Best/Worst dojo posters ever

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There’s a line of ninja posters out there that may have originated in the craze era, but may also be a lot newer. Either way, they carry the spirit of the 80s mail order gear boom in every cheesy way one could hope for.

Weapons right out of a Chinatown video/cell phone accessory shop, fake office plants for environment, what’s not to love here? I’ve seen some of this line in stores recently, so even if they are vintage images, they’re still being reproduced by someone somewhere. Keep it up, whoever you are, you’re doing the lord’s work…

Is the guy on the left about to commit testicular seppuku or what? And I’m sorry, double boomerangs is so beyond awesome I cannot even deal!

Go fly a kite. A NINJA KITE!

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Top Flite crafted this 48″ plastic kite during the 80s craze, but you can actually still buy vintage stock through an Indiana-based website here! And at only two for $10, you can afford to be like me and wrap one up in a tree, while keeping one to spare.

Love these illos!

While at the TopFlite site, check out the equally amazing commando paratrooper kite. Craze-era stock at 80s prices? You can’t go wrong this summer.


ARASHI paper dolls

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I’ve featured all sorts of collectibles based on the early 70s property Henshin Ninja Arashi. These might be the cheapest of souvenirs, but they’re among the coolest in my opinion.

When punched-out and assembled, these 8″ cards produce nifty 6.5″ semi-articulated paper dolls. Looks like the transforming bird-themed super ninja has been portrayed by a third party artist working for the licensors, the art sits somewhere between the manga and television versions of the character design.

I especially love these villain cards, which are closer to the manga:

Here’s an assembled hero:

REVENGE OF THE NINJA soundtrack album

The Revenge of the Ninja OST is one of the finest pieces of action movie synth released in the 80s, if not the best. Nothing will inspire your fog-shrouded weapons chest power-up montage like the soaring Asian-y keyboards of prolific composer/musician Robert J. Walsh.

Walsh was responsible for all sorts of familiar soundtracks in the 80’s; the G.I. Joe, Transformers and JEM cartoons, exploitation classics like Leprechaun, and the definitive 80’s American ninja sound. A lot of what he did for ROTN was recycled for Ninja III: The Domination, and he certainly laid the audio template for subsequent synth-heavy genre entries.

For you youngsters… back in the day we used to buy these big ass Long Play Albums, and while wearing down their grooves by repeated playing, we’d stare for hours on end at the cover art, track listings and info on the back. This immersive soundtrack experience was largely lost when CDs took over and reduced music packaging to 5″ illegible squares, and in the MP3 age even that is extinct.

Best you can do now is play this YouTube video and stare at these scans of the 1983 vinyl release.

This score goes for a fortune among vinyl collectors, and never made it to CD or MP3… well, legit release MP3 at least. I don’t advocate illegal hosting or anything, but I’ve heard one can turn over a few stones and dig a little on this interweb thing and find some transfers from the original vinyl. Happy hunting…

And if, Mr. Walsh, you happen to read this, THANK YOU for the finest ninja ear candy ever recorded!

Tiki mugs? Planters? You be the judge…

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From eBay to dirt malls, swap meets and yard sales coast to coast, you see these 5-8″ ceramic vessels sold as both “Tiki mugs” (from joints like Benihana) and “bamboo planters” quite a bit.

Not sure which description is accurate? The holes on the fronts sure do seem straw-friendly. But the gaping holes in back seem too low to hold an appreciable amount of liquor. Yeah, the hole is big enough to pour crushed ice into, but I mean, you couldn’t tip it at all without spilling rum on your hipster bowling shirt. Certainly suitable for some stalks of bamboo though…

Truth of it is, they definitely started life as novelty mugs for gimmicky steakhouse chains and Asian-themed bars. Benihana had an official line that bore their logo, and plenty of similar knock-offs were available elsewhere.

BUT… I’ve scored as many of these that have dirt-stained interiors as I have ones that still smell vaguely of fruity drinks, so somebody was multi-purposing the damn things.

I’ve seen probably 4-6 different ninja in both white and green, likely 80’s, but plenty of other designs came before and after, from kendo students to geisha to buddhas. Read all about the dizzying array of “tiki mugs” at this superb blog!

**AND THIS JUST IN!** Scored the below on eBay just now while looking for supplemental images for this post!

This is an official Benihana model. Missing the small ceramic sword that went in the otherwise straw hole, alas.

Why do I collect all these ceramic ninja while living in quakey California?

Swift, Silent and… CHEESY!

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Thanks to Roy Ware of the awesome Black Sun blog for sending me this:

Yes, shinobi cheezy-poofs! Getting my ass down to Little Tokyo grocers right f’n now!

Meanwhile, check out Roy’s great feature on Gekko Kamen up right now, complete with a theme song to die for.

And hey, WOW! According to my count – this is VN’s 200th post!!! In less than a year, too. You’d think I was obsessed with ninja or something…

Hanzo Socks!

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My pal Lili Chin is the bomb! She bought these for me on a recent vacation to Japan.

Obviously “inspired by” Sonny Chiba’s Hattori Hanzo in Kage no Gundan. I was shocked when these actually fit my gaijin yeti feet.

Now to master some monkey-style foot-flinging shuriken skils!

Thanks Lili! You’ve earned a completely gratuitous plug for Doggie Drawings – an effort to not only immortalize your pets but to help rescue Boston Terriers in need.

OK, now get back to work on Dead Ringo!

Remco VHS art – 1986

The much-missed masters of cheap toy lines Remco released a He-Man-sized line of martial arts action figures from 1984-86 called Secret of the Ninja. Three sets were done in ’86 that included VHS tapes to ‘play along to’ – and man are these tapes some historical oddities!

Yeah… Kaiketsu Lion Maru… the pilot episode… on domestic VHS… DUBBED IN ENGLISH! What the hell? Did the soon-to-be-defunct toy company bring in a cast of voice-over actors to do this up? Was there a dubbed pilot floating around public domain after a long-forgotten failed pitch to film or TV markets? Is this the only surviving remnant of a whole season of the tokusatsu classic  re-purposed for the American market that never saw the light of day?

Now the dubbed version of Kamui I can understand a bit more – the series ran for years in Latin American markets, was dubbed for Italian TV, and more. An English version was probably done in hopes of similar syndication, but the nature of the knife-wielding youngster killing ninja in the trees may have been a bit much for American corporate sensibilities.

Regardless of the origins of the programs on these tapes, the box art was certainly new and a product of Remco. They’re signed “S. Paracio” or “Sparacio.”

Someday I’ll get around to photographing my modest collection of these figures. It’s a weird line with all-over-the-place designs, and head sculpts that look a lot like 70’s high-school math teachers.