Friday, May 16, 2014

Toy Review – Modern Godzilla 12” Head-to-Tail Figure from NECA

There was no good reason for me to buy this toy.

I mean, it’s a new Godzilla toy from a company that has never made Godzilla toys before. And it was a new find in the local Toys R Us. And it looked big and awesome.

I already own the massive JAKKS Godzilla and I have NECA’s larger, 24” head-to-tail figure preordered from BigBad (coming in June). Between those two I’ll have the largest figure available (important when collecting the King of Monsters) and the one that will be closest in scale to NECA’s Pacific Rim figures. Well, according to this, anyway:
I hardly needed a smaller version. But I just could not help myself.

Here’s the thing – I have gotten excited about the new Godzilla movie despite my best efforts to the contrary. I tried to downplay the awesomeness of the trailers. I attempted to focus on Bryan Cranston and the likelihood that his presence would overshadow Godzilla’s. I made every attempt to control my excitement about this movie, but things just kept happening that got me amped up.

First, we recorded Episode 23 of the Needless Things Podcast. We were discussing the history of Godzilla and not the new movie, but I couldn’t help but get excited while talking to those guys. And then Johnny Danger – sweet fella that he is – sent me this message after he saw the movie Monday night:
Hey buddy. No spoilers but Godzilla was pretty great. I know you were concerned about letting the lil’ one see it...off the top of my head, there were two times someone says "shit", though it isn't very noticeable...people die but there isn't gore or anything...typical monster violence, with a spectacular violent finale to the fight.”
Seeing Pacific Rim in the theater with my family was an awesome experience and Lil’ Troublemaker loved it. My one sticking point with Godzilla was wanting to be able to take my son to see it. As soon as I got that message I bought three tickets to see it at the IMAX in 3D tonight. It’s an awful lot of money to see a movie, but 1) It’s quality family time, and 2) It makes me very happy to know I have created special theatrical experiences with my son. I don’t know if he’ll have the same love for movies that I do as he grows up, but the more special things like getting able to see The Day of the Doctor in 3D in a theater we can do, the happier I’ll be. So seeing the King of Monsters on the biggest screen possible in 3D is definitely one of those experiences. 
 
Now if only they’d do a marathon of 60s Godzilla on the IMAX screen…

So anyway, despite myself I am hyped beyond belief for tonight and when I saw this figure there was no way I wasn’t buying it.

Side Note: Toys R Us also had the new NECA Dawn of the Planet of the Apes figures in stock. They look fantastic and I really want them for my Monkey Shelf, but they were $22.99 apiece, which seemed ridiculous. If they had had any of the original series figures I would have bought one, though.

FIRST GLANCE

This is a big, heavy figure for a 7” scale (or whatever) figure. The first thing I thought when I saw it was that the large JAKKS version really is quite an accomplishment because it still looks good even after seeing this one. 
 
However – this one looks amazing and the second thing I thought was that I cannot wait to see NECA’s classic Godzilla figures and buy every single one of them. The first one – 1994 Godzilla – comes out in July. Supposedly NECA has the license to do a lot – if not all of – Toho’s monsters. I believe King Ghidorah, Mothra, Rodan, and Gigan were confirmed by name, but don’t hold me to that. I can’t remember everything I see on Twitter. Or anywhere else, for that matter.
PACKAGING

Godzilla comes packed in a giant clamshell. There’s just no way around this being the only packaging solution for heavier, smaller scale figures. A window box wouldn’t be practical and the weight of the figure would pull it right off of even the best-glued blister card.

***POSSIBLE SPOILERS IN THE BIO***

The graphics on the insert are eye-catching and exciting. They say “DESTRUCTION”. They caught my eye all the way from the far end of the aisle – I knew what was hanging there. Of course, the size of the package draws the eye as well. The only thing larger in that section are the NECA 2-packs.

Like the Pacific Rim figures, this Godzilla was created from digital models, so there are no creator credits; which are typically my favorite thing about NECA’s packaging.

LOOKS

The more I look at the design for this Godzilla, the more I love the proportions. The legs and the tail make so much sense for a creature this massive. The tail is going to have to be extra-long for balance and those legs have to hold up a tremendous amount of bulk – of course they’re going to be huge. I’d love to see a model of this Godzilla’s skeleton.

Despite the small size of the figure, the scales and textures are clear and well defined. Just handling this guy was an interesting tactile experience, by which I mean I stabbed myself in the fingers several times. Godzilla is covered in extremely pointy bits, so when you attach his tail you are going to endure some pain. I recommend wearing gloves.

What? Seriously – his tail comes separate in the package and has to be assembled. There is a thick, ball-jointed peg sticking out of a segmented upper portion of tail. The rest of the tail is a thick rubber with a wire armature underneath. There’s a hole that the peg goes into to attach it and create a point of articulation. People - putting that thing on is a bitch. I don’t mind because it stays attached quite well, but it took some work and some pain. Also, I forgot to take a picture of the tail and the figure before I put them together, but I’m not taking that thing off now.

The figure’s profile is almost entirely uninterrupted by the articulation, which I’ll get to in a minute. The fins on Godzilla’s back are a rubber that is soft enough to bend without breaking, but firm enough to leave painful little dents in your hands. This toy isn’t quite as dangerous as Knifehead, but it’s definitely pointy. The fins retain the basic shapes of the classic Godzilla fins, but are more random and natural looking. NECA did a great job with the descending size as they proceed from the back of the neck to the tail. I’ve seen a lot of Godzilla figures where the fins change shape in a drastic way once they pass the tail joint, but these have a natural progression.

Godzilla’s skin has a subtle paint job that takes the colors of the traditional Godzilla and blends them into a more realistic look. The base color is a very dark green that is reminiscent of the 1954 Godzilla (though he seems to be grey more often than not, in the movie he is practically black). There are washes to bring out the scales and textures, as well as a lighter green, almost silvery color running from his chin all the way down his belly and tail. It’s beautiful paint work worthy of a larger collector piece or a statue.

The fine details on this figure are striking for how much they stand out. The eyes, teeth, mouth, and claws all have their own paint decos and really jump out of the figure. 

Oftentimes on something scaled this small those kinds of details can be lost. The eyes are a brilliant yellow and are clearly visible even from a distance. Moreover, they have tiny pupils painted in the centers. The teeth are individually painted with a bright white. The interior of the mouth is a fleshy pink with a darker tongue in the middle. The claws on the hands are a glossy black and the foot claws are a lighter, glossier green than Godzilla’s skin.

All of these detail decos are applied with tremendous accuracy. The eyes and teeth are especially impressive. I can’t help but feel like NECA put a little extra effort into this one, perhaps because it is the first in what they are hoping will be a long line of toys for an important new license.

Side Note: Johnny Danger had a number of very interesting facts about the very strict guidelines Toho enforces for Godzilla licensees – the shape of his head, the number of toes and fins; that sort of thing. I’d list them all, but it’s much more interesting to hear Johnny talk about them. So go and listen to the Needless Things Godzilla Podcast.

ACCESSORIES

***POSSIBLE SPOILERS MAYBE?***

I strongly feel like Godzilla should have come with an atomic breath attachment, but I’m not sure if that’s a spoiler. I don’t know if it’s common knowledge that he has the breath in this movie. If it is sort of a secret, then I totally understand NECA not including that. And if that is the case, then I hope to see a future repaint with lit-up fins (if that happens) and an atomic breath attachment. And I will buy that one, too.

***END OF POSSIBLE SPOILERS***

FUN

SO. MUCH. FUN.

Look – this is a Godzilla figure. A small one. Due to the design of Godzilla there’s only so much movement to be expected. And because of the size there’s only so much articulation that could reasonably be worked in.

NECA has surpassed all of that.

As I said above – the joints are worked into the figure so well that they do not interrupt the profile at all – not even when they have to work with the fins. Since this is an entirely new style of figure, here’s a rundown:

Jaw – hinge
Head – ball joint
Neck – ball joint
Shoulders – sliding ball joint (I don’t know what to call this – it has the range of a ball joint, as well as the ability to sort of slide back and forth)
Elbows – swivel/pivot
Wrists - swivel/pivot
Waist – ball joint
Hips – same as shoulders
Knees – swivel/pivot
Ankles – swivel/pivot
Front of tail – a series of three ball joints
Back of tail – wire armature

The range and functionality of these joints is unbelievable. I bitch all the time about the points of articulation on collector figures being restricted – whether by thicker portions of the sculpt or by overlapping pieces. The people that designed this Godzilla have overcome both of those conditions and created a truly amazing action figure. 
 
We recorded an episode of Earth Station Who the night that I opened this figure and I literally could not put it down the whole time. It’s not necessarily that you can achieve a ton of wacky poses, but that each joint has a subtle but wide range of movement and that when you work all of them together you can create any pose that a creature of this size and scale might achieve and then some.

I wasn’t going to bring up Bandai’s SH MonsterArts line because that is a whole different world and I don’t want to sound like I’m bashing the line just because I can’t afford them, but I feel like NECA has taken the concept of that line and cleaned it up to an amazing degree. Not one of these joints is ugly. There is no open space visible. As a matter of fact, I think you’d be hard-pressed to identify every joint without having this guy in your hands.

OVERALL

This Godzilla is, quite simply, a masterpiece. I bought it solely because I wanted a new Godzilla toy and I have poor self-control, but it has turned out to be somewhat of a revelatory experience – the sort of figure that raises the bar for anything even remotely similar. I can tell you right now that there will be many instances in future toy reviews where I will look at paint or a joint and thin, “Well, that NECA Godzilla got this right”. 
 
Buy this toy. If you’re a Godzilla fan or just a toy collector. Buy it and see what NECA can do. Now the trick will be to maintain this extremely high standard as NECA’s Godzilla line continues on.

I cannot wait to see their King Ghidorah.

5 out of 5

Just buy it. Now.:



5 comments:

  1. I skipped anything that said SPOILER and just ran to Toys R Us and picked this guy up. I'm hoping to see the movie tomorrow, if I can talk my wife into going. It was your breakdown of the articulation that sold me.
    My TRU also had the ape figures, and I really like the way they look; but Caesar and Koba don't have bicep swivels, so I'm going to have to wait and see if the shoulders have great articulation to compensate.

    On another Neca note, did you ever break down and buy some of those bootleg ninja turtle figures? I hear they have good QC. Although I have the single card figures, and the B&W boxset I just broke down and ordered some with the cartoon colored headbands. I'll let you know if they are a good buy for the $40 I spent.

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    1. I just got back from the movie, and glad that I skipped the SPOILERS sections, because I did not know he was going to have atomic breath, and got all excited when his tail started to glow.
      Ultimately I liked the movie, it was a fun escape for 2 hours. It wasn't perfect, and it's not one I can see myself watching over and over, but it was a fun ride.

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    2. I don't know if you listened to the Godzilla episode or not, but I'm getting the same crew together again to talk about the movie. I was supposed to see it again today, but I just had too much to do here.
      No - I never ordered any of the Chinese Turtles. I still want to, but It's just a matter of priority. I'll be curious to see how your multicolored ones turn out.

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    3. I listened to the Godzilla episode this afternoon. I had never listened to a podcast, any podcast, ever before; so this was a new way to pass time while working today. I really enjoyed it, and will be listening to episode 24 tomorrow at work.

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    4. Awesome! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I plan on doing a lot more, and more frequently. Well, not more frequently than 23 & 24. That just worked out that way.

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