Today, let's address a handful of random, Godzilla-related things that have piled up, but don't really have a place of their own. Hopefully, this won't be too boring or disjointed:
First off, since the best coverage you can find regarding the famous Mattel Shogun Godzilla is off-site, it became obvious that the instructions aren't included anywhere here, so let's quickly rectify that with some high-quality scans, in case somebody is missing them:
|Let's pause for a moment, and test your Godzilla knowledge, with this 1978 comic book ad. Or not.|
You probably know that one of the flagship items in Trendmaster's two Godzilla lines are the boxed action figures with sound (the company referred to them as "6-inch," but in reality they are closer to 5 inches tall). Here is the back of the box for the GODZILLA WARS series:
|"Snap into a Slim Jim!"|
Godzilla had his own View-Master reels, which came in several permutations, including but not limited to:
...which were all part of the merchandising campaign that included the Hanna-Barbera animated series (they were able to keep the license a few years)...and also lots of other good stuff.
This calendar measures 17 x 23 inches, so it's not too giant, but still big enough to see. What's more, and you couldn't plan this better if you tried: it lines up with 2023. It's like fate.
These sorts of things are very hard to photograph, so here is a photo that is slightly sharper than the one above, just a bit more skewed. Just in case anyone wants to actually use one. Otherwise, you'll have to wait until 2034!
A small metal film can arrived in the mail this week, about 4 inches in diameter. Inside was a short roll of 35mm film!
I didn't know it way back in the day, but yet another of my favorite toy lines also came from Japan (doesn't everything?). Back then, the whole line was shrouded in mystery, but today, we know its complete origins.
In 1985, completely out of nowhere and in the middle of a toy world dominated by 4-inch action figures, Mattel suddenly launched packages of 2-inch, flesh-colored, non-posable rubber wrestling figures, and a new toy line was born. They christened it "M.U.S.C.L.E.," and went so far as to make it an acronym, standing for "Millions of Unusual Small Creatures Lurking Everywhere." Their permutations seemed endless, as did the amount of different figures available. After all, they said "Millions" right there in the title!
As it turned out, Mattel had entered into a partnership with Bandai (which wasn't their first) to bring figures from a popular Japanese franchise, Kinnikuman, to America. Kinnikuman encompassed comics, animated series(es), toys, and much more, and had run for years (and still does). Every figure had a name, and was a character from the long-running series' universe. But instead of adopting the property, they simply dumped the figures on the toy-buying public. They did bother to change the lead character to "Muscleman," and rename a character "Terri-Bull" to serve as the bad guy, but everything else, including the allegiance of each character, was up to you. And you know what? It worked.
Like many folks, I prefer adaptations that are as accurate as possible for Japanese properties brought over here, but the lack of any information with this line really sparked kids' imaginations. You made your own teams; it was wide open for interpretation. "Hey, this guy is a light bulb; this guy is made of bricks!" (One guy was actually a urinal, but we didn't know that at the time, and neither did Mattel, I'm sure.) One thing that Mattel/Bandai did right was to make the figures harder rubber, and much more durable. In Japan, they were part of the "keshi" craze; soft rubber, eraser-like figures that come out of gashapon machines [see this post for an awesome Godzilla keshi set].
So how many figures were there? In that first year, a mail-order promotion began appearing, allowing you to order your own poster checklist, which revealed that there were 233 figures. However, this wasn't the whole story, because the Wrestling Ring playset included 2 exclusive figures, and there is also one rare non-poster figure that somehow got in (and in recent years has been proven to exist in sealed packages), setting the officially-accepted count for a complete flesh-colored set at 236.
|And, an entire set of 236 fits in an "oversized-shoebox" size archival box! We should do a post on everything we've learned about how to store things safely long-term (yes, they are all individually bagged, but don't buy your ziploc bags at Michaels or Wal-Mart. You want polypropylene, NOT polyethylene.|
After the first year, Mattel could've kept adding new figures, but instead the decision was made to re-issue existing figures in new colors. Sometime during that second year, kids' interest waned, and the line folded and blew away in the wind. It would've been interesting to see the animated series adapted and new figures issued, but it wasn't meant to be.
There is quite a bit of confusion over the colored figures; for example, not every figure is available in every color (in fact, far from it). Also, counting the original flesh color, there are ten different colors available, as can be seen below:
The light purple color is mega-rare, because only five figures were made that way, which we will get to in a moment. First, let's talk about the ways that the M.U.S.C.L.E. (I hate typing that) figures were sold.