Guess what, everybody? Not only am I reviewing a Godzilla toy on the same day as the movie’s release, but it’s in cooperation with fellow nerd blog and review hub, Dork Dimension! Nathan Newell of Dork Dimension has a much closer relationship to the big G than I, even with my crazy history of wrongful monster-love, so check out his review!
Godzilla has been many things through the years. He has represented nuclear war, imperialism, Japan’s guilt, historical memory, Japan’s youth crisis, military expansionism, mankind’s hubris, genetically-modified crops, and Matthew Broderick’s superego. I wonder what he’ll be next? Drone strikes? Health care? Capitalism? Honestly, it doesn’t matter so long as we get a good movie full of building-stomping fun! Godzilla hasn’t had a film in ten years. After Godzilla: Final Wars, Toho decided to temporarily retire the franchise to wait for the audience to build up again, similar to what it did in 1975 and 1995. This current decade-long break fits in with the 1970s, though the 1995 break was cut short because of how embarrassed Toho became over the first American movie. Remember that one? The awful, awful film with a cool-looking iguana who totally was not Godzilla? Yeeeaaaaaaaaaaah. Well, the new American movie has been promising up and down to be much better and closer to Godzilla’s actual roots. And today is its opening day! I’ll be seeing it with some friends tomorrow, so let’s all keep our fingers crossed!
A big part of the 1998 American movie’s marketing depended on keeping Godzilla’s design a secret. Sure, it was spoiled by the toys, but overall they built up a lot of anticipation just by hiding the monster himself. Not so much with this one. Sure, they tried to keep Godzilla a secret for a while, but the toys spoiled it again! And then the ad campaign went right ahead with a gradual reveal for everybody’s favorite Socialallegorysaurus Rex.
Lots of companies have the license for this one, with merchandise ranging from chibis to Bandai-style vinyl figures (including from the classic Godzilla movies!) to electronic action figures to small city dioramas, and even one set of blind-packed miniatures. NECA managed to secure the Godzilla license for a few products – the minis, one 6″ scale (12″ long with tail) figure, and one 12″ scale (24″ with tail) figure. The 6″ toy has already started showing up in stores – I ordered mine directly from NECA, but began seeing the figure in Toys R Us before it even arrived! So let’s have a look at the King of Monsters himself!
Godzilla comes in a typical NECA clamshell, though this one seemed easier to open than most. His tail comes unattached, ostensibly for economy of space, which does save a lot. It’s eye-catching and very obviously movie-related, and dodges the question of how big this series is very nicely – we just don’t know yet!
Godzilla’s sculpt clearly came off the digital files used for the movie, because as good as it is, it just doesn’t have some of the best hallmarks of NECA work. It’s not bad, but let’s get the negatives out of the way first. The sculpt is soft, with sallow details for his various wrinkles, scales, and scutes. It’s evident all over, and visible in the unpainted sections – that sort of thing happens from time to time, but it is unfortunate that it happened here. If you compare Godzilla to the Pacific Rim Kaiju, you would note that this seems closer to Knifehead v.1 than the later re-release.
Godzilla’s face is also pretty soft – not as bad as the tiny 3″ figure, but actually comparable. The good news is that this is the last of the bad news here. Soft or not, it is pretty expressive – he’s got all the right details, even including a tiny tongue! And to be honest, a lot of this is the fault of the digital movie design or the CAD file-to-sculpt translation, because aside from the shallow details, everything is pretty good.
Note his hide – Godzilla’s hide is surprisingly complex, with a realistically varied texture. Godzilla is part alligator, part elephant, part dinosaur, and part awesome, and it shows! His famous dorsal spines may be a little smaller than we are used to, but now they look like they are properly integrated with his boy and not just glued on after the fact. Also, it’s a really good thing that reptiles keep their genitalia hidden, because Godzilla’s sculpt is detailed enough to, um, have an appropriate bulge. Yeah, they call him “King of the Monsters” for a reason.
Okay, okay, one more niggling complaint. Godzilla is advertised as 6″ tall and 12″ long, and this is no exagerration. However, this also means that he really only stands at 6″ tall. Godzilla is not in scale with NECA’s Pacific Rim toys. He is small, about the size of Knifehead V.1. This is kindasorta in keeping with the size of some of Godzilla’s previous incarnations (who were anywhere from 100-270-ish feet), but the new Godzilla is well over 300 feet tall, which should put him eye-to-eye with Knifehead or Tresspasser. He isn’t. He will tower above a lot of the diminuitive S. H. MonsterArts figures, and actually seems to be in scale with those, which is pretty impressive, but a Pacific Rim crossover may not work entirely well. But if this figure sells well enough, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a V.2 coming at some point in the future.
Godzilla’s paint was set up pretty rigidly byWarner Brothers and Legendary Pictures – NECA has even commented on this on Twitter. As in the movie, his colors don’t vary much – dark charcoal gray (with a little bit of a greenish/blueish tint, though it’s hard to see), brown on the underbelly, and realistic paint on his face. A few people have voiced concern about the brown on his underbelly – it is a lot more muted on this toy than on anything by Bandai or Jakks Pacific. But after looking at movie stills (NOTE FROM THE FUTURE: THE MOVIE IS AWESOME), I can say that the muted brown might be a better match to the movie than brighter coloration.
Godzilla’s mouth and teeth are painted well enough, but the big deal is with his eyes. Even though they have only two colors, his yellow eyes are extremely expressive and lifelike, lighting up his whole face. It’s great how they know how to work with limited tools in this company!
Godzilla’s overall paint job is somewhat glossy – not terribly shiny, but his skin looks slightly moist, not as elephant-dry as one might think. I really like how it adds a subtle lifelike feel to the figure as well as countering the limited palette or the shallow sculpt. It makes him look much better than either a shinier or glossier paint scheme would.
Godzilla is not articulated like the Pacific Rim figures at all. In fact, he doesn’t even move like most other NECA figures. What this toy reminds me of is a MonsterArts figure – and in a good way, too. The articulation on this piece is just insane! Godzilla has ball-and-socket elbows and wrists, a hinged jaw, bendable tail (starting about halfway down), and then the ball joints. Godzilla’s head, neck, shoulders, torso, hips, knees, ankles, and base of tail are ball-jointed as well as three distinct tail “segments” before it becomes bendy. Te result is a super-poseable dinosaur, the likes of which you just don’t see for under $100.
Sure, not every joint is perfect – his mouth barely opens – but the overall effect is exceptionally awesome! His tail may be a little stiff, but it’s got more flexibility than we’ll probably see in the movie. I do have to point out that some joints feel little loose, but not game-breakingly so. This also might be because the weather was really warm when mine came in the mail, and plastic expands.
You can really put Godzilla in a lot of realistic battle poses. You can also put him in the “Happy Dance” from Invasion of the Astro Monster. But the best things about Godzilla are the subtle things you can do – a slight cock of the head or a twist at his waist can add so much personality to this toy that it really is fantastic!
Sadly, Godzilla does not come with anything. You know what he really needed? A breath weapon. ‘Course, maybe Godzilla doesn’t breathe atomic flames in the new movie, but Godzilla alwyas needs a big stream of blue atomic fire to spit out. Maybe I could borrow one from another figure somewhere…
There wil be an S. H. MonsterArts 2014 Godzilla, and undoubtedly it will be better than this one. The culpt will be less soft and shallow, at least. But at the moment, a Kaiju figure in this scale with this kind of articulation really fits into that line, and would be worth $70-$100. This toy? $20. It’s a great deal! I don’t feel any buyer’s remorse whatsoever!
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR: Some of the joints on mine feel a little loose, so I would be careful not to put too much stress on his hips, shoulders, or base of his tail. But they don’t feel fragile, I just recognize that they tend to carry a lot of weight or handle a lot of movement.
WHERE TO BUY: Godzilla is showing up right now at Toys R Us – I ordered mine and then found one at retail!
OVERALL: ***1/2 I know I complained a lot about little things, and it is true that there are some problems with this toy. The sculpt is soft and the scale is small. The paint seems simplistic, but this is probably extremely film-accurate. But other than those nitpicks, this is a fantastic figure! His body looks right, proportions and all. Aside from the details being shallow, they are complex and all in the right place. And even though he has tons o fuseful articulation, it is hidden so well in the sculpt that it doesn’t break up anything! And if you compare him to any of the other 2014 Godzillas on the market, this one is easily the best-looking. I do wonder what NECA’s HUGE figure will be like, though I won’t even try to make room for it. I am really looking forward to the new Godzilla movie (check back on this in about 24 hours), and this toy is a great part of the hype!