HG Godzilla 2014
Review by netkid
Intro Gashapons! What are “Gashapons” you ask? Well, according to this very informative article on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gashapon Gashapon (ガシャポン?) is a Bandai brand trademark (U.S.Registration Number.2864782) widely used throughout the world for their capsule toys. It is also referred to as gachapon (ガチャポン?). Both gashapon and gachapon are Japanese onomatopoeia, made up of two sounds: "gasha" or "gacha" for the turning of a crank on a toy vending machine, and "pon" for the sound of the toy capsule dropping into the receptacle. It is used to describe both the machines themselves, and any toy obtained from them. Tomy, another major player in capsule toy market, uses "Gacha" (ガチャ gacha?) instead of "Gachapon" for their capsule vending machines and toys. A third company popular for the types of toy sets is Kaiyodo. In America gashapon are generally referred to as "blind box" sets. Gashapon machines are similar to the coin-operated toy vending machines seen outside of grocery stores and other retailers in other countries. While American coin-operated vending toys are usually cheap, low-quality products, sold for a quarter, 50¢, or sometimes 75¢[dubious – discuss], Japanese gashapon can cost anywhere from ¥100–500 (approx. US$1–6) and are normally a much higher quality product. They are often constructed from high-grade PVC plastic, and contain more molding detail and carefully painted features. Many gashapon are considered collector's items, with rare ones fetching extremely high prices in secondhand market. Gashapon toys are often based on popular character licenses from Japanese manga, video games, anime, popular icons and a few American entertainment licenses. These highly detailed toys have found a large following among all generations in Japan, and the trend is filtering to the world, especially among adult collectors, with other popular culture influences such as anime and manga. It is not at all uncommon to see sets based on licenses explicitly for adults, with figures of near-naked women. Virtually all gashapon are released in sets—each series will have a number of figures to collect. They are, by nature, a "blind purchase"; people insert coins and hope to get the toy or figure they desire. Such an amusement element may become frustrating, as one risks obtaining the same capsule repeatedly. Enthusiastic collectors will buy sets from gashapon stores in places such as Tokyo's Akihabara or Osaka's Nipponbashi (Den-Den Town). Depending on the store, the sets are usually cheaper than buying them randomly out of a machine. Background to item Now on to the item we are reviewing: Released in August 2014 to coincide with the Japanese theatrical release of Legendary Picture's reboot of TOHO's classic Godzilla film series, Bandai of Japan's Godzilla HG (high grade) 2014 Gashapons are an assortment of 4 miniature PVC figures of the film's featured monsters. With that monster of a sentence said, here's another: this assortment of 4 figures continues where Bandai left off waaaaaaay back in the mid-2000's era with their post-Final Wars “Godzilla Chronicle” Gashapon collections, a 2005-2006 spanning trilogy of 3 Gashapon PVC mini-figure assortments, all of which featured reissues of the very best figures since the Godzilla High Grade line's inception way back in 1994. The 2014 Godzilla HG assortment we will be looking at today consists of 4 figures: 1.) Godzilla 2014 – a standard pose figurine of Legendary Picture's Godzilla. 2.) Godzilla 2014 ver. Spit Fire (uncommon/chase) – the same sculpt as above with added atomic breath piece and paint applications. 3.) Flying M.U.T.O. (Hokkaido/”Hok”MUTO/male) – a standard pose figurine of the male flying MUTO with support block. 4.) Land-based M.U.T.O. (“Fem”MUTO/female) – a standard pose figurine of the female walking MUTO. Costing a mere 2,400 yen for a box of 8 random, yes random, figures, one purchasing these will only hope that they at least get a complete set of the 4. But hey, that's the chance we take for fun. Packaging What you get is a thin plain white cardboard box, shrink wrapped, and full of balls. A small bar-code sticker on the side flap only hints as to what lurks inside. Cracking open the box will reveal 8 translucent spheres, full of mystery and wonder. Each figure comes sealed in a dark translucent smokey Gashapon ball (think of Tamiya smoke), with two strong pieces of tape overlapping the seam where the two sphere halves meet. Unlike most capsule toy containers, which usually consist of ½ clear transparent and ½ solid color or colored transparent shells, this container is one entire piece with a hinge and 3 locking tab snaps (2 for the side, one for the front). It is a bit tricky to open, but once done, you'll realize how great a design it is. These containers stay shut incredibly well and will only open by human hands: first with the front lock tab, and then the two side tabs. No accidental openings to worry about with these babies. Contents spilling out and getting lost are a thing of the past. The smokey plastic coloring makes it incredibly hard to tell what's inside. Usually, Gashapons are transparent so folks can see what's in the machine. This sneak-peek approach gets customers to spend more money by enticing them to empty out the machine in hopes of obtaining that elusive figure. I have seen some capsule toys in solid black containers, but very rarely. An odd choice on Bandai's