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One of our fave vintage collectibles is futuristic toys from the 1950′s and 60′s. These were mostly produced in tin and imported from Japan. This was during the “Atomic Age” when design and pop culture were obsessed with all things “Space” related and looking into the future. And while these toys may fall into the kitsch category, that is why we love them – their naivety combined with that super cool 50′s Atomic design is irresistible!
The Ford Gyron was a tin battery-operated car made in Japan in the early 60’s. It was based on the futuristic two-wheeled gyrocar first shown to the world in 1961 at the Detroit Motor Show as a concept car designed by futurist Syd Mead. The car could run forward and reverse while a red light in the rear blinked on and off. A switch underneath the car raised and lowered the roof.
The “XP-1960 Dream Car” was produced by Mattel in 1953. According to the Mattel catalog of 1953, the car was available in four futuristic colors of Red Blaze, Chartreuse Dreamliner, Black Diamond, and Blue Bullet. It was described as “The only car of its kind in the world of toys. Low slung, impact resistant plastic body. Permanent, high gloss chrome trim. BOMBER BUBBLE transparent convertible top. SPEED STREAK friction motor. 4 futuristic colors. Individually packed in eye catching 3 color box.”
You can see the beginnings of a 1961 Thunberbird underneath all the “futurism” going on! This 1959 Meiko “Future Car” certainly had the fins for space travel!
This rare tin friction car was based on the popular concept car designed by the Lincoln division of Ford Motor Company. It was originally designed by Ford Motor Company lead stylists Bill Schmidt and John Najjar Ferzely and built by Ghia entirely by hand in Turin, Italy, at a cost of $250,000 (2014 equivalent: $2,200,000) and displayed on the auto show circuit in 1955. In 1966 the car was modified by George Barris into the Batmobile, for the 1966 TV series Batman.
Enjoy this recent video of a toy Futura offered at auction:
Look for a future article here on Modern Bear on vintage Robots and other Space Age toys…
Some fabulous examples of Retro Futurism are the series of illustrations by Charles Schridde for a Motorola advertising campaign during the 1960’s. These ads often appeared in Life Magazine and featured futuristic architecture and fantastical lifestyles centered around Motorola TV and stereo consoles.
“When Charlie Schridde was working at New Center Studios in Detroit in the early sixties, the recently acquired Motorola account was the subject of an in-house contest. Each artist was asked to create a scene involving “a neat place to watch tv.” As a result, Schridde’s vision of sophisticated couples, near-future architecture and sumptuous, panoramic environments won the day. He continued creating the high-profile, double-page spread Motorola ads (which regularily appeared in both Life magazine and the Saturday Evening Post) even after leaving New Center.”
– Today’s Inspiration