5/22/17

Shin Godzilla (NECA, 2017)

Collectibles from SHIN GODZILLA in the United States were, let's face it, non-existent, unless imported.  I suppose we were lucky to get to see the movie at all, even in the very modern arrangement of short-term, special-event showings.  In the old days, that never would have happened.

Anyway, it was very nice of NECA to add the new design to their roster of wonderful action figures.  By the way, this makes #9 if you are counting.  What happened to #8, you ask? Well, you really shouldn't ask, but since you did, it was a "Loot Crate" exclusive, one of those monthly subscriptions for boxes of random junk...excuse me, collectibles, and it was called "Reactor Glow Godzilla."  It was a direct repaint of the 1995 "Burning Godzilla," except the "burning" spots were now glow-in-the-dark green.  Trust me, even though the secondary value will remain high due to its limited distribution, it's just dumb. And I'm a completist, that is, until the thing I'm trying to complete becomes something that never happened in the life of the character (here, the actual Godzilla films), and feels like a shameless cash-grab.  Then, I skip it. Which I did.

See?
Back to Shin Godzilla, I haven't even had time to open the package, but he's a weighty sucker.  Also, his tail is going to be nice and long, because there are two segments to attach instead of the usual one.  If anyone's wondering, I found this at ToysRUs, and boy was I surprised.  They had him and the previous figure (2001 Godzilla) on the shelf.


5/15/17

Make Way For Angilas

Last week at the thrift store, I found a bag of bootleg PVC Godzilla figures.  I knew they were bootlegs because firstly, I'd seen the full set advertised on the same sites that sell Bootlego (Chinese Lego knock-offs), and secondly, the "burning" part of the Burning Godzilla (1995) figures came in lots of wrong colors, including red, dark blue, etc.  It seems an odd thing to bootleg, and an odd time to bootleg them, but all I could think of was that the "red" Burning Godzilla was supposed to kind-of, sort-of pass for a Shin Godzilla. 
Case in point.  I did not get very many different figures (actually 4), and my selection included only 1 Gigan, who was missing the lower half of his...beak.  Also only 1 of the Blue Burning Godzillas, and he was missing an arm.  So, you get what you pay for, I guess. Also, 1998 Zilla, really? Big demand for that one overseas?

Back to the subject at hand, in the bag were nine small Anguiruses (if that is indeed the plural of Anguirus).  Suddenly there was a small army of the little guys living on my kitchen table, and as I was arranging them, a thought struck me.  Here it is:

5/12/17

the spiderman files - disc 2 (Leaping Fox)

Disc two of this set contains the third category of Spider-Man-related music:  songs about Spider-Man....or not! I say "or not" because, unlike Bat-Man, there is a handful of songs titled "Spider-Man" (with or without hyphen) that have absolutely, positively, nothing to do with the super-hero.  You will see what I mean.  In fact, there is a song from Europe (and its cover versions) with such a title, that is about a serial killer!
The inside cover provides a list of spoken-word sources that were excluded from this compilation.  The two hybrid albums that Marvel experimented with in the 1970's were used to supply us with a few tracks (I mean, Great Scott, there's a song about Dr. Octopus!).


LINK:  the spiderman files - disc two (Leaping Fox)

5/10/17

the spiderman files - disc 1 (Leaping Fox)

Today, we are continuing my ongoing project, which replaces compilation discs I made in the past years with newer, more comprehensive, and historically-organized ones.  The next subject to tackle is songs about Spider-Man (which will be 2 discs).  As we did with the first series (Bat-Man), let's first discuss what is not included herein:


Unlike the subject of Bat-Man, there are not nearly so many complete LP's devoted to Spider-Man.  Most of the ones that exist are "spoken-word," but in the 1970's, Marvel experimented twice with LP's that were a combination of songs and spoken-word.  I used a few tracks from these two LP's, because 1) they suit our purposes here extremely well, and 2) songs about Spider-Man aren't nearly as common as ones about Superman or Bat-Man.

Otherwise, the exclusions are identical to the previous Bat-Man set, meaning spoken word, audio adventures, radio, book-and-record, and things of that sort were left out.

Disc 1 explores the various themes of different Spidey television shows, and concludes with a look at the music of Spidey video games, from their humble beginnings in 1982 to the year 2000...which is very nice, because we end the way we began, with the extremely famous "Spider-Man" 1967 theme.

As always, enjoy!

5/8/17

"Electronic Detective" Sample Game flexi-disc (Ideal, 1979)

"Electronic Detective" was a computerized detective game, manufactured by Ideal in 1979.  It included twenty "Suspect Cards" (that, by the way, would be a little politically incorrect today, and included various predictable 1970's stereotypes), and the player had to deduce which of them was the criminal, using the keypad built into the game.

Apparently, the game was incredibly complicated.  The copy I recently bought did not work, (which is too bad, because it would have been worth upwards of thirty bucks) but did happen to include the "Sample Game" flexi-disc, and I'm always up for mysterious recordings.                

You see, the legendary Don Adams was the pitch man for the game.  He's pictured on the front of the box, and also appeared in the television commercials. Therefore, he would also be narrating the flexi-disc that teaches you how to play, right? Right?!

Unfortunately, nope, he isn't.  Instead we have a guy doing the best imitation of a Brooklyn gumshoe that he can muster.  The various button combinations, as well as writing it all down on your "fact sheet" really get in the way of the narrator having any fun with the material.  

The funniest moment is near the beginning, when he simulates the beginning of an actual game (even though he makes it very clear, you are not using the actual computer to play an actual game).  He says, ugently:  "You hear two gunshots! BLEEEP-ZAP, BLEEEP-ZAP Followed by a funeral dirge! BOOP BOOP BEEP DEEP BOOP....." This is supposed to symbolize a murder (and funeral), but it couldn't be further from the truth.  To bring Don Adams back into the mix:  "Would you believe....a Cylon Raider firing at a Simon game?"

And now, you can hear it for own self:

LINK:  Electronic Detective Flex-disc (1979)

5/4/17

the batman files - disc 3 (Leaping Fox)

Let's wrap this set up with disc 3--inside, the art includes the same list of omitted LP's:
And finally, the good stuff:
There are several highlights on this disc! Enjoy!

LINK:  the batman files - disc 3 (Leaping Fox)

5/2/17

the batman files - disc 2 (Leaping Fox)

Continuing from where we left off, the remaining two discs cover the insanity surrounding the 1966 Batman television show, in about every way you can think of:  official, unofficial, "satire," tribute, and just plain old money-grubbing cash-in.  The interior artwork gives a helpful list of the "100% Batman" albums that are not included as sources for this collection:
Highlights of this disc include Jumpin' Gene Simmons (not that one), UK heroes Mike & Bernie Winters, and the often-imitated, but never-duplicated Frank Gorshin.  I remember hearing that record as a kid (on the Dr. Demento show, no less), and no matter how many times I have heard it, you just have to admire his Riddler.  He just gave it his all.  Contrast that with Burgess Meredith; fine actor and screen personality that he was (and end-all, be-all Penguin), his single is not only incredibly boring, but has identical backing on both sides! Yawwwnnn.

Enjoy!

LINK:  the batman files - disc 2 (Leaping Fox)

4/28/17

the batman files - disc 1 (Leaping Fox)

Not long after this blog began, I made a compilation of Batman material that has since been removed, "out of print," if you will.  It was more of a sampler, a little bit of everything that was out there (novelty songs, audio, theme songs, video game themes, spoken word, etc.), and the historian in me always wanted to replace it with a more comprehensive version.

NINE YEARS later, which is hard to believe, the result is completed at last. This project is a three-disc set, and is intended to be more of a complete look, a dossier or archive of what exists, music-wise.  

Before we get started, let's discuss what this project is NOT.  Incredibly, there is more audio material to collect featuring Batman than any other super hero (yet there are like a million songs titled "Superman"), and one of the main reasons for this is the year 1966, when a worldwide phenomenon took place.  When I began to gather all of the sources, and was trying to figure out how to best present them, I realized there are really five categories of material

1)  Theme songs to the many Batman shows and films over the years (as usual, we are going to ignore the more modern, lesser endeavors).  This is called "bat-history."

2) General songs and instrumentals about Batman.  "bat-songs," naturally.

3) "Bat-Mania" records, which were issued during the worldwide excitement for the 1966 launch of the ABC-TV show.  These include cash-in attempts by no-names, cash-in attempts by big names, and even singles issued by the show's stars themselves.  Everyone was jumping on the band, uh, bat-wagon. As the largest section, there are 40 tracks in all, under the title "bat-mania 1966."

4) Included in the above topic is a sub-category, covers of the theme song to the 1966 show.  Luckily, we have recently addressed this section, or else this project would be five discs instead.

5) Lastly, "spoken word" audio.  Book-and-record adventures, the various and wonderful Power Records releases, and OTR (Old Time Radio)-type stuff were excluded.  Which brings up the following point:


One last note:  Also during the bat-splosion of 1966, several complete, Batman-themed LP's were issued.  Since these albums are 100% Batman material, it made no sense to cherry-pick tracks from them, and instead focus this collection on singles and freestanding tracks.  A complete list of these albums is in the liner notes to discs 2 & 3.


Now that that is all out of the way.........please enjoy.

4/26/17

Spark-E-Godzilla (Imperial Toys, 1985)

Imperial produced a smattering of Godzilla items, both during the time of GODZILLA 1985, as well as through the 1990's.  The "Spark-E-Godzilla" was a toy that did just what it said:  you revved it up, like a toy car with a "friction motor," and sparks shot out of his mouth.  Sparking toys were not uncommon in the mid-1980's and the prior decades--I recall having a toy gun from the circus that was in the shape of a cannon.  When you revved it up, copious amounts of long sparks shot forth from the opening.  Even as a child, I wondered why this was okay.

At some point, parents and watchdog groups became nervous about children's toys that could potentially destroy any home with a gas leak, and items like this slowly disappeared, at least from toy aisles that were geared toward small children.  (A quick search of Amazon yields only two sparking toys; one is a party favor, and the other, a sparking "Futurama" gun.  A similar search at ToysRUs yielded nothing, but their site was acting wonky.)
I always wondered if Imperial somehow licensed the sparking Godzilla toy that Takara has made for years (along with sparking Gigan, Ghidorah, and other Godzilla foes, which are often bootlegged), because they look so much alike.  There's no clue on the package concerning this, but my eyes tell me differently:

4/20/17

Glenn Turner - Reaching For The Stars (Koscot, circa 1969)

From what I've read, this is a pretty rare record, as in "hard to find" rare, not exactly "super-valuable" rare...I thought the name of this album was MR. ENTHUSIASM, because that's where the attention is directed on the cover, beneath the (crayon?) starburst thing.  Nope, it's "Reaching For the Stars," because that's what he's doing, on the cover, there, reaching.  For a star.
One thing I can say about it:  absolutely NO expense was spent on its recording.  Somebody set up a reel-to-reel in the back of an auditorium or community center, and just let it go.  They got what they got.  And what they got is pretty amazingly, ear-bleedingly bad, in terms of sound quality.  I equalized and did everything I could to improve it, and didn't help it much.
Koscot (like Epcot) was an "Interplanetary" company, sort of like L. Ron Hubbard's endeavors.  No, that was a joke.  I assume the "Interplanetary" here was inserted from a 1960's, forward-thinking, space-race type of mindset.  Today, earth, tomorrow the stars.  Hey! We can reach for them! I'm starting to put it all together now.

The problem was, and I'm only reporting here on my gut instincts: it sounded like another pyramid scheme.  I'm only passing along the facts, but when Koscot ran its course, Turner began other similar companies, and eventually served jail time.  There are two ways you could tell this story.  You could say he was a man who overcame disability (a speech impediment) to raise himself up into a successful entrepreneur, or you could say he ran pyramid schemes, as well as running afoul of the feds, who eventually jailed him.  You are encouraged to do your own research (and have a 3-page, double-spaced report on my desk Monday morning).

Another thing about Koscot.  What was the product? Oh, it was mink oil.  (Have you ever tried to oil a mink? I apologize.) Take a look at this charming photo from the back cover:
Nevermind that everything is orange.  There is a dead weasel wrapped around some products, and I'm supposed to want to sell them.  If that photo doesn't make you think about skin care, then...just wow.  

No high-pressure sales pitches are included on the album; instead it's mostly an upbeat pep talk.  And don't we all need that from time to time?

LINK:  Reaching For The Stars

4/7/17

Gil Trythall - Switched On Nashville - Country Moog (1972)

Here's another Moog delicacy, out of print, otherwise I'll remove it...
I preferred our last Moog entry, but I have to say, this is another cool album cover.  All the sources I can find list 1972, which seems a tad late to me, but whatever.
There are bits of cheating, too, as one track features an early "talk box" that Frampton and Joe Walsh would later make famous.  We are apparently supposed to think that is Moog magic? "Rest assured no words were spoken," say the liner notes.  Hmmmph.
You have probably heard the "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" that begins this album; it's been on some compilations. This is a limited-time upload, so enjoy!

LINK:  SWITCHED ON NASHVILLE

3/30/17

Everything You Always Wanted To Hear On The Moog (Columbia, 1967)


Everything?
Mmm, well now, I don't know about everything, but here are some things you may have, at one time,  in fact, wanted to hear on the Moog.
Or not.  This album does have some great cover art!


There was quite an upswelling of Moog LP's, once upon a time, as a trend, just like right before that, it had been sitars, everywhere sitars.  This is definitely one of them.
One thing to keep in mind about these types of albums, is that, by this time, even though the Moog had "a piano-like keyboard," as the liner notes tell us, it only had a two-note polyphony...therefore, it took a very, very long time to record this album (I believe it said 2 years in the liner notes).


It's an interesting album.  I bought a similar one on the same day, that was made up of entirely instrumental Moog versions of "Nashville country" songs, and I came away much preferring this one (although I will admit, I have never been a fan of "Bolero," and that endless song takes up the entire second side).

LINK:  Everything...............................................................................Moog (1967)

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)