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No, not a vinyl toy post… this is one for you record collectors.
Spotted on eBay recently:
(Click for full-size versions)
I know nothing of this “The Ninja” band, and I’m not an 80s hair metal guy by any stretch of the imagination, but my gaaaawd is this not the beast thing you’ve ever seen? Who new simple mail-order ninja hoods could contain such voluminous hair?!?!? Evidently, this wasn’t the only mid-80s band named “Ninja” either.
Meanwhile, a very nice reader sent me these shots of the 45rpm single released in Japan of “The Legend of the Ninja” — the disco-synth-jazz fusion theme song to Ninja in the Dragon’s Den. This cut truly is the apex of music in the civilized history of mankind.
With lyrics even!!!
And here’s about the cleanest MP3 of this gem I’ve ever heard, with the jazzy b-side “Silver Moon” as well.
Bless you, wherever you are now, Alfredo Chen and your wonderful singers…
If only THE NINJA: Warrïors of Rock had done a hair-metal cover of “Legend of the Ninja”…
Tags: Ninja in the Dragon's Den, records, THE NINJA: Warrirors of Rock
A neat little menko card, likely from the 60s, featuring characters from Onmitsu Kenshin, the ground-breaking TV series beloved in Australia as The Samurai.
It’s pretty rare to see a color image from this seminal B&W series, and what few exist are mostly colorized monochrome shots like this. Too bad the halftone screens and registrations on photo menkos are always so wretched.
Tags: menko, Shintaro, The Samurai
Originally published February, 2010
Have owned this “sugoroku” illustrated game board for years but am finally discovering the actual nature of it.
Click the image for a huge-ass scan of this.
Essentially a Japanese version of Chutes and Ladders, these thin paper game boards have been produced for centuries in one form or another (read here about an older version of the game based on backgammon and made illegal twice in Japanese history).
I’ve seen several based on chambara, tokusatsu and boys adventure anime, but this one is a melting pot of various ninja properties – or is at least meant to EVOKE those properties. Yeah, I’m thinking characters owned by multiple studios or TV networks appearing on one product means unlicensed…
Man, some of this art is just precious. Without being able to read the captions, I’m seeing illos that are certainly meant to be Masked Ninja Akakage and Kagemaru of Iga there, and a villain that could be a skull shocker from Lion Maru or a shinobi-fied Golden Bat.
Tags: Sugoroku games
So yeah, man did the month of December sneak up on me in the dark with a piano wire…
This was planned as three individual posts, but today is the first day I’ve been able to breathe in three weeks, so here it all is in one big session:
Henshin Ninja Arashi vintage kid’s pop-up book
Understood it’s a rare item, especially in this good a shape, but I just couldn’t swim in the ludicrous waters of pricing the Japanese seller wanted for this, and shipping from Japan is always a total bone. However one of you more affluent readers could put a little eBay search time in and make me a happy, happy camper this Christmas.
These Japanese pop-up books are ambitious as hell with the gimmick graphics. Multiple layers, intricate illustrations. Just awesome…
But let’s face it… none of us are rich, are we? Didn’t think so…
So for the more frugal shopper there’s this Cannon Films Ninja III: The Domination press kit, with some awesomely 80′s art on the cover. These are somewhat common in Hollywood memorabilia shops, or at least they were — that whole thing where you see something all over the place until you need to buy one in December, and whatnot…
I’m going to hold out hope for a truly wealthy and generous Japanese reader though. This plastic promotional advertising bank from the 60′s ninja boom over there NEEDS to be on my mantle!
Described in a Yahoo! Japan auction as “Mitsubishi Color TV Takao ‘DENSHI NINJA’ figure (MANDARAKE HENYA)” — this is a 5″ promotional item from 1968 that would have been in retail stores on top of TV displays. Maybe you got one for the kid if you bought a new TV?
A non-retail toy like this is ludicrously rare, even in Japan. After being listed in the Yahoo! Japan site it made it’s way to our eBay for a week or so for big bucks, then disappeared before the auction ended. Maybe Santa-San scooped it up for me???
On a more domestic front, here’s a great item from our own 80′s boom — a Sho Kosugi knock-off t-shirt!
The sketchy art here is swiped from the ‘iron claws’ poster a lot of us had on our walls back in the day. Unfortunately, vintage t-shirts have a competing market of hipster douchebags looking for ironic wardrobes, so the prices on such fare are just too much. If you spot such a piece on eBay, or in a trust-funded boutique in Williamsburg or Silverlake, and it’s less than $50 I know a stocking that needs stuffing over here. Oh, and size 7xxxxl-mega-gargantua, please.
Well, if these suggestions haven’t inspired you to empty your wallets and throw some ninja crap my way… honestly, don’t sweat it. I’ve probably got enough (read: TOO MUCH!) shinobi swag over here as it is.
I’ll leave you with a final image, a nice Christmas memory of where it all started for me — my haul of Asian World of Martial Arts ninja goods circa 1984. That was a good year, and I still have some of that stuff!
Have a safe and happy holiday everyone!!!
Posted 8 months, 1 week ago. 2 comments
Did you get cash or coal in your stocking Tuesday morning? Well, if it was cash, and it’s burning a hole in your pocket, then here’s some choice items on eBay right now:
Ruby Spears animation cell of the Ninja from RAMBO
…or if you want something closer to the source…
Kamen no Ninja Akakage anime cel
Ninja Hattori-Kun figure diorama
I have one of these, and it’s one of the best NHK toys ever. Four pieces form an 8-character scene, with the hero in kite-flying mode gliding above. Well done, Furuta!
Vintage 80s COMMANDO 18″ “Klaw” figure
The biggest ninja figure ever made, this overside articulated monster is actually the villain figure for a matching figure of Arnold Schwarzenegger as John Matrix from Commando. This one’s missing his sword and a belt, but it’s dirt cheap compared to what they’ve gone for previously.
Magic Mountain roller coaster pennant
Rubber throwing stars
These semi-rigid rubber shuriken are available from myriad shops in Japan, with soft foam target boards, too. If these were around in the 80s I’d have a few less scars from ill-advised teenage ninja missions in the woods of Massachusetts.
Of course, there’s a ton more great stuff out there, but I’m not going to enable my competition in an auction environment, so happy post-holiday hunting!
Posted 1 year, 8 months ago. Add a comment
Felt obligated to get a quick Halloween post in this year in the midst of all the book stuff going down at FPU.
This Collegeville kids vinyl costume is from 1986, with art based on the classic ninja dart board.
A few things bother me here:
1.) You just had to market your “Glow in the Dark” feature on the costume itself? Really?
2.) And does it make sense for the shadow master of the night to glow in the dark in the first place?
3.) Is it a good idea to put a shuriken target board on a kid’s torso???
The mask is half generic action figure, half Joseph Lai/Godfrey Ho costuming.
$3.99… worth every penny!
Have a safe, sugary and scary Halloween everybody, and much love and hope going out to all the waterlogged of the East Coast.
Posted 1 year, 10 months ago. Add a comment
Tags: Collegeville costumes, Halloween
This 4″ porcelain windchime came from Japan, the seller not knowing how old but had it in her possession since the early 80s. However the design is old school enough, I have a feeling the same mold was used for decades and by myriad vendors. There’s no copyright date or manufacturer indicated anywhere, so this would fall into the wide category of unlicensed generic merch, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you could by them still at Iga tourist village stalls.
It’s hard to make out, but the ninja is holding a secret scroll.
These are the sorts of non-descript products that are ‘everywhere’ and you think they’ll always be around. Until they’re NOT. These are the things that become rarer than rare. Check eBay for generic ninja merch from the 80s. You’ll see the non-property and bootleg stuff that sold off blankets in subways and at dirtmalls and swapmeets routinely outsell licensed mass market merch. You can find an old Storm Shadow figure anywhere, but try to find another one of these…
Posted 2 years, 4 months ago. 1 comment
With the 80s craze came a lot of repurposed merchandise – stuff that for the previous decade’s boom had been sold as kung-fu gear now emblazoned with ninja logos. The above looks to have been a Chinese-esque design probably inspired by something David Carradine tossed around on network TV. But any 70s leftovers were given new life in the “ninja star” obsessed 80s.
The notion of shuriken pendants wasn’t exclusive to this company, either. In the dodgy swap meet, dirt mall, subway blanket, Chinatown video store realm you’d see full-size, razor sharp throwing stars with tiny holes hastily drilled into them somewhere to technically make them jewelry, not illegally sold weapons.
Now just what made a net a “Ninja Capture Net?” I don’t know, and I never this particular item, but I’m pretty certain it was some type of conventional fishing deal shinobi-fied for mail order. They made some pretty strong claims here about the net’s effectiveness. Not sure I’d trust something I mail-ordered for less than $15 against a “sword-weilding enemy.”
I also like their observation for item #704A – A black stick is invisible at night!
Nothing however, beats my all-time favorite piece of repurposed merchandise, the Ninja Boomerang.
Posted 2 years, 7 months ago. Add a comment
Tags: 80s martial arts supply ads, vintage magazines
It was the 1980s, and there wasn’t a cheesy enough piece of Japanese graphics or ninja-related bad illustration we wouldn’t wear on a black t-shirt.
And let’s just take a look at the logic of this:
It’s a tough read at first because of some piss-poor ad layout choices, but these were indeed “Glow-in-the-Dark” ninja t-shirts. Yeah…
Hey, maybe while you were wearing the “glow of the invisable [sic] ninja” you could scream the death cry of the silent killer or something.
And look again – INVISIBLE spelled correctly and incorrectly right next to each other. Classic!
Posted 2 years, 11 months ago. Add a comment
Tags: 80s martial arts supply ads, vintage magazines