3/24/17

The House At Pooh Corner - Now We Are Six (Wonderland Records, 1974)

Here is an interesting rarity, especially in the D*sney-glutted world that we now find ourselves living in.  (I swear, if they ever buy Lego, I'm leaving the planet.)

The good news is, here are some Pooh stories--side one contains the famous Blustery Day, as well as the equally famous arrival of Tigger; side two contains poems and songs from NOW WE ARE SIX--that are completely devoid of any D*sney-fication.  In other words, probably closer to what was originally intended (which I have always pictured as a sort of Wind In the Willows-type of calm elegance).
The further good news is, somebody (probably not Wonderland, if history teaches us anything) spent some money on it, between a cast and an orchestra.
The bad news is, I didn't like it much.  Personally, I found most of the voices either grating, or just very wrong.  There was a moment in the first side, even,  that I suspected it was all the same person, who wasn't doing a very good job trying to come up with more voices (especially Piglet).  By the time I got to side two,where an attempt has been made to put most of the contents to music, everything became a cloying, sing-songy mess.
Now, your mileage may vary, and I certainly hope it does.  You may have grown up with this record, and I'm sure I would like it much better if I had done the same.  In the end, to me, it's really more of an oddity for my growing record collection.  (Oh, by the way, eagle-eyed viewers will notice the VHS sticker at the corner of the front cover! I can assure you there is no video component to our presentation.)
LINK:  House At Pooh Corner - Now We Are Six (Wonderland, 1974)

3/16/17

Return of the Jedi Lobby Card (20th-Century-Fox, 1983)

My immediate goal was to have one lobby card from each of the three original films, so I picked my favorite of the bunch from the ROTJ ones.  This is #8, the Max Rebo Band.

3/10/17

Batman Theme Collection: disc two (Leaping Fox)

Continuing from where we left off, here is the second disc of covers and versions of the Batman Theme.  While this disc gives you 26 more, let's talk for a moment about what's missing:

Listed in the artwork above are nine more versions that exist.  As I mentioned last time, a few years ago, there were a couple of (unofficial) compilations put out, in vinyl and in very low numbers, under the title Batman Theme and Batman Theme Returns.  Those albums focused on 1966-67 releases, and apparently, they did a really thorough job.  The problem is, they just aren't out there, from what I've seen.  If anyone has access to them, drop me a line!

That said, there are probably more released versions in existence, especially in the later years.  I do think these discs look rather smart together, with clear jewel cases...although I probably should have designed artwork for a double jewel case.

Inlay (for clear jewel case)

Stay tuned for some further projects: once I started re-gathering and compiling superhero songs, I found I couldn't stop, and more is imminent. 

LINK:  batman theme collection (disc two)

3/7/17

Batman Theme Collection: disc one (Leaping Fox)

Here's a project I have been wanting to undertake for several years now.  This set collects fifty-one (51) versions of the 1966 Batman Theme.  

You may wonder: "Woah, there...why listen to the same song over and over?"  But the truth is, it's hardly the same song, because there are many styles and interpretations, including surf rock, big-band jazz, ska/reggae, soul, and many more, all the way to acid house, from all over the world.

I tried to stick to the rule of mostly "real, actual releases."  I'm sure that there are endless homemade varieties on the Internets, but I steered clear of children twanging rulers in tune (there is ACTUALLY a video on YouTube of a pug "singing" along with the song).  Sources are listed for each track.

Inlay (for clear jewel boxes)

And, there are still some missing, even, and we will discuss that in the post for disc two. To get you started, here is the first half, with the second disc following shortly.

LINK:  batman theme collection (disc one)

3/1/17

Happy Melodies From Tupperware's 1975 Happyland Jubilee

Yes, that title is a mouthful, and it's nearly longer than this entire record.
What do we have here? Well, from the best that I can tell, this is an album from Tupperware.  If you don't know what that word means, here is the short answer, courtesy of Wikipedia:  

"Tupperware is the name of a home products line that includes preparation, storage, containment, and serving products for the kitchen and home. It also includes plastic containers used to store goods and/or food."

It's generally sold through "Tupperware Parties," social events where people get together, look at the newest products, sometimes demonstrate them, and place orders.  I remember it being a big deal when I was a kid, and apparently it continues to this good day.  Into the billions of dollars, so I wish I'd invented it.
So, back to our record...I wish I could show you the cover, but this album was inside of another Tupperware sleeve (a 1976--you guessed it--Bicentennial-Themed album), and all my searching has yielded no photos.  Discogs yields nothing...in fact, the listing in their database is my own doing.

Anyway, apparently, there were themes chosen for each year of Tupperware sales (we saw this in the Tupperware Flexi-Disc I posted recently).  I am guessing that each local agent (the person who would host their local party) was sent an album each year. What I am not sure of is how it was used.  Either it was meant to be played at a Tupperware party, or it was meant to be enjoyed privately at the home of the host, to "educate" them about the theme of the year.  

