Monthly Archives: November 2011
Upon a popular request, I decided that this week’s article will be about a long forgotten series of a licensed toy line. In this case a 1970’s toy line based off of several anime mechas, two tokusatsu mechas and two of Toho’s iconic monsters, Gojira(Japanese for Godzilla) & Rodan. Back in the late 70s to early 80s, Mattel made a series of toys called the Shogun Warriors. Rights obtain from Popy Toy company in 1979 starting with a total of four toys to start off with. Which were Godzilla, Raideen, Mazinger Z, & Dragun. It wasn’t long until they became a hit at toy stores mainly due to kids discovering the toys can fire missiles which was the main reason they became a success at various department stores of the late 70s. Mattel expanded the line up by adding more mechas like Gaiking, Daimos, & Grendizer. Like many toys in the 70s, the Shogun Warriors were a liability towards kid safety requirements. In this case a lot of adults were concern with the spring-loaded missiles that could hurt kids by poking their eyes out or choke on them upon trying to swallow them or any other small parts. After reports of these such injuries, Mattel as well as other toy companies had to comply with the new requirements for their toys to be acceptable for selling. This meant all of the missiles had to be attached to the Shogun Warriors, but not be able to fire them, which made them less fun. Due to this and declining sales the toy line disappeared after no more than two years in production. There was also a comic book series made by Marvel at the time this toy line was made. It was a 20 issue series written by Doug Moench(creator of Black Mask, Deathlok, & Moon Knight) & artwork by Herb Trimpe(First artist to draw Wolverine for publication). The series had Fantastic 4 & Iron Man involved with the Shogun Warriors in the story, however after Mattel lost the rights to the toys so did Marvel. In the final issue, the Shogun Warriors were destroyed and that was the last time Marvel was associated with the mechas themselves. If you remember owning the comic or toys of the Shogun Warriors when you were under the age of 12, then you’re between the ages of 44-37. After lecturing the history on this franchise let’s talk about the toys.
If you already noticed the toy looking weird, don’t worry you’re not illusinating; that’s exactly what the toy looked like when it was being displayed at various toy stores in America of the 1979. Why does Godzilla not look like what he did in the Showa Era Godzilla films? That’s a good question, cause even I’m puzzled why he looks like he had plastic surgery after getting punch by someone like Megalon or Gigan. I’m guessing Mattel didn’t had the rights to use Godzilla’s likeness so they changed his appearance to avoid getting sued by Toho. It’s a similar case to how Hanna-Barabara Godzilla didn’t had the trademark roar due to licensing issues so they hired Ted Cassidy to do the roar of Godzilla. Not to mention that cartoon being one of the reasons people assume Godzilla was originally green when he wasn’t officially green until Godzilla 2000. Anyways besides the toy not being an image perfect replica of the radiated dinosaur, what made the toy so memorable? Well I’m glad you asked, the main reason this toy was so memorable was cause Mattel tried to make Godzilla very marketable by adding some features the real Godzilla didn’t had. The first feature is a long tongue that sticks out of his mouth like a snake by the press of the button(as seen above). The other feature is his right fist having the ability to shoot right out of his wrist like a missile. And no I’m not fabricating this idea of a toy as I have seen it in action in the commercial I found on youtube. Why would Mattel go this far in changing Godzilla’s abilities? Other than making it more marketable, Mattel thought a monster that only breathes radiated fire is less cool than what the other toys in the line up had, so they made him do things he’d never do in the movie. Excluding some physics bending moments that have occurred in a handful of Godzilla films, but it’s sci-fi so it’s ok to ignore the Monday Night Rules when doing a sci-fi.
To prevent this article from being too long I like to describe the other toys in one simple paragraph. Other than them being giant anime mechas, these robots have very little in common with one another. Despite how I’m a big anime fan, I admit I didn’t find the time to watch any of the anime these guys originated from. Mazinger Z was the only one who I am familiar upon once seeing an OAV of the series, but not the original TV series. Never the less, all of these mechas had quite some popularity in their home land of Japan. Except over there they’re not refer to as Shogun Warriors which I bet a Japanese person would be clueless to why these mechas are called Shogun Warriors. My guess is that Mattel wanted the toys to feel very Japanese by using one word from Japanese culture and another any culture would be familiar with. The word Shogun is a term word for a commanding military general who is appointed by the emporer. So I guess these toys are called Shogun Warriors cause they are warriors with more power than any emporer could possess. Rodan along with Godzilla were the only non mecha toys of the toy line, However Rodan’s the only one to not fire any object of any kind. Why was he also included into the toy line? It’s simple he was portrayed as the villain of the Shogun Warrior series and he’s as popular as Godzilla was. It would have been very cool if they obtain rights to other Toho Kaiju Monsters, but it probably would have been too expensive for Mattel since obtaining rights to Godzilla and Rodan might have been pricey to start with.
