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:

10/27/14

Blue Oyster Cult "Godzilla Live" 12-inch single (CBS, 1978)

You couldn't buy this item in stores, but instead this record was sent to radio stations and DJs--later we would refer to these releases as "12-inch singles," because they were basically 45's in the standard large cardboard sleeves.  By the time the disco era had arrived, the extra space was being used for longer versions or alternate mixes, but that's not the case here.  Both sides of this record are less than 4 minutes, and would easily fit on a 45.  In fact, this was also available in that size!
Another interesting this is the title on the spine actually says "Blue Oyster Cult Sampler," instead of "Godzilla Live," which is on the cover, and is presumably the A-side--although, as you will see below, the labels do not specify an A and B-side...
...at least not clearly.  There is a backslash under the large word "STEREO" on the "Godzilla" side, which probably denotes that it is the B-side track, and, after all, the Live version is the newer track at this point.  But who really knows.  We could call it a "double-A-side" single if need be.
You've seen this stamp on albums, no doubt, but usually on crap nobody's ever heard of, because that is how it ends up in thrift stores and places like that.
 Other than this fine print, there is precious little information on the cover, and certainly no mention of the word "Toho" or any rights issues!

10/21/14

Godzilla Action Stickers (Imperial, 1985)

Another holy grail tracked down, as I add these hard-to-find ACTION STICKERS to my collection.  These are three large, rectangular stickers that move when you turn them back and forth, showing some action from GODZILLA 1985.  I have seen these types of stickers called "lenticular holograms," or "lenticular stickers" (I think including the word "hologram" is a bit disingenuous).

Don't miss the entertaining read on the back of the package, where you are encouraged to decorate your toes, fingers, and ears, as well as stick these stickers on pencils, raincoats, flower pots, and mittens...Imperial, you were so nutty.

10/17/14

Mickey Mouse, by Hanna-Barbera Productions....wait, what?

You have seen this little guy, no doubt, more than once in your life.  I have seen him in several flea markets and various shops over the years.  He is hollow plastic, and five or six inches high.  In fact, this alternate fashion choice for Mickey was used for other products too (such as a much larger bank, for example).  He originates from an era when the "Mickey Mouse Club" was the darling of television, and the Mouse was the most recognizable licensed character on the planet.
But one day, several years ago, for some reason I picked one of these up and turned it over.  This is what I saw...
Hopefully, you can see the raised print on the rodent's back.  It say: "HANNA-BARBERA PRODUCTIONS, INC." and it's not an illusion.
I suppose that one thing that makes a bootlegger is a blatant disregard for the truth.  They just simply don't care, and facts will never get in the way of a profitable ripoff. Which of course can make for some entertaining results.
Weirder still, I've seen this Mickey several times over the years, and yet only once have I run across this bizarity (coined a word, there).  
I put him on my shelf because of the hilarity of it all, but in recent years, it's turned into a grim reminder that "the Mouse is always watching you."  That sounds completely paranoid, now that I type it, but did anybody stop to think that they are basically one more large purchase away from being a world superpower???

10/16/14

Vintage Quarter Machine Displays!

A fast post today, but a neat one.  Here are two header displays from vending machines that I've had for quite a while.  They are difficult to photograph, but even harder to date, because these machines were a quarter for many years (and now are often 50 cents, 75 cents, or even more).  Rubber balls were a dime when I was a tot! But enough of that, I should point out that what is interesting (besides the strange mis-spelling of "VOLKSWAGON") is the large Godzooky, which should be a huge puffy sticker or magnet made by Benedict Pictures Corporation in 1979...so I doubt this display is much newer than the early 80's.

10/15/14

Lego Purchase of the Droids!

Now that the new Sandcrawler is out, or even if you have the old one, it's a good time to recreate this classic image, which was always one of my favorite moments in the original film.

