6/29/22

GODZILLA Vintage Radio Spots: Well, How Many Are There? PART ONE

Welcome to another masterpost where you get information that exists nowhere else! Today we are going to tackle a murky subject with lots of misinformation:  vintage Godzilla "radio spots," which is for some reason the preferred industry name for radio ads or commercials.  

I don't need to tell you, but back in the day, studios and/or licensing companies would prepare specially-made radio commercials (as well as television ads) for many of their films, because radio was one of the best places for promotion.  These were (usually) free to the promoter, because after all, they helped everyone involved.  

The best way to know what was available is to read the vintage pressbooks.  All pressbooks for the films we are going to discuss are available on this blog, so I am not going to repeat photos, but instead place links so you can see them for yourselves if you so desire.  As you will see shortly, there was no uniformity to the media that was used, and sometimes the available literature didn't even specify any details.

So? How many are there, then? Well, the short answer is: ten.  Probably.  The last one is a little unclear, but hang tight, because here we go:

1) KING OF THE MONSTERS (Godzilla Releasing Co./TRANS-WORLD)  A 12-inch 33&1/3 record of 5 spots [first made available on this very blog, dear readers!] was "created by Terry Turner and Don Thompson" according to the pressbook.  The book only says they were "available," and doesn't specify the media involved.  Only a few months ago, it came to light that these were also offered on a (probably 10-inch) 78 from a kind soul who posted them to YouTube, making these a rare example of spots available in two formats! You can see the KOTM pressbook here, and download the radio ads (and even see the video for the 78 version, which I believe are completely identical) at this post!

2) GIGANTIS THE FIRE MONSTER (Warner Bros./Thaddeus Suski Productions) This is a sad one, because this record has only come up for sale a couple of times in the last several years, and apparently the buyers have no intention of sharing its contents, preferring instead to simply hoard it away somewhere.  As the pressbook tells us, the record contains "one 1-minute and three 20-second radio spot announcements...taken directly from the soundtrack of the picture." This was a 10-inch, 33&1/3 rpm one-sided disc (you can see the back had a neat textured pattern).  You can read the pressbook in this post, but as I said no ads have ever surfaced.  This film was released in many places in a double feature with TEENAGERS FROM OUTER SPACE, but apparently the ads on this record are only for Gigantis.  Hopefully, we will find out for ourselves one of these days!

3) KING KONG vs. GODZILLA (Universal/National Screen Service) This is an unusual entry, because we are going to discuss two different records! The official disc of radio spots was issued as a 7-inch 45 rpm record on red translucent vinyl (also unique in this list!).  There are five ads, although the pressbook ("Showman's Manual") merely says ads were "in all the usual 60, 30, and 10 second lengths."  What's most unusual here is that a second record was actually available, and this was an in-theatre one:

The pressbook spends much more time telling you about what they call the "PREVIEW RECORD," and says it was "specially made to be played during INTERMISSIONS. Announcer's voice presents an exciting sell for KING KONG vs. GODZILLA against incidental background music and also calls attention to the refreshment available at the candy counter. It's a 33&1/3 rpm [also, 7-inch] disc with both a 5 minute and a 2&1/2 minute pitch, all on one side. It is not intended to replace the trailer and is played only when nothing is on the screen.  Available at $1.50 per week, per record, from your NATIONAL SCREEN SERVICE EXCHANGE." So this record was meant to be played in the actual theatre, and what' s more, you apparently had to rent it weekly!

This film is another case where precious little has surfaced in regard to ads, and we will probably never get to hear the Preview Record's contents.  You can read the pressbook, uh, Showman's Manual, in this post.  I've found two recordings that have surfaced over the years, and they may not even both be from the record of radio spots:


The longer of the two sounds as if it was recorded from the air, and is specialized to radio station WAKY (Louisville, Kentucky), and mentions local theatres.  Considering this is what they actually wanted DJ's to do with these ads, it's probably safe to say the ad originated from Universal's record.


4) GODZILLA vs. THE THING (Americal International) Since we just looked at this one (see previous post, just scroll up...okay, here!), you will recall that this was a 7-inch, 45 rpm one-sided record that contained three glorious ads, which, as you also recall, can be downloaded at that same post! If you would like to enjoy the excellent pressbook for the film (perhaps the most common Godzilla pressbook), it can be found in this post!


5) GHIDRAH THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER (Walter Reade-Sterling/Continental Distributing) Ads for this film were distributed as a 10-inch, 33&1/3 record which contained five different spots.  The pressbook confirms that they were "a 60-second, two 30-second, and two 20-second spot announcements," and you can peruse it (it's a hoot) in this post! Unfortunately, only one 20-second ad has surfaced, but here it is:


TO BE CONTINUED!

