As Japanese Monster Week continues we’re looking at an oldie but a goodie. Honestly one of my favorite Godzilla figures of all time. This is the Imperial Godzilla. The figure itself is just known as Godzilla, but it’s referred to as the Imperial Godzilla because of the little company that made it, known as Imperial.
Believe it or not Imperial Toys are still in business. It seems that Bob the Builder is their cash cow these days, but back in the 1980’s it was cheap rubber toys. They sold rubber snakes, rubber bats, things of that nature but they also had a couple of big guns. Godzilla and King Kong.
They made a few versions of Godzilla but this is the “large scale” version coming in at 12 1/2 inches or so. I’ll ask that you ignore the cheap hooker lipstick on the figure for a moment and focus on the rest of him first. There’s a reason that this Godzilla figure is loved by so many here in the US. This is a great figure. It’s not based off of any one particular Godzilla, but it’s definitely Godzilla.
Imperial could have sculpted a real turd, but instead they put a lot of work into this figure. It looks a lot more like Godzilla than their King Kong looked like Kong. He has the spines, tons of little details in the scales, massive tail, it’s a really good likeness. The head sculpt isn’t the best, but it’s definitely Godzilla. He even has his cat nose.
The biggest issue with this Godzilla is the paint. For starters his eyes are a bit crooked. I’ve never fixed that because honestly it’s part of his charm. Sometimes Godzilla had some crooked Columbo eye in the movies too. He’s also got some pointless silver on his chest. I’m not sure what that’s about. Maybe it was designed to emulate when Godzilla was charging up for a atomic death breath blast, but it looks pretty crappy.
The worst part about this figure though is the “blood” around his mouth. At least I assume it’s supposed to be blood. Imperial tried to make this figure gruesome (which was big in the 80’s) and gave him a full set of teeth. Around that he has red, which was probably supposed to be blood but looks like Godzilla has a second job at night working the streets. As a kid I never paid that much attention to it, but when I pulled this Godzilla out for review, my GF saw him and busted out laughing at his lipstick. Poor G-Money never catches a break.
Putting aside the issues with the lipstick and silver chest, the paint is actually pretty good. Imperial crafted him in black rubber and then gave him a green spray wash at points. It works surprisingly well, making this figure green but not totally green which would be inaccurate. Godzilla really isn’t green, he’s more of a gray with a very light green hue, but in America he’s almost always depicted as green. Imperial found the right combination of both and it works well.
As I said before, this was probably my favorite Godzilla toy as a kid. Some people lived in areas where they could get cool import Bandai Godzillas, but not me. The best official Godzilla toy was this one from Imperial. Even when I ended up with Trendmasters Godzilla toys, I always went back to this Imperial one because it was the biggest. It also had a great range of articulation for the time, with cut arms, legs and a tail.
Imperial made a few different sizes of these including a 6 inch version. The 6 inch version didn’t look quite as good to me. I think Imperial ended up selling the molds too because there were a lot of knock offs to this toy released in later years that looked similar but something was lost in translation and the toy didn’t look as good.
This version is an official Toho product, it even has that on the bottom of his foot. Imperial started making these in 1985 and I think they managed to keep them on the shelves for 5 years or more. I didn’t buy this in 1985 for sure. Even after all these years and plenty of rough play, he still looks pretty good. Unlike Mattel’s Godzilla figure, this guy was almost indestructible. I’m not sure what exactly I paid for him but it was probably under $10 back in the day. He’s still good as new. You can’t beat value like that.
Fun fact, this Imperial Godzilla (well not this one but one like it) adorned the shelf behind Roseanne’s couch on the popular TV show Roseanne. That helps separate this Godzilla from the rest as he’s a bone fide TV star!
I also used this figure in a couple of really terrible homemade monster movies.
Sculpting – 8
Articulation – 7
Accessories – Nothing
Value – 7
Overall – 7.5 out of 10
A lot of Kaiju purists don’t like the Imperial Godzilla because of it’s crazy paint scheme, and the fact that it’s a caricature of Godzilla more so than based off of any particular film version. I love this version of Godzilla for that reason. When I was a kid if I drew a picture of Godzilla, he looked more like the Imperial one than any version from Toho. The Imperial version also has the distinction of looking a lot like the American Godzilla movie posters, which often took liberties with the design of the big G. If you can track this guy down and want a real classic in your collection, pick him up. Just make sure to go for the bigger version as the 6 inch one just isn’t as good.