Like the bounty hunters, Lego has kept us two short in being able to have a complete line-up when it comes to the Jawa's droid sale.  Luckily, this can be easily remedied.
The two you have to make are the ones at each end of the droid display.  On the far right is a LIN-series mining droid.  I am a "credit where credit is due" type of guy, so I should disclose that I searched around to see if anyone had made this droid, and found Baron Sat's amazing Lego site, where he had done this exact thing.  I only made a minor change to his design, in that his is based off of the Hasbro figure, which has a huge claw that the droid in the film doesn't have.
On the far left is (what somebody has decided is) a "KPR Servant Droid."  He is pretty basic, and not too difficult to make out of bricks at all.
I have a secret hope that somebody will start a series of You Tube videos, making versions of the original trilogy using only Lego sets...you should just about be able to do the whole thing, with 15 years of sets.

10/13/14

1994 Godzilla ("Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla") NECA, 2014

Thank goodness for Amazon, because I don't think this figure was ever coming to a Toys [backwards R] Us near me in my lifetime.
This is the second figure in what has now become an official series by the action figure powerhouse that is NECA.  Let's take a closer look at whether it's awesome or not:
Like the first NECA Godzilla (the Legendary Godzilla), the figure's sculpt captures the look of the source design well.  Starting with the 1994 "MogeGoji" suit was a safe idea, since it is usually the most-preferred Heisei Godzilla design.  Until I compared the sculpt with this photo (below), I thought NECA's figure was a bit bulky:
Also like the previous figure, this one has all kinds of articulation--even some that you really can't use very much because of the sculpt, or just because of Godzilla's basic shape (much like the  Pacific Rim figures).  You realize this mostly on the arms, which seem like they should move a lot more freely than they do.  The ability to close his hands is nice, though, and helps for posing.
I have read complaints about the tail (which comes unattached, like the last figure), and they are right, but before we look at that, I should point out that it now has some "rings" of articulation, just like the SH Monsterarts figures by Bandai...I thought this was very interesting.  The last third or so is still one segment (with a wire inside, also like before).
Also, this is just bizarre to me, but the feet have peg-holes.  I don't recall if the Legendary figure had them or not, and I haven't yet looked, but out of all the 6-7" figures you have, I'd venture to say that Godzilla has the least chance of falling over.  Don't get me wrong, my biggest complaint with ANY action figure company today is the lack of included stands, but I can't imagine ever, ever needing one for this figure.
As I just happened to own the 1994 Godzilla that Bandai made for their SH Monsterarts line, I thought a comparison was in order! 
First off, NECA's is obviously a bit taller, but considering this just made me notice what a strange lean the Bandai one has.  This looks completely right on my shelf, paired with my Heisei Mechagodzilla, because it looks like he is realistically reacting.  However, just standing still, it looks strange, and even causes his dorsal plates to be askew.  While NECA's head might be a bit too big, I think Bandai's is a little bit too squashed, but has better articulation than the newer figure.  NECA's blue-green for the claws and toes is a strange choice, as Bandai's extremities are more film-accurate.

I waited to discuss the tail, because this photo makes it all clear.  NECA's tail comes to a point, instead of the rounded end we are all familiar with, and that was a rookie mistake (Again, I haven't compared, but don't tell me they just re-used the tail end from the first figure...).  Also, Bandai's is quite a bit longer.
And you can have too much of a good thing, as posing the Bandai tail often leaves me with some overhang, and I have to creatively curl it to sit on my shelf correctly sometimes (mostly because the Children are always messing with it).  And look at the hips of each figure in the above photo.  For some reason, Bandai's figure has a bad case of "Dunlap's Disease," where NECA's blend more seamlessly.
I think the paint job is slightly better on the Bandai figure, but it may be because I prefer the dry-feeling plastic to NECA's shiny rubber-feeling figure.  That's not to imply that both of NECA's figures aren't sturdy or solid-feeling figures.  In fact, truth be told, I think they would better survive a fall than Bandai's, every time. Also, this is probably just personal preference, but I prefer the color of the dorsal plates on the NECA version.
 All in all, I think that NECA has launched an excellent series here, and it's certainly one I never thought we never see in America.  Not only will I be supporting it, but I'll be looking forward to the next two figures, which are GODZILLA 1985 and 1954, and should be nice indeed.
They are already light years ahead in price--I have a hard time ever telling what the actual retail price is on the SH Monsterarts figures, but they are never close to $20, so NECA is way ahead of the game there.  In fact, while I've had to be very choosy with my high-dollar Bandai purchases, and only have three, I will be buying all of the NECA ones.  I'd like to see them allowed to branch out with some of Godzilla's friends and foes, as well.

