9/20/17

Jack Benny, Vol. II (Radio Spirits, 2002)

I seldom run across these sort of CD's, amongst all the gospel, Christmas music, and out-of-fashion pop music that gluts the shelves of thrift stores.  But when I do, it's always worth it.  Here are two very entertaining episodes of Jack Benny's 1950 radio show.  The first one includes cameos by Frank Sinatra, Rosalind Russell, and Gene Kelly.  The second stars none other than Jimmy Stewart. Enjoy!
  
LINK:  Jack Benny, volume II

9/15/17

Megalon in PETER PARKER, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN (#2, Jan. 1977)

"Jerk"? Not very nice...but, New Yorkers, whatta you gonna do.
I was doing some reading last weekend, and ran into this panel, which is from PETER PARKER, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #2...I immediately thought of the "lost" bumpers from the NBC prime-time airing of GODZILLA vs. MEGALON, which, as every Godzilla fan has heard, featured host bumpers by John Belushi, wearing a Godzilla suit.  (I use the term "lost" because, apparently, recordings of this one-hour airing have never surfaced, and if someone has them, they aren't sharing.)
Note:  Even though on the cover, they are fighting above a marquee for THE OMEN (released June 25, 1976), in the actual comic this can't be seen.  Typical of comic covers.)

The weird thing is, though, the cover of that comic is dated JANUARY 1977.  That got me thinking, which is always perilous at best.  I did some digging, and read lots of the various kaiju and monster forums...which reminded me why I don't read various kaiju and monster forums anymore.  Lots of bloviating and know-it-all-ing--not to mention arguing--by some of the same people who are still around today.  Anyhow, somebody had attached a scan of a TV GUIDE issue from 1977, which unfortunately had long since disappeared.  That led me to a listing at this website, which reproduces TV schedules for the entire decade of the 1970's.   It says that the special in question aired on Tuesday, March 15, 1977 (simultaneously to the debut of both EIGHT IS ENOUGH and THREE'S COMPANY on ABC, interestingly enough).  With the air date finally nailed down, I remembered the discrepancy in comic book cover dates.  Here is what Wikipedia says (from this article):

"The general practice of most mainstream comic book companies since the creation of the comic book in the 1930s was to date individual issues by putting the name of a month (and much later the year as well) on the cover which was generally two months after the release date. For example, a 1951 issue of Superman which had the cover date of July would have been published two months earlier from that date in the month of May, generally speaking. In 1973 the discrepancy between the cover date and the publishing date went from two months to three months."

That certainly muddies the water quite a bit, meaning that the issue was published in the fall of 1976, which means it wasn't a reference to the Belushi broadcast at all, but to exactly what the woman in the panel says:  a movie promotion.  The marketing push for GODZILLA vs. MEGALON was very big, and was actually quite successful (you can see the Cinema Shares pressbook in this post.)  IMDB says that the film was released in the USA in April of 1976 (before the days of summer "blockbusters.")  With everything else that Cinema Shares was doing, and encouraging theater personnel to do to promote the film, they also apparently must have done some costumed publicity appearances.  (If I had access to newspaper archives, I would love to find a photo of one of those.)  So, that explains that.


Incidentally, the Godzilla suit used in the Belushi host segments was reportedly made by Robert Short, and used in the movie HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD (1976).  It was also used in Saturday Night Live, the very same week of the MEGALON broadcast, on the March 19, 1977 episode, in a skit where Godzilla (again, Belushi) is interviewed by Gilda Radner's Barbara Walters character.  I had also remembered an additional Godzilla appearance from a later show, in a skit that was a fake promo for KRAMER vs. GODZILLA (February 16, 1980), but that was an entirely different (and lesser) suit, just in case anyone was wondering, like I was.  


9/1/17

The Things That I See (continued)


We haven't done one of these in a while, and I still see things, so here are a few:
Seen recently at a Goodwill, right between 12 copies of HOME ALONE and 40 copies of the 1998 American GODZILLA.  I don't know what to make of this.  Surely it must be, uh, educational, but it's lost on me.  The cover art isn't helping, either....I mean, somebody got paid to work on this. Probably.  Everyone has to eat, but this doesn't strike me as something you put atop your resume.  Of course, when I returned to that particular Goodwill, this tape was long gone! So we will never know.
I am also stumped at this one...what does it do? What is it for? "It shoots aluminum jerky, silly!" is the answer I keep getting when I ask people.

Now, this one is just dumb.  We all know that his name is Mickey! I am calling obvious bootleg on this one.

