11/28/14

Godzilla Action Stickers - [Alternate Set] (Imperial, 1985)

I guess I was equally surprised and NOT surprised to notice that a second set of these 1985 stickers that I recently acquired had completely different images! It would be interesting to know how many variations were made by good old Imperial!

FYI, the first set I found can be seen here.

11/24/14

GODZILLA vs. THE COSMIC MONSTER stills!

Today, some nifty stills for GODZILLA vs. THE COSMIC MONSTER.  These black and white stills were issued with both COSMIC and BIONIC (the original title) logos, and no lobby cards were made for the film.  Let's start with the best one:


One of those famous Toho paste-ups that they were so good at.  This one manages to get the entire story of the film into one picture--ALTHOUGH, it sort of makes it look like Angilas is on Mechagodzilla's team.


Planet of the (Dead) Apes.

This paste-up is an action shot that we never quite see.

Head-butting Mechagodzilla.

Not sure what King Caesar is doing in this picture, exactly, but something tells me he's going to get the worse end of it.

11/19/14

GODZILLA vs MEGALON & BIONIC MONSTER - Distributor Synopsis Sheets (1976-77)

A couple of very unusual items today! I recently bought a pile of stills and pressbooks from an Ebay seller for both MEGALON and BIONIC/COSMIC MONSTER, and he included two sheets that had accompanied the materials.  On the one hand, they are just old-fashioned photocopies (the thermal kind you used to see years ago), but on the other hand, they are really unique! My understanding is that they are synopsis sheets that would have been included with promo materials sent out by the distributor.
The synopsis for MEGALON is actually clearer than the plot of the film...and Jet Jaguar is only referred to as "the cyborg," but at least they weren't calling him "Robotman" at this point, as they did in the promotional comic (and also some ads).
Next we have the sheet for GODZILLA vs THE BIONIC MONSTER, which at this point had already been renamed to COSMIC, because somebody scratched it out and wrote the new name in (a penny saved, you know).  The older spelling of "King Seeser" is used, and once again the plot reads a little clearer than it plays out on screen.  I always thought that Caesar got a bad rap, and not enough screen time--since he got his tail handed to him pretty quickly--but when we actually DID get to see him again, in FINAL WARS, they did him no favors (or anybody for that matter, especially the audience).
By the way, I did my best to adjust the contrast on these scans and make them more readable! They actually look a little better than my ancient photocopies.
Next up, we will get to those stills I mentioned--stay tuned.

11/17/14

Lego Set 205 - "Beginner Set" (1966)

A sweet flea market-find from this weekend! A boxed, vintage Lego set called "Beginner Set" from 1966!  Not only is 205 the set number, but also the part count.
And, I learned something.  For 9 years, Lego was actually a Samsonite product in the United States.  That's Samsonite, as in the luggage makers! There was a distribution deal from 1963-1972 that allowed Samsonite to sell Lego in America, and it grew so much that Samsonite even had to build another plant, in Colorado, in 1965 to meet demand.  While they imported some unusual pieces, they actually manufactured bricks in the USA.  You can see the Samsonite information below:
Of course, this was a time long before minifigures, which they wouldn't begin to evolve until the later 1970's.  Instead, this 205-piece set was for general building and creativity (except that the boy on the front of the box looks like he has just dozed off while building).
There are some interesting differences between these vintage bricks and their modern counterparts.  The first thing I noticed was that the plastic was different, which is to be expected, as the ingredients have changed over time.  Also, a wide "baseplate" is included, but not how we think of them today.  It's just an extremely wide brick, made to be used as a foundation for a house, or something similar.  Strangely, it's hollow on the bottom, where today, it would be completely interlockable, which may not be a word...but for one thing, this old design is a much weaker one:
Next, take a look at these vintage window designs:
Lastly, this was the most unusual difference I noticed.  Not only are the wheels (or "tyres") different, but they also have metal pins to connect them.  The bricks they are designed to connect to are very strange, with a clear lower piece along the bottom.  This both serves to contain the locking mechanism, but more importantly, maintains that they will interlock with other bricks, which is really clever.
I was thrilled to find such a vintage set to add to my Lego collection, and it will be displayed and treasured.  I also read that the set originally sold for an astounding $4.95, which is staggering....but take a look at the price tag on mine: $3.45!