Since there is so much ground to cover, I am splitting this masterpost into two parts.  We will cover the second half next time, when things get even weirder and more scattered! What is the tenth set of radio ads that may or may not exist? Find out next time.

6/27/22

GODZILLA vs. THE THING Radio Spots (American International, 1964)

 


Here is one of my latest acquisitions! This is the single-sided (sort of, we will get to that in a minute) 45 r.p.m., 7-inch record of radio commercials for 1964's GODZILLA vs. THE THING! There are just 120 fleeting seconds, but they are really good ones!

Several of the earlier Godzilla films had specially-made radio spots for their release in the United States, each done by the individual companies who released the films. There was no uniformity in how the ads were issued...and by the way, just how many Godzilla movies even had special radio ads? Well, all of these questions will be covered in a post I'm working on now, because, dear readers, I have the answers...but we are here today to look at just one release!

Now, I said this was a one-sided release, and there is indeed content on only one side of the disc.  If you are a record collector, you've probably run into one-sided discs, which have been around since the days of 78's, and usually mean that the reverse side is completely flat, or possibly has a texture or pattern instead of grooves.  In this case, however, there are actually grooves on the second side, which is very unusual.  In fact, when you play them, they contain almost 2 and a half minutes of total silence! There is a label on the other side as well, which is completely blank!


But, let's get back to the other side.  How cool is it to see AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL PICTURES as the record company on the label!? (By the way, the "tenth anniversary" refers to the tenth anniversary of A.I., and has nothing to do with the movie.)  As you can see, we are treated to three different radio spots, one 60-second and two 30-second ads.  They are dynamic and full of the usual bombast and ballyhoo you'd expect, and in retrospect feel like you're being invited to attend a public hanging, and not the movie (and the Mothra) that we all know and love.  But, that was the magic of old-school Hollywood publicity...which is dead and gone today.  

One further point about the radio ads:  if you think you recognize the voice, you probably do.  It's an uncredited Michael Rye, whose voice boomed "DRAGON'S LAAAAIR!" out of the arcade machine of the same name, and who I knew most of all as Green Lantern in all of the old Superfriends cartoons.  And what a voice it was!

Wrapping up, I know one or maybe two of these ads has been "out there," in places like YouTube, but maybe not all three (as people tend to hoard these things), so I hope I'm once again offering something that you can't get anywhere else.  At the very least, it's a brand-new and higher quality conversion (lossless, I might add), so that's something! So, enjoy this riveting two minutes! I can promise that it will make you want to see the film again!

GODZILLA vs. THE THING Radio Spots (1964)

6/23/22

Hilarious Chinese Bootleg Puzzle

I love Chinese bootleg crap.  I should really clarify that, and say I enjoy the products that are ironically funny, since we are finding ourselves in our everyday lives literally surrounded by annoying, cheaply made knockoff garbage, thanks to lots of big name Internet retailers I could name.  Anyhow, imagine my surprise when I found this frame-tray puzzle at my local thrift store:



I walked right by it, then did a double-take.  It's one of those things that gets funnier the longer you look at it.  For starters, obviously we have Ultraman Zero and Taro dominating the image, but then your eye starts to wander...


First of all, yes, it's the starship Enterprise and a Naboo fighter.  I mean, really.


Secondly, that is indeed my friend Baragon...but in reality it's a photo of the Revoltech action figure of him.  They couldn't even be bothered to find a photo from FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD and Photoshop it.  That was too hard.  It reminds me of the Episode IX debacle where an action figure of the Emperor was embarrassingly used instead of actual art, which of course is indicative of the whole existence of the Sequel Trilogy, but we aren't here to discuss that.

Of course, there are even more things that don't belong, some of which I can't even name (let me know in the comments if you can).  This being a Chinese puzzle, there is actually an activity on the back, rather than a boring blank cardboard backing like the boring Americans have on their puzzles...if anything, China gives you value!


It's, um, a crummy cartoon house, and you have to color it yourself.  Don't worry though, because they give you an actual guide in the corner to show you how to color it...until you realize most of the house is actually white, so...

Also, there is a bar code, which I ran on the UPC code database of 63 million codes, and...it doesn't exist! What? Shocking!

6/20/22

Godzilla AWESOME TASTE Dr. Pepper Promotional Baseball Cap (Sun San, c.1986)

 

Here is one of those items that just appeared; never seen one before, never knew it existed, but I pounced upon it as quickly as possible.  


What's interesting is that the art matches the "Awesome Taste" design which was offered on a mail-away T-shirt in 1986, which you can see below (more views of the can, and shirt, found in this post from 2015):

Interestingly, the Dr. Pepper skateboard had similar art, but said "MONSTROUS TASTE."

So, was the hat a mail-away offer too? I choose to believe no; certainly no evidence has turned up so far.  Most likely it was an employee premium, or even handed out to customers.  I'm still shocked that it exists!

