It's OK To Say No (Kid Stuff Records, 1985)


We have to talk about this.  Not too long ago, I found this record in a thrift store.  Except that it looked like this:

It was very red.  I didn't realize at first that it was supposed to include a 48-page coloring book.  And it didn't matter, because Kid Stuff was getting into the 1980's safety record, and I recognized the potential for comedy gold.  I had to hear this.  And, it doesn't disappoint.
Let's get the disclaimer fine print stuff over with first.  As it goes without saying, child abuse is not funny, and of course, nobody here is saying that it is.  What is funny is trying really hard to get some of that sweet government grant money by cranking ridiculous records like this out, attempting to address this rather shaky subject matter head on and "seriously," and failing miserably in the process.  Let's face it:  records of this type never helped anybody, and never prevented one crime from ever happening.  "McGruff the Crime Dog" probably did (except for when he sang songs like this), but...this record is no McGruff the Crime Dog, as you will see.  This is equivalent to those vice or health filmstrips they used to show you in junior high, except that you couldn't hear the audio because you were laughing so hard.  

And, speaking of terrible singing, we begin this record with...a rap.  You heard me right.  After all, how else do we get "the kids" to listen? I always imagine decisions like this being made around a boardroom table, because it makes sense to me, but don't do that here, because this is Kid Stuff records.  There was no board.  Just a guy and somebody's brother-in-law who said they could "make a rap" for a case of beer.  As soon as it starts, you know you are onto something amazing.  It has a ridiculously sweet and out-of-place synthesizer--which is one in the Plus Column--but then the guy begins the whitest lyrics ever, and a chorus you will never free from the innards of your head once you have heard it.  All of this is bad enough, but it's this last verse that particularly annoys me:

You need to have a good kind of love
Don't be afraid to kiss and hug
But just make sure before you do
That happiness will come back to you

I don't think happiness as a motivation is the point we want to get across here.  After all, couldn't that also be the motivation of the criminal/perpetrator, too? This record is supposed to be about running away from danger; could we not have thrown together a stronger concluding verse, and maybe do a better job of firmly coming down on the side of, oh I don't know, non-molestation? FAIL.  And it's just the first of many.

The main takeaway of this record is this: if an adult approaches you and/or asks you a question, you should shriek "NOOOOO!" like you are on fire and then run away screaming.  I wonder how many kids got in huge trouble by just following this record? "This will be on your homework, class...Tommy, what is 3 times 3?" "NOOOOOO!!!!! ARGGHHHH!"

I haven't even mentioned that the entire coloring book has been obtained at great expense (ok, a great six bucks) and completely scanned for your enjoyment here! You should listen to the record without it first like I did, because when you do read along, it's an incredible let-down, and your imagination was a million times better.  In fact, let's look at some of the mighty fails that the book provides!

Right off the bat, we see an oversized green parrot with an orange vest and hat, on the center of the cover.  Ah, every kids' record needs a mascot, right? Is this the narrator of the record? Nope.  Is this a guide for the various children who are featured in the coloring book? Nope. Does he ever speak? Nope.  Does he even have a name? Nope, nope, nope.  He will make continuous random appearances with no explanation.  For the purposes of this post, though, we will give him the name of "Gropey."  As you can see here, these children are completely oblivious to Gropey's presence, even though he looks like he's about to go full Schoolhouse Rock and burst into song.

Throughout the book, Gropey watches the children get propositioned...usually from a safe distance.

Also, Gropey brings a level of paranoia to the procedings.

How about "YES PLEASE" or "Where do I sign?"...actually don't be dismayed, that's just that kid's agent. Also, disembodied Gropey head ...in the sky...?

Like your shoulder!

Actually, no, that's Fargo North, Decoder, from The Electric Company! He's cool.

Also, always hide the solvents when they come over. But that's a different record, isn't it!? (Gropey disaproves).

We could go on all day! I haven't even mentioned:
*the amount of pointless filler in the coloring book
*the other hideous songs filling space on the record (there's one that will shock you when it starts as totally rocking background music, and then they put words to it and ruin it).  
*the narcoleptic narrator
*page 9, where Gropey looks on from inside the house of the neighbor woman who wants to touch you
*the fact that this whole exercise amounts to a minute and a half of content repeated and stretched out to over 28 minutes (the opening rap is presented again in full at the end, because of course it is)

What else can we say (besides NO)? There's no way to adequately prepare you for this.  Scream NO at someone today, won't you?


Godzilla vs. Megalon CD-ROM (Chestnut/CDRP, Inc., 1994)

LIMITED TIME OFFER! Download the contents of this CD-ROM! Mega-rare, mega-BAD. Happy Thanksgiving.

LINK:  Megalon CD-ROM

I'm not sure where to even begin on this one.  I'm featuring it in a post because it's one of the most unique releases of a Godzilla movie in the United States, and seems to be the only one of its kind.  However, it's also the single worst piece of Godzilla-related home video in existence, by far.  

