2/16/17

Player's Strategy Guide to NES Games: Godzilla (1990 article)

This bi-monthly magazine (whose full title is GAME PLAYER'S STRATEGY GUIDE TO NINTENDO GAMES) was a competitor to NINTENDO POWER, and also offered reviews, strategy, maps, and game-playing tips.  In early 1990, they devoted a cover story to Toho's GODZILLA, MONSTER OF MONSTERS!
The thick, square-bound publication was hard to scan, and it took a couple of tries to keep parts of the page from being blurry, but here is the article in all its glory.  You will probably learn something, as I did...plus, I learned recently that this game is still really hard! Enjoy!
Like a lot of American Godzilla fans, this game was my introduction to Gezora.
Fun Factoid:  unused sprites were discovered in the code of this game for Baragon.  In a way, I'm glad he didn't make an appearance, because he would have been another boss, and I'm not sure I can take the stress of seeing he and Godzilla fight!

2/13/17

Rally Round The Flag (Tupperware Flexi-Disc, 1974)

Here's a weird item, in a long list of weird items.  This was actually inside of another record that I bought, and I discovered it later.  It's a combination of mailer and flexi-disc, from Tupperware in 1974.  It was intended to be sent through the mail--to Tupperware members who hosted their own parties and sold wares--but luckily, this one wasn't.  (By the way, from the message enclosed, we learn that in the photo on the front, the giant American flag is actually made of 76,000 Tupperware bowls.  If I were the boss, I would express my congratulations by saying "Nice waste of two weeks there, people, now get back to work!!!")
The enclosed (and completely clear) flexi-disc contains a jovial, pre-Bicentennial theme song, as well as a message from the President (of Tupperware).
The lure of participating in 1975's promotion:  your very own set of "Pitcher-And-Cups-With-Flag."  They only gave you part of the set each week, much like today's "Build-A-Figure" promotions from action figure manufacturers.
Hang onto these lyrics, because after the message, you will be needing them!
The ONLY text on this clear Flexi-disc is "Mfd by Eva-Tone, Deerfield, Illinois." Eva-Tone were makers of many such Flexi-discs.
And of course, you have been waiting for the opportunity to actually hear this gem, because like me, you have questions.  How were sales were in 1974?  How did Tupperware in the USA stack up against the challenge levied by Tupperware in Africa and the Middle East? (Wait, they have Tupperware in those places?)  Will we be able to gear ourselves up for the swanky, new promotions in '75?

LINK:  Rally Round The Flag

By the way, shouldn't that be "Rally 'Round the Flag," with an apostrophe, denoting how Tupperware realizes they have left out a letter, there?

2/8/17

ESB Collector's Kit: Rebel Alliance Card Set (Dixie & Lipton, 1980)

Card #1 (front)
Here is an unusual card set that I knew nothing of until recent years.  In 1980, as a promotion for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, two "Collector's Kits" were offered from both Dixie (American Can Company) and Lipton (Thomas J. Lipton, Inc.) together, available through a Sunday comics newspaper ad:

The kits included a poster and a 4-card set, and you had to specify whether you wanted the "Rebel Alliance Set" or "Imperial Set." The 5x7" cards were referred to as "Action Photos" in the text, and are printed on glossy cardstock, like very thin posterboard.

Today, we look at the Rebel Alliance set, and to be honest, the images are pretty dull.  I know that Yoda was considered off-limits, but there isn't even a picture of Luke to be found, and Han is on three of the four cards!
Card #2 (front).  A poor photo choice when you only have 4 chances to excite a child about a new movie!
 
In fact, these "Action Photos" have no action at all, to speak of.  There is also no clue as to who the printer was; it always interests me to see vintage Star Wars card-type items that weren't made by Topps.
It should be noted that these two Collector's Kit sets have nothing to do with the Dixie Cup ESB "Story Card" strips.  Those cards were distributed in boxes of Dixie cups, and came a year later.

