Monday, 29 August 2016

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla [1954]


Once upon a time the S.H. MonsterArts line looked to be the perfect answer to articulated kaiju toys, offering a variety of monsters from Godzilla's long and illustrious history with the usual high standard of Bandai Tamashii Nations toys. However more recently it seems like the line may have fallen into more difficult times, not only predominantly taken up with web exclusive releases but also toys of Godzilla himself - leaving many other popular monsters sadly unrepresented. However the truth is there are still plenty of Godzilla costumes left to do, and it is only now that Bandai are getting to possibly the most important of them all. The original 1954 Godzilla finally joins the line as its latest mass release figure, just in time to coincide with the release of the Shin Godzilla movie in Japanese theatres.



Uniform packaging can get a little boring after so many releases, but even after a few years the MonsterArts boxes are still looking pretty great. Godzilla comes in a big monochrome box (fitting for a film that's in black and white), with a big slash mark ripped through the front to reveal the clear window and the figure inside. As well as nice big picture of the figure the front also has "Godzilla" and the year "1954" printed nice and clearly in bold lettering. The back features the usual array of stock figure images, also done up in a colouration that suitably matches the look of the actual film.




There have been a lot of variations of Godzilla over the years, but all of the iconic elements that make a good Godzilla suit were all carried over from the very first one. The dinosaur-like build, the giant spines and long tail...even at 62 years old this thing is still very much iconically Godzilla. As usual Tamashii Nations have pulled off an incredible likeness to the actual suit, and it's charcoal grey colouring really helps push that classic feel. The difference between seeing it in colour and seeing it in black and white is minimal, but it's definitely striking in both mediums. Of course this is based on a very old suit, and as such '54 Goji's "googley eye look" might not be for everyone. It may be completely accurate to the suit, but it certainly takes away some of that menace the character has otherwise. That said they definitely give both the suit and figure and odd charm that's hard to deny, giving the poses so much more character and expression than more generic eyes would. It's also great to see the eyes painted so well, given that this has been a running problem with MonsterArts figures in the past.




Articulation isn't too far away from what you would get from a grown man stomping around in a rubber suit, but it's still enough to prove that the MonsterArts line is still very much on top when it comes to articulated kaiju figures. Godzilla sports multiple different joints of various kinds, including ball joints in his head, waist, elbows and hips. The neck and tail are segmented to provide a realistic level of movement, and the usually obtrusive joint cuts are rather nicely covered up by the figure's dark colouring. The elbows and knees feature Bandai's usual double hinges, while the wrists and feet also feature ball joints to give those points a nice range of motion. Rounding things off is a hinged mouth to pull off various roaring poses, however as the jaw has a tendency to come off its often easier to just take the whole piece of a reapply it in the desired position rather than just move it properly.


The inclusion of accessories has always been a bit of a hit or miss affair with MonsterArts, especially in recent years where the line has been a mostly-Godzilla affair. As such it shouldn't be all that much of a surprise to hear that '54 Goji doesn't have any accessories whatsoever, with the only thing packaged in that big plastic tray being the figure itself. The lack of a breath effect is kind of understandable, not just because they are a bit of a rarity these days (unless it's a "spit fire" version of course) but also because this Godzilla's breath was also more of a corrosive mist than a fiery beam - which might be bit hard to replicate in plastic. Still that doesn't mean he'd have to go completely without accessories - how about some cars, trains or building bits for him to chew on? He does it enough in the movie after all.

Ultimately the truth is Bandai seem to be shifting away from "diorama" style effects being packaged with figures as it is, and with the MonsterArts line flagging in the way that it is it certainly wasn't going to get anything bundled along with it.




The S.H. MonsterArts line may look like it isn't in the best shape when it comes to release variety, but the releases themselves certainly don't seem to be suffering. 1954 Godzilla is about as bare bones release as you can get, but the quality of the figure itself more than makes up for the lack of accessories. Oozing with unique suit detailing as well as a great range of motion, the original King of the Monsters is a wonderful entry to the line and a version of Godzilla that was long overdue. A smaller size and mass release status also means a more reasonable price tag, making this figure worth picking up even if you are beginning to tire of the Big G himself.

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