7/28/17

Petster Godzilla: The Electronic Pet Movie Monster (Axlon, 1987)

Everyone remembers the "electronic pet" craze of the 1990's, and it never really has gone away!  However, there are two kinds:  the "virtual" (or, digital pet, that you can never actually hug) and the "plush."  Motorized stuffed animals were nothing new, and have been around for decades, but in the mid-1980's, the Petster entered the fold:

According to a website I will link to momentarily, Axlon was a company that grew out of a startup founded by Nolan Bushnell of Atari & Chuck E. Cheese fame.  In 1985, they released their first batch of Petsters, complicated electronic pets with dome-shaped bodies, that were like nothing ever seen before.  Two years later, the Deluxe Petsters arrived, including our friend here. In the late 1980's, they went out of business, and were believed to be acquired by Hasbro.

Now, I will direct you to this excellent website for more technical information.  You can read more details about the sensors and gearboxes that made the Petster work, and even see naked Petsters, fur removed, revealing a confusing mass of circuit-boards, wires, and gears! They have a Petster Deluxe manual that can be downloaded for free, and also a page on the Petster Godzilla, showing his inner workings!

For our purposes here, though, we are primarily concerned with the "Godzilla" part of "Petster Godzilla," so back to that.  Here is Axlon's Toy Fair Catalog for 1987:

Introducing, a "screaming Godzilla monster!" ...What?
The catalog page gives a good description of what the toy does. How ahead of its time was this toy? A couple of years ago I received an R2-D2 as a gift that is basically identical in its abilities...you would hardly know 30 years had passed. By now, shouldn't our robot toys be washing our cars or something?
 Here is the side of the box, which also runs down the abilities of your new pet, including "Protects your home from invading alien creatures"! Points for that!

The write-up on the back of the box is also excellent, and the "filmstrip" down the right side shows you exactly how to operate your Petster Godzilla.  The look on this girl's face is...interesting:
I'm not sure that her head hasn't come dislodged, and is slowly sliding off of her body.
Some differences between the prototype pictured on the box, and the actual toy as released, are:
  1. The original prototype has glued-on toenails, to simulate Godzilla's clawed feet.  These were probably deemed unnecessary, and I'm sure it was realized that they would begin falling off after some use.
  2. The teeth of the prototype were pointed and nearly separated, and for the actual release, they went with solid rows of "bridgework."  I'm sure that it was hard to ensure that the pointed teeth all faced the same direction, but I think I prefer them to the released version.
  3. The prototype appears to have stitching around each dorsal fin, which makes me think they were double-layered, and probably enabled them to stand up better.
 You probably noticed that my new pet (my wife has a pug, so this is now my pet) will need FOUR "C" batteries, and TWO "AA" batteries.  (Going back to the new R2-D2 as a comparison, nothing has changed in this regard, either.)  These days, that is quite an investment, just to see if a toy still works!

I haven't tested him yet, but I have to know.  It's encouraging that this Godzilla Petster is super-clean, and appears unused, and I believe that the seller said that he still worked!

It would be pretty nice to have him roaming around the house.  I could fire up R2, and have them meet....or, duel to the death! I'm getting some great ideas.

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, Laserdisc, 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.