3/31/14

Godzilla Game Instructions (Ideal, 1963)

I had a request from a reader for some detailed photos of the instructions to this classic board game, and they are worth examining here.  To make sense of these instructions, try to imagine what the thought process was in 1963.  Like I've said before, this board game and the Aurora model kit were the first Godzilla items in the United States.  Some kids who were to become fans hadn't even been born when KING OF THE MONSTERS came out, and it's understandable that they would have missed the fact that GIGANTIS was, after all, a Godzilla movie, so it's practical to look at KING KONG vs GODZILLA as a starting point for many people.  
Here's the opening paragraph:

"Reactivated freak of nature"? Hey, easy there! Them's fightin' words....Hey, wait a second...

Nevermind.  Moving on, next we have the list of "Materials":
It makes me laugh to see "1 Radioactive Missile" listed in the contents, even in the era of woodburning kits and chemistry sets.  Nice graphic of Godzilla, too.  If you'll notice, nowhere does it say "Nuclear" anywhere, not even "Atomic," but the bomb is always referred to as "Radioactive Missile."  I'm not sure if this was for a reason, but it's interesting nonetheless.
Many board games are rolling dice and moving around, but I was pleased to discover this one had a "skill" component.  If you look at the gameboard...
...you can see how this would work.  The player has to flick the wooden disc exactly right, in order to land on one of the targets.  I can only imagine a lot of frustration when playing with small children.
And if you have done so, you have "disabled" Godzilla.  Another interesting word choice, I thought.  Oh, and Godzilla has an "invisible shield," also known as the fold in every board-game-board ever, just thought we should mention that.
Overall, a very interesting part of this classic piece of Godzilla history!



3/27/14

Marvel Minimates Collection Shelf

I had a built-in shelf above the one I use for Lego Minifigures, so I recently constructed a panel with shelves for the Marvel Minimates that I have collected over the years, although I may put some other Marvel stuff in there too...right after I glue Dr. Octopus' arms.
Honestly, now that I've tracked down everybody I want, I don't even know what it would take to get me to buy future Minimates....except maybe an Inhumans boxed set to give us the rest of the team!
Oh, and Godzilla Minimates are on the horizon for later in the year, so here we go again! It looks like they WILL be getting some more of my money after all.

3/19/14

King Kong vs. Godzilla Showman's Manual (Universal, 1963)

Some movie studios called their Pressbooks "Showman's Manuals," because it sounded more "fancy."  This particular one is tough to track down, and as it is even larger than the normal-sized pressbook, also impossible to scan.  However, we are going to hit the highlights here, so get ready!
Nothing needs to be said about KING KONG vs GODZILLA...without a doubt, the film cemented Godzilla's place in the landscape of American memory.  Goofy enough to be fun and featuring lots of monster-battling action, against an American icon no less, the film is a classic (and one about to be re-released on DVD and Blu-Ray soon!).


I say it every time I discuss a pressbook, but they are fascinating to me because sometimes, they are the only way to determine what sorts of materials were made for particular films...unfortunately, some of their plans never seemed to see fruition.  Case in point is this first item:  a record of a five (and 2&1/2) minute spiel to be played in theatres?? I haven't read or seen of this one really existing, but I'd be excited to know...and more excited to own one.

[3/31/14 ADDENDUM :
The good news is, this record exists! The bad news is, you won't be able to enjoy it here, because after holding the high bid for seven days, the price shot up to (hope you are sitting down) $343.79.  I can confirm that the contents are:  SIDE ONE - "Long Track" (3:40), "Short Track" (2:25), SIDE TWO - "Tone"....let's hope that whoever bought it is kind enough to share it with the rest of the world.  If you are out there, please let us know! I'd be happy to post it here if it helped.]
 
Pressbooks also usually gave the recipients (theatre owners) examples of how to "sell" the picture, although in this case, not very well.  Please do NOT sell to "great-grampa."  He can't hear, and he doesn't care.  Also, please especially do NOT sell to "baby," because without a doubt the screaming brat will end up sitting directly behind me when I'm trying to enjoy my movie.  
I'm assuming a "Telop" is a still that was designed for television broadcast, but I have no idea.  The slide, however, I think I saw one time on Ebay several years ago:
Now, as cool as this item is, it is kind of sad to realize that your local theatre hasn't progressed beyond "magic lantern" technology, and still uses glass slides.  (I just say that because I'm jealous that I don't own one...but I'm honest.)
More tips on how to make your selling a CAMPAIGN.  Sell it as a "sporting event," for example. One thing that isn't present in this pressbook (excuse me, Showman's Manual) is the suggestion to "make sure to tell all your friends that a special ending has been filmed for this movie where King Kong wins, showing the triumph of the United States over Japan, extending any leftover WW2-era ill will! And make sure this myth is reprinted in countless magazines and books for decades!"
Here's another item that I can confirm: it exists.  I didn't win this one either, the one time I saw it...I'm starting to depress myself, so we better keep moving!
Another thing that surprises me when I read these old pressbooks (sorry, did it again) is that you never knew what the studios were actually going to SUPPLY to you when you followed their ridiculous advice, and what you were expected to fork over your Cold-War-era dollars to.  In this case, you as a theatre-owner are expected to erect TOWERING displays in your lobby...or over your marquee, with "flashing lights," "sounds," and yes, you read that correctly, SPEWING FIRE.  Huh.  Even today that would be expensive.  And dangerous.  And stupid.
I apologize that the above picture was over the fold and couldn't be photographed any better than this, because it is completely and totally awesome.  
If you didn't want to sink a few thousand dollars into your display of plywood and pyrotechnics, then you could always consider "Truck Ballyhoo," which I think will be my next band name.
Oh wait, it's exactly the same giant display, only now I need to rent a huge flatbed truck to put it on.  Forget it.  (Incidentally, I know that the last paragraph says ORDER YOUR MODELS, but nowhere in the Showman's Manual does it say how to do this.  I think they mean from somebody else.)
Now, at last, here is a promotion I can afford.  I don't know about "planting" the graphic in newspapers (that sounds like spy work to me), but I can see this actually being fun.  The one problem is, the original isn't much bigger than a postage stamp, and I don't think there was a Kinko's (oh, wait, you could order it.) That brings up another point: anybody ever seen one of these "coloring mats" in person?
Here's the tiny image anyway, in case you want to print it larger and try your hand at an imaginary contest from 1962.  But what was the prize? A copy of Profiles in Courage?  Who knows?
Let's not discuss the "teasing."  Rather, let's discuss whether this item was ever made.  Anybody know? (Man, this movie had the most crap made, or promised, until MEGALON!)
Not since I giggled at the Ghidrah pressbook have I giggled at stenciling suggestions. Um, you probably don't need me to tell you this, but never take anybody's advice that begins with "If you can get away with it..."!
I can at least confirm that the record of radio ads exists, as there's one floating around the Internets someplace (I even included it in some radio spots I uploaded a while back).  The TV ads make perfect sense that they definitely exist, but I'm not aware of running into any, so hmm.
Interesting art that isn't the run-of-the-mill handful of KK vs G stills you see...you DO notice, of course, that Kong is standing in the exact position of the Statue of Liberty, don't you, in an obvious dig at the USA? Oh good, I didn't either.
Back cover of the Showman's Manual, and right as I get used to calling it that, we are done.  I hope you have enjoyed our look at this historical document, and maybe even learned something.  (Such as, don't take it upon yourself to go stenciling public streets, for starters.)

3/17/14

GODZILLA HEADS Bubble Gum (Amurol, 1988)

Coming in a pouch the same size as Big League Chew, the oddly named GODZILLA HEADS was made by Amurol, a subsidiary of Wrigley, in 1988.  As the label says, it contains "Fruit Punch Head Shaped Bubble Gum" which is pretty bizarre on its own...although mine feels like a bag of rocks, as you can imagine.  I'm curious to see how detailed the head shape was, but I'm not about to open it.  This product was changed to GODZILLA SHREDS, making it even MORE like Big League Chew, with the same packaging.
On a side note, the same company made KING KONG SHREDS, but so far I haven't run into any "KING KONG HEADS" out there, but anything's possible.  Toho IS credited on the label, so I guess they must've licensed Kong too.

3/11/14

Book Review: MONSTER MAKERS, INC. by Laurence Yep (1986)

We are going to get literary for a moment, and if you read the caption on the front of this novel, you will quickly see why!
Did that just say "Rob's pet Godzilla?" Wait, what?
I discovered this book accidentally, as it completely flew under the radar when it was published in 1986.  Amazingly, the words "owned," "licensed," "property of," and "Toho" appear nowhere in the book at all, but as you can see from the cover, it's pretty crystal-clear who we are talking about.
So, I knew that any American novel with Godzilla as a main character must be mine.  When I received the book, I began thumbing through it, and then turned to the first chapter...where I immediately got sucked in.
Mr. Yep is a Chinese-American author, who in recent years has gone on to write award-winning children's books.  Although this first novel was just put out there by the publisher as an "adult" book, and dumped amongst all of the other science-fiction available at the time, it is really a very well-constructed children's novel, aside from a couple of mild swear words and one mild comment about the female shape.  I think it probably would have even been a hit if it had gone through the channels of kid's literature, like Scholastic.  I say this not to demean the story, but because an 18-year-old boy is the main character, and, simply put, the story is great fun.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was a fast-paced adventure novel, and Mr. Yep's clear style keeps the action moving.  Even without overwhelming description, the reader feels pulled into the action on the rocky and volcanic planet of Carefree.  He uses a few terms for made-up creatures indigenous to the novel's world, but never to the point that it feels like the reader is being excluded from a special glossary that doesn't exist (hate it when that happens), and often, this leaves you to form your own mental images of what some of these creatures entirely look like.
In short, Piper (the main character...and not "Rob" as the cover incorrectly states) and his father live on the colonized world of Carefree, where his dad's occupation is making genetically-constructed creatures, in the hopes that he can sell them to buyers as work animals or exotic pets.  To finance his ambitions, his creations are displayed for the public to come and see, sort of like a zoo, but functioning more like a showroom.  Besides some alien creatures, the menagerie includes a six-foot, giant otter creature named Sam, a miniature mastadon, and, as mentioned, a small Godzilla (creatures not only sized for ease of mangement, but also, as it is explained, for genetic reasons, in that larger animals would be unstable, with regard to their frame and build).  It's never exactly stated how tall this Godzilla is, but he is small enough to be picked up and carried around--I imagined something around the size of the old Shogun Warriors Godzilla.  In fact, the company slogan is "Yes, Virginia, we have a Godzilla." when answering the phone, as it is often the subject of the phone inquiries of interested parties!  
Before we look at a brief excerpt from the book, a couple of points.  First, from the Godzilla-centric perspective of this blog, how is the character of Godzilla handled? Aside from describing him as "green" several times, quite well.  It's clear from the writing that his inclusion was handled lovingly by the author, who I'd assume was a true fan.  You will see what I mean in the excerpt below.  He also plays a good-sized part, instead of being a one-time gimmick, which I was happy to see.
Secondly, if I had to find a criticism, my only complaint about the book would be that I felt a bit bogged down in the many underwater scenes.  It's not that they aren't important or integral parts of the book, I just felt they went on too long, and limited the pace of the narrative. It's a difficult thing to write scenes like that, where the characters are limited in speaking directly to each other, and the narrative has to step up and propel the action.  Since Piper narrates the book, this was a benefit, but I began to notice that the story slowed down quite a bit at those times.  
Thirdly, I think this novel would make a great film.  Of course, crucial to that would be Toho's blessing and involvement.  But Hollywood, if you are going to cheap out and substitute a plain dinosaur for Godzilla, don't do it.
Finally (and I never even got to the alien invasion plot!), track this book down.  Here's a good reason why (all you need to know is that a very wealthy man's daughter has come to look at some of Piper's father's creations):

EXCERPT:


"When we reached the pen, Shandi greeted Godzilla merrily and he came right over to whine to her…
Shandi cooed and fussed and made the appropriate noises.  Then she noticed the cardboard cutouts of various skyscrapers that had been stacked up off to the side.  “What are those?”
     Dad dismissed them with a wave of his hand.  “They’re just props for a little show that Piper puts on for the tourists.” 
     “But I’m a tourist.”  Shandi turned around to look and saw me lingering in the background.  “Aren’t I, Piper?”
     “It’s corny.” I shrugged in embarrassment.  In fact, it was pure hokum, but the tourists seemed to eat it up.  And the postcards they bought paid for the animals’ feed.
     “Why don’t you let me be the judge of that?” She knew how to turn on the charm when she wanted.  “I want the whole experience of the island.”
     Dad sighed as if he wished he’d never cooked up the idea of the floor show.  “All right, Piper.”
I set up the cardboard cutouts.  I was going to look like enough of a clown without going into the regular spiel so I just called out.  “Tokyo, boy.  Tokyo.”
     Right on cue, Godzilla assumed his stance—kind of like a punch-drunk heavyweight who hasn’t gotten much sleep.  His paws feinted at the air.
     It must have been Shandi’s presence because Godzilla really hammed it up.  He snorted and stomped along as if he were hundreds of times his actual weight, his claws clacking on the rocks.  Stopping abruptly, he swung his tail so that it knocked over the first cutout.  Then he smashed and stomped on a few more cutouts, pausing every now and then to beat his chest.
     Finally, I pointed out the last one.  “Tokyo, boy.  Tokyo.”
     He paused for a moment, taking on an intense look as if he were constipated.  His stomach rumbled and then he opened his mouth, exposing needle-sharp fangs.  There was the sharp, pungent smell of methane vapor.  And out came a column of fire that spread over the cutout so that the building disappeared in flame.
     I stepped up to him and patted his head approvingly.  My other hand slipped him a bit of choco-bar…."

--MONSTER MAKERS, INC., by Laurence Yep, 1986 Arbor House, pp. 69-70.

3/7/14

KONG vs. GHIDORAH!!!!

Quick, what's the coolest thing you have seen today? OR, for that matter, in a long, long time? Why, my friend, you have just seen it.  Yes, this is a tremendously amazing vintage Japanese painting depicting King Kong battling King Ghidroah (apparently in France, although I think the "Valley of the Kings" would have been even better).
This is another giant trading card, like the Ebirah one I recently posted, and I've become convinced that these were from a book of giant removable cards (like the vintage postcard books that were made).  Since my last post, I've seen the title of this book roughly translated as "Kaiju Anatomy Picture Book" (from 1971), and the seller keeps listing more of these huge cards, that vary from Godzilla to Ultraman to Gamera content!  By the way, all of the incredible art is apparently by Takashi Minamimura (which I apparently made note of from a website a long time ago, so I hope I'm not butchering his name).
Note also that the back of this card implies that this card is really from "King Kong vs. Godzilla," and shows that the artist pretty much did what he wanted to do, instead giving us a depiction of the dream battle of the century! Battle of the Kings!
Here's the book cover, that I found somewhere a long time ago, now long -forgotten, or I'd give some credit!

Another picture, and now it becomes clear to me that the other "pages" look stiffer, like cards!

3/4/14

Godzilla Capacara Nesting Dolls (Tomy, 2003)

A very cool, and unusual, item.  Oddly, the outside Godzilla is a little less than 3" high, so these were much smaller than I had imagined! Here is an up-close and personal look at the set: