At the middle of the 20th century, Americans had cause to be quite pleased with themselves. They had survived an economic depression, stopped a madman in Europe from taking over the world, and kept the battles of the cold War from becoming too hot. In addition, the years of scarcity and depravation gave way to years of plenty. Families enjoyed consumer goods like never before. The good times of the 1950s encouraged American optimism in the future and an eagerness for the technological improvements the future would inevitably bring. Little wonder that mechanical space toys sold so well. Years of space hero comics, radio and movie serials, and more recent TV characters fueled kids' fantasies of space travel. Meanwhile, real-life stories of NASA's first forays into space promised space travel in the near future. Space vehicles, space-inspired weapons and ray guns, and space robots and aliens seemed like the very props space travelers would need on their intergalactic journeys.