Trendmasters Gamera
4 Inch Scale
By: Trendmasters

When Godzilla returned in 1985, he sparked a rekindled interest in Kaiju films. By 1989 Godzilla was facing off against Biollante and it was becoming obvious that more could be done with the genre. In 1995, Daiei decided to revive their own Godzilla-like creation, Gamera. What set that film, Gamera: Guardian of the Universe and it’s subsequent films apart from the somewhat standard fare, was the influence of it’s director, Shusuke Kaneko.

Rising from the radioactive inferno of a nuclear blast, Gamera seeks out raw energies to feed his fiery breath blast! At first the Scourge of the Earth, Gamera soon devotes his devastating attack powers to protecting the planet from monster foes. Gamera strikes his enemies in close-quarter combat with steely claws and bone-smashing tusks and is protected by an impenetrable shell. Able to stop across land and swim across oceans, Gamera also packs rocket boosters that propel the prehistoric tortoise through space at Mach 3 speeds!

That is actually the bio from the back of the package. I put that here, because it specifically shows Trendmasters’ mindset with this line. That is a great Showa era (60s-70s) bio, but doesn’t reflect any of the drastic changes made to the Gamera character in the Heisei (80’s-90’s) era. The modern story of Gamera is that an ancient Atlantian-like civilization created Gyaos to eliminate rampant pollution. However, their genetic manipulation turned on them and began feeding on their civilization. They then created Gamera to destroy the Gyaos, and in 1995 when the Gyaos mysteriously returned, so too did Gamera to rekindle their ancient battle.

Gamera: Guardian of the Universe hit theatres in 1995 and soon became a huge hit. It wasn’t just popular with Kaiju fans, but actually received critical acclaim. Even Roger Ebert, hardly a fan of the genre, gave the US dubbed version of the film three stars. Trendmasters, who held the license for the Godzilla line in America and had quite a bit of success with it, decided to add Gamera and friends to their stable of monsters. This line was created in 1996, before any of the sequels to the 1995 Gamera film. This line is also almost completely unheard of. It never hit major retailers and completely fell under the radar. Many Gamera fans never knew this line even existed.

The packaging is very minimalist, and is somewhat like a cheaper version of the Trendmasters’ Godzilla card backs. 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. I think the word Gamera should have appeared at the top. Despite not using the bio for the modern Gamera, the package does seem to reflect that dark tone of the film.

I’m not entirely sure if Daiei just didn’t provide Trendmasters with enough art to use or if Trednmasters just didn’t care. It’s strange that the card is so dark and barren. It’s really quite the opposite in terms of color contrast, to that of the Godzilla line.

The back of the package is ridiculously plain, showing all the other figures in the series and giving them a bio. The bios are all very good, but again they are Showa bios and they don’t even separate the characters. Kids who had no exposure to Gamera wouldn’t even really know who was a “good guy” and who was a “bad guy”. It’s a bit strange from a marketing standpoint. There is no real toyetic appeal here either in terms of the package. The lack of bright colors or instructions or anything seem to really be counterproductive to Trendmasters’ goal of creating a brand.

These are the “budget” releases of the figures. In addition to these bubble card figures, there were window box versions. The window box versions included electronics that had the monster’s roar emit when you pressed a button. As I understand it, only Gamera had his accurate roar.

Trendmasters had historically taken some liberties with their Godzilla sculpts, but for the most part they were pretty good and accurate. This was especially true as it pertained to core characters and that’s definitely confirmed here as well. In fact, with gimmicks aside, this is one of the finest sculpts of the 1995 version of Gamera ever released.

The whole sculpt is good, showing the nicely redesigned look of Gamera. I’ve mentioned it before, but the 1995 Gamera is my favorite design of the character. It retains all the good stuff from the 60’s Gamera, but amps it all up to the appropriate levels. This figure looks a lot like the Bandai vinyl, but is in many ways superior.

The shell looks great and from the back you can almost perfectly recreate some scenes from the film where we saw Gamera at this perspective. Trendmasters really did a bang up job on this sculpt, but there are some hindrances that boggle the mind. From a pure “statue” viewpoint, though, Gamera is almost flawless.

Gamera unfortunately has a missile launcher in his mouth. This is supposed to represent his fire breath. It’s not bad, but it means that Gamera is stuck with his mouth open and from certain angles you can see the firing mechanism.

Trendmasters does deserve some props, because they rather seamlessly hid the button to fire the missile on his neck. It doesn’t impede the articulation and you can’t see it unless you’re looking for it. It’s a pretty good translation of the character in that sense.

The paint is pretty good, with a thick but appropriate wash all over the character. The inner shell is a tad too yellow, but that may have something to do with the style guides of Daiei. It’s not quite as bright as it appears in these photos though. The black wash really darkens it well.

Probably the biggest flaw is that Trendmasters only made one sculpt for both the versions with the electronics and without. Which simply means Gamera has a speaker, a button and a battery compartment to break up the sculpt. They aren’t super obvious, but they are there. There are no electronics in the figure, which makes this seem almost bootleg in that sense.