2/2/17

Godzilla vs the Bionic Monster Sales Brochure (Cinema Shares, 1977)

A very interesting item, made even more so by the fact that this film's title was changed quickly after its initial release (from BIONIC to COSMIC, as we have covered previously).  In fact, a photostat of this brochure's synopsis accompanied the set of COSMIC MONSTER stills I purchased from a theater-owner (as seen here).  
This four-page brochure is printed on thick, glossy paper, and is oversized at 8.75 x 11.5 inches.  One interesting part to me is the word "TELEVISION" in the upper-left corner of the front cover.  This, along with the early title, tells me that Cinema Shares was working on eventual TV distribution as the film was hitting theaters. 
Page three is a better-quality version of the photocopy we have seen (at the above link), although in that case, somebody had scratched out "BIONIC" and written in "COSMIC," amusingly.
It's interesting to me that the synopsis here gives a complete overview of the film, and tells you the ending, where a piece made purely for advertising purposes would leave you with some unanswered questions to generate your interest:  "Will Godzilla be able to defeat the alien menace?"
The back cover of the brochure uses one of those great Toho combo images, although it sort of makes it look like Angilas is on Mechagodzilla's team.  It also has a blank space for an employee to stick a business card, or write in some contact information...which thankfully, wasn't done to this brochure.

1/16/17

Star Wars Jigsaw Puzzles (Kenner, 1977)

Here are some selected Star Wars jigsaw puzzles from my collection.  These are all the ones that my daughter and I have worked so far, to verify they are complete!
Most people know that the only SW items that Kenner could get together quickly were paper products, because nobody was prepared for the huge success of the film.  These "blue box" versions were the very first editions of the puzzles (purple for the 500-piece puzzles).
When the boxes changed, each puzzle belonged to a series.  This is "Han and Chewbacca" from Series I.
Series I, "Artoo-Deeto & See-Threepio"
Series II, "Trapped in the Trash Compactor!"
 
Series IV, The Bantha, which is actually printed on the box as "The Banta"!
Series III, "Luke Skywalker Meets R2-D2!" Unfortunately, this puzzle was missing ONE PIECE.
 Here are a couple of 500-piece puzzles that we haven't braved yet:
Series III, "Victory Celebration!"
Series I, "Space Battle"

12/30/16

Admiral Ackbar Autograph!

This is a bonus card from a Topps Star Wars card set that slipped by me in 2015, called "Hi Tek," which were clear trading cards made of plastic.  A Christmas present that I bought for my own self.

12/16/16

Sears Battery Operated Patrol Phone (late 1960's)

"Hello? Yes, I'd like to report some children without complete faces...yes, yes, I do have a badge..."
Here's an interesting antique toy I recently ran across.  Interesting, if you can get past the "striking" artwork on the front, which may or may not have been started by one artist, and completed by a second one...
Into the Uncanny Valley, anyone?
GAAAAHHHHHHHH!
These "Patrol Phones" aren't really even walkie-talkies at all, but really just a primitive electronic version of two tin cans and a string.  Included is "45 Feet of Cord" as the box tells you, which is permanently connected to the battery cover of each phone:
Can you imagine a child's toy today coming with 45 feet of anything? I know there are strict rules now on string or cord lengths--given in INCHES--because of choking hazards...but this toy had enough to lasso a steer with.
Note the "antennae" in the upper left of each phone.  As an added feature, to provide some sort of authentic feel to the toy, the antennae, which were made of tightly-coiled springs, were to be extended during use:
But, in actuality, they did absolutely nothing.
The toys were produced by a Japanese company, which shouldn't be a surprise, and I'm sure were a catalog item for Sears stores.  Here is the side panel of the box, providing some instructions for use:
Note that you have to depress the side button to speak to someone, which is useful, so your friend will not accidentally hear you berating him, or putting the moves on his girlfriend, from the other side of your fort or treehouse.  Also, even though there is a "call" button, you have to push both it AND the "talk" button to call somebody.  I'd be interested to know what sound that made, but I have no "C" batteries at home, and it's too big an investment to buy some just for that reason...who keeps "C" batteries at home anyway?

