There is not a lot of this around. The 1960s were long before the era where every film or TV series had its action figures, games, puzzles, posters, toys, etc. Even Star Trek later in the decade had only the Viewmaster 3-D slides, the Chad Valley Give-a-Show film strip, the Gold Key comic and the early James Blish novelisations. Doctor Who which, in its early days overlapped The Samurai had very little beyond a few annuals once you took out the Dalek toys of various kinds. There were three main items: the Scanlen gum cards set; the plastic swords which came with a tinted colour photo of a character from the series (I saw one with Fūma Kotarō) and the ninja suits which were basically black pyjamas with thick white overstitching on the cuffs and front.. A fourth, less generally available piece would be the souvenir program from the stage presentation. In Japan, the theme song, Edo no onmitsu wataridori sung by the Bonnie Jacks was released as a single by King Records (EC 194) in a card sleeve with a photo of Ōse as Shintarō surrounded by some of the characters from the very first story set in Ezo (Hokkaido). Ōse also released a single in the 1960s, on one side was the theme song from the television drama, Kuroi amigasa which was shown on TBS and in which he starred. It appears to have been a costume drama (an amigasa is one of those big straw hats samurai and others went around in when they didn't want to be recognised. So the title means "Black Straw Hat"). On the flip side was a modern song Ore no kokoro momereta yoru ("The night my heart was troubled").
A random selection of the gum cards. More can be seen throughout the website. I have one full set plus about half another, collected during 1965. One of the ninja suits and a plastic sword. Note heavy embroidery around sleeves.
Home-made shuriken typical of thousands knocked up by enthusiastic boys in metal-working classes in schools at the time. I have it on good authority that they took a lot of effort to make, were rather blunt and when thrown at the usual hardwood fence of the average suburban Sydney home, tended to bounce off without making an impression, and ricochet towards the thrower with potentially dire results.
The Japanese released a soundtrack LP on King Records in 1979. This had the main themes and songs, some incidental music and sound effects of shuriken being thrown and explosions followed by extracts from the very first episode (Edo kara kita otoko "The Man from Edo"), the last episode of the first story (Onmitsu wataridori "Code of the Samurai") and the last episode of all (Kōga-ryū Kongō "The Duel") on one side and extracts from all episodes of Zoku Ninpō Fūma Ichizoku "Fuma Ninjas Continued". It also had an interview with one of the producers and a complete listing of episodes as well as photos from the series, the early 1970s revival and the feature films of the mid-60s.
Sydney-based fan artist Mike McGann who was well known for creating t-shirts featuring characters from various science fiction film and TV series such as Star Trek, Blake's 7, Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy Doctor Who and Star Wars, put out two Samurai-inspired t-shirts in the late 1980s. One featured Shintarō and the other Tonbei.
I published a fanzine in 1988 simply called The Samurai (though title actually read Onmitsu Kenshi in Japanese characters). This was based on an article I wrote for my own fanzine, Multiverse in 1980 before I had been able to do as much research as I had in the intervening years. It was sold via mail order at or at science fiction conventions. This fanzine, now long out of print, in turn became the basis of this website.
Though not available commercially, here is an example of fan art, a painting of Shintarō by science fiction fan, Peter Lempert done in 1985.
A booklet was produced by Brisbane-based radio broadcaster Greg Newman for the series of screenings of four episodes of The Samurai which toured Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne in 1993. This had a brief history of the series, an episode listing and photocopies of articles from Australian Women's Weekly on the series plus copies of press clippings from the Sydney Morning Herald and the Herald-Sun (Melbourne) on Ōse's visit and the stage play. It also included a copy of that interview Ōse did on a visit out here in February 1991 which appeared in the West Australian and the Herald-Sun.
Front cover Interior
Poster for the event in Canberra
And of course in 1990, the first video of Samurai episodes was released. This was by Hollywood House and had only two of the dubbed English episodes on it (Touch of Death and Living Death) plus some footage of Ōse's visit in early 1966 and an extremely dodgy interview with him conducted by Victor Sawicki many, many years later, where neither spoke the other's language. Another compilation of miscellaneous episodes followed from Hollywood House a few years later with a final one which was issued with a photocopied cover for the 1993 Samurai screenings.
In 1997 Siren Entertainment, under its Manga Live rubric, issued two videos, each with three random episodes, the same ones as were on the Hollywood House video tapes.
From 2002 to 2006 Siren Entertainment released complete stories in order from Koga Ninjas to Ninja Terror, first on both video and DVD, then from The Fuma Ninjas on DVD only as a boxed set.
The Japanese also released DVDs of the episodes, first as a boxed set of the whole series, then, in 2004, as separate stories.
This is Puppet Ninjas.
In 2010 Siren began to release (or re-release) the entire series, one story a month, starting with the very first story, "Spy Swordsman" which had not been released before (apart from the first episode on video). These new releases have, in addition to the English dubbing, the option of the original Japanese soundtrack with newly translated subtitles. They are also in more compact packaging than the earlier DVDs.
These are front cover of the first two. As can be seen, they have taken their inspiration for their design from the gumcards
These are the backs
For a full discussion of The Samurai on Video(DVD) go to THE SAMURAI ON VIDEO page
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