11/25/13

"You'll Die Laughing" Godzilla cards (1973)

Card #109 (front)
Here are a couple of Godzilla-related cards from a Topps trading card series called YOU'LL DIE LAUGHING.  This second series was put out in 1973, and was a throwback to the old "horror cards with jokes" type of thing that was already really old the first time (covered here more than once).  Interestingly, this first card is the only vintage American trading card featuring a photo from GODZILLA vs THE SMOG MONSTER that I know of.
Card #109 (back)
And here's one featuring a much-used photo from KING KONG vs GODZILLA.  There are at least three different series using this exact same picture in the exact same way that I know of, by Donruss, Leaf, and Topps! Yes, jokey horror cards were a thing, once, and everyone was doing it.
Card #87 (front)

Card #87 (back)

11/22/13

A Few Rare Godzilla Photos!

Happy Friday! I recently scored a copy of AN UNAUTHORIZED GUIDE TO GODZILLA COLLECTIBLES, written by Sean Linkenback in 1998.  This is a very expensive, very out-of-print book, and it's amazing I made it this far without it, but I waited and got a good deal.  I need to review the book separately, but I noticed several great photos of items that don't normally make the rounds, and I scanned a whole bunch of them for my hard drive, and to share here:
A Japanese Theatre Program for the 1971 re-release of GHIDRAH THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER.  Stunning artwork!
The Theatre Program for DESTROY ALL MONSTERS had a pop-up section!
Japanese 2-sheet poster for GODZILLA vs HEDORAH!!
Japanese theatre program for GODZILLA vs HEDORAH.
The rarely seen "other" version of the American poster for GODZILLA vs MEGALON, the World Trade Center version being much more common.
It sounds like a Monty Python skit, but GODZILLA vs THE THING in Italy included the word WATANG! Notice also that they attempted to show you what "The Thing" looked like, whereas in America it was "Censored" out..."Godzilla vs Starro the Conqueror"...
INVASION OF THE ASTRO MONSTERS in Colombia!
Here's another unusual one---KING OF THE MONSTERS in Cuba! A Godzilla film was released in Cuba???!!?!

11/20/13

Robot Changers: The Quest For Power (1985)

My stars, I don't know where to even begin with this one...this is a kids' book from 1985 that I found in a thrift store.  It's one of those Transformers rip-offs that were so common for a couple of years.  I call these "Grandmother" items, because they are designed to rip off those that don't pay too much attention...I would say "unsuspecting," but I feel more like using the word "stupid."  Case in point, the fake Disney videos, or the shabby video games that are designed to LOOK like they are part of a more popular franchise, if only the buyer had enough knowledge about the item they were looking for.  It is stunning that there is a whole market for "almost," rip-off type products, but it's always been that way.  How many times did you have a Christmas present arrive in the mail from a distant relative, who meant well, but bought you something like this? (My dad used to come back from the grocery store with issues of "GI COMBAT" instead of "GI JOE," but as that comic already existed, it's not a good example...but you get my drift.)  The M.U.S.C.L.E. wrestling figurines were a good example; there were myriad clones of those, too.  In short, there will always be "Grandmother Games" and "Grandmother Videos."  "Oh, Johnny likes those robots that turn into things! I will get him this book!"


And speaking of this book, you will just have to read it to see how confusing and lackluster it is.  It's never clear exactly what is going on...specific robots are introduced in the beginning, yet some entirely different ones are sometimes used.  Some names are meant to be generic (apparently), like soldiers, but that's never defined either.  It's also never clear if they can "transform" (although I don't think that word is ever used, heh) into ANYTHING, or just a certain thing...although in the cases presented here, it matches the vehicle (or oil refinery) they are trying to duplicate exactly, which is pretty lucky.
And when your lead bad guy is named "Marshal Small, the Zzerial," it just doesn't hold a candle to "Megatron, the Decepticon."  
You just have to read it to believe it.  The back cover says there were four of these abominations available, and I have to believe that several grandmothers the world over spoiled Christmas and birthdays that year.


LINK:  Robot Changers....Transformers In Disguise.

11/18/13

Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster Pressbook (1972, American International)

Pressbooks are pretty cool relics of movie history--for the uninitiated, these were slick publications that went to theaters, allowing them access to an arsenal of text, photos, and ads to market a new picture, including the ability to order movie posters, lobby cards, and/or radio spots.  In the 1950's, these were more accurately called "press kits," because they usually came in folders and were letter-sized.  By the 1970's, they had become legal-sized, which makes them nigh impossible to scan on a regular domestic scanner.  Because of this, we are going to hit the high points here for one of my favorite Godzilla movies.
Back cover, showing the "Hi-Rise Standee" version of the movie poster, which is unusual.  It's not clear if this was merely the standard-sized movie poster, because the poster shown is the two-sheet size (40x60")
The inside cover of a pressbook often includes a summary of the film, with some cast and credit information.  Notice they tell you that, while they give it to you, it's not for publication. 
 Sample newspaper ad, of which there are many shapes and sizes.
Here are some examples of articles that COULD be used...although some of them are pretty goofy, even though it was 1972.  I'm not sure how many people would be lured to the theater by  "JAPANESE KIDDIES GROOVE ON MONSTER."
Also, pressbooks are important resources to know exactly what items were produced for a certain film--note that they aren't always accurate, but it can give you an idea of what is out there.  For example, I have yet to find any proof that Ghidrah masks were produced for GHIDRAH THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER...see my post on that pressbook to see what I mean.
This one does tell us, though, that radio spots were issued on a 45 rpm record, and that they ran both 30 and 60 seconds long.  Also, three lengths of TV ads were produced, and last time I checked, these are all on YouTube and are obtainable.  Note also the Window Cards by the Benton Card Company, who somehow had the market cornered on that niche item.  Now we get to the really fun stuff:

