Charming Avan Titles 1

Each of the Ultra Series has its characteristic opening title called “avan title.”

It seems to be a Japanese coined word of French and English, and I don’t know the English equivalent.

Today’s Ultraman Series also follow this tradition.

I especially like the ones of the First Trilogy, “Ultra Q,” “Ultraman” and “Ultra Seven.”

The one of “Ultra Q” thrilled me most among them.

 

The marble patterns going round gradually turn into the title of “Ultra Q.”

The attached eerie sound effects were also effective.

The guys around the same age as me usually say that “Ultra Q” was so much scaring.

I absolutely agree and find that this avan title matched the series.

In “Ultraman,” it’s interesting to see the title of “Ultra Q” formed first in just the same way as “Ultra Q” though in color this time.

 

The title of “Ultraman” with the subtitle “Kuuso Tokusatsu Series” (Fantasy SFX Series) below appears as if it breaks up the title of “Ultra Q.”

It’s very much impressive.

The First Trilogy is categorized as “Kuuso Tokusatsu Series,” and it’s likely that the First Trilogy obtained the trademark registration as such.

Naturally, as “Ultraman” was a color TV program, the avan title was remade in color as well.

The sound effects changed into a different take.

 


Idyllic merchandising

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Drawing for merchandising of Ultraman (1966)

Taking a look at the face of the soft vinyl toy of Shodai (original) Ultraman, it looks similar to the front, side and back views of the drawing for merchandising of the time.

It’s not a design drawing by Tohl Narita, and it’s said that a variety of goods were made based on this drawing.

It seems that the photos of the front, side and back views of Ultraman were not taken though such photos would become indispensable for merchandising in later years.

 

Moreover, looks like there was not much of an idea of merchandising at the time.

First of all, the adults involved in merchandising were unlikely to understand that such characters as monsters would be so much liked by children with no precedent.

So a variety of goods including toys, stationery and snacks featuring monsters and the Ultra heroes were the ones produced after they became fully aware of the popularity of such characters among children.

Looks like it was after a while when the producers of the series themselves noticed the importance of merchandising clearly.

 

In the early stage of the production of “Ultraman,” the photos of the front, side and back views of the characters were not taken.

Therefore, for example, what the back of Alien Baltan looks like remains unknown even now.

The fact shows that the producers didn’t have much awareness of merchandising of the products.

But I love such idyllic days!

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Front, side and back views of Ultra Seven (A Type mask; 1967)

Bullmark & Marusan

I now remember that I also had soft vinyl toys of Returned Ultraman and Takkong.

I think that it was around the same time when I had the one of Galvan.

I guess the far left one of Returned Ultraman was the one I had.

And a generous friend of mine gave them to me when we were elementary school students.

I often gave him the cartoons I drew, and I think he gave me the soft vinyl toys in return.

 

Takkong is a monster which appeared in Episode 1 & 2 of “The Return of Ultraman.”

I didn’t have the soft vinyl toys of Ultraman and Ultra Seven.

Partly because the toys looked too cute for me at the time.

Anyway, the soft vinyl toys were so popular among children at the time for sure.

The ones I had in those days were produced by Bullmark (1969-1977).

 

According to the information on Web, Bullmark was a company established by three of the former employees working with Marusan (or Maruzan 1947-).

Bullmark developed a lot on the occasion of “the second Kaiju Boom” centering on “The Retuen of Ultraman” in the 1970s but folded in 1977.

I’m fully aware that they were really well-made and attractive when I take a second look at them now.

Their products also contributed greatly in helping us to expand our dream in our childhood.

(The photos of the toys are the ones I found on Web.)


Memory of soft vinyl toys

As far as toys of monsters are concerned, it’s not that I have been a dedicated collector of them.

But I had a few of the soft vinyl toys of the Ultra monsters.

I remember I had the one of Windom, Eleking, King Joe and U-tom.

All of these are the monsters of “Ultra Seven.”

I was a bit disappointed at the time that they didn’t look like the real ones we saw on TV.

 

The idea to make such toys look like the real monster suits faithfully didn’t exist at the time.

There were many of them which were painted in a different color from the real suits.

It’s likely that they were intended to stand out among the other bright-colored toys.

As to the appearance of the toys, they were more simplified and looked much more lovable than the real monsters.

I was dissatisfied with their deformed look in those days.

 

It should have been impossible to make the molds so much detailed as to make them look just like the real things.

Also, the producers seem to have tried to avoid making them look scaring to children.

