GODZILLA GAME (Mattel, 1978)


Here is an item that I bet you are likely to know something about, since you are a visitor to this site.  Somehow I have neglected to do an official post on this iconic game, all these years, and it's time to rectify that omission!

Now, the title says it all; this was the companion landmark item to the Shogun Warriors Godzilla that same year.  Kids either:  had this game, new somebody that did, and/or wanted it desperately.  Before we jump in, rather than use this video as an afterthought, let's lead with the famous (in these parts) TV commercial:

That ad is still so exciting, it makes me want to buy another copy of the game! As we saw in the commercial, players would take turns spinning, and flying some of their 24 colorful spaceships around the galaxy by turning a large wheel.  The suspense builds because, what they don't know is whether Godzilla will strike at any time, suddenly chomping their ship and showing no mercy!

One thing you will see here (at the end of the post) is the instruction sheet, which is pretty rare for some reason.  What I found really interesting was the opening paragraph:

"The evil Godzilla is raiding the galaxies, bent on revenge for having been driven from the planet Earth.  Now he is hiding behind an asteroid (a small planet) hurtling through space.  You've got to maneuver your spaceships around the asteroid and avoid the horror of being caught in Godzilla's radioactive jaws.  The last player to have spaceships on the wheel wins the game and lives to fight the monster another day."

Interestingly, while the game alludes to some continuity by insinuating that Godzilla is out for revenge and "driven from" the Earth, it doesn't quite jive, considering he was Earth's defender in his last several films...not to mention, the helpful sidekick to a boat-crew of humans in the animated series that started airing that fall! There is a bit of continuity to be found though; hold that thought...

What I never grasped, for all these years, was that Godzilla was supposed to be popping out from (or "hiding behind") an asteroid.  I mean, if you look at the artwork for the game, you can see the round edges of a green planet-looking shape, but it took finally obtaining the instruction sheet for me to understand exactly what was going on.  What a strange concept, especially for the time (even though most everything was space-themed in 1978, for the obvious reason)...we wouldn't see anything even close to that idea in an actual film until, what, SPACEGODZILLA? Sort of?

The instructions have some amusing artwork, especially at the bottom of the first page, where happy kids' faces show you where you are supposed to sit...with a large DO NOT SIT HERE, which, you'll note, is exactly where the overacting girl is who steals the show in the commercial!

And, there's a little more strategy involved than I knew of as a kid.  If the spinner stops at a blank space, you are required to move one of your spare (not on the board) spaceships to that space before taking your turn.  Conversely, if the spinner points to one of your own ships, you can actually trade places with one of your opponent's ships "if you think Godzilla is about to strike"!!! We always played the "Quick Fun Game" version, listed at the bottom of the second page, where you replace a ship from your own inventory as soon as it's been nabbed by Godzilla.

Back of the box...hey wait, is that kid on the right in the DO NOT SIT HERE position? Rulebreaker!

Also, note that Mattel would actually send you an entire spare set of 24 more spaceships for a measly two bucks...and it doesn't say anything about shipping and handling! 

The game boasts some incredible, striking artwork, and besides the front of the box, there are three additional portraits of Godzilla to be found around the base itself!

Now, take a close look at that third panel of artwork...do you notice anything interesting?

On the side of the spaceship is "P-1"...now where have I heard that before? Then it struck me:

The P-1 is the name of the spaceship in MONSTER ZERO! My mind is blown.  Now, I should point out that there was a real-world P-1 that blew up on the launching pad in 1959, but clearly our game-makers, or at least the artist, are true fans.

I can't top that, but here are the scans of the instructions, as promised!


The Ken Films Godzilla Guide


I utilized some down time last year to get to the bottom of this particular and unique Godzilla collectible.  We scratched the surface on this subject in our series of Godzilla in the 1960's posts, but now it's past time to complete the discussion, and, once and for all, put these into their proper place on the calendar of Godzilla collectibles. (You often see these films referred to as being from the decade of the 1960's, because people assume that they were released close to their theatrical release dates, but this is not even close to true.  Only two of the films on this list were made available in that decade!)

Home movies were the very first way that you could enjoy a motion picture in your own home, on your own schedule.  Not only that, but for the first time, you could own it.  Granted, these early 8-millimeter films were black-and-white, silent (often with added subtitles), and only excerpts, but film collecting as a hobby had begun.

Ken Films was only one of the companies who issued such films.  They were probably the smartest, because they endeavored to make as many licensing deals with major studios as they possibly could.  Their catalog was large, and they survived into the early days of the VCR.  

Five of the seven releases were are going to examine were available in two lengths:  50-foot reels (which lasted around 3&1/2 minutes) and 200-foot reels (which lasted about 14 minutes).  It is important to point out that the box art, from a front view, is completely identical between these two sizes.  If you are looking at an Internet auction, and you are shown no other items to compare the scale, you will have no way of knowing what you are trying to buy, unless you can see (or ask for) the item number on the spine of the box.  The 50-foot reels had numbers that always started with the digit "5," while the 200-foot reels always began with a "2."

The invention of the Super 8 format in 1965 added variant editions to the films that were released, meaning that there were now four releases for each film (50 and 200 foot versions of both 8mm and Super 8). You might suspect that the arrival of color and sound created even more editions of each film, but this is not the case.  In fact, by the end of our list, Ken Films had dropped the 8mm format completely, as you will see.

1) Rodan the Flying Monster (Ken Films #229 & #529, 1964-65).

