In Which An Aerial Bomb Is Converted Into A Spaceship Pedal Car

Salvaged Bomb Makes Juvenile Space Ship

Salvaged Bomb Makes Juvenile Space Ship – July, 1955

Its central structure a discarded 500-pound aerial bomb, a juvenile “space ship” gives two-foot-power transportation to Gene Montoya of Honolulu. The space ship was built by Gene’s father, D. L. Montoya, in a single week end at a cost of less than a dollar. The surplus bomb is lined with rubber padding and the wire wheels are from another juvenile vehicle.

Source: Modern Mechanix

It’s hoped that gutting out the bomb eliminated a good part of that 500-pounds, otherwise little Gene must have had a serious workout as he pedaled around.

Jet Age Design For The Free-spirited Individual – The 1960 Plymouth XNR

1960 Plymouth XNR Concept (Photo: RM Auctions)

The 1960 Plymouth XNR Concept Car

The 1960 Plymouth XNR is an unusual and storied little sports roadster. Reflecting creative designer Virgil Exner’s affection for Indy style – XNR being a play on Exner’s name –  it’s asymmetrical makeup has always divided observers. Plymouth proudly promoted the XNR’s driver-centric stance describing it as, ‘Functional, beautiful, unprecedented: the entire design is concentrated around the driver.’  Unlike other concept vehicles of the time which were developed with fiberglass, the Plymouth NXR was built entirely of steel by Ghia craftsmen in Turin. Virgil Exner had his ‘dream car’ design built to last, and to drive.

Plymouth XR Front-Side View

Plymouth XNR – A Driver’s Car: A large, offset hood scoop led to an extended sculptured rise, which faired into the cowl and embraced a low, driver’s side curved windscreen, then flowed smoothly into a single offset tailfin.

Plymouth XNR Driver's Side

Plymouth XNR Driver’s Side: View Of Low Curved Windscreen, (The Glovebox To The Right Could Be Removed And Used As A Camera Bag.)

Plymouth XNR Top SHot

Plymouth XNR – A Driver’s Car: On the passenger side, a folding, Brooklands-style, flat windshield was accented by a snug-fitting, steel tonneau cover.

Plymouth XNR Seating

Plymouth XNR – A Driver’s Car: with a black leather interior, twin bucket seats, deep door cavities with zipper pockets, and a stowage area for luggage. Its passenger seat was positioned four-inches lower than the driver’s, and there was a padded headrest for the driver.

Exner was also a true believer in the tailfin – not just for the jet-age aesthetic, but also because he believed in the stability enhancing qualities that the fin provided. He even involved himself with wind-test studies in Michigan. The XNR sports a tall side tailfin.

Plymouth XNR - Side Tailfin:

Plymouth XNR – Rear Tailfin: Exner believed its prominent fin, besides being a visual treat, helped high-speed stability.

The XNR’s front and rear views were given great style and design attention as well.

Plymouth XNR Front View

Plymouth XNR Front View: A bold, extended nose, framed with a thin chrome surround, outlined a solid aluminum grille with holes drilled for cooling, and incorporated a set of then-popular quad headlights. A slender reveal on each side was fronted by a small running light in an aircraft-inspired nacelle.

Plymouth XNR Top Front View

Plymouth XNR – Top Front View: Sidefins reflect the inspiration from jet aircraft.

Plymouth XNR Rear View

Plymouth XNR Rear View: In back, a vertical strip emerged from the tall fin, flowed under the lower deck, and tee-ed into another thin blade, forming a bold cross that served as a bumper.

Plymouth XNR Top Rear View

Plymouth XNR Top Rear View: The XNR’s radical rear dramatically emphasized its asymmetrical theme.

Even the instrument panel had its unique characteristics.

Plymouth XNR Instrumentation

Plymouth XNR Instrumentation: Full instrumentation included an 8,000 rpm tachometer, which incorporated a vacuum gauge. Mr. Exner had an affinity for photography and incorporated his personal hobby into the instruments. The dials have individual, inverted lenses that mimic camera optics.

