6/13/13

The Amazing Kaiju Art of Yuji Kaida

Here are about a third of a wonderful set of cards featuring the masterful kaiju artwork of artist Yuji Kaida, from a Japanese card set that came out in 1996.

#3 - Gamera and Gayos.....hmm, where have I seen this painting before?
Oh yes, the cover of Dark Horse Comics' GAMERA #2 !!
#16 - Ultraseven, some monsters, and prominently featuring the cool and bizarre alien (that's sort of a robo-Manda) that rolls up/transforms into a flying saucer, who I believe is named Nurse.
#25 - The 1965 Gamera
#30 - This is one of the most beautiful and moving ones, to me.  It's a stirring incorporation of moth and larva from 1961's MOTHRA, even including the Mothra symbol, arranging it into a stained-glass window layout...stunning! It takes a special level of skill to depict the many details in the Mothra Larva, and still convey emotion.
#2 - Godzilla!
#6 - When ULTRA Q finally comes out on DVD soon, I will be able to tell you the name of this monster!
#17 - I do know this one, though! It's the mighty King Joe, from Ultraseven.
#18 - Ultraseven vs. Ironrocks, from episode 21
#24 - Godzilla! Front view!
#28 - Son of Godzilla!
#32 - The mighty Ghidrah is "born" of a fireball in 1964's Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster!

Classic Beany & Cecil Children's Books (1953-63)

Not too long ago, in a post about classic Children's books, I skipped over my Beany & Cecil titles, because I was waiting to track the last one down...well, I did, and the first copy got lost in the mail...sigh.  Now that I've found a replacement, here they are.  There are only three storybooks that I know of:
Beany and His Magic Set (Whitman, 1953)
Cecil Captured For the Zoo (Whitman, 1954)
Beany Goes To Sea (Golden Books, 1963)
Beany Goes To Sea (back)
I should point out that the first two books were printed at the time of the puppet show, and only the third and final book came out during the famous TV cartoon series.  All are charming and the illustrations are both lovely and excellent.

6/7/13

Godzilla, King of the Monsters - Vintage Radio Spots 12" LP (1956)

This is a one-sided, 12" vinyl record from 1956, that totals only a few scant minutes, and it has five individual bands with radio spots for GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS.  The first three bands are 50 seconds, while the last two are 12.  Now, as to what I paid for it, we won't get into...
The good news is, it cleaned up flawlessly.  Oddly, each band was self-contained; in other words, when you played a radio spot, there was no danger of advancing to the next one.  Instead, your record would just spin endlessly, which I thought was pretty clever for 1956.
The first thing that becomes evident in hearing these--and the voices are undoubtedly the Terry Turner and Don Thompson on the label--is that they weren't given anything to work with, especially in the sound effects department.  After all, it was "just another monster movie" at the time, smack in the middle of the 1950's.  What is almost comical, when heard from today's perspective, is the jungle-cat-roar used in a couple of these spots to represent Godzilla.  No, you aren't hearing a Tarzan feature, or even the beginning of an MGM film; that leopard/cougar sound is supposed to be Godzilla.  It's either a case of being really bizarrely unprepared, or really industrious in light of the circumstances; you decide.
Another thing that struck me was the note on the label: tracks 3 & 5 "are for use in kid shows."  Really, all this amounts to is a young voice (or a female representing one, maybe) saying a quick line about "golly gee, I'm going to see this swell picture," but the more I thought about the dark message of this beautiful film, and the parable of nuclear destruction, the stranger it got.  I could never think of KING OF THE MONSTERS as a "kid show" film, for goodness' sake...GODZILLA'S REVENGE, sure, but GOJIRA? It boggles the mind! It just seems really heavy for a 1956 child, but maybe I'm over-thinking it.  I'm sure many an American child became a fan from seeing the film, but was probably just a little unnerved at the same time!
It's just a few minutes, but they are minutes of GOLD. 

