Monthly Archives: November 2010


Congratulations goes out to our two big winners of the Japanese Monster Week giveaway, Mecha-Shiva and CompyRex! Both men had quite a few comments and were nice enough to play along. If you didn’t win, don’t worry I have a super huge Christmas giveaway planned in December.

Once again, Congrats to the man who’s a mix of Compsognathus and Tyrannosaurus Rex as well congrats to the Hank and Dean Venture parody of the supreme God in Shaivism. It’s CompyRex and Mecha-Shiva! They know need to contact me within 10 days to collect their DVD at Winner Redemption with their mailing information and claim their Kaiju prize. Let’s hope these two boys get together and have a Godzilla versus Mecha-Godzilla marathon!

These prizes come from the generosity of my own small wallet, but if you’re looking to sponsor a prize giveaway then you can contact us at Prize Sponsors, and help pop culture and toy lovers everywhere have some fun.


Trendmasters Gamera
Jiger
4 Inch Scale
By: Trendmasters
$13.99

So this is how it ends, not with a bang but with a Jiger… Yes, Japanese Monster Week has finally come to a close. This will be the last official Japanese Monster Week post. I still have several Gamera monster reviews coming up in the days and weeks ahead, but I’m ending the promotion at this post. Two of the most hectic weeks in recent memory derailed my plans for Japanese Monster Week a bit, but at least we got quite a few reviews up. DVD giveaways will be announced very soon. Who won?! You’ll find out soon. This is the last post you can reply to, to win a DVD.

On Wester Island in the Pacific Ocean, a large statue of mysterious origin (called the Devil’s Whistle) is located by scientists. Workers from the Expo are interested in returning the statue for display, and try to remove it for transport by ship. The removal of the statue is hampered first by a tribal member of the Wester Island people, then by the unexpected arrival of Gamera, who aggressively attempts to prevent the removal of the statue, only to be shot at by the crew instead. The statue is removed from the island successfully after a volcano erupts.

Removing the statue has in fact, unearthed Jiger. Jiger is a horned quadrupedal reptile somewhat reminiscent of the extinct Triceratops. Jiger is capable of shooting quills from it’s head as well as using a heat ray. Gamera and Jiger do battle, until only one can survive.

Even in the land of somewhat obscure Gamera Kaiju, Jiger is king. Jiger just manages to fly so far under the radar. It could be because Jiger is technically a girl, one of the handful of Kaiju with this distinction, or perhaps because the film in which Jiger appears, doesn’t even have the creature’s name in the US title. The 1970 Daiei film Gamera vs. Jiger, was called in America, Gamera vs. Monster X. It could also be because Jiger seems to resemble Gamera’s more famous other nemesis Barugon. Whatever the case for Jiger’s obscurity, she has one advantage over Barugon and many other Kaiju… A Trendmasters figure!

Packaging:
The packaging is the same as we’ve seen before in this line, all the figures share the exact same packaging. There is a large photo of Gamera’s head from the film, Guardian of the Universe, but actual Gamera logo doesn’t appear anywhere but the plastic bubble. In a lot of ways the packaging mirrors Trendmasters’ Independence Day toy packages. Trendmasters had more black cards for their toys than probably any toy company ever.


The back of the package is the exact same as the one for Gamera. All the figures share the same card, with only the inner nameplate changing. Once again, the bio is terrific and fairly in-depth for the character, if not quite era accurate. This covers just about all of Gamera’s classic Kaiju, but Barugon is noticably absent. I can see skipping Space Gyaos, but why not make Barugon? Perhaps it was too similar to Baragon? Of course Trendmasters figure of Baragon is quite rare too.

Baragon being a Godzilla Kaiju, Barugon being a Gamera Kaiju. Both creatures look similar too. Jiger actually shared Barugon’s roar (though slightly altered) in the feature film, so I wonder what roar Trendmasters gave the roaring Jiger figure?

Sculpt:
As a bit of a recurring theme with these Trendmasters Gamera figures, Jiger’s head is a rocket launcher. However, this time it’s really weaved in seamlessly. Jiger actually shot quills from her head and although it looks a bit more like a horn here, it’s greatly done to a perfect effect. The quills were almost like horns in the movie as well.


Of course just like all the Gamera Kaiju aside from the titular creature and the Gyaos, none of these monsters had Heisei designs. Trendmasters was forced to create their own modern designs for the monsters and they did a GREAT job with Jiger.


Opting for a more red color than Jiger’s original orange, they really raised the level of detail with this creature. As I said with Zigra, I feel that this is more what the monster should have always looked like. No doubt Daiei would have wanted Jiger to look more like this, than what they ultimately ended up with.


Jiger has one hand sculpted for digging or clawing and it’s nice to see them change things up a bit. Gamera’s four legged foes often didn’t stand up on two legs like Godzilla’s tend to, but Jiger did a little bit. So this hand allows a bit of that action.


