7/22/22

Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee (Atari, 2002)

 

GameCube Art (US)

We've been told that this year is the "Year of Gigan," and not much has happened in that direction yet (we haven't officially wrapped up the "Year of Hedorah" at this point, but hey, what's the hurry), but there is another Godzilla anniversary coming up this fall, and that is the 20th anniversary of the DESTROY ALL MONSTERS MELEE video game!

XBox Art (US)

Only the 7th Godzilla video game to be released in the United States, Pipeworks Software did everything they could to deliver the Godzilla game that everyone had always wanted:  not platforming, not strategy, not a puzzle game...but pure unadulterated kaiju combat, including 11 different monsters (plus Mothra could be summoned for an attack). 

GameCube Art (Japan and UK)

Was it a perfect game? No; in fact, lots of people prefer the sequel (SAVE THE EARTH), and I'd probably agree with that, but it was super fun, obviously a labor of love, ground-breaking in the history of Godzilla video games...AND had an equally ambitious ad campaign.  

We could talk all day about this game, its soundtrack, concept art, etc., but it's this ad campaign that I want to focus on today.  I only recently found out (20 years later) that the poster included with Nintendo Power was completely different than the one included with other magazines! Here is the front of both fold-out posters:

My kind of centerfold.

And here is the back of the poster, if you bought NINTENDO POWER Vol. 162 (November 2002):

And here is the back of the poster if you purchased another magazine (in this case, GAMEPRO #170, also from November 2002):


Who knew? Not me, for a couple decades anyway.  As you can see, it has the clever Japanese newspaper-style artwork that we will see more of in a moment.  I originally thought the alternate back must refer to the XBox, but it turns out that the game wasn't released on XBox until the following Spring of 2003! 


Now, onto the newspaper-style ads, which actually began at the E3 convention that year.  Above is a poster/flyer announcing the game, which I just recently added to my collection.  It measures 13 x 21", is printed to look like a newspaper, but on much heavier stock, and was apparently only distributed at the E3 show.  Here is the back:


The attention to small details really sell the concept--here are some close-ups of some of the photos and their captions:



These design elements were also used for comic book and magazine ads at the time.  It's unclear exactly how many there were; I've always intended to buy out lots of comics from 50-cent bins from late 2002/early 2003 and see if I could track more of them down, but it's a daunting task (made worse by the lack of 50-cent bins anymore).

There was a television commercial, as well, which you can find on YouTube:

Also, there was a Stategy Guide book released for the game, by Prima.  Remember strategy guides? This was the only Godzilla game in the U.S. that had one.


Finally, mention should be made of the companion GameBoy Advance title that was simultaneously released in 2002, but despite what anyone says, it's not the same game, or even a port.  GODZILLA DOMINATION utilized the same cover art, and the same basic concept, but was completely its own animal...er, kaiju.  And was tons of fun.  You could be Mothra in that one, though. 


Of course, Pipeline/Infogrames/Atari would return a couple years later, for a sequel, but that's another story, for another anniversary!

7/13/22

Mrs. Miller's Greatest Hits (Capitol, 1966)

 

Take a good look at the album cover above.  You've probably seen it in your life in your travels.  If you are a connoisseur of awful music, you definitely know about it.  I learned of the existence of Mrs. Miller way back in my Dr. Demento days as a kid.  The whole record only adds up to maybe 26 minutes of content, but what a content it is!

There have been several novelty-record examples of people singing badly over the years, some for different reasons.  Depending on what you read, it's unclear whether Mrs. Miller was in on the joke completely or not.  In one interview she later claimed to have been purposefully conducted to sing off-rhythm, and while that sounds good on paper, I'm not sure how believable that is, in reality.   She was obviously somebody who loved and wanted to sing, and because of this record she was everywhere for a short time, going on all the variety and talk shows you could name...and you can only do that for so long before you go full-on Florence Foster Jenkins and believe that you're good.

Apart from the rather dated examples chosen for this, her first full LP, which was ironically titled "Greatest Hits" as a joke, you'll quickly come to realize her...uniqueness.  If you need an example, I would venture that you could play her "A Hard Day's Night" to just about anyone, and enjoy their face changing as they slowly sink into revulsion as it plays out...but to me the ultimate Mrs. Miller song is the awful "A Lover's Concerto," which is a terrible song in its own rite, anyhow, but taken to new operatic heights under her prowess.  Petula Clark's "Downtown" is a close second, only because she breaks into bird calls and whistling at the end, unbelievably.  There are some moments of complete, sappy dreck, such as "Shadow of Your Smile" or "My Love," which in my opinion was just Capitol Records using tracks which didn't cost them any money.  

