As a kid watching 70's Godzilla films broadcast on the weekends, I grew up loving that cheesy style that dominated the later years of the Showa series. Although I kept track of Godzilla through the Heisei years, I only seriously started collecting Japanese Godzilla vinyls during the Millenium series, so my collection is heavy on the post-1999 movies. Since we won't be getting a new Godzilla movie in the foreseeable future (and, by extension, no newly-stylized vinyls), I decided to round out my collection a bit by picking up some older-styled Godzillas. Let's start with that style that I loved so much as a kid: Godzilla 1974!
Date Stamped: 2003
Company: Bandai Japan
Size: 6" tall
Price: $24 on eBay (no tag)
Bandai Japan always does a good job of capturing the unique qualities of the different Godzilla suits, and this Godzilla is no exception. The likeness is a nice depiction of the somewhat comical and cartoony design of the mid-70's Godzilla. The skin texture is great, the tail looks accurately proportioned, and the toes are appropriately static. Overall, it's a great sculpt, but as a Godzilla connoisseur I must nitpick two issues:
1) I like my Godzillas to exude the man-in-suit look, like they came right off the screen. For example, the mini-figure from the Godzilla History set (above left) shows the lumpy folds that you'd expect to see if the figure was really a dude in a rubber suit, unlike his 6" counterpart.
2) The tail of the 6" Godzilla is also not particularly expressive, as it just lies flat on the table. I'd prefer a tail that curls up as if a string tugged it from above, like the Godzilla History figure.
The paint apps are what you'd expect from a Bandai Godzilla: sharp detailing in the eyes, teeth, and mouth; a light gray/green spray on the forehead, chest, feet, and hands; and a silver spray on the back spikes. I've always found Bandai's spray technique to be a little sloppy, but I can live with it.
If you collect Godzilla vinyls, you're probably familiar with the usual 6 points of articulation: swivel neck, shoulders, hips, and tail. I don't mind the limited articulation because it's all I really need for a vinyl figure, but if you're addicted to MOTUC-style hyper-articulation, you'll be in for a culture shock.
ACCESSORIES N/A (Godzilla vinyls never come with accessories)
X-Plus Godzilla 1964, Bandai Godzilla 1974, Bandai Burning Godzilla
Godzilla '74 has a particularly difficult-to-swallow $24 price tag. But two factors conspire to inflate the price: this figure is not only an import, it's also been out of production for a few years. Still, if all you want is a Godzilla figure (regardless of style), you can just drop by Toys R Us and pick up an 11" figure for less.
Bandai Godzilla 1974 vs. Banpresto Mechagodzilla (Tokyo SOS)
Godzilla 1974 was the hero of some of my favorite kaiju movies from my childhood. Technically, this figure represents the costume from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla but the costume was also worn in the classic Terror of Mechagodzilla and the horrible (yet awesome at the same time) Godzilla vs. Megalon. Although the 1974 design is much maligned among Godzilla enthusiasts, it remains my favorite costume from the Showa series... which, in turn, makes this figure super awesome. To me, at least. :P
Vinyl Godzilla collecting can be an expensive business. But Godzilla 1974 was such an integral part of my childhood, it was worth the extra bucks to get a cool representation of a childhood hero. I hope that Godzilla makes a comeback soon so we'll get new vinyls and new designs. But in the meantime, I can concentrate on great Godzilla designs of the past.