Sunday, May 21, 2017

HELLO KITTY'S DEFUNCT GODZILLA RIDE


When I hear the word Sanrio, the first thing that comes to mind is Hello Kitty - whom is the Sanrio Corporation's most popular "kawaii" character. Hello Kitty, while being a corporate Japanese mascot, is beloved around the world. There are only a handful of fictional Japanese icons that share just as much fame in the worldwide market, however only one of those icons predates Hello Kitty...

...that Japanese icon being the king of monsters, Godzilla.

So back in the early 90's during Godzilla's first resurgence into what is now known as the Heisei series, Godzilla franchise owners and film studio, TOHO, teamed up with Sanrio to create a 4D attraction for Sanrio's Puroland amusement park in Tokyo. 

They called it Monster Planet of Godzilla.


It featured a POV style short film of Godzilla going up against the Japanese Self Defense Force (J.S.D.F), Rodan, and Mothra. The 3D film was created specifically for the attraction and was enhanced with motion controlled seating and even made use of odors to further immerse the audience into the experience.

I bet Godzilla smelled like shit.

The attraction ran from 1994 until the early 2000's when it was eventually replaced by "Time Machine of Dreams", which utilized the same format.

Fortunately the short film itself has been released a couple of times in Japan on DVD as a bonus feature, and I just happened to pick up a special edition boxed copy of Godzilla 1984 this weekend, which to my delight included Monster Planet of Godzilla. I've uploaded it to my YouTube channel for everyone around the world to enjoy :)

There were actually already a couple versions of this floating around online, but they looked like ass. The version I've uploaded is the best looking copy online to date, but please note that I have yet to add subtitles.

So sit back and enjoy some giant monster action... but if you want to recreate the smells, I'd say a rotten can of sardines and a lit cigarette should cover it.

Enjoy!!


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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

HE-MAN & THE SATANIC MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE


This blog is not about religion or politics, and I do not promote hate - unless it's regarding extremely shitty toys - however this particular post deals with a video containing some rather bogus religious context, and a ton of unintentional humor.

The original video is titled Deception of a Generation and was released by Eagle's Nest Ministries in 1985. Running 93 minutes, it's a lengthy time capsule of misplaced fear and paranoia.

Hosted by California based pastor, Gary Greenwald, and featuring Turmoil in the Toybox author, Phil Phillips, together they discuss the "satanic" influence of popular cartoons and toys from the 1980's. You know, the best ones...

Specifically He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

Rather than give my thoughts on the matter, I decided to edit the first segment of the video and cut out all the unnecessary banter, leaving some of the best material, allowing it to speak for itself without becoming redundant. Enjoy :)

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Friday, March 31, 2017

DO BASTARDS DREAM OF DRAGONBALL Z?


In high school I was a huge fan of Dragonball Z. It was my first taste of anime and its influence eventually led me to working in Tokyo doing manga illustration as an apprentice for the creator of Fist of the North Star - but that's a story for another post. In this series of articles I want to concentrate on Dragonball Z. Specifically the vintage toy line that began in 1991, and eventually the impostors that followed.

Many people from my generation in America were not aware of Dragonball Z until the late 90's. It first aired in the USA in September of 1996, but  was canceled after only two seasons. Then in 1998, the reruns began airing regularly on Cartoon Network's Toonami, eventually leading Dragonball Z to become the most popular animated television show at the time and launching further English dubbed seasons. 


Still, a lot of casual viewers in America did not realize that the Dragonball franchise had been around as far back as 1984 in Japan. Originally published in manga form, Dragonball chronicled the life of Goku as he faced a slew of enemies and martial arts adversaries, meeting new friends along the way, and showing him progress from a child into an adult with god-like power. However it wasn't until 1989 that the animated "Dragonball Z" began airing on TV in Japan.

With the success of both the manga and animated series, it was only a matter of time before merchandise featuring everyone's favorite Saiyan warriors began to pop up on shelves all around Japan. Being that Dragonball Z was more action oriented than its more comedy-centered predecessor, action figures were only natural. 

Thus the Super Battle Collection was born.

Bandai's first Super Battle Collection action figure released in 1991.

We will come back to that in a moment. First, let me catch up on my experiences with DBZ and how I began collecting the action figures that it spawned.

As I mentioned earlier, I was a complete Dragonball Z-a-holic in high school (and still am). Back in 1998 I unintentionally caught an episode one afternoon. I had come home from school and was flipping through TV channels. Suddenly I saw two dudes with pointy black hair, flying through the air, beating the living shit out of each other. 


It was fucking awesome. 


The next day at school I approached a friend who I had remembered mentioning the show and asked him to divulge as much information as he could give me. He gave me a brief synopsis and recommended that I go buy the first set of episodes in order to catch up. 

So I did... on glorious VHS.