half honestly. Once opened, we find a mini brochure for the assortment and the figure itself, disassembled, in a clear vacuum sealed bag. As part of this bag, each body part is sectioned and sealed off in it's own chamber. Some parts (the Muto limbs) are placed behind a thick white cardboard backer to keep them from warping. Paperwork As with any capsule toy these days, a mini-brochure is included, detailing the assortment's figures in beautiful high quality colored pictures. Here we see one side, showcasing the 4 figures in this assortment. On the reverse, we find a whole bunch of text, some copyright and trademark stuff, the famous TOHO Godzilla stamp, the Gashapon logo, some web addresses, phone numbers, the material the figures are made of (PVC), Made In China, and a QR code to scan with your phone. Sculpting Keeping true to past Godzilla HG Gashapon figurines, the level of sculpted detail is fantastic for their size! Though they are much smaller than Bandai of America's Destruction Pack figures and Bandai of Japan's recent 60th anniversary Godzilla mini-vinyl collection candy toys, what these figures lack in size and articulation they make up in sharp sculpted detail. Each one looks like it was ripped directly from the digital files and made a physical reality. So let's do a rundown of each figure: 1.) Godzilla 2014 – a standard pose figurine of Legendary Picture's Godzilla. This figure and his repaint are both the same sculpt. This means that you can take the atomic breath effect from the “Spitfire” version and use it in this one's mouth. The figure comes in 7 parts. We have 2 tail pieces, 2 legs, 2 arms, and a torso with the 8th piece, the head, already glued on. Assembly is easy and stay firmly together for both figures. Once completed, Godzilla stands sculpted in a standard standing pose, arms drooping, mouth open, body slightly lurching forward only to be held back by the weight on his massive tail. His sculpt and posture show him as an immovable object of great strength, with monstrous power waiting to be unleashed by the slightest movement. The sculpt for this Godzilla, given it's size, is amazing. He is riddled with scales, wrinkles, plates, neck gills, scars. There is so much going on in this tiny little figure that you have to see it up close to truly appreciate all the work that went into it. He even has a small throat hole at the very end of his mouth! Bandai captured his look perfectly. For what little paint detail he has, it still manages to make the sculpt pop. Be it the dry-brushed belly or the Spitfire variant's metallic blue dorsal plates, the details shine through. And don't let his dark colors concern you, even in low lighting situations, the sculpt still manages to show just fine. I can't say more other than look at those pics and let your eyes soak in the delicious detail. 2.) Godzilla 2014 ver. Spit Fire (uncommon/chase) – the same sculpt as above with added atomic breath piece and different paint applications. This figure has the same sculpt and parts as the one discussed above. Here is what he looks like assembled and with regular Godzilla 2014: Now let's take a look at his accessory, the atomic breath beam. The atomic breath beam comes in 2 parts. At their midpoint is a half-circle shaped post and a half circle shaped hole which securely connects the parts. Once assembled, the beam can be placed into either Godzilla's mouth. The sculpting of the beam is very detailed for it's size, full of flowing energy that ends in a splash. This piece could very well work as a water effect for a fire hose if it were molded in clear colored PVC. One end of the beam is shaped to fit into Big G's mouth while the other “splash” end has a flat section for which it rests on the ground. However, the beam is flexible enough to be lifted and rested on other objects if desired. The beam is carefully dry-brushed with bright metallic blue paint to highlight it's surface detail. Also, depending on how light is hitting it, the blue paint can seem lighter or darker in certain areas. This is most noticeable when viewing areas of the “splash” end. 3.) Flying Male M.U.T.O. (Hokkaido/”Hok”MUTO/male) – a standard pose figurine of the male flying MUTO. Our first introduction to Godzilla's natural enemy is in the form of the winged male Muto or “Hokmuto” as some call it. The “Hok” in Hokmuto stands for “Hokkaido”, the Japanese city where it was originally planned to hatch instead of the Janjira nuclear power plant. The name stuck through production however, so some call it that. Hokmuto consists of 10 parts. 4 wing parts, 2 large arms, 2 small arms, a body, and a large rectangular block to keep him standing. The large brown block has no detail, and I really wish it had. Bandai could have easily made it as a small building for Hok' to perch on like we see him do in the movie but instead we get a boring brown block. If one didn't know any better, you'd think it was a big chunk of chocolate. Hok's sculptural details are there, but they are subtle. This doesn't bother me much because the Mutos weren't exactly detail heavy monsters. It does have the necessary wrinkles and details that suggest muscles and a skeletal structure under it's skin (front torso & directly behind the skull). It's subtle and does not come off as too strong. The limbs end in pointy ends and the head/jaws retain their unique “staple remover” structure, but it's all so tiny... I can't help but feel like this figure should have been larger to give it's sculpt more awareness to the eye. To bring some life into him, he's got metallic coral? paint on his eyes and large forearms. I can't really fault the sculpt here because the movie design is just as weirdly plain from the Kaiju norm. Sometimes a design is what it is and you just gotta accept it. It works, but for it's size it just doesn't help itself. Another issue I have with this toy is it's pose and it's weight. Due to it's weighty wings-spread-out pose, the skinny arms and legs are too weak and the PVC too flexible, to keep him standing. Even with the big block shoved behind him, under his wings, he still easily falls down. The block is a weak solution and as I said before, leaving it bare of any details makes it all the more annoying. I wish Bandai had made this guy with his arms and legs molded to some base so he could stand properly. Even something as small as the size of a penny under his feet would have done wonders to keep him upright. The weighty wings also cause another problem where his arms sometimes fall out of their ports due to the heaviness. You see, the arms connect to the wings and then that combo of parts connects to the torso, and that's where problems happen. The connection post-to-torso hole is not deep and this is why, even with his snug parts fit, he can fall apart even if handled carefully. The same problem happens with his little itty bitty torso arms as well. These posts and ports should have been made longer and deeper to avoid this. Previous HG figurines have long posts and deep ports to keep parts firmly together, but not these. This figure's issues could have easily been solved with some simple thought through design, but it wasn't and it shows. 4.) Land-based Female M.U.T.O. (“Fem”MUTO/female) – a standard figurine of the female walking MUTO. Our final combatant to the G-14 roster is the dreaded land-based female Muto or “Fem”Muto as she is known. She consists of 7 parts. A torso, 2 front arms, 2 rear arms, and 2 little arms. She fares far better than her male counterpart in the standing up department, but she too tends to fall apart at her four large front arms and the two smaller torso arms. Mutos apparently have problems with arms. Like her mate, Fem's details are just as subtle. You would almost think they were made from the same sculpt but retooled. They are not however, since Fem's parts are bigger than Hok's. She has bigger arms, a bigger head, bigger jaws, bigger everything. Speaking of big, she also sports a big belly full of bumpy details to suggest she's packing a full house of baby muto eggs. In the film, the Mutos suggest they have sexual dimorphism where the female dwarfs the flying male, though she was also exposed to far more radiation during her growth period, and she fattened up on yummy nukes to nourish her babies. The male stayed thin and light so he could fly around and retrieve nukes. Here in the toys it's...sorta represented. Though the female's toy has much thicker limbs and bigger head, both Muto figurines are the same height and the male, due to his wings, is actually bigger. This is another issue I have with both of these figurines. Unlike previous Godzilla HG Gashapons where most figures are in proper scale, here both Mutos are about the same size. They are also smaller than the Godzilla figurines, but I'm not sure if they are meant to be bigger or the same size as him. Looking at movie clips and back at the figure's heights, it seems that the various stances and poses on screen greatly affect their relative sizes to one another. Are they closely in scale to their on screen representations? I'm not so sure. As with HokMuto, FemMuto sports the same metallic coral paint apps on the forearms and eyes, though I wish they painted her belly to show her glowing eggs. Out of the two, FemMuto is the better figure, but she shares the same fall-apart issue, though not as bad. Her sculpt is just as detailed, but like HokMuto, she could still benefit from improvements in her overall construction. Both Godzillas are still the best figures from this assortment. If you're going to get any, at least get Godzilla. Paint The paint applications on each figure is very minimal but effective. Compared to previous Hg figurines, they are certainly less colorful but that is due to how these designs are colored anyway. Very dark, realistic, taking cues from real world animals. Though this fits with their designs, it may also be a cost-cutting measure on Bandai's part (oh no!). You see, past HG Godzilla Gashapons are usually molded in a basic white colored PVC and then fully painted over. Here, these new 2014 figurines are molded in color-appropriate PVC and then have their little details painted here and there. However, this lack of full-coverage paint does not detract from the toys, it adds to them, since it still keeps them true to appearance and most importantly, does not allow the finely sculpted details to get buried and lost under a layer of thick paint (like that awful G.I.Joe Rise of Cobra Baroness). Lack of paint, you win this round. The paint apps themselves are usually spot-on but may end prematurely(Godzilla's tongue and teeth) or bleed off a little bit(MUTO's eyes) in some spots. However, given some of these paint app's incredibly small sizes and areas of application, these paint apps do not hurt the overall look the the figurines. Some may find it odd that Spit Fire Godzilla's spines are only blue on his torso and not on the rest of his