One of the good things that Trendmasters brought to the American Kaiju toy scene, was articulation. Kaiju figures have mostly been relegated to vinyl, with limited posing. Trendmasters gave most of their figures a few points and surprisingly Gamera has more points than even most of the Godzilla line had.

Gamera has cuts at the arms and legs, as well as swivel at the tail and a hinged up and down movement on the neck. Gamera also has hinges at the elbows.

The hinges really mark a progression in the Trendmasters’ style and shows that with a little more care, they probably could have made a total knockout of a figure. Unfortunately the range of motion in the elbows isn’t great and the arms and legs themselves only seem to move a little bit. Still, you can get quite a few poses.

The frustrating part is that Gamera’s head doesn’t swivel at the neck. A simple neck cut (which it looks like he has) would greatly add to the posing. The wrists also lack a cut, despite having a cut there… Which means just like the head, this part was tooled separately then glued into the figure. It SHOULD have been tooled to be a joint, but wasn’t. A huge oversight in Trendmasters design. Leaving Gamera with his head slightly cocked and his hands unable to turn.

Gamera comes only with his missile. The real flaw of the missile, besides the fact that it looks like a malformed red clump, is that had it looked a bit more like fire and plugged in a bit deeper… It would have been a great piece.

It could have worked as a dio piece for breathing fire. But because Trendmasters was a bit too beholden to the classic missile design, it just comes off as weak.

At the time these figures came out they ranged from $7 or so. The versions with the electronics cost a bit more. As I understand it, they were eventually clearance bin fodder, which is a shame. The real issue was FINDING these guys. They weren’t heavily distributed and didn’t even get the level of distribution that the Godzilla line received. If you were lucky enough to find them at retail, you probably got them for dirt cheap.

In today’s market, you can expect to pay about $15 for the individual characters. Again, it’s a rarity issue. They don’t cost a ton when they do show up, but they don’t show up often. Gamera himself almost never pops up on Ebay. There is one on Ebay now for $500+, but that’s just silly. This figure isn’t worth that, it’s barely worth $15. It’s more of a rare commodity these days, but had this line been a hit in 1995, it would have been a centerpiece of many fans collections.

Score Recap:
Packaging – 7
Sculpting – 7
Articulation – 6
Accessories – Fire Missile
Value – 8
Overall – 7 out of 10

Trendmasters’ Gamera is an interesting figure. The actual sculpt of the figure is top notch, but the design takes it down several levels. For the time and market that it was produced however, it really is pretty remarkable. It makes you wonder why Trendmasters would go through the work of securing the Gamera license and making the sculpt, only to seemingly phone in the advertisement and distribution. All this week, we’re going to look at every figure in the Trendmasters’ Gamera line, as well as plenty of other Kaiju, so keep checking in for more Japanese Monster Week.

10 Responses to Trendmasters Gamera Figure Review

  • Mecha-Shiva says:

    I loved the Gamera trilogy,yes even the dorky last one,I think it is because of the Director since he made my favorite Millenium Goji movie(Wish they got him instead of the hack they got for Final Wars).,These toys look awesome.I smell the inevitable revoltech version review but the guy seems like a rip off with his price, his size no bigger than a G.I. Joe.

  • While not particularly tall, these figures are considerably bulkier than say a GI Joe. He's closer to vintage TMNT in overall size.

  • CompyRex says:

    Lucky! I wish I collected the Trendmasters figures (the only one I have is an Electronic MechaGodzilla, sans arms).

  • I had a ton of the Trendmasters Godzilla figures back in the day. Don't have many now though. Wish I'd kept them. These Gamera ones are very neat though.

  • Bill says:

    I'd love to know where you get your toys. I have never seen this guy ANYWHERE except on ebay, where he goes for butt-crazy prices! (As you noted.)

  • series209 says:

    I had a large and well loved collection of Trendmasters Godzilla figures, but I never knew they also made Gamera toys. Can't wait to see more.

  • Secret deal with the devil. 😉

  • jestergoblin says:

    He would make an awesome base for a Slash custom.

  • LEO says:

    Making a Slash Custom? From a Trendmaster Gamera? That's like buying THE Mona Lisa to cut out the "Head Part" so your girlfriend can have a Halloween costume. She can just pokey her head through the old "paintiness" and guzzle down beer and whatnot.

  • Jeff says:

    I was lucky enough to find the entire series in both sound and “regular” versions and bought them all, I think at a Target or even a Wal-Mart. They are pretty cool (I am a hugh Godzilla Trendmasters collector & these just seemed to go along with them!). I just wish they’d have made my favorite monster of the Gamera series, Barugon. Do not know why they didn’t, possibly a licensing thing relating to the Baragon in the Godzilla universe? Or maybe to avoid confusion since Trendmasters also made a Baragon figure.

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