Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Sci-Fi Fanatic BIG 10: Sci-Fi Vehicles

Cool.  My decision to finally give you the official BIG 10 Sci-Fi Vehicles is solely based upon one factor and one factor alone. This list is based strictly on COOL. The cool factor translates into two things: A. Do my eyes dance? B. Can a vehicle be molded into a toy and can it be flown through the sky between my hot little fingers? These are the key operating factors my friends. Here is my reasonable list of the best Sci-Fi Vehicles under the header of The Sci-Fi Fanatic's BIG 10 Vehicles. This is a complement to a list I posted spotlighting Sci Fi Now's list.

10.  Lotus Esprit a.k.a. Wet Nellie. This will no doubt top a more specific BIG 10 Sci-Fi Car list.  Nevertheless, the always gadget-heavy James Bond OO7 autos make for a world of escapist wonder.  Although not officially an air vehicle, this beautiful, white Lotus Esprit did go airborne off the end of that dock in The Spy Who Loved Me [1977].  It also glides splendidly through water as an impressive underwater submersible.  The Wet Nellie as it was referred by M16 was fitted by OO7's weapon's man Q.  It came equipped with bulletproof plexiglass, harpoon and cable reel, missiles and missile launchers, propellers and rudders, mine dispenser and limpit mines, ink jets, mud jets, cement jets, and finally a telescopic periscope with a 360 degree field of vision.  Did I mention it was fast?  0-60 in 6.8 seconds with speeds up to 138 mph.  It was matched only by the Lotus in For Your Eyes Only [1981] as a close second.  All of this and the fact it has been a Corgi die-cast release kicks off the countdown.  Mind you, this is also one of the few classics that could potentially be purchased and driven and owned sans gadgetry.  It's still a dream of mine friends.

9. The Argo.  My gosh who didn't love the transformation of a Japanese Yamato for this science fiction classic.  In America, we received Space Battleship Yamato [1974-1975] in the form of Starblazers [1979-1984] and The Argo.  Who wasn't thrilled by the whistle of the firing wave motion gun!  I ran home everyday for a dose of wave motion.  Never succumbing to the purchase of a bootleg copy of the 2010 Japanese film, I look forward to the release of its live action film counterpart hopefully in 2013.  Not to mention the animated series arrived in reboot form in 2012 with Space Battleship Yamato 2199.  I managed to pick up one of the Bandai Soul Of Chogokin GX-57 die-cast ships for the Fancave.

8. The Copperhead/ Black Boa.  These two beautifully designed ships hail from the underrated Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within [2001] film.  The ambitious, computer-animated motion capture, science fiction film bore no resemblance to the video game and somehow failed to draw notice.  But these two vessels are stunning.  Bandai released a plastic toy version of this Copperhead puppy, but as far as I know, sadly, there has never been anything for the Black Boa ever committed to mold officially.  I must tell you, this is like a geek crime.

7. Serenity. This is perhaps one of the most recent science fiction creations to make my list.  Joss Whedon's wonderful Firefly [2002] series, like Star Trek: The Original Series, planted the Serenity as the centerpiece of its browncoat family essentially establishing the ship as a character with intimate detail.  In its short series run the SerenityFirefly-class vessel, was quickly established as a craft fitted for work, pleasure and living accommodations.  It's simply a welcomed piece of sci-fi perfection.  I don't actually own anything regarding the Serenity, but if I'm not mistaken my best chance to do so is a replica in the form of a Christmas ornament.  I best get a move on. But seriously, is that the best we can do?

6. Jupiter II/ The Chariot.  Flying saucers really didn't get more perfect than the lived-in accommodations befitting the Jupiter II on Lost In Space [1965-1968].  Each episode was a pleasure with the Jupiter II as homebase.  More often than not it wasn't flying but I was just as happy to see them go in and out of that ship like it was a house - a two floor Colonial.  Fantastic!  In fact, it was a bit like the Tardis in that ship.  The Chariot, part of the Jupiter II, was an equally impressive space version of the snow cat.  I loved that treaded wonder vehicle!  I don't actually own anything from this series.  There have been plenty of models made available and they are out there.  I did own the Johnny Thunder mini-die-cast set at one time.  I may still.  I'll have to check the Fancave.  They may still be down there but my memory fails me at the moment.  I'll have to send in Robot to check it out.

5. The Phoenix [including G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-4].  The fabulous Phoenix from Japan's Gatchaman [1972-1974] series arrived in a big way stateside as Battle Of The Planets [1978-1985].  The beautifully designed ship from Tatsunoko could transform or transmute into the fiery Phoenix when in an absolute pickle, but the ship in its original form is another for the ages.  I simply adore its color combinations and sleek design.  The ship was also fitted with four separate amazing vehicles for each of the Science Ninja Team Gatchaman members.  While they are all incredible I will admit as a young man I loved Keyop's G-4 space buggy.  It's still something special, but Jason's G-2 was also a favorite and remains the one to own if I had to pick.  It's another car, but it's absolutely sick.  In fact, I'm actually thinking about painting it for my latest watercolors creation.  As far as the Phoenix, I have a few Japanese die-cast versions of this one from Fewture, Bandai and others.  I've also hand painted a few resin kits as pictured.  I have a few garage kits to do.  Each is truly a magnificent delight.  But I need to stop buying them. I really must. Note to self: Stop buying the die-cast Phoenix and other Gatachaman collectibles!

