1/24/22

Official CAP'N CRUNCH Limited Edition Card Set (2010)

 

Since this has a Jay Ward connection (the original animated ads were produced by Jay Ward Productions--he did not create the character as some have suggested; instead that honor belongs to Allan Burns, co-creator of The Munsters!), we can surely cover this here.  Besides, is there a more iconic and beloved mascot than the Cap'n? He has surely stood the test of time.  And, he had an entire, developed mythos built up around him that made him all the more endearing.  What to Snap, Crackle and Pop do anymore? Well, these days, nothing, but they used to flit around like evil spirits and encourage your cereal to make noises.  The Cap'n embarks on adventures, searches for treasure, outwits pirates and enemies from outer space, baby! He's a hero.

Perhaps you've wondered what his height is? Well, now it can be told that he is 4 feet 11 inches, thanks to a series of six special anniversary cards that were printed on vintage-style cereal boxes of the three flagship cereals (Cap'n Crunch, Crunch Berries, Peanut Butter Crunch) way back in 2010! Each box contained two cards that celebrated the original characters, most of whom are seldom seen today.  Characters like his original enemy, Jean LaFoote, who was around stealing cereal long before the Soggies that I remember from childhood.

Smedley the Elephant is most often associated with Peanut Butter Crunch, but he was often along on adventures with the Cap'n.  It turns out that the names of the four sidekick kids are Alfie, Brunhilde, Carlyle, and Dave, but they don't get their own cards here!
"Magnolia Bulkhead" was before my time, but doesn't the sight of the Crunch Beast bring back major childhood memories?
If you have never seen the original 1960's ads, I would advise that you seek them out, because they are superbly entertaining in a Jay Ward style (and you get Daws Butler voicing the Cap'n, too).  Why these were never released on a comprehensive DVD is beyond me.  They are not only well-made mini-animated features, but extremely fun.  Hey, whoever owns these today:  nostalgia sells.  It's not like anyone would pay for a disc full of King Vitamin ads.
But of course, in Current Year, that's not the world we live in.  In fact, here's a look at most of the varieties of Cap'n Crunch that have existed over the years (this fan-made poster goes through 2019):
Apparently "Punch Crunch" was made to taste like fruit punch? Say what?

Finally, here is what the backs of the three 2010 cereal boxes looked like.  (Apologies; I had to do a bit of reconstructing because of the way they had to be scanned.)  The four plucky kids are at least included here!




1/17/22

Hypnotize Thyself!

 


I once asked a lady I knew, who was a therapist:  if hypnosis works so well, why don't we just hypnotize people for everything? We could force ourselves to always make good decisions, always have energy, retain information like Mr. Memory, be really courteous drivers, or even just always make ourselves stay healthy...I will never forget her reply: "It doesn't work that way."  Well, okay then.

In the 1960's, though, that was sort of the mindset (let's face it:  probably because of cartoons and sitcoms).  And, there was money to be made off of this mindset...and, strangely, it wasn't to be made by health care professionals, but by record companies! Why pay doctors or therapists when you can just hypnotize yourself? (Movies taught me that all you need is a spinning, swirly disc anyhow.  And why would they lie? See SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE WOMAN IN GREEN for just one example of this.)

In that decade, a flood of self-hypnosis recordings hit the market.  Some were sold in stores, but it seemed like many more had to be purchased from the backs of magazines, which I suppose provided a layer of protection for the sellers.  As a result, these are pretty rare today.  I pick these things up anytime I actually run across one, for two reasons:

1) They are usually completely bonkers, and
2) They provide great fodder for the occasional sample.

Today we will look at a small clutch of these rare, yet not super-valuable, in the scheme of things, records. In no particular order:

Dr. Michael Dean's Hypnosis and Self-Hypnosis Record (Revere, 1964).  I just recently found a copy of this record, but I've had it for years, courtesy somebody's blog that's not around anymore.  This one is a hoot, and provides several good opportunities for sample fodder, which I have directly taken advantage of.

Dr. Aram Azadian - Self-Relaxation/Hypnosis for Deep Relaxation (Fresno Improvement Center, no year given).  This is a prize find of mine.  It came in a plain white sleeve, but contained a treasure trove of original paperwork! (Note, no ZIP code, which probably places it before 1963.) Looking this doctor's name up on Discogs reveals an interesting fact; his releases seem to be custom-pressed, as in, there are different combinations of sides found in the database.  I suppose you could mix and match. "I need to stop biting my nails, but also hypnotize others, please." The first side actually sounds like Stan Freberg's Lawrence Welk parody, I kid you not.

Hypnotic Record (unknown).  This is probably the oldest record in this group; nothing is known about it other than it was purely mail-order, and was an "unbreakable" 78.  Also, it would've included "Eye Fixation Spots," which I'm sorry we don't have. Both short sides are spoken over a "metronome" accompaniment, which is...bizarre.

Joseph Lampl - The Record Way to Stop Smoking (Living Record Library, 1964). Another find of mine; pretty much a sham, the two sides of this record hardly add up to 18 minutes.  If I smoked, I'd start again just to spite this record.

Dr. Reginald MacNitt - Psycholaxation (unknown). This one is a bonus.  It came off of the old WFMU website, which is no longer with us.  There is no information about it anywhere (if I remember correctly, it was claimed to be issued on cassette), but it's worth the price of admission.  It's such gold, I wouldn't be surprised to find out it was a well-made hoax.  

WARNING: Listener beware of the somnolent tones included herein...I probably wouldn't recommend listening to these while driving, although that's exactly what I did most of the time...come to think of it, I did end up in completely different state one day, with no idea how I got there, and a better, more positive outlook on life.  Also, I no longer wanted to smoke.  Huh.

LINK: Self-Hypnosis Records

12/27/21

GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS Bendy Figure (GLJ, 1978)

 

This is one of the only items on our Chronological Guide to Vintage Godzilla Items that I hadn't yet gotten round to featuring in a post...for some reason...but it's time to rectify that.  

For lots of kids, this was their first Godzilla toy, and/or even their introduction to Godzilla.  Technically, it's a "rack toy," a rubber monster with bendy wires inside to give it some posability, but can also count as an action figure (still a pretty new concept at that time):  it's even packaged in a bubble, on a card very close to the size of a Kenner Star Wars figure.  The "rack toy" status is revealed though, when you discover the back of the card is completely blank!

Speaking of the backing card, above is a good scan of one.  This one comes from an early example I owned that included the original bubble, and I was able to restore it a few years back to its natural glory (and sell it as recarded of course). I had a custom-made acrylic case built for my personal carded example, which was a good thing because apparently the prices for custom cases have gone through the roof in the last year:


This and the Shogun Warriors Godzilla are the two most iconic toys from the 1978 U.S. Godzilla merchandising boom.  We really wouldn't see another carded action-figure type Godzilla figure until 2021!

12/13/21

MONSTER GALLERY Coloring Book (Troubador Press, 1973)

 

Here is a little-known item that vintage monster fans should know about.  This is a coloring book from 1973, but don't let those words fool you.  This is not average-sized, dollar-store, pulpy kids' fare.  Instead, this is a higher-end piece, printed on heavy stock that could probably withstand nicer markers or even watercolors.  Also, it's really big:  9.75 by 12.5 inches! Inside are 15 portraits of classic vintage monsters, as well as full-page summaries of their stories.  

The illustrations are great, and obviously done (by Mark Savee) with knowledge of the subject matter.  They include lots of neat details, and often have intricate frame designs.  And, I should point out, aside from some brief copyright language by the publisher (which you can see above), there is no indication anywhere in the book that any of this was authorized at all or used with permission! And for the most part, they don't even try.  Which is good for us, of course!
The monsters included are The Fly, Frankenstein's Monster, The Mummy, Creature From the Black Lagoon, Hunchback of Notre Dame (I never understood lumping him in with classic monsters...oh dear, I just realized I said lumping...many apologies for that one), Godzilla, Cyclops (another strange choice), Werewolf, The Abominable Snowman, Mr. Hyde, Phantom of the Opera, a Morlock (again, random!), "Vampire," King Kong, and the Bride of Frankenstein.
I would imagine this book was sold in specialty stores and in the back of monster magazines, which kept it away from the more mainstream eyes.  A clean, uncolored copy today goes for around $100.  A copy with a colored-in page or two can be $50.  And now, the star of our show:
I think this is an interesting take on the big G; my problem with it is that the dorsal plates seem to turn into bumpy lumps the farther they go.  Close, but no cigar!  I must admit, I spent a bit of money on this post.  The book is far too big to scan, and if you were going to piecemeal it, who would buy a perfect copy just to disassemble it to fit it on a scanner, half at a time? So, I was determined it had to be photographed, which led me to constructing a sort of animation-stand type rig, where, using a tripod attachment that I purchased (which came with a handy remote), I was able to photograph all of the pages under a sheet of plexiglass.   It's not 100% perfect, but pretty close, and as scanned copies of this rare book don't appear to exist anywhere, I did the best I could.  That said, you can now download the whole thing in its entirety, preserved here for posterity! Enjoy!


12/6/21

Pac-Man and the Ghost Diggers (Book & Record, 1983)

 

Here is a book-and-record from the days when Pac-Man was EVERYWHERE. The Saturday morning cartoon opened up merchandising possibilities that the game alone really didn't allow for, in that it gave him an identity, a family, and a (somewhat ill-defined*) world to have adventures in, and this book follows that pretty well.


This read-along is unique for a couple of reasons.  First, it was available separately as a standalone with no record from Golden books.  I own a copy, but was unable to put my hands on it for this post.  It is basically identical, but does have an alternate title page (as was necessary).  Here it is (above) courtesy an Ebay auction.

Secondly, there are a few interactive mazes built into the story.  At first I thought this was strange, until I realized Pac-Man had quite an association with mazes (and then I felt dumb).  The record accommodates for this with some cool synthy techno-type music, giving the reader time to solve the maze.  (My copy has been completed in crayon.  I started to remove this, but when I got to the above page, where the kid sent Pac-Man right into the lion's mouth, it was just too funny.)
Kids! All your favorites are on KID STUFF! Such as "Nancy" and.......the Space Shuttle Columbia.  Also, "Marmaduke." No kid ever liked Marmaduke.

Included in the download is the audio, with the book scans in a separate ZIP.  The reason for this is, some folks use Comic Book Reader to advance the storybook while they listen (this works great and is a free program by the way).  If you prefer to do that, right-click on the book's ZIP file and rename it, changing "RAR" to "CBR," which will then allow it to magically work inside the software! Enjoy!


______________________________________________________
*OPTIONAL PAC-RANT SECTION:
So, in the Ruby-Spears cartoon, Pac-Man lives in Pac-Land, and everything from garden animals to household tools is named so that "PAC" goes in front of it.  "Look out, it's a Pac-Snake!"  Pac-Man appears to be a simple citizen, but everything is named after him.  What's so special about him? Is he the deity of this world? Do the ghosts chomp the other, random citizens all day (I can't remember)? It seems like they would be low-hanging fruit, and ghost monsters HATE FRUIT.  Also, in this book we learn that Baby Pac-Man is a boy.  I always wondered about this.  He was obviously voiced by a woman, which supplemented my confusion about him as a child.  In the book he is referred to as "Baby Pac-Man," although if I remember right, in the cartoon he was usually called "Pac Baby."  I suppose if he were a girl, he would be "Baby Ms. Pac-Man"....I guess? Also, Pac-Land is full of annoying mazes.  They can't even get to the supermarket without having to enter the Maze of Despair or something.  Can't they just go around? Or over? It would seem like the general populace would vote to bulldoze all of the mazes, as they just bog down their daily lives, as well as get them chomped all the time (which, by the way, you simply recover from in the cartoon, so...big deal, anyway).

12/1/21

Chevrolet T-O-P Sales Training LPs (Jam Handy Organization, 1961)

 

Last weekend, at a flea market out of state, I pulled a dusty old 10-inch LP from a box of records.  It was in a tattered manila envelope, and included lots of paperwork.  When I examined it, I realized it was a vintage record for training Chevrolet salesmen, which immediately got me curious.  It was a couple of bucks, so why not? Near the back of the box was a second record from this same series, only by itself with no papers or sleeve...so I did what anyone else would do: I crammed it into the envelope and got two records for the price of one.


If the name "Jam Handy Organization" isn't familiar to you, it probably should be.  Handy was a medal-winning Olympic swimmer who began his own company for producing marketing/training films and other materials for large companies, as well as the U.S. government. In fact, you've probably run into some of these films through MST3K or Rifftrax.  And, who doesn't forget a name like "The Jam Handy Organization," anyway? I always thought it sounded like a guitar supply store ("Jam Handy to the rescue!").

Chevrolet "T-O-P" stood for "Trained Organization Program," and apparently somebody was dead set on having TOP as an acronym, because that doesn't make much grammatical sense.  They began producing filmstrip/record combinations through Jam Handy for training purposes in the 1950's (the earliest on Discogs are from 1955), and ran for several years (both examples here are from 1961).  I am guessing this was a monthly or bi-monthly thing, and that regular sales meetings after work consisted of watching them, lots of smoking, and then discussing thought-provoking, pre- supplied questions, just like school all over again (without so much smoking).  For one of our examples, we are lucky enough to have existing copies of both the script for the Meeting Leader, as well as a copy of the "Review Book" that was handed out to salesmen (both scanned and included here).  It was all this pristine paperwork (including six copies of the review books!) that really made me buy these records.

So here's what you get:  In "Best Foot Forward," a narrator tells us that this horseless carriage thing is probably going to work out, and that if you are a used car salesman, you should lie a lot always tell the customer lots of useful facts, and remind them how clean the car is.  If they ask questions, tell them the car is incredibly clean.  In "Stranger in Town," which is the disc that includes all the swell paperwork, a folksy, James Arness-sounding narrator reminds us that there are two kinds of people:  strangers we don't know, and people who have moved to town (or something like that).  Also, you can actually get new customers by not screwing up, doing things on time, and completely butting into people's personal affairs by telling them exactly how they should spend their day while you fix their cars.  For some reason, they also blatantly tell you to find as many things wrong with their cars as possible, in order to maximize profit.  Huh.  One thing that struck me--in light of the year we live in--was the story of how the entire repair shop should do backwards cartwheels in order to obtain parts to fix a car in the same day, making sure a rare motor was "on the 1:00 bus" so that it would be ready.  That one made me laugh out loud.

These are fun to listen to, either for useful samples, nostalgia, or just a crash-course in the then-new philosophy of Customer Service.  It's amazing to think that entire industries have built up around teaching this concept, and they all boil down to keeping your word, not screwing up, and not overcharging people.  It's really that simple, and yet I can't think of any large, brand-name companies that I deal with, or use their products, that I would use as shining examples of the art.  Something about the "human" part of "human nature" means it goes south every time, I guess.  Enjoy!

LINK:  "Best Foot Forward" and "Stranger In Town"

Scans included with download, but here's both sides of the Meeting Script, just for completeness:


11/9/21

Godzilla "Are You A Friend?" Pinback Button (Banning Enterprises, 1985)

 

There are still vintage American Godzilla items out there to be discovered, and here is my latest discovery!

This is a large "pinback" button that measures three and a half inches across.  It was made by Banning Enterprises (who also produced a unique licensed poster that year) in 1985, and has a solid metal back.

It will be interesting to see if any further items from Banning Enterprises turn up; it wouldn't surprise me at all if there were more out there, especially considering the [normal-sized compared to today] merchandise push for GODZILLA 1985.  Here is a higher-resolution scan of the artwork!

12/13/2021 UPDATE: There I was, reading my own post from 2018, about the Banning Ent. poster mentioned above, and there it was:  a flyer allowing you to join the Godzilla Fan Club, which, in doing so, promised you would receive newsletters and.....a limited-edition button! Is this mystery solved? I am betting that the above pinback is the very same one!



11/3/21

Happy 67th Birthday Godzilla! SUITMATION RETURNS!

Today is Godzilla's 67th birthday, and as you know, this year marks the 50th anniversary of GODZILLA vs. HEDORAH/SMOG MONSTER.  Of course, this isn't a news blog; there are better places you can go for that, BUT...you need to know that Toho has made a short film that released today on YouTube, featuring a rematch of FINAL WARS Godzilla and Hedorah! This exciting film was made "old-school," with suits and miniatures, and it's lots of fun.  Yes, FUN! And isn't that what's missing today?

I'm sure more information will come out about the making of this film, because there is already an outpouring of love and excitement.  Will it launch a new wave of films with a vintage-style heart and soul to them? If only!

I don't like to use the words "the old-fashioned way," to describe this, because to me, it's just "The Way."

Don't miss this.  You will be glad you did.


Little did I know, but yesterday this behind-the-scenes video was released.  It gives you a good look (in 36 seconds) at the amazing miniature set!


