Back in 1971, I wasn't much of a tea drinker. Im not really now, much preferring a good stong black espresso. But back then, opening a box of tea was a little adventure and something to look forward to. Brooke Bond had for years previously, provided a collectable card inside packets of loose tea and also in (what was then a bit posh) teabags. There were lots of different series to collect, but three will always stand out for me - The History of Aviation, The Sea Our Other World and most notably, The Race Into Space.
This set couldnt have come at a better time for me, as I was in the thick of space mania and surrounded by space themed materials, comics, posters, toys, models, tv and film. Viewed as a stand alone piece of information, the set is excellent, giving a wide view of the space technology of the day and a look into the near future, beautifully illustrated throughout and with a focus on vehicles worldwide. Prior to this little album, I had been unaware that Japan or France had satelites or rockets or indeed any interest in putting anything in space, such had been the influence of the american space programme which had dominated the media two years before. The cards also highlight some of the more obscure russian craft such as Venera and Zond.
What really excited me more than anything though, was the futuristic section near the back - and on the cover - which showed nuclear propelled shuttles and a programme to reach Mars. My interest in all things nuclear had been fired up previously with toys such as the spacex Nuclear Pulse and the (then) unattainable Nuclear Ferry. The Mars Mission featured huge, modular vehicles, vaguely reminiscent of the Booster Rocket with fuel tanks clustered together. This unique arrangement of vehicles also cropped up in a poster featured in Countdown comic around the same period and I was excited to see the same vehicles presented in two different formats. Ill look at this project in more detail later, but for now, lets look at the cards. Ive scanned the pages of my original album very quickly and you can clearly see how the cards have been slapped into the album very roughly. For some reason my dad started putting the cards into the album, but trimmed off the white border with scissors - something I was completely unable to manage neatly a you can see! It took me a while to get all the cards in the series, but card 13 - Ranger 3, eluded me for months after I got the other 49 and it was only after a visit to an aunties house and the obligatory cup of tea, that I discovered it lying on a windowsill in the kitchen! I have since found a near mint set and album, so if anyone would like clear, professional scans of the set, let me know. Meanwhile, enjoy.