Spielwarenmesse: High Moon!

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Junge mit Astronautenanzug


High Moon!

from Ulrich Texter

On 20 July 1969 Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the moon with the words "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. In December 1972, the Apollo missions came to an end. Things got quiet around our closest satellite. Now, 50 years after Apollo 11, everyone wants to go there again, even though Mars was seen as the new hotspot. Toy manufacturers and publishers are getting in on the act and are busy offering "space products" and books on the subject.

On 25 May 1961, American President John F. Kennedy announced in a keynote address that he would send an American to the moon and bring him back in one piece before 1970. The land of opportunities had the shock of a lifetime when Yuri Gagarin orbited the earth in Sputnik, the first ever artificial earth satellite, in April 1961. The battle of the systems now also took off in space and the Americans wanted to demonstrate their technological superiority with their new project. Almost 400,000 people worked on the mission at one point. Kennedy's speech became the template for all "yes we can" speeches. On 20 July 1969 at 3:56 am CET the time had come: Neil Armstrong was the first person to set foot on the moon.

Money was no object when it came to realising Kennedy's vision. NASA's Apollo missions are said to have burned though more than 20 billion dollars. This would be almost impossible to accomplish in today's socio-political climate. Today, pride prevails as it did 50 years ago, when over 600 million people watched Armstrong. A lot of people now consider it a waste of money to fly into space and conduct experiments there. The financial future of the ISS is literally up in the air, even though according to Astro Alex, the German astronaut Alexander Gerst, "it is the most complex, valuable and improbable machine humankind has ever built". 

Science has lost its innocence

child with astronaut suit
On 20 July 1969 Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the moon.

In the 1960s, the belief in science and engineering was still largely unshakeable. The world was optimistic about the future, Waldsterben (death of the forest) was yet to become an international buzzword, Chernobyl and Bhopal were in the distant future and climate protection was not a pressing mega topic. People believed science was the solution to, rather than a part of our problems. Almost all the technology for the Apollo mission had to be developed from the ground up – from carrier system to landing system. Today there is more computing power in a mobile phone than there was in the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC), which became a milestone in computer development. The AGC had a working memory of about four kilobytes and managed about 40,000 additions per second. It had a clock rate of 100 kilohertz – laughable in comparison with a contemporary laptop.

Although Mars has been the focus of space experts in recent years, there is now a renewed and fervent interest in the earth satellite. Be it America, Russia, China, India, Europe or the Israeli organisation SpaceIL, they all want to go to the moon as if it were the Promised Land. In addition to NASA and ESA, to name just two players, entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos with his Blue Moon Lunar Lander and Elon Musk with SpaceX are also jumping on the bandwagon. When Bezos presented his project in May, he immediately tweeted: "Blue Origin is building the infrastructure to unleash a new generation of dreamers, I met these people today, the future is in good hands." And US Vice President Mike Pence announced that in 2024 US astronauts would land on the lunar south pole. They are suddenly all in a big hurry. The race is entering the next round.

Not dreamers, but dream fulfillers

Modelkit Lunar Module Eagle/ Revell
Modelkit Lunar Module Eagle/ Revell

The toy industry never really dreamt; it is a business like any other, except it does like to make dreams come true. And that's what it wants to do for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. The industry is receiving active support from book publishers. While the moon and space programmes of the toy manufacturers and publishers are a little more modest compared with the real NASA project, the 1-metre high Apollo Saturn V model by Lego is quite impressive. The model consists of 1,900 bricks and has a diameter of 17 cm. The model rocket, which is accurate in every detail, is made of 3 removable rocket stages, including the third stage, S-IVB, with its lunar module and lunar orbiter.

The market leader in the plastic model making segment, Revell, will be revealing numerous historical anniversary gift sets for 2019. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, the company has launched a whole range of rockets and space ships that made the landing on the earth satellite possible in the first place. The 1:48 replica of the Eagle lander is a very detailed model for advanced model builders. The set includes the basic colours, glue and brushes.

Science X Experiment kit Adventure Spaceflight/ Ravensburger
Science X Experiment kit Adventure Spaceflight/ Ravensburger

At the Toy Fair 2019 Busch presented the construction toy ENGINO. The Cypriot brand is all about experimenting and model making. Since the middle of the year, the MINT toy developed by Costas Sisamos has been available in the German-speaking region and has won several awards. The building component system can be used for three-dimensional designs with a wide variety of technological requirements. The product range includes the “Qboidz”, a series for toddlers, the Inventor set for children from the age of 6, robotics products and the STEM-Heroes series. Up to 120 different models can be constructed with the patented ENGINO components. The Space Exploration set will be launched to mark the anniversary and can be used to build five models. The textbook provides information on various aspects of space travel.

The range also includes classics. The "Abenteuer Raumfahrt" (adventure space travel) experiment kit by Ravensburger for children aged 8 and over offers scientifically tested experiments and real expert knowledge: How does a rocket work? How long does it take to fly to the moon? How do astronauts train for zero gravity? Entertaining and instructive experiment kit with good instructions that allows children to build their own rocket.

Moon landing book tips

The Hamburg-based illustrator and children's book author Torben Kuhlmann is one of the shooting stars of the business. And rightly so, given the quality of his three books published by Nord Süd Verlag. Kuhlmann is known for his penchant for translating technical topics into mouse adventures. His third stroke of genius, "Armstrong", even made it onto the "Spiegel" bestseller list. The award-winning illustrator revised the book to mark the 50th anniversary. "Armstrong – The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon"  was given a new cover as well as a new background chapter with new pictures on the history of the moon landing. A must-have for illustration fans.

How and Why book The Moon / Tessloff Verlag
How & Why book The Moon / Tessloff Verlag

"How & Why" is one of the classics on the non-fiction market. The titles of the series, which now comprises over 140 volumes, are "Our Earth ", "Humans", "Stars" or, fittingly, "The Moon“ , volume 21 published in 1964. "Der Mond" is currently in its third edition. It is almost entirely revised, containing lots of useful information about our nearest celestial body as well as a separate new chapter on the moon landing.

What happens to you when you're forgotten on the moon? The American graphic designer John Hare addresses this question in his debut work "Excursion to the Moon", which was published in time for the anniversary. "Excursion to the Moon" is not a picture book document of the real moon landing; rather, in this pure picture book a group of children travels to the moon. Unfortunately, one of the children would rather paint the beautiful earth rather than wander about in the dust. And when the space shuttle takes off again, they forget all about him. You can't wait to find about what happens next and what the strange moon creatures are all about.

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Author of this article:

Ulrich Texter

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