Well, as you all have probably figured out by now, I’m a kaiju toy nut. I’ve been collecting for almost 15 years now, and as long as they keep making ’em, I’ll keep buying ’em.
….problem is, these past five years, new kaiju toys are getting as scarce as milkbones in Michael Vick’s house. So, just in case anyone at Bandai is paying attention to what I have to say (and why wouldn’t they?! I’m on the INTERNET, for crying out loud, my opinion HAS to be valid!), I’m going to debut a new feature that Anthony has graciously allowed me to expand the toy section for, my own personal opinion. This section will be home to various articles that don’t quite qualify as reviews, be they comparisons of many collectibles at once, wish lists, gripes, anything you can possibly imagine. Today we’re keeping it simple, as I list my top 10 most wanted Bandai figures in the classic 8 inch scale. Now any listing on here is unmade currently, although as this article ages that might change of course.
#10 – Varan
Why: Well, some people seem to like him. Not me. Never did like the overgrown gliding iguana, but I’m well aware of his following amongst the fandom. So, I’ll throw you guys a bone. Don’t ever say I never did anything for ya.
Why hasn’t one been made: Naturally, this is just my opinion, but Varan honestly contributed nothing to the Godzilla universe. Sure, he had the rare honor of starring in his own solo film, but unfortunately for Varan it’s not an especially well known movie outside of the fandom, and isn’t always that fondly remembered by those in the fandom. Most people seem to be more a fan of the creature itself than the movie. With that said, other, possibly less memorable, kaiju such as Moguera from The Mysterians (1957) have been immortalized in vinyl, why not Varan, who actually appeared (albeit ever so briefly) on screen with Godzilla in Destroy All Monsters (1968)? Maybe Bandai never liked him either…
#9 – Manda
Why: While like Varan, Manda isn’t especially important as far as Godzilla’s history is concerned, the creature is fairly unique for a Toho design. Be it the original, Chinese dragon inspired design (Which I suspect most fans would prefer), or the DAM version of Manda (Which I saw first and always thought Manda looked like Godzilla in snake form), I suspect many fans would be happy to add the serpent kaiju to their collections.
Why hasn’t one been made: Perhaps Bandai found Manda forgetable, like Varan, and not worthy of the vinyl. Perhaps the serpentine design of the creature isn’t desirable when it comes to shelf-space in Japanese stores, and he might’ve looked out of place standing next to the other, bi-pedal creatures. However, Bandai created a figure of an Ultra-Seven character named Narse, a robotic serpent dragon. In fact, I’ve seen several people trying to pass Narse off as a Manda figure on eBay over the years. As a word of warning, make sure Safe-Search is turned ON if you do a Google image search on the word “Narse”. Seriously. Some people need to have their internets surgically removed.
#8 – Ebirah
Why: Ebirah has the unfortunate dishonor of being one of very few Godzilla “villains” not to have a figure in either the eight or six inch Bandai lines. Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966), while not ranking high on most fans’ list of favorites, is a fairly well known G-film, having appeared on MST3K, and I remember it showing on TV several times over the years, on both Sci-Fi and, believe it or not, the Disney Channel.
Why hasn’t one been made: My guess is Ebirah wasn’t deemed interesting enough. Perhaps Bandai felt that a vinyl giant shrimp simply wouldn’t sell very well when compared to three headed dragons and killer cyborgs. Truth be told, Ebirah isn’t the most unique of designs, and that likely counts against him.
#7 – Titanosaurus
Why: Godzilla’s co-opponent from the final Showa film, Titanosaurus has always had a strong cult fan following. While Bandai did give us a six inch Titanosaurus, if they ever return to their roots and begin producing classic kaiju in the eight inch scale again, I’m sure many collectors could be persuaded to add the aquatic dinosaur to their collection a second time. Titanosaurus has an interesting design, and I was quite surprised it took as long for Bandai to release him in any size as it did.
Why hasn’t one been made: Really, I don’t know.
#5/6 – Sanda and Gaira
Why: Why not? The War of the Gargantuas (1966) is perhaps the most well known Toho film to feature kaiju that were never imported into the Godzilla franchise. The Gargantua brothers would’ve made unique additions to any collection, as they are one of few “humanoid” kaiju (along with only “Frankenstein”, King Kong and Jet Jaguar, off the top of my head) from the Toho universe. Furthermore, there have been VERY few Gargantua collectables made that I am aware of, with an even fewer number of “figures” amongst that number. Most Gargantua items I have seen are statues/model kits.
Why haven’t they been made: Perhaps there is not strength in numbers in this situation, and the fact that Sanda and Gaira are basically “palate swaps” of one another (The Mortal Kombat fans out there will know what I’m talking about) counted against them. Maybe Bandai didn’t think that furry brown and green men would appeal to non-fans/casual kaiju fans the way the other, more wondrous Toho creations would.