6/6/13

Godzilla - Aurora Model Kit (1972 version)

As I have mentioned before, there is a lot of evidence that the first two licensed Godzilla items produced in America were the Ideal board game and the Aurora model kit.  This makes sense, as both were inspired by the popularity of KING KONG vs GODZILLA, which established Godzilla as a household name.
The kit has been re-issued several times, and as a public service, I just wanted to take a quick look at the artwork before we look at the 1972 version:
On the left, the original 1964 Aurora model.  On the right, the re-issue by Polar Lights, which was around the year 2000.  It was cool that Polar Lights retained the original artwork, but just in case you are ever looking at an auction, and all you can see is the front (which happens), and, just in case the seller is unscrupulous and trying to pull a fast one (which happens), you can see here that there are differences, particularly in the font, and really clear in the GODZILLA logo.  By the way, a sealed Aurora specimen recently went for $800 on Ebay! Of course, unopened vintage models are rare anyway, but even the opened ones are pretty pricey, if you can find one.
But, it's a great kit either way, and the 1972 edition was unique, in that it added the GLOW-IN-THE-DARK parts that Aurora was doing at the time with all of their monsters, such as Dracula, Wolf Man, etc. Even though I would love to track down the '64 version, or even the box, I went with the 1972 because of this unusual feature.
Some pieces even still on the tree!
It strikes me that Godzilla would look weird with his entire head, hands, feet, partial tail, and dorsal plates glowing in the dark, but I bet it made a cool addition to a kid's bedside table. (Wait, the plates on his back do glow in the movies!)
If you want to build one, I'd advise tracking down the Polar Lights version; there are tons of them still out there, and they aren't too expensive.  The 2000 line also included their King Ghidorah and Rodan, which, while we are talking about American model kits, look like this:
And are equally nifty!
Apparently, the Rodan and King Ghidorah were added in the 1970's, but also re-issued by Polar Lights, luckily.  Also, there was one more vintage Aurora model from the 60's, originally called "The Godzilla Go Cart," but for some reason, Polar Lights wasn't allowed to use that title, and they had to go with "The Go Cart."  But it makes them MUCH easier to tell apart from their vintage versions.

This is just....so......weird.....
 Finally, here are full scans of the vintage instruction sheet--of course, the amount of blood you want to put on Godzilla's hands is up to you!




Tomorrow, or very soon thereafter, I have a very special post coming...something that doesn't add up to much, time-wise, but something I am really excited about, because it isn't available anywhere else!

6/3/13

Lego: Iron Man's Laboratory (2013)

In the last Lego magazine, a full-page ad ran for downloadable plans to build "Iron Man's Laboratory," and it took them a while to get the link up and working.  In fact, there are a few errors in it, and it seems like Lego was rushing to get the instructions up in time.  I still don't know where a couple of pieces they had me obtain even go.  You can download the instructions here, but after scouring my extra pieces (I had around 30% of the 400+ parts), and after $50 in pieces from various brick dealers, here is the finished product!
2017 Updated photo (with Iron Patriot and all gray bricks now the same shade)
2017 Updated photo (with Iron Patriot and all gray bricks now the same shade)
2017 Updated photo (with Iron Patriot and all gray bricks now the same shade)
 
I was so proud of this picture...until I realized I'd forgotten about Tony's "other" face, which his hair isn't long enough to cover. Oops.
This is the only representation of the red & silver armor that Lego has made.
Once again, there is a creepy second mouth on the back of Tony's head. Yikes!
So was it worth it? Oh heck yes. Another thing I should point out is, they expect you to have the label sheet from set #76007, the Malibu Mansion attack...and not one extra set of labels, but two, because there are three computer screens in this set.  The best thing to do is what I did, simply print out duplicates and glue them on, because in the end it's just three computer screens and the two-sided briefcase.  (By the way, this is NOT an "alternate build of the 76007 set, so don't fall into that trap.  Of course, you will need 76007, because it's the only place to get a Tony Stark figure!) Good luck, and happy building.
UPDATE: 10-22-13:
With LEGO MARVEL SUPER HEROES, Iron Patriot arrived, so the last space in the Hall of Armor is filled! Here's a photo: