Monday, January 23, 2017

Review - S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla 1954

Bandai's S.H. MonsterArts line has become the frontrunner in highly accurate, incredibly articulated and notably collector-centric figures covering a variety of old and new movie monsters.

The series' main focus seems to be on Japanese Kaiju characters, including Godzilla, Mothra and Gamera. On a quest to cover each and every incarnation of many beloved creatures, Bandai has finally made it's way to cover the rendition that started it all; ShodaiGoji, from 1954's Gojira.

Released in August of 2016 to coincide with the release of Shin Godzilla, fans were elated at the reveal of such a monumental version of the beloved beast. Costing roughly $70 (and, as of this writing, even less, thanks to a wide release), it's hard not to be drawn toward the true Kong of the Monsters.

Sculpt - 5/5

Being the first actual Kaiju suit, ShodaiGoji is quite rough around the edges; with dead eyes, a streamlined build and limited flexibility. At times, the film even used a quite different puppet, causing some inconsistency concerning Godzilla's true 'look' in the film. SHMA's figure has been modelled after the actual suit rather than the puppet, appropriately going for the more refined and popular of the two choices. 

As is practically always, Bandai has struck gold with an incredibly screen-accurate sculpt, down to even the most intricate of choppy textures and natural folds. From the head's strong browline, the jagged dorsal spines, the protruding chest, and even quite hard to notice details such as the stocky tail or large ears, the figure absolutely parallels the original being to a tee. Here's an album of images to compare the figure to.

Being noticeably thinner and smaller than future Godzillas, this figure is about 6.5" tall, but has a much less demanding presence than other characters of the scale. However, being an antiquated version of the character, this fits rather well, and definitely doesn't look out of place. 

Articulation - 4/5

As is usual with the line, this figure is chock full of movements. With about 31 in all, there's some really good range available in the toy; whether you prefer his film-accurate upright stance, or a slightly more dynamic pose, the excellently planned articulation is easily the most striking attribute overall.
However, it should be noted that, while all the typical articulation is there, it isn't nearly as useful as on similar figures. For example, there is a midsection ball joint, but it doesn't exactly allow for much beyond a crunch. Another example is in the arms, which are likewise on a ball joint at the shoulder, but cannot move out to a significant degree. Though not surprising considering the limitations of the design, it's worth acknowledging that despite the sheer number of joints, not everything is incredibly 'free'. 

Paint - 4/5

It's difficult to identify precisely how ShodaiGoji ought to be painted; as, naturally, he is extremely obscured by smoke, shadow and general aged film in most source materials. Despite this, Bandai has covered the bases rather well.

Using a monotone color scheme to reflect the original movie, everything looks both nicely 'blurred', and excellent at defining the bumpy ridges of throughout sculpt. Small sprays and washes cover the scales and highlight features such as the heavy knees and vertical chest bone really well, giving dimension to what could've been a very bland toy. The cleaner work on the face is especially nice; as previously seen on SHMA's SokogekiGoji, the glassy eyes look really neat.

A bit more could be asked, such as further/stronger highlights, spray on the hands' claws (though they were unpainted on the real suit), and better alignment of the pupils, but what's there is definitely good. Definitely not among the most incredible or attractive of the series work, but fitting for the character.

Fun Factor - 4/5

SHMA's offering is easily the best articulated ShodaiGoji on the market, with great details and nicely done movability, The monster's design seems to limit how much range one can really get, however, thus meaning he isn't quite as 'elastic' as Godzillas from the same series. No accessories is a big downside, too; especially once this guy hits the aftermarket. He's a cool figure, but perhaps not the most shining model of Bandai's achievements. 

Overall - 4/5

There's a fair amount of things to love in the very first version of Japan's favorite nuclear dinosaur; a spot-on sculpt, pretty nicely done articulation, and traditionally well done detail work. There's certainly room for improvement - and, the complete lack of accessories makes even the lowest of prices seem a little unfair. All things considered, though, longtime SHMA, Action Figure, and Horror fans in general won't be disappointed. 

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