Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fundraising Week: Toy Review – Giant Size Godzilla from JAKKS Pacific

Change of plans, Phantomaniacs.

Today’s post was going to be a list of favorite toy reviews from the past six years of Needless Things (and MySpace). That was before I got this new 43” Godzilla from JAKKS Pacific. Without giving the whole review away, I was so excited about this thing that I didn’t want to wait to review it. So I posed the question last night on Facebook of whether I should do this or the toys post and everybody said I should do this. I agree.

BUT FIRST!

I have some business to take care of. I am still begging for money – more so now than before due a new development. We have a $700 Emergency Room bill to pay (thanks, “Affordable” Care Act!) and $2400 worth of tree removing scheduled to happen so that our house doesn’t end up looking like Godzilla visited. THINGS ARE NOT LOOKING UP.
Thanks to those of you that have contributed or purchased stuff already. Your love and help are appreciated. Everybody else – now is the time to buy stuff. Or just give me money. I have a number of exciting interviews lined up and it’s going to be a damned shame if only a small percentage of you get to hear them due to bandwidth issues.

Anyway, here’s the business stuff:

As I outlined in last week’s desperate plea for money, Needless Things needs your help.
It’s getting even more expensive to run this website and has gotten to the point where I quite frankly can’t justify paying what the various servers and hosts want. So in the post linked above I explained the situation and asked if you folks could help out by buying merch from here:
Straight-up donating dollars here:

Or just by sharing these fundraising posts all over the internet.

And here’s a thing I’m going to try:

The Needless Things Mystery Box!

It could be toys, comics, books, t-shirts I’ve worn once or never (that have been laundered! Or not if you’re weird!), or any one of a number of weird tchotchkes laying around the Phantom Zone. There will be a Needless Things sticker (or three) in every box.

Finally, each Mystery Box will include a M.U.S.C.L.E decoration put together by me! That's right – I used my own two hands and a pair of needle nose pliers to screw an eyelet into each and every one.

WOW! What a bunch of work that was!

Simply go to needlessthings.storenvy.com and order yourself one (or more!) Mystery Box! Believe me – I have a ton of cool stuff just sitting around the Phantom Zone.

I’m going to try mentioning this every day this week and see what happens. If I don’t raise the funds needed to keep things going… well, I don’t know. I love writing for the site and I love doing the podcasts even more, but it might be nice to have all that time and money. Doing this is essentially a second full time job that doesn’t pay me anything. Quite the opposite, as a matter of fact.

But what I really want is to be able to afford better hosting so that I can do more. More episodes of the podcast. More con reports. More everything. If you guys enjoy Needless Things and would like more, do one or all of the things above.

Before I get into this review, I want to point out the most important thing about this toy – it signifies that we have all healed from the awful abortion that was the 1998 Godzilla movie. It means that retailers have finally recovered to the point that they will stock Godzilla merchandise again (beyond Toys R Us’ normal lines of Bandai merchandise). If the retailers have moved on, then so can we.

Let’s just hope the new movie doesn’t suck.

I did not want to get excited about the new Godzilla movie. Not just because the last one sucked donkeys (and yeah, it still does – I tried to watch it again recently and it’s bad), but because I really hated Monsters, Gareth Edwards’ last film. He’s the guy directing the new movie. I wrote a review of Monsters, but I cannot for the life of me find it. It’s pissing me off because it was a really good review.

Over the years I have lost a few things for one reason or another – a smashed flash drive, poor saving practices, trying to copy something and failing. I didn’t remember that review being one of those lost things, but I sure can’t find it.

While I am not a fan of Edwards’ previous work, I am a fan of Godzilla’s previous work. I am not a rabid fan on par with Johnny Danger or Shane Morton, but I have seen a lot of Godzilla films and have a love for what they’re all about. I think I might love the concept of Godzilla more than I love the movies themselves, though some of them are fucking awesome – Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, Godzilla 2000, and Destroy All Monsters! are my favorites. I just recently saw Godzilla vs. Biollante for the first time and it was pretty good, too.