My life was changed from that point onward. I began to live and breath Dragonball Z

When Cartoon Network would run out of episodes and start over from the beginning of the series, I would order bootleg VHS tapes from Japan that continued where I had left off. I bought DBZ video game cartridges for Super Nintendo that were never released outside of Japan. My bedroom walls were plastered in DBZ posters and images I had printed from the internet. I swapped my standard polo shirts for ultra-gaudy DBZ t-shirts...
Like a boss.
Hell, I even used to spend several hours a day, sometimes staying up all night long, drawing a series of full-length fan manga books. I sold copies of each issue for $2 to DBZ fans at my high school and ended up making fair bit of extra cash. I was a fucking pimp.

A few pages from my Dragonball AF fan-manga (1999-2000)

I also absolutely loved tracking down the action figures...


BE A COMPLETE LOSER IN HIGH SCHOOL - COLLECT THEM ALL!
From 1999 to 2000, the local Toys R Us in my hometown had a a fairly large assortment of DBZ action figures on their shelves. All of which were released by Irwin Toys, a Canadian toy manufacturer and distributor. Something I noticed about their selection was that there were multiple sculpts of each character, some looking very different from the others. Later I found out that Irwin had simply repackaged Bandai's vintage Super Battle Collection action figure line along with figures from AB Toy's Super Guerriers DBZ action figure line. They were all roughly 5" tall and limited to only a few points of articulation. 

When hunting for these figures, I was always more keen on grabbing the Bandai re-releases, they were more beefy, came with removable armor and had better hair sculpts - Super Saiyan hair is something not to be fucked around with.

Just take a look at a comparison between Bandai's Vegeta and AB Toy's Vegeta...


... would you rather have the one with badass extra pointed hair, intense facial expression and awesome armor... or the one that looks like a stretched out prude in a tank-top?

The vast difference in sculpt and style of the AB Toys figures really turned me off. In fact, I actually thought that they were bootlegs. My brother and I used to refer to them as the "Mexican bootleg" DBZ toys, and for the most part stayed away from them. 

By the time I graduated high school I had amassed a large collection of DBZ action figures, most being Irwin re-releases of Bandai's Super Battle Collection. However, there was a guy with a kiosk at our local mall who was selling the original vintage Japanese Super Battle Collection figures mint in box. Compared to the re-issued, repackaged versions I had been buying at Toys R Us, these original Japanese figures were damned expensive, but of course I had to indulge. 

Irwin's figures came packaged on a generic multicolored blister card, while Bandai's original figures came packaged in an exotic window-box style of packaging with prominent artwork of the character. Bandai's packaging also allowed you to easily remove the figure and be able to put it back without damaging the packaging itself, unlike Irwin's blister cards which basically have to be torn open. Don't get me wrong, I actually love action figures in blister cards, they have a special nostalgic look to them, but when you've got a figure in packaging that can be opened and played with, then later put back into the packaging for display, it's a win-win.

Which do you prefer?
Unfortunately much of my action figure collection, including my Dragonball Z figures, were sold in a yard sale while I was away at art college. Then in 2005 I moved to Tokyo and got interested in collecting again. I was surprised to find out that even then, Bandai was still putting out reissues of their Super Battle Collection figure series. They had revamped the packaging and even given the figures more paint detail. 
2003 release of Super Saiyan Goku by Bandai.
I thought they were cool, but I still wanted to track down the original figures in vintage packaging. After several years of toy hunting around Tokyo, I found out that the original Super Battle Collection figures were actually pretty damn hard to find. But I've stayed vigilant and have ended up a finding a few mint in box that I was able to afford. Some of them can get very pricey. The Movie 7 Super Saiyan 3-pack for example, contains a rare version of Future Trunks in Super Saiyan form. Currently it sells anywhere between $600-$800. 
At $600-$800, you'd think their hair was made out of real fucking gold...
Fuck that.


So in those cases, I take the cheap way out...  and buy bootlegs.


Check out the video below to see some of my DBZ bootlegs!!

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*UPDATE*
I recently started up a new private Facebook group called DBZ Vintage Collectors, which is dedicated to DBZ toys and collectibles produced before 1999. In the the group members can buy, sell, trade, or share their vintage DBZ items. If you'd be interested...



Monday, February 6, 2017

TINY TOON HANGOVER


I have mostly fond memories of the animated TV show, Tiny Toon Adventures. As a kid in the early 90's, it was a regular staple of my afternoon cartoon intake after coming home from my backwoods elementary school in Kentucky. The show was always very funny to me and consisted mostly of short skits, much like it's classic predecessor, Looney Tunes. Albeit, Tiny Toons was far less violent than Looney Tunes in retrospect. 

There were many episodes and moments from Tiny Toons that have remained in my memory or subconscious for the past 20+ years, but one skit in particular aired the day before my 9th birthday on September 18th, 1991. It was the skit entitled "One Beer".


Considering violence in the original Looney Tunes episodes were mostly made up of mindless, inconsequential, slapkstick fun. Tiny Toon's One Beer, on the other hand, was probably one of the darkest segments I'd ever witnessed in an animated comedy television program produced for young children. 