11/14/14

Pewter Godzilla Figurine (Fossil, 1995)

Here's an item I have been searching forever for, going on at least 15 years.  In 1995, Fossil made a series of commemorative watches that came in fancy tins, and also included pewter figurines.  I happened to find a leftover King Kong figurine in a Fossil Outlet store in the late 1990's. I thought it was strange that there were Kongs remaining, as each one is numbered on the bottom, but some Internets research told me that the Kong watch had a limit of 15,000, whereas Godzilla (and also Dracula, apparently) watches were limited to 1,000. So I guess they over-estimated the demand for Kong.  Either way, when I discovered there was also a Godzilla watch set made that year, and the quest was on.
I was never that interested in the Fossil watch itself; I just didn't like the design, but I knew if I waited, I could find the pewter Godzilla by himself, especially since the watches are often $300 on Ebay, and I'm more of a vintage guy anyhow.
The tin featured artwork from the 1956 KOTM poster, but the Godzilla here is all Heisei.  He's about 2 inches tall, and very hefty.  Here is the numbering on the bottom:
 So, despite my natural aversion to it, patience remains a virtue, good things come to those who wait, and all of that rot that you've been told by petulant adults your whole life!
And finally, here is Kong for good measure:

Rocky & His Friends single (Golden Records, 1961)

From 1961, promoting the LP called "Rocky & His Friends," here is a wonderful Golden Records single that I just acquired.  The album features the uber-talented original cast, and is a joy to listen to.  
Both sides are on YouTube, and links are below.  Notice that the copy in the links below is a 78, made of famous Golden Records yellow "unbreakable" material, while mine is definitely 45 rpm.  Even though Bullwinkle sings the B-side, both sides are credited to just "Rocky."
"I Was Born to be Airborne"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5M6z8HSbB4
"I'm Rocky's Pal"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EI7s73X_lU

I would just embed the videos, but Blogger is being daft.

11/12/14

Ultraman Jack (Ultra Act, Bandai, 2014)

I wasn't going to do it, but apparently Bandai is reissuing Ultra Act figures from time to time--making improvements as they go--and when Ultraman Jack came up for $30, I leaped on it like a fighting kaiju.  
And boy, was it worth it.  Not only does he look amazing alongside his brothers, but just look at the accessories...five pairs of hands, one with beam weapon, the Ultra Bracelet given to him by Ultraseven (which you can interchange with his wrist), and also its other forms, the Ultra Lance and Ultra Shield!  And I didn't even mention the interchangable Color Timer! Also, the red peg is a piece designed to be used with the Bandai "Act 4 Humanoid" stands.
Once again, all of the incredible articulation is there, and Bandai has given us an action figure that far outstrips anything made in America.  One thing I noticed is that switching hands is easier than on my Ultraman and Seven; so maybe Bandai has improved the pins a bit.  It's not as nerve-wracking a task, where I'm afraid I am going to break something.
A little plug here--I bought mine through Toyz In the Box, and the service was phenominal.
Now if Bandai would reissue some of the villain kaiju--I know they have made Red King, Baltan, and Eleking so far, and Eleking especially is expensive, and I'd love to get him.  Here is the flyer that was packed in with Jack:

11/10/14

Godzilla Effects Set 2 (Bandai/Tamashii Nation, 2014)