On Saturday, 18 August 2012, the Plymouth XNR concept car was put on auction in Monterrey, California. Early expectations were that this unique and storied (read below) treasure would sell for over one-million dollars. It seems that the XNR still holds its controversial status – the winning bid was $935,000. That’s certainly not a paltry sum by any length of the imagination, but it is an indication that even to wealthy collectors Exner’s ‘Dream Car’ is still undervalued for its singularity.

While this post focused on the exterior aspects of the XNR design, there is much more to note about this rare one off concept vehicle.  For instance, the power plant of this street ready vehicle used the same design as that used in the 1960 Daytona NASCAR compact class race program – RM Auctions points out that, ‘(t)his slant six went on to dominate the top seven places, subsequently canceling the class due to lack of competition!’ Also of great note is the 50 year history of how the XNR went from Michigan to Europe, winding it’s way to the Middle East and into the hands of the Shah of Iran, ending up in Lebanon for the duration of that country’s civil war (1975–1991), and finally back to North America to win the coveted Gran Turismo Trophy at the 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

If you’re at all interested in those details and much more you can visit the RM Auctions page by clicking here.

— All photos by, via RM Auctions
— Photo caption information source: RM Auctions

Machines – Our Fearsome Friends


Humans seem to have a very ambivalent relationship with their machines. At once they are both fascinating and helpful, but also sometimes menacing and intimidating. In the late 20th Century this was most graphically portrayed with the SkyNet revolution in the Terminator film franchise.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the machine held a part in popular consciousness as well – Fritz Lang’s Metropolis comes to mind almost in an instant. The people in the mid 20th century had their own fears. Numerous sci-fi films were made featuring rebellious robots and machines. This was not lost to the executives at The Bell System.

For the 1963 Bell Systems Communications Seminar, organizer Ted Mills hired Jim Henson to create a short film illustrating the ‘nascent, but growing relationship between man and machine: a relationship not without tension and resentment.’ Below is a video of the film, Robot – it perfectly illustrates how a fun little robot can be a bit scary at the same time. Paradoxically, Henson vindicates this angry robot’s complaints of human hubris by giving it a drastic fate as it declares, ‘we don’t need man.’

In Which Italy’s Kirlian Camera Splashes The ‘Queen Of Blood’ With A Dark Wave


Italian dark wave ensemble, Kirlian Camera, pays tribute to the 1966 sci-fi horror classic, Queen of Blood.


Song: ‘The Path Of Flowers’ – From the 2005 album release, Invisible Front).

Queen Of Blood was released in 1966 by American International Pictures. The film is considered one of ‘the best of the “Corman Cut-Ups” – the spate of films produced during the sixties by cobbling together footage pirated from Russian science fiction films and new material shot by [any one] of Roger Corman’s stable of up-and-coming film-makers, in this case Curtis Harrington.’*  In Queen Of Blood, Harrington uses footage from the Russian film Meshte Nastreshu, ‘A Dream Comes True’.

The Plot: (Set in the year, 1990) After aliens contact Earth via radio to inform humans of an impending visit, their ambassador spaceship crashes on Mars. Astronaut rescuers recover only one green-skinned survivor – a female with insatiably vampire-like appetites.*

The film features John Saxon, Basil Rathbone, Judi Meredith, Dennis Hopper, and Czech actor Florence Marly as the Alien Queen.

Will You Take The Video Ranger Oath?

Captain Video Official Video Ranger Card

Captain Video Official Video Ranger Card

Now repeat after me, the oath:

‘We, as official Video Rangers, hereby promise to abide by the Ranger code and to support forever the cause of freedom, truth and justice throughout the universe.’

And just like that you are one of the members of the 22nd century crime fighting force on the children’s science fiction series Captain Video and His Video Rangers (1947-57).

