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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
ADDENDUM, 8-22-19! I am happy to say, I've obtained the "Owner's Manual and Training Guide" for the Petster Godzilla! Click here to see the entire thing!
I ran into this auction on Ebay, for a Bandai plush Godzilla from 1984 called "Petit Amour," that was supposed to have "sound and motion," according to the seller. It very much resembles the prototype Petster Godzilla from the box and dealer catalog:
It has the glued-on toenails and stitched nose, but not the separate teeth or sewn dorsal fins (although they look to be quite thick). The seller did say it was 9.5" tall, which puts it shorter than the Petster....but is there a link between the two, and if so, what is it? Did Axlon have to license a Bandai design, in order to make their own, improved Godzilla electronic pet for the US? The plush only used two AA batteries, so it's abilities would have been limited in comparison to the Petster. If anyone can shed any light on this, please chime in!