Trendmasters



Gamera: Guardian of the Universe
Viras
4 Inch Scale
By: Trendmasters
$13.99 (price varies)

This is my final Trendmasters Gamera figure (toys I began reviewing over a year ago) and it’s our seventh day on the 12 Days of Gamera but I assure you this one’s a winner. Viras is my favorite of the Trendmasters Heisei designs and easily the best “toy” of the Trendmasters Gamera series. Heck, I’d say it’s probably the best Viras figure ever made!

Fusing together, hideous space squids from a distant water world from the mega-monster Viras,a beast with the power of mind control! Using his six thrashing tentacles to squeeze the life out of his monster foes, Viras plunges his spear-like head into his adversaries to finish them off. Can Gamera ward off the awesome mental powers of this alien menace who’s bent on taking over Earth

As usual, Trendmasters has a fantastic bio on Viras and of all the kaiju that they suped up for their Gamera line, Viras is far and away the most fantastic. Viras just screams evil and with just a few tweaks, he’s able to become something awesome.


This figure is a perfect compliment to Dark Horse’s Viras character and a great little toy regardless of if you’re a fan of Gamera or not. Trendmasters, I love what you guys did here. If the guy who designed this figure ever visits the site, just know, good going bro!
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Gamera: Guardian of the Universe
Guilon (Guiron)
4 Inch Scale
By: Trendmasters
$13.99 (price varies)

We’re 5 days into the 12 Days of Gamera and what better way to show that than with the fifth Gamera villain, Guiron! Guiron is perhaps the most inspired design of all the Gamera foes, as he’s really not like anything else. He’s part dog, part shark, he can walk on all fours or stand up, he has a huge knife for a head and he can shoot throwing stars out of his head. He’s all kinds of awesome.

 

The protector of a race of brain-eating aliens, Guilon massacres the enemies of his ravenous masters with his cleaving butcher knife head and firing shuriken stars! Even the most devistating blasts of Jiger, Gyaos, Zigra and mighty Gamera are deflected by the gargantuan blade of the saber-beast! As a battle of monstrous proportions rages, Guilon seeks to split Gamera’s portective shell and bury his blade!

That’s the actual bio from the back of the package and it does a good job of explaining Guiron’s story, even mentioning the crazy brain eating aliens from the film. It adds a little bit, talking about battles we haven’t necessarily seen and it’s done with some great language. Kudos to you Mr. Trendmasters bio writer.


For some reason, perhaps the pronunciation, Guiron’s name was often spelled “Guillon” in the United States. Trendmasters has went with the spelling “Guilon” to confuse things even more, I suppose. Gamera and Guiron do battle on the frozen planet of Terra in the movie and they actually have some snow scenes. It’s a perfect compliment to Christmas!
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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.


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.


Trendmasters Gamera
Gyaos
4 Inch Scale
By: Trendmasters
$13.99

Shusuke Kaneko’s take on Gamera redefined the relationship between Gyaos and Gamera, making the Gyaos become not just Gamera’s arch nemesis, but immortally linked at the hip. It was an interested interpretation and greatly raised the stock of Gyaos moreso than perhaps even Gamera. Trendmasters version of Gyaos once again uses the classic Gyaos bio, but definitely reflects the aesthetic changes to the character of the Heisei era.

From the bowels of a fiery volcano, Gyaos awakens from his slumber craving blood! Emitting a powder that, if inhaled, can douse the blazing breath of his ferocious foes, Gyaos renders his enemies defenseless – then strikes with his sonic beam! Even when he retreats from a battle with body parts blown off, Gyaos regenerates the limbs and returns… to win the war! In aerial battles at speeds oin excess of Mach 3, can Gamera survive Gyaos flesh-shredding sonic beam?

It really only makes sense that Kaneko would use Gyaos as the arch nemesis of the reinvented Gamera, as Gyaos appeared more in the classic films than any other monster, in one form or another. Trendmasters naturally had to make a Gyaos figure, since he was the only other “new” design they had.

Packaging:
The packaging is the same minimalist, and somewhat cheap version of the Trendmasters’ Godzilla card backs that are on all the Gamera figures. 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.