Take yourself back to 1994.  (If you weren't there, just take my word for it; after all, we've never steered you astray yet.)  The mania of home computers had been slowly building over the last ten years, and the general public was beginning to hear about this Internet thing existing, where you could do stuff.  The problem up to this point was, there wasn't really that much you could effectively do on your IBM PC Junior.  I mean, they wanted you to, but most people found no good reason to stop writing in their checkbook ledger and instead type it all into a non-user-friendly computer before Windows 3.1, just to be able to say they were doing it.

But suddenly, by 1994, there was a huge push to do everything that you physically could on your own home computer.  Even stupid, mundane things, like print your own birthday party invitations (even though scanners sucked, and printers sucked, and most likely weren't color anyhow, but instead dot-matrix abominations that, hey, at least could do...banners).  Those users who could get to the Internet were usually mired in bulletin board type things, as the rise of the website hadn't really happened yet.  Enter the CD-ROM; a magical disc full of data that you could reference, and look stuff up.  Suddenly (to overuse that word), scores of them appeared everywhere, which were usually in reality just books on disc.  You now had libraries of recipes, movie guides, medical information...even though you probably already had this on your shelves in...you know, actual books...but now you were doing it ON YOUR COMPUTER.  You had arrived.

And then somebody figured out how to compress the holy tar out of video, and realized you could even put movies on a CD-ROM, although this idea stayed off in its own corner, because the DVD format was in the process of launching, and it wasn't about to derail that as the next choice for officially-released home media.  But none of that mattered, because you could watch the CD-ROM...ON YOUR COMPUTER.

Which brings us full circle.  Do you recall the old maxim of "just because you can, doesn't mean you should," which is actually a universal law? Well, it applies in spades to this concept, as we are about to see.  

Alpha Video, one of the many purveyors of public domain VHS, took advantage of this new public fascination with CD-ROMs and put some of their titles on disc, under the brand name of "Chestnut" (their logo is just unfortunate, and that's all we are going to say about that).  Even if you take into account that the tools necessary to use this product include a 386 computer with Windows 3.1, you're still going to be shocked how excruciatingly bad this disc is.  

There's a great joke to be made here about how the Godzilla movie chosen is MEGALON--it would be MEGALON after all, because it's probably the most-bootlegged movie in the history of the world, and for years was the go-to Godzilla movie for even the most nobody of nobodies to release on home video (even into the DVD era).  Public domain releases commonly consisted of cropped, dirty 16mm prints...but this, my friends, takes the proverbial cake.

But what did Alpha Video have to say about the "quality" of their product? Here is the back of the artwork:

If you prefer bullet points, here is the rundown:
* "best possible video images"
* "Chestnut employs only state-of-the-art video equipment and software"
* "professionally mastered"
* "high resolution professional capture equipment"
* "state-of-the-art image compression"
* "remastered and digitally enhanced"
Of particular interest to me was "The faster your system, the better the image quality will be!" which we in the modern era know isn't even close to being true.

It's also funny to me that they go out of their way to tell you it's a public domain work, but that you can't do anything with it, except that you can use it royalty-free for things...but don't sue them. And one of the many reasons you can't sue them is for "inability to use the product." Um, what?

And now, if you've hung on this long, click upon these screenshots, ye mighty, and despair!


What are we even looking at? Would you have any clue, if you were seeing this for the first time? A cactus and a tumbleweed?! And yes, friends, that is a BURN MARK on the print.

Somebody accidentally hit "Posterize" in Photoshop.

That line at the right has more screen time in the film than Godzilla.

I know monitors were more square back then, but I left the sides of the screenshots intact, so you could see how cropped and terrible this print really was, before they went and enhanced it and made it look more like dark amoebas under a microscope than an actual movie.  Remember the terribleness of Real Player, in the early days of the Internet's popularity? Well, this disc makes Real Player look like real life.  Not to mention the omnipresent lines, scratches, and even burn marks.  It's just that bad.  They even fail hard at placing their own logo as a watermark in the corner, which isn't even legible.  And I haven't even mentioned the audio, which is a complete train wreck of skips and awfulness!

I was about to say how shocking it was that they didn't even bother to commission artwork for the front of this turkey, and used one of their own murky screenshots.  This caused me to go back and look at the cover more closely:

Somebody colored in Godzilla's teeth.  Or more accurately, removed pixels like you do in Microsoft Paint.  Somebody's boss decided this blob on the cover didn't resemble Godzilla closely enough, and told an underling to fix his teeth!  Unbelievable.

Dear Toho:  please come and take your movie back so it won't be public domain any more.  Oh wait, you already did.  Thank you! I think.  


Godzilla - The Deadly Asteroid (Hanna-Barbera, 1979) Production Artwork!


