I can remember playing Star Trek when I was awfully small, maybe 6 or 7, with my friend Dan, who was Spock to my Kirk. Every once in a while, this weird kid named Jimmy McKelvy visited his grandparents on the next block over and he would play Bones–he had this awesome Phaser toy that fired little plastic disks that I’m pretty sure would have blinded one of us. Jimmy was a soft little kid–soft spoken, softly built, and from some other town. He made us a little uncomfortable, but he had that Phaser.
Everyone knows Star Trek, but not everyone knows the show that was actually my gateway vice into the world of Science Fiction, the one that set the seed that wouldn’t germinate until my mid-twenties, after too much time in musty lecture halls studying Literature–with a capital “L”…you know: Lit-or-ah-chore.
That was U.F.O. Remember it? A lot of folks don’t. Brought to you by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, the folks who made marionettes into action heroes in shows like Thunderbirds, (the hilarious Team America: World Police is a Thunderbirds parody by the creator of South Park), UFO was a cross between a soap opera and some pretty edgy (for television arond 1970, anyway) and occasionally dark Sci-Fi. It revolved around a secret military outfit called SHADO that was leading the clandestine struggle against an ongoing Alien invasion. The effects were primitive, but the models were cool and remain influential after more than 40 years, the stakes were high, and…the lunchboxes were the best ever.
I wanted one. I desperately wanted the U.F.O. lunchbox, but my mom called No Deal. My mom is a sweetheart, but she tends to give people things that she wants them to have, rather than the things they want to have or more specifically, the things she’d want to get if she was you. A few years ago, for example, when the RZR scooters with the skateboard wheels were cool, my kids wanted them for their birthday. Mom had her own ideas, because scooters were very different when she was a kid, so she bought two of these:
I wanted the U.F.O. lunchbox. My mom always loved Charlie Brown–she’s a lot like Charlie Brown, actually, and she bought me Snoopy. And Woodstock. Snoopy and freaking Woodstock, and not even in metal. I got bright, yellow plastic. Several girls in my first grade class had the same lunchbox. Snoopy. Jesus, Mom–really?
Tell me that’s not the greatest lunch box ever. I still want it.
There is a great fan site for this series:
And this is pretty cool, too:
And don’t buy this for your little boy–it will not only scar him for life, but turn him into an Adult Onset Science Fiction Junky. You don’t want that. Trust me. I own the complete DVD box set.
Seriously. I still haven’t forgiven her.