I'm lucky that the hat is 100% unused, because nothing's more unpleasant than a used baseball cap...and I totally would've settled for a used one, of course.  Come to think of it, if I'd had this as a kid, I would've worn it until it fell apart.

Scoring this item has also taught me something else; they actually make protectors for baseball caps!  There are two kinds:  one is an acrylic box about the side of a shoebox (those are the most expensive, and are also bulky), and the other is a two-piece clear plastic holder in the shape of a cap that snaps together.  It's kind of like that protector that you put a carded action figure in.  The plastic is the same thickness, and it snaps together in the same way.  Here is a photo from Amazon:

I have no doubt that there are still further Dr. Pepper Godzilla items to be found.  A few years ago I missed out on a set of book covers for school books.  There were 10 sold, and I just know somebody out there that won them would sell me two of them...get in touch if you are feeling generous!

The one that got away. If this photo rings a bell and you have one or two stashed somewhere, gimme a shout!


6/17/22

BATTLE ARMOR KUMONGA (Godzilla Doom Island, Trendmasters, 1997)

 

Last time, we looked at BATTLE ARMOR ANGUIRUS from this line (for those who don't know, Doom Island was to be the third Trendmasters Godzilla series, but the company unfortunately folded), and today, an even more mysterious figure.  Known to most Americans as Spiga, here is the first and only Kumonga action figure!

But, let's start at the beginning.  Here is the Trendmasters concept art, as well as schematics, for this cool figure:


Here is what the painted prototype looked like in the Trendmasters 1997 catalog.  Note that it's completely different from how the final figure turned out!


The Battle Armor line was a continuation of the "Power-Up" armored line that had begun in GODZILLA WARS the year before.  Godzilla and Mecha-King Ghidorah were carried over, and two new figures (Anguirus and Kumonga) were devised.  Here are the other three, which all got made (albeit not in their own boxes):

Which brings us back to this cool figure.  For years, fans have wondered what he really looked like; did he even have eight legs?
Well, due to the magic of the passing of time (meaning, the tape has fallen off!), we can now look INSIDE the box and get up close and personal with Kumonga!

And here he is.  Note that his head armor really isn't gold, it's just that for some reason, that particular plastic piece has yellowed a bit.

Turning him around, we discover our first revelation.  Not only would he have fired two missiles from the launcher on his back, but there would've been one large missile that........uh, came right out of his bum! Shocking! 


This view confirms for us that he did, in fact, have eight articulated legs, as the concept art showed us!

Some of his legs have serrated blade shapes at the knee joints.  These would've been covered with armor that we will see in a moment.  This photo also gives us a better look at his powerful jaws.

We talked about this last time, but the trading cards in existing Doom Island merchandise are often mismatched.  In this case, a Kumonga card doesn't exist, so Varan is included instead (carded examples of the Varan figure do exist).  

Beneath the platform where the figure stands is a packet containing more armor and the aforementioned missiles.  You can see that the "backside missile" was super-long, and came to a formidable thorn-like point.

Besides our up-close look at this cool figure, I took advantage of a chance to get some high-resolution scans of the box, and here they are!

Here is the bottom of the box, with a great example of the awesome Doom Island logo. Which would make a sweet T-shirt, come to think of it.

Finally, here is the best look at the back panel of a Doom Island box that you are going to find, anywhere.  Lots of these items were made, but some didn't get past the prototype stage.  Check out our complete Trendmasters checklist page to see exactly what's out there!


6/7/22

BATTLE ARMOR ANGUIRUS (Godzilla Doom Island, Trendmasters, 1997)

 

Today we are going to look at something that doesn't exist, and yet it does.  It was never released...and yet, it was! Sort of.

Recently, we have added an entire sub-page to The Sphinx which is a checklist of all Godzilla Trendmasters items that were produced between 1994 and 1997.  The third and final Trendmasters line (the 1998 American movie doesn't count) was called DOOM ISLAND, and it died right as it came out of the gate.  It was the ultimate cool 90's idea:  Godzilla versus dinosaurs! How could anything be more awesome than that? It was an idea that was completely "epic," but unfortunately was as doomed as its name, because Trendmasters went bankrupt and it all fell apart.  And it's a huge shame, because we were going to get lots of figures that hadn't been made before.

Fortunately for collectors, there are a few Doom Island toys that can be found.  The small amount that were finished were packaged in whatever materials were already printed and sold overseas, mostly in southeast Asia.  A couple of prototypes were even given away as sweepstakes prizes.  But that was it, and nothing ever made it to shelves in the West.

