Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Review - S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla 2001

Before we begin, my judgement scale is a simple out of five scale; one being worst, five being best. This scale will apply to all reviews.

Godzilla is one of the few franchises that has, through parody, rejection and failure, truly stood the test of time. Whether thanks to the simplicity of the concept, or the human nature to adore the morbid, the creature has consistently stood firmly in pop culture since his inception.

Much of this is thanks to film's closest and truest friend; marketing. You'd be hard pressed to find a modern toy company that hasn't dabbled with the Japanese Giant - Hasbro, Mattel, Funko, Toynami... the list could go on and on.

Though, one has always seemed to take the forefront as the primary, most cohesive producer of plastic gargantuans - Bandai. With their renowned - though rather expensive - S.H. MonsterArts line, the company has brought to life countless Kaiju characters, with an impressive mix of stunning sculpts and intricate articulation. One of the newest additions to the series is Godzilla's 2001 design known as SokogekiGoji , from the film "Giant Monsters All-Out Attack!". He'll cost you about $80, and was released in July of 2016.

Sculpt - 5/5 

SokogekiGoji is one of the more unique designs from the Godzilla series, intended to communicate a possessed, zombified reincarnation of 1954's popular first look at the beast, ShodaiGoji. Though not a carbon copy of this design, much of the general inflections (such as a monotone choice of coloration, a heavier build, etc) are carried over.

Bandai's famed sculpt work has not fallen short; every scale, bump, and fold has been artfully captured, down to even the smallest detail. It's truly amazing how closely the figure matches the real deal; here are some shots of the suit to compare to.

This particular suit was among the tallest in the series' long history, standing over seven feet tall. Surprisingly, this is reflected by the figure itself; the typical Godzilla figure from this line is roughly 6"-6.5" inches tall, though 2001 is easily at 7" in most poses. Though light, the figure has a good bulk to it that gives it a demanding presence among other figures.

Articulation - 5/5

One of the key features of SHMA that puts it above other high-end companies is the highly integrated articulation. 2001 has carried on the necessary tradition, and with flying colors.

There are approximately 37 points of articulation, most of which are double-ended ball joints. The range of poses is absolutely incredible, as is common with this particular line; I especially enjoy the highly poseable tail, which, thanks to having a ball joint hidden inside each of the tail's segments, flows naturally and has almost no limits. 

A common issue consumers have had is with parts popping out of their joints upon even the lightest touch; though the very tip of the tail and the left hand have fallen off of my model, nothing else has fallen off.

Paint - 3.5/5

It's often hard to fairly judge the paint work on figures of Godzilla himself, simply because - bar some few and far between cases - he typically only consists of a few very plain colors. 

However, Bandai has once again done well with such little work necessary. moulded in light black, the figure is covered in various tones of grey. The soft spray on the spines, nails and various parts of the chest looks very nice; I especially like the work on the large feet, which has a very nice fade. I've seen some complaints that the spines are a bit underpainted, but depending on which still from the film itself one looks at, they could be argued as accurate. I feel they could have used a bit more white along the tips, but they don't look bad without it.

There is a very minor brown wash on the figure, and though I imagine it would've given the sculpt even more definition if properly applied, the actual results seem to have clumped into random places on most figures. Mine has clumped onto the lower neck segment, and is not present anywhere else on the figure's surface; I'd liked to have seen this dusty color used correctly, as it could've helped the overall appearance match even closer to the movie.

The face itself is both good and bad; the design's unique blank-white eyes have a well-done fade to black, and a very attractive gloss; if I didn't know any better, I'd think they were fully glass. The mouth, however, is pretty underwhelming. The tongue and insides have a simple, but adequate deep red wash to them, but the teeth are very one-tone and cheap in appearance. There is a noticeable gap between each tooth and where his gums should be, but this is left fully unpainted. 

Fun Factor - 5/5

Though SHMA is inarguably a collector-centric line, the sheer amount of articulation on their figures make them a lot of fun to fiddle with. SokogekiGoji is chock-full of movement, and thus, is really hard to set down in just one pose. His lack of accessories is a bit of a shame, but the figure makes up for it in quality.

Overall - 5/5

Though certainly not the best figure in SHMA's lineup, there's very little actual qualms to be made concerning this figure; my biggest issue is with the cheap paint work, but standing on your shelf, it's hard to notice these issues at all.

The price tag is a bit steep (as is common for Japan's high-end figures), especially seeing as he is a bare-bones release, but I personally feel that - once again - the overall artistic quality of the toy makes up for it. 

I hope that, sooner or later, SokogekiGoji's foes (Baragon, Mothra and King Ghidorah) are added to the SHMA line, giving the figure some worthy adversaries. Until then, SHMA's Gamera of "Gamera 2 - Attack of Legion" (headed by the same director that brought us "Giant Monsters", Shusuke Kaneko) fits in nicely.

All-in-all, the weaknesses of the figure don't bring down the strengths; Godzilla 2001 is certainly a must-have.

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