"Hey, Kids! It's Flamey!"  "Hiya, kids!"
It has recently come to my attention, in opening my gas bill, that my gas company has adopted a "mascot" who is nothing more than an open flame.  Is this really a good idea? Yes, I hear you cry, there is such a thing as a "pilot light," but how many random people that you run into on the street even know what that refers to? Therefore, when I paid my last bill, I submitted my own humble idea to them:
"Gassy" makes much more sense, if our goal is to anthropomorphize natural gas, don't you think? Meaning, "Gassy" is much less likely to get people blown up.  
So far, no response from the gas company regarding my suggestion.  And, the gas at my house is still on, so...so far, so good.

8/28/17

Godzilla 1985 CED (New World Video, 1986)

Even though you can't buy this exact version of this exact Godzilla film on DVD or Blu-Ray, you can find it in several formats that aren't supported anymore, like Betamax, VHS, Laserdisc, and CED, which is pretty ironic. 

Also interesting is this fact:  from researching the various databases online regarding the CED format, only three Toho kaiju films were even offered on CED in America, during the 1981-1986 time period that these discs were produced.  They are Godzilla - King of the Monsters, Rodan, and this disc!

Another fun fact is that the seller that sold me this disc also sold me a very clean copy of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK for $1.50...you can't beat that! 

8/8/17

1980-something Spaceman Reunion!


7/28/17

Petster Godzilla: The Electronic Pet Movie Monster (Axlon, 1987)

Everyone remembers the "electronic pet" craze of the 1990's, and it never really has gone away!  However, there are two kinds:  the "virtual" (or, digital pet, that you can never actually hug) and the "plush."  Motorized stuffed animals were nothing new, and have been around for decades, but in the mid-1980's, the Petster entered the fold:

According to a website I will link to momentarily, Axlon was a company that grew out of a startup founded by Nolan Bushnell of Atari & Chuck E. Cheese fame.  In 1985, they released their first batch of Petsters, complicated electronic pets with dome-shaped bodies, that were like nothing ever seen before.  Two years later, the Deluxe Petsters arrived, including our friend here. In the late 1980's, they went out of business, and were believed to be acquired by Hasbro.

Now, I will direct you to this excellent website for more technical information.  You can read more details about the sensors and gearboxes that made the Petster work, and even see naked Petsters, fur removed, revealing a confusing mass of circuit-boards, wires, and gears! They have a Petster Deluxe manual that can be downloaded for free, and also a page on the Petster Godzilla, showing his inner workings!

For our purposes here, though, we are primarily concerned with the "Godzilla" part of "Petster Godzilla," so back to that.  Here is Axlon's Toy Fair Catalog for 1987:

Introducing, a "screaming Godzilla monster!" ...What?
The catalog page gives a good description of what the toy does. How ahead of its time was this toy? A couple of years ago I received an R2-D2 as a gift that is basically identical in its abilities...you would hardly know 30 years had passed. By now, shouldn't our robot toys be washing our cars or something?
 Here is the side of the box, which also runs down the abilities of your new pet, including "Protects your home from invading alien creatures"! Points for that!

The write-up on the back of the box is also excellent, and the "filmstrip" down the right side shows you exactly how to operate your Petster Godzilla.  The look on this girl's face is...interesting:
I'm not sure that her head hasn't come dislodged, and is slowly sliding off of her body.
Some differences between the prototype pictured on the box, and the actual toy as released, are:
  1. The original prototype has glued-on toenails, to simulate Godzilla's clawed feet.  These were probably deemed unnecessary, and I'm sure it was realized that they would begin falling off after some use.
  2. The teeth of the prototype were pointed and nearly separated, and for the actual release, they went with solid rows of "bridgework."  I'm sure that it was hard to ensure that the pointed teeth all faced the same direction, but I think I prefer them to the released version.
  3. The prototype appears to have stitching around each dorsal fin, which makes me think they were double-layered, and probably enabled them to stand up better.
 You probably noticed that my new pet (my wife has a pug, so this is now my pet) will need FOUR "C" batteries, and TWO "AA" batteries.  (Going back to the new R2-D2 as a comparison, nothing has changed in this regard, either.)  These days, that is quite an investment, just to see if a toy still works!

I haven't tested him yet, but I have to know.  It's encouraging that this Godzilla Petster is super-clean, and appears unused, and I believe that the seller said that he still worked!

It would be pretty nice to have him roaming around the house.  I could fire up R2, and have them meet....or, duel to the death! I'm getting some great ideas.

7/26/17

Godzilla AM Radio (Concept 2000 Dealer's Toy Catalog, 1980)

Do you ever get the feeling that there is nothing left to be discovered? No worlds left to conquer? Well, the truth is quite the opposite.  There are still things out there that have been long since forgotten about, and are just waiting to be discovered (or re-discovered, more likely).  Even things that...(gasp) can't be found on the Internets!

