Thursday 12 May 2022

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Golza

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Release Date: January 2022
RRP: 7150 yen

As if Ultraman finally breaking in the Shinkocchou Seihou range wasn't a big enough way to mark Ultraman Tiga's 25th anniversary, the landmark entry in the Ultra Series has now given collectors something else to cheer about – it's second S.H. MonsterArts-sized kaiju release! While Bandai Tamashii Nations previously dabbled in these larger figures back in 2017 with Gomora, subsequent kaiju releases have been on a much smaller scale – and these days few and far between. But what better way to continue the Tiga range than with S.H. Figuarts Golza – one of the first kaiju to appear in the series. Golza is also the first retail release kaiju to have been produced in some time – the previous having been Twin Tail all the way back in 2018.

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With Ultraman Tiga having been a Shinkocchou Seihou figure, S.H. Figuarts Golza offers us our first look at what the packaging will be like for the standard releases from Ultraman Tiga. And the answer is…pretty much the same as everything else we've seen from the Ultraman range so far. It's clear that Bandai are trying to keep a very uniform packaging design with these figures, with Golza packaged in a blue box with curved black sections running along it. Of course given Golza's size this box is far more akin to something you'd find in the S.H. MonsterArts range than Figuarts. That said the layout is still exactly the same, with the front of the box featuring the usual window to display the figure inside and an image of the Golza suit as it appeared in Ultraman Tiga. On the back you'll find a number of images showing off the figure's articulation in a range of poses, and then inside Golza is comfortably stored on a moulded plastic tray.

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Like many Ultraman kaiju Golza has gone on to appear in numerous series since its initial debut in Tiga, and though the monster has gone through little to no change since then the figure is still technically based on that initial appearance. While on first glance Golza may seem like a fairly standard dinosaur-like design, it gets particularly interesting from the chest upwards which is covered in an almost bone-like armour. This sounds most of Golza's neck and head, with its face and other small red fleshy sections poking out from it. It's a striking design so it's no wonder it's had longevity within the franchise, and as usual Bandai have done an excellent job bringing it to live in figure form. The big sections of solid colour really stand apart from each other, and the texturing/moulded detailing across the figure really helps tie it all together. A special shout out goes to the face sculpting, which manages to capture the monster's ferocity whilst also having a touch of that inherent (but infinitely charming) goofiness that comes with a rubber-suited monster.

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Much like the previously released kaiju figures in the Ultraman range, Golza's articulation is primarily made up of ball joints spread across the body. Altogether this includes its neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, torso, waist, hips, knees, feet and tail connection. On top of all that the jaw is also hinged, allowing Golza to be posed roaring or chomping down on an opponent. Though not as articulated as your average S.H. Figuarts figure, it's probably about as mobile (if not slightly more so) as the actual suit is and the construction means bits will just pop off rather than outright break. The one area that does need further discussion though is the tail, which is another example of the Ultraman Tiga figures being perhaps a little too innovative. Rather than have a segmented tail like Gomora or the MonsterArts figures do, Golza has a single piece tail made of a soft rubbery plastic with a pliable material or wire running inside. This allows the tail to be bended into a specific shape, which it will then retain. From a purely sculpt point of view it makes the tail look a lot better, but just how well these materials will last over time is another question entirely. You already have to use quite a bit of force to mould the tail into the desired shape, and the rubbery material used to cover the innards isn't that far removed from Shinkocchou Seihou Tiga's own softer parts. It's a difficult thing to properly assess without seeing how it fares over time, but personally I'd have preferred a segmented tail even if it did result in a less seamless sculpt with lesser articulation. It's not like the rest of the body is seamless anyway.

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Unfortunately Golza doesn't come with any accessories, which on the one hand is understandable given how much space the figure takes up in the packaging but on the other is a little disappointing given that there was plenty that it could have come with. Naturally its Ultrasonic Ray is the obvious inclusion, which would have been a simple enough effect part to pull off and would have wedged into Golza's hinged jaw nicely. But even if you were to overlook that, there's still plenty of accessories that could have been included for Ultraman Tiga instead. While I might not be a fan of figures coming with another's accessories, I'll still take it over one not coming with any at all. Golza isn't the first Ultra Figuarts to come with no accessories, but it's still a fairly rare occurrence. And given how well this range lends itself to effect parts and diorama building, it's hard not to feel a little disappointed by it.

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S.H. Figuarts Golza is not without its flaws, but above all else it's fantastic to finally see Bandai release another MonsterArts-esque kaiju in the line. The lull after Gamora suggested they may never revisit figures this size again despite them having so much potential (still waiting on my Eleking Bandai), but clearly the overwhelming popularity of Ultraman Tiga was enough to give it another go. Despite the tail's questionable articulation and a lack of accessories, Golza is a great addition to the Ultraman range that I would happily buy again as a Fire Golza repaint. With much fewer Ultra kaiju being released compared to back when the franchise first moved over to S.H. Figuarts, fingers crossed this is a sign that there's still more to come.

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