How to drop in on the party!

weightlessness – gagarin training, drop from lift shaftThinking of how you might make a grand entrance at this years #YurisNight party? Could go for the Ivan Ivanisovich fall from above. Yuri and his fellow cosmonauts took to dropping down elevator shafts onto cushions in an attempt to replicate zero gravity. Best not try this at home, or the @YurisNight party!

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Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age

A world-class exhibition, bringing together real space artefacts, papers and associated materials for the first time in the UK  coming soon to the Science Museum, London.

In 1957 Russia launched Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite, into space and just four years later sent the first ever human – Yuri Gagarin. Discover the dramatic story of how Russia became the first nation to conquer space exploration in this landmark new exhibition coming soon.

Cosmonauts will reveal the most significant collection of Russian spacecraft and artefacts ever to be shown in the UK. Come face-to-face with Vostok-6, the capsule flown by Valentina Tereshcova, the first ever woman into space, or examine the fascinating gadgets cosmonauts need to live in zero gravity, including a space shower, toilet, medical instruments and survival kits for crash landings.

Explore the historical, cultural and spiritual context of Russian space travel, shaped by the turbulent early decades of the twentieth century, and discover the influence it had on Russian culture during this period. See poignant testimonies and memorabilia belonging to some of the biggest names in spaceflight, and discover the deeply personal stories of the pioneers who kick-started the space age and turned the dream of space travel into a reality.

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Cosmonaut curator – wanted!

The Science Museum is currently looking for a ‘Cosmonaut curator’, fluent in Russian, and able to negotiate with Russian museums. This suggests to use that early planning is afoot for a big development in their coverage of the Soviet space programme.

Interested? Full job description here…

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Modelling Yuri’s World 5:

Yuri Gagarin model in space suitFor some of us, words and pictures are not enough, we like to see things in three dimensions. Few of us though, have the space or the cash to collect real aircraft, rockets, statues, buildings and vehicles. Instead, we turn to models. In this series of posts, we look at some of the kits and ready made models that re-create Yuri’s world in miniature:

Curiously, perhaps the most difficult item of all to find, when trying to build up a collection of models representing Yuri’s world – is Yuri himself!

If you want to collect Yuri Gagarin memorabilia – stamps, medals, posters, commemorative watches, mugs, hats, t-shirts etc., etc., there is almost too much choice, ranging from original Soviet productions, through modern replicas to entirely new creations. In amongst these you will regularly find some of the small bronze busts and statuettes produced in the USSR, but if you want a proper, detailed, scale model figure of Yuri, either in his ‘Falcon’ spacesuit, or in his airforce uniform, well . . . good hunting!

One solid example I have been able to find is actually an English production by Reheat Models, a one-time producer of specialist, short-run resin kits. This model, at 120mm (1:15 scale) is not in production at the time of writing but examples can occasionally be found haunting ebay. For a nicely built up example of this kit see:

Reviews the kit praise its technical detail, but not the likeness to Yuri’s face . . .

Other than that, it is worth noting that the American Revell plastic kit of the Vostok spacecraft does include a pilot figure.

Evidently there is a gap in the market out there for some enterprising model manufacturer to fill!

Posted in Making a Graphic Novel, Soviet vehicles, The Book, Yuri Gagarin, Yuri's Flying Machines | Leave a comment

Modelling Yuri’s World 4: SOVIET CARS

GAZ M-13 Chaika 1960sTime to move on from trucks to cars. Here things are much more straightforward, especially in the die-cast field. The Soviet car industry in the early post-war years struggled to find an equivalent to the cheap ‘people’s cars’ available in the US and Europe, and for a while at least, was most famous for the big GAZ and ZIL saloons and limousines produced for government agencies, VIPs, senior party figures and the emergency services.

Models of these are quite easy to find, so it should not be difficult to represent the range of vehicles that would have figured in the lives of Korolev and the prominent government and industrial figures he dealt with.

The GAZ ‘Chaika’ saloon (which Yuri drove as a Soviet VIP) is also a popular model subject, as are the parade limousines based on it and other models which would have featured in Yuri’s triumphal progress through Moscow.

While most of these are available as original USSR produced models for those willing to seek them out, there has also been a high level of interest in Soviet era cars from todays collectors, resulting in a number of modern manufacturers both in former USSR member countries and beyond producing a wide range of Soviet era cars.

Perhaps the most striking example of the latter is the Italian D’Agostini firm which in 2009 published a collector’s ‘part-work’ magazine on the subject, with a different model car or truck accompanying each issue. These and other more recent productions are keenly traded, and evidence of the continuing – and probably growing – interest in the history of the Soviet Union’s design and technology.

Posted in Making a Graphic Novel, Soviet vehicles, The Book | Leave a comment


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