It has been many years since Bandai stopped producing Godzilla vinyl figures in Japan. In the US, however, Godzilla vinyls continue to thrive through various toy lines released by Bandai USA (formerly Bandai Creation), including 6.5-inch scale figures with clear glitter variants (Fusion series); play sets; deluxe, twelve-inch figures; and more artistic series like the new Tokyo Vinyl and Chibi lines.
The Godzilla series, which is still not listed on Bandai's website, is only carried at certain stores such as ToysRus and KMart. Various comic shops and many online retailers sometimes carry this line as well, but often at rates higher than the MSRP. Earlier releases in the line were frowned upon by collectors who preferred the more detailed figures from Bandai Japan. However,for the price and the fact that Godzilla figures are being released domestically, Bandai USA's line of toys is actually quite a treat. Typically, Bandai would play it safe by releasing popular charcters, but this year, Wave 7 has a special treat: a brand new King Caesar sculpt, marking the line's eleventh anniversary, since 2002.
Traditionally, 6.5-inch scale figures released by Bandai USA have been placed in cardboard packaging. Wave seven is no exception. The packaging design has not changed since wave six. The figures were sent to retailers in a large box of twelve where an extra piece of cardboard would hold the two figures together to keep them from rubbing together during shipping. All the figures have a generic box that features the Final Wars Godzilla in black and white with a nice black, red, and white background of a city. It is a nice touch from the wave four's grayscale or the blue backing from wave three.
On the right are the Japanese characters for "Gojira," written vertically, and the Godzilla text from the Godzilla Final Wars title (minus the Final Wars text) lies in the center, while the choking hazard notice looks irritating in the top-right. Top-left holds the Bandai logo and the suggested age. The left and right side of the packaging feature Gigan'72 and Godzilla'72 duking it out, and the back shows the figures of the current wave of 6.5" series. This time, it's the re-release of Burning Godzilla and Mecha-Godzilla'74 with King Caesar'74 being the only new piece. The icons of the three characters can be seen in the bottom left. Interestingly, the Burning Godzilla image featured is not the same sculpt as the 6.5" release, but the three-inch version from the Pack of Destruction, dating all the way back to the first wave. Is this a hint that play sets will make their return in Wave eight or was it a mix up on Bandai's part?
Sculpt and Paint: 4/5
For a $13 figure (okay, $12.99), Bandai has done an incredible job with the King Caesar sculpt. You cannot expect X-Plus quality, but it does capture the character's overall design and proportions. The hairs and scale plates detail, well. It differs from the Japanese release, entirely. The hands, feet, face, ears, and even the tail tip are all much larger. Surprisingly, the tail more accurately portrays the character's tail than the Japanese version. I'd also like to mention that his ears are drooped and show the skin flap at the tip, where as the Japanese version is straight up with fur covering the whole ear. A nice detail of the character to include.
The paint on the figure has its pros and cons. I was not pleased with the excessive use of black and dark brown shadowing on Caesar. The black wash works well with the played scales on his arms, lower torso, and legs, but on the face, claws, and feet, it looks more like blobs of excess paint. The brown wash on the cream-colored fur works well in some areas and not so much in others.
The best part of the paint job, I would say, is the center jewel in his crest. The teal is applied perfectly, with no spilling. However, this seems to be a happy accident with the piece I reviewd. Other jewel paints are not always applied with such care. The eyes are okay, but I am disappointed they gave him pupils instead of leaving it all red or with orangish pupils instead.
The typical Bandai USA vinyl rarely excels in the articulation department, but King Caesar is one of the few that you can have lots of fun with some variation of poses. He comes with eight points of articulation. Starting from the top, both ears can move 360 degrees, both arms can swing left and right, the torso can swivel on a somewhat hidden joint, the tail can twirl around, and both legs can move forward or back. So Caesar is ready to take on various poses.
While I was suprised to see that King Caesar's head is not articulated compared to the Japanese counterpart, doing so would certainly have compromised the sculpt. Bandai's decision to keep the head attached to the body was a good one.
"Dude! That's my thing!"
There are no accessories that come with any of these figures.
Quality Control and Design Issues:
There are no major issues with my figure. Others may experience some issues with paint application, as reported in the past, but this one passes my inspection with flying colors.
King Caesar has not had a figure release in a while, but 2013 must be his lucky year. X-Plus released their own Caesar in the 25cm scale, earlier this year. It is a real treat to see Bandai put out an affordable King Caesar in their US line. Someone out there must enjoy the original Mecha-Godzilla film, as MG'74 is also being re-released again. All we need now is a new Godzilla'74!