For regular readers of the V&A blog, this post could appear like a deliberate follow-on from our last space-themed bulletin. I assure you all, this is merely a coincidence and we at the MoC have not suddenly gone mad for all things cosmic. That said, we do have a very good collection of space toys, ranging from tinplate ‘man-made satellites’ to a Dan Dare glove puppet, then onward to our huge holdings of Star Wars toys from the 1970s up to the present day, as well as hundreds of other items from across the decades.
These are a pair of so-called ‘moon-shoes’, a fun toy in the spirit of the roller skate, which enjoyed popularity in the late-1950s and 1960s during the Space Race between the USA and USSR. They are metal overshoes, each with two springs fastened to their bottoms with steel bolts. The idea was that bouncing along on your Moon Shoes would emulate the feeling of walking on the surface of the moon. Quite how anyone knew what the feeling was is anyone’s guess, as mankind of course did not actually set foot on the lunar surface until the summer of 1969.
Jumping shoes similar to these might have been around since the 1920s, the model which were possibly first-produced were the ‘Kangru-Springshu’, which from their name it seems they were developed more in a marsupial than a Martian spirit. Part of their resurgence, then, will have been down to an exercise in rebranding, swapping the kangaroo for the cosmonaut. Some astronauts and cosmonauts became international celebrities, faces of inspiration and approved role models, so being able in some way to (allegedly) experience the new sensations felt by these pioneering men and women would have seemed appealing.
This particular pair were purchased by the donor at a sale on the Isle of Wight, we sadly don’t know anything more about them. They are fairly generic in design, although lacking a baseplate on the bottoms of the springs which seems to have been common to moon shoes. We have not been able to successfully identify the manufacturer, so if anyone knows anything about these shoes, please do get in touch via the comments form below, or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
These shoes can be seen in our Costume, Play and Learn Gallery, upstairs in the MoC.