8mm: 50 and 200 feet; Super 8: 50 and 200 feet.

You'll notice that Ken Films often merely used stickers to indicate a Super 8 edition.  In the mid-1970's, they changed this practice and began printing a red SUPER 8 box in the upper-right of the artwork (as I said, they dropped 8mm completely at this time, so it made sense).  Not all of the films on this list were reprinted, but I have seen a couple that were, thereby creating another variant, if you are so inclined!

2)Varan the Unbelievable (Ken Films #236 & #536, 1965).

8mm: 50 and 200 feet; Super 8: 50 and 200 feet.

This version of this film has not had an official release since mid-90's VHS!

3) Ghidrah the Three Headed Monster (Ken Films #261 & #561, 1973).
8mm: 50 and 200 feet; Super 8: 50 and 200 feet.

Subtitled "Monster of all Monsters," it's a little confusing, since there are two GHIDRAH releases (the other is often referred to as "Ghidrah Battles"), meaning Ken gave you more of this movie than any of the others (there's even a YouTube video where somebody's edited both together!).  

4) Godzilla vs. The Thing (Ken Films #262 & #562, 1973).

8mm: 50 and 200 feet; Super 8: 50 and 200 feet.

This film was obviously a good seller, because it was also reprinted later when the 8mm version was dropped.

5) Ghidrah the Three Headed Monster Battles Godzilla, Mothra and Rodan for the World! (Ken Films #263 & #563, 1973).

8mm: 50 and 200 feet; Super 8: 50 and 200 feet.

And now you see why people call it "Ghidrah Battles!" 1973 was a banner year for Ken Films kaiju, though!

6) Destroy All Monsters (Ken Films #277, 1975).

Super 8: 200-foot B&W silent, 200-foot B&W sound, 200-foot Color sound.

Here is the most unique film on our list, because it was only available in three types, and all of them were the larger 200-foot versions.  Ken Films wisely realized they had to treat this one right, and God bless them for it (although that's one of the worst depictions of Rodan I've ever seen; he looks like one of those bobbing drinking bird toys).  This compact edition of the Toho classic (featuring the original AIP dub of course) was so good, it was even restored and included on the Tokyo Shock Blu-Ray of the film...which Toho later ruined by pulling all of the Special Features (booooo!).  The color and sound version is an expensive film, if you can find it today.

7) Frankenstein Conquers the World (Ken Films #278, 1975.)

Super 8: 200-foot B&W silent, 200-foot B&W sound.

The only other Toho film that Ken released with sound was the beloved Baragon's initial outing, but they did not take it all the way to glorious color, as they did with DESTROY ALL MONSTERS.  Unfortunately, they merely paid somebody to reproduce artwork from American posters (which was a common Ken Films practice, to varying results), which meant that nobody actually watched the film first, and realized that Baragon was supposed to have ears!

We conclude with a handy chart, showing all of the Ken Films releases we've discussed:

If you're keeping track, that makes a total of 25 films altogether.  


Wes Harrison - The One and Only (1969)


Here is a fun album I picked up recently for a dollar.  Wes Harrison was a comedian who was able make incredible sound effects, using only a Shure microphone.  This self-released LP contains his nightclub routine, and it's a lot of fun.  Some are pretty amazing, in particular, his "train" routine.  My copy looks exactly like the one pictured, in that he hand-signed practically every album he ever sold.  According to Wikipedia, he was even hired to supply sound effects for PETER PAN, 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, and some Tom and Jerry cartoons! Enjoy!

LINK: The One and Only


How to De-Chrome a Vintage Action Figure!


Isn't this an interesting image? Last year, I saw an Ebay seller who kept offering these amazing vintage Kenner Star Wars figures (namely, C-3PO and the Death Star Droid) that were "de-chromed" through a supposedly special process.  He kept ending up with interesting examples such as these:

Which were multi-colored, much as the highly-coveted Kenner prototype figures are, meaning they were made of leftover plastic from various (and test) items.  

From my own experience, any such figures I had ever seen where the vac-metalization had rubbed off were beige in color underneath, so I was curious to perform such an experiment myself, to see if I could get so lucky.  I researched it, and there are several chemicals that you could choose from to accomplish this.

From a website about model car parts, I learned that regular household bleach was the easiest to obtain (since I didn't have any brake fluid lying around), so I went with that.  I figure anything too strong would damage the plastic, anyway.  I first stripped a damaged Death Star Droid I'd ended up with.  It took a few days, and even then required some working over with an old toothbrush.  He ended up completely off-white, as I'd suspected.

The hardest part is to keep the figure submerged, because they are incredibly buoyant.  For my second go around, I found a heavy ring that was part of a lanyard (I think) for nametags, which had a clip, so I attached a loop to the clip that would loosely hold the figure's leg, and still keep it completely under.  This time around, for the C-3PO, I left the figure marinating for a few days longer.  As you can see from the photo, the gold flaked off and turned rust-colored in the bleach, and was quite unappealing.  

For those who may try this stunt themselves, I had to add some extra bleach after three or four days, and all I had the second time was a "splash-proof" brand that is formulated to pour easier...I don't know what they do to it, but it foamed quite a bit, and stayed that way.  It could have been a reaction to the action figure or something, but bleach is something that you want to behave when you are working with it, so I'd recommend the normal variety.  

In the end, the C-3PO was completely beige as well.  I would say "go figure," but that would be a bad pun, and that is frowned upon around here.