KNOCK IT OFF! a.k.a. The Wonderful World of Unlicensed Toys

This piece was originally published August 12th, 2013.

tumblr_mzta9fviFZ1qm348ao1_400For years I have been obsessed with knock off, unlicensed merchandise—famous brands, or characters, that are designed and sold with a seemingly complete disregard for anything, other than to cash in on something that has been proved to be a commercial success.

Or, as they are technically termed, Counterfeit Consumer Goods.

While the spectrum of pirated or unlicensed items can reach far into the areas of cigarettes, wine, fashion (fake Coach handbags), electronics (fake iPads) and all types of entertainment media (like that pile of DVD’s on the table at a flea market which has films just released to the theater!) it is for toys that I have a particular fondness. When you research counterfeit food and cigarettes, believe me, it gets scary.

Given any chance, I will happily scoop one up should I see a bogus toy for sale somewhere. Seeking out phony Godzillas has always been a dream knock-off toy for me, and I have collected some good ones of the great monster over the years.

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Knock-off Godzilla, sans fins, is still pretty cool.

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With many of these toys, attention to details are usually thrown out the window, as is any semblance of keeping the individual universes separate. Long before crossovers in comic book storylines, fake toys were mixing it up in gigantic, head-scratching way.

Here then, are some of the goofier finds that you, dear reader, can seek out and add to your collection.
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Presidential Candidates Endorsed By The Mystery Box

This piece was originally published November 5th, 2012.

Like many a good upstanding citizen of pop trash culture, Friday night monster movies and Saturday morning cartoons, it has always been a bit of a task for me to embrace most political candidates, yet for my entire life, ever since I was eligible, I have taken part in voting at every election.

I guess I watched Robert Redford in The Candidate a few too many times, so between that film and the fact that the majority of politicians that I have known personally have been sketchy, self serving egomaniacs out to fill their own slimy pockets, sort of makes one a bit suspicious and cynical of the whole process in general.

Still, as I write this on the eve of the next American Presidential election, I will vote and hope for the best, and wish that perhaps the winner will be a person that, if I were given the opportunity, is a person you could sit down with over a beer to talk about which Funkadelic or Rolling Stones album is best.

In keeping with the spirit of the great MAD Magazine, here then from Mystery Box H.Q. are my own “usual gang of idiots” picking some candidates we wished had won in the past or in tomorrow’s election…

Horror Host Legend Zacherley

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GODZILLA VS MEGALON: JET JAGUAR Finally Sees The U.S.A. on DVD!

This piece was originally published September 24th, 2012.

Jet Jaguar Post Icon TemplateDespite my hyperbole with the title for this week’s Mystery Box column, there is actually a great cause for celebration to the many of us obsessive Godzilla fans.  

Finally, an official stateside DVD release for one of the more controversially loved and disliked (and in many cases both) Godzilla films in his entire canon,Godzilla vs. Megalon has appeared.

This past August, after years of subsisting on via poor quality VHS versions, sad expensive bootlegs and Japanese only DVD copies, then after another long, long wait from the time the rumors started, cover art finally appeared, and there were endless promises and pushed back release dates, the prize finally appeared, arriving in my mail.

At long last, for the very first time we have the company Media Blasters’ Toho approved, official release of Godzilla vs. Megalon as a DVD you can hold in your hand and pop into your player.

 

Front and back cover for Media Blasters’ DVD release of Godzilla vs. Megalon

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GODZILLA: GANGSTERS & GOLIATHS – THE OTHER GODZILLA COMIC

This piece was originally published August 15th, 2011.

Godzilla Mask Post IconBack in April, The Mystery Box took a look at a new Godzilla comic book series called Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters ( check it out here ).

I was very excited to see the return of the “King of All Monsters” to comics again after a long slumber, courtesy of the great folks at IDW Publishing.

Once again, there’s a reason to be cheerful if you’re a fan of Gojira and all things Kaiju. For the last few months, IDW has published yet another stand alone Godzilla title.

It may even be one of my favorites so far.

On the down side, it’s only a 5 issue mini-series and by the time you read this—we’re already at #3—there’s only a couple of issues left, but I recommend going back now and collecting this mini-series.

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GODZILLA KINGDOM OF MONSTERS: AN AUSPICIOUS BEGINNING!

This piece was originally published April 11th, 2011.

Godzilla Mask Post IconSince his final film, 2004’s Godzilla Final Wars, the big guy—who so many of us have come to love over the decades—has pretty much been tucked away in cold storage.

However, as someone who has been a lifelong fan and collector of Godzilla, I knew that it would only be a matter of time before he would once again rise up from his slumber in the murky depths, to frighten, ravage and entertain the masses.

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Toho, owners of the original Japanese franchise for Gojira, will every so often make a statement that they have released their last film featuring him—but that only lasts until the next one comes along. According to Toho, they would take a break from producing any Godzilla films for ten years.

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I Was a Teenage Movie Maker 2: Confessions of a Super 8 Freak

This piece was originally published March 9th, 2009

Frankie Teen IconI had fun making amateur movies as a kid with my friends. Things were different then…were they ever. You see, video — that was something that was waay out of our league. Only grownups that had academic credentials used video. I saw that firsthand, observing the wacky hipsters who came into our 3rd grade music class videotaping our visit from the local Looking Glass Theater children’s acting troupe. No, video cameras were out of the question. They cost unfathomable amounts of money, were huge clunky behemoths with accompanying heavyweight television monitors, and shot disturbingly poor grade black and white images. This did not meet with our colorful kid standards at all — video cameras were best left to the early German Krautrockers like Kraftwerk who also had room sized, hand built synthesizers.

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What’s so funny about Peace, Love and …Dioramas??

This piece was originally published February 9, 2009

Japanese Robot Goldar from Space Giants Icon

 

I’m fairly certain that no dictionary definition is needed here for exactly what a diorama is.

Well, just in case there is one person who isn’t quite sure, or isn’t familiar with The Simpsons episode, Lisa’s Rival, here are two simple ones:

1) A three-dimensional miniature or life-size scene in which figures, stuffed wildlife, or other objects are arranged in a naturalistic setting against a painted background.

2) A miniature, three-dimensional scene, often depicting a historical event.

From childhood on, we have all seen and experienced firsthand the modern day examples of dioramas. Be it via the often creepy and slightly upsetting versions, at least that’s what comes to my mind whenever I am viewing say, a taxidermist fueled fest such as the kind of wildlife diorama found in a museum of science or natural history setting – teachers, scientists and tourists just love ’em – or the ones created with ever so cool toys that you want to touch, covet, take home and place into your very own fake grass and plaster over chicken wire creation.

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