2/16/18

The Godzilla Artwork of VIDEO TREASURES (1987-89)

I've been working on a chronology of all of the Godzilla (and friends) VHS releases in the USA...which turned out to be a large project.  We will get back to this topic soon.  

Today, however, we take a moment to remember Video Treasures.  In the over 150 Godzilla-&-related tapes that were produced, from the early 1980's to 2002 or so, the releases of Video Treasures stand out, because they commissioned artwork that was not only original, but striking and well-done! This wouldn't be repeated on a large scale until the 1990's, from a "big" player, Paramount. 

(Video Treasures, 1987)

(Video Treasures, 1988)
(Video Treasures, 1988)
(Video Treasures, 1989)
(Video Treasures, 1989)
In 1995, Video Treasures was combined with a competitor, Starmaker, and merged together, creating Anchor Bay Entertainment, which in 2016 was "folded into Lionsgate."

2/14/18

From the FLIGHT TRAINING HANDBOOK (F.A.A., 1965)

Here's the "short version" of the FLIGHT TRAINING HANDBOOK.  I read it over the weekend, and so I now know how to absolutely fly an airplane.

There's a lot of talk about fire extinguishers and parachutes, but I thought I'd share some of the really important details, in case any readers are looking for a new career path:
First, study all of these diagrams carefully!  When you first fly an airplane, you'll notice a guy who looks like Mr. Game & Watch appearing on all of the runways.  He is easily recognized by his giant hands.  You will see them, because he will be waving them at you constantly, as if he's trying to tell you something.  

To this day, I still don't know what "chocks" are.

Oh! And here's one they don't tell you is on the test, but it is:
They kept asking me what is important about the signalman's position...and it's a trick question, because from the diagram, he has obviously fallen out of the airplane! He's in no position to signal anybody, except for help of course.
They also make you study diagrams of a landing, and identify it as such.  I will be honest with you, I knew what a landing was before I even read this book.  Notice that, at the end there, you get three points for doing it.  This is important:  make sure that you always remember to record these points in your pocket scorebook, or else you won't be able to redeem them for prizes once you are inside the airport.
The test-givers also drone (a little flying joke, there!) on about take-offs, and make you memorize this diagram.  I will save you some valuable time:  all you have to do to take off is to do the complete opposite of what a landing is.  It's just that easy.
Also, there's about forty pages of stuff that looks like this page (above).  None of it is important, really.  During your exam, point to one of the dials that has lots of numbers on it (maybe the "Attitude" one), and tell your instructor that you can't fly this plane, because "the clock is broken." They usually laugh so hard, they will pass you just out of delirium.  

If you do decide to take any of my advice, or even read a book like this, and become an actual pilot, good luck to you!

2/8/18

KING KONG vs GODZILLA Movie Theater Flyer (1963)

This cool item is a very well-preserved flyer from the Bel-Air Theatre, in Bel Air, Maryland.  All three of the films listed above came out in the summer of 1963 in the USA!

2/2/18

Even More Bootlego Minifigures!

Woah!!!

A while back, we looked at some of the various "bootlego" minifigures that are available inexpensively from China (seen here).  

Now, before we continue, there are two kinds of Lego collectors:
1) Purists who say they will only support Lego, and anyone else making Lego-compatible items be damned.
2) Collectors who don't mind buying another company's product, when it's something that Lego just doesn't make.

I'm not here to argue, but admittedly, both my categories are simplified.  The sticky part of the issue is that the Chinese companies that make these new items are usually also bootlegging real Lego sets, and therefore taking away from Lego intellectually, monetarily, and so on.

But, you can guess which camp I'm in...so here we go with more proof:

Okay, let's talk about this Walrus Man for a moment.  You may know that Lego just released their third attempt at a Mos Eisley Cantina, and their third failure.  When I first saw this Walrus Man, I assumed it had been leaked, and therefore copied ahead of time.....wrong.  While the new Cantina did give us the bartender, there were no new aliens.  It almost isn't a type-able sentence to say that you could even fathom to put out a Cantina without any new aliens.  But it happened. We will come back to this in the near future, when I finally do an article about my version of what the Lego Cantina should look like.  Stay tuned.
Yes, it's the Colonel. There is also a hilarious Ronald McDonald that I don't have a photo of.

