S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla Junior Review

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Godzilla’s son finally grows up!  The realization of Godzilla’s son or offspring on the big screen is nothing new as audiences were first introduced to Minilla during the Showa era in the 1960s.  Afterwards we got introduced to Baby Godzilla and then Little Godzilla during the Heisei era.  However, all versions of the character have for better or for worse, placed a much larger emphasis on being small and cute rather than being fierce and deadly like the big G himself.  The arrival of Godzilla Junior from the 1995 film Godzilla vs Destroyah finally broke that trend.  Previous films in the 1990s Heisei series had introduced the audience to Baby Godzilla and Little Godzilla.  Both monster designs were decidedly on the cute side, especially Little Godzilla.  In the final Heisei film Godzilla vs Destroyah, Little Godzilla for whatever reason due to exposure to radiation from his surrogate father and the radioactive environment on Birth Island, mutates into a 40 metre tall fierce looking Godzilla teenager.  This older son of Godzilla definitely meant business and even knew how to use a smaller version of his father’s atomic heat ray.  Bandai and Tamashi Nations released its SH MonsterArts Godzilla Junior figure in late December 2012 as an online web exclusive in Japan and the rest of Asia.  Blue Fin USA later released the figure as a regular release in late January and February of 2013.  Now that I have the figure in my hands is this little green lizard as cool as he was in the film?  Or is he a letdown of a figure that goes way beyond simple teenager issues?  Hit the jump for more!

 

 

 

Packaging: 5/5

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Once again Bandai and Tamashi Nations does a fantastic job with the packaging.  The first thing that catches my eye with this packaging is the relatively small size of the box.  Due to the size of the figure the box and plastic packaging used for SH MonsterArts Godzilla Junior has got to be the smallest out of all the other SH MonsterArts releases.  The box has been printed in an eye-catching dark green.  Smaller light green patches adorn certain areas on the box.   An imposing image of Godzilla Junior’s face can be seen on the front, along with the plastic window showcasing the enclosed figure inside.  The box features lime green font displaying Godzilla Junior’s  name along the left side of the box.  The right side features the monster’s chest with a small black and white image of a roaring Godzilla Junior.  The reverse side of the box features promotional images of the figure along with a detailed description of the monster and the movie from which it hails from.  The top side of the box features a clear plastic window shaped in a mountain-like silhouette featuring the name Godzilla printed on the plastic.  

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Inside the figure is encased in plastic clam-shelled packaging.  Once again I’m relieved that no twist tie wires are included to secure the figure.  Instead all we have are pieces of translucent tape to secure the plastic trays together.  Very much appreciated Bandai and Tamashi Nations.  Keep up the good work!   Bandai and Tamashi Nations has done an incredible job once again with the box and interior packaging.  Full marks are awarded once again!  

 

The Set:

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The Godzilla Junior figure is accompanied by six other small accessories.  Two plastic stands, two black metal wires, two plastic helicopters and two extra rotor blades are featured in the set.

 

Sculpt and Paint: 4.5/5

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The pressence of excellent sculpt and paint work has become a standard on all SH MonsterArts releases, and Godzilla Junior is no exception.  Master sculptor Yuji Sakai has once again graced us with his amazing experience and know-how giving us an entirely new Godzilla Junior sculpt.  The first thing that strikes any collector and fan about SH MonsterArts Godzilla Junior is its small size.  

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The figure is barely just as tall as SH MonsterArts Little Godzilla and only half as tall as SH MonsterArts Godzilla (1995).  Despite its rather small size, the figure is chock full of sculpted details from the tiny pointed teeth, to the intense eyes, and the wrinkly and pebbly skin covering the rest of its body, Godzilla Junior looks great!  It’s clear however, that Yuji Sakai along with Bandai and Tamashi Nations have taken creative liberties to make Junior more realistic and streamlined as a figure.  The toy company has made it clear on several occasions that they wanted to release new sculpts of familiar Toho monsters that present the creatures in a more realistic light.  Thus, SH MonsterArts Godzilla Junior looks more like an actual living lizard than the bulky and sometimes fat looking Godzilla Junior suit that graced the screen in the film Godzilla vs. Destroyah.  

Collectors and fans have voiced some complaints with the preceding figure release, SH MonsterArts Godzilla (1995).  The gaps present on the sculpt of that figure were wide and for some individuals very distracting.   In order to hide such glaring gaps close to the moving portions of the figure, collectors and fans had to spend extra effort to place limbs and other moving parts on the figure in strategic positions.  This problem has thankfully remained mostly absent from SH MonsterArts Godzilla Junior.  Casted from a harder pvc plastic, the sculpted pieces on Junior fit more snugly and help to eliminate gaps.  This however, does make the figure less possible than its larger burning father.

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 The paint job on SH MonsterArts Godzilla Junior is executed extremely well.  The eyes on Godzilla Junior are painted accurately with a nice combination of yellow, orange and black paints.  In interior of the mouth is painted with a similar dark burgundy red that was present on SH MonsterArts Godzilla (1995).  The teeth and claws on the figure are painted with a nice beige/white paint.  Godzilla Junior is molded in dark green pvc plastic but supplemented with a nice light green paint wash that’s present on the wrinkly and pebbly skin.  Certain areas of the figure are also supplemented by some subtle black paint sprays as well.  To top it off the spines are painted with a nice grey bone paint.  Overall paint applications on SH MonsterArts Godzilla Junior are done very accurately and without much slop.

 

Articulation: 4/5

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SH MonsterArts Godzilla Junior boasts a variety of articulation options for the collector and casual fan.  Almost any pose depicted by the Godzilla Junior suit in the 1995 film Godzilla vs. Destroyah can be faithfully redone with this action figure.  Utilizing some of the smallest ball joints in Bandai and Tamashi Nation’s inventory, SH MonsterArts Godzilla Junior has solid yet fluid articulation choices for the collector.  Due to the aforementioned harder pvc plastic used for the figure’s molded sculpt, the figure by default is less articulated than SH MonsterArts Godzilla (1995).  Despite this shortcoming, Junior is still by no means a slouch in the articulation department.  I’m happy to report that unlike other smaller SH MonsterArt figures of the past, this figure possesses joints that are very snug and tight.  Junior is practically absent of the loose swivel and ball joints that plagued such earlier releases like SH MonsterArts Fire Rodan.  

Going through the entire figure, the head and lower jaw both utilize ball joints for movement.  The figure’s neck along with the arm and leg sockets are attached via dumbbell ball joints.  The elbows and knees both utilize pivot or hinge joints for articulation on the figure. The tail and composed of several segments linked together by ball joints, allowing for a reasonable amount of tail movement.  The figure’s main torso can also twist around and up and down to a limited degree.  

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Otherwise, I’m quite happy with the way the articulation has turned out for SH MonsterArts Godzilla Junior.Together the joints allow the figure to be posed in positions including:  standing with tail on the ground, walking with tail above ground, hunched over standing position, kangaroo standing position and more.  The figure isn’t perfect however.  The combination of sculpt design and the type of joints used in the head and neck restricts Junior’s ability to look up.  Instead collectors and fans will have to articulate the top torso and fiddle around with the legs to allow Junior to stare upwards.  The tail while fairly articulated as it is, is nowhere near as articulated as the larger SH MonsterArt Godzilla figures.  It was certainly more articulated in the films as well, but I suppose the toy designers have done their best to fit as much articulation as possible into the small cramped sculpt they had to work with.  

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Accessories: 2.5/5

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SH MonsterArts Godzilla Junior comes with a relatively small selection of accessories for the collector and fans to fiddle around with.  What is here works relatively well.  Included in the set are two plastic stands, two black wires, two plastic helicopters, and two extra rotor blades.  The stands are small round plastic Frisbees with a hole drilled into the center of each.  The holes allow for the insertion of one black wire into each.  In order to secure the wires from falling out of the holes at the base I decided to twist them at the base, something that other collectors and fans should consider doing, lest they want to have wires and stands that fall apart.  

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The two small plastic helicopters included in the set are meant to represent the G-Force helicopters that were seen in use by G-Force staff including the psychic, Miki Saegusa, while searching for the little one (ie: Godzilla Junior).  

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I would have wanted the helicopters painted in a bronze/brown paint job but I suppose icy blue and silver works too!  Once the stands are ready the helicopters can be placed on top by inserting the small black wires into a small slot on the bottom of each chopper.  The effect works well enough and the black wires can adjusted to each individual’s liking when posing with Junior or other monsters.  

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The extra helicopter rotor blades also allow the collector or fan to pose the helicopters landing, perhaps powering down their engines?  The spinning rotor blades also do a great job of giving the illusion of flight for these miniature helicopters.  I personally would have enjoyed fiddling around with Junior a little bit more if he came with an atomic heat ray accessory.  Collectors and fans have always been wondering about whether the heat ray accessory that came with SH MonsterArts Godzilla would work well with SH MonsterArts Godzilla Junior.  The pictures below speak for themselves.

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While the heat ray accessory works well enough, it was clearly never designed with SH MonsterArts Godzilla Junior in mind.  Junior’s mouth is much too small to fit the heat ray accessory snugly without propping the accessory to the ground or with the help of a plastic stand.  A few collectors and fans are still hoping that Bandai and Tamashi Nations may eventually release an extra weapons and effect parts pack that will include Junior’s heat ray accessory.  I have my doubts about this ever happening.

 

Quality Control and Design Issues:

Bandai and Tamashi Nations have for the most part avoided any severe quality control or design issues with the release of SH MonsterArts Godzilla Junior.  The figure is certainly not perfect.  No figure is ever perfect in design and execution.  That being said, there aren’t any serious defects or design issues that collectors and fans have to worry about.  

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My copy of the figure happens to have a small dent or pitting where the pvc plastic may have once attached itself to the mold.  The occasional paint scuff/slop, stiff joint and loose left hand joint on my copy of Junior poses some annoyance but certainly nothing major.  The aforementioned design issue with the figure’s in-ability to look up thanks in large part to its sculpted head and neck is also a minor issue as well.  

 

Fun with Godzilla Junior

Unlike other cuter versions of Godzilla’s son, Godzilla Junior is a teenage monster that’s ready to rumble and fight to the death if necessary.  His valiant attempts to fight for his own life as well as that of psychic Miki Saegusa, has resulted in several defeats for Flying Destroyah and the crab-like Aggregate Destroyah.  Unfortunately, Bandai and Tamashi Nation’s Destroyah Evolution set is not due for release until later this summer.  In the meantime I decided to have some fun with pitting Godzilla Junior against some old and new foes alike.  Most of the time with devastating consequences....  Whatever the case, Godzilla Junior was always a fighter, right up until the end.  Enjoy the pictures below.  I wonder who you’ll be rooting for?

 

Godzilla Junior vs. King Ghidorah!

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Godzilla Junior vs. Fire Rodan!

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The winner is....Godzilla Junior!!!  Yuck!  Your eating it?

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Godzilla Junior vs. Destroyah

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Sadly looks like Junior may not make it.....

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Conculsion

SH MonsterArts Godzilla Junior is a decent entry in the SH MonsterArts toy line.  As the smallest figure in the toy line, its remains a wonder that so much detail and articulation has been crammed into such a small figure.  The sculpt and paint is wonderfully executed on this small figure.  Articulation while solid can be better in certain locations on the figure, namely the head and tail.  The accessories while lackluster serve their purpose well and should be welcomed by most fans and collectors.  I’m happy to report that quality control and design issues are near non-existent with this release, welcome news to most fans and collectors.  The only thing that would bug me a bit is the price point for the figure.  At $51.99 a pop, this set is not cheap by any stretch.  Like many collectors and fans I would have liked the figure to be a priced $10-$15 cheaper, as larger figures like SH MonsterArts Godzilla have been seen at online retail at $60-$65 in some cases.  Considering its size and the lack thereof of more respectable accessories, this figure should have been much cheaper.  Despite my misgivings about the accessories and price point, I have enjoyed adding SH MonsterArts Godzilla Junior to my collection.  This figure comes highly recommended and should be a welcome addition to most Godzilla fans who want a version of Godzilla’s son that’s less about being cute and more about being cool, fierce and ready to do battle at a moment’s notice.

 

Overall Score: 4/5 (Not an average)

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