6/10/24

KING OF THE MONSTERS / RODAN Handing Store Display (Vestron, 1983)

 

This post won't be heavy on the photos...but here is both sides of an awesome hanging display for the debut release of GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS on home video in the United States, in 1983 by Vestron Video.  This piece measures 12 by 24 inches, and is printed on a thick, heavy cardstock (I expected this piece to be much thinner). There's a small hole at the top, because it's made to be hung from the ceiling of your local video store (and it probably was!).

On the flip side, another film receiving the same treatment, at the same time, RODAN! Vestron went great guns with both releases, offering them on VHS, Betamax, CED....AND Laserdisc! You can see these individual releases in our Godzilla American Home Video Guide, which you can download a PDF of for free at this link which you can download a PDF of for free at this link!

6/3/24

Movie Monster Mazes (Tempo Books, 1976)

 

Here's a great "honorable mention" to the list of vintage American Godzilla items--this fun book is packed full of cool mazes based on dozens of classic movie monsters. They're all here, including Frankenstein's monster, his bride, Mighty Joe Young, the Hideous Sun Demon (wow!), the Blob, and even Donovan's Brain!

And right there in the middle are the original big three--Godzilla, Mothra, and Rodan! Lots of vintage books like this might throw in a Godzilla maze, but to have all three of these is unusual indeed!

And now here for your printable enjoyment are...well, the photos of my Ebay seller, but I have cleaned them up as much as I possibly could. The mazes are still plenty workable! Enjoy!




BONUS! This one was so good, it had to be included here!


5/15/24

Columbia Record and Tape Club Magazine (January 1978)

 

Do you remember the Columbia House Record and Tape Club? Do you remember the little sheets of stamps crammed into infinite junk mail, or the cards in your Sunday newspaper that you were supposed to tape a penny to?

Lots of people use the word "scam" in the same paragraph when talking about the Club.  I was lucky enough to find out ahead of time that they begin sending you albums each month--that you didn't order--and then expect you to pay for them because, hey, remember? They gave you some free (or 1 cent) records for joining? Otherwise I would've been one of the unsuspecting teenagers jumping on board. (Wikipedia tells us that this business practice is known as negative option billing.)

What I didn't know was that they sent out a monthly catalog, and here is one with a cover promoting the hugely-selling STAR WARS soundtrack! Going through this catalog is interesting, because while there is stuff you will know (some of it kept on life support over the years by "classic rock" radio), there's also a quite a large amount that you will not know! You will hear yourself saying "who in the world is that?" quite a bit.

Here are the highlights, and I left the order form in there so you could sign up if you wish (just kidding; the Club is now long defunct, and I got dizzy keeping track of the number of times the company has been sold or absorbed...see aforementioned Wikipedia page for the full story!)


Huh. Neil Diamond in the "Rock" category...



 

5/8/24

Video Game Board Games [part2]: PITFALL! (Milton Bradley, 1983)

 

Today we are going to look at a rare one, that being "PITFALL!" (you have to scream it, apparently). We all know Pitfall, right? That's the game that launched Activision and revitalized the Atari 2600, so therefore, it's based on this:

Admit it, the vine-swinging fanfare just played in your head!

Right? Actually, no...this board game is really more closely based on this:


As in, the Pitfall segment of the SATURDAY SUPERCADE Saturday morning cartoon show! (There was a time, as a kid, that this hour was the single most important thing in my life.) Well, at least the board game says that (and depicts that Pitfall Harry, too):


In reality, the board game has no niece or pet mountain lion, like the cartoon has...so, I guess we are back to the Atari 2600 after all. You will see what I mean when we look at the mechanics of the game.

Come to think of it, all of this shows what a runaway success Pitfall was.  It was the only segment in the cartoon that wasn't based on an arcade machine, but rather a title for a home system.  Likewise, it's the only vintage Video Game Board Game I can find that fits that description as well.  Moving on:


This is what gameplay looked like.  Note the lines coming out from the center of the board, like spokes.  The players actually traverse the yellow areas, and can fall through to the purple ones (where the scorpion lives), just like in the game. 

Here are the playing pieces.  This is one of those games where everyone gets to be the main character, so there is less punching your brother and getting into trouble.  The scorpion is used strategically, to block your opponent, and moved by playing the correct card.

No Pitfall incarnation would be complete without treasures (see, we are back to the Atari version again), and here they are.  A player must collect 1 gold bar, 1 silver, and 1 bag of money before racing to the Diamond space on the board, allowing you to collect the giant diamond and win the game!

But it's a little more complicated than just rolling the die, because you also have to use cards to get past obstacles, or get permission to move the scorpion.

Here is an uncluttered look at the board.  It looks very busy until you know what is going on.  The animals in the center serve no purpose, other than to give you something to look at while your sister is taking twelve minutes to make up her mind about her turn.