They might also have taken account of the possibility of injuring children with a sharply pointed part and so on.

Aware of these, I’m impressed with the producers’ thoughtfulness toward us.

Now I also find attractiveness unique to such soft vinyl toys.

(The photos I fond on Web are the same soft vinyl toys I had at the time.)


Memory of Galvan

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Galvan

Spiegel of “Captain Ultra” is said to be something innovative which introduced the idea of joining and separating to a mecha of an SFX series.

The idea was taken over to Ultra Hawk 1, and it might have brought about the inspiration of King Joe, that is the super enemy robot appearing in Episode 14 and 15 “Westward, Ultra Garrison” of “Ultra Seven,” which also separates into three and rejoins.

Hawk 1 designed by Tohl Narita looks marvelous, of course.

But Spiegel also looks nice with a different taste from Hawk 1 though I don’t know who designed it.

 

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King Joe designed by Tohl Narita

Turning our eyes to the monsters as well, “Captain Ultra” had unique ones of those with a different attractiveness from the Ultra monsters designed by Tohl Narita.

Browsing through them on the Internet, in addition to Alien Bandel and Metalinome posted before, I remember Galvan very well, too.

If my memory serves me right, it was set to be a robot monster made of iron scraps put together.

 

The idea and the appearance matching it are so much fun!

I also remember very well that I had a soft vinyl toy of Galvan which was my favorite.

I’m not sure, but I feel like a friend gave it to me when I was an elementary school student.

I remember he had lots of such soft vinyl toys of monsters.

The below is a photo of the toy I found on Web.

I think the one I had was painted in red.

Looks so cute!!!

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Toy of Valgan

Spiegel & Ultra Hawk 1

I hear that Tsuburaya Productions’ preparation for “Ultra Seven” got started near the end of “Ultraman.”

But, as posted previously, as the Ultra Series broadcast by TBS, Toei’s “Captain Ultra” came in between.

I knew that the early Ultra Series included “Captain Ultra.”

And  I did watch and enjoyed it in those days as a child.

But I thought that it was between “Ultra Q” and “Ultraman” when it was broadcast.

 

One reason is that both “Ultra Q” and “Captain Ultra” had no Ultra hero, just humans fight against monsters.

Another reason is…

I don’t mean to be rude to Toei Company, but I found it quite unlikely that “Captain Ultra” was a product which came after “Ultraman.”

The quality of Tsuburaya’s SFX stood out so much.

I also think that the designing by Tohl Narita for the Ultra Series played an important role in making the Tsuburaya’s products look more sophisticated.

 

Be that as it may, I remember I enjoyed “Captain Ultra” as well doubtlessly.

It’s likely that “Ultra Seven” was initially planned as a space opera product like “Captain Ultra” with a provisional title of “Ultra Garrison” without no appearance of an Ultra hero like Ultraman.

Spiegel, the spaceship driven by Captain Ultra, separates into three parts each of which flies individually.

The concept was taken over to Ultra Hawk 1 appearing in “Ultra Seven” which also separates into three fighters.

(The photos are the ones of the toys I found on the Web.)


Memory of Captain Ultra

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Joe (far left), Captain Ultra (center) and Hack (far right)

Toei’s “Captain Ultra” was not rerun so much as Tsuburaya’s “Ultra Q,” “Ultraman” and “Ultra Seven,” I guess.

So I remember little of its content.

It didn’t feature a superhero like Ultraman or Ultra Seven.

It’s a product broadcast from April 16 through September 14, 1964 with 24 episodes in total.

According to the Internet, the story is:

 

“In the late 21st century, the earth has faced the age of ‘Space Exploitation’ with the development of space exploration plans.

But unknown dangers are constantly waiting for the human beings who have made their way into space.

And then the space police patrolling party has been established belonging to the space station ‘Silver Star.’

Once they receive rescue signals by a special shooter, Captain Takehiko Hongo nicknamed ‘Captain Ultra’ keeps fighting against Alien Bandel and various monsters along with Joe, Alien Kikero, and Hack, versatile robot, driving the spaceship Spiegel.”

 

Wow! Sounds like fun!!!

I remember Hack very well. He’s a good guy.

As to Joe, not much.

It’s likely that Joe was dropped halfway through because the spiny head looked very much scary to viewing children and gained a bad reputation among them.

Nenji Kobayashi who played Joe developed into a popular actor in later years up to now.

