Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Get Rid of that Crap!! part 4: Test Shot

This one was a real bitch as I had to take multiple shots before I had an image I was happy with. But, it was also the most gratifying of the three to make. Come to think of it, EightA2KY! was more difficult: it took over 40 pics before I had the angle I wanted for that photo, but this one was still a pain in the ass. The upper right corner had a patch of grass that kept popping into the frame & the goddamned postcard flew away every time the wind blew. The postcard was bought at the same antique store as the cowboy/indian pieces used in Little Jack, but two or three years after I had purchased those. The figures were all manufactured by Marx toys, the undisputed king of plastic playthings. Their most famous product was arguably the Fort Apache playset which was available from the 1950s until Marx filed for bankruptcy in the late '70s. Its something several generations of American kids grew up with. I can still remember when my grandfather brought one to the house as a gift for myself and my brother when we were little. He most likely bought it at the TSS in Middle Village or the Playworld in Syosset but I don't remember which--I just wanted to have a battle between the cowboys & indians (the sculpting on the figures was very detailed).
The figures in
Test Shot come from a few sources: like other toy companies, Marx would reissue & reuse product when needed. The silver astronauts are reality-based on the early Sixties look of U. S. spacemen and could be found carded (sometimes sold loose in a jar or basket in certain stores), or as part of Marx's famously elaborate playsets. 1962's Operation Moon Base is one such set: ridiculously large as toys from that period were, it features spaceships, aliens, satellites, and an enormous vacu-formed (vacuum formed) moon landscape. In 1996, I saw this boxed beast at a Heckscher Park flea market for $2000.00! Two thousand dollars!! Prices like that betray the nature of a flea market. The two blue figures have a great metallic finish to their plastic and come from another Marx set, 1960s Atomic Cape Canaveral. This is a scaled down set if compared toOperation Moon Base but its no less impressive, featuring a wonderful tin pressed U. S. A. F. Missile Test Center building, two spring-loaded rocket launchers, fuel tanks, & plastic atomic generators (like they were going to be real ones). A few of these accessories harken back to the Fifties: they were featured, & I believe first made for, the Tom Corbett Space Academy set (Tom Corbett being an early television hero along with the likes of Captain Video--more on the Captain in the future). The detail on Marx's figures shows why they were the best in their field & its a shame the dedication to this craft has been lost on today's toy makers.

This photo was shot on an old slate walkway because the look of it reminded me of how the Southwest can appear from an airplane. The large grey spaces also made me think of the expanse of flat area that encompasses a test site. The most meaningful things for me in this piece are the rusted tools, old light switch cover, and electrical odds-n-ends that came from my father's tool box. He was an aerospace engineer for Grumman at one point in his life, having worked on the Gemini & Apollo missions for NASA. At the time these were taken, this was one way I was able to reconnect with him.

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