The greatest birthday of my life was when I turned seven in 1979. Sure, I had a roller skating party, but getting a Rodan Shogun Warriors figure that had a wingspan longer than my height was literally my greatest dream come true.

Ken Kuronuma, who wrote the original story for this film, based it on Captain Thomas F. Mantell, a pilot for the Kentucky Air National Guard, who died in a crash while allegedly pursuing a UFO.

This was the most popular of Toho’s movies in the United States for some time. It had a major ad campaign and boasted actors like Keye Luke, George Takei and Paul Frees. Maybe American audiences liked giant birds better than lizards. Or maybe it was because it was shot in color.

Giant bugs known as meganuron have been killing miners in a small town while unidentified flying objects continually attack. It turns out that there are two pteranodons that have been awakened by nuclear bomb tests. The flaps of their wings unleash sonic waves that take out entire cities, but they can’t survive being burned in a volcano.

Rodan would, of course, be back. As for seven year old me, Rodan destroyed many a city and fought many a robot.

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