1/29/21

ABC Transcription Disc: "Philco Television Spot for 11/24/48" & Bizarre Extras

This is a weird one, so stay with me!

This record is exactly the sort of thing that I can't resist, because usually, things like this are completely unique, historical in some way, and often bizarre on some level.  However, in this case, it was a lot stranger than I even guessed.

First off, this is a 12-inch, one-sided disc.  It's a covered aluminum plate, and has three spindle-holes rather than one (you can see where the other holes are, on the label).  This is the kind of "recordable" disc that was used in transcription machines.  It came in a torn-up manilla sleeve with the Soundcraft logo on it:


At this site, you can see scans of a Soundcraft brochure from this time period, that even shows all the equipment it took to actually cut such records, which is pretty fascinating in itself.  (The same sorts of machines were installed in some department stores, allowing customers to pay to cut their own smaller records in booths.  A recording restored for the Beatles Anthology was one of these types--in fact, I have one such record that is speech-only that we will get to in the near future.)

And now, on to the content of this record.  From this disc, we know that this process was used to distribute some radio ads.  But wait, there's more! This record contains three distinct bands, each locked from the other.

The first band is the content described on the label.  It's a 58-second ad for the Philco television sets, recorded at 33 and 1/3 speed, and it's interesting on its own.  What is bugging the life out of me, though, is who the announcer is.  It's a voice that's familiar to me, and my brain is telling me that it's an announcer from some OTR (Old Time Radio) show that I've heard quite a bit of.  I even went back and tried to sample episodes of several shows, but announcers tended to come and go, and I couldn't find him.  To quote Rocky the Flying Squirrel, "That voice! Where have I heard that voice?!" If anyone can solve this mystery for me, I'd be forever indebted!

At this point, the record comes to a dead stop at a locked band.  It was evident there was more content, and I lifted the needle to allow it to travel to the next section.  It was increeeeeeedibly slow, so it dawned on me that we were in 78 rpm territory, which I corrected.  The DJ announces an episode of "Challenge of the Yukon," (which was about the famous Sgt. Preston of the Yukon, and his dog, Yukon King).  The episode begins, but we hear only the introduction, which sounds off-line.  Then, the record hits another locked band.

Jumping the needle to the third and last section, still at 78 speed, everything gets even weirder.  The same DJ seems to be messing around [I made a full transcript, and it is included with the file], doing time-checks, random announcements, and.......barking like a dog (who he then begins talking to).  It's quite bizarre.  The whole disc is over in just under five minutes.  

My theory on all of this is that, in this case, the radio spots that a station received (in this case, purporting to be WENR in Chicago) were delivered on partially-used recording discs, and some supervisor told a young, potential radio announcer to use the remaining space to practice at his own leisure.  That's the only thing that really makes sense for all of this!

Anyway, it's an interesting curio that probably shouldn't even exist, and that is just the sort of thing we will spotlight around here!

LINK:  ABC Transcription Disc 11/24/48

1/26/21

GODZILLA ATTACKS LOS ANGELES "Transforming Head Playset" Watch (Nelsonic, 1995)

 

Sometimes I look to see what the most-read posts are on this site, and it never fails that one or more of my articles on the Trendmasters "Transforming Head" Godzilla playsets from the 1990's are in the top ten.  These seven playsets are among the greatest of Trendmasters' Godzilla accomplishments. [There is a post spotlighting each one; just search "Micro Playset" and you'll find them--the first one is here!] Made during the heyday of "Micro Machines," I always thought Trendmasters outdid their competition with this line.  In fact, some of them are quite rare, and I've been amazed to watch the prices rise on Ebay over the last few years.  

What you may not have known was that there was one additional "transforming head" playset out there...and the bad news is, it's just about as rare as some of the later playsets.  It exists in the form of a digital wristwatch from the Nelsonic company, from 1995, bearing the title "Godzilla Attacks Los Angeles."


Now, before we go any farther, you'll notice that this is packaged to fit in with Trendmasters' then-current KING OF THE MONSTERS line.  Outside, you'll also notice that the Godzilla head is a scaled-down replica of the other playsets, that matches completely. Inside, it's actually a shrunken-down version of the "Mechagodzilla in Los Angeles" playset from Trendmasters' first wave [you can compare the full-size one in this post!], down to the Hollywood sign and the stripey camouflage on the storage tank! Because of all of these things, I have no doubt that Trendmasters did the actual manufacturing on the "toy" part of this watch for Nelsonic.  


This is, without a doubt, the tiniest Godzilla in my entire collection.  You can see that he sticks into a peg on the playset, but you can imagine that he would be easily lost (by the way, that's the actual digital watch screen, to the right of the little G)!

So there you have it; this little cousin is the unofficial 8th in the great series of Godzilla micro-playsets.  It's endearing, ingenious, and completely impractical, all at the same time.  They very rarely come up on Ebay, but if you're desperate to have one, there is a foreign-packaged version from Italy (with identical contents) that does pop up from time to time!