One part of the Doom Island line that was completed was the "Battle Armor" line.  This sub-series had begun the year before, and featured Godzilla, Rodan, Mecha-King Ghidorah, and Mechagodzilla figures that could be powered up by adding armor and missile launchers.  For Doom Island, Godzilla and Ghidorah would be carried over, and two new figures were added, Anguirus and Kumonga (who we will look at next time)! As the available stock was cleared out quickly, the figures all ended up in boxes labeled "GODZILLA," and the trading cards don't always match the figure (apparently a Kumonga card wasn't yet produced when the axe fell, but a Doom Island Anguirus card does exist, because mine has one).  Note that the one at the start of this post is packed with a Biollante trading card.

Sure, he's "Angilas" to me, because I grew up with American dubs, but let's take a close look at this ultra-rare figure...starting at the beginning.  Here is the Trendmasters production art for the figure:


Next, here is a page from the Trendmasters 1997 catalog, showing painted examples of he and Kumonga.  Notice that he is heavily purple, and better matches his previous Trendmasters incarnation (which was only available as a 4-inch non-posable figure, and in multi-packs, by the way):


Here he is at Toy Fair that year, still purple (most likely the exact figure shown above; his armor here isn't vac-metalized though):

I am going to save detailed packaging scans for next time, since the boxes are completely identical, but here is a top view of the finished product.  As you can see, the window box allows for a great look at the character, and you can see all of the awesomeness (take note of this, Hasbro):


And now, something you can't get anywhere else:  a detailed look at a loose Anguirus in all his glory!  Cooler heads prevailed, and the purple was (fortuntately) toned down to an extremely light wash.  While some of the Trendmasters depictions are miles off (Megalon comes to mind...and Varan...and Baragon), this one is actually pretty close to what he looks like...well, the 90's buff version I mean.


One of my favorite features here (that I was completely unaware of) if how Anguirus' armored backpack can stand as an independent vehicle! It's both awesome and adorable at the same time:

But, have you ever wondered what this figure looks like without his armor? Well, wonder no more:


Another thing that isn't exactly clear from viewing the packaged figure is his extremely thin neck. I suppose the idea was to give the ball joint as much room as possible, but from this angle, it just looks wrong. I wonder if it would've broken under play (probably--we are talking 1990's action figures here, which weren't always the best plastic anyhow).

Finally, here are close-ups of his face, and also his back (carapace).  As you can see, there are two holes in his back where the body of the missile launcher apparatus attaches:


I hope you've enjoyed this rare in-depth look at this mega-rare figure.  I paid a small fortune for mine, but as one of my favorite kaiju, I certainly never thought I'd get the chance to own one, and I treasure the Doom Island items in my collection.  Like many collectors, I didn't have as much Trendmasters stuff as I wanted, back when they were out, and over the last several years, I've been remedying that problem.  And so has everyone else, which is obvious when you look at Ebay prices!  

Next time, the Kaiju Formerly Known As Spiga!

5/27/22

The RODAN NES Game That Never Was!

 

Take a look at this small poster, which you have probably seen before.  It's really too small to be called a poster, and too big to be a flyer (it measures a strange 11.75 x 15.75 inches).  This was a folded insert that was included with later copies of the first Godzilla game that was made for the Nintendo Entertainment System, called MONSTER OF MONSTERS, and as such is pretty rare.

The insert announces Toho's foray into these video games that the kids all like.  My understanding is that they distributed these games, as they were made by different companies.  As you can see, MONSTER OF MONSTERS gets top billing, and the Game Boy GODZILLA game wasn't even out yet.  Moving downward, we are told that CIRCUS CAPER exists.  I could make fun of this game for a moment, because it was really pretty awful, but it did attempt the "cinematic adventure" quality that they promised, which games were just beginning to figure out that they could do, so I think that's a fair assessment.  

This flyer even calls Circus Caper the "MOST FASCINATING GAME EVER"! Now, come on!

I don't have any experience with TIMES OF LORE.  From my looking it up, it was available on several home computer platforms in addition to the NES, and was actually made by Origin Systems, whose logo is shown here.  It was a pretty complex game for the time and boasted "13,000 screens of map."


Now we get to the main reason that we are having this discussion--the infamous RODAN game that was promised for the next year...and never materialized.  The text doesn't give us much information:  "A giant flying reptile assaults the earth! Rodan, Godzilla's arch enemy! Now an exciting NES game!" 
I'm not exactly sure where "arch enemy" came from; I mean, Rodan pecked at Godzilla briefly in GHIDRAH THE THREE HEADED MONSTER, and GODZILLA vs. MECHAGODZILLA II hadn't happened yet, so it's weird.  Did this game morph slowly into the MONSTER OF MONSTERS sequel (which was the strategy game GODZILLA 2: WAR OF THE MONSTERS)? Rodan was in that game, so who knows.  I do know that a straight-up Rodan video game wouldn't work very well, or be fun for very long.  It's a very strange choice! This article says that Toho decided such a game wouldn't sell very well, so add this game to the pile of Godzilla concepts that never made it to fruition.