I’ve had a bit of a rough week but we’re back down to business here at Infinite Hollywood with several promotions starting this week. We’re going to be celebrating Halloween all month long with special Halloween theme posts each day. However I wanted to jump right into a review of a new import toy first. My interest in Gamera’s new Revoltech figure has gotten me to pick up quite a few new Gamera toys. Today’s review is the first of many.

In Japan there is a popular craze known as Gashapon toys, or capsule toys or ガシャポン. We had a similar craze in the 1980’s and before here in the US where toys could be bought in little machines. As I kid I referred to these as “bubble gum ball machine toys”. However, in Japan it’s well beyond what we have here. Stores are littered with these things and the toys inside are really good.

In America most of the toys are cheap and crappy, but in Japan the toys can be quite incredible. They also can cost up to $5 or more. There are several Gamera toys that were made by Konami a few years back and that’s what I’m taking a look at today. Today’s review is of the title monster, Gamera as well as his nemesis from his fourth film “Destroy All Planets”, Viras. I’ve bought Gashapon toys before but never any that could be considered “action figures”, that is until today.

Packaging:
These Gamera toys are blind boxed. That means every toy shares the same package and you don’t know which one you will get when you open it. That’s a pretty clever way to get people to buy extras and it leads to people trading etc. Blind box promotions work really well on these type of things, but it doesn’t work for everything. Just ask Palisades who had the “brilliant” idea of blind boxing Ash in their Army of Darkness figure line, leading to Ash being about 1 in 100 figures purchased and destroying the line in the process.

The box is quite good and it shows off a cartoony Gamera on the front. I’ll show off more of the box in each one of these reviews. Right from the front you can tell that these Gamera figures are SD or Super Deformed, but they’re only slightly. A lot of times in Japan they’ll make a toy in SD form and it looks silly, but here Gamera and friends look quite normal actually, just shrunk down.

Inside is a bag with all of the pieces. You have to assemble these toys. A lot of times with these capsule toys, you have to assemble them, but they’re more like vinyl models. This is an actual action figure, you just have to put the parts together.

Inside the larger bag is a bunch of smaller bags with all the pieces. Each figure comes partially assembled with the rest of the pieces having an individual bag. Accessories also have a bag, but the stand does not.

Articulation:
Because you are putting the figure together yourself, you can pretty much tell every point of articulation as you plug it in. The figures all include the same basic articulation, with variants depending on the design of the monster. Today we’re looking at Gamera and Viras. Obviously since Viras has four arms, each of them has articulation points whereas Gamera only has two arms.

The joints are all simple cuts or swivels, but they work well enough. Especially at this small scale. Gamera is right at 2 inches and Viras is just a bit bigger at closer to 3 inches at the highest point on his head. There is a fair amount of articulation on these guys. Heads have cuts, arms have cuts, legs have cuts, ankles have cuts… Plenty to do here.

The head actually sits on what could be a ball joint, but it doesn’t really give you much movement. All of the joints are somewhat loose, which means they pop off quite easily. They are a bit fragile as well but not too much. That does mean you should probably boil and pop the figures to get the arms, head, etc on. I learned this quickly when I messed up the neck joint on Gamera right off. However, it didn’t actually “break” in the traditional sense and I was able to stick the joint back in there and he works just fine.

The good news is that while the joints won’t ever be as tight as you might like them, they’re pretty easy to go back in once you’ve done the original boil and pop. Bandai’s Kaiju figures typically don’t have this much articulation, so if you’re looking for articulated Gamera figures, this is probably the best route.

Sculpt:
The detail here is really great. As I said, these toys basically come out of a gumball machine. Although there are more detailed Gashapon toys out there, these definitely have a lot of detail. Gamera is super deformed and probably has the most “cute” aspect to him because of the paint on his eyes. Otherwise he looks nearly identical to his on screen counterpart.


Any water you see is from boil and pop, they are not “wet” in design.

His shell is super detailed with all of the shingles in place. There are plenty of little wrinkles throughout his skin and his teeth are present as well. It’s really in the head sculpt where you can see some of the detail put into this tiny figure.

