4/21/14

Godzilla and Viewmaster (GAF Corporation, 1978-9)

Another American Godzilla product available in 1978 was a set of View-Master reels, which were available in several permutations, although all were the same story.  (And once again, the Godzilla on the cover of his first Marvel comic gets used--although the story here is based off the second Marvel issue, so go figure.)
Besides the normal packet of 3 View-Master reels and booklet pictured above, there were other versions available as well.
I never had a "Talking View-Master" as a kid, so unfortunately, I can't play the audio with this set, but they are normal View-Master reels with a hard-plastic white disc attached that look very much like small vinyl records.  It's either extremely clever, or extremely awkward, technology, and no doubt would completely baffle children today.  I'd be curious to know if the recording is simply a narrator describing Godzilla in Seattle, or a bigger production with voice actors and sound effects.
The Double-Vue Automatic Movie Viewer allowed for cartridges that contained two different stories, in filmstrip format.  The cartridge featuring Godzilla is copyrighted 1979.
Notice how GAF tried to be logical in their pairings: Spider-Man and Thor, check.  Bugs Bunny and Sylvester & Tweety, check.  Frankenstein and Dracula, check.  Poor Godzilla gets paired with Mr. Magoo. 
One View-Master product I haven't convinced myself to buy yet is the "Monster Gift Pak."  These large cans came with two View-Master viewers and 7 reels, which means that with four subjects, somebody gets left out.  This particular set included Dracula, Frankenstein (they mean Frankenstein's monster of course), The Wolfman, and Godzilla, but only included one Godzilla reel, which is kid of a rip-off.  Of course, I'm probably just fooling myself, because I'm sure I'll be buying the next one I see, because after all, Godzilla is on the can!

4/17/14

Trendmasters GIGAN Prototype Figure (circa 1994)

It's not often that a once-in-a-lifetime item comes along, and you have the opportunity to add it to your collection.  I ran into an Ebay seller who had a connection to the defunct Trendmasters company, and he was selling many interesting items, including Godzilla action figure blueprints and design art, some Doom Island toys, and a handful of prototypes, as well as many non-Godzilla Trendmasters items.
Besides saying that his items were acquired from the Trendmasters offices, and were supposed to be destroyed, he told me that he believed this prototype Gigan was used at a Toy Fair to promote the second version of the 40th Anniversary Boxed Set that we've talked about here before, only here with a mock-up set that used hand-painted figures.  This would have been around 1994.
The boxed sets included non-posable, hard rubber kaiju that were each about 4" tall.  You can see from the photos how the paint scheme is different than the finished product!  The prototype also has a production number written in permanent marker on the bottom of one foot.
I was really shocked, and thrilled, to add this piece of Godzilla and toy history to my collection, and it went straight into my glass case!

4/16/14

Iron Man's Day Off

I made this, but only because of this amazing site I discovered, called Paper Arcade, that has 94 incredible items (some are 2-part builds).  It doesn't quite have everything (stand-up STAR WARS, please!), but there should be something for everyone.
Unfortunately, it's a "Flickr" set, so that means you have to take screenshots to print them, and sizing up the finished product is a little tricky.  Originally, I wanted to make a Space Invaders machine, but it's a 2-part build, and caused sizing problems, so I went with Ms. Pac.
The details are amazing, and somebody has spent countless hours creating these masterpieces.  I had to reign in the plans that were forming in my head to recreate the Showbiz Pizza where I spent a good deal of my childhood...but it does offer lots of good diorama possibilities.  Maybe I will put a Space Invaders machine in my Mos Eisley Cantina.

4/14/14

GODZILLA vs THE COSMIC MONSTER Ad Slick (1977)

Here's a nice piece of history--an 11 x 17" ad slick from GODZILLA vs THE COSMIC MONSTER that's in fantastic shape.  This was one of those that had to be scanned and stitched together, so don't inspect my Photoshopping abilities too closely.
I've never seen a pressbook from this film, and I wonder if one was made! Perhaps ad sheets were sent out instead?

4/8/14

Pacific Rim Trespasser (NECA, 2014)

This one, too, is stunning, but like I said, NECA's change in scale has created good and bad results.  Good from the standpoint of detail and more articulation than before, and bad because old Knifehead is now way outsized.  Luckily, their second kaiju, Leatherback, was already huge.
I have read the news that Scunner is next (and seen the photos, even), and this is fine, but NECA needs to challenge themselves by making kaiju that don't all have the Knifehead/Axehead body.  There are two that immediately come to mind--Onibaba, the crab kaiju, and Otachi, the one with the scorpion-like tail.  I'd like a group of kaiju that are as varied as possible.
Lame attempt at action shot...needs a giant '66 Batman "POW!" over it.
Going back to hugeness, though, this figure is so massive, the backing card (insert) wouldn't fit on a normal flatbed scanner, and I had to piece the image together.  It came in a box by itself from Amazon, and before I opened it, I was convinced they had sent me something else, because the cardboard box was so gigantic.


Oh, and this was how I found him when I got up for breakfast the next day...apparently he had attacked the Lego house that was also on the kitchen table!