I ran into this 1980 toy catalog completely by accident, and now it is on the Internets, in the correct place, which is this blog.  You will see why very shortly.

Concept 2000 was a company that made electronics and electronic toys in the late 1970's, including record players, alarm clocks, radios, cassette players, learning-based math toys, and the like.  



Their licenses included Looney Tunes (at least around 1977, but not--apparently--by the time of this 1980 catalog), Peanuts, Sesame Street, Barbie, Mork & Mindy, and....Godzilla!

This is the only Godzilla item in the book, so perhaps this was an attempt to test the waters.  The Hanna-Barbera animated Saturday morning show was still being shown at this time, and would have been the logical connection to promote.  The off-model artwork is closer to the show's design than anything else.

Before we go any farther, notice that its shape is identical to another Concept 2000 product, the Barbie AM Radio:
This of course wasn't an unusual practice at all, merely re-purposing an existing shape, and making another product out of it.  The Barbie AM Radio was certainly produced, and can be found today with little effort.

However, there is no trace to be found, anywhere that I have searched, of the Godzilla AM Radio ever actually being made, and seeing the light of day.  

I'm of the opinion that it was never actually made.  Every other property has multiple items in the catalog, but this is the only Godzilla one.  In a recent email conversation with Sean Linkenback (who literally wrote the book on Godzilla collectibles), he said he had certainly never seen one, and pointed out that there were probably not enough pre-orders to justify production. 

If it were made, it would join a very short list; that of products made to promote the Hanna-Barbera cartoon!

Which leads me to wonder...what happened to the prototype? It was probably thrown away, but wouldn't it be interesting if it still existed somewhere?
If anyone has any further information (including what happened to Concept 2000), I'd gladly welcome any additional input!

7/24/17

ESB Collector's Kit: The Empire Card Set (Dixie & Lipton, 1980)

If you saw our post on the Rebel Alliance Set, you know the backstory, but if you came in late:

In 1980, as a promotion for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, two "Collector's Kits" were offered from both Dixie (American Can Company) and Lipton (Thomas J. Lipton, Inc.) together, available through a Sunday comics newspaper ad (above).

The kits included a poster and a 4-card set, and you had to specify whether you wanted the "Rebel Alliance Set" or "Empire Set." The 5x7" cards were referred to as "Action Photos" in the text, and are printed on glossy cardstock, like thin posterboard.

It's interesting to see printed material saying "Empire Set" instead of the, later, more correct Imperial Set.  I was just re-reading the SW Newspaper Comic Strips last night (from the new, definitive edition that recently came out--highly recommended!), and I kept seeing it there, too. "It's those Empire ships!"

While I thought the Rebel set was pretty much a dud, this other set is much more successful as "Action Photos." You get two cards with Boba Fett, and one with the complete bounty hunter line-up, which would have made "1980 me" giddy.  Not only that, but Vader is in all four cards, and his duel with Luke is included.  A much better way to sell a movie than the dull first set.
It should be noted that these two Collector's Kit sets have nothing to do with the Dixie Cup ESB "Story Card" strips.  Those cards were distributed in boxes of Dixie cups, and came a year later. 

Even though this was my final vintage (and promotional) SW card set, there was a note of disaster in my purchase!  Both Collector Kits included posters, which my seller rolled inside a tube and placed in a bubble-mailer envelope with the cards.  When the package arrived, the end was completely opened, and stapled back together, leaving a large hole to one side, which the tube had fallen out of, at some point in its journey.  I was lucky to receive the cards unscathed and complete (which is primarily what I was after), but it's too bad that the posters did not make it to me successfully.  I can only assume that a random postal worker's child is enjoying them now, somewhere.

Auction photos of the Luke and Vader posters...all that remains!

7/20/17

"Godzilla Three Dimensional Sticker" [sic] (Item #1209, unknown manufacturer, 1979)


Here is yet another Godzilla variety of what we called "Puffy Stickers" back in the day.  There may be no limit to size and header-card variety with these things.  Time will tell.  
All we know is that they were made in Taiwan, but like their counterparts, no manufacturer is present. This will be added to our sub-page that chronicles all of the American Godzilla Collectibles from the beginning to around 1990.

There is also an orange-carded version of #1209 showing Godzilla:


7/17/17

the superman files - disc 7 (Leaping Fox)


This is the end, my only friend, the end...

Let's wrap this up with a final disc, which cherry-picks the best Superman songs from the 1990's up to the present day.  So...time to put this Superbaby to bed.


If you are counting, that's a total of 147 tracks on this Super-headache of a project! Enjoy.