Golden Age Batman.
Clayface.  This is what he looked like in the Lego Batman video games!
Back to Godzilla, this one is actually available in a ridiculous amount of variations and colors, including transparent colors*.  I can only assume that the intention here is for this to be the PLANET OF MONSTERS Godzilla from the new anime film.  In that case, the one at the top of this post is the correct color!

*Like this

1/19/18

FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD (Ken Films Double Super 8 Master Copy!)

In the days before "home video" was a thing, Ken Films was one of the leading distributors of films in 8-millimeter, Super 8, and later, sound versions of popular films.  Through licensure deals, they were able to offer movies from several different studios.  For more information, here is a very good forum discussion with the most information on the company that I could find.  The last major release that the company did was 1981's THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, after which, they began to decline, with the company folding somewhere in the mid-1980's (not coincidentally, the time period that video cassette recorders began to become more affordable).


At some point after closing down, someone "rescued" the master copies of 125 of their films, and offered them for sale.  One of these is what we are looking at today:  Ken Films' master copy of Baragon's debut, FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD.  It's important to point out here that Ken Films' masters were kept on a unique format called Double Super-8.  For users, Double Super-8 allowed for twice as much film to be shot (by a special Double Super-8 camera) from one roll of film, and then, during processing, the film was split down the middle, and spliced together.  This photo gives you a good example:


At first glance, it looks like a strip of 16mm film...which is the correct width, only those are Super 8 sprocket holes.  What you are really seeing is two prints of the same film, back-to-back if you will (red line added by me).  This allowed for the production of two copies at a time, which was a clever move by Ken.

You will notice in the Certificate of Authenticity, they refer to this as a negative (probably because the film is black-and-white anyway), but it's my understanding that it is indeed Ken's master copy here instead.  This, along with the spelling errors, make me think that an outsider organization offered these reels for sale after Ken's demise.




If you want to see what this print looked like, here's a YouTube video...it's a little wonky at first, but it gets better once the guy moves the camera...besides, it's got Baragon in it! That should be enough for anybody.


1/15/18

LEGO Fantastic Four & The Baxter Building!

Recently, I started working on a project to create a Lego version of the old "Marvel World" cardboard playset from the mid-1970's...and the first thing I wanted to do was give the Fantastic Four something to live in.  Astute observers will note that Lego hasn't produced any minifigures of the team, but Chinese ("bootlego") figures are available, that try to reproduce their likenesses from the first Marvel Lego Super Heroes video game!


I wanted a building that opens, and after looking at some classic depictions of the building, such as this:
...I started to plan the layout.  The left side of the opened building is divided into four rooms.  First, a gymnasium for the Thing:

Next, a lab for Reed Richards (pardon the glare):

Third, a kitchen and rest area:

Lastly, the first floor would be a lobby and reception area, complete with receptionist...

The right side of the opened building is a launch bay for their rocket (later, Pogo Plane).  The great thing about the rocket is that each segment allows for storage, specifically alternate versions of the characters you are displaying! If Sue is invisible at the moment (and a clear one is available, and currently on the way to my house), you can put the non-invisible one in a stage of the rocket, and the same for the Human Torch, which is handy.

Lastly, I built them a Fantasticar.  If you remember your comic history correctly, the car was able to split into four smaller pieces, and still fly around:



It was also important that the Fantasticar be able to park on the rooftop:

By the way, H.E.R.B.I.E. is simply a physical representation of the design used for the first Lego Marvel Super Heroes game...well, except his arms are supposed to be white, and that part is really rare in white, so I used dark gray.  No big deal.


My other projects are:  an apartment building for Peter Parker, a taller Avengers Tower (I added an extra bottom floor to give it height), and a building version of Dr. Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum, which I haven't gotten around to yet...but I am probably most proud of this Baxter Building!

1/12/18

FAIL Friday: The Things That I See (continued)


Okay, so here's a toy "Airbus" from Asia somewhere...take a look at the mascot for this toy line:

"Hey look, boss! I Photoshopped us a brand new mascot!"
"Wait, wait, wait...you think you can just remove his mustache and call him a new character?!...........at least put some white spots on his hat, or something! That's better!"
I don't get the "holding the key aloft" thing, as if he was Mickey from Kingdom Hearts or something.  Oh, and you want to know something even weirder? The "A380" designation on the airplane is upside down beside Not-Mario, and it looks like it has a hidden message:


OBEY! Now that's creepy.

I guess before I go home today, I would be remiss if I didn't design some brand new mascots that I can sell to some fledgling companies! I mean, I could end up rich by noon: