Sunday 11 May 2014

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. MonsterArts Gigan [2004]

SH MonsterArts Gigan (2004 version)

With the brand new Godzilla film from Legendary Pictures hitting cinemas this very month, the world is in a bit of a Godzilla frenzy right now. So it couldn't be a better time for me to get my first experience of Bandai Tamashii Nations' S.H. MonsterArts line, which has been providing high quality, articulated versions of Godzilla's finest kaiju (along with a few Western creatures) for a few years now. However my first purchase isn't the big G himself, but my all-time favourite Godzilla monster - Gigan. After Revoltech released a great figure of the Showa version back in 2011, Bandai have gone bigger and released the 2004 Millennium era version of the character which made it's appearance in the final Japanese Godzilla film to date - Godzilla: Final Wars.

Now that's a big box!

Lots of flying poses...stand not includedRarrr!

As a newcomer to the S.H. MonsterArts line, I don't think I was fully prepared for just how big these boxes are in comparison to the usual Tamashii Nations products. For a sense of scale of just how big I'm talking, here's a comparison of it to your average S.H. Figuarts box. And the best part is, figures like King Ghidorah and Biollante are bigger than this again! That aside, Gigan's box looks excellent - especially the "slashed" section which gives way to the blister packaging and the figure itself. Very fitting for Gigan especially. As per usual for a Tamashii Nations release the back features the figure in a number of different poses highlighting all the accessories included.

When you open the box up you'll see that Gigan isn't actually that much bigger than a Figuart in terms of height, but thanks to that tail certainly takes up a lot of the room in terms of length. To the right are all the additional accessories, which I'll go into more detail about further down the review.

Cybernetic chicken

Monster mugshotAnd a backshot

Of all the Godzilla foes that have had redesigns of the years, the Millennium era Gigan is easily one of the most radical. While the shape and iconic features of the classic 70s design remained, the cybernetic kaiju changed from green and yellow to a metallic blue and red colour scheme. His body gained armour plating across the tail, spiked kneecaps and the (more industrial looking) scythes now had grappling hook blades on either side. It's a really detailed suit, and having a high-end figure of this size makes me appreciate it a whole lot more. The colours are perfect, and the tarnishing on the metal sections help complete the look. For die cast fanatics the toe sections are metal, which is probably there to help give the giant mass some semblance of balance when pushing the articulation to its limit. For such a big guy, those are some pretty small feet.

Gigan ready for battle

Blades, spikers, lasers...A closer look at that beautiful tail

Rather than go for the limited motion Gigan's suit actor probably had during the filming of Final Wars, the MonsterArt figure throws that out of the window and goes for what the monster would actually have. What we get is Figuart-style articulation on a much bigger scale, along with a few extras thrown in to cover the non-humanoid elements. Cue a ball jointed head, neck, shoulders, hips and feet, hinged elbows, knees and jaw, and perhaps most impressively - a segmented tail. While segmented sections can look unattractive on some figures (D-Arts Charizard for example), this method works perfectly with Gigan because of the armour plating. Finally, the three back fins also have a limited amount of movement - the outer ones can move side to side while the middle fin can extend upwards.

Gigan as he is remembered in Final Wars

A lot of MonsterArts figures tend to come with various effects parts such as eye lasers or breath beams, but Gigan's accessories serve a very different purpose. As those who've seen Final Wars will know, Gigan doesn't really fare that well against the Big G (much like almost every other monster that appears in the film) and doesn't come out of the battle in one piece. However Gigan returns at the tail end of the film to battle his arch nemesis (in this continuity) Mothra, sporting the most heavy metal upgrades the Xilians could possibly find. His neck is reinforced with metal plating, his horn and mandibles are swapped for more jagged blades and the scythes are exchanged for dual chainsaws of death and destruction. It's complete overkill that never gets properly used, but it pretty much cemented Millennium Gigan as a fan favourite.

It's chainsaw time!

So of course, these upgrade parts are EXACTLY what Bandai have included with the figure. Working from the head down, the horn and mandibles are simply a plug in/out affair. Next is the head and neck, which requires popping the head off of the balljoint and then proceeding to remove the neck section in the same fashion. The secondary neck looks smaller than the original, as it removes two of the segments (and thus also reducing the articulations somewhat). Following that the head can be popped back on and then finally the hands are switched by pulling the scythes off on the wrist balljoints and replacing them with the saws.

Other than the aforementioned articulation decrease in the neck, the only real difference that isn't just aesthetic is the chainsaw hands. Featuring the same weathering paint scheme as the scythes, but they're a little bit bigger and even have working teeth...well, somewhat. The teeth are made of rubber and wrapped around the saw on a band, so the band can be pulled and then turned in the desired direction. That's the only way to go about moving them, so it's more a byproduct of the design than an actual feature. Still, it's interesting that they can do it nonetheless.

Now with 50% more metalOn the hunt for Mothra

S.H. MonsterArts isn't a cheap line. At an RRP of 10,584 yen (or $94.99 if you go by Bluefin's set price), Gigan is a pretty expensive purchase. In fact, despite being a big Godzilla fan it's been a line I've long avoided simply because I couldn't afford them on top of other things. But Gigan was a must purchase for me, and now that I've seen first-hand what the MonsterArts line is like it's going to be hard to keep passing on them. All the quality you'd expect from Bandai's other lines is right here, updating these suits with not only the articulation fans have dreamed of, but also the detail they deserve. Longtime buyers of the line should't be disappointed by Gigan, and those in the same position as me should also consider him as a possible one time buy.  MonsterArts is yet another rabbit hole to fall down, but if all the figures are as good as this then I'm happy to fall down it any time.

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