And then there are the other moments, the ones you came for.  Somebody thought it would be a hoot to have Mrs. Miller sing the chimney sweep song from MARY POPPINS--straight--and drop her h's while doing so.  Good 'eavens, I thought Dick Van Dyke's version was bad.  Also, don't miss the other timely pop moments for the swingin' youngsters:  if she's bewildered at the Four Season's "Let's Hang On," she sounds completely befuddled in the Motown wanna-be "Gonna Be Like That," as if she'd wandered into a Tamla recording session with dead hearing aids.  But my greatest moments of dread were reserved for, you guessed it..."These Boots Are Made For Walkin'," where some producer coaxed Mrs. Miller to act sultry, in which my skin actually crawled.  It's nothing short of staggering.

I usually say something about enjoying the download.  It's just not the right word, in this case.

LINK:  Mrs. Miller's Greatest Hits

7/11/22

GODZILLA vs. MEGALON Newspaper Advertisement Printing Block (1976)

 

We have talked about these before, and looked at both ends of the process, but in short, this was how newspaper ads used to be made.  This is a wooden block which has a metal slab connected to it, which was then set by a typesetter, forming the layout for a a vintage newspaper page! Here is another view, which better illustrates what I'm describing:


This one measures 3.5 x 5 inches, but they of course were all sizes.  The printing surface was made by pouring molten metal into a mold (I was under the impression that lead was used, but in this case the seller told me it was actually zinc), which was actually made of paper pulp and looked like this:


To see more views of this KING KONG vs. GODZILLA ad mold, see my post about it.  The metal piece was then attached to the block that you see, and embossed with a code number on the side.  

Here is the image flipped, showing us what the ad looked like:


In fact, it's very close to this ad, from the MEGALON pressbook:


But, interestingly, not quite identical.  Apparently the ads in the molds were often unique?

It goes without saying that these things were often thrown away.  I'm sure any molds that survived do so only because they were unused.  I can only imagine how busy a vintage newspaper printing facility was, and probably had ads and their molds running out the windows. At one time, I bet you could obtain dumpster-loads of these sorts of things...now gone and forgotten!

7/8/22

Godzilla TelTel Pet (Bandai, 1989)

 

Wouldn't it be cool if you had a cute and chubby plush Godzilla that would let you know when you got a telephone call, because you're always wearing headphones and drinking wine? It would, wouldn't it? Well, Japan to the rescue, once again!

This is exactly the kind of help that Bandai provided to us (well, not us, people living in Japan, I guess) in 1989, with their "TelTel Pets" series.  

If you recall, landline telephones in 1989 weren't too different than phones in previous years.  Touch tones had come in to stay, answering machines were rapidly becoming affordable, and things like Call Waiting and Caller ID (look them up) were on the horizon.  Long distance was a big deal.  Bandai needed a way to accessorize your telephone in a new way, which they did.

This device included a splitter which plugged into the wall jack, allowing your normal telephone to connect, but also providing an 1/8" headphone-type jack for Godzilla to connect to.  When you received an incoming call, Godzilla would roar, getting your attention, somehow, away from all of the distractions of modern life, as you can see on the box below:

Also available were TelTel puppy, kitty, bird (I get it, the "pet" theme), and...hey! That's Ultraman! I wonder if he SHUWATCHed when a call came in?

It's pretty clear from the box that having Godzilla connected means that it stops your actual phone from ringing, because having him try to roar and compete with a ringing phone would be dumb, and who would buy that.  


Also, the length of the cord provided with Godzilla meant that he could be around the corner from the actual phone, in case for some reason you couldn't hear your telephone when it rang, due to your Super Sentai shows being turned up so loud.


This Godzilla is not only adorable, but very unique, and I'm glad I worked out a deal with the seller, because I've never seen one of these come up for sale, and how do you even begin to value him? 


The downside (besides the fact that he takes two D batteries) is that I really can't try him out.  I was one of the last stragglers to divest myself of a landline telephone, so I can't even find out if he still works.  I like to imagine he does. Oh well! 


7/6/22

GODZILLA vs. THE SMOG MONSTER Vintage Stills!

I really should leave the last post at the top of the blog for a while, but I have so many things to cover in the coming weeks, we will just have to keep moving! Here is a lovely set of vintage stills for GODZILLA vs. THE SMOG MONSTER that I recently received.  I know, I know--it was last year that was the "Year of Hedorah," and we are now more than halfway through the "Year of Gigan," but that shouldn't hinder our enjoyment of these great vintage items, which I have scanned in high quality for your enjoyment!



Flying form Hedorah!


This is what an actual uphill battle looks like.


This is another of those infamous Toho airbrush monstrosity conglomerates.  Perhaps the effects weren't completed yet? Who knows.

It's amazing how most of these vintage glossy 8x10" stills have been gobbled up by...folks like me.  When they do appear these days, it's very rare to find decent prices anymore!

7/1/22

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

We aren't going to let any grass grow in getting this masterpost completed.  After all, too much can happen! With my luck, a meteorite with my name on it could come through the ceiling at any moment, so let's act fast.

