7/26/17

Godzilla AM Radio (Concept 2000 Dealer's Toy Catalog, 1980)

Do you ever get the feeling that there is nothing left to be discovered? No worlds left to conquer? Well, the truth is quite the opposite.  There are still things out there that have been long since forgotten about, and are just waiting to be discovered (or re-discovered, more likely).  Even things that...(gasp) can't be found on the Internets!

I ran into this 1980 toy catalog completely by accident, and now it is on the Internets, in the correct place, which is this blog.  You will see why very shortly.

Concept 2000 was a company that made electronics and electronic toys in the late 1970's, including record players, alarm clocks, radios, cassette players, learning-based math toys, and the like.  



Their licenses included Looney Tunes (at least around 1977, but not--apparently--by the time of this 1980 catalog), Peanuts, Sesame Street, Barbie, Mork & Mindy, and....Godzilla!

This is the only Godzilla item in the book, so perhaps this was an attempt to test the waters.  The Hanna-Barbera animated Saturday morning show was still being shown at this time, and would have been the logical connection to promote.  The off-model artwork is closer to the show's design than anything else.

Before we go any farther, notice that its shape is identical to another Concept 2000 product, the Barbie AM Radio:
This of course wasn't an unusual practice at all, merely re-purposing an existing shape, and making another product out of it.  The Barbie AM Radio was certainly produced, and can be found today with little effort.

However, there is no trace to be found, anywhere that I have searched, of the Godzilla AM Radio ever actually being made, and seeing the light of day.  

I'm of the opinion that it was never actually made.  Every other property has multiple items in the catalog, but this is the only Godzilla one.  In a recent email conversation with Sean Linkenback (who literally wrote the book on Godzilla collectibles), he said he had certainly never seen one, and pointed out that there were probably not enough pre-orders to justify production. 

If it were made, it would join a very short list; that of products made to promote the Hanna-Barbera cartoon!

Which leads me to wonder...what happened to the prototype? It was probably thrown away, but wouldn't it be interesting if it still existed somewhere?
If anyone has any further information (including what happened to Concept 2000), I'd gladly welcome any additional input!

7/24/17

ESB Collector's Kit: The Empire Card Set (Dixie & Lipton, 1980)

If you saw our post on the Rebel Alliance Set, you know the backstory, but if you came in late:

In 1980, as a promotion for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, two "Collector's Kits" were offered from both Dixie (American Can Company) and Lipton (Thomas J. Lipton, Inc.) together, available through a Sunday comics newspaper ad (above).

The kits included a poster and a 4-card set, and you had to specify whether you wanted the "Rebel Alliance Set" or "Empire Set." The 5x7" cards were referred to as "Action Photos" in the text, and are printed on glossy cardstock, like thin posterboard.

It's interesting to see printed material saying "Empire Set" instead of the, later, more correct Imperial Set.  I was just re-reading the SW Newspaper Comic Strips last night (from the new, definitive edition that recently came out--highly recommended!), and I kept seeing it there, too. "It's those Empire ships!"

While I thought the Rebel set was pretty much a dud, this other set is much more successful as "Action Photos." You get two cards with Boba Fett, and one with the complete bounty hunter line-up, which would have made "1980 me" giddy.  Not only that, but Vader is in all four cards, and his duel with Luke is included.  A much better way to sell a movie than the dull first set.
It should be noted that these two Collector's Kit sets have nothing to do with the Dixie Cup ESB "Story Card" strips.  Those cards were distributed in boxes of Dixie cups, and came a year later. 

Even though this was my final vintage (and promotional) SW card set, there was a note of disaster in my purchase!  Both Collector Kits included posters, which my seller rolled inside a tube and placed in a bubble-mailer envelope with the cards.  When the package arrived, the end was completely opened, and stapled back together, leaving a large hole to one side, which the tube had fallen out of, at some point in its journey.  I was lucky to receive the cards unscathed and complete (which is primarily what I was after), but it's too bad that the posters did not make it to me successfully.  I can only assume that a random postal worker's child is enjoying them now, somewhere.

Auction photos of the Luke and Vader posters...all that remains!

7/20/17

"Godzilla Three Dimensional Sticker" [sic] (Item #1209, unknown manufacturer, 1979)


Here is yet another Godzilla variety of what we called "Puffy Stickers" back in the day.  There may be no limit to size and header-card variety with these things.  Time will tell.  
All we know is that they were made in Taiwan, but like their counterparts, no manufacturer is present. This will be added to our sub-page that chronicles all of the American Godzilla Collectibles from the beginning to around 1990.

There is also an orange-carded version of #1209 showing Godzilla:


7/17/17

the superman files - disc 7 (Leaping Fox)


This is the end, my only friend, the end...

Let's wrap this up with a final disc, which cherry-picks the best Superman songs from the 1990's up to the present day.  So...time to put this Superbaby to bed.


If you are counting, that's a total of 147 tracks on this Super-headache of a project! Enjoy.

7/14/17

GODZILLA 1985 - Betamax (New World Video, 1986)

Even though we finally got this last Godzilla film released on DVD, we weren't able to get THIS version, due to entanglements with the rights, and so it remains unreleased for Godzilla fans in the modern era.  However, back in the day, it was released on home video, in Betamax, VHS, and even a CED version.  
If you've never held a Beta tape, they are shorter than their VHS counterparts in stature, and a bit stockier.  I had forgotten how much more compact they feel than VHS.  During the time that the two formats co-existed, there was a brief "format war," which VHS won in the end.  It's interesting to think that it could have gone the other way, and some people say it should have, because if I remember correctly, Betamax had a slightly higher resolution.
It's a bit ironic for me, because as a kid, I recorded the very first TV airing of GODZILLA 1985 on a Betamax recorder that had been handed down to me when my parents upgraded to VHS.

7/12/17

Frankenstein vs Baragon "Art Works Collection" Diorama by Yuji Kaida (Megahouse, 2006)

Here is an amazing little piece that packs tons of detail into only about 3.5 inches of height! This is from a series of dioramas, sculpted by the great Yuji Kaida, called the Art Works Collection (I believe this is the second series in this set).  Kaida is my favorite Japanese artist; he also does sculpts for Bandai's SH Monsterarts figures.  You can see lots more of his art in this post, where I've scanned some of the "Gallery of Kaiju" trading cards. The man is truly gifted.

This series was blind-boxed, like candy toys (I swear, Japan invented the "blind-boxed" phenomenon--and Lego globalized it--which our toy stores are flooded with today.) There were several dioramas available, all painted in full color.  This particular one was also available in this metallic-style format, made to look like an antique bronze statue, which is very fitting for this great scene. (It was probably a "chase" version, which I think Japan ALSO invented, come to think of it.)

There is minor assembly involved; you have to place both Frankenstein, as well as Barry, on their peg-holes, but that's all it takes.  I hope in the future, pieces like this are regarded as the "high art" of our time, and they will be in museums and history books. Because they should be.
Baragon isn't easy to draw, let alone realize in three-dimensions (I've tried both).  Every millimeter is perfection.  

Other dioramas from this series include the birth of King Ghidorah in a fire ball, Godzilla beside an overpass, and also a scene from WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS involving a Maser cannon! 

7/7/17

the superman files - disc 6 (Leaping Fox)

We aren't going to belabor this subject any further, but concisely, this is part two of "super-disco."  After this, we have one more volume, bringing us more up to date! Enjoy.

LINK:  the superman files - disc 6 (Leaping Fox)

7/6/17

A Look At the Nevada, MO Phone Book "Classifieds" (1957)

As we said last time, we call them the Yellow Pages today...and, actually, they did back then, too.  The cover of this phone book calls them that, but the actual section is called the "Classifieds," and printed on regular, non-yellow paper.  Who knows why? Here are some interesting and strange ads that can be found there...
If you need an ambulance, any time, just call the local...funeral home.  As creepy as this is, it can't be far from the norm in 1957.  There were a few other funeral homes in the same section, and they all offered ambulances.  Also, including the guy's photo would help me to make my decision...to walk to the hospital.  All that's missing from this ad is the slogan:  "SHORTEN you stay with Shorten Funeral Home Ambulance Service."
It's interesting to think about how cars have changed.  It strikes me that this radiator design was already antiquated when they made their ad, probably purposefully.
This isn't meant to be snide, but you know you are in a rural area when there is a Yellow Pages category for "Baby Chicks."  It's just a fact.
Not only does the CHICKEN INN have steaks, but also a rather politically insensitive cartoon right in the middle of their ad.  Fascinating!
Dead Animal Removers is a category? More on this shortly...
Hey! It's Reddy Kilowatt! He was the ambassador for electricity "for over seven decades," according to Wikipedia, as well as the subject of a Walter Lantz cartoon.  You can glimpse him in the short-film Star Wars parody HARDWARE WARS.
Also, quit calling our employees at their homes! Sheesh!
This one is strange...I understand getting shoes resoled, appliances rebuilt, and other things back then that we simply don't do today, because so many things have become disposable.  But "mattress rebuilding" is a new concept to me. I can figure out what this means, but it still sounds like there's a joke involved somewhere....
This ad cracks me up every time I get to FREE ICE CUBES & DAILY PAPER.  I keep imagining a 50's tourist, in Bermuda shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, walking up to the front desk and receiving his morning paper in one hand, and an ice cube in the other.
As interesting as this ad is, on so many levels (did the girl get IN the giant champagne glass? If so, is this place still open?)...I am most interested in the "DANCING ORCHESTRA."
Also..............Pickles.  There is a category in the Yellow, I mean Classifieds, for Pickles.  Rural or not, just let that sink in a moment. Yet, it can't sink in, because it makes no freaking sense!
Now we see what all the "Dead Animal Removal" was about.  Right beside this was an ad for extremely inexpensive school cafeteria lunches.  Nah, I'm just kidding!
But here is the best one, though...hide the children!
As hilarious as the mis-grammar-and-punctuated phrase "A PLACE TO EAT AND MEET YOUR FRIENDS" is, my eye traveled down to the bottom to see that the name of the establishment is THE S&M CAFE.  That's all I'm going to say about that.  So much for the innocent 1950's.

6/30/17

A Look At the Nevada, Missouri Phone Book (1957)

I think in all my years of rummaging and digging, this was a singular find.  I bought this a couple of years ago, and forgot about it until now.  Who saves phone books, anyway? It's certainly never occurred to me to keep one...to be honest, I throw the new ones away when they show up, these days.  Ah, but 60 years ago? 60 years ago, the phone book was a very important book.  Today we are going to take a look at this piece of history from 1957, and see how technology has evolved.  If all of this fascinates you, you are in the right place.  If all of this bores you, tune in next time, when we look at Yellow Pages ads from 1957; it will be more entertaining!
Thank you for the leather cover, Thorpe Appliance Company! By the way, if you need to call them, their phone number is 19.  Yes, 19.
This phone "book" is about a quarter-inch thick, and not quite 60 pages.  It was a bit confusing to see "Nevada Missouri" on the cover; a simple comma would have helped a bit...but Nevada (pronounced Ne-VAY-da, thank you Wikipedia) is a small town in Missouri that was named a few years before Nevada as we know it even acquired statehood.  It could have been worse:  the original name of the town was "Hog Eye."  Nevada is at least 400 miles away from me, so who knows how this phone book ended up in my hands.

My copy is housed in a leather cover, with pockets for the front and back cover of the phone book.  This was a bit of clever marketing, assuring that customers always saw the name of the company who provided it.  By the time I was a kid, the covers on the giant phone books in my area were plastic, and were covered with a patchwork of adds from tons of different companies, instead of just one.

It's also interesting to see that this edition is dated "April, 1957."  I'm not sure how often these books were issued, but this makes it sound like there was certainly more than one per year.  I imagine it was an expensive and time-consuming endeavor to compile one of these.  Notice also the banner that mentions the Yellow Pages.  In this book, they are called the "Classified Section," and are printed on regular paper, so that was confusing! We will look at that section and marvel at some 60-year-old ads next time.
Also, you see that your call goes through "Twice as Fast" if you "call by number."  Wait, what?
Chart of Long Distance Fees from the inside cover.  It cost citizens of Nevada $2.05 to call Los Angeles for three minutes, but keep in mind that most houses in 1957 cost $2.00! (okay, not really.)

Remember in Green Acres, or the Andy Griffith Show--or practically any show from that era--that people would pick up the receiver and tell the operator who to connect them to? Well, even when phone numbers were first used, they were still told, verbally, to operators.  Over time, laziness took over, and phone companies realized this was inefficient.  (Really though, which would you rather do in an emergency--call somebody and ask them to call the police, or just call the police yourself?!!)

Then exchanges came in, prefixes that helped show geographic designations to the numbers.  The most famous old-school example I can think of is the big-band song "Pennsylvania 6-5000." (Which was parodied in a horror comedy, called TRANSYLVANIA 6-5000, but we don't have time for that now.)

James Brown sang:  "Living in America / Eye to eye / Station to station." ("Station To Station" was also used as a Bowie song and album title, too, with a different meaning.)  But what does the phrase mean? Bus or train stations, right?
No.  Reading the above page, it's strange to think that a distinction was made between calling someone in specific ("Person to Person"), and just calling a place and not caring who you talked to ("Station to Station").  In fact, you will see above that it was actually cheaper to call the place...so wouldn't everyone just say they were doing that? It seems like a hard thing to keep track of, and maybe that's why it went away.  I'm just a humble blogger; I'm not a phonologist.

The point is, over time, people were being encouraged to dial direct.  But, even during the time this was happening...well, look at the very first page of the phone book:
Maybe this practice was slow to spread, but if you wanted the police department, you had to ask for it, which in my mind, slows down their response time.

The tips on how to use the telephone are golden...answer the phone promptly, but when you call, let it ring ten times...I'm considering identifying myself, from now on, with "1732." It sounds cool.

Also, note the bottom paragraph, about people recording you.  I'm not really sure how this worked in 1957, and who would be, exactly, doing the recording.  Somehow, though, if someone was recording you, it would cause a beeping sound to be heard every 15 seconds...I have questions.  They probably don't matter anymore in this case, but I do have questions.  I can only assume the telephone company was doing the recording...I just point it out because, well, it's the sort of thing that interests me.
So part of encouraging people to call "by number" meant that you would end up with some numbers that aren't in your phone book.  What do you do then? (Write them on the cover, if you were the owner of this particular copy).  The phone company has given you a handy card to write them on, and heck, they will even mail you a BLUE BOOK for FREE!
Next time, a look at some Yellow Pages (or "Classified") ads from 60 years ago.
Note the hole punched in the phone book, for hanging it from a payphone, or chaining it to a desk!