Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Original Figure Review - S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla (2016) The 2nd Form & The 3rd Form

Written by Arlo Hansen

WHEW! Has it been a LOOOOOOooooonnnng time since I have last posted a figure review here. Once more, I apologize for the year-long gap in