tail, but as we see in the movie, the blue glow of this energy travels up from his tail to his head, illuminating only part of his back and gradually emptying out when he lets loose an atomic blast. So with a massive beam of atomic breath shooting from his maw, this paint app decision make sense here. Areas like Godzilla's tan belly, blue dorsal plates, and atomic breath can vary in the amount of paint coverage since these 3 areas are painted in a dry-brushed weathered like fashion to make their surface detail pop. One paint color I would like to point out is the metallic coral or bronze orange used on the MUTO figurines. I'm not really sure what color it is but it manages to do a great job at reflecting light and making areas of their bodies glow just like in the movie. At first, I thought the MUTO's had 2 different colored paint applications on their eyes, but it turns out that it's just one paint app. No matter where you position them, their eye paint reflects light at just the right areas of their eyes to give them that glowing effect we see in the film. Articulation These are figurines, there is no articulation to be found. None! Accessories If you consider them accessories (or part of the figure), Godzilla ver. Spit Fire comes with a 2-part atomic breath piece that can be placed in either Godzilla's mouth and the Flying M.U.T.O. comes with a rectangular block to support his weight. Features/Gimmicks They stand. And come apart. Durability/Quality Control These figurines are made from very durable PVC. However, only give these to older kids who can tell the difference between toys and food since they have small parts that could get easily lost or eaten by a young child. Since they are designed to be disassembled for storage, parts popping off can easily be popped back on to the figure. No worries here. However, (and this goes for anyone) do take care when assembling and grabbing/placing the MUTOs. They are not fragile, but they like to fall apart due to the way their limbs slot into their bodies. Looking at their construction (and past Godzilla HG Gashapons I own), I can't help but feel the way their parts connect could have been done better with longer posts that run through the body. As far as quality control goes,.....we have an issue. Incorrect parts are an ever present possibility with any toy. Of the 3 FemMUTO figurines I got in my box, one had 2 right small arms. Though still unopened/unused, I do not know if I can return a single Gashapon figure to HLJ. I may have to sell that one as-is for parts. Maybe a customizer will buy it and make a dead FemMUTO figurine out of it for Godzilla to stomp on. The only other quality control issue I can think of with these would be the paint, but the paint apps on these are all decent enough that I'm not complaining. Things to watch out for -Incorrect parts: a FemMUTO figurine with 2 small right arms. -The risk of possibly not receiving a full set of 4 figurines. Value At 2,400 yen for a box of 8, this is a great price. However, you may consider it a costly if you don't get one full set of 4, leaving you to spend more money to complete the set. Purchasing Verdict If you're a fan of Godzilla, the 2014 Godzilla creature designs, or you collect the Godzilla HG Gashapon figurines, then I'd recommend this set. The price per figurine is good and the quality is great. The only concerns I'd have for buyers is the risk of any incorrect parts and the chance that you may not get a full set of four. Overall/Final Thoughts Looking at the overall set of 4, I like it but I still wish there was more to it. It...it feels empty, desperately in need of some in-scale buildings for the figures to demolish. Sure, adding more capsules would make receiving a full set all the more risky, but most Godzilla HG Gashapon waves usually have at least 6 to 8 figures in them, with some being variants in regards to paint and/or parts (as was the case with this wave's Spit Fire Godzilla). Even with the small selection of monsters, I still think Bandai could squeeze out another wave or two of Godzilla 2014 Gashapons. Things I would like to see include a capsule of destroyed buildings, a figurine of FemMUTO with a glowing egg sack eating a nuke, HokMUTO's cocoon, a roaring pose airport battle Godzilla, a dead Godzilla skeleton, a flying pose HokMUTO, a battle damaged Godzilla with impaled HokMUTO, and a final-battle Godzilla that's breathing down a defeated FemMUTO's throat. ^ That's 8 capsules right there. Enough to do two more waves of 4 figures. Just the capsule of buildings alone would put people in a frenzy, buying up multiples to army-build a destroyed city landscape for any of their past and present Godzilla Gashapons to play around in. Because what good is a kaiju if they have nothing to terrorize and destroy? Though this set has some issues holding itself together, if Bandai of Japan released more assortments of G-14 Gashapons I would buy them. With recent releases like NECA's massive 24” electronic Godzilla, Bandai's S.H. MonsterArts 2014 Godzilla, the film itself out now on video, and the upcoming PS3 exclusive Godzilla video game just in time for the holidays, the hype train is still going strong. As a cast member Godzilla 2014 once said “We are not ramping down. We're just getting started. Nothing stops this train. Nothing.” So like the unstoppable force of nature that is Godzilla, keep the products coming Bandai. Keep it roaring.
|Posted 20 October, 2014 - 20:19 by netkid|