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TMP Model Series

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As part of his efforts to promote a vision for space development and a national space program, Werner Von Braun, with his many supporters, sought to employ all media available to communicate his vision. One of Von Braun’s key collaborators was scientist/writer and avid space advocate Willy Ley whose detailed highly realistic (for the early 20th century) depictions of spacecraft –developed and illustrated with the help of the legendary space artist Chesley Bonstell– set an example for space visualization well into the century and became key inspirations for many later NASA designs. Becoming something of a minor celebrity, Ley was eventually approached by the model kit company Monogram and asked to lend his name and designs to what eventually became one of the most popular series of space model kits ever produced. Treasured by children and adults alike, these models helped to inspire a generation’s interest in space and remain highly prized among collectors to this day.

Clearly, models are a potentially powerful illustrative medium whose fetishistic aspects make them a powerful promotional tool. In the aerospace industry they have long played an important advertising role, produced in costly limited editions used to promote new aircraft, given away to key customers, and treated much like trophies or prizes among various executives. At its lowest point, die-hard engineers in Russia’s space program actually took up this high-value collectors model production to raise cash for their survival as they waited on long-defrayed salaries. So the notion of a TMP inspired model series definitely has much precedent and great potential value.

Today we have many new options for model development and production. Traditional methods still make sense for the higher-end models but there are also now new rapid prototyping systems able to fabricate finished 3D models from computer models in full color. The Japanese anime figure modeling phenomenon as well as the recent emergence of a ‘designer’ toy craze has further added to the repertoire of model building techniques using materials like cast resins and vinyl. But developing model series depends on having a good and substantial collection of designs for these models to be based on. With model production no longer limited to large companies able to employ injection molding, this presents a logical area for Foundation Media to pursue and could be linked to computer game development as well as other forms of media.

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