One thing that puzzles me though, is why the packaging uses the same image and color scheme as the Bandai Creation vinyl figures? Did Toho make them do that? It's odd:
Insert card (front)

Insert card (back)
Inlay 

10/8/14

Engrish With Ultraman Ace (part two)

The Malaysian subtitlers continue to beguile us with entertaining structure, daringly-misused tenses, and vocabulary lessons:
Some context: a mother has grown extremely weary of her son raising pigeons. (Reminds me of the old Tom Lehrer joke, "he practiced animal husbandry...until they caught him at it one day...")
The alien is taunting Ace and the team, telling them their efforts are futile.  This is either a proverb or just bizarre translating.
It's not what? Once again, I had to consult the dictionary.  This French word is a noun meaning:
"(in the French Revolutionary calendar) the fifth month of the year, extending from January 20 to February 18,"
so my guess is that Hokuto is telling his teammates that their current discussion has nothing to do with the weather in Revolutionary France, when people had messed-up calendars. 
This was a bit more confusing to figure out, but the word means "the object, itself
inaccessible to experience, to which a phenomenon is referred for the basis or cause of its sense content."  I think the point here is that the alien is projecting an image of itself, but the alien is, in reality, somewhere else. (They could have just said that.)
I don't know if I explained this last time, but in ACE, a "choju" is a special kind of kaiju.  Also they are filled with delicious meat, apparently.
Once again, the Malaysians have taught me a word that at first glance looked like it simply couldn't be real.  The word "oppugn" (pronounced like the word "impugn") means "to assail by criticism, argument, or action; to call in question; dispute," and comes from the same Latin root as the word "pugnacious."  You can even be an "oppugner."


10/7/14

GODZILLA SHREDS Bubble Gum (Amurol, 1988)

Good things come to those who wait, and in my case, that means petrified Godzilla gum from 1988 (with a Woolworth's price tag, no less).  This is the mate to the GODZILLA HEADS gum that was made the same year (see other post for photos), and I'm not sure which came first, but I'd be willing to bet that the "Heads" preceded this one, as this is basically just "Big League Chew" in fruit punch flavor, but there's no way to really know.
For those interested, this company also made King Kong and Wolf Man gum, so somebody went to some trouble to pay for licensing, I'm sure.

10/2/14

One Tiny Observation About GODZILLA (2014) and the Future...

I got to rewatch GODZILLA over the weekend, and I paused the action long enough to get this screenshot, which I've been wanting to do since the film was in theaters.  I have read lots and lots of discussion about the Mothra reference on the aquarium (when Ford and his dad revisit their old house, there are overlapping pieces of masking tape on the aquarium that spell out "MOTHRA"), but I haven't heard a peep about this brief scene in Ford's classroom near the beginning of the film.  It's possible I've just missed it, but I wanted to include it here just in case.
Now that we know that Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah are all up for use in the next film(s), this little allusion is even more amazing.  And speaking of, I've read comments where people suggest that these new three are going to ALL be included in the next film, and I'm not sure that was promised, exactly.  I can't lay hands on the original quote right now, but I took it to mean that they would be spread out over films, as at first a trilogy was being discussed.  And why is it that if one Hollywood film is successful, it means you get a trilogy these days? I'm not complaining, just curious.