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Godzilla (Comic-Con Explosion)

SH MonsterArts
by yo go re

Every May, the comics industry has Free Comicbook Day, in which stores give books away for free. The idea is that, instead of just picking up Spider-Man or Justice League or whatever else you normally buy, you'll pick up something new and different and give that a chance. You know, expand your horizons a little bit. I tend to view SDCC exclusives the same way: I may not buy the regular toys, but put out something interesting as an exclusive, and I'll give it a shot.

Poe Ghostal is OAFEnet's resident G-Fan, but I've been known to dabble in the toys, as well. And I've been intrigued by Bandai's "SH MonsterArts" since they released that amazing teaser video last year, so when Bluefin announced they would be offering this "Explosion" Godzilla, I was sold!

Godzilla gets redesigned every so often, of course - and not just when you're creating a terrible American version! Different suits have been built over the years, sometimes used for a single film, sometimes for several. This particular design was created for 1994's Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla, and is known by fans as "MogeGoji" (apparently because the film also featured an appearance by the MOGUERA robot). Compared to previous Gojiras, this suit had a rather triangular design, with big fat legs and a tiny little head. This figure duplicates the look of the suit beautifully, with a ton of truly impressive detail. The packaging has a blurb about the sculptor:

Born in 1958, Yuji Sakai represents Japan's top sculpting talent and has come to be known as the world's foremost Godzilla sculptor. Working as the lead prop designer for the 1999 film, "Godzilla 2000: Millennium," Yuji Sakai has since released numerous Godzilla kit's [sic] via his namesake sculptor's workshop and has received praise from around the globe for his remarkable craftsmanship.

Yeah, well, here's some more: this sculpt is killer! Godzilla has a very distinctive texture - part ribbed, part ridged, part wrinkly, part nubbly - and this toy captures them all. The transitions between his different types of scales are subtle and seamless, so he looks like nothing so much as an organic lizard-type creature. Love it!

It's not just the proportions of Godzilla's body that have changed over the years - his head has changed a lot, as well. By the time of MogeGoji, he had tiny ears (which were on the original suit, but had disappeared at one point), litle fangs in the front of his mouth like a cat, and a nose like a dog. All this makes him look like a distinct creature, not a knock-off T. Rex or something.

Standing upright, the figure measures approximately 6⅛" tall - but it's hard to say for certain, because of the crazy-awesome level of articulation! SH MonsterArts is an off-shoot of SH Figuarts, the line of super-poseable anime figures that spun off from Bandai's "Souchaku Henshin" toys. While Souchaku Henshin was all about removable armor, Figuarts just wanted to make toys with simple style and heroic action. In keeping with that theme, Godzilla has 29 points of articulation - most of it balljoints.

Here's the breakdown: ankles, shins, knees, hips, waist, wrists, elbows, biceps, shoulders, neck, head and jaw. Oh, and the tail. Mustn't forget the tail. As seen in this photo, the tail is assembled cleverly: many different sections, plugged together for maximum poseability; a ball fits into a socket, with a ring floating between them. The tail is poseable enough to curl up behind him, lay flat on the ground, or whip side to side. Some of his joints want to pop out of lace very easily, but they go back together easily enough, and they still hold their pose perfectly.

We've gotten all this way into the review without even mentioning his exclusivity. The figure's official name is "Godzilla (Comic-Con Explosion)," and rather than being green (or grey, like Godzilla originally was), he's cast in translucent orange plastic, then given a few paint apps to spice things up. His eyes and tongue are red, and his claws and the plates on his back are closer to yellow. The design seems to be based on a figure of Burning Godzilla (aka DesuGoji, from Godzilla vs. Destroyah) released by Bandai, but it really doesn't matter: the orange is neat, no matter what its inspiration.

The figure is sold in a window box that showcases the main body, but also allows you to look in from the top to see the tail. A large picture of Godzilla's head is on the right hand side of the front, and the entire rear is taken up by an image of the king of monsters destroying the San Diego Convention Center, along with info about the artist:

Born in 1962, Yasushi Torisawa is a prominent Japanese illustrator and character designer. His "kaiju" monster design debut began via a collaboration with Godzilla art director Tetsuzo Osawa for the movie "Rebirth of Mothra 3." Following this project Yasushi Torisawa has established himself as a renowned character, costume, and visual content designer for Godzilla and other popular Japan "tokusatsu" (live-action) series. He also contributes frequently to "tokusatsu" magazines with original "kaiju" illustrations.

I've only ever seen three Godzilla films in my life: Mothra vs. Godzilla, the 1998 American mess, and the original "let's edit Raymond Burr into this in the most awkward way imaginable" version. But you don't have to be a giant fan of Godzilla to recognize that the SH MonsterArts are superb toys. Poe's got an entire flock of the things, and now that I've got one too, I'm jealous. MogeGoji is tops, and this kersploding exclusive is truly unique. You don't have to get the SDCC version, but save up some money and treat yourself to at least one SH MonsterArts version - they really are just that good.

-- 08/19/12

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