An Open Love Letter to that Big, Green, City-Smashing Hunk, Godzilla
by Matt Baum (04/21/14).
I have been in love with Mattel’s Godzilla figures since I watched my cousin Todd a 24-inch Godzilla during Christmas, 1979. My life would never be the same.
I remember it like it was yesterday. Flashback with me to Christmas, 1979. Every Christmas there are toys that dominate the shopping season, but this one was different. Every Christmas morning my family would have breakfast at my Uncle Ken and Aunt Sally’s house and then it was time to tear into presents. I can’t tell you what I received that year, but I distinctly remember my cousin Todd opening three of the most amazing toys I’d ever seen—three gigantic, 24-inch robots that fired off their spring-loaded fists and flung axes through the air.
They were Shogun Warriors from Mattel. But it was the fourth present he opened that leveled me: a 24-inch Godzilla. My life would never be the same.
Just a few months earlier, my father began taking me to a local theater in Waco, Texas, that hosted weekly Kung-Fu and monster movie film festivals on the weekend. It was there I got my first taste of Toho studios’ Godzilla films of the 1960s. I was in love. As the shortest kid in my kindergarten class, it was obvious why the giant, reptilian force of nature spoke directly to me.
After my cousin opened the Mattel Godzilla, I had to have one. Since that day I have owned no fewer than five of them, cannibalizing broken figures to build the one mint version (of the first light green version) I have in my basement. Still, no original box, which can sell for up to $70 by itself, empty, but it’s in good condition.
Since I received my first Mattel Godzilla—one that was sadly destroyed by my younger, monstrous brothers—I have collected hundreds of Godzilla figures and many other denizens of Monster Island. Luckily for me, or perhaps unluckily, there is no shortage of amazing giant monster figures (called Daikaiju in Japan) that have been coming out of Asia since the 1950s.
You can see the different colors used in the first, second and third releases of the Godzilla toy. The light green is the original color.
A panel from the original Mattel box—which can be worth up to $70 by itself—shows off Godzilla’s fire-breathing and launching-fist action.
Companies like Bandai, Marusan, Bullmark, CCP, X-Plus, Trendmaster and may others have been producing and re-producing vinyl Daikaiju in a million different color variants, some battle-damaged, some that glow, some with lights in their chest that blink when shaken, but of which are highly collectable and sell for ridiculous amounts of money. There came a point in my life where I had to seriously reevaluate how many versions of Hedorah the Smog Monster I needed (all of them, of course). And, the older and the larger the figure—which happen to be the ones I love—the more expensive.Take Hedorah, who is one of my favorite Godzilla villains, for example. There are literally hundreds of variants of the monster. An eBay search comes up with more than 200 results with almost no duplicates that date back to the 1970s. The most expensive sell for upwards of $400. And, keep in mind, most of them don’t move; zero points of articulation.
The more ridiculously colored figures, like this Hedorah, the Smog Monster—painted with pink, blue, purple and yellow highlights—tend to be limited in production.
This Marusan Mechagodzilla is in its original Asian packaging: a simple plastic bag with a folded cardboard topper designed to hang on a display rack.
This hobby is not about playthings or smashing figures together. Most of mine are still in the simple plastic bag with stapled cardboard tags. Unlike American toys—which I was heavy into as well, for a time Asian PVC collectibles are simple. No transforming, no talking, no tricks… nothing. Just a beautifully sculpted plastic PVC figure. Some are painted very realistically, others are bright pink or clear and covered with glitter. The more ridiculously colored figures, like the Mecha Godzilla with Brain Head reproduction figure, painted with pink, blue, purple and yellow highlights, tend to be limited in production. Finding the numbers on the actual production run is nearly impossible and it’s even harder to figure out how many made it to the U.S.
Asian toy collectors devour these figures and very few do make it to our shores, making them even more expensive and harder to find. A whole cottage industry has sprung up for Asian toy importers who bring in some of the most bizarre robots and monsters in Eastern sci-fi.
As you can tell from this dealer display table at a previous G-Fest exhibition, the number of Godzilla and his friends and foes are nearly endless.
I’ve never had a chance to attend G-Fest, the largest Godzilla and Kaiju convention in the states, held every July in Chicago. But, with the coming of this summer’s reboot of the Godzilla movie franchise, this summer’s G-Fest promises to be the best yet. There will be a sea of ridiculously colored PVC monsters and robots of all shapes and sizes, imported and traded by a long list of dealers.
For some reason, I can’t talk my wife into going and, for the sake of my bank account, that’s probably a good thing.
And, as long as we’re talking about the new Godzilla movie reboot, here’s the trailer:
Matt Baum is WorthPoint’s Comic Book “Worthologist.” If you want to hear what this nerd sounds like, you can catch him on his podcast, the Two-Headed Nerd Comicast, where he and his friend Joe discuss the latest comic news, review some new comics, and answer your questions.
If you have any questions about these books or anything else in the comic book world feel free to contact Matt or post your question below in the Comic Book Forum in the WorthPoint Forums, located in the Community tab. If you need more comic-nerd in your life, you can follow Matt on Twitter, where he’s always screaming about something nerd-related.