In 1977, Mattel Inc. marketed a large plastic Godzilla toy as part of its "shogun warriors" series. Though not very elaborate, its featured moveable legs and arms, an ejectable hand, and a strip of plastic with flames drawn on it to stick out from its mouth. Concurrently, Bullmark released several different Japanese monster die-cast metal toys. These had secret compartments and could shoot missiles.
In 1978, the Popy Corporation introduced wire-controlled Godzilla and MechaGodzilla toys and soft vinyl figures of Godzilla, Ghidrah, Rodan, and a few other monsters. The wire-controlled plastic toys, are comparable to those produced by Marusan Shoten and Bullmark, but the vinyl figures were better likenesses than any of the ones manufactured by either company.
Shortly afterward, Mattel followed up its Godzilla toy with a large plastic Rodan toy that was part of the "worlds greatest monsters" line. Though even less sophisticated than the Godzilla toy, it could "squawk."
During the early 1980s, giant monster "garage kits" became popular in Japan. At first, these limited quantity kits were put out only by private individuals, but soon companies such as Billiken Incorporated, the Kaiyodo Corporation, Tsukuda Incorporated, and Volks Incorporated also began marketing them.
In 1983, Yamakatsu Incorporated produced a variety of Japanese monster soft vinyl figures and plastic model kits. The vinyl figures were similar to those manufactured by Popy, but the models were very different from the ones sold by Marusan Shoten, Bullmark, and Bandai. Much smaller, they were more detailed and could not move.
Also in 1983, Bandai introduced remote-controlled Godzilla and MechaGodzilla toys and a "real hobby" series of rubber kits that included models of Godzilla and Gamera (the giant flying turtle seen in eight different films produced by the Daiei Motion Picture Company Limited). These kits provided much better likenesses of the monsters than any previously released Japanese monster model or toy. These well-rendered toys became very sought-after items.
For the Japanese release of the film Godzilla 1985, the Takara Company Limited distributed the "Combat Joe Costume Godzilla." Designed to fit a G.I. Joe doll, it included two different heads. One was similar to that of the Godzilla suit used in Godzilla vs. Mothra and the other based on the head of Godzilla suit used in Destroy All Monsters. Around the same time, Bandai manufactured plastic kits, soft vinyl figures of Godzilla, MechaGodzilla, and Ghidrah, and large figures of Godzilla, Mothra, and Ghidrah. The three models were even more detailed than those produced by Yamakatsu. The vinyl figures were almost as well done.
In 1986, Billiken came out with a wind-up Godzilla tin toy. Despite it not being wire-controlled, it was very similar to the tin toys released by both Marusan Shoten and Bullmark.
Over the course of the next few years, Bandai marketed over a dozen Japanese monster soft vinyl figures. Among them were figures of Gamera, Gaos (the giant vampire bat seen in Gamera vs. Gaos) and a few of the other monsters that appeared in the Gamera films. Bandai distributed large figures of Godzilla, Mothra, and MechaGhidrah (the cyborg used to counter Godzilla in Godzilla vs. Ghidrah). These figures are smaller than Bandais 1985 Godzilla, Ghidrah, and Mothra figures and the likenesses are less realistic.
In 1992, the Tokyo Marui Corporation manufactured the "R/C Godzilla," a remote-controlled toy. It resembled the Godzilla suit created for Godzilla - King of the Monsters! very well. It walks and swings its tail, opens and closes its mouth, turns its head from side to side, and roars. Bandai marketed a plastic model kit of Godzilla and soft vinyl figures of Godzilla, Mothra, and Battra (the "battle Mothra" introduced in the new Godzilla vs. Mothra). The figures were comparable to those previously distributed by Bandai, but the model was not quite up to the standards of the companys earlier plastic kits.
When Jurassic Park came out, Horizon Hobbies and Toys, Inc. released a large soft vinyl figure of Godzilla. Though a fairly good likeness of the Godzilla suit produced for Godzilla vs. Ghidrah, its proportions were somewhat off. Over the next few months, Bandai marketed soft vinyl figures of Gorosaurus, Hedorah, the monster created by pollution in Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster, and a few other monsters. Surprisingly, among them was a figure of King Kong licensed from Ted Turner.
At the end of 1993, Bandai distributed soft vinyl figures of the four monsters seen in the new Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla: Godzilla, MechaGodzilla, Rodan, and "baby Godzilla." The company also came out with a plastic model kit of MechaGodzilla and a battery-operated Godzilla and MechaGodzilla toys.
At present, the Toho Company Limited, which now owns the Daiei Motion Picture Company Limited, is preparing to shoot both Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla and Giant Monster Air Battle - Gamera. TriStar Pictures, Inc. is finishing the script for its first Godzilla film. Given this, I expect to soon see more Japanese monster models and toys in production than ever before. l
See chronological list of Godzilla Movies
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STRANGE NEW WORLDS was published from 1992 through 1994, fourteen issues in all.Copyright ã 1994 by Strange New Worlds. No portion of this publication may be reproduced without prior express written consent of the Publisher. All rights reserved. All materials are believed accurate, but we cannot assume responsibility for their accuracy or application. We do not endorse any products or services advertised in this publication.
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