Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Building the Big G (Part Four)

At long last, the model is complete! We are very happy with the finished product and look forward to entering it in G-FEST's contest. (This "teaser" picture is all that Andy will allow before then.) It was a learning experience for both of us. I think we built up some confidence for later projects, and I'm sure we will find new inspiration in about a week's time.

In the run-up to G-FEST, we've been screening quite a bit of cool stuff lately; the Classic Media release of Rodan and War of the Gargantuas (including the superb doc "Bringing Godzilla Down to Size" (we loved looking at the G-figures on the shelves in the background of those being interviewed; also seeing Akira Takarada and the three Godzilla suit actors)); A couple episodes of Ultraman Jack (Return of Ultraman); Ultraman Mebius and the Ultraman Brothers; all while consciously staying away from the movies that will be screened at the Pickwick. It's fun to be a little "surprised" by them on the big screen, rather than having just seen them.

By the way, Ultraman fans who also have iPhones might be interested to know that Tsuburaya Pro. has an Ultraman pinball game app (which clearly was a Mega Monster Battle promo) available in the App Store for free. The game itself is nothing spectacular, but it is pretty cool to drive around and hear Ultra Seven transforming in the back seat of our car.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Toybox Treasure Housewares Edition: Godzilla Lamp!

My son Andy received this lamp as a Christmas present last year. This is yet another Godzilla item discovered at our local "Craft and Antique Co-op," a.k.a. "The Coop" and alternatively, "The Treasure Store."

With only two weeks to go before G-FEST's double-double feature, the light of anticipation is burning brightly!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Strange (Godzilla) Brew

For your viewing pleasure only (alas) I present Ithaca Beer Co.'s "Cascazilla Red Ale." We spotted this at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. It evidently is a regional microbrew. Sorry to say, I can't tell you if it's any good or not, as it was close to $10.00 for six bottles. I've got Bandai and Bullmark to think of, you know.

Friday, June 18, 2010

World's Coolest Kaiju T-Shirt Design

Pictured here is an image I ran across in G-FAN # 25 (Jan./Feb. 1997). It was drawn by Ohio's own Tom Tvrdik and was used on official Cuyahoga Kaiju Club T-shirts (and other items as well). How many of the monsters pictured here can you name?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Now Playing: Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legends

As of this writing, I've now seen "Mega Monster Battle" twice. I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the genre, but be advised: this ain't your father's Ultraman.

That isn't to say that the series has taken a plunge into post-modern soullessness, but there is a heavier than expected emphasis on martial arts combat in this film, so much so that it can sometimes seem like the viewer is watching "Ultra Galaxy: The Video Game." Hong Kong-style wirework adds to an overall hyperkinetic feel to the battle scenes, which come one after another at a break-neck pace. In contrast to the previous two theatrical Ultraman releases (which had far more of a "relational" tone) "Mega Monster Battle" is a adrenaline-fueled drag race in which the thrill of the ride is the highest good.

Fans of the series will be rewarded with many "tips of the cap" to former stars, monsters, and Ultra "brothers." The movie itself is gorgeous and the visual effects are stunning (although I must say that I strongly prefer the CGI version of Ultras in flight, such as in "Ultraman Mebius and the Ultra Brothers," to the "lay-down-in-front-of-a-greenscreen" approach used here). The "Rayonix" concept of being able to control monsters in battle has a certain undeniable genius to it and hopefully will become an enduring element of the Ultra mythos. This is the "summer blockbuster" of Ultraman movies, and all the strengths and weaknesses implied by that description are indeed intentional.

A more comprehensive review of "Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legends" (by your friends at Monsterland Ohio, of course) just might appear in the pages of a future G-FAN magazine. We'll have to wait and see!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Building the Big G (Part Three)

After a couple months' hiatus, work has resumed in earnest on Andy's Godzilla model, which he plans to show at G-FEST in July. Almost everything has been painted, so assembly should begin shortly. Andy's decision to paint Godzilla in flat black (about which I was initially skeptical) turned out to be a great one, giving the suit a "realistic" look. Can't wait to see the finished product!

Friday, June 11, 2010

G-FEST XVII Update: "G-Fans Helping G-Fans Fund" Merchandise Unveiled

One great element of the G-FEST experience is the opportunity to contribute to the "G-Fans Helping G-Fans Fund" in a variety of creative ways. The Fund assists families with autistic children that have strong connections to G-fandom. David Nunes spearheads the effort every year, and has provided these photos of new fundraising items that will be available for purchase at G-FEST XVII. This should prove to be record-breaking year for "G-Fans Helping G-Fans." Great job, Dave!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

G-FEST XVII Update--Godzilla is Approaching the Convention Center!

Andy meets the Big G at G-FEST XVI

According to G-FAN's website, demand for this year's event is so high that it has necessitated a change in venue. Fortunately, that new venue is right across the street! Read more about it at

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Toybox Treasure: Banpresto Godzilla

Thanks to the unexpected generosity of a kaiju-loving friend of ours, we now have added to our collection the Godzilla figure you see on the right. It was made by Banpresto in 2002, and is a very faithful representation of the original 1954 suit. Here he is being welcomed by Medicom's Gamera (complete with suitmation actor "Combat Joe" inside(!)).

By the way, it is exactly one month until the "double-double feature" that kicks off G-FEST XVII!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Shout! Factory's "The Giant Monster Gamera"

If you have any interest in giant monster movies at all, you will want to get your hands on this new release. If you have seen "Gamera" in other formats before, prepare to be astounded. That's right, I said "astounded." The picture quality, presented in widescreen, breathes new life into the film, making it almost seem brand new. Every detail is now clearly visible. Every framing shot of the main characters can be appreciated. It is eye candy for the kaiju connoisseur.

Chances are, if you're reading this blog, you know the plot of this movie, which does not depart in a significant way from the conventions of the genre. (Monster appears; military is powerless; worldwide team of scientists (led by Japan) works on various solutions; through perseverance the scientists are ultimately successful; the world is saved.) However, the whole enterprise is undertaken with such heart that it works. Gamera's ability to fly is just audacious enough to make him extra memorable--and his ambiguous rescue of Toshio from the crumbling lighthouse sows the seeds of his later "friend of children" status.

August Ragone's commentary track is immaculately researched--so much so that, at times, one's brain is numbed by the sheer amount of information being laid on the listener. Thankfully, Ragone leavens the mix with other anecdotes and flashes of observational humor that border on MST3K-style "riffing." Towards the end of the film he also is candid about his affection for the Gamera movies, encouraging the listener to "give them a chance."

The other bonus material is pretty incredible stuff. Best of the lot is a Japanese language interview-style program in which the creators of Gamera share their memories and experiences. Included in the documentary is a handcrafted pre-viz treatment of an unmade sequel, "Gamera vs. Garasharp" which must be seen to be believed. What a treat!

Word is that "Gamera vs. Barugon" is coming down the pipe this summer. Do yourself a favor and support these releases. They really are treasures for the monster fan.

"Fake Monsters" June