I could only find four vintage commercials on these toys. The first two featuring the Godzilla toy being played with two kids, while other contains Mazinger Z & Gaiking as well as Godzilla himself. The narrator for these commercials was Ernie Adnerson(b. 1923-1997) a legendary narrator for various shows including the pilot episodes of Power Puff Girls(before it became an actual TV show) and original Annoucer of America’s Funniest Home Videos(and no I lost interest in that show years ago). Since these action figures were based off of Japanese properties, Mr. Anderson used a stereotype samurai voice that’s often used in early English dubs of Japanese live action films. The other two were Japanese made toy commercials for Leopardon, a mecha from the Japanese Spider-Man series & the Daitetsujin 17 series that were both imported over to America as part of the toy line. This was decades before most American comic fans even knew that there was a Tokusatsu genre series on Spider Man back in 1978 that differs from the short-lived American Live Action TV series. The way marketing went for Japanese imported merchandise in America is way different from how it’s done today. Back then a lot of Japan’s entertainment had little exposure outside of its own country. The only things that did got licensed are the ones that are viewed marketable for America and anything that’s too unusual for American customs remains unlicensed. There was hardly any anime in America back then. The only anime kids were able to watch in the 70s was Battle of the Planets(Gatchaman) and the earlier licensed anime like Speed Racer, Gigantor, Kimba the White Lion, & Astro Boy. Unlike today where Japanese media has more exposure to the public as well as more people appreciating it more than how it was treated 32 years ago.
Let’s talk about the commercials for a second. The way action figure commercials were done back then is different from how they’re done today. There was no such thing as expensive special effects or obnoxious narration. Instead these type of commercials play out like it’s advertising a tv show or in this case tv shows of the 70s. I like how back then these ads tell you, you have to use your imagination when playing with these toys, like how Ernie Adnerson tells you to imagine Godzilla breathing radiated fire rather than expecting Godzilla to do so. Also I wonder who that man is in the background who just standing right behind the kids. If it suppose to be one of the kids dad, or a stagehand who got into the shot by accident and the director didn’t bother to re shoot the shot. What ever the case maybe, this type of work for a toy commercial is considered low-budget in today’s business of toy advertising.
My last thoughts on this toy line is just the comment “wow”. The thought that these mechas were licensed in America 32 years ago is an amazing discovery I found. I would bet you that kids back then had no clue that most of those mechas were based off of already popular ones in Japan. The toy line did prove to the American population that Gigantor and Giant Robo weren’t the only popular mechas from Japan. It also was a further step to more anime exposure as the 80s was known as the decade when anime started to flow in more in America with such series like Star Blazers & Robotech. Today Shogun Warriors are now a common ebay item and from time to time, you’ll likely to find some of them at antique stores and conventions. To end this article I present to you the only commercials of the toy line I could find.
http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=1993 – Getter Robo G
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daitetsujin_17 – Daitetsujin 17
There’s no particular name for this character so let’s call him the Talking Sandwich, cause that’s what he is a talking sandwich. The commercial opens with a teen opening a fridge and began to sneeze. The sandwich then says the word Orange Juice. The kid didn’t understand what he meant by it, so the sandwich explains to him that every time he hears someone sneeze he says orange juice because the drink helps fight off colds if you keep you fluids up. The kid then says “Why couldn’t we get a dog?”, but the sandwich heard his comment upon the fridge door closing. The commercial closes with the logo for Florida Oranges. I never once heard anyone talk about this character so he’s more than perfect to be on this blog. I even found a little background on the sandwich. It turns out the sandwich was created by the Character Shop company. That’s right the same people behind the animatronic animals for the Budweiser Frog commercials. The sandwich itself is a radio controlled animatronic with foam latex bread and silicone lettuce, ham, tomato, cheese, olive and pimento replicas. The commercial was directed by Bob Rice, who might have an IMDB credit but his is unconfirmed, so I supplied a link below for you to figure out which is the real Bob Rice. It’s less complicated than knowing which Jim Johnson is a voice actor when there’s more than 40 of them. The one thing that did slip my mind whenever I watch this commercial is according to the kid, they own a talking sandwich as a pet hinting his “Why couldn’t we get a dog” quote. My opinion is it’s cooler to own a talking sandwich than owning a dog. Unless the sandwich reminds you to keep drinking orange juice to fight off colds, which could annoy certain people. To this day I still think of the Talking Sandwich every time I drink orange juice. I was lucky to find a commercial of it on youtube for all of you to enjoy. For next week, I’ll be doing a subject on a 70s toy line called the Shogun Warriors.
Update Mar. 31, 2012: Apparently there’s a second commercial consisting of the dad talking to the sandwich. Enjoy the commercial below.
http://www.imdb.com/find?s=all&q=bob+rice – Bob Rice list
Unlike the McNugget Buddies, the Jumbo Size McNuggets were bigger, have no faces but do have a pair of legs. This was advertised during summer as implied in the commercial itself. The commercial depicts the Jumbo Size McNuggets as party goers showing them having a good time at a beach, park, & theme park. The only draw back to being a Jumbo Size McNugget is you’re unable to grab anything due to them not having any arms. Unless they are able to grab stuff like how Homestar Runner or the cast of Veggie Tales are able to grab and hold items despite not having visible arms or hands. Or it could be the same case with Sheldon from Garfield & Friends who isn’t able to grab of hold onto anything due to him being a chick still living inside his egg-shell with only two feet sticking out(still mind-blowing how he mysteriously has a pinball machine and stove inside his egg-shell). I’m curious how the costumes for the Jumbo Size McNuggets were made. Was it heavy or lightweight for the people who agreed to be in this commercial as a Jumbo Size McNugget. They’d have to be light weight cause there’s no way anyone can walk around in that all day if it was like carrying a hiking back pack around. I’m also curious if those costumes have ice packs inside them cause you can tell it one of those “It get’s hot within 10 minutes” costumes. How the costumes were truly made is purely speculated and up to you to decide. Anyways these characters only appeared in one commercial from what I know of which I found from browsing on youtube.
Whenever I think of Slim Jim beef jerky, I think of this guy which is Slim Jim Guy. He’s a guy wearing a beef jerky head wear and only wears a long sleeve red shirt and yellow overalls with the slim jim logo on it. He resembles the beef jerky you eat, except imagine a combination of Jim Carey & Jan Schweiterman(Kurt Bozwell CEO of Mondo Burger in the Good Burger Movie). These series of commercials always starts with someone eating a Slim Jim and you immediately see a sequence of the Slim Jim Guy falling inside that person’s esophagus and landing inside his or hers stomach. The situation always shows Slim Jim Guy being mischievous and causing trouble inside the stomach. If the stomach is occupied by other food products he always starts a fight, unless the food products resembles women which he immediately tries to flirt with them. The commercials usually show what is happening to the person who ate the slim jim and always concludes with the Slim Jim Guy ripping open the Slim Jim logo into a big hole and shouting out “Eat Me!”
The Slim Jim Guy commercials were all filmed in London, UK. The idea was conceived by Steve Mark and Steve Garbett or Good Steve and Bad Steve which are their nicknames with associations with the North Castle Partners(which also did the early wrestler Slim Jim commercials). Directed by Tim Rolt, who only directed a short film called “Tad’s Nest” released a decade after he directed these commercials. The commercials were filmed at 6 frames per second, then they were speed up to create the “jerky” looking movements. The stunt coordinator was none other than Ray Park(Darth Maul from Phantom Menace, Toad from X-Men, & Snake Eye in Live Action G.I. Joe) for these commercials. Since they were filmed in the UK, most of the actors on-screen are mostly British. Notice how some of them are trying to hide their accents by pretending to be American. I love how I made this discovery on how these commercials aired in America but originated from the UK.
Let’s talk about the skits from all five commercials. Like the first one with the most food product characters. The one thing that bothered me about the commercial is how the guy sitting on the sofa is clearly drinking a bottle of cola, yet the contents look as clear as tap water when it was splashed on Slim Jim Guy who was trying to drown the cheese guy in the stomach bile. Also the fly that appeared in the commercial is remotely huge, it’s like a homage to the Zagnut Fly from Beetlejuice. The second one was one of the most common Slim Jim Guy commercials I saw on TV, also hinting that Slim Jim Guy only likes tap water if he detests mineral water. The third one I don’t remember seeing out of the five in total. Though I do like how it shows what it be like if more than one Slim Jim Guy is eaten by the same person. The Swimming Pool skit was also a common commercial, least I remember seeing it as much as the Veggie Girls one. Also the female lifeguard almost sounds like Peta Wilson due to the deep accent(would have been cool if it really was THE Peta Wilson). The final commercial is the only one where the Slim Jim Guy is seen in the outside world by cutting open a guy’s stomach to get out due to him inhaling too much of the knock out gas. Also a dead ringer towards the scene in Alien where Kane had a chestburster come out of his chest. Makes you wonder what happen to the Slim Jim Guy after he came out of the guy’s stomach? It wouldn’t matter cause where ever there’s Slim Jim Beef Jerky, he’ll always be there.
Slim Jim abandon this guy sometime in the early 2000s and newer campaigns were introduced to Slim Jim including other Wrestlers agreeing to advertise the product. I’ll keep in mind to do an article on Macho Man & Slim Jim on the first anniversary of his death. Despite that Slim Jim had so many different ideas for advertising, Slim Jim Guy was the one who made me a fan of this Beef Jerky in the first place. For those who remembered him will thank me for finding these commercials provided by Good Steve Adams off of his Youtube page. Those who don’t remember this guy are in for quite a show.
There were so many characters used for the Reese’s commercials over the years. Out of all of them, I decided to do an article on a Reese’s commercial that was made before I was born and has references to Sci-Fi made prior to the later 70s. This commercial starts off with a space colonist who is holding a helmet in one arm and enjoying his chocolate bar while waiting for the automatic sliding door to open, something that’s similar to what can be found on a Death Star. He accidentally runs into a robot who is holding a can of peanut butter. When the space colonist gets up he exclaims “My chocolate…”, then the robot finishes his sentence “…is in my peanut butter”. They both examine the combinations and both agreed it’s a wonderful taste. Then a pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups is seen flying with a jet propeller in front of the space colonist and robot. The space colonist grabs the pack of candy and then background music starts to play with shots of what ideal Peanut Butter Cups look like. The space colonist and robot both start to enjoy their Reese’s Cups and are seen walking in the distant desert landscape planet, or they could be in Utah. The commercial concludes with a monolith size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups flying over the colonist and robot’s heads. The two are both seen being amazed from seeing a larger size pack of Peanut Butter Cups, the space colonist probably ended up saying something like “Woah! could you imagine the amount of chocolate and peanut butter it would take to make a pack that big?”
This commercial was made back in 1978 or 1979(It’s unconfirmed according to the Fuzzy Memories TV’s Youtube info on the video).In the 1970s to the 1980s, Hershey sponsored a series of commercials which run for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups featuring situations in which two people or one being human and the other being non-human. One would be seen eating peanut butter and the other seen eating chocolate, collided. One exclaims, “You got your peanut butter in my chocolate!” and the other would exclaim, “You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!”. They would then sample the mixture and remark on the great taste, tying in with the slogan “Two great tastes that taste great together.”
The slogan is sometimes parodied in various cartoons and shows, such as when Spongebob and Patrick are seen in space and parody the slogan only having toothpaste in peanut butter. I was thinking of that episode when I first watch this commercial due to the space theme. It also reminds me of the Big Flakes episode of Ren and Stimpy when Ren claims the wood work of the cabin actually tastes like chocolate and Stimpy claims the carpenter nails taste like peanut brittle. Then they ended up sharing their “food”. Not really a direct parody of the slogan but I bet the writers got the idea from it.
Let’s talk about the commercial itself. After watching Silent Running for the first time ever, I can tell the makers of this commercial got the idea of that movie for this commercial. Except the colonist doesn’t look like a nature loving space traveler like Lou from the movie. But is friends with a robot like Lou, except the robot in this commercial doesn’t resemble Huey, Lewy, or Dewy(names of the Silent Running robots not the duck triplets) but looks close to the Phantom Empire robots. As mentioned it’s unknown if he and his mechanical friend are on a planet used for colonization in a future where the Earth is over crowded or just living in the middle of the mid west with the latest in housing technology. Whichever case it maybe, it’s an anonymous future where robots roam among humans like Bender the robot(except this robot doesn’t appear to be an alcoholic). In closing, this commercial is really appealing for its time due to the choice of genre that was pick as the main theme for the candy product. With special thanks to Fuzzy Memories TV, I present to you the commercial itself.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/morgpk/3477845155/ – Robots of Phantom Empire photo
http://anythinghorror.com/2010/07/20/3905/ – MST3K photo