I’ve certainly had my share of Godzilla toys over the years. While I haven’t ever invested in one of the crazy-articulated (and crazy-expensive) SH MonsterArts figures from Bandai, I do have a number of their larger and simpler vinyl figures. I’ve also got quite a few smaller Godzillas from various companies. I just love the look of the King of Monsters – he’s one of those characters that I’ll often just pick up a toy of because it looks cool. 
 
That is definitely the case here. Well, because it looks cool and because it’s HUGE.

I can’t help but be excited about Godzilla. Everything in the trailer fills me with hope except for one thing – Bryan Cranston. I am extremely conflicted about his presence in the movie. I know that sounds completely insane. I love Bryan Cranston just like everybody else does. I loved him in Malcolm in the Middle and Breaking Bad. Heck, he’s my pick to play Skeletor in any Masters of the Universe movie that might happen.

But my whole problem with Monsters was that it was a movie about two assholes falling in love that happened to have some monsters sort of roaming around in the background. And eventually fucking. So to me the fact that Bryan Cranston is in this movie suggests that Mister Lovey-Panties Gareth Edwards is planning on focusing an awful lot of attention on humans. Possibly to the detriment of the namesake of the film.

I HOPE THAT I AM WRONG. Please let me be wrong. Let me eat my words. I will henceforth refer to Gareth Edwards as King Badass Iron Pants of Manly Island if I am wrong. But I have to go into this thing aware of the possibility he’s going to make another fucking romantic drama.

Regardless of the quality of the movie, this Giant Size Godzilla from JAKKS Pacific is an huge monster of a toy. But is it fit to be King?

FIRST GLANCE

I honestly wasn’t expecting much from the sculpt or paint on this toy. Not to knock JAKKS, but I used to collect their wrestling figures and let’s just say that they don’t care about innovation and deco quite as much as Mattel does. Once I saw this Godzilla in person I was pleasantly surprised by the level of detail and the paint that I did see. Also, it is a gigantic figure. I love that something this big can show up at retail. Fortunately for all of us, JAKKS had already made in in-road with their line of giant-sized licensed figures. Those huge Batmans, Power Rangers, and Darth Vaders are what we have to thank for this Godzilla.
PACKAGING

This is an oddly cool box. I love that the artwork is painted rather than being computer-generated or just a picture of the toy. And the old-school “picture of kid with toy” is great. Especially since they got a particularly small kid to make Godzilla look even bigger than he is.
The graphic behind the “Giant Size Godzilla” banner are great. The “Radioactive” symbol with the seismic waves running at the bottom are subtle and look so cool.
Tail Installation” is a term I hope to see on many future toys.
Finally, the synopsis on the back is an unexpected delight. Not only does it give us more background on this iteration of Godzilla than any of the trailers have, it also specifies the “threat to his survival from an ancient foe”. The most recent trailer and the rest of the toy line have made it clear that Godzilla will be battling another Kaiju in this movie, but this is the first open reference to it being the reason for Godzilla’s presence.
LOOKS

