Remember Piggsburg Pigs? No? Well, nobody else does, either, but here it is - the early-80siest cartoon to come out of 1990.

Side 2 of a Bandai Mighty Morphin Power Rangers pack-in catalog from 1994 (side 1 is here). Got this with either the Auto-Morphin Green Ranger or the blue Thunder Bike, I think.

Power Rangers hit when I was growing up on Guam, a Pacific island that’s four hours off of Japan by airplane (and eight off Hawaii, for comparison’s sake). Japanese toys, trading cards, and other memorabilia in their original-language packaging frequently made the trip over. So did the country’s television programming, in the form of both NHK transmissions carried by the local cable company and probably-actually-illegal rental shops that loaned out shows systematically taped off Japanese TV. For me, though, there was a third option.

Early in middle school, I had a Nisei-or-Sansei friend (okay, he was my only friend) whose relatives still lived in Japan. These relatives would regularly send care packages to my friend’s family, including various giant robot toys and cassettes of Japanese-language children’s programming; they were presumably meant for my friend’s younger brother, but we ended up watching them together anyway. It was through these tapes that I first saw G Gundam, Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z… and Dairanger, the show that would be adapted for Power Rangers’ second season.

Do you know how weird that was? Living in the era before the widespread use of the Internet, knowing that the Thunderzords came from a show with an entirely different set of suits and main villains than what was airing on Fox Kids? Mostly, what that knowledge made me was annoyed: annoyed that Saban “messed up” Dairanger by not keeping any of its in-suit fight footage, which had the side effect of forcing the American episodes to focus more on the out-of-suit antics of the Ranger teens.

Nobody watched early Power Rangers for the leads’ acting!

Still… despite that dissatisfaction, I kept an affinity for David Yost’s Billy. A smart, nerdy kid in glasses who was nonetheless a superhero? There was something inarguably uplifting about that for me (see: the part above about having an “only friend”). Those feelings led to me getting the blue Thunder Bike from the second assortment of Power Rangers toys - which, um, didn’t end up featuring into the show. At all.

Barring some instances of “oh god nothing else is on,” I ended up quitting the franchise almost entirely thereafter, and wouldn’t return until around Lightspeed Rescue and Time Force.

Unproduced Beast Wars Neo (Ultra Class, roughly?) version of Unicron. Images taken from the Japanese patent office website.

Final portion of “The Story of She-Ra,” the first Princess of Power mini-comic. Before anything else: Swift Wind’s unicorn horn looks so incredibly sad. Like the little ball at the end is some kind of overboard child protection measure. Don’t gore children, Swift Wind.

I wonder how we’re supposed to take He-Man’s initial dialogue to Catra on the first page. It feels really sarcastic, but there’s no way He-Man can know Catra is a villain since he literally just fell out of the sky in a blaze of rainbow colors and ran into her, so he may be acting genuinely polite there? Nothing says he can’t be The Most Well-Mannered Man In The Universe.

On a different note: I didn’t comment on this when Adora actually turned into She-Ra in the last set of pages, but… not only is the change between her two forms practically non-existent from a reader’s perspective, but Catra mistakes She-Ra for Adora in-story. Your ARCH-ENEMY can’t tell the difference between your secret identity and your superheroic self! That… that is a failure of the entire concept of secret identities! Mind, I am on-record as thinking alter egos for the Masters of the Universe protagonists are dumb anyway, and it’s not like the horse-riding blonde in the white dress exiting the Crystal Castle isn’t gonna be the horse-riding blonde in the white dress who entered the Crystal Castle a few moments ago, but… but… gah.

Anyway. With the entire raised-by-bad-guys plot point from the Secret of the Sword movie dropped (and not replaced with anything else), the story concludes with He-Man and She-Ra’s first - and only - meeting in She-Ra’s own comics. After this one, the focus is entirely on She-Ra and her allies facing off against Catra (and Entrapa), with no external MOTU references except apparently some Horde Troopers showing up in the final mini-comic… which I don’t own. I do have some of the other She-Ra mini-comics, though, and might scan them up if I can remember where they are…

(If you’re wondering why the Sorceress’ dialogue is suddenly red for one word balloon, all the She-Ra mini-comics have the moral of the story highlighted in red. Ehn.)

In closing, don’t stare at that final panel with She-Ra for too long. Her expression gets creepier the more you look.

Part 3 of 3. Part 1 is here and part 2 is here.

26 plays

So I own this Disney Afternoon cassette tape, and transferred the music from it onto MP3 a while back. Here’s track 5, “Home is Where the Heart is”. The tune originated as a lullaby in the TaleSpin pilot movie, Plunder & Lightning, sung by Rebecca Cunningham’s actress Sally Struthers. It was excised when the movie was divided up for syndication… and for some reason the cassette/CD recording, while extended, uses a different vocalist. Dunno what’s up with that.

please don’t sue me, giant mega-corporation

Side 1 of a Bandai Mighty Morphin Power Rangers pack-in catalog from 1994. Got this with either the Auto-Morphin Green Ranger or the blue Thunder Bike, I think.

Of note here is the Power Claws vehicle, which a quick search I did suggested didn’t actually hit stores… also, the red “lips” on the Lord Zedd art, which manage to make him look even creepier than normal. Plus there’s the awful layout of that final page, I guess. (Wouldn’t sticking the photo in the middle there have made more sense?)

Side 2 coming soon.

Packaging art for an unmade Transformers: Generation 2 version of Mirage. The figure itself got at least as far as one painted prototype, although the proto is missing the alligator graphics.
Scanned from the excellent Transformers Vault book.

Packaging art for an unmade Transformers: Generation 2 version of Mirage. The figure itself got at least as far as one painted prototype, although the proto is missing the alligator graphics.

Scanned from the excellent Transformers Vault book.

Second portion of “The Story of She-Ra,” the first Princess of Power mini-comic.

So in the Secret of the Sword movie, Hordak and Shadow Weaver raise the kidnapped baby Adora, who grows up to be a captain in the evil Horde (without her ever realizing the Horde is in fact evil, but apparently she was pretty sheltered). It takes the events surrounding He-Man’s arrival on Etheria for Adora to renounce the Horde, become She-Ra, and take up with the Great Rebellion. Here, um… Adora’s deal is that she’s heroically guarding the Crystal Castle from Catra as an adult, despite the interdimensional kidnapping still being part of her backstory. How does that work? Did someone on Etheria kidnap baby Adora from the Horde and raise her for the job? It seems to undermine the gravity of Mini-Comic Hordak’s plan if his abductee is outside of his control and doing good when we first meet her. The plot point shift isn’t explained in the final portion of the story, either…

(Also, apparently Spirit the horse is female in this universe, since a caption box calls him a filly.)

(Also also, the Crystal Castle really looks like a repainted Castle Grayskull in that long-shot, but that might just be me.)

Part 2 of 3. Part 1 is here.

EDIT: part 3 is here.

Reminder: babies and marketing are a devil-made pairing.

While I can find no evidence the Baby Stooges got off the ground, there are fourteen eBay auctions featuring merchandise from Bozo’s Clown Babies.

CLOWN BABIES.

Photos from this article, which I’d guess originated at a concurrent licensing expo.

A neat commercial for Bandai/Tamashii Nations S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla toys, using the figures themselves as Harryhausen-esque stop-motion puppets.