EDIT: Here are some opened images that I found in my archive (from an old Ebay auction):




1/19/21

DINOSAURS! (Leo the Lion, 1966)


I suppose the actual title of this record is:  "DINOSAURS! A Dramatic Version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's THE LOST WORLD Featuring Basil Rathbone....." but where do you stop?

It doesn't matter, because mark my words, my friends, this is great stuff.  This record is so well-made, it would seemingly belittle it to classify it as a children's record.  However, to be fair, it comes from an era where solid entertainment could be made for kids without feeling the need to completely dumb everything down to levels of absurdity.

Featuring a delightfully over-the-top performance by the great Basil Rathbone, as well as the also-great Peter Fernandez (whose name should be familiar to you from Speed Racer, let alone the great American dubs of Godzilla/Toho movies done at Titra/Titan studios), this is a top-notch effort that will impress you.  It even stays overwhelmingly faithful to the book, although simplifying the plot (also there is one minor change that surprised me--without spoiling the story, it has to do with the proof that the group brings back from the Lost World) somewhat, which is obviously required when you reduce a novel to a 38-minute audio story.   The script, sound effects, and performances are all enthralling.  Even when brief educational factoids are thrown in about a specific dinosaur, it doesn't hinder the plot (if you can believe that)! I enjoyed it immensely, and I think any kaiju and/or dinosaur fan will too!

LINK:  Dinosaurs! (not the Jim Henson sitcom with the baby)

1/18/21

Play-Doh Star Wars Action Set (Kenner, 1979)



From 1979, here is the great Play-Doh Star Wars Action Set.  If you are like me, you have many fond memories of this set.  It's complete, apparently unused, and it only took me four different auctions to finish (vintage Play-Doh cans take some time to find, these days)!

I cleaned the box, repaired one tear with acid-free glue, and also ironed some of it.  This is a trick I learned from a board game collector, using a regular steam iron (with no water in it).  You can achieve some pretty amazing results, especially for the thinner cardboard.  I've certainly never tried corrugated or super-heavy cardboard, but I doubt that would be very effective.

The set from my childhood "lived" at my grandparents' house, so I only got to play with it when I was over there.  Along with an X-Wing fighter, three molds are included, allowing the user to make Darth Vader, R2-D2, Princess Leia, and Luke Skywalker.  There has been some debate over exactly what Darth Vader's weapon is.  It looks like a laser rifle (which Luke also has), but on the box, he is made to hold it like his lightsaber.  I vote for "gun" because, if not, it's the worst lightsaber I've ever seen.


Play-Doh sets usually (and wisely) included a plastic play-mat, and the one for this set is pretty ingenious.  You get a three-quarter, cutaway Death Star to play around in, as well as some space to fly your X-Wing.  Bonus points for including the Dianoga!

The set also includes the famous yellow Play-Doh knife (the other famous tool was the wooden rolling pin, not included in this set).  As I mentioned, the hardest parts to find in completing this set were the vintage cans from the same year.  If you recall, the cans of this era had steel bottoms, and you can hardly find any that aren't rusted to some degree.  I was pretty lucky, but one of the three had a bit of light rust, which I sanded off (NOTE: If you do so, be extremely careful, as the metal is extremely THIN here).  Afterwards, I coated the bottoms of the cans with a rust inhibitor, which is made for treating tools, and which you can buy in any hardware store.  (Another tip, if you go this route, do NOT over-apply, and allow plenty of time to dry, especially if it's cold outside).  After all of this, the cans were ready to be stored safely!


As you can see, I was REALLY excited about this piece, and even had a custom acrylic case made for it! Collectors always make a huge deal about having the original inserts, but the truth is, they can actually do the most damage to your items. When storing old toys like this, the important thing is to make sure that nothing touches the cardboard for long-term storage.  I wrapped each part in acid-free tissue paper (which, if you don't want to order it, can be easily obtained at Container Store).  I didn't mention the original Star Wars booklet, or the small Play-Doh catalog, but these, along with the playmat, were put into comic bags with acid-free boards.  And speaking of the Play-Doh catalog...

If you've never seen this Kenner...product, then you are in for a teat.  (A thousand apologies for that one.  I got carried away.) This was a real thing...somehow...and there was actually a TV commercial for it (see below).  I don't know who thought of this, but it's just weird, no matter how you look at it.  I mean, look at the photo.  The girl is ecstatic, and she's not even getting to do anything.  The boy...is having some sort of moment; I don't even want to know.  
To top it off, it came with powder to make "pretend milk." I have no idea what "pretend milk" is made of, but I assume it was non-toxic, because you know all the little paste-eaters who received this toy were drinking it. Observe in bewilderment:

1/4/21

Introducing THE GODZILLA FILES (Leaping Fox)

 

Happy New Year.  Let's force this to be a better year, right out of the chute.  After just bestowing 22 discs of superhero goodness on you the other day...here are more than 8 of Godzilla perfection!

At the left side of this page is a list of the blog's sub-pages, and the godzilla files is the last one listed.  I'd tell you all the details about this project, but why repeat myself? They are all on the page.  Just click the thing, and enjoy!

This one will probably absolutely be a limited-time offer, so as they say on TV, act now, operators are standing by!