#4 – Gabara
Why: I fully expect to be shocked to death in a nightmare tonight by Gabara for not mentioning him in the “humanoid monsters” list I formed earlier. Fine, as long as I don’t have to put on those little Ichiro-shorts….ugh. Anyway. Love him or hate him, Gabara is quite the unique design for a Godzilla universe kaiju. From his appearance to his color scheme, there’s no one else quite like him. I’ll always remember Gabara best from a pre-show segment on “Super Scary Saturday” on TBS here in Atlanta in the 80’s, hosted by Grandpa Munster. They were showing All Monsters Attack (1969) and presented the Godzilla/Gabara fight as a wrestling match, highlighted by pre-match comments from the kaiju. While Godzilla pointed out the fact that even Minilla got his licks in against Gabara and ended with a “Nature Boy” Ric Flair-esque “woooo!”, Gabara chose to focus on how pretty he was, and was shown blow-drying his hair in a graphic behind Grandpa. Sorry, just thinking back to my childhood, when….well, almost everything was better.
Why hasn’t one been made: Although I must confess I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for this movie, All Monsters Attack (1969) is, with the possible exception of Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973), considered to be hands down the worst Godzilla film of all time. Perhaps the hatred for this movie extends all the way to toymakers, as outside of the Marmits and the vintage Bullmark etc toys, a couple garage kits, and a recently released plush by Toy Vault, Gabara has almost no merchandise to his credit. With his only appearance being in All Monsters Attack (1969), will Gabara ever get HIS revenge? Don’t hold your breath, but, I’d buy it.
#3 – A Re-sculpted Gigan
Why: Those who’ve seen my review of the 8 inch Gigan Bandai gave us know my feelings on this toy. If you haven’t, well, whats wrong with you?! Go read. I’ll wait. Done? No, read it all. I’ll know if you’re lying. Alright, fine. Long story short, I consider Gigan to be the worst sculpted figure in the entire line. From the colors to the pose, Bandai pretty much screwed up everything they possibly could. Gigan deserves better. He’s usually ranked in the top three of Godzilla’s Showa foes, joined by such big names as King Ghidorah and Mechagodzilla. Just imagine the taunting poor Gigan suffers on the shelf next to those guys.
Why hasn’t one been made: Bandai usually doesn’t revisit their kaiju. Fortunately, they produced a vastly improved Gigan early on in the 6 inch line, but while its a nice gesture, Bandai, you must attone for your sins. There is no honor on that vinyl abortion you forced upon us in the mid ninties.
#2 – Kumonga (Showa)
Why: I don’t know. I hate spiders. They scare the hell out of me. Oddly enough, I’ve always been a fan of Kumonga. From the extremely competent wire-work, to the way he’d flip over on his back when hit hard, Kumonga was a memorable creature to be certain. Like Ebirah, he went toe to toe with Godzilla, but has nothing to show for it in the toy department. Kumonga, unlike most of the dinosaur/alien kaiju Toho preferred during this time, is rooted in a creature we’re all very familiar with, and manages to be realistic and scary, yet fantastic all at once. Give ’em a figure. Oh, and while I’m thinking about it, there’s a transexual Frankenstein’s monster (I’m not even kidding) on eBay that likes to sell plain plastic spiders with home-made tags and claim they are “exclusive Kumonga Bandais”. Please don’t fall for it.
Why hasn’t one been made: I gotta think that like Ebirah, being a “regular” creature counted against him here. Plus with the huge “leg-span”, Kumonga would’ve been wider than any other Bandai with the possible exception of Biollante, who required a box rather than a tag for display. I don’t think Bandai would’ve gone through all this trouble for Kumonga, who only has a fraction of Biollante’s “name value”.
#1 – Godzilla 1968 (Soshingeki-Goji)
Why: Again, I may be a bit biased here, but when I think “Godzilla”, this is the version I see. My favorite Showa suit of the King of the Monsters. Unfortunately, the only Showa versions of Godzilla released by Bandai at this size were the King-Goji and Mosu-Goji in 1983 and 1984 respectively, and these hard-to-find figures don’t match up well with later releases in the line. An 8 inch Soshingeki-Goji would go perfect with the Rodan, Hedorah, Anguirus, Mothra, Baragon, Gigan, Minilla, and King Ghidorah already in the line.
Why hasn’t one been made: I’m guessing Bandai was content to release the same Heisei Godzilla three years running. Fortunately, this kaiju is available in the six inch line and in the US Bandai Creation line.
Well, that does it for this time. If you liked what you read, great. If you didn’t, well, I’d like to hear what YOU’D rather read, jerkwad! No, seriously. Let me know what you’d like to hear in a future edition, and as always, thanks for reading and for visiting Toho Kingdom.