Godzilla is 23” tall and 43” inches from head to tail. This toy is insanely huge.
I don’t know exactly what I was expecting from this, but it’s much better-looking and, more importantly, sturdier than I thought it would be. One of those giant-sized Batmans from JAKKS made its way into our house and did not survive. The joints were weak and couldn’t stand up to Lil’ Troublemaker. That’s really saying something, because that kid has grown up around all of the toys I collect and has been taught how to handle things. He can play with a NECA or DC Collectibles release with no problem, so if something breaks by his hand it’s unacceptably fragile. Godzilla is not. All of the joints are thick and sturdy and move well.
The “Tail Installation” is quite easy. This piece comes in two parts – the tip and the piece with the hinge. The hinge piece plugs into the hole in the backside – stop it – and a twist locks it into place. The tip plugs into the other side and stays put quite well. The tip of the tail and the fins on Godzilla’s back are rubber, while the rest of the toy is a rigid plastic, kind of like what the old Shogun Warriors were made of. The coloring is done in such a way that this isn’t all that apparent.
The sculpt is nice. The scales and a lot of Godzilla’s shape are reminiscent of an alligator. There’s just as much texture and detail as there needs to be. The thing to remember here is that this is a fifty dollar toy intended to capitalize on size and awesomeness, not a high-end collector piece focused on detail and articulation. A toy this size from NECA would cost over a hundred dollars and an equivalent from the SH MonsterArts line would easily top four hundred. Probably much more.
Godzilla’s head looks great. It’s very reminiscent of older designs, but a bit heavier to match the thicker appearance of the body.
About that – I’m no physics genius, but I think it makes sense for Godzilla’s legs to be thick and huge. Just to be able to carry around such bulk they need to be massive. I like the new design a lot. The long tail makes sense as well. If he’s using it for balance in the same way that two-legged dinosaurs did, it would have to be extremely long.
Okay – back to the head. This design has that look of intelligence that Amerizilla from the Broderick movie was lacking. To me the King of Monsters was always sentient and aware of what was going on as opposed to just being some rampaging beast. I felt like the ’98 Godzilla was too much of an animal. This one has that awareness. The eyes, teeth, and tongue have solid paint jobs – probably slightly better than what a toy of this type gets. There’s also a wash of lighter green to bring out some of the details. This wash continues down the front of the figure and creates a great look on the torso. It does end abruptly at the first tail joint. I’m not necessarily okay with that, but it also doesn’t bother me all that much. It would be better if the wash went a little further down the tail, but it’s hardly a deal breaker.
Okay – I have to admit that there are a lot of ugly seams on this guy. Not just the joints, but where the different pieces were joined as well. It might not be as bad if the paint apps didn’t end abruptly at some of those seams. But again, for the size and cost of the toy I can’t complain too much. This Godzilla feels a little throwback-y, so I can forgive some things. Like the gigantic screw holes running down the figure’s back.
Yikes. Also, some of the seams look a lot worse in the pictures than they do in person.
ACCESSORIES

Godzilla didn’t come with any accessories, but that’s okay. I suppose he could have come with some little tanks or something. And a snap-on atomic breath effect might have been cool. But in all honesty this huge figure is plenty of toy for the money.
FUN

Just looking at this toy is fun. Once you start messing around with him and comparing him to other toys in your collection, he’s a shitload of fun; just for the sheer size.
This Godzilla features eleven points of articulation. The neck, wrists, and feet have swivels. The jaw, shoulders, and hips pivot. Finally, the tail has a hinge that allows a bit of swinging action.
All of the joints work quite well, though the tail hinge is pretty unsightly. I could’ve done without it, but Lil’ Troublemaker thinks it’s great. Since I feel that this toy was aimed more at kids than collectors his opinion counts more this time.
We had fun picking out different toys to stack the King of Monsters up against. Check it out:
Hasbro’s (extremely white) AT-AT
Mattel’s Granamyr
Godzilla just wants to be loved
NECA’s Quarter Scale Batman
Art Asylum’s 24” Gene Simmons
Hasbro’s 6” Lizard
Hasbro’s 4”… shit. I don’t remember the Chalmun’s patrons like I used to.
Trendmasters’ 1998 Amerizilla
Amerizilla’s gigantic head
As bad as the 1998 Godzilla move was, I still always liked this huge toy. It can eat figures and it has an electronic roar. That’s pretty great. It also has a fantastic paint job. But man – that head looks huge and silly next to the new model.

OVERALL

As much as I love this Godzilla and am totally satisfied with my purchase, there are a few little things that could have been better. First and foremost I really feel like he could have had an electronic roar. That’s a big deal and should have been a no-brainier. I would have paid the five bucks more that would have cost.
The seams and holes and stuff aren’t a huge deal, but I have to feel like they could have been a bit more subtle.
Overall, though, this is a big, badass lizard. Whether the movie is good or not, this is a true King of Monsters and a definite King of Toys. JAKKS surpassed my expectations with this one. I am happy. As far as I am concerned this is a must-have. It’s a good example of solid toymaking and if you have even a bit of nostalgic fondness for the huge toys of the seventies you must own this Godzilla.
4 out of 5
DO NOT pay more than fifty bucks for this guy. I’ve seen him on Amazon and eBay for up to $250 and that’s fucking ridiculous. He retails for $49.99. I found one at Toys R Us and I have no doubt he will be kept in stock. The movie doesn’t come out until May, so I bet there are several shipments planned. That being said – if you find one, go ahead and buy it. It’s a powerful toy and one I am thrilled to own.





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