Viras is one of the more plain Gamera villains with a pretty generic design overall. Viras somewhat resembles a squid, with a pair of forward-facing eyes, an owl-like beak and little elf like feet (so the actor could stand in the suit) and that’s accurately represented here. One of the things that Konami has done with Viras is given him a couple of shiny washes of paint to help replicate the look of Viras’ skin. A lot of the Gamera monsters tend to look like they were made of paper mache or something similar and Viras had a “scaly” appearance as a result and the paint washes make Viras look like that.

He also has suckers on his appendages right at the end. The face sculpt is probably where Viras shines the most as well. He looks nearly identical to his on screen counterpart with just a hint of SDing on his sculpt. Viras has never been a very cool looking monster, but he looks quite good here.

Paint work on both figures is pretty solid. Considering that this is mass market (can you really get more mass market than a gumball machine?) and that these figures are small the amount of paint aps is pretty good. Neither Viras or Gamera had a lot of areas to paint, so that’s something to take into account as well. Gamera does have a little slop around the teeth and nails, but it’s no worse than something you’d see from Hasbro or Mattel.

Accessories:
I don’t want to say all, but MOST Gashapon toys don’t include accessories. Part of the reason for that is most of them tend to be non-poseable figures. Konami’s Figumate Gamera toys are the exception though as each figure comes with some sort of accessory.

First, each figure comes with the same stand, but it’s of nice quality. It’s very similar in design to the Mattel DC stands. It doesn’t have any peg holes and this is mostly just a base to put your figure on. None of these guys have any issue standing anyway, so it’s quite alright. My Japanese is a little rusty, but those big letters definitely say “GAMERA”.

Gamera himself also comes with a little flame blast that can be plugged into the hole in his mouth. Although the paint aps are small, they really hit the spot. The flame almost looks like blown glass and although I had a tad bit of trouble getting it to stay in his mouth, once it’s plugged in you’re good to go. You can turn it in different directions for different looks.

Viras didn’t shoot lasers or anything, he didn’t even have a rainbow attack (Like Barugon) but he did come from outer space. In the film “Gamera versus Viras” (Destroy All Planets), the aliens that Viras leads ride around in a strange little UFO that looks like a bunch of bee hives. Viras accessory is that spaceship.

The paint work and detail on the bee ship is quite good. The best part about this little ship is that it’s in the proper scale to the figures. So you can have Gamera roast the spaceship just like he did in the film. Cool beans. This could also be used as a ring of bee colored grenades, if you’re so inclined.

Additional Notes:
Candy toys are pretty cool. I wish they had this kind of stuff here in America. This is just one of the many reasons that Japan is so much neater than we are. These aren’t super high quality or super detailed figures, but they are pretty fun and some of the coolest Gamera collectibles around. They’re perfect for your office desk or on a shelf somewhere.


Value:
I paid about $6 a piece for these. Now I don’t know what they retailed for in Japan, but I’m guessing $3 or $4. You might think that $6 is a little steep for such a tiny figure, but consider a few of the variables here. I imported these, paid shipping and I bought a whole set of five. Not only did I buy a whole set of five, but I didn’t have to deal with the “blind box” element as the place I bought these from had already opened the boxes to ensure I got one of every character. In that respect, I probably spent less money than an average Japanese kid would in trying to get every character.


Scale comparison.

These guys are around at various prices and most places charge more for the more popular characters. There is also a few places that sell them blind boxed, so you can take a gamble. For my money it makes more sense to just order all five of them.

Score Recap:
Packaging – 7
Sculpting – 7
Articulation – 6
Accessories – Spaceship (Viras), Fire Breath (Gamera), Stand (Both)
Value – 7
Overall – 7 out of 10

These are really pretty cool little guys. I could totally see their appeal to a kid as well as someone who collects vinyl or Superhero Squad, Galatic Heroes style figures. To me they’re a perfect little fun representation of Gamera and Viras and the fact that I can move them around with their articulation plus the accessories makes them more than worth it. For the price of JLU 6 pack, I can import these guys from Japan. That’s not too bad of a deal in my view.


Anyone else smell burnt calamari and honey?

Later this week or sometime this weekend I’ll post up the reviews of the rest of the series including Gyaos! It’s going to be a good time. Also be sure to check back later today for day one of the 31 Days of Halloween.

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