It just occurred to me that this toy is identical in function to early office intercom systems that I saw as a kid in the 70's...I remember they were sold at Radio Shack stores (made by Tandy usually, of course), and were exactly the same thing, just not shaped like a phone.  You even ran the same cord between the offices to talk to somebody.  How times have changed.
Kinda like this.  As long as you wanted to talk to the SECOND person who had one of these, you were good.  Of course, nothing replaces good old-fashioned screaming, like we did it in my house growing up.
Finally, let's look at the other artwork on the box, which shows the actual, best use for this toy:  as a tripwire. 


"Tommy #1, Calling Tommy #2!  Come in, Tommy #2! Over!"
"Cut that crap out, Tommy.  I'm right over here...I can see you.  I can hear you yelling, louder than I can hear you in this stupid toy phone."
"Tommy #2, our trap has been successful...we have apprehended two enemy kids, uh, agents, and...they were both riding unicycles, which makes no sense! Over!"
"Quit saying over, or I will make you smell my Bermuda shorts again, you dork! Hurry up and start tying them up with your overly-long cord, but act natural until this kid walking a small brown calf passes by...then, I'll get their lunch money."

12/13/16

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK Dixie Cup "Story Cards" (American Can Company, 1981)


This post replaces the previous one on this subject, because at the time, I did not have a complete set of these cards, and now I am glad to finally fill in this missing piece of vintage Star Wars promotional collectibles on the complete list.  Here is the low-down:  Star Wars-themed Dixie Cups were always a thing, from the very beginning of the saga.  They continued through RETURN OF THE JEDI, and many styles were produced, in many, many different boxes, which featured cool artwork and, sometimes, cardboard items that could be cut from the back of the boxes.

Cut Card #2 (front)
Cut Card #2 (back)
In 1981, to further promote THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, a series of "Story Cards" were included inside "specially marked boxes."  The cards, if you can call them that, were really just heavier-stock paper, and small at that, and came in strips of four.  You could try to collect the entire set by buying boxes of Dixie Cups, OR send off six proof of purchases and FIFTY CENTS for the ENTIRE SET of cards, plus an ESB poster that had numbered spaces to attach your cards.  The completed poster told the story of the film. (Well, most of it, as it stopped just before the BIG REVEAL at the end.)  I imagine that more than a few kids ended up gluing their cards to their posters, which would have been very unfortunate, and probably not age well, either.  Today we will look at a complete set of cards made up of various strips.  Here is the only photo of the mail-away poster that I can find (until I track one down):


The strips were pretty randomly-printed, as you will see below, and I'm sure it was difficult to complete the set.  Here, then, is a complete set of 24 cards, made up of various uncut card strips:

Uncut Strip: Cards 15, 5, 12, & 22 (front)
Uncut Strip: Cards 22, 12, 5, & 15 (back)
Uncut Strip: Cards 3, 11, 19, & 8 (front)
Uncut Strip: Cards 8, 19, 11, & 3 (back)
Uncut Strip: Cards 21, 10, 18, & 9 (front)
Uncut Strip: Cards 9, 18, 10, & 21 (back)
Uncut Strip: Cards 1, 23, 17, & 15 (front)

Uncut Strip: Cards 15, 17, 23, & 1 (back)
Uncut Strip: Cards 22, 7, 4, & 16 (front)

Uncut Strip: Cards 16, 4, 7, &22 (back)
Uncut Strip: Cards 20, 13, 1, & 23 (front)
Uncut Strip: Cards 23, 1, 13, & 20 (back)
Uncut Strip: Cards 14, 2, 6, & 24 (front)
Uncut Strip: Cards 24, 6, 2, & 14 (back)
Lastly, here is the Special Offer from the back panel of a box containing a strip of these cards.  Interestingly, the cards don't seem to have been included with Star Wars-themed Dixie Cups, but non-SW (as in the first photo in this post).  This back panel was included with the final cards I bought, and the partial side panels (which I cropped out below) were from the "Fresh Herbs" collection, and not even SW boxes!  Note the nifty placemats and cool hat that you could also order!