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:
Right off the bat you’ll notice that Gyaos is a dark purple color. That’s not entirely accurate, but the creature has always had a slight purplish hue in the films. He’s clearly brown in the Gamera: Guardian of the Universe film, however, so I’m not sure why Trendmasters went with the purple color, but it is a familiar color to Gyaos.


While the vintage Gyaos character was definitely more purple, this figure is definitely based on the modern design of the character, not the classic. The head is angular, but not so much of a triangle. The head has that odd shape about it, but there is a lot of detail. The eyes in particular, show that Trendmasters were capable of really bringing a lot of texture and detail to the designs.


It’s very well designed and although it does have a few touches of creative liberties throughout, there’s no mistaking that this is a Gyaos. What exact version could be debated, however.


The head sculpt definitely seems to be channeling more of the up close shots of Gyaos from the film as opposed to the larger suitimation battle scenes. In the film, Gyaos claws were a reddish brown, but here they appear white. Again this seems to reflect the classic era Gyaos in paint, but not design. There is a thick wash over the entire figure, similar to what we had with Gamera but even heavier.


The design is well detailed, with wrinkles and veins throughout. The feet are particularly well done and he stands even better than Gamera, which is a feat considering the design. The winged tail is included as well, again a nod to how accurate these sculpts are.


Once again these are the budget versions, which have the same buttons and speakers as the electronic ones, but without the function. It doesn’t take away from the sculpt much, but the missile launcher in the mouth, this time does.


Because of the small head of Gyaos, there is a hole running through the entire thing. In the front it’s well hidden from many angles, but in the back it’s a bit more obvious. I suppose you could stick some sculpy on it or something.


Despite the color issues, it’s a great sculpt. I do think the missile launcher mouth is much more distracting this time. Gyaos doesn’t look as right as Gamera, but this character is seemingly hard to capture. Because there have been so many versions of Gyaos, I’m more inclined to let the color errors slide. This is sort of a hodgepodge of classic/Heisei and Hyper Gyaos in design. It’s kind of a neat addition to the collection, in that sense.

Articulation:
The articulation is nothing to write home about here. It’s not much different than a vinyl would be, although it’s certainly easier to maneuver. Gyaos has swivels at the arms, legs and tail. Once again, a neck cut is sorely missed.


It’s a shame the articulation in the neck is impeded. I imagine that had something to do with the electronics, but given that they’re not even included here… It’s a missed opportunity.


Even without the neck articulation, this has some pretty good play value. Almost all the Gyaos vinyl figures lack movement at the wings, so that added movement here is welcomed and appreciated. The leathery texture of the wings is also an added bonus. The wings feel like what I actually imagine Gyaos wings to feel like.

Accessories:
Once again our only accessory is the “laser beam” missile. It looks like phallic purple barf.


As I said in the Gamera review, this seems like a wasted bit of potential. Had the beam actually looked like Gyaos beam, similar to the Gashapon Gyaos I reviewed last year, this throw away accessory could have been a bit cooler. Kaiju usually do emit death rays from their mouths, so a missile launcher isn’t a terrible idea, it’s just not very well implemented here.


The real design flaw here is that the missile sticks out the back of his head. In fact you actually have to turn it to the left to make it fire. It’s strange, I’ve never had a missile launcher work quite like this one functions. The clear part should have been purple and the purple part should have been a translucent yellow and this would have actually been acceptable. Even protruding out the back of his head!

Value:
Second only to Gamera, Gyaos is pretty hard to find. I imagine his popularity stems from the character being fairly popular as well. Again, the best price you’re likely to find is about the $15 range. I wouldn’t pay much more than that, unless you’re just desperate to have these. At that kind of price, they aren’t bad though.


Score Recap:
Packaging – 7
Sculpting – 6
Articulation – 6
Accessories – Ray Beam Missile
Value – 7
Overall – 6.5 out of 10


Trendmasters’ Gyaos is still a good figure, but not quite as good as Gamera. I went ahead and knocked off a 1/2 point just to hammer that argument home, but essentially this figure is GOOD toy. Everything is sort of relative to what it’s around and around similar figures this guy would rank pretty well. It’s fairly accurate and well made for the time it was released. Had Trendmasters just gotten a few more things right on this guy, he would have been stellar.