My ongoing research into the origins of Project SWORD toys box art has slowed down somewhat as new seams of information have got harder to find. However, during the last couple of months of 2011 I had a small breakthrough.
One night in Early November I stumbled across what I thought was just another image of Robert McCall's Rollout painting. Already knowing that the painting was the basis of the box art for the SWORD Cape Kennedy Set [as blogged] I expected it to be a re-use of the picture as can be seen on the Look and Learn comics website. I was wrong.
The image I was looking at on the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum was a picture of the ORIGINAL painting! I was ecstatic! Since the McCall estate had told me in 2010 that they did not have the painting I had been looking for this for the last couple of years without any success!
With wind in my sails and without further ado I contacted the Smithsonian and received the following amazing reply:
The painting in question, Robert McCall, "Rollout," (A19800452000) is currently on loan to Senator William Nelson, the only current member of Congress to have flown in space. It hangs in his office in the Senate Hart Office Building. The loan is set to expire in December 2012, but may be renewed at that time. I can't answer your question regarding the timing of the painting or Bob McCall's sources. Your request to include an image of the painting on your web site should go to the rights specialist in our NASM Archive. I have included her in this response. I do hope that this is of some help to you.So the box art of the Cape Kennedey Set, so to speak, hangs in a US Senator's Office! What a strange inter-connected world we live in! Whilst taking this in the Snithsonian Air and Space Museum's Rights specialist contacted me regarding use of the image:
Tom D. Crouch, PhD
Senior Curator, Aeronautics
P.O. Box 37012
National Air and Space Museum
Room 3232 MRC312
Dear Paul Woods:
I have reviewed previous requests similar to yours and find that even though your website does not strictly conform with our guidelines for a non-commercial site, that we would be able to offer a reduced use fee, in this instance, of $20 USD. I must reiterate, though, that is image is not available at a higher-resolution than that at which it appears on our website. If this is agreeable to you, please fill out our form, mentioned below, and submit to my attention. I can then generate an invoice that can be paid via Visa, Mastercard, money order or a check drawn on a bank that has a branch in the United States.
Thank you for your interest in the National Air and Space Museum. I look forward to hearing from you.
National Air and Space Museum
I know we've had examples of this image before on the blog but I was never sure if we were looking at a picture of the original art. So, after some form filling and twenty US dollars later, here is Robert T. McCall's original Rollout, gouache on paper, as it appears on the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum website, Inventory number: A19800452000 [published here once only with written permission]. The actual site page, complete with fascinating summary and long descriptions about NASA's art programme, can be found on their excellent Smithsonian website. Enjoy!