(Source: The Spaceman’s Toy Chest)

Be Prepared For An Intent Quest If The Radicon Robot Is What You Seek


Collecting toy robots is a serious business – especially collecting vintage toy robots. As noted in a previous post, those produced in post-WWII Japan are some of the most prized to collectors. To many hobbyists, acquiring The Radicon Robot is like obtaining the Holy Grail.

14.75″ tall (22.5″ tall to top of wire antenna) made in Japan by Masudaya (Modern-Toys) in 1957. This is the second known radio-controlled toy and the first known remote-control robot. The Radicon Robot is also the first of the famous “Gang Of Five” classic Japanese robots. The robot was technically difficult to produce due to the complex mechanism and the thicker tin plate used to stamp the parts for it. The outside surface of this tinplate has a special textured paint that was electrically-applied. The robot is controlled by… [a] deep remote (complete w/15″ long antenna) that is battery-operated, as is the robot itself. Left side of the robot’s head has separate wire antenna to receive commands given via remote. [When the] robot’s “Off-On” switch is turned on robot begins working and functions include – moves forward, arms swing, loud clicking noise is produced, both antennas on head turn and occasionally changes direction. This action (changing direction) as well as stopping and starting is…controlled by using the remote. [There is a] light in [the] chest compartment as well as blinking eyes.
Hake’s Americana and Collectables

The pictures below are from the Hakes 2013 Auction #210 listing. Bidding for The Radicon Robot ended 21 November 2013. The winning bid was $7,210.50, which included a 15% Buyer’s Premium. So, the next time you’re browsing around resale shops, garage sales, or flea markets, consider well those old/vintage toy robots – there just might be a whole lot more to them than meets the eye.

The Radicon Remote Control Robot With Remote. (Photo: © Theodore L. Hake)

The Radicon Remote Control Robot With Deep Remote. (Photo: © Theodore L. Hake)

The Radicon Robot Front View. (Photo: © Theodore L. Hake)

The Radicon Robot Front View. (Photo: © Theodore L. Hake)

The Radicon Robot Head Close-Up. (Photo: © Theodore L. Hake)

The Radicon Robot Head Close-Up. (Photo: © Theodore L. Hake)

The Radicon Robot Chest Compartment Close-Up With On-Off Switch. (Photo: © Theodore L. Hake)

The Radicon Robot Chest Compartment Close-Up With On-Off Switch. (Photo: © Theodore L. Hake)

If you’re interested in pop culture collectables you can’t go wrong by checking out Hake’s. The items listed for sale or auction are always in great/good condition. Ted Hake has a passion as a ‘middleman of memories’ and has been in the business as the captain of secret treasure since the 1960s.

The Mysterious Number Stations – Espionage Communications?


Number Stations Graphic

Numbers stations are mysterious shortwave radio channels of indiscernible origin that exist in countries all across the world and have been reported since World War 1. They are identifiable by the unusual contents of their broadcasts: seemingly random sequences of numbers, words, letters, tunes, and Morse code, usually spoken by artificially generated voices of women and children.

The most common theory regarding the purpose of these bizarre stations is that they’re used by governments the world over to secretly transmit encrypted commands and messages to spies. That said, even though numbers stations have been discovered all over the globe and in any number of different languages, no government has ever officially acknowledged their existence. While the espionage theory is a logical one, with no official confirmation of their purpose the jury is still out.

One particularly odd station, UVB-76, has existed since the late 1970s and has broadcast a simple, repetitive buzzing tone 24 hours a day ever since. On very rare occasions, however, listeners have reported a Russian voice interrupting the buzz to read out sequences of numbers and words, always in a consistent format — this happened once in 1997, once in 2002, once in 2006, 56 times in 2010, and 14 in 2011. As with all numbers stations, its true purpose is and will probably remain unknown, but the increase in frequency of whatever it’s doing is certainly odd.

