Wednesday 13 December 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. MonsterArts Gigan [1972]

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Release Date: July 2023
RRP: 12100 yen

2022 marked the 50th anniversary of Godzilla vs. Gigan, and as such the introduction of one of Godzilla's most popular adversaries. Although he only appeared in two films during the Showa era run and then wouldn't be seen again (albeit looking very differently) in 2004 in Godzilla: Final Wars, kaiju fans definitely can't get enough of Gigan. And considering he's a giant cyborg space chicken with hooks for hands and a circular saw in his chest, can you blame them? Gigan's 50th anniversary saw the release of a special Godzilla vs. Gigan Rex short as well as a wide selection of new merchandise - among them being S.H. MonsterArts Gigan [1972]. After largely ignoring the Showa era for so long, Bandai Tamashii Nations finally gave the public what it wants and ensured this would be an anniversary worth celebrating.

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As a product celebrating such a landmark anniversary, S.H. MonsterArts Gigan [1972] only deserves the best when it comes to packaging art. This rather hefty box features a nice big image of the figure against a fiery backdrop, notably featuring both the Godzilla and Gigan logos alongside the usual Bandai/Tamashii Nations logos. The Gigan 50th Anniversary logo in the top corner is a particularly nice touch. One side of the box simply sports the kaiju's name in bold lettering, whilst the other also has a greyscale image of the toy. More images can of course be found on the back of the box, where it's shown off in a variety of different angles and poses. Open it up and Gigan will need freeing from his moulded plastic tray prison before he can begin his rampage.

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As the name suggests, this S.H. MonsterArts Gigan is based on the character's original appearance from 1972. The cowardly cyborg would face Godzilla again the following year in Godzilla vs. Megalon, escaping once more to finally be defeated once and for all in Zone Fighter. While Bandai Tamashii Nations have always prided themselves on screen-accurate sculpting it's fair to say the MonsterArts line in particular will miss the mark every so often, but Gigan looks to be an example of it reclaiming that high standard that Bandai aims for. The body is primarily a very dark good with shiny gold paint over the scaly parts - the colour of which really looks like it leaped straight out of the film. The overall texture of the figure is great too - looking both like monster skin and the material the suit itself was made from. Gigan's visor-like eye is translucent red plastic, while his iconic hooked hands (known as "Hammer hands"), stomach saw and the various spikes protruding from his body are painted in a slightly dull silver. There really doesn't look to be a paint app out of line with this release, though admittedly it probably helps that there are two tiny eyes to paint here. The black wash various parts of the figure have been given too (most notably the three fins running down his back) also help give the deco some really nice depth.

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As tends to be the case with MonsterArts releases Gigan has a body held together with a variety of ball joints, giving him a pretty good range of motion. Given the design of the monster and the fact it's based on a suit admittedly it isn't an extremely dynamic range of motion, but certainly on par with what Gigan could show off on-screen. Altogether you'll find ball joint connections in the head, neck (x2), shoulders, elbows (x2), hips, thighs, knees (x2), feet and tail (x9). Gigan's jaw, mandibles and back fins also have some very limited movement. Bandai have dabbled with bendable rubbery tails in the past (perhaps less so on MonsterArts, but definitely with Ultraman kaiju over in Figuarts), but when it comes to stability the segmented approach is much better - Gigan's scaly texturing also helps blend the pieces together really well. Though it's ball joints holding it all together it is worth noting that the way some parts art covered means there may only be bend or swivel motion, but basically you're getting out of it what a hinge or swivel joint would have achieved had it been used instead. It's definitely one of the most articulated Gigan's out there and it's able to show that off rather impressively.

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Unfortunately Gigan doesn't include anything in the way of accessories, which actually isn't all that surprising for a couple of reasons. Number one being that it generally isn't the way MonsterArts tends to operate for the most part any more (re-releases tend to be a bit luckier in the way of accessories, as does the Gamera range), but also that there isn't much in the way of extra parts for Gigan to come with. While the cybernetic kaiju may boast an eye-laser beam amongst its arsenal, that was never actually shown in the film itself (and we know Bandai love to keep things as screen-accurate as possible). Then things like the claws and circular saw are built into the body anyway. It would have perhaps been nice if Gigan came with some scale building parts relevant to the film itself (this was always something I loved about Kaiyodo's Revoltech Sci-Fi line) but again it's not really what MonsterArts does. A little disappointing perhaps, but the quality of the figure itself feels like enough to overlook it.

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Bandai Tamashii Nations have desperately needed to dive into the Showa era for some time now and with S.H. MonsterArts Gigan [1972] they've hopefully opened those floodgates. A fitting celebration for the iconic monster's 50th anniversary, Gigan is gorgeously detailed with exactly the level of articulation fans have come to expect from the line. While overall QC can often be spotty with MonsterArts, everything from the moulding to paintwork on Gigan is flawless. Gigan will look great alongside his 2004 counterpart, but it's great knowing that a 1972 Godzilla is following at the beginning of next year. After that Bandai are also moving on to tackle Godzilla vs. Megalon - another film Gigan was heavily involved in. We know Jet Jaguar is coming, but if Megalon comes along too then the party can really get started.

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