The episode quickly goes from awkward hilarity to deeply horrifying within it's roughly seven minute run-time. So rather than give a detailed synopsis and in-depth analysis, just check it out for yourself. 


video


Unfortunately, this episode may have inadvertently turned many people into alcoholics.

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Due to YouTube copyright claims, I wasn't able to upload the video to my official YouTube channel. But please check out my other video content as well as my previous blog articles for more retro fun :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

PEE-WEE HERMAN'S GREMLINS COLLECTION


Back in the mid to late 80's I was completely terrified of the movie Gremlins. I remember watching it (somewhat) at my grandparent's house as a young child, not being able to make it through the film after the mogwai had completed their evil metmorphases, resorting to hiding behind the couch. 

Now as an adult, Gremlins has become one of my favorite films. Childhood memories of fear have been replaced with fun and nostalgia. However, I can understand how my younger self reacted in such a frightened manner after viewing the film. It is a fucking creepy movie. When you are only five years old, you simply do not grasp the idea that grown men with puppets and cameras are able to achieve such horrifyingly awesome magic. To you it is real. As real as anything else, and it's immensely fucked up.

I suppose as time goes on, you learn to appreciate films that once horrified you. Certainly that was the case with Gremlins. But how can a movie I was barely able to make it through as a kid, account for so much nostalgia?

The answer may reside within the realm of vintage Gremlins toy lines.


As a child of the 80's, I had fond memories of fuzzy creatures like My Pet Monster, the Ewoks, and of course, Gizmo the Mogwai. Unlike the foul and freaky Gremlin monsters, Gizmo had a much larger resonance with a younger demographic, including myself. It was only natural that young children, even those who had not really even seen the film, would gravitate toward the cute cuddly creature. 

So of course many Gizmo toys and dolls were produced under the official Gremlins licence. I fondly remember carrying around a plush Gizmo doll as a young boy. Unfortunately an ex-girlfriend in high school threw it into a fireplace after I broke up with her...


Strangely, I have no memory of the extremely terrifying Gremlins toys that were lurking around toy shelves back in 1984. Possibly the memories have all been wiped or blocked as a consequence of sheer trauma. 

Just take a look at LJN's large scale Posable Stripe Figure...


... imagine being 5 years old and getting that for Christmas. Jesus Christ.

Oh yeah and speaking of being terrified as a child, also try to imagine seeing one of your favorite Saturday morning TV show hosts dressed up like Satan, acting as if he's on more drugs than usual (although a couple of years before Pee-wee's Playhouse first aired on TV), whilst presenting his extensive Gremlins collection to David Letterman... HOLY SHIT!!



Still, as batshit insane as that video clip was, at least he wasn't wearing this. . .


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Monday, January 2, 2017

FIRE ROOSTERS, PIG NOSES & BULLMARKS

2016 is finally over (thank Christ) and it's time to look forward to a brand new series of unfortunate events. But fortunately, addictions to beer and toy collecting will help drown out a lot of the negative noise... 

So I've got that going for me. Hooray!!

To kick off 2017, year of the "fire rooster", I'd like to share my first toy score of the year... not to brag or be a dick, but because fire rooster reminded me of Godzilla (fuck you Rodan). Plus it also gives me an opportunity to share some brief history on a couple of my favorite Godzilla soft vinyl (sofubi) toys. 

So without further ado, I present the limited edition Butanohana Vinyl Wars Godzilla.


Sculpted by Butanohana, a newcomer to the soft vinyl scene, who's name means "pig nose", in Japan. The particular variant pictured above was released exclusively in the USA by MEDICOM via Newbury Comics in 2014, and was limited to only 100 pieces.

However, the sculpt was originally released in 2005, featuring various other color formats, marking Butanohana's first attempt at a Godzilla vinyl figure, standing at approx 6" tall. 

In the photo below you can see their interpretation of "burning Godzilla".


MEDICOM's "Vinyl Wars" series consisted of dozens of reissues from Japan's top sofubi toy producers. The 2014 reissue of Butanohana's Godzilla was painted to resemble Bullmark's classic 13" Giant Godzilla, which was released between 1968 and 1970 (below). 

Isn't it fucking awesome?!?! Too bad I'd have to sell a few organs to own one.


I'm a total sucker for vintage style Godzilla toys, especially reissues or variant sofubi with classic paint schemes. Oddly enough, my last toy score of 2016 was B-Club's first reissue of Bullmark's Giant Godzilla, which was released in 2001. However it featured a more cinematic version of Godzilla's colors, being a dark green vinyl coated in charcoal black paint and silver spine fins. He is still a welcome addition to my Godzilla vinyl family, especially since I'll probably never be able to afford a vintage version in the original colors :(

Now if only I could manage to snag one of these badass 13" Giant Glow in the Dark Hyper Hobby exclusives... 

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Special thanks to Mike Johnson at Club Tokyo for some of the info and photos!