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.

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