Tuesday 30 April 2024

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

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Release Date: February 2024
RRP: 11000 yen

With the Showa era of Godzilla films all reaching their 50th anniversaries over the last few years it's been a particularly good time for the S.H. MonsterArts line. After years of mostly ignoring it, Bandai Tamashii Nations have been marking these milestones with long-awaited releases of classic characters, starting with Godzilla vs Hedorah before moving forward into both Godzilla vs Gigan and Godzilla vs Megalon. 2023 was particularly special as it saw the release of S.H. MonsterArts Gigan, but what good is one of Godzilla's most iconic foes if we don't have the proper Godzilla to go along with him? Hence the release of S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla [1972], the third version of Godzilla to be released from the Showa era (following on from 1954 and 1964) and the first from Godzilla's fully established time as a heroic kaiju.

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As a standard retail release S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla [1972] comes in a nice big box featuring a windowed front, which lets you get a good look at the King of Monsters in all his glory. The claw mark rips on the sides that reveal additional window bits are a nice touch, though admittedly not unique to Godzilla's packaging. The box itself is a nice fiery red and brown colour which pairs quite nicely with Gigan's packaging, and all sides of the box feature images of the figure in various poses. The back even has a really nice image of him grappling with Gigan atop a countryside diorama display. Open the box up and you'll find Godzilla neatly laid out on his moulded plastic tray, together with his sole accessory. Instructions for how to switch parts/make use of said accessory are printed on one of the inside flaps on the top of the box.

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There have been a number of different Godzilla suits over the years, with the one that appeared in Godzilla vs Gigan being dubbed the "Soshingeki Goji" suit. This was the suit's final appearance, having previously appeared in Destroy All Monsters (1968), Godzilla's Revenge (1969) and Godzilla vs Hedorah (1971). Over those years it did see some modifications, gaining more rounded eyes as Godzilla continued to become more heroic in the films. That said he was still the tough "King of the Monsters", as shown in his frowning expression. The sculpt does a great job of capturing the likeness of that Soshingeki Goji suit, coloured with that familiar Godzilla grey/green skin with silver paint running along the dorsal fins. The texture of the figure is great too - that rough textured feel nicely emulating the baggy, scaly look of the suit itself. Admittedly MonsterArts hasn't always been the best with face painting and while Godzilla 72' can look a little goofy from certain angles, the same can arguably be said about the suit itself. It captures the Godzilla of the era perfectly, and as such stands out quite nicely from all the other ones that have been released in the line thus far.

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As with the majority of MonsterArts figures articulation comes in the form of multiple ball joints running throughout the body, giving a range of motion that feels akin to lumbering around in a physical suit. Altogether you'll find these connections in the head, shoulders, elbows (x2), wrists (x2), torso, hips, knees (x2), ankles as well as a tail that's articulated in a whopping 16 different segments. Rounding it all off is of course a hinged jaw piece, giving Godzilla some much needed facial expression. While the use of ball joints across the body is perhaps more limited that some of the methods Bandai use in their other lines, it seems to work pretty well for MonsterArts - the trade off for a sculpt with lots of joint cuts is one that's not only more expressive but far more tolerable to parts popping off. The neck also has some segmented parts that are joined, but they don't really have a great deal of motion (or very much at all really) because of Godzilla's spines. There's a good lot of swivel motion that comes from all these ball joints (as well as the double ball joint design of the elbows and knees giving hinge-like motion), so you can get some fairly expressive poses out of Godzilla even if he isn't the most articulated figure out there.

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Godzilla comes with only a single accessory, which despite the way it sounds is actually considerably more than most MonsterArts releases get these days. Said accessory is an alternate head sculpt with a bloodied snout, representing the scene from Godzilla vs Gigan where he is hit in the face by the Godzilla Tower's laser beam. As a memorable moment from the movie (Godzilla vs Gigan was one of the first instances of Godzilla bleeding onscreen) it's a good choice for an accessory, but the execution does leave something to be desired. While the promotional images showed the head sculpt with a very visible stream of bright red blood, the finished product uses much thinner and darker lines of paint which don't really show up that much against the dark plastic. As such there isn't really much of a noticeable difference between the two unless viewed in bright light. Switching between the heads is simple enough though, so there is at least that. It's a tired complaint by now but the lack of effect parts on these figures really holds them back sometimes. It seems insane that the budget Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire Godzilla (which was clearly a rush repaint to have something out the same time as the film) can have a breath effect despite being cheaper. There are so few Godzillas in this line with the classic blue breath effect that this would have been the perfect opportunity to throw one in, especially as it's also from an era largely untouched by MonsterArts.

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This toy line has been long overdue a friend-shaped Godzilla, so S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla [1972] is a great choice to fill in its pretty significant Showa era gap. While common MonsterArts problems like the price and lack (or perhaps choice) of accessories persist, it's a lovely figure that nicely captures the Soshingeki Goji suit in articulated figure form. The perfect companion piece to MonsterArts Gigan, and it pairs rather nicely with the Revoltech Sci-Fi Anguiras too. The recent string of milestone anniversaries has resulted in some fantastic releases for the line, and with Jet Jaguar coming later this year hopefully the Showa era will continue to get the love it deserves.

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