The paint work is good, providing a nice contrast to Gamera. I’m mostly impressed with the spikes on the back, they look quite cool. Jiger looks more like a prehistoric devil dog here and I definitely dig that design. The heavy black wash compliments the Trendmasters design well. Jiger is beautiful.

Articulation:
Decent articulation on the femme fatale of the Gamera Kaiju universe. She sports cuts at the arms, legs and neck. The neck joint is impressive, when you consider that the quill missile fits all the way into the head. It’s actually swirling inside the body if you turn the head. Well done Trendmasters.


I can’t seem to get the tail to turn, but it might just be stuck. Unfortunately the bent hand, much like some of the issues with Gamera, is sculpted as a separate piece and thus really should have been at the very least a cut joint. Instead it just looks like a joint, but doesn’t offer any movement.

Accessories:
Jiger doesn’t look too bad without the quill horn in her head. Given that this happened in the film, it seems even more fitting. The firing mechanism is well hidden, perhaps moreso than any figure yet. It also fires pretty good, allowing kids to recreate the scenes of the quills shooting from the movie.


Trendmasters really repeated a theme here with these accessories, but aside from the Gyaos and Gamera where they didn’t really seem to fit it… The rest have been splendid. Jiger is undoubtedly the pinnacle of this planning, however.


The horn missile looks really good too. Plenty of little detail there, making it look almost like a protruding bone.

Value:
Jiger isn’t terribly popular either. She’s right up there with the most available of these figures. It’s a pretty good figure too and one of the only ones that Jiger has had in any form. This is as good as Jiger is ever going to look, so if you’re a fan, you owe it to yourself to get this one. I wouldn’t pay much more than $15, but at that price you shouldn’t feel too bad.


Score Recap:
Packaging – 7
Sculpting – 8
Articulation – 8
Accessories – Missile Quill
Value – 8
Overall – 8 out of 10

Jiger ranks high, giving Trendmasters another good score. These simple redesigns are quite good and really give some “umph” to an otherwise bland creature. I would have loved to seen Kaneko get his hands on some of these other classic Gamera Kaiju and I’d be willing to bet that his Jiger would have resembled this Trendmasters version of the character.


It’s time for an old classic comic ad, all the way from 1977. Marvel was getting ready to debut it’s Godzilla comic book and they advertised it pretty extensively. As it turns out the Godzilla comic was fairly successful and Godzilla was actually weaved into lots of storylines within the main Marvel universe.

The problem was that Toho only gave Marvel rights to Godzilla, as Marvel was too cheap to pay for Mothra, Gigan, Rodan or Ghidorah. Nobody but Godzilla appeared, so Marvel made up new bad guys for him to fight. One of them, mad scientist Doctor Demonicus supposedly captured Godzilla, mutated him and enslaved him to do his bidding. At least if 1985’s Iron Man #183 is to be believed.

Yup, when Marvel lost the license to Godzilla, they made changes to him and “snuck” him back into comics here or there. This new version is never named and looks a bit different. Anywho, it’s pretty neat that the Marvel Universe has lots of little Godzilla touches throughout it. Who would have imagined that?


Trendmasters Gamera
Zigra
4 Inch Scale
By: Trendmasters
$13.99

By 1971 the Japanese Monster craze was starting to die down. Although Godzilla did crank out five films during the 70’s, the golden goose was starting to lay bronze eggs at best. For Gamera, things were even harder and Daiei would find itself closer and closer to the brink of bankruptcy as Gamera had been milked just about dry. Gamera versus Zigra would be the last film in the series until Gamera: Guardian of the Universe in 1995, not counting of course, the abomination of stock footage known as 1980’s Gamera Super Monster.

Unlike most kaiju, Zigra is intelligent and capable of speech, presumably by telepathic means. He is an alien from an unknown planet that landed on earth via a small spaceship shell – the ship sports the same dorsal fins. For much of the first half of the film, he uses a captured human female as an extension of his will to infiltrate dry land.

Zigra was an interesting monster, with a fish-meets-bird design that made him a strange monster to look at. Daiei’s budget was pretty low, so Zigra didn’t look great, but the design was unique. Trendmasters was able to do something pretty epic with their Gamera toy line and that was to make Zigra look perhaps as he always should have, quite fierce.

Packaging:
The packaging is the same as we’ve seen before in this line, all the figures share the exact same packaging. There is a large photo of Gamera’s head from the film, Guardian of the Universe, but actual Gamera logo doesn’t appear anywhere but the plastic bubble. In a lot of ways the packaging mirrors Trendmasters’ Independence Day toy packages. Trendmasters had more black cards for their toys than probably any toy company ever.


The back of the package is the exact same as the one for Gamera. All the figures share the same card, with only the inner nameplate changing. Once again, the bio is terrific and fairly in-depth for the character, if not quite era accurate.

