25 Vintage Scifi, Space, & Robot Valentines

Valentine’s Day is a divisive holiday, but whether you’re for or against a holiday of hearts and love, I think we can all agree that these cheesy vintage Valentines are “out of this world.” Featuring retro robots, vintage astronauts, and cheesy messages, these images are a nostalgic reminder of exchanging Valentines in elementary school. In addition to a nice trip down memory lane, many of these Valentines are perfect to print out and give to your beloved for a day of retro love.

Lady Astronaut Valentine You Are Out of This World
This lady astronaut proclaims “You are out of this world!” (At least she’s dressed practically for space travel!)

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These Found Object Robots are Straight Outta Retro Scifi Dreams

We already know how obsessed I am with retro-style robots. From tin wind-up robot toys to vintage book covers, I can’t get enough of those boxy visions of personified machines. But these sculptures take that familiar vintage concept and create amazing pieces of art. Check out this lady robot called Daphne. Made from an upcycled candy tin and a bundt pan, she is reminicent of the Jetson’s Rosie the Robot.

Found Object Robot Sculpture
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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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20 Retro Scifi Tin Toys to Take You Back to Simpler Days

Retro Scifi Tin Toys, Robots, Rockets, Rayguns

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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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.

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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Retrofuture Come True: The Roomba Predicted in 1959

I was browsing Pinterest when I saw this photograph that immediately caught my eye. I’m obsessed with retrofuturist predictions about homes, especially kitchens. In the 1950s and 60s, kitchens were still considered “the woman’s domain,” and most of the technology predicted for women was in this arena. We’ve often seen the smart kitchen with computers managing diet and perfectly prepared food emerging from hidden appliances. But rarely do we see what amazing technological predictions they had for cleaning the floor.

Roomba of the Future!

So this was a little more than a prediction, more like an invention that was ahead of its time. This robot floor cleaner was patented in 1957 by Donald G Moore. Controlled by a central console, you only need to press a button and the little robot appears and buzzes around just like the Roomba. It uses similar sensor technology and follows a preprogrammed path around the room so that the entire room is cleaned. One way it differs from the the Roombas on the market today, is one floor unit both vacuums and “mops.” Also, the design on the original is charming but very dated. Continue reading “Retrofuture Come True: The Roomba Predicted in 1959”

Retro Raygun Art Pieces by Ryan Nagata of 3f Studios

Raygun by Ryan Nagata

I love rayguns. Not because I’m super into weaponry, but because I love a beautifully designs atompunk stylized raygun. Most often I only see them on magazine and book covers, relegated only to the imaginations of the past. But then I saw these amazing rayguns by Ryan Nagata and realized those imagined gadgets can actually be real. Well, as real as a replica.

Raygun by Ryan Nagata

Ryan is a director and artist living in Los Angeles. He makes many props and replicas, including some realistic Apollo space suits. As a part of 3F Studios he works with his collaborator George Edelman to make short films and web content.

Raygun by Ryan Nagata

Their stuff is impressive and definitely worth checking out if you’re into cosplay. I’m just amazed by these beautiful rayguns. Most are Ryan’s original design and he makes them because he loves the process of designing and building them. Unfortunately, they are not for sale, but you can check out this video of Adam Savage’s TESTED where he checks out these awesome pieces and learns more about Ryan’s process.

Retro Robot School Supplies

Now that we’re getting into the last half of August, many people in the US are getting sick of the super hot and humid summer weather. It’s also the time of year when many minds drift ahead, thinking of changing leaves, pumpkin spice flavored treats, and (if you’re a parent or a student) heading back to school.

Even though I have no one in my life that will be heading to school this fall, I can’t help but love some of the retro-robot themed school supplies I’ve seen pop-up in various corners of the internet. These are the kinds of items I would have LOVED to buy during my school supply shopping trips. I would definitely be the one with the matching backpack, lunch sack, and pencil case, even if they’re all advertised for boys.

Check out these fun and fabulously retro robot designed supplies. If you have any reason to buy some of these, do it ASAP!

Retro Robot Backpack
Back to school shopping always starts with a backpack. Any robot obsessed kid would love this retro robot bag. It has all the pockets and features any student would need and also LOOK AT THOSE ROBOTS. The print features cute illustrations of a variety of retro-style robot friends. Check it out at Amazon.
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The Home of the Future: Year 1999 AD [VIDEO]

Here is an interesting short film I found on Youtube recently. Originally released in 1967, the short film “1999 A.D.” was released by the Philco-Ford Corporation for their 75th anniversary and it predicts the future of technology in the home. These videos are always a lot of fun to compare how close the predictions are to real life. I also enjoy seeing the retrofuturist visions of technology, especially from the 1950s and 1960s.

Check out the video and I’ll recap some of my favorite of their predictions below.

The video starts with a quaint beach scene of a mother and son (and some disconcerting horror-movie music), to set the time and also the new modular homes of the future. Kind of an odd opening, especially with such a dramatic reveal of what the year is. I don’t know how this film was originally presented to consumers, but I imagine they had some idea what they were getting themselves into.
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