It’s interesting to learn that the head which looks funny now was so much scaring to the children of the time.

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Hack (left) and Joe

Captain Ultra

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Captain Ultra & his buddies fighting against Metalinome

The early Ultra Series, in fact, are not only the First Trilogy, “Ultra Q,” “Ultraman” and “Ultra Seven.”

“Ultraman” started to be broadcast just after the end of “Ultra Q,” but there was a product titled “Captain Ultra” (1967) between “Ultraman” and “Ultra Seven.”

“Captain Ultra” was not a product produced by Tsuburaya Productions.

It was created by Toei Company, which is one of the movie companies founded after Toho Company known for Godzilla.

In fact, “Ultraman” ended up with 39 episodes in spite of its high viewer ratings which marked the highest rating of over 40%.

 

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Alien Bandel

Because the belated shooting failed to keep up with the broadcasting.

The TBS which broadcast “Ultraman” at the time decided to start “Captain Ultra” after “Ultraman.”

Tsuburaya Productions was given half a year to prepare for their next Ultra which was “Ultra Seven.”

As long as “Captain Ultra” was produced by another company, it’s not counted in the Tsuburaya’s Ultra Series currently.

 

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Satoshi Furuya (left; Ultraman) & Hirohisa Nakata (Captain Ultra) , handshake for the handover

“Captain Ultra” was subtitled “Uchu Tokusatsu Series (Space SFX Series),” not “Kuuso Tokusatsu Series (Fantsy SFX Series)” which covered the First Trilogy.
“Captain Ultra,” was named after “Captain Future,” an American science fiction novel series.

It was a product like a space opera.

It had a unique taste different from Tsuburaya’s products.

It was fun to watch it as a child.

I remember Metalinome and Alien Bandel well.

Don’t they look good?


Stamp rally seems to attract people

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On my way to work, I found a panel for “Ultraman Stamp Rally” at JR Mejiro Station.

For this event, each one of the designated stations has a particular stamp featuring a Ultra hero or Ultra monster.

In Mejiro Station’s case, it’s Alien Prote which appeared in Episode 29 “The Forsaken Earthman” of “Ultra Seven.”

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The featured Ultra monsters for this rally seem to be the ones liked by Ultra maniacs.

I’m sure that the organizers include such maniacs.

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The details about Alien Prote are shown rightly.

As explained on the panel, Mejiro has Gakushuin University which was used as a film location for Alien Proe’s episode.20160117

That’s why the station features this particular alien for the stamp rally.

 

The photo on the right is one of the scenes showing the Gakushuin campus in the film.

Alien Prote disguised itself as a professor of Kyonan University in the drama.

And the Gakushuin campus was used for the shooting.

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I’m pleased to see the original photos of Ultra Seven and Alien Prote used for the panel.

This is Seven with presumably its A Type mask used at the very beginning of the shooting.

It characteristically has a slit around the mouth and jaw in a finally failed attempt to make the mouth movable.

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A scene on another day.

It’s great to see young Ultra fans and parents accompanying them line up for the stamp panel.

I hope the kids will learn what the A Type mask of Seven looks like!!!


Ultraman Stamp Rally

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Stamp Rally flier (front)

I found a poster featuring Ultraman at a JR (Japan Railway) station.

In Japan, railways are a well-developed traffic network that is indispensable for daily life.

The poster tells us about “Ultraman Stamp Rally” slated to be held from Jan. 12 through Feb. 26.

Looks like, if you get a stamp book particular to this event and get it stamped at designated JR East stations in a certain number, you will win a prize.

 

This is an event for children and their parents.

I’m pleased to see such an event held because it shows an unchanged popularity of Ultraman.

What was impressive to me is that the illustration on the poster is quite faithful to the real suits of the Ultra heroes.

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Original Zoffy (“Ultraman” Episode 39)

Zoffy illustrated top apparently imitates the original Zoffy appearing in “Ultraman.”

Not the one that had guest appearances in the other Ultra Series.

Originally, Zoffy is a character which appeared only once in the last single episode of “Ultraman”

 

And it’s not that there is a product featuring him.

Regarding Seven, Returned Ultraman, Ace and Taro, it’s interesting to see each of the illustrations show no hems of the gloves that the real costumes actually have.

The sky with clouds in back also looks like the one that Tohl Narita often painted.

This is an illustration which makes me feel the illustrator’s affection for Ultra.

I wonder who drew the illustration. (Mr. Yuji Kaida?)

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Stamp rally flier (back)