Where were we? Ah, yes:

6) WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS & MONSTER ZERO (UPA/Donald Velde) Two ads (60 and 30 seconds) adorn this 7-inch 45 rpm disc released by Henry Saperstein's UPA.  You can see here a turning point beginning, because in past years there would've been more ads made.  The pressbook (seen here) gives a cursory single line and says you can "order [them] free."  Strangely, I have the shorter spot, and only half of the longer one for some reason.  I think maybe it was a preview from when a copy was for sale, and the seller didn't want to give the whole farm away, I can't remember for sure. In either case, here they are:

WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS & MONSTER ZERO Radio Ads

7) DESTROY ALL MONSTERS (American International) Here, we get really lucky, because all four of these glorious ads were included on the awesome Tokyo Shock Blu-Ray...that was immediately withdrawn because Toho had a hissy fit.  This is also a 7-inch, 45 rpm disc, whose existence the pressbook (seen here) very briefly mentions, saying ads were "FREE in 60 and 30 second segments."  Also, this is the place to say that you probably recognize the mighty voice in these recordings.  It's none other than William Woodson, narrator of years and years of SUPERFRIENDS, as well as the great BATTLE OF THE PLANETS!

DESTROY ALL MONSTERS Radio Spots


8) GODZILLA vs. THE SMOG MONSTER (American International) Another 7-inch, 45 rpm disc, which for a while was the format for radio spots it seems.  In a reversal of what we've seen, A.I. gives us a verbose, flowery paragraph in the pressbook (they always were good at ballyhoo): "...sound and the fury of the battle sequences and the reactions of the people have been recorded and combined with provocative narration to stimulate the imagination of radio listeners...and they should be used liberally in time slots which cater to the community's youngsters. The spots are 60 and 30 seconds in length and have been combined on one 45 rpm disc for your convenience." Who could argue with that? (By the way, you can see the whole pressbook here!) Only the shorter of the two ads has surfaced over the years:


ADDENDUM: Special thanks to Anonymous, who in the Comments section below points us toward an American International repackage of quadruple features (circa early-to-mid 1970's) that not only included SMOG MONSTER (and also GODZILLA vs. THE THING) in their "Monster Marathon," but even had a special radio spot made for the occasion! AI was really good about making double, triple, and even quadruple features out of their films at this time, and often the two mentioned above (and sometimes DESTROY ALL MONSTERS) were included! He was kind enough to include an archive.org link where you can actually hear/download it! See the Comments below! We really should give out No-Prizes around here like Marvel did in the good old days.


9) GODZILLA ON MONSTER ISLAND (Cinema Shares) Here we take a sharp right-hand turn (I told you things would get weird).  There was no pressbook issued for this film (which you probably know was actually GODZILLA vs. GIGAN, and didn't make it to the US until 1977), so we have nothing to go by.  This is yet another item that was first shared on this very blog and exists nowhere else, and it was issued as a 5-inch reel-to-reel tape...only?  It doesn't mean that a 45 doesn't exist, but there is no evidence of one anywhere.  It would be awesome if a vinyl form did surface, because unfortunately one of the ads on my tape was degraded and garbled.  I did my best to reconstruct it--which you can see and download at this post, including a video with subtitles.


10?) GODZILLA vs. MEGALON (Cinema Shares/Donald Velde) And now, the mystery I promised you last time. If I was strictly going in chronological order, this would come before the last entry, as MEGALON was released in the USA in 1976.  Take note of this, because not only was the campaign extremely ambitious for MEGALON, but it was the last Godzilla film issued with a pressbook (which is a very fun read, at this post).  Now, as I said, the promotion for MEGALON was taken to new heights--there was a comic book, four different pinback buttons, the "Godzilla For President" campaign--it went on and on.  There were the usual TV ads, and as you can see above, the pressbook tells us there were "Radio Spots (30 second)." The problem is, they don't seem to be anywhere.  Were they also only issued on reel-to-reel tape, and no longer exist? Did everyone involved throw them away? We may never know.  

It ends this list on a downer, but we were going to anyway, because this is the paragraph where I plead to you, if you are owner of any of the material that's missing from these two posts, don't just sit on it, but digitize it and share it with Godzilla fans on YouTube or something.  You own it, it's a mega-rarity, and nobody can take that away from you, but why not make these pieces of Godzilla history available for the generations to come?  If you have nowhere to host it, space at The Sphinx is always available to you.  Did you know that everything we've talked about in the last two posts that has come to light only adds up to a mere twelve minutes of content? This could easily be doubled, and the entirety of Godzilla radio spots could be reunited, and sit together in one archive.  Think about it, won't you?


It's starting to sound like a telethon around here, so we better stop now...I hope you've enjoyed this in-depth look at what's mostly a lost part of Godzilla history.  Do you have any of these items for sale? No, you don't.  If you did though, and would rather have money than dumb old records, you could always contact us!*

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*Worth a try.