Bandai & Tamashii Nation's incredible SH MONSTERARTS figures have been pretty amazing--if pretty much ALMOST completely entrenched in the 1990's--but now they have found a way to make them even better. Two effects sets have just been released, both just over $30, that will really push your figure shelf from "display" to "diorama."
Effects set 1 is a bunch of airplanes and tanks, and that's fine if that's what you are after, but Effects set 2 gives us the crucial element for Godzilla display: BUILDINGS!
Another great inclusion are two beams, which is really nice if you bought some of your figures a little late, and the "bonus beam piece" wasn't included.  That's how my '94 Godzilla was, and I think the practice of excluding it is just dumb.  That's like saying "If you pre-order Luke, you get a lightsaber, but if you wait a couple weeks, no dice."  I mean, come on, Bandai!
Unboxing: Top layer
The explosion is cool, and it really got my attention when this set was announced (I think I ordered it in April, so it was a long wait), but it's a little wonky to attach it to the beam.  While it also has a hole for using a second stand to support it, they should have produced a shorter version of the stand that attached to a second hole in the ground piece--I say this because otherwise, you end up with clear plastic skeletons going everywhere.  This is exactly the reason I didn't buy Effects Set #1, because you have plastic forks going everywhere to support all those planes, and it gets, well, cluttered.
As it is, you have to turn the explosion until it lines up well enough, wedge it onto the beam, and hope it stays.  Also, take note that this is one piece you don't want to leave on the floor and step on in the dark.  It's a spike-ball to rival a medieval mace.
Unboxing: Lower layer
Maybe Bandai makes shorter stand pieces, and I just haven't discovered them yet.  Each building has a hole on top for such a piece, and that would work better for airplanes.  I've been buying up Tamashii "Act 4 Humanoid" stands, so maybe I could shorten some extra pieces.  [Side note: these are the only stands I have found that work with Pacific Rim figures.  Other side note: they are now carried by Barnes & Noble at $17 for a 3-pack!!!]
All in all, Bandai hit it way out of the park.  So what is next? I think more of these Effect sets would be a welcome idea, but I have one other suggestion....BACKDROPS.  Yes, I can get on the internets and find one, but I think a small baseplate that would hold some interchangable sky and city backdrops would really complete a Monsterarts diorama.  Just a suggestion, Japan, if you are listening.  
To conclude, I would like the class to stand, so we can recite the SH Monsterarts Theme Motto:

"Pursuing Character Expression Through Monster Action!"

11/6/14

OUR DINOSAUR FRIENDS For the Early Years (ATA, 1978)

Apparently, this is a pretty rare record.  There are crazy prices for this one on Amazon, Ebay, and Discogs right now, so who knows.  I can see this being a fond memory for someone who heard it in elementary school, and I'm sure it has never seen a CD release, which adds up to nostalgia-value.  (By the way, I added the FOR THE EARLY YEARS part because there was a second LP for INTERMEDIATE YEARS.)
I bought this mostly for the striking cover, and secondly because it was a children's record, which I figured might give it some entertainment value...and, let's face it, I planned on making fun of it.  However, it's really pretty good for what it is!  I mean, if you go in expecting the feel of a late-70's classroom.  
There are really two kinds of children's records.  There are the ones that fail in some spectacular way (and we have all seen these), either through:  lack of effort, too much effort, misrepresentation, underestimating the intelligence of the audience, or even just being abstractly inappropriate in some strange way.  And then there are the others, where, even if it's not your cup of tea, you have to admire the work and skill level that went into them.  This is one of the latter group.  I think my point here is that caring about what you are doing makes a huge difference.
I mean, just look at the photo on the back cover.  Comedy gold, right?  I mean, sometimes there is a thin line between elementary-level entertainers in flaired trousers and Nehru jackets and creepy ice-cream truck driving predators, right? (Clowns come to mind...)
Maybe I am protective of that elementary school-era from my own life, but I just couldn't do it.  Even with one side being instrumental--surely that must mean they were phoning it in?  No, because it was intended for teachers to use, allowing the students to sing the songs.
The songs are well-crafted, professionally backed, and are even educational.  Imagine how it would be done today! You would have an approved website that a teacher would have to sign into, where bored students would have to listen to somebody rapping about multiplication tables, over a MIDI backing track, or something.  We have become so hackneyed, and so afraid of offending each other, that we have lost the personality and feeling that was once inherent in much of our entertainment, especially children's entertainment...but without flying off onto a tangent, let's think back to the days where you had to ask permission to check out some clunky headphones--the ones with the overly-heavy, curly cord that wouldn't stretch--and for some enjoyable, solitary moments, you got to use the classroom (or library) turntable, and you had this wonderful, mysterious machine all to yourself.