Here is the insert and inner box.  I always like a good game that includes a printed insert, rather than waste the space on a blank one.  It's also crucial to have the smaller inner boxes to keep parts in. You would think this was always done, but sadly, no.

Overall review: You have to give the game designers credit here, because they really tried to design a board game that played like the actual Pitfall game.  The clock-face-like path that the players travel looks very weird, but works much better than if it was straight across, although it could have been a bit less busy, which probably confused small children ("why can't I just go around the hole, there's plenty of room? Oh look, there's a monkey!").  The main negative is that the game can bog down with a player's path getting blocked, waiting until they can draw the right card to be able to move again.  Hey, the original Pitfall had a 20-minute time limit!

For completeness, here are the game rules, which are printed under the box lid:


More vintage Video Game Board Games coming up sporadically in the near future.  But sadly no official home video release for Saturday Supercade, ever.

5/3/24

The Jay Ward Gypsy Bugle Corps & Madrigal Society - A SALUTE TO MOOSYLVANIA!! (1962)

 

Here is an extremely rare and apparently self-published vanity release from 1962.  This is a 7-inch, 33&1/3 EP that is housed in a gatefold sleeve, and it is a lot of fun.  Several years ago, I posted it on this blog as part of a (now deleted) compilation, but since I recently had the good fortune to acquire a very lovely and excellent copy, it was time to make a brand new rip!


This was made around the time that Jay Ward was in the middle of his "Statehood For Moosylvania" campaign, and you will hear Moosylvania's own anthem, along with several fun instrumental pieces--one of them being the exact recording (as in, the one used for the show) of the "Dudley Do-Right Theme." At certain points after and between songs, you can hear the voices of the musicians and the small audience (this was to mimic a Jazz Festival, apparently), and at one point in the festivities, you can even hear the voice of Bill Scott, Bullwinkle himself!

Speaking of, you would expect this release to have a stronger connection to Rocky and Bullwinkle--which tells me there would have been some rights issues, or at least more trouble than somebody wanted to go to.  There is one clue though, if you look closely at the back cover! The "Moosylvania Anthem" really should have been used on the show itself!

You can find more in-depth information at this site, which also shows you what the inside of the gatefold looks like. 

Also, don't miss the hilarious graphic on the label, where Jay Ward  is pictured in place of the RCA dog!



4/29/24

Video Game Board Games [part 1]: PAC-MAN (Milton Bradley, 1982)

 

Collectors are a weird type of people. There are psychological forces that drive them that would require many, many posts just to scratch the surface, written by people smarter and more boring than me. One thing that has always interested me about collectors is that some people only collect one specific thing, while some have lots of interests and sub-collections.

One sub-collection for me is vintage video game items, specifically from the golden era of video game mania in the early 1980's.  I try hard to keep it to a minimum, but I am absolutely incapable of walking away from any vintage Pac-Man item that I run across, or any board game based on a vintage video game.

Pac-Man, of course, was the poster child for arcade games.  He was also merchandised to the hilt, which was a separate phenomenon in itself.  To a grade-schooler back in those days, Pac-Man was quite simply the coolest thing in the world.  Then word came down that we would receive a "proper" home version, for our Atari 2600's, that we could play at home.  Excitement hit a fever pitch...until the game came out, when disappointment hit a fever pitch.

If you were there, then you haven't forgotten either.

People wanted to be able to enjoy the fun of arcade games in their homes, or at least a reasonable facsimile, whether it was a digital watch, an LCD game, a crappy Atari cartridge, a Saturday-morning cartoon or...a board game!

Now, this was an idea that had potential--a playable version of your favorite video game, that you could play at home, with your family or friends.  And, once again, Pac-Man led the way. 

And the turquoise Pac-Man was never seen again!

Milton Bradley wisely went the extra mile by designing a game that actually allowed all players to be Pac-Man (of four different colors!) that went around the maze eating dots (well, the instructions only refer to them as "marbles,"...come to think of it, there was never a clear universal term for them.  In the cartoon they were all "power pellets," but it seemed like every iteration called them something else). This was accomplished by a clever design, wherein your Pac-Men could chomp up marbles as they landed on them, storing them inside themselves as he went.  You were supplied with a container of matching color to dump them into after each turn, as the object of the game was to be the player who had accumulated the most marbles.


But as we all know, the maze also contains ghosts! Since there would be up to four Pac-Mans roaming around, MB supplied only two ghosts for the game, which were controlled in an interesting way.  Since each turn involved rolling two dice, one would be used for the player's Pac-Man, while the second die would be used to move the ghost monsters around. This was of course strategic, because landing on another player's Pac-Man sent them back to their home spot, and cost them two marbles.  Each game randomly included a pair of ghosts the same color, available in the same four colors as the Pac-Mans and their trays (although having a yellow ghost the same color as Pac-Man is just weird).  Somehow the game I ended up with many years ago included three sets! Somebody bought this game three times:


So, how are the yellow marbles (ranting once again: I was told as a kid that only the big ones were the  "power pellets, " which in some places were referred to as "energizers") used? It's kind of strange.  The instructions call them only "yellow marbles," and say that, when you eat one, you get the "Ghost Gobbler Privilege," which apparently lasts as long as you want it to, until you finally eat a ghost, which gains you the marble that was under that ghost, and sends him back to the middle of the board.


