back and enjoy!
And while I am at it:
May I point your attention to the most excellent Youtube Channel British Pathé, which also brought you the video above? It is definitely worth checking out, since it provides a beautiful overview over British and world affairs in the 20th century using the original material of the respective eras!
The 1950’s were the golden age of sci-fi b-movies; movies bad even by the standards of 1950’s special effects.
One shining and rather endearing and quaint example of this is The Giant Claw, enjoy with a massive dose of humour and a bag of crisps: