4/16/15

CHALLENGE OF THE SUPERFRIENDS Original Production Pencil Artwork (Hanna-Barbera, 1977-8)

Here's another of my newest treasures! It's production artwork for Gorilla Grodd from one of the defining animated series of my youth, CHALLENGE OF THE SUPERFRIENDS.  Originally I thought it must be from the opening sequence, but I went back and checked, and the pose doesn't line up 100%, so it;'s probably from another scene.  But, at least Grodd was in one series...unlike our next upcoming entry, which is much more difficult to pin down...

4/9/15

THE TRANSFORMERS Original Production Pencil Artwork (Sunbow Productions, 1983-4)

I just bought a batch of animation artwork from a handful of shows that were dear to me as a child; shows that were crucial in my creative development.  First up, a piece of the original Transformers animated series.  All of the artwork that the dealers had seemed to be from the "More Than Meets the Eye" mini-series that launched the show, so this piece could easily be as well.  These are the pencil layouts (with corrections) that were used to aid the production of the finished cels.  In the case of THE TRANSFORMERS, artwork like the Wheeljack close-up above was done in the USA, and then sent to South Korea, where studios like Toei (and later AKOM) would produce the finished work.  To top this treasure off, it is signed by the layout artist, Darrel McNeil.  Completely awesome, and more to come!

4/6/15

1995 Godzilla ("Godzilla vs. Destoroyah") NECA, 2015

The fourth figure in mighty NECA's Godzilla series has finally arrived, with promises of NES Godzilla and 1954 Godzilla behind it.  Here's a brief review of the new figure.
The 1995 "DesuGoji" design harkens back to the "death" of Godzilla (goodness, has it been 20 years, really??) at the hands of Destoroyah.  I'm sure there are some technical differences to the 1994 suit, but it's close enough that many producers of Godzilla items have just issued a straight "repaint," and BOOM, new figure for the line.  But did NECA just do that?
Well, yes and no.  It's not a straight "repaint" in the sense that the burning parts of the figure are done with simple paint (like the American Bandai vinyl, for example).  Instead, it would be considered more of a "remold," because the body is actually made of the translucent orange, with the black painted over it, in most areas.  This doesn't come across in simple photos, but it is a superior look to the lazy way.
That said, it brings up the only complaint I can think of, and that is that an LED inside of the chest would knock this figure out of the park...but, I realize that NECA is trying to keep this line down to $20, so I really can't complain too much.
So basically, the body really is the same as the 1994.  I thought at one point that there was a difference in the heads, namely the ears, but it was a trick of the light and my failing eyes.  The pictures tell a different story:
And then, at one point, I thought the 1995 Godzilla was taller, but my 1994 was just slumping (as in this next photo), and once again I was wrong.
Where was I going with that? Oh yes, therefore, the articulation is exactly the same, but that means "fantastic" when it comes to this series.  I mean, consider that the 4" Marvel Universe figures are REMOVING points of articulation, while prices continue to climb, and it will make you appreciate this series all the more.
I've grown to like "Burning" Godzilla over the years...I think my major hang-up was that Toho was actually going to kill him, and that it took Destoroyah to do it, but I've come to accept that burning up--specifically, not being able to contain his own radiation any longer--is a pretty genius concept.  Plus, as I said before, I am going to support this line religiously!
Although, the appearance of peg-holes still baffles me, NECA!  Godzilla figures stand up just fine...it's the Pacific Rim ones that don't!
And finally, a look at Burning Godzilla's new late-night talk show, "A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight," which is actually one of the free dioramas that Entertainment Earth randomly sends you sometimes.
We conclude with the artwork (the card front is the same as the last two figures).  Buy this figure!

3/19/15

THE INCREDIBLE HULK Production Cel and Background (New World Animation, 1996)

Another birthday present I couldn't post until the cat was out of the bag, for the biggest Hulk fan that I know!

3/17/15

SUPER MARIO WORLD Original Production Cel (DiC, 1991)

I bought two pieces of animation art for birthday presents, and it was too early to post them before, but now that the cat is out of the proverbial bag, I can share them here.  First up is a cel from the SUPER MARIO WORLD animated series.  Astute fans will notice that it's from the infamous "Mama Luigi" episode.  (Apologies for the phone-sourced photo with lower resolution.)

3/13/15

Some of My Personal FAILs... (part nine)

It's that time again.  And by "that time," I mean time to clean out my camera and hard drive, and share some of the bizarreness I see on a regular basis:
First, a leftover from the "Engrish With Ultraman Ace" series, that somehow I overlooked (so the FAIL in this one is on me).
Secondly, I was in Dallas last year on business, and there were huge blow-ups of vintage newspaper pages in the hotel (doesn't make any sense to me, either).  I happened to notice this 1892 FAIL...but once again, didn't notice my own reflection...so that's two FAILS for me so far...if you are keeping score, that's Universe: 2, Me: 0.
And now we move on to a couple of thrift store FAILs...the longer I stare at this picture, the more things there are that are just plain WRONG about it.  I pity the family who not only had to sew the entirety of their Halloween costumes, as there are complete STORES devoted to keeping you from doing that now, but who also went out all looking exactly the same. And the sad thing is, none of these costumes are even technically "correct," in a classic Universal sort of way...I don't know what they were going for, unless it's ridicule.  Oh, and Mozart called:  he wants his shirt back.
This is one of those "I don't make the news; I just report it" moments.  Apparently you can fail on different levels simultaneously.  Unless I am hallucinating, I see a statue of a rooster.  It is wearing pants, some sort of shirt I guess, and maybe, boots.  It also has breasts.  There's not much more I can say about it, except that somebody bought it, so dwell on that for a moment.  This is as close as I would let myself get to it. 
And finally, a Food FAIL.  I am sure I really shouldn't comment on what people eat, as I'm also sure I have eaten a lot of foods of questionable origin in my own life, but since I am a hypocrite: WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE???!?!?!

3/12/15

GODZILLA Model Kit Re-issue (Monogram, 1978)

Here's our old friend, the Aurora Godzilla model kit, once again, this time re-issued by the Monogram company, in 1978.  They even retained the "Glow-In-The-Dark" features from the 1972 Aurora re-issue.
They did a good job on the box art though--it's colorful and engaging.  Eye-catching, even.
And, it's always nice when a model company gives you a photo of the finished model, rather than a painting that kids could never live up to.
And, they even attempted to give Godzilla a short bio: "The best-known of all monsters, Godzilla has starred in 17 classic films."  I think model kits were one of the first products I ever saw that actually had different languages printed on their packages...which today is commonplace.
I held out, and found a kit that had never even been removed from the plastic bags.  Notice the extra set of "Glow-In-The-Dark" parts, which includes a head, (end of) tail, hands, and dorsal plates.  I intended to scan the instructions, but forgot.
So, if you are keeping track now, this is the fourth (and last) version of this model kit that there is to buy:
Godzilla (Glow-In-The-Dark re-issue, Monogram, 1978)

It's about time to re-issue this kit again, don't you think?

3/9/15

GODZILLA Original Production Cel with Background (Hanna-Barbera, c. 1978)

One item on my want list for some time was an original cel from the Hanna-Barbera GODZILLA animated series, and I finally get one, and it's Godzooky.  Oh well, it's a start.
One interesting point here is the background...while it's an original background, I don't really think it's an original GODZILLA background.  I suppose I could re-watch all 26 episodes of the show (in my copious free time), but I don't look for that to happen anytime soon.  You will notice that the "key holes" (the hole and slots used to hold the cel in the correct place on the animation stand) are on the bottom of the cel, but on the opposite side on the background, which adds a further level of mystery, that I should probably leave to the experts.  After all, the notations on the edge of the background are right-side-up when you look at it, so maybe that background was made for a stand with a different set-up, where the holes are on the top?  I have no earthly idea, so I'm just trying to look for clues.
On the top: holes.  On the bottom:  more holes.
To me, the background looks like some sort of futuristic stadium ("Godzooky: Beyond Thunderdome"?), so, considering that it is really an HB background, then what is it? SUPER FRIENDS would be a good guess, and that would be super-fine by me.  There was a Space Ghost revival around 1981 as well, and that would be another decent guess.  Unless I'm watching something randomly one of these days, and happen to spot the background, I may never know, but I'd be glad to entertain any other guesses or ideas.
And, for all those who regard Godzooky as the Jar Jar Binks of Godzilladom, you can get special enjoyment out of the way the cel lines up with this background, and makes it appear that he is impaled on two giant spikes.

3/3/15

GODZILLA Original Production Pencil Artwork (Hanna-Barbera, c. 1978)

Here is an original piece of artwork made for the Hanna-Barbera GODZILLA series that mesmerized me as a five-year-old child.  It's done in pencil, with a second blue pencil, apparently for corrections.  If this was done to photocopy the art onto cels for painting (the Xerox process), then the blue pencil theoretically wouldn't show up, so I will leave that to those more experienced than I am.
It measures 10.5 x 12.5", standard cel size, and does have the "key" holes/slots at the bottom, so perhaps this artwork was used for pencil tests, but my theory would be that HB didn't spend a great deal of money on pencil tests at this point.  
It doesn't show up in the picture, but there is a lovely tinge of light brown across the top of the page, denoting its age.  Not only is this going straight into a frame, but a frame that includes acid-free backing for protection!

2/27/15

Drawing of the Day


2/24/15

Star Wars DROIDS Original Production Cel (1985)

I know, this show wasn't very good, and admittedly, it didn't seem to have much to do with the Star Wars universe sometimes, but I've always had a soft spot for this Nelvana series.  Maybe it's because I can remember the excitement of the Saturday morning premiere event that I tuned in for--back when an animated Star Wars series was a new concept!  It was years before I saw it again, when the Sci-Fi Channel started showing it around 1995 or 1996.  And even now, all these years later, we've never had a proper DVD release of the whole season, only one VHS volume, around the time of the Special Edition, that consisted of a story arc of episodes strung together.  Something tells me that this isn't exactly a "top priority" for Disney, but I'd buy it.

2/20/15

Beany & Cecil Glass Marbles (No Manufacturer, circa 1962)

 A recent purchase of mine--photos lazily cribbed from the auction itself.  The only difference in the front and back of the header card is the large price.  Imagine getting anything for ten cents.  Even marbles made of glass were better looking back then.

2/17/15

Dinosaurs (G.E. Show'N Tell, 1965)

 I had boatloads of these things.  But, I should preface that statement (why do people say that, when they have already SAID something? Doesn't "preface" mean that it should COME FIRST?) by saying that there is a huge difference between being a Child of the 1970's and...a Child of the 1960's.  
I'm not faulting you decade-older folks.  You had tons of cool stuff; stuff that I benefit from and enjoy to this good day...you just had to look harder for it.  But in MY day, we had licenses.  Oh, and blockbuster movies (yeah, I know, that used to be a good thing).  And licensing began to cause the world of entertainment to explode.
Case in point:  there I was, at my favorite thrift store, and I find what must be 50 or 60 of these classic "Show'N Tell" record sets.  [We've discussed these marvels of pre-VCR technology before, but for the uninitiated, they were filmstrip-and-record sets, and you watched them on a viewer built into the turntable, which automatically advanced the filmstrip as the record went along.] There must be a similar pile of these things still existing somewhere in my parents' house...and then I began to look through them.  They were dismally boring.  Three-minute adaptations of literature from the 1800's, and science lessons called "Which Way Is North?" and, I kid you not, "Would You Eat Flowers?"...would kids in the 1960's even sit through this dreck?  I would think that "Farm Animals: Hog," "Ghandi," or "A Midsummer Night's Dream" would have helped invent juvenile deliquency if I hadn't seen those films from the 1950's and known it was already around.

But I digress.  I was able to find one solitary title of interest, and I present it to you today.  No filmstrip, of course, but I've played that game before, and it didn't work.  Interestingly, these records are a weird intersection of brand names:  General Electric, Childcraft/World Book, and Pickwick International.  If I had to guess, I'd say GE made the record player/viewer, Childcraft/World Book supplied the text (naturally), and Pickwick manufactured the records...a partnership made in heaven.
And hey, it's outdated information about dinosaurs, so this should be fun.  As a caviat (not a preface, mind you) to my earlier statements, I will admit that all the great developments in the 70's led to things like this happening shortly thereafter:

LINK:  Dinosaurs (GE Show'N Tell, 1965)

2/13/15

"Godzilla Force" Bootleg Trendmasters 6-Inch Figure (unknown, 1990's)

This is one of those items that was an inevitable buy for me...I can't resist the "FAIL" aspect of bootleg figures, but I have to admit, it's much less obvious on this piece.  You have to study it for a minute to get the full effect.
In short, this is a 6-inch Godzilla, which kind of looks like it's based on the Trendmasters "Power-Up Godzilla" that came with armor, but I don't own that figure to make a direct comparison...it's also possible that it's made from whole cloth, but usually that isn't how these sorts of things work.  A sloppy mold-over, maybe!
Note the detached, sideways tail, and the truly weird separated dorsal plates, which makes me want to see this thing assembled, but alas, it is the packaging that gives this piece its full impact.
Why? Because the backing card is a direct copy of the one from the "Godzilla Force" 4-inch figures. If you don't know, there was an attempt by Trendmasters in the mid-90's to introduce a human team into its Godzilla franchise, which pretty much failed.  Why would anybody buy a human figure, when there were kaiju to be had? They wouldn't! Anyway, they looked like this:
Which is all the more comical, when you read the text on the card, which should lead us to believe that either the bootleggers don't care, or can't read English.  Or both, come to think of it.  You will notice that two things are missing from our bootleg:  the TRENDMASTERS logo in the top left, and the "Official Godzilla" shield in the lower right.  Also, the bubble is completely different from any Trendmasters product, both in shape and in thickness--it's made of super-cheap plastic that is thinner than even the cheapest Walgreen's water bottle.
And now onto the backs of both products:
Bootleg Godzilla card back
Genuine "Godzilla Force" card back
Both sides of the bootleg have a weird washed-out quality to the graphics, as you'd expect (stolen artwork, or photographic reproduction?).  The bootleg is actually a larger card (as you'd also expect), and has a white border around the back to take up some of the space.  Right away, you can notice there are no "Godzilla Points" (upper left corner)...and now that I think about it, I don't think these were ever used for anything, anyway.   This blank space in the upper left is used for something by our bootleggers, but even they cover it up with some warning labels:
Which maybe is a clue that this is a toy of Mexican origin.  Who knows?
I tried to scrutinize the rest of the card, in the hopes of finding some hilarious Engrish, but it appears to be a direct reproduction, so no dice there.  The only other difference is the entirety of the very bottom:  the bootleg has no fine print, no Trendmasters indicia (of course), and no UPC barcode (also of course).
An added sticker says "Made In China".....and look, they've added the "Please Recycle" thingy! This is because, if you wait long enough, the inferior ingredients will recycle themselves, and they wanted to look environmental.
All in all, a very unique addition to my collection, and definitely something I haven't seen before!

2/10/15

White Castle Godzilla Flyer/Frisbee (Strottman International, 1990)

I didn't believe it either, mostly because there are no White Castle restaurants anywhere near me, but in 1990, there was a Godzilla Kids' Meal promotion at White Castle.  There were a handful of toys, including a figural water-squirter, a throwing-star device with suction cups, and this orange frisbee, which measures about 6 to 7" in diameter!


1/26/15

Godzilla Action Stickers [Set A] (Imperial, 1985)

Okay, three down, one to go...here is set A.  What's extremely interesting here is the presence of Mechagodzilla! That was a real curve ball from Imperial, and it's the only American item I've seen from the mid-80's to actually have another Toho character on it.  I wonder if it was specified in the license, or if they just didn't care, and did it anyway!