You can listen to well over 100 recordings of numbers stations for free on but be forewarned that they’re all kind of, well, eerie. They feel like something you shouldn’t be listening to, which stands to reason since apparently you’re not supposed to know they exist.


The Present Technology Of 1955 – ‘The Future Is Now’ (Short Film)


A new language has come into currency. To the public it is a language of the future. To the scientist a language of the present. This then is a report on our ‘present-future.’ Some of it profound, some of it mere gadgetry.

The Future Is Now is an RKO-Pathé film short released in 1955. This documentary is notable as it presents a more realistic near-future of technology than a lot of the more fanciful visions of the time. All the examples have actual working prototypes.

We visit government research laboratories to see some of the products that will be used in the near future.

As with a lot of the technology documentaries of the time, the film begins at a nuclear reactor showing how, ‘Nuclear energy goes to work – not destroying, but serving mankind.’ Solar energy is then introduced – the prediction was that this form of energy would become more prevalent than nuclear power, even turning ‘deserts into lush green fertility.’

Part one covers computers, television, magnetic tape, the home videotape recorder, a videophone, an electronic music synthesizer, cordless lights, and an automated kitchen.

Part two continues with the futuristic kitchen including ‘preserving foods with gamma rays instead of refrigeration.’ A bit more alarming is the irradiation of crops that were an ‘important part of the Atoms For Peace program.’ The final examples of the present-future technology of 1955 are handling mechanisms for radioactive materials complete with music fit for a wondrous modern ballet.

In the final analysis however, the key to the future is not an apparatus, a machine, or an electronic tube, but the brainpower of man. Nothing will ever replace creative intelligence.

As a final thought, it should be noted that women researchers and developers are conspicuously absent in the final segment despite their major contributions to the technologies praised throughout the film – Marie Curie’s work with radioactivity, Grace Hopper in computer technology, and Hedy Lamarr’s work in spread spectrum communications and national defense, just to name a few. As a matter of fact, Lamarr’s contributions wouldn’t be appreciated and recognized until the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Sixth Pioneer Awards in 1997, when she and George Antheil were honored with special awards for their ‘trail-blazing development of a technology that has become a key component of wireless data systems.’ The absence of women as contributors to future technologies is perhaps more chauvinistic than misogynistic, but it certainly illustrates and helps to explain why none but the most spirited girls and women chose engineering and technological fields for study and careers during the time.

Something Neat On eBay – It’s Reddy Kilowatt Being His Atomic Self


eBay seller Atomic Candy always has great old stock vintage toys and collectibles for sale. Currently there’s a really neat item up for grabs. It’s a 1949 Reddy Kilowatt Stick Pin Brooch complete with the original advertising card.

About Reddy: He’s a corporate mascot and, well, “spokesthing,” created in 1926 by Ashton B. Collins, Sr., of the Alabama Power Company. Reddy has a lightbulb for a nose, wall outlets for ears and a torso and limbs made of lightning bolts. The character was licensed to power companies across the United States to represent electricity as a safe and useful utility. Employed by more than 200 different companies at one time, he is rarely seen outside of antique malls and garage sales these days. – REDDYKILOWATT.ORG

By 1949 Reddy was also being used to represent atomic energy ‘as a safe and useful utility.’ This particular promotion has Reddy rhyming:

I’m a busy little atom I split myself in two,
I multiply as many times as I have jobs to do.

It’s kind of endearing, actually – and the Reddy stick pin is a lot of fun. You can find the listing for this cool item here.

1949 Reddy Kilowatt Promotion Card Front

1949 Reddy Kilowatt Promotion Card Front (Photo: Atomic Candy)

1949 Reddy Kilowatt Promotion Card Center With Stick Pin Brooch

1949 Reddy Kilowatt Promotion Card Inside With Stick Pin Brooch (Photo: Atomic Candy)

1949 Reddy Kilowatt Promotion Card - Back

1949 Reddy Kilowatt Promotion Card – Back (Photo: Atomic Candy)