4/3/14

Pacific Rim Coyote Tango (NECA, 2014)

Another awesome NECA figure...but a funny thing happened with this one. Mine shipped with the lower body backwards, but the legs forwards.  I finally figured it out (pun intended) by looking at the artwork below.  I was ready to complain that all of the fine print was put right on the front of the Jaeger's crotch, which made no sense, and then it hit me.   Oh well, I will be correcting this when I get home tonight, but the photos were already taken, so here you go.
So each photo is a front and back view at the same time....! (Sort of.)
I know many of these robots are based on Gundams, or combinations of things, but this one has a real Transformer feel in the legs.  The knees and hips have rounded, black, wheel-like radiuses at the joints that look like tires.  The enormous cannons swivel upwards, and are super cool.  One drawback is the rubber used for them makes them sort of crooked.
I was prepared to rant about the bizarre choice of putting all this fine print on the front of the figure...but since I have realized it's NOT the front, no rant needed.  Just a little re-assembly.


One thing I don't understand is how the Japanese Jaeger says "U.S. Air Force" all over it, and even has decorations of stars and stripes...maybe if I read the novel it would explain it.  But oh well, it's really cool either way.
I really have no complaints...these figures have been so hard to obtain, the last thing I am going to complain about is a factory worker getting a crotch backwards. (I'll bet money this is the first time today you have heard that sentence.)

4/1/14

Pacific Rim Cherno Alpha (NECA, 2014)

When NECA started to make Pacific Rim action figures, this was one of my biggest wants.  Known as "the Russian one," the design of this Jaeger is a joy to behold.  
And they keep improving with every wave.  Just look at the detail and the paint applications on this one!  The splendid "conning tower" shape of the robot's head is complimented perfectly by the body design.  He has tons of articulation, including "extending" forearms, hands that close, and speaking of that amazing head design, it can even turn slightly.  And check out the detail on top:
There are no complaints possible, but if there were, it would be that NECA has quickly outpaced their earlier designs, I fear more re-makes are coming...the only one I haven't obtained yet is the new Knifehead, but it looks like it's going to happen, especially now that I've seen photos comparing him to their first Knifehead.  In short, NECA has taken "awesome" and kicked it up a notch or two to "incredible."
I haven't rewatched the film, or checked the excellent Pacific Rim Wiki to see if the two newest Jaegers are really taller than the earlier ones released, so I'm not entirely sure if the scale of the whole line has been bumped up, or just the kaiju.  I just know that the first Knifehead looks shrimpy standing beside my Tresspasser! Below are the inserts from this amazing figure.  In the next couple of posts, we will look at Coyote Tango and Tresspasser.




3/31/14

Godzilla Game Instructions (Ideal, 1963)

I had a request from a reader for some detailed photos of the instructions to this classic board game, and they are worth examining here.  To make sense of these instructions, try to imagine what the thought process was in 1963.  Like I've said before, this board game and the Aurora model kit were the first Godzilla items in the United States.  Some kids who were to become fans hadn't even been born when KING OF THE MONSTERS came out, and it's understandable that they would have missed the fact that GIGANTIS was, after all, a Godzilla movie, so it's practical to look at KING KONG vs GODZILLA as a starting point for many people.  
Here's the opening paragraph:

"Reactivated freak of nature"? Hey, easy there! Them's fightin' words....Hey, wait a second...

Nevermind.  Moving on, next we have the list of "Materials":
It makes me laugh to see "1 Radioactive Missile" listed in the contents, even in the era of woodburning kits and chemistry sets.  Nice graphic of Godzilla, too.  If you'll notice, nowhere does it say "Nuclear" anywhere, not even "Atomic," but the bomb is always referred to as "Radioactive Missile."  I'm not sure if this was for a reason, but it's interesting nonetheless.
Many board games are rolling dice and moving around, but I was pleased to discover this one had a "skill" component.  If you look at the gameboard...
...you can see how this would work.  The player has to flick the wooden disc exactly right, in order to land on one of the targets.  I can only imagine a lot of frustration when playing with small children.
And if you have done so, you have "disabled" Godzilla.  Another interesting word choice, I thought.  Oh, and Godzilla has an "invisible shield," also known as the fold in every board-game-board ever, just thought we should mention that.
Overall, a very interesting part of this classic piece of Godzilla history!



3/27/14

Marvel Minimates Collection Shelf

I had a built-in shelf above the one I use for Lego Minifigures, so I recently constructed a panel with shelves for the Marvel Minimates that I have collected over the years, although I may put some other Marvel stuff in there too...right after I glue Dr. Octopus' arms.
Honestly, now that I've tracked down everybody I want, I don't even know what it would take to get me to buy future Minimates....except maybe an Inhumans boxed set to give us the rest of the team!
Oh, and Godzilla Minimates are on the horizon for later in the year, so here we go again! It looks like they WILL be getting some more of my money after all.