Sculpt:
Unlike Gamera and Gyaos, Zigra had not appeared in any films during the Heisei era. This meant that Trendmasters was left with two possibilities. One, would be to release Zigra just as he had appeared in the film. Which in itself was pretty hokey for the time period. The other option and the one they actually went with, was to modernize the character and give us the “Heisei Zigra”, even if it had no film basis.


Everything on Zigra has been amped up. This is truly a beautiful redesign by Trendmasters. They didn’t try to turn Zigra into a toy, but simply made Zigra look as though he had been brought into the modern age. It’s like looking at vintage Gamera and modern Gamera… They really nailed it.


He has all of Zigra’s traits and colors. From the fins to the red eyes and pointy teeth, it’s all here. Zigra still looks like a bird-dolphin-goblin shark… But now he looks like a true monster, not a goofy guy in a suit. He’s still not the most exciting design in the world, but the depth of Trendmasters’ sculpting ability is really shining here.


The head sculpt does have a hole in it’s head for the missile and unfortunately, once again it leaves his head empty enough that you can see through it. As per the norm, this is the budget version without the electronics, but all the electronic compartments are still there. The good news here is that the actual electronic version of Zigra had a red button on it and here it’s absent. He looks great head to toe.


The design is well detailed, and the only real weak spot is that his head is two pieces glued together. That means up super close you can see a gap. It’s not as visible to the human eye, but clearly it’s a bit worse than a regular mold line.

Articulation:
The articulation is really, really good on Zigra, all things considered. He has a cut neck that allows full range of motion. That’s surprising considering he has that stupid rocket launcher built into his head.


Both arm fins have cuts as well as cuts at the legs and tail. That gives him plenty of movement, both for flying and ground attack poses. You can’t quite convert him to his “fish mode” that he had in the film, but you can pose him quite well for ground battles.


The tail’s positioning allows Zigra to pretty much stand at any angle. His feet are big hooks, as opposed to the “elf boots” of the real costume and that would make standing difficult, you’d think. But the way the tail sets, allows him to pretty much never fall over. Kudos Trendmasters.

Accessories:
Of all the goofy rocket launchers to come with these figures so far, Zigra’s is the best. It isn’t some odd color and instead of being a ray, it’s more of an additional horn. It fits in with the design well.


It’s listed as his paralysis beam, which in the film was more of a spider-silk type material, but it looks like an additional horn to me. It fits into the head quite well and doesn’t take away from the design when it’s in. It does stick out a bit in the back, but not enough to be much of an eye sore.


It seems to fire just by pushing it a bit and works pretty well. I can’t decide if I like him better with it in or out. Either way he looks pretty good, though.

Value:
Zigra is probably the most common of the Trendmasters figures. He’s relatively cheap when he shows up and nobody loves poor Zigra. I’m not sure why, he’s a frickin’ fantastic figure! Everything that Trendmasters did here is appropriate and well done. I think I prefer the bare bones version to the electronic version, though, because he doesn’t have that bright red button.


Score Recap:
Packaging – 7
Sculpting – 8
Articulation – 8
Accessories – Missile Head
Value – 8
Overall – 8 out of 10


Trendmasters managed to do everything right with Zigra. Because they completely redesigned Zigra, this is hands down the best Zigra figure ever produced. I have no doubt in my mind that this is how Daiei envisioned Zigra to look when they first came up with the character. The Trendmasters’ design of Zigra is everything this Kaiju could ever hope to be. It’s a little plastic masterpiece in that sense and I doubt it will ever be topped, at least as it relates to this character.

Don’t Forget, Comment on any Japanese Monster Week post from now until Sunday, November 28th and become eligible to win two Godzilla DVDs. See this post for complete details!


Godzilla
Gigan (Final Wars Version)
11 Inch Scale
By: Bandai Creation
$17.99

Gigan has always been my brother’s favorite Kaiju and in recent years it’s become apparent that Gigan is very popular to many in the Godzilla fandom. I’m not sure if it’s because he showed up a lot during the Showa series, sometimes at random, or because of his unique look, but he’s quite popular. It might also help that poor Gigan was never reinvented during the Heisei series, so when he was announced for Final Wars, fans were very excited. The Final Wars version of Gigan serves as essentially the #2 villain in the film and he’s Gigan taken up to the 100th power.

Long ago, Gigan once fought Mothra for the fate of the Earth and ultimately was defeated by Mothra. Years later his sarcophagus is discovered and analyzed by the human, but is suddenly revealed to be a weapon used by the Xiliens too. Gigan awakens and causes havoc and destruction in Japan, but is then sent to destroy the Gotengo in hopes of not awakening Godzilla. Although Gigan does manage to bring down the Gotengo (temporarily,) Gigan then faces off against Godzilla.

Of all the figures to make into the 12 inch deluxe line, Bandai chose Gigan. It’s a good decision, as Gigan has a really cool look that makes him scream from the toy shelves. He’s a recent character too, so that may be part of the reason he was selected to be the third entry into the series. Whatever the case may be, I’m glad to have a huge Gigan. Let’s break him down, shall we?

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