NASA’s Retro Space Travel Posters Challenge Your Brain as Puzzles

A couple years ago, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory released a line of retro-style travel posters known as “Visions of the Future.” These vintage style posters were gorgeous imaginings of traveling to distant planets and systems. (The posters are available for free download here.) Like many vintage sci-fi fans, I fell absolutely in love with these imaginative posters advertising opportunities to travel to places I’d dreamed of, like Mars, Jupiter, and Venus.

NASA JPL Vintage Travel Poster - Mars
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Learn ABCs with Greg Paprocki’s Retro Alphabet Books

I have such a sweet spot for retro-style art, especially advertising and illustrations from the 1950s and 60s. It’s not surprising that when I saw the covers for these ABC books illustrated by Greg Paprocki, they caught my eye.

A is for Atom Midcentury Alphabet Book Retro Illustrations
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Steampunk Style Cities of the World Posters from Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris Retrofuture Washington DC Poster
I’ve never had the pleasure of going to Disneyland Paris, but thanks to the Disney and More blog, everyone can enjoy these retrofuture style posters from the Main Street Discovery Arcade. Artists Jim Michaelson, Maureen Johnston and R. Ziscis. Inspired by the 19th Century French illustrator (and author) Albert Robida, they imagined each city in a retrofuture style that feels very steampunk. (Learn more about Robida on Wikipedia.)
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20 Retro Scifi Tin Toys to Take You Back to Simpler Days

Retro Scifi Tin Toys, Robots, Rockets, Rayguns

The holiday shopping season is upon us and all the ads and websites pushing toys and gadgets for this year make me feel like we’re living in a technological dystopia. From the kid’s Think and Learn Smart Cycle that just looks like training for Black Mirror’s “Fifteen Million Merits” to the FrontRow Wearable Lifestyle Camera that brings the surveillance state to your own body, I am missing simpler times. And of course, the simpler time I’m missing is from before I was born.

Tin toys first came into existence in the mid 19th century as a substitute for wooden toys. They were cheap to make from durable tinplate, manufactured in Germany originally and then in the US in the early 1900s. Once World War II started, the materials needed to produce the toys were diverted for the war effort and Japan became the main manufacturer of tin toys through the 1950s. After that, plastic toys became all the rage because they were cheaper to manufacture and easily met new government safety regulations. (Read all about their history on Wikipedia.)

Many parents and grandparents remember their tin toys fondly, especially the space and robot-themed toys that remain popular among vintage collectors today. Luckily, there are many retro-style tin toys still being manufactured today that are affordable for regular consumers looking for a little nostalgia. Good for kids, collectors, or a meaningful gift for Dad or Grandad, let’s take a walk down memory lane and enjoy these retro sci-fi themed tin toys.

Robby the Robot Inspired Tin Toy

One of the most famous robots from the 1950s and 60s, this tin toy is based on Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet. While it’s also available in red, the black version looks the most like the classic robot. This is a wind-up toy, but it’s meant for collectors to display rather than for children to play with.
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Get Rid of Unwanted Hairs with the Atomic Trimmer

I love a raygun as much as the next person, but this one may be just a little too weird for me. Behold: a nose trimmer that looks like an Atomic Raygun. It’s actually a nose and ear hair trimmer, but the cool part of it is that it looks just like a retro-style atomic raygun.

Atomic Raygun Trimmer

It seems really awkward to use since you have to hold it like a raygun and all, but all the reviews on it are pretty good. People not only love the novelty of it, but it seems to do a good job of removing unwanted hairs from your nose and ears. This is definitely the kind of thing that makes a fun gag gift and would look cool displayed in a bathroom.
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Vintage Magazine Galaxy Science Fiction Available Free Online

Galaxy November 1950 Cover

Starting in the 1950s, World Editions (an Italian publishing company) decided they wanted to break into the US market with a new sci-fi magazine. They create Galaxy Science Fiction which became a leading SF magazine of the time. The magazine was published monthly from October 1950 until its end in 1980. (You can read more about the history of the magazine on Wikipedia.)
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Professor Astro Cat: Retrofuture Combined with Science Education

I have fond memories as a kid digging through boxes of books passed down to me from my parents who grew up in the 1960s. My favorites were the comic books, sci-fi books, and the old science books. The science books were great, with fantastic illustrations of space travel and technology. (I especially liked to get my hands on books about the speculations on the future of technology.) As much as I enjoyed those old science books, a lot of the information was outdated in my youth and probably isn’t something I’d want to give to any future children of my own. Recently I discovered some educational children books that present their science with the classic atomic age style of illustration I love from those vintage books.

Professor Astro Cat Teaches Gravity
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Jetta of the 21st Century – Long Lost 1950s Atompunk Comic

Jetta of the 21st Century Comic Issue #6

Cartoonist Dan DeCarlo is most famous for his beloved characters created under the Archie Comics name, like Josie & the Pussycats or Betty and Veronica. Less known is the short-lived retro-futuristic comic book Jetta of the 21st Century. Released over three issues in 1952-1953, this comedic teen comic followed the exploits of teen girl Jetta Raye as she attended Neutron High School. Unfortunately, most of her problems revolved around her boyfriend Arky’s infidelity, with occasional bouts of technology gone awry.

Jetta of the 21st Century Jet Pack

Set 100 years in the future in 2052, the comic focuses on new gadgets and “a new kind of teenage talk.” Reading it now, this futuristic slang feels completely dated but deliciously fun if you love this kind of retro stuff.

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This Retro Alt History Short Features the First Woman to Walk on the Moon

I love modern films that use retrofuturist visuals and this short film has that in spades. “Over the Moon” is an alternative history short film about the first woman to walk on the moon in 1957. It follows her adventures as she tries to prevent the 1969 moon landing.

The main character, Connie Radar, leads this comedic story with her sidekick Julius–a robot she built. You can watch the 7 minute short film below:


Over the Moon from Media Design School on Vimeo.

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Stream this Documentary About The Futurism of Walt Disney

Many people of my generation (and the previous one) are nostalgic about Disney, whether they have memories from going to Disneyland as a child, watching Disney Specials on TV, or fondly recalling the animated movies of your childhood. For me, though, most of my Disney nostalgia has to do with Walt Disney’s futurism, which all happened long before I was born.

The Futurism of Disney's Tomorrowland

This independent documentary by CM Films called Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow: The Futurism of Walt Disney dives deep into the technologies Walt Disney used and developed over the course of his life. They cover his animation technology, his educational TV shows, and even the experimental city he originally envisioned EPCOT to be. The film utilizes vintage archival footage that any retrofuturist will love, while exploring the history of Disney’s visions and developments through expert interviews from people who worked on the projects.

The full-length documentary is available to stream for free on Youtube:

If you’re not as interested in the history of Walt’s animation achievements, the documentary starts discussing the development, construction, and early days of Disneyland at 48:30, and the futurism of Tomorrowland in the park and the TV show at 58:00. This section talks about how the TV show was designed to be “science factual” to show viewers technology in development and how we would travel in space. There’s beautiful vintage footage of these retrofuturist visions from the “Man in Space” TV program. Check out some awesome screencaps below:

The Futurist Visions of Walt Disney: Space Travel
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