Oh, man...I understand what they were trying to do here, but did any theater ever really DO any of this stuff?  Let's look at these more closely:
1)  First off, Godzilla is suddenly Smokey the Bear, "cleaning up the streets" with boy scouts...while you get your mind around that, let's move on to the next one.  
2)  Here we are told that the film speaks "in language specifically suited to grammar school aged [sic] children," and that it should be screened for them in schools.  Um, don't get me wrong here, my own Children have seen this film since they were that size, but let's be realistic here...this Godzilla film is a contender for the most on-screen deaths in the series, aside from the injuries, skeletonized people, and fish-headed freak-outs.  Using a 1972 mindset, would that have even been a good idea? I have a friend with a four-year-old who wets his pants if he sees his own shadow...I somehow think that following this particular advice would have led to therapy all around.  Again, not that it should be this way, (I personally think the film should be a part of any child-rearing) but I suspect this plan would have backfired badly.
3)  Next we have the plan of bringing a "mound of rubbish" into the theater lobby and making sure it is "realistic" to promote the film...I think this one also would probably have not worked out so well, and I can think of several bad, and stinky, outcomes.
4)  Moving on, my favorite on this page is the GODZILLA COCKTAIL.  Yes, we have gone from elementary schools to the barroom here, in a few lines.  "GODZILLA COCKTAIL...IT CLEARS THAT FIVE O'CLOCK SMOG FROM YOUR BRAIN."  "Gag should be of interest," we are told.  Yes, indeed, quite.
5)  Next we are told to break the law, and "have someone record the monster screams from the soundtrack" to play in the lobby over loudspeakers.  I am quite sure that, considering the primitive way this would have been done in 1972, this would have turned out quite annoying.  FAIL again.
6)  Lastly, as if all of this wasn't enough, we are told to "Make a tie-up with local natural gas supplier" which makes absolutely no sense at all...although it may be the most do-able idea on the page, come to think of it!

11/15/13

DESTROY ALL MONSTERS flyer!

Interesting item I recently picked up--and artwork I've never seen before.  Suitable for framing, and seeing Minya chomping on Ghidorah's tail is priceless.

11/14/13

The first Kenner Star Wars catalog (1978)

It's hard to imagine it today, but nobody was ready for Star Wars when it hit.  In fact, after months of scrambling, the only items that Kenner could produce were the paper-based products, namely a series of jigsaw puzzles.  I have three or four of them, and recently I picked one up that included the very first Kenner catalog, and that's what we are going to look at today.
What's funny is, I owned 90% of the items shown here, and MOST of them I still have.  After all these years, what is probably the most valuable item here? I would have to say the "SSP Vans." I knew NO ONE that bought these, and I sure didn't have them, but I've seen them go for crazy-stupid prices in recent years.  Then again, the "X-Wing Aces" target game is a big one too...anyway, enjoy this flashback!











11/13/13

Screen Monsters #4: Limited Trading Card Edition (Zone, 1993)

This comic is so rare, you'll be hard pressed to find it listed in any online comic databases, and this "Limited Trading Card Edition" of it is apparently even more so.  It's identical to its non-limited counterpart, but by raising the cover price four bucks more (in 1993 mind you), the publishers included a strip of uncut trading cards. Apparently, there were four cards for the subject of each issue of SCREEN MONSTERS, as the backs of the cards say that there would be 28 in the set.  I'm not even sure that the comic ran to seven issues, so the set was probably never completed.  I did find one website which mentions 4 cards in the set that featured monsters from "The Outer Limits," so those exist. (Also, you can see the Frankenstein cards at this site, thanks to a kind comment by Ray Robinson below: In Search of the Lost Card.)


These have got to be some of the rarest Godzilla cards out there.  The artwork isn't awesome (most of them look like painted-over stills), but points for the effort, especially in January of 1993.  It goes without saying that Godzilla is ridiculously bright green, and I think the model for Hedorah was one of those Japanese vinyls (Bullmark I believe) that are purposefully done in bright colors...I know I've seen a yellow and green one.  The Kong one obviously ISN'T a traced-over still, because Godzilla is his "1985" incarnation, and Kong appears to be based on his 1933 one!

The text on the back keeps it simple, and tells you almost nothing that you wouldn't already know, but again, huge points for the effort, and I was delighted to discover their existence! I need to review the comic and/or scan it sometime...it was kaiju information in a pre-internets time of darkness!

11/12/13

Pacific Rim, Series 2 (NECA)

I'm tired of searching for crap and wasting my gasoline, energy, and time.  (Of the three, my time is most costly!) Not to mention that the dreaded time of year is approaching, where you can't even get INTO retail stores very easily.  Because of all these reasons, I just got my second action figure order in the mail from Entertainment Earth.  In both cases, the figures were not marked up, and I got free shipping...you just can't beat that. Now, onto Series Two:
It sounded like a rehash of Gipsy Danger was unecessary, but this Battle-Damaged Version is actually better than the first figure! I much prefer the darker paint decos.  The sword blades could've been designed a bit better, though...they are supposed to plug into tabs above the figure's hand, but they don't stay in very well.
I didn't notice this before, but after the word JAEGER are symbols representing the number of kaiju kills!
Striker Eureka is my favorite of Series Two.  What a cool design.  The scissor-blades above his wrist open and close, and he is just awesome.
Detail, detail, detail!
Again, note the number of kills!
Leatherback is the kaiju for this round--and you thought Knifehead was heavy! He has sort of the same articulation issues as Knifehead, which I have read complaints about...but I think that if both of them could move in ridiculous ways, it would compromise the design of the figure, so I am completely satisfied with him.
Series Three sounds promising--a Cherno Alpha (the Russian Jaeger) is promised, which should be cool!