Space Suits - I wanted one as a lad... but then I guess a lot of kids did! Perhaps I thought it would be useful when I grew up... and went on missions off world?
Arguably, one of the most iconic and stylised interpretations of cinematic space suit design can be found in Stanley Kubrick's 1968 award winning movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Despite its place in popular culture, commercially available scale replicas of the 2001 Suit, have been a rarity on the thriving action figure scene.
This vacuum was filled in spectacular style, when Executive Replicas (established in 2006), launched a range of high-end, 1/6 scale, 2001 Discovery Space Suits, in 2016.
But the action figure story of 2001 Suits didn't start there. It actually began in Spain in the late 1960s.
In 1969, Industrias Plásticas Madel. the Madrid based makers of Madelman (1968-83), took the first small step by adding an interpretation of the 2001 Suit to their 1/11 scale action figure line.
'Astronauta 2001' was a hybridization, mixing elements from the Clavius Base and the Discovery One suits. It was a simple figure/outfit combination with modest production values indicative of toys of the time.
The 1980s and 1990s saw the birth and boom of a thriving action figure market for adult collectors. It was populated by people who had enjoyed action figures as kids.
These early toy fair adventurers were making their own odyssey, searching for old toys and exploring new action figure themes.
The dawning of the new millennium saw the next evolutionary step in '2001 Suit' design for action figures.
This ambitious 1/6 scale project was developed and marketed by Valencia based, Jose Luis Ayuso, under the unusual brand name, 'Twinch Squad 2001'.
Despite a promising start with a quality product, it was a commercial venture that sadly crashed and burned in the flames of controversy. Only a small amount of suits reached collectors.
Sixteen years later the worldwide action figure market had matured and come of age through the internet.
Modern manufacturing technology saw production values take a quantum leap forward, characteristically producing definitive detail, short production runs... and inevitably higher prices.
The new star child in the evolution of 1/6, 2001 Suits, was born in 2016. Collectors waited nervously for Executive Replicas to release the much speculated Discovery One Suit. They weren't disappointed.
For many collectors the finished product set the benchmark in action figure space suit design!
As well as producing amazing screen accurate replicas of the various colour suits seen on screen, the company also created conceptual suits in different colours; as well as a black Monolith - the conduit which structurally linked the separate sections of Kubrick's movie.
Who knows, with such an expeditionary mission statement, perhaps a 1/6 scale EVA Pod may follow in the future?
Executive Replicas Discovery Suits are refined and streamlined; fitting a slightly taller 1/6 figure and offering greater mobility than the earlier Twinch Squad suits.
The suits are created from quality fabric and plastic; although metal interlocking connectors are incorporated to secure the beautifully angular helmet, gloves and boots, to the suit.
The suits are highly detailed, embodying the subtleties of the film. For example, an inconspicuous thematic device employed in the movie often shows 'instructions' for using futuristic technology.
These scale suits wonderfully illustrate and represent this recurring theme with detailed 'Charging Instructions', in miniature print, on the front control unit.
Zoom-in reveals the micro instructions are screen accurate and readable.
Superb suits are one thing, but Executive Replicas also negotiated the licensing rights to use the 1960s likeness of Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood; the actors who played astronauts Dave Bowman and Frank Poole.
The character head sculpts are consolidated with 1/6 Phicen bodies which have 40 points of articulation. The Bowman and Poole sets come with interchangeable hands and space suit gloves.
Packaging is provided in the form of a glossy illustrated slip-sleeve. When removed, it reveals a tall black box which resembles the Monolith. Ideal for display with the figure.
I guess for me at least, the Executive Replicas suit exceeds my expectations. I'm not sure, but perhaps this miniature space suit fills a void for something I missed out on as a kid?
Maybe there's something aesthetically appealing and subliminally satisfying about a 1/6 scale space suit that inspires the illusion of insulated, air-tight, safety and survival, in the severe vacuum of space?
If the devil's in the detail, then these are indeed wicked works of wonder!