10/29/21

SCARY TALES Featuring John Zacherley (Parkway Records, 1962)

 

I've been saving this one! Several months ago, I was in a Game XChange store that was out of town, and I decided to look through their used vinyl...and there was this, opened but still in its original plastic, even.  So, the moral is, you just never know!

This is a super-rare LP by one of THE original horror hosts (you can see some rare footage of him on YouTube if you are so inclined; it's good stuff).  He made a few records--including the Halloween staple "Dinner with Drac"--and all of them are equally scarce. 

This record is super-cool for yet another reason, though!  The first track (which is the title cut) actually has three sets of parallel grooves going, meaning there are three different versions of the song that you might randomly get...and he doesn't even hint at this possibility anywhere on the sleeve! I imagine it caused more than one buyer to doubt their sanity! How cool is that?

As it turns out, this rare record is on YouTube, but mine sounds a lot better, as you will see (and also includes all three versions of the title track)!

Happy Halloween!

Link:  SCARY TALES Featuring John Zacherley

10/27/21

Ladies and Gentlemen.............Hugh Monster.

 





"You can call me Hugh...Hugh Monster."  Believe it or not, this is from one of the old Ken Films 8mm films!

10/22/21

GODZILLA by Ian Thorne (Crestwood House Monsters Series, 1977) PART TWO

In this post, we will look at variations that there simply weren't room for in Part One, as well as show you some comparisons.  

First up, here is the paperback version of the book, which seems to originate from those classroom sets we saw in the last post (notice it shows the original six titles on the back):


According to the scholarly article at Sicko-Psychotic that we referred to last time, all but the last three of the original 15 books had paperback editions.

Most famous is the first hardcover version, because it's the one many people remember their libraries having:


Here, we will take the opportunity to do a little comparing and contrasting.  On the left, the 1978 printing, and on the right, a later one from 1982.  

I'm not aware of any textual differences, but the real difference is that by this time, the series was complete at 15 books:
Also, the other major difference is, the spine of the 1982 edition is yellow, and not orange.  At first I wondered if this were due to fading, but as you can see, the black of the titles isn't the slightest bit faded:

Now, let's move on to super-rare hardcover library variants!

Perhaps your library had hardcover copies that looked like these:

If so, you should've swiped them! No! I'm not sure how that got in there...as I was saying, these special library editions are the rarest of them all! It's my theory that only the original six were reprinted this way.  Here is a better look at this new jewel of my collection:

Interestingly enough, I'd read where some folks think these editions were later printings, but as you can see from the photo above, mine is from 1978! We may never know the exact details of how these editions came to be.
Also, these editions have blank back covers!

Amazingly, there is an ADDITIONAL hardcover library variant that was only glimpsed until now:
As you can see, this hardcover has a completely different layout for the front cover.  This photo was the only example available for a long time, but unbelievably and amazingly, I lucked into one recently, so  now more details can be seen! It's possible this version is even rarer than the orange one.  The answer lies inside the world of vintage library binding.  Was one done by the printer, and one by a third-party entity, or even library?

Here is the front cover of my copy, and as you can see, the titles are closer to a reddish-orange than in the photo above:


Inside, we learn that this copy is also a 1978 printing...


...which means the series featured the original six books at the time:


Like the orange variant, the back is blank, but here utilizes a textured pattern like so many vintage library-bound books did:

Another difference is the spine text, which, as you'd expect, looks different!

Finally, we end today with one more variant--there was a second, later version of the give-away bookmark that listed all 15 titles in the Monsters Series!


We hope you've enjoyed this blast of nostalgia (or at least introduced you to an important collectible)! In closing, we keep referring to all 15 of the original titles in the Crestwood House Monsters Series, so here they are, listed out, in case you ever run into any:

KING KONG
DRACULA
THE WOLF MAN
FRANKENSTEIN
GODZILLA
MAD SCIENTISTS
THE MUMMY
CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON
FRANKENSTEIN MEETS WOLF MAN
THE BLOB
THE DEADLY MANTIS
IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE
THE INVISIBLE MAN
THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

Beginning in 1985, Crestwood also issued a further series of blue-fronted books called "Movie Monsters" that that included  THE MOLE PEOPLE, THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, TARANTULA, GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE RAVEN,  WEREWOLF OF LONDON, and that perennial monster favorite, HOUSE OF SEVEN GABLES!