Link:  OUR DINOSAUR FRIEND$

11/4/14

Godzilla Key Chains and Store Display (Benedict Pictures, 1979)

I am really fortunate to add this unused and super-clean store display to my collection.  These "Godzilla Key Chains" are made by the same company that gave us Godzilla Puffy Stickers, and that's basically what they feel like.  The images are two-sided, and have a tiny flat magnet embedded inside of them.  Looking at the way they were designed, they would make terrible key chains.  There is a preciously-thin edge where the chain is placed, meaning that they weight of a few keys would tear the chain off quickly.  (Not that it would fit in your pocket very easily, anyhow.) Also, the "magnet" inside of each one won't hold up the weight of the key chain when empty, much less with keys on it.
But, that isn't important for our purposes here.  There are 24 on the display card (I count seven different designs), and all are Godzilla or Godzooky in various poses.
I imagine that many displays were left with quite a few Godzookys, but then again, when you were a kid in the 1970's, you didn't question the Hanna-Barbera "sidekick character."  It was just always there, annoying or not.  It was part of the deal; there was no escape.
The coolest part of this item is the display artwork.  Not only are Godzilla Key Chains defined as "A Chain For Your Keys" (thanks!), but the picture shows Godzilla, wading in the ocean along the coastline...with a giant keyring embedded in his neck! Handy!

10/30/14

Vintage Jack Kirby NEW GODS promotional poster (1984)

I don't talk about comics much, because there are plenty of other places to read about them, but when I do, I can't go 12 words without praising Jack Kirby.  One of my favorite comics of all time was his Fourth World series, because it was a real explosion of creativity for Kirby.  (In fact, I read them regularly, like some people read LORD OF THE RINGS...I have the originals, the reprints, and the hardcover volumes too.)  Personally, I think this explosion had a lot to do with breaking free of Marvel, and allowing all of his stored-up ideas and energy to come out.  The series, especially the NEW GODS title, crackled with over-the-top action, lofty, larger-than-life characters (like Thor cross-polinated with Shakespeare and Homer), intricate Kirby designs of a brand-new mythology...and it really delivered.  As an ultimate example of a great Kirby creation, it also suffered from the same problems as his other solo endeavors, because his mind far outraced the progress of the monthly books...and also, because they ended before he could "finish" his stories.
In 1984, DC gave him the chance to finally "finish" his New Gods story arc, by reprinting the original issues in fancy editions, culminating with a jumbo-sized last issue, where Kirby was able to revisit/remake his planned 12th issue, even though he mostly went in an entirely new direction.  This, in turn, led up to a much-hyped graphic novel, THE HUNGER DOGS, which serves as a "conclusion" to Kirby's Fourth World epic.  (Not to mention that Darkseid's inclusion into the last two seasons of Superfriends not only revamped the show into a more comic-like feel, but also boosted the popularity of the Fourth World books!)

And, ironically (as with other comic publishers), these comics created many more characters that, after his death, continue to be used...be it good, bad, or indifferent.  It matters not to me, so I won't comment on it, because as far as I'm concerned, the book is closed on the Fourth World, and we have all we will ever need. But then again, I know I'm a purist.

Anyway, with all that said, DC published a wonderful promotional poster in 1984 for the NEW GODS reprint series, with dramatic new Kirby artwork, inked by Kirby's ultimate inker, Mike Royer.  I had tried to buy this poster from my local comic shop owner several times over the years, right off the wall, but he simply wouldn't part with it...so I waited.  I lucked into an UNUSED one, that was still crisp and folded, as it originally came.  It's a smallish poster (maybe 17 x 24" ?), but if I'm lucky, I can find some unused wall-space for it, because it deserves to be displayed!

10/28/14

Engrish With Ultraman Ace (part three)

I have about a dozen more episodes of Ace, and Taro is beckoning, so let's get caught up on our moments of Engrish:
 I am pretty tired of learning words from what is supposed to be entertaining Engrish, but once again, they even used it correctly! "Abnegate" means, "to refuse or deny; to relinquish; to give up."  Fortunately, this ends our vocabulary lesson, and we can get back to the matter at hand...

I would be lying if I said that the above statement isn't pretty much the entire plot (and monster) of a very infamous Ace episode.  It must be seen to be believed; that's all I can say.
And finally, the payoff:  what is probably my favorite example of any screenshot since I have been watching these episodes: