Super pressed for time lately, but I will leave you all with another nice selection of vintage Menko cards. These seem to be Fujimaru-themed, with plenty of the loose dot patterns, off register color and dodgy third-party artwork that make these things so damn cool.
Scored a few more menko cards, these feature some surprisingly ON-model art and photo collage work.
Dunno when the original art for these was done – either a century ago or last month to emulate a century ago – but you can still pick them up in grocery stores and gift shops in any big city’s ‘Little Tokyo.’ I got these last week in cellophane-wrapped 8-packs.
Thought a good follow-up to my anti-Ninja Assassin / pro-Shinobi-no-Mono rant last week would be a look at some rather strange S-n-M related merch – colorized menko cards.
Released contemporary with the 60’s series, these ‘cigarette cards’ used stills from the B&W films, with colors rather awkwardly overlaid. I think the idea was to make the otherwise grave imagery as colorful and kid-appealing as possible, because the color choices are pretty illogical otherwise.
I think for the month of December we’ll concentrate on MERCH, this being the most gloriously commercialized of all holiday seasons. So look to the Collectibles and Toys and Statues categories to bring out the ninja kid in all of us…
Now these are some awesome menko cards! Watari the Ninja Boy, Sasuke, Tange Saezen and more, represented by original art from the card company – hence the slightly off model illos. And do we really need that male nudity???
This un-punched sheet of circular menkos is a lot more off-model. I’m pretty sure two of them are supposed to be Kagemaru of Iga, but the rest are a crapshoot.
OK, the rectangular Henshin Ninja Arashi cards are pretty good, but that circular ‘POG’-like one in the middle is just awful! But these aren’t the best of the worst…
Kaiketsu Lion Maru my ass… I’m calling total bullshit on the disc on the right! That’s just some nature book painting of a lion’s head with some hastily drawn gloves coming in from the sides. Even the more on-model rectangular card is pretty wonky in the too-human face. Looks more like that old Ron Pearlman Beauty and the Beast TV monster than the white-maned transforming ninja hero of the 70’s.
I absolutely adore the Japanese equivalent of our “cigarette cards” – menko. These collectible cards featured all sorts of popular media, celebrity actors and athletes, historical and nature subjects, etc. I scored a pile of these in 2006 and 2007, many of which feature photos and illustrations of hooded swordsman and ninja.
Menko have been big since the 1910’s, when photographic reproduction wasn’t exactly great, especially on a cheap mass-produced premium.
One really strange thing you run across with vintage Menko is off-model illustrations. Hard to tell if it was a pirating issue or not, but companies often used their own in-house artists to portray hit animated and manga properties, rather than license the actual artwork from the source. You get some really goofy variants…