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!

1/21/15

Blue Oyster Cult "Godzilla Live" 7-inch single (CBS, 1978)

Another item to cross off the Want List--here is the 7-inch, 45 rpm promotional single for "Godzilla Live," which uses the same artwork from the 12-inch version (a photo from GODZILLA vs THE SEA MONSTER, I believe), cropped down.
And here are the respective labels:

1/15/15

Hand-made Vintage Beany & Cecil Statue! (details unknown)

We are nearing the end of my trove of Beany & Cecil collectibles, and we still haven't even covered my rarest, and most unusual, piece.  And I haven't even had it that long! Last year, I was skulking my favorite thrift store, which I try to do at least three times a week, when my eye caught something at the other end of the store.  It was green, vertical...and my brain suddenly locked onto it.  As I began to head that way, walking faster, my strangely disconnected mental inventory began to suggest to me that it was Cecil, the Sea-Sick Sea Serpent! Could it be a Soakie (bubble-bath type vintage product) bottle? The next thing I saw was a wooden base...a lamp of some kind? There were such things...and by then, I was close enough to see what was lying beside it..........in pieces! Egads, the find of the century, and I don't even know what it is, and it's broken!
I began to pick up the pieces, my poor, disjointed brain still reeling in the throes of "thrift-store discovery ecstasy," and it quit sending me suggestions as to what I was looking at.  The largest piece was definitely Beany Boy...followed by a leg...and then a foot...and then some crumbs.  Was this thing even fixable?
Stream-of-consciousness thoughts began to form, and then taper off...did some disgruntled thrift-store employee just chunk it on the shelf, haphazardly?  Why, the nerve of...but then again, maybe it was the method in which it was donated, so it wasn't even packed right...or somebody died, and it was cleaned out of their belongings....or a maniacal ex-wife threw it out.....
I snapped back to reality, and began to carefully place the existing pieces together.  The good news was that it appeared to have broken in the store, so it should all be accounted for...and it was!  The pieces pretty much fit together very well, so this treasure could be repaired....but what in the world was it?
The ending to my thrift-store adventure was that I took it to the front, showed them it was broken, and got a 50% discount (yeah, I know, but I wasn't about to argue).  The girl did say, "well, at least you can restore it, and put it back together again!"
After carefully transporting it home, I took inventory of exactly what I had.  I neglected to take photos of the wooden plaque that was used for a base, but it had an old-looking rubber stamp on the bottom from a woodworking company in Dallas.  The address included a ZIP code, which means it the oldest it can be is 1963...which is just the base, of course.  It could have been added at a different time.
And now to the materials...exactly what was this object made of? I've had some experience with different materials, and the natural choice would be Sculpy, but the problem here is that both characters are SOLID.  The assembled statue is heavy, and there's no way that Sculpy would bake thoroughly...in fact, you would build over a "filler" like balls of tin foil because of that fact.
Take a look at these pairs of photos, both with and without a flash:

You can see that the innermost core of the material is yellow, and the outside is almost pink.  The characters are held to the base by large wood screws.  Here is another view:

The yellow color reminds me of dental-stone.  This is the material that was always used by dental labs to make positive models of the impressions taken of patients' teeth.  The problem with this theory is, dental stone is mixed up as a liquid, like plaster, and then pored into a mold.  There would be no way to do any sculpting to it, and the characters have evidence of some sculpting being done, and also exhibit several fingerprints from the maker.
The material crumbled pretty easily at the break, but was otherwise very solid and dense...was there some sort of modeling material sold in vintage craft stores that would allow for this sort of method?  It's certainly not plaster; it's the wrong color and completely the wrong density.
So, maybe some "real" sculptor's clay that has to be fired in a kiln?
Luckliy, everything came back together very tightly--and, I should point out, Beany's propeller somehow avoided any damage in the handling of the piece, which is a miracle.  I will admit to one other restoration, though--Cecil had no eyelashes, only blank spots where they used to be, and it made him look just WRONG.  So, a trip to a craft store to procure some purple felt was in order.
I've unearthed a few mysteries on this blog, and I hope I have solved a few as well, but you can add this one to the pile.  Was this made by a devoted fan? Is it some sort of maquette? How old is it? I hope the photos show the level of detail involved.  It's not only expertly painted (with some high-quality paints, too, as they have stood the test of time), but the detail is admirable.  Cecil has the baggy folds that suggest he is a puppet.  Beany is squatty and proportional.  And what in the world is it made of?  Something somebody smuggled home from work, bought somewhere, or had lying around professionally??? And how in the world did it get to the American South????
I'm just cynical enough to know that I will probably never get answers to these questions, but one thing is for sure:  I will treasure this piece, which will sit at the top of my Beany & Cecil items in perpetuity.  Whoever you are, just know it has found a good home.

