"IT REELED DRUNKENLY FROM OUTER SPACE!"

EVENT HORIZONS: from New Zealand to Betelgeuse in 30 years

I first fell in love with these astounding spacecraft in  second hand book shops in 1970s New Zealand. I'd browse the cover art and marvel at the mad designs and colour schemes, somehow outrageous yet believable.

The pointy silver rockets and sterile white spacecraft of the 50s and 60s were replaced with interstellar earth movers, supertankers, oil rigs and freight trains. For the first time space was no longer the domain of astronauts and scientists, but inhabited by the average working Joe. Less NASA, more JCB, and in technicolor.

I had done a lot of model making, from trains to planes to automobiles, both kit sets and scratch built. I had also collected a large library of books; from the Terran Trade Authority handbooks of Stewart Cowley, to Chris Foss collections, and took out an airmail subscription to Cinefex, the Hollywood special effects magazine.

Suddenly in the mid-70s Star Wars and Alien explode on the scene and model making and science fiction become an obsession for several years. Again I made some kit sets and self designed ships, taking inspiration from those fantastical book covers. (Examples below)

I came to live in the UK in 1986, but it wasn't until the mid 2000s that I rekindled my fascination with 70s spacecraft. By then I had a spare room in which to build a workshop, and had replaced all my long lost TTA and other books as source material.

I picked out a dozen ships from artists Colin Hay, Chris Foss, Peter Elson and Tony Roberts, and contacted them seeking permission to use their illustrations. All agreed, and the feedback was very positive, and in 2010 I began work on my first ship; Colin Hay's 'The Star Dwellers'.

With Colin's input and enthusiasm the first build went far beyond my wildest teenage space junkie dreams.

The heading for this page is taken from 'The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction'. It describes a particularly oddball Chris Foss spaceship; 'Voyage of the Space Beagle'.
It kind of sums up the era, and I still find these vintage spacecraft intoxicating.