A promotional King Ghidorah mask! Neat, huh? :)
The Shocker Spider-Man (Kumo-Otoko) as he appears in the first episode (“The Strange Spider-Man”) of Masked Rider (Toei; 1971)!
The upgraded Masked Rider (now Masked Rider 1) on his new & improved Cyclone motorcycle! From Episode 53 onward of Masked Rider (Toei; 1971), when star Hiroshi Fujioka returned to the series for good after his accident (after which he was not allowed to wear the Rider costume again; that was left strictly to his JAC and Oono Kenyuukai stunt doubles).
Rare behind-the-scenes pic of the suitmation actor for Big Dai-X from Gou Nagai’s X-Bomber!
The Gelma Empire, the villains of Gou Nagai’s X-Bomber! From left to right: right-hand man Kozlo, the main villain Demon Lord Gelma, and field commander Bloody Mary (whose left eye is a face talking in a demonic male voice).
The heroes of Gou Nagai’s tokusatsu puppet show, X Bomber (Jin/Cosmo; 1980)! From left to right: Doctor Ben, Kilara, Bongo Heracles, Princess Lamia (who plays the most important part of the story), Bigman Lee, the little robot PP Adamsky, and the protagonist Shiro Ginga.
The heroes travel in a huge X-Wing style cruiser ship called X Bomber to protect the Earth from the invading Gelma Empire. Shiro, Bongo, and Bigman ride three smaller fighter components launched from X Bomber to form the giant robot Big Dai-X!
The show broadcast on Fuji TV from October 11, 1980 to March 28, 1981, with a total of 25 episodes (the first episode is a really neat preview/behind-the-scenes “pilot” episode). Nagai was highly influenced by Star Wars and wanted to create a puppet show (inspired by the works of Gerry Anderson, obviously) in that style, as well as infuse his trademark giant robot staple into the mix (although Big Dai-X is more similar to a Super Sentai robot than the average Nagai Super-Robot). The story is notable for having a continuous arc (with a climactic finish, naturally), as opposed to the episodic format of most tokusatsu shows at the time. The puppets were elaborate and beautiful rod puppets with articulation devices similar to Anderson’s “Supermarionation” technique (called “Supermariorama” for this series), only the characters’ skins were a thin rubber covering (which occasionally got frayed and damaged when too close to pyrotechnic FX, and had to be replaced). There’s also suitmation involved, especially with the robot Big Dai-X and the occasional giant robot menace sent by the Gelma Empire. The Darth Vader-like ultimate villain, Demon Lord Gelma, is a suitmation character as well.
The series’ music & theme is done by Japanese hard rock/heavy metal group Bow Wow, and gets my vote for the best rock score ever, in tokusatsu or anime (especially the still out of print LP soundtrack that cries for a CD release)! Members from Japanese music groups Bach Revolution and Adballoon also collaborated with Bow Wow’s frontman, Kyouji Yamamoto, on the underscore.
The show was seen in, among other countries, France, Italy, and most notably, the UK, where the show was retitled Star Fleet. The characters’/mecha names are mostly changed, and the show was given a new music soundtrack, with a new theme composed by Paul Bliss (which would be covered by Queen’s Brian May and Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen for an album called Star Fleet Project). That said, the series got a respectable treatment in the UK (despite neither Gou Nagai nor any of the other Japanese staff getting any credit; conversely, they get credit in the French dub, Bomber X), although only a couple of episodes were omitted (they were mostly recap episodes). There were also two compilation films made: The Thalian Space Wars and Space Quest for F-01. The series, in its Star Fleet version, was only shown on video in the US (in 8 volumes).
The titular superhero of Masked Rider (Toei; 1971) grapples with his first weekly foe, the Shocker Spider-Man (Kumo-Otoko) in the first episode, “The Strange Spider-Man!”
Here’s the Shocker Bat-Man (Koumori-Otoko), the weekly creepy from Episode 2 (“The Terrifying Bat-Man”) of the original Masked Rider (Toei; 1971)!
Weekly Film Focus: A fan-made diagram of the inner-workings of Dr. Serizawa’s Oxygen Destroyer from GODZILLA (1954).
(Apologies, I cannot source the artist, otherwise they’d be credited).
I’m glad Serizawa’s not alive to see the secrets of his Oxygen Destroyer made public. ;)
The odd gesture Godzilla makes after frying the Giant Condor in Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (1966) is actually a reference to one of his cinematic contemporaries, Yuzo Kayama’s Young Guy.
One of many reasons the Showa Godzilla rules. :)