I think it would've been cooler if a pair of blue ghosts were supplied with the game, and you could switch them out until somebody ate one (hey, I have enough to do that, I should try it).


Overall review: So was the game successful, in bringing the spirit of Pac-Man home as a board game? I am happy to say it was, although in the spirit of criticism, here are a few cons:  
1) Since the game was very heavy on parts, some were bound to get lost over the years. (This is not a bad thing at all, just true.)
2) You need a very stable playing area, as it's very easy to upset a fully set-up board, and I'm sure some sibling fistfights broke out over that.  
3) The marbles are glass (and not Hungry Hippos plastic), and they are very pleasing to handle and roll around, but I'm sure that they looked delicious to very small children.  The yellow ones look like shiny, delicious Lemon Heads! Mmmm, Lemon Heads!

Stay tuned for future posts featuring more vintage board games based on vintage video games. I have a decent collection but there are far more than you'd think, and some are very rare! 

Instructions, found under the box lid!

4/18/24

GODZILLA 1985 Video Flyer/Order Card (1986)

 

Here is an interesting piece--this is a flyer announcing a special price to order GODZILLA 1985 on home video.  While "flyer" is probably not the correct word to describe this, it's hard to imagine exactly how it was used.  It is printed on glossy cardstock, is one-sided, and measures 8 by 5 inches...so it's too big to be packed into regular VHS releases of the day.  Back in those days, local newspapers had "Sunday Supplements" that would often contain items like this, so perhaps that's one idea.

You can tell right away that the marketers on this side of the Pacific were attempting a "wacky" approach to sell the film (I mean, it had a Love Theme after all), and in hindsight, it's really too bad that they didn't just let the film be itself...well, the American version of itself.  Case in point:

Yikes. At least this is the only place that this synopsis appeared!  If you wanted to order the movie, it would set you back $14.99 plus a whopping $4.00 (for the time) shipping, making a grand total of $18.99.  Just from what I've seen, I'm going to say that this was a very decent price for an official release in 1986, because the big Hollywood titles were still pretty expensive at that time.  And this was an official, SP tape, and not a low-quality bargain bin thing.  And, Betamax was still available, too (although this film would be the last Godzilla Beta tape in the U.S.)!

This is definitely a fascinating artifact that I've never run into before--if anybody has any other ideas of how this piece would've been distributed, leave me a comment!

4/5/24

The Things I See: Goodwill and Other Horrors

These sort of photos pile up after a while.  It could be a regular feature, if we didn't have other business to attend to around here.  But hey, why not? "Enjoy," he said, in quotes........

Yes, this is the actual thing they give you at Chik Fila to put on your table when you are expecting food.  And not only did somebody steal it, but they donated it to Goodwill...and GOODWILL SOLD IT.

I am not an expert, but I don't think this is the sort of thing you can learn from a book. Unless you are a serial killer.

"Would the person who lost their Diplodocus please come to the check-out area? Thank you."

It's interesting what people put in frames. I could've done a whole post on bizarre or dumb things left in frames, but here are a couple:

This person treasured the Columbia House Record And Tape Club so much, they framed a newspaper ad from the 1980's.
And this person was so enamored with this embarrassing typo (really two, if you count the inability to understand what an ellipsis is), they immortalized it in a frame.

This obviously wasn't Goodwill, but it sort of sums up the current state of Amazon pretty well!

And now, a special one that's dear to my heart. Do you ever stumble onto a random act of hidden hilarity that someone's left behind? Have you ever committed one? There had to be a first person who added words to a traffic sign or bathroom paper towel dispenser and made them hilarious. I think there should be more of these in our daily lives.  Case in point, I picked up a random paperback at Goodwill, thumbed through it quickly, and just happened to see this:
Thank you, whoever you are.  Your work is immortalized here for all time.

And now, we conclude with a speed round of  bizarro products:
1) A slightly used spitoon. Hey, somebody may need that.

2) And here is a GYYAAHAAGGHGHH let's just move on.


3)Admittedly, this is from a Wal-Mart, but this particular store is very, very....desperate.

4) This one is cool, my buddy has one of these. We put some wilted lettuce, a box of paper clips, and a tarantula into it, and it came out ham! It's pretty handy.

And finally, the grand finale...hide the children:

5) As you drive home tonight, just take a moment to think about how somebody returned a used urinal to Wal-Mart.  And they took it back.  Hooray for Current Year!