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S.H.MonsterArts Godzilla Comic-Con Explosion Review

by GeofFebruary 8, 2013

Without a doubt, one of the most exciting developments in the world of Godzilla collecting was Bandai’s launch of the kaiju equivalent of their highly-touted S.H.Figuarts line: S.H.MonsterArts. Previously, Kaiyodo’s Sci-Fi Revoltech line had offered excellent figures of Toho kaiju such as Mothra, Rodan, Anguirus and Gigan, but in their Showa forms only. Kaiyodo also offered both Showa and Heisei versions of Daiei’s Gamera, including particularly impressive Legion and Gyaos figures. And while collectors were generally happy with these offerings, they constantly wondered “when will we get the Heisei versions of the Toho kaiju… and WHERE is GODZILLA?!?”

Sadly, that answer came during winter 2011’s Wonder Festival, where Kaiyodo confirmed the cancellation of their upcoming Jet-Jaguar (damn!) and then made it clear that only Bandai had the rights to make figures of the “prime” Godzilla monsters (including King Ghidorah, MechaGodzilla, and even Zilla) and Bandai wasn’t about to give up those rights anytime soon. Or ever.

Fortunately, a few months later, Bandai unveiled their new S.H.MonsterArts line with not only the Heisei design of Big G himself, but also his arch-nemesis (and one-time executioner) MechaGodzilla! Both featured tons of articulation, bonus weapon effects parts, even diecast metal parts for MechaG… and I didn’t buy either one. They were just a little too expensive at the $65 – $120 range I kept seeing them priced at in the Anime and Comic stores near me, and ordering online was no cheaper once shipping was factored in. Plus, I was starting to hear reports of paint errors with the eyes, and worse yet, all that articulation didn’t really offer the poseablility expected of Figuarts. I’m accustomed to paying around $40 for SHF Kamen Rider or Ultra-Act figures, but the main reason I’m okay with that price is that they can be positioned into pretty much any action pose you can imagine. So I decided to wait & see where the line goes & maybe I’d be able to pick up Godzilla at a discount somewhere down the road.

Then, Bluefin Tamashii Nations had to go and announce a Meltdown Godzilla as a San Diego Comic-Con Exclusive for 2012. Bitches found my weak spot.

I’ll always have a soft spot for the Burning and Meltdown forms seen in 1995’s Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, mainly because it was the first Heisei era Godzilla movie I’d seen. I was much more of a casual fan back then, but hearing the news that Godzilla had finally died, well… that was something I just HAD to see. And thanks to the grey market prevalent in Southern California at the time, I had a bootleg VHS copy of the movie, just a couple of weeks after it’s debut in Japanese theaters. The quality was decent enough for me to be absolutely astounded by the special effects, which still impress me to this day. This Godzilla wasn’t screwing around doing pro wrestling dive-kicks and victory dances on the moon. This Godzilla was tearing through Hong Kong like he was looking to find the prostitute who gave him a 1200-degree dose of the clap. THIS Godzilla was GLOWING FIERY RED AND ORANGE, and his atomic ray was capable of leveling entire districts, AND I LOVED IT.

I LOVE YOU, BURNING GODZILLA! Long time! Fi’ dolla!

Okay, so… TOY REVIEW. S.H.MONSTERARTS GODZILLA COMIC-CON EXPLOSION SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON 2012 EXCLUSIVE. CAPS LOCK FOR EMPHASIS. At the asking price of $55, I couldn’t pass this up & immediately begged my friend to pick one up for me at SDCC last year. And, despite it’s flaws, I’m entirely satisfied with my purchase. The box features some fantastic artwork by Yasushi Torisawa, depicting the San Diego Convention Center’s destruction at the hands of a near-nuclear Godzilla. THIS is why showering is SO important at a convention, THE MONSTERS CAN SMELL YOU.

NOTE: Images of the figure can be seen below this review

Included on the back are brief bios for Torisawa-san, and LEGENDARY MASTER YUJI SAKAI. Again, caps lock for emphasis. RESPECT HIS AUTHORITAH!

Opening the box reveals the figure, it’s clear plastic holding tray… and nothing else! No effect parts are included with this release, which is a shame since I never bought the first edition of the original figure to get those bonus atomic ray parts. Boo-urns!

Once he’s freed from his plastic prison (oh, if only he could ricochet tiny iron pellets like Magneto did,) HE STANDS READY TO RULE. And then melt away into nothingness. Kind of an odd choice for a fully poseable action figure when you think about it.

“Four views of the kaiju in question,” I read that on a recall poster once for a toy monkey, except it was two views instead of four. And, obviously, it said “monkey” instead of “kaiju”. I just loved how it made the monkey sound like a wanted felon. IT WAS FUNNY AT THE TIME. To me.

Standing just over 6 inches tall (and over 23 inches long,) Godzilla is molded in a fiery translucent orange plastic, with red-orange spray apps to highlight the body (or “suit”) contours. For some reason, the tail segments have been given this same treatment, but only on every other section. This effect COMPLETELY RUINS THE FIGURE AND I WILL NEVER BUY ANOTHER BANDAI PRODUCT! Hahaha, ohhh you nerds love your nerd rage, no doubt. Yellow highlights are painted onto his dorsal spines, as well as the claws on his hands and feet. His eyes are painted a solid opaque orange, with no other eye detail. Finally, a slightly darker red is used on the tongue.

True to the standards set by S.H.Figuarts, Godzilla features more articulation than you could hope for. In fact, it’s actually more articulation than you can realistically use. One real flaw of this mold is that a fair amount of the joints are rendered useless by the sculpting. Like all the joints on this figure, the shoulders & hips are ball jointed, but the body sculpting around those areas only allows the limbs to be moved a few degrees. The result is that you’re not going to get any poses out of this figure that you wouldn’t see in the Heisei movies. While that’s understandable to a degree, it’s also a disappointment.

Still, the ball joint articulation count is impressively high! There’s a whopping eighteen joints in the tail alone, four joints in each leg, five in each arm, one at the waist, two in the neck (it appears to have 3, but that’s just an illusion created by a ring-shaped piece at the base of the neck,) and one at the jaw. THIRTY-ONE POINTS OF ARTICULATION. For a Godzilla figure. WTF.

Many of these ball joints have a very limited range of motion (and some are extremely limited,) but the arms and tail seem to have the most poseability. Did you know that “poseability” isn’t actually a real word? Toy geeks have been using it for years and I’ve just now discovered it’s not a word! I’VE BEEN LIVING A LIE ALL THIS TIME. The More You Know!

The other flaw (which is more of an annoyance, really) is that certain joints aren’t as well designed or manufactured as they should be. A ball joint is a simple combination of a ball on one part fitting into a socket on it’s adjoining part. Ideally, the socket should be just deep enough to fit the ball almost completely inside, therefore holding the parts together solidly. It also helps to use softer material for the socket parts. In this case, some sockets aren’t deep enough to keep a solid grip, resulting in parts coming off when moved. Or stared at.

Fortunately, they can be popped back in just as easily. It’s advisable to coat the ball with a thin layer of clear nail polish (I’ve even heard of floorwax being used) in order to make it slightly bigger and give a better grip. It can also make your joint look prettier, and all the women at the salon will envy you & spread vicious rumors about you throughout the town! Personally, I prefer to keep an Ultra-Act figure on standby, to offer a hand in these situations.

In closing, I’d recommend that every Godzilla fan should own at least one S.H.MonsterArts Godzilla. Although I’d probably suggest the just-released 1995 Burning Godzilla for it’s larger size and superior design (you just KNOW Bandai’s gonna reuse that mold as a standard figure,) this SDCC exclusive is still a beautiful figure & it’s actually the most affordable of the three.

The Yuji Sakai sculpt should be reason enough to buy, with the added bonus of all those ball joints thrown in. Even without the articulation, it’s a striking recreation of a seminal moment in Godzilla History, even if none of the movies afterwards seem to want to acknowledge it. If you’ve been lovingly eyeing that Theater Exclusive Melting Godzilla vinyl (and why wouldn’t you?) but just can’t justify spending $200 or more on it, this is an ideal alternative at a fraction of the cost. And hey, he can grab Ultraman in the balls! Who doesn’t want that?

7.5/10

While it’s beautifully sculpted and decorated, the articulation flaws keep it from being a fun action figure. It’s really more of an articulated statue.

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