4. Battlestar Galactica.  I'm not going to quibble between the new [2004-2009] and old [1978] series, because, quite frankly, I love both the Battlestars. They are amazing warships with distinct design differences.  I have a few die-cast representations of both in miniature form as part of the Titanium series and I have one larger version of the new Battlestar from that same series.  Both the whale-like classic and the new offer design perfection. Of course, who doesn't love the Vipers and the Cylon raiders.  I am partial to the original Cylon Raider.

3. U.S.S. Enterprise. Truthfully, once you get into my Top 5 it's very hard for me to pick the very best ship.  I could easily argue that the U.S.S. Enterprise deserves the number one slot. Our beloved federation ship was the culmination of many designs, but the one Roddenberry and company landed upon is the indisputably brilliant classic.  She's a beauty to quote The Tubes.  I have one Art Asylum plastic replica of the famous bird.  Even more impressive is a Corgi die-cast issued in Japan some years back.  I managed to pick one up a few years ago.  It's unique and slender just like the ship she's based on.  Ships like the Enterprise you simply never tire of feasting the eyes.  And while I enjoy the other franchises and the many variations on the Enterprise, there is no substitute for the original, immaculately conceived by Matt Jeffries and GEne Roddenberry.  It simply takes the breath away.

2. Thunderbird 2 [complete with T4, Recovery Vehicle, The Firefly or other rescue equipment].  Hailing from the land of Margaret Thatcher, chips and all things Britpop, Englishman Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds delivered big on vehicles.  Thunderbird 2 is arguably one of the best designed craft ever could easily go head to head with The Eagle or the U.S.S. Enterprise.  It's that good.  It's that classic. Obviously this International Rescue craft has arrived in a number of plastic and die-cast iterations through the years  and will no doubt continue ad infinitum.  I have since replaced some Matchbox collectibles with even more detailed Japanese Bandai Aoshima die-cast molds.  I have a small one along with the other Thunderbirds and The Mole that are about 3" in length.  More importantly I picked up a giant 15" Thunderbird 2 Bandai Aoshima DX / Deluxe die-cast ship and it's a beauty.  No kidding around, it's the size of a bloody turtle you might find in your local pond.  The details are magnificent.  It's a keeper.

1. Eagle One [all models].  Space:1999 [1975-1977] delivered perhaps one of the great space vehicle creations ever made and lands the top spot thanks to the expertise of one Brian Johnson.  Johnson assembled something of beauty, practical functionality and utter believability.  Brilliant. There are so many models of the Eagle One and this wonderfully designed spaceship throughout the series.  There's medical and scientific, but the base model is indeed my favorite.  Still, the variations on the theme are amazing and I never tire of holding a die-cast Eagle.  I have a few from Aoshima/ Carlton/ Product Enterprise and they are stunning in their level of detail especially when you consider the complexity of design for the Eagle.  And there you have it, two Gerry Anderson-sponsored creations making the top of the heap.

There's much to choose from out there. Blade Runner's Spinner Police cars. That flying police hovercraft from Minority Report as well as that Lexus [if I can't get the Lotus Esprit I'll take that sci-fi-tailored Lexus].  Farscape's Moya. The Event Horizon. The BeBop.  The Hammerhead. The Swordfish. The many classics from Star Wars including the Millennium Falcon or Boba Fett's Slave 1Stargate's vast arsenal of spaceships and much more all come to mind.  I even love the Tardis despite walking around the house with a flying British phone box. Actually, I've never done that, but I should. How is that cool?  But if I'm to be honest, the BIG 10 I offer here about sizes up the very best for me.



A separate, more specific list for Sci-Fi Cars, Robots/ Mecha will be forthcoming.  In the meantime, let me introduce you to my vehicle mechanic.  Yeah, I know.  I know your question is, but can she fix vehicles?  My answer to you is... honestly, who cares!



le0pard13 said...

Growing up in the 60s, my love for the Jupiter II and the USS Enterprise knew no bounds. Great set of cool vehicles, SFF!

The Film Connoisseur said...

The Phoenix from Battle of the Planets, thats always been a favorite of mine, I used to watch that cartoon when I was a kid, always loved it. I'd forgotten about that little car that pops out of it!

Kind of reminds me of that cartoon show from the 80's M.A.S.K., they had some cool vehicles on that show as well, I remember owning that green motorcycle that would transform into a helicopter?

I love Serenity (the movie) that ships pretty kick ass, I also like that hover craft they use at one point, pretty slick vehicle as well.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

I love the G-2 popping our of the nose of The Phoenix. Awesome! Cheers guys.

Lance said...

No Klingon bird of prey?
Fair enough... I do love Serenity but the interior size of it always seemed to change between episodes...

Nice to see the Battle Of The Planets mention!