3/19/14

King Kong vs. Godzilla Showman's Manual (Universal, 1963)

Some movie studios called their Pressbooks "Showman's Manuals," because it sounded more "fancy."  This particular one is tough to track down, and as it is even larger than the normal-sized pressbook, also impossible to scan.  However, we are going to hit the highlights here, so get ready!
Nothing needs to be said about KING KONG vs GODZILLA...without a doubt, the film cemented Godzilla's place in the landscape of American memory.  Goofy enough to be fun and featuring lots of monster-battling action, against an American icon no less, the film is a classic (and one about to be re-released on DVD and Blu-Ray soon!).


I say it every time I discuss a pressbook, but they are fascinating to me because sometimes, they are the only way to determine what sorts of materials were made for particular films...unfortunately, some of their plans never seemed to see fruition.  Case in point is this first item:  a record of a five (and 2&1/2) minute spiel to be played in theatres?? I haven't read or seen of this one really existing, but I'd be excited to know...and more excited to own one.

[3/31/14 ADDENDUM :
The good news is, this record exists! The bad news is, you won't be able to enjoy it here, because after holding the high bid for seven days, the price shot up to (hope you are sitting down) $343.79.  I can confirm that the contents are:  SIDE ONE - "Long Track" (3:40), "Short Track" (2:25), SIDE TWO - "Tone"....let's hope that whoever bought it is kind enough to share it with the rest of the world.  If you are out there, please let us know! I'd be happy to post it here if it helped.]
 
Pressbooks also usually gave the recipients (theatre owners) examples of how to "sell" the picture, although in this case, not very well.  Please do NOT sell to "great-grampa."  He can't hear, and he doesn't care.  Also, please especially do NOT sell to "baby," because without a doubt the screaming brat will end up sitting directly behind me when I'm trying to enjoy my movie.  
I'm assuming a "Telop" is a still that was designed for television broadcast, but I have no idea.  The slide, however, I think I saw one time on Ebay several years ago:
Now, as cool as this item is, it is kind of sad to realize that your local theatre hasn't progressed beyond "magic lantern" technology, and still uses glass slides.  (I just say that because I'm jealous that I don't own one...but I'm honest.)
More tips on how to make your selling a CAMPAIGN.  Sell it as a "sporting event," for example. One thing that isn't present in this pressbook (excuse me, Showman's Manual) is the suggestion to "make sure to tell all your friends that a special ending has been filmed for this movie where King Kong wins, showing the triumph of the United States over Japan, extending any leftover WW2-era ill will! And make sure this myth is reprinted in countless magazines and books for decades!"
Here's another item that I can confirm: it exists.  I didn't win this one either, the one time I saw it...I'm starting to depress myself, so we better keep moving!
Another thing that surprises me when I read these old pressbooks (sorry, did it again) is that you never knew what the studios were actually going to SUPPLY to you when you followed their ridiculous advice, and what you were expected to fork over your Cold-War-era dollars to.  In this case, you as a theatre-owner are expected to erect TOWERING displays in your lobby...or over your marquee, with "flashing lights," "sounds," and yes, you read that correctly, SPEWING FIRE.  Huh.  Even today that would be expensive.  And dangerous.  And stupid.
I apologize that the above picture was over the fold and couldn't be photographed any better than this, because it is completely and totally awesome.  
If you didn't want to sink a few thousand dollars into your display of plywood and pyrotechnics, then you could always consider "Truck Ballyhoo," which I think will be my next band name.
Oh wait, it's exactly the same giant display, only now I need to rent a huge flatbed truck to put it on.  Forget it.  (Incidentally, I know that the last paragraph says ORDER YOUR MODELS, but nowhere in the Showman's Manual does it say how to do this.  I think they mean from somebody else.)
Now, at last, here is a promotion I can afford.  I don't know about "planting" the graphic in newspapers (that sounds like spy work to me), but I can see this actually being fun.  The one problem is, the original isn't much bigger than a postage stamp, and I don't think there was a Kinko's (oh, wait, you could order it.) That brings up another point: anybody ever seen one of these "coloring mats" in person?
Here's the tiny image anyway, in case you want to print it larger and try your hand at an imaginary contest from 1962.  But what was the prize? A copy of Profiles in Courage?  Who knows?
Let's not discuss the "teasing."  Rather, let's discuss whether this item was ever made.  Anybody know? (Man, this movie had the most crap made, or promised, until MEGALON!)
Not since I giggled at the Ghidrah pressbook have I giggled at stenciling suggestions. Um, you probably don't need me to tell you this, but never take anybody's advice that begins with "If you can get away with it..."!
I can at least confirm that the record of radio ads exists, as there's one floating around the Internets someplace (I even included it in some radio spots I uploaded a while back).  The TV ads make perfect sense that they definitely exist, but I'm not aware of running into any, so hmm.
Interesting art that isn't the run-of-the-mill handful of KK vs G stills you see...you DO notice, of course, that Kong is standing in the exact position of the Statue of Liberty, don't you, in an obvious dig at the USA? Oh good, I didn't either.
Back cover of the Showman's Manual, and right as I get used to calling it that, we are done.  I hope you have enjoyed our look at this historical document, and maybe even learned something.  (Such as, don't take it upon yourself to go stenciling public streets, for starters.)