1/12/15

Beany & Cecil Match-It Game (Mattel, 1961)

Another interesting Mattel item that was made for Beany & Cecil.  This is a large and colorful game, and I must confess when I first got it, I thought the goal was to fit pieces in that matched adjacent pieces all the way 'round, and once I read the instructions, I found out that wasn't the case.  (Nevermind that, if it worked the way I thought it did, it would be a pretty impossible kids' game!)
Besides the matching element of the game, it also had a board game component, as players advanced on a track of their color for each match they were able to make.  The playing pieces punched out of (and were stored in) the game board itself, which is always precarious for posterity...but somehow, they are all still here.
The instructions are below.  And like I said, it looks like the player only has to match, at least, one side, and more if possible (which moves you farther along the game board to victory).


 

1/9/15

Beany & Cecil Ring Toss Game (Pressman, 1961)

Mattel didn't make all of the Beany & Cecil items from the animated TV cartoon.  Pressman made their fair share as well, and here is a good example.  This is the Beany & Cecil version of the classic "ring toss" game.
The graphics on the metal base are really great, and I like how each of the five posts correspond to a particular character...but they even took it a step farther, as each character is interacting with their post in some way (Cecil's is in his mouth!).
For a long time, I had the metal board hanging on my wall, as it makes such a cool display.  It strikes me that I haven't seen a complete one of these games since I bought this one several years ago, but I'm sure the more they were played with, the less they survived!
Box art (photo taken years ago from Ebay)

1/7/15

Jumping DJ Surprise Action Game (Mattel, 1962)

This is a neat item, but it strikes me that for Mattel's Beany & Cecil output, especially what we have looked at so far, it's pretty uncomplicated.  Still, it's nice to see the villain of the piece get a game that features him. 
Speaking of Dishonest John, while this looks like a puppet, and would make perfect sense if it were, it's actually a head on top of a metal frame, covered in a black vinyl bag of sorts.  Basically, you push down on his head, and he later pops up at random intervals, which I suppose figures into the game play (this is the "Surprise Action").  The metal scorekeeper device is actually built into the box, allowing up to six people to play the game simultaneously (and it tops out at 250 points).
Here is the instruction sheet for the game, which sort of works like Old Maid.  You make groups of cards, being careful not to get the DJ card, which actually TAKES AWAY 30 points.
And speaking of the cards, they are the real stars here.  Four of each character are included, with the artwork directly in the style of the TV cartoon.
 The lower left card shows the design that is on the backs of all cards.  At lower right, the nefarious villain card that you don't want to get!

1/5/15

Beany & Cecil Record Player (Vanity Fair, 1961 or 62)


Here's a lovely item, and it brings back memories of portable record players--the kind that were in bedrooms, schoolrooms, and Sunday Schools.  Of course, record players never really fit into the definition of "portable," and if you had to also carry a stack of records, you had some heavy lifting to do, but it was still a wonderful time.
I had to do quite a bit of restoration to this one, as all of the images were printed on heavy stock, very much like wallpaper, and every edge was peeling, due to the ravages of time, and probably, storage.
Just look at that chunky stylus! It looks like metal, but it's actually plastic.  You can't really tell from the photo, but the two speeds are 78 and 45 rpm!