Life In Plastic: TOY REVIEW: Destoroyah Evolution Set (S. H. MonsterArts)

Destoroyah-Evolution

Synchronicity! This set just got reviewed last week over at CollectionDX – and I swear it’s just  a coincidence.

Destoroyah – see, they couldn’t copyright “Destroyer,” so Toho just misspelled it a little bit because that’s how Japan rolls – was meant to be the ultimate Godzilla monster, as Toho had decided to end Godzilla’s Heisei series (the movies between 1985-1995) to make way for the US movie due out a few years later. Destoroyah is sort of a hard monster to explain – he is made up of millions of tiny pre-cambrian parasites who were mutated by the Oxygen Destroyer weapon from the very first Godzilla movie. The parasites grew into giant crustacean monsters, which then fused into one kaiju-sized crustacean, which also transformed into a flying creature, and which eventually turned into a big demonic-looking dinosaur beast. So Destoroyah is a bunch of crabs pretending to be a dinosaur.

Destoroyah-Flying

S. H. MonsterArts is one of those high-end Japanese toylines that I have admired from afar, but never really was able to take the plunge until I found this set at kind of a discount at a toy show. The figures are hyper-detailed and hyper-articulated kaiju, and usually run in the $60-$200 range, depending on size. Destoroyah’s ultimate form received a figure a little while back (it is huge and expensive), and the Evolution Set is meant to represent his other forms – the big aggregate crab, the smaller human-sized crab, and the flying form. So hey, it’s three figures in one! Toys of flying Destoroyah are kind of hard to find at even a remotely affordable cost, although there are a few crabs and aggregates floating around (Trivia: They actually used some of Bandai’s toys in the movie when they realized that they didn’t have enough crab puppets for a few scenes). So, will this be enough to incite a new obsession in me? Let’s see!

Destoroyah-Packaged

PACKAGING: ****

MonsterArts packaging is always awesome, with all sorts of artwork, hotos, text, and a window into the box to see the… wait, this one doesn’t have a window. That’s half of a star. But other than THAT, it’s perfect! The figures fit securely into their little trays without twisty-ties, rubber bands, or any awkwardness at all – they feel secure despite not being anchored, and my stuff came in undamaged. I even keep the figures in their box when not using them, and all is well. Okay, so now I’m giving that half-star back. Perfect packaging (though a window would be nice – at this price, I’d love to see the figure inside and judge its paint in person first).

Destoroyah-Bite

SCULPT: ****

All three of these figures are fantastic, nearly flawless – though I would like to say at the outset that they all feel a little fragile, and I do not want to drop any of them. It’s the hard, rigid plastic used in making these toys. It barely has any give!

Destoroyah-Aggregate

The Aggregate Destoroyah is a viciously spiky crab-monster which takes more than a few cues from Giger’s Alien. Every square centimeter of its body is textured somehow, whether with the normal little pits and bumps from its carapace, or with spikes, ridges, and plates. Its chest has that weird “flower” pattern, which was originally meant to open up and fire a laser, but that scene was cut. The face is pretty demonic and mean-looking, especially with those sharp little teeth and beady eyes. I’ve seen a few different Aggregate toys, and this one really is the best-sculpted. It’s got a spare head with an elongated second jaw – something it didn’t quite do in the movie, but that gives you a few new attack options for him. It’s also hilariously Gigeresque.  The Aggregate is between 4″ and 5″ tall, based a little on those big claws.

Destoroyah-Crab

At first Crab Destoroyah looks like a shrunken-down Aggregate, but it really is its own sculpt. The creature’s spikes are muchsharper (not that Aggregate was dull), and a lot of its texturing and proportions are likewise altered. It’s only about half the size of the Aggregate, but seems to fit in fairly well. Since its neck is articulated differently, you’ll see the biggest difference between the two there. Oddly, the Crab has those two huge arms sticking up from its back – those were specific to the Aggregate form, with the Crabs only showing those arms in one brief scene. Most Destoroyah toys differentiate between Aggregate and Crab by giving those arms to the Aggregate and not the Crab, so it’s very odd that this figure has them. In a way, it kind of takes away some of the Crab’s uniqueness.  The Crab is shorter than the Aggregate, at about 3″-ish inches or so.  It doesn’t show very well in these photos, but the difference is pretty apparent in person.  The Crab is about the size of a Gashapon figure, actually (it’s identical to mine, at least).

Destoroyah-Flying-Rise

Flying Destoroyah presents kind of a unique challenge – it’s one part pterodactyl, one part fish, one part dragon, and one part lobster, and yet the toy’s sculpt does a great job capturing this concept. It’s a little hard to tell whether it has wings or fins, though the membrane is a little on the thick side. The face has a great expression, and you can see some elements of Destoroyah’s final form already emerging there. Its back is covered in spikes, so much that we all know Mario would have trouble stomping on it. The underbelly is also pretty interesting, showcasing that weird flower design, an amber-colored “engine,” and tiny, vestigial crab legs. I really like this form, and it makes me happy that I’ve finally got a decent figure of it! The thing is, and this is true for all three figures, the sculptural details are crisper and cleaner than on any other Destoroyah toy on the market, which helps sell them as “real” creatures even though they were just puppets.  Flying Destoroyah is over 5″ long, nearing a good 6″, and with a pretty wide wingspan.

Destoroyah-AllAggregates

PAINT: ****

Destoroyah has a specific color scheme in all of his forms, resembling a cooked lobster. Very few toys get it right, usually focusing too much on the shades of red and not enough on black. Some make him translucent, some even make him brown. But these figures get it right! The important thing to note is that the paint isn’t sloppy – they didn’t just glop on black, red, brown, and purple, they carefully applied each layer of color until the effect was right. You can notice things like red for the spikes, or purple fading to white on certain surfaces. The only problems that I can think of are how the Crab’s eyes and teeth are just a little gloppy at their tiny size, but it’s no big issue. Some people have complained about how the Flying Form’s eyes are made of the same translucent material as his horn, but this is done to match his Final form, which had the same effect. I admit that it’s odd for the eyes, because they do not form a light tunnel or anything like that, and the result is that they just look like amber. It’s not a bad thing, but it sometimes attracts attention. The Flying Destoroyah also has a copyright stamp on one of his wings, which is unfortunately prominent.

Destoroyah-Flying-Face

ARTICULATION: Aggregate: ****, Flying: ****, Crab: **

S. H. MonsterArts is a line that prides itself on articulation. Theoretically, these figures can take any pose that they could in real life, and yet they can do this without harming their appearance much.

Destoroyah-FallDown

The Aggregate Destoroyah is insane. Other reviewers have counted at LEAST seventy points of articulation, and I know they aren’t overestimating. If you want a good overview of the Aggregate’s articulation, I suggest you take a look at this Stop-Motion Video somebody put up on YouTube.  Yowza!  Pretty much every joint is a regular ball-joint, designed so that you can pop out the pieces and put them back in place (though I wouldn’t do that – they don’t stay in so easily once you pop them out). And when I say every piece mobes, I mean it – its pincers open and close, its legs are articulated along all the joints, its shoulder-arms can curl and straighten out, and most amazingly, its neck is made up of a chain of little layered plates. You can twist and bend its neck in any pose that the creature could take – any! And they even sneaked in some jaw articulation, too – if you remove the head and then take a pencil or paperclip, you can push its inner jaw out a tiny bit. It isn’t much, but it’s an amazing detail that nobody would have thought of. That said, there are some issues here, all of which are because it’s so articulated – with all of these ball joints, something is bound to get stuck or be loose. His crab pincers were stuck on mine at first, but I was able to dislodge them easily. And unfortunately, one of his tiny front legs, one of his tiny underbelly legs, and one joint from his left shoulder arm are very loose, with the arm one just not staying on even when I force it. It’s a bad quality control issue for something that cost this much, but I suppose it can’t be helped. Just be careful with those joints, and try to keep track of what every piece looks like in case Destoroyah’s toe falls off or something.

Destoroyah-Grounded

Flying Form is pretty good, much like the Aggregate. Its neck is a chain of ball-jointed layers, which gives it an incredibly realistic range of motion. The jaw is on a hinge, and all four of its wings move both at the base and wings themselves. Amazingly, even its tiny little vestigial legs are on ball joints – including the two on top of its back! Pieces of this creature can move that never moved in the movie. About my only complaint is that tail – it starts out with a chain of ball joints at the base, but then the last two thirds of it is just one flat piece, making most wing poses look stiffer and less natural than the rest of its joints. The fact that I can validly complain about articulation that would be incredible for any other toy says something, here.

Destoroyah-Crab-Back

But on the other end of the spectrum is the Crab. Crab Destoroyah’s articulation is very limited, to the point where it almost seems insulting after looking at the other two figures. Mind you, it’d be fine for a mass-release toy, it’s just that this is one of those high-end Japanese imports. Crab Destoroyah swivels at its tiny pincer arms, big shoulder arms, two spikes on its back, and the “middle” set of legs at its side (but not the front or back). His tail doesn’t move (the peg is irregularly-shaped to keep you from rotating it!), but it falls out easily. You can remove the big shoulder-arms, which sort of turn it into a normal Crab form, only they leave big holes in the Crab’s shoulders. Because of this, the Crab is more of a tiny companion statue to the two super-articulated main figures. I find it odd that you can move two of its regular legs – but only the ones in the middle, not the front or back. It works overall, and for any other toy I’d say it’s fine… but again, this is S. H. MonsterArts.

Destoroyah-BiteGodzilla

ACCESSORIES: N/A

I suppose I could count the Aggregate’s alternate head as an accessory, but other than that… nada! And for the price point, this is really annoying. Past MonsterArts toys have come with blast effects, flight stand, and other random pieces – these guys just come with one another. Destoroyah had a pretty unique breath weapon, and I would have preferred one of those to the jaw that never extended in the movie.

Destoroyah-Hedorah

But the bigger issue is flight. Flying Destoroyah has nothing to support him – other MonsterArts figures have come with little translucent flight stands, but not this guy! And since he never spent any time grounded in the movie (except for when he crashed), this leaves me either hanging him from the ceiling with string, or awkwardly balancing him over buildings. The lack of a stand severely impedes this toy, and is just frustrating. Come on, guys! Throw us a bone here!

Destoroyah-VsGodzilla

VALUE: **1/2

Urrrrrrgh. This is a $100 set, easily. Its original retail price a few months ago is $85, but you should know to account for markup and shipping. Essentially, you’re paying $35 for each figure – less than for any other individual Monsterarts toy, but these three guys are all fairly small. When combined, they take up less volume than grown-up Destoroyah, who also originally retailed for about this much. I can drop this money on a lot of toys, but it just feels harsh to put that much down on one set at a time. Monsterarts toys seem to be getting more and more expensive, yet coming with less – this figure would have greatly benefited from something, anything. Blast effects or tiny buildings would have been nice, but most importantly the Flying Destoroyah really needs a flight stand, and Tamashii Nation wouldn’t even supply that!

Destoroyah-Reinforcements

THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:

These toys feel fragile. The plastic used in making them is stiff and rigid, which I assume holds detail better than soft rubber – but it also means that if you drop one on the floor, it probably won’t survive. Also, when a ball joint becomes loose, it will pop out all the time. When one is stuck, you will run the terrible risk of snapping it. These figures just don’t feel like they are made to be played with, despite coming with more movement points than some real animals. But if you’re careful, they should be okay – I keep mine in their box when I don’t have them out just to ensure their safety!

Destoroyah-Hedorah02

WHERE TO BUY:

It’s a Japanese import! Aside from Amazon and eBay, I did a google search and came up with Anime King Inc and Monster Planet Toys as some other options. Or you could do what I did and haggle over the price at a toy show until you get a discount. Because ugh, $100 is just ugh.

Destoroyah-Gigan

OVERALL: ***

Fragility is something that I am used to with Japanese import toys (remind me to talk about Final Fantasy Creatures sometime), and it’s par for the course with heavily-articulated toys. But see, the huge price tag and lack of accessories really hurts this set, at least at first glance.

Destoroyah-Crab-Between-Buildings

But on the flip side, all three of these figures look incredible, and at least one is of a Destoroyah form that has pretty much never gotten a good toy before (well, you can buy some limited-edition vinyl figures for $100 each). So ultimately? I have to rank them pretty high. If you aren’t a Godzilla fan, they are awesome crustaceans. If you are a Godzilla fan, then this could fill an awesome spot in your collection. Part of me wants to snag the big Ultimate Destoroyah, but I just don’t think I can manage the price tag of collecting this line. So no, I haven’t caught a new fever. Maybe I’ll grab another MonsterArts figure in the future, maybe not (definitely if I see a Hedorah), but as much as I like this set, a few things about the figures just don’t make the price tag worth it to me. Costs aside, though, the are many shades of awesome.

Destoroyah-Kaiju

One response to “Life In Plastic: TOY REVIEW: Destoroyah Evolution Set (S. H. MonsterArts)

  1. Ah man! Having just watched the film, I came back to re-read your review. This really is a pretty awesome set – but my word the price! I only have one Monsterarts – and that’s a Gamera I got 2nd hand. I’d love more, but yeah – budget breakers…

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