I was lucky enough to acquire several pieces of production artwork from the original Hanna-Barbera GODZILLA show, and as it turns out, they are all from the very same episode, which was Episode 26 - THE DEADLY ASTEROID.  Not only is this episode from the still-shamefully-unreleased-on-home-video-to-this-day second season, but it's also the very last episode! 

The gallery that I purchased these pieces from (see end of post for info) showed screenshots from where a couple of the backgrounds were actually used in the finished show, and this inspired me to find the rest of the pieces as well, which was a fun scavenger hunt through this episode, which we can now look at together.

But first, you should have a rundown of the plot, for context.  This is a very SUPERFRIENDS-like episode, because the crew of the Calico finds a UFO that's landed in the Arctic, and it's full of ice aliens from the planet Frios who attempt to use a ray to grab an asteroid (I think planetoid is a better word) that looks similar to the Moon, and pull it towards the Earth, causing general chaos and attempting to create another Ice Age (not the terrible CGI movie).

The leader of the aliens is even voiced by Stan Jones, who was always Lex Luthor, so there you go.

Now that we have established the story, our first background painting comes from early in the episode, where the crew has launched a submarine from the Calico in an effort to go deeper into the icy waters, where they discover the UFO.  Here is the background for the interior of the mini-sub:
And, here is the way it was ever-so-briefly used in the episode:

Likewise for the next piece, which is the front window of the sub, and is actually a background painting with most of the right side completely cut away! An unpainted cel is glued behind it, which you can see below:

Instead of being coded as "BG" for background, it's coded as "UL" for underlay, which is extremely interesting, because here is how it was actually used in the finished episode:

Pete and Dr. Darien are looking at frozen sea life, but everything outside of the window is simply black.  It appears that animation below this background was intended but never used, either for reasons of time or cost, or perhaps both?  

After the crew disembarks in a giant ice cave, they discover the UFO and peer through its icy window.  This was accomplished with three layers, the topmost being the inner wall of the UFO:

Which looked like this when it was all put together:

If only that group cel still existed somewhere!

Captain Majors ends up producing a screwdriver and unscrewing the screws (luckily for us, even aliens use flathead screws) on a grating, allowing he and Darien to enter the UFO.  What's really interesting is this next piece, which I could find nowhere in my three studious scourings of this episode:
You'll notice it's coded as "OL" for overlay, which tells me the original plan was to have our heroes see the aliens at work through the grating, which was deemed too difficult or expensive, and therefore just skipped.  Also notice that it definitely belongs to the show, because it's coded 124-26 (124 being the production number for the series, and the 26th episode).

Majors and Darien enter the UFO, encounter the aliens, and get chased around, where the following cels are used:
This overlay looks like this in the finished product:

And here is another console that I didn't even catch at first, because it's actually covered up by the animation in this case (hence UL for underlay):

By the way, every time I type the word "underlay," all I can think of is this:
Underlay! Underlay!

Back to the story...Pete, Brock, and Godzooky are left outside in the ice cave, where the aliens attack and freeze everyone but Pete, who is hiding behind a frozen structure:
This overlay seems incredibly lackluster at first glance, but it must've been deemed necessary to cover something up, or enhance it, because here it is in the finished episode:
Notice that the cel says "OLUL" for both, and I think that's because it was actually in the middle, here.  If you look closely, you can see that Pete's hand is actually overlapping the shaded spots in the ice.  

The aliens do manage to pull the planetoid down somewhat, at least close enough to destroy several world landmarks and screw up the oceans (again, a very SUPERFRIENDS move, but in that show, you always knew that Superman would undo whatever happened, and in his sleep, even).  However, they are thwarted (of course) by the crew of The Calico, with a little help from Godzilla.  Speaking of Godzilla, he actually does precious little in this episode, but I've saved the best for last.  

There is one sequence--the second time he is summoned--where Godzilla has to punch through a solid mountain of ice to get to his friends.  This was accomplished by layering translucent airbrushed overlay cels, and looks pretty awesome in the episode.  And here are those very cels:

Looking like this in the finished product:

Perhaps someday this complete animated series will finally get the proper release that it deserves, which will allow us some clearer screenshots.  Toho is in the midst of uploading the episodes to YouTube (strangely, divided into thirds) so we will see what happens.  

Lastly, I didn't want to conclude this post without mentioning the Charles Scott Gallery in Agoura Hills, California, who sold me some of the amazing pieces shown above (and still have the rest available for sale!).  Not only do they have a giant inventory of all types of animation artwork (over 6,700 pieces on Ebay!), comic-related art, and more, but the folks I dealt with were some of the nicest and most professional that you could imagine.  I had an issue with my first order, and they went out of their way to make it right.  If you're looking to own a piece of your favorite movie, cartoon, or animated series, check out their massive inventory; you won't be disappointed!