Either way, the results couldn't have been good. 
I really am at a loss to describe what you are (with fear and trembling) about to hear.  No amount of words, either kind or accurate, can really do it justice.  And, I say all that, and this record is less than fourteen minutes.  Shorter than one side of an average record.  You will come to think of this as a positive thing.

The greatest lyric in the whole thing is from "Lois Lane Lament":

Superman is super, super, super, yes indeed 

LINK:  Happyland (at your own risk)

2/28/17

Godzilla vs. Gigan ("Mission Apocalypse") Poster (France, 1972)

I am not really a collector of foreign Godzilla movie posters (I think I have one other, and a few lobby cards), but I have been obsessed with this particular poster for quite some time.  This is a 22" x 15" poster from France, from 1972, where GODZILLA VS. GIGAN was shown, under the much-more-dramatic title of "Objective Terror: Mission Apocalypse".  The dullness of the colors, the composition, and just overall style really speak to me.   

However, it's actually an artistic "paste-up;" a collage of sorts, where the artist borrowed (read here as stole, in the sense of "Immature poets borrow; mature poets steal" --T.S. Eliot) from several existing sources, resulting in a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts...or something like that, because all of the originals are wonderful as well. A quick look at these ingredients:

First, Godzilla came from the American poster for GODZILLA VS. THE THING, by Reynold Brown.  This picture is the original painting, with no text, which was printed once in a magazine.

Next, Gigan and Angilas (as well as inspiration for the flames and the road) came from this publicity photo, which was here used on a Japanese lobby card for GODZILLA VS. GIGAN.  

Lastly, King Ghidorah came from the international artwork for INVASION OF ASTRO-MONSTER, which is here shown in the half-sheet poster variety.  

Good stuff.  Now I just have to frame it...and find wall-space somewhere.  

2/23/17

Man's Incredible Venture To The Moon (Metromedia Records, 1970)

At a certain time in history, LP's and singles about the moon landing were pretty common.  Some were simply cash-grabs, and some were aimed at children.  Most of them came out during the 1969-1970 year, and that would be a good guess for this completely undated record.  Undated, but great.
This album is one of those rare cases where everything gels perfectly.  From the sleek, all-black packaging with the photographed screen of Neil Armstrong made up of stark scan lines, to the minimalist back cover, to the documentary-like, you-are-there (because our narrator was there; he personally reported on the mission) production.  It doesn't waste time, or get cheesy, as other albums of this type might.  Some of the other records just use NASA audio like clip-art, and lack the touch of presence that is given to this production.  You come away educated, and it wouldn't surprise me that this record was used in classrooms around the country.
I enjoyed the play-by-play, chronological order to the LP, and learned some tidbits that I had never before heard.
Incidentally, you'll see on the cover that the whole thing is sponsored by "P.R. Mallory & Company," and there is both an introduction, as well as an outro, by its president.  At the time, the company owned Duracell, whose battery products were, we learn, used during the moon mission!  Some brief research yielded the fact that Duracell has had two other owners since then, first Procter & Gamble, and, now, Berkshire Hathaway, who owns a myriad of other billion-dollar companies.
Enjoy!

LINK:  Man's Incredible Venture To The Moon

2/21/17

King Kong vs Godzilla Ad Mat / Mold (National Screen Service, 1963)

Front of Ad Mat
Quick technology history lesson:  there was a time when movie studios or distribution companies offered "Ad Mats" (also called "Ad Molds"), which were shallow trays made of compressed wood fibers.  Inside of these mats were detailed, reversed images of advertisements of various sizes.  Molten lead was poured inside of these trays (by the user), which, when cooled, would result in a block that could be mounted in the setup of a printing press, allowing the user to print advertisements for that film!

Now, as mind-blowing as all of that is, I will say that the above explanation was collected from various websites that I read on the subject, and that brief synopsis is pretty much all of the information I could find.  I'd be open to any further details that anyone would share, especially if you ever worked with these in your job! I read that they often didn't survive, especially if they were used, which makes sense.

Back of Ad Mat

This particular item is just a little bigger than a magazine-sized backing board, and it's a light pinkish color (the color often varied, from what I have seen).  There are two square spaces on the right side that appear to be empty, or simply flat, but when you turn them in the light, you can see that they hold some finely-detailed images, which were promotional photos.  You can see this in the first photo above, but here are two close-ups.  You can pretty much discern the complete images:



Eventually, of course, this technology was replaced, so what was the last Godzilla movie to offer ad mats?  Available pressbooks mention "ad mats" all the way through GODZILLA VS. THE SMOG MONSTER!  In fact, GODZILLA VS. MEGALON is the first pressbook to exclude mention of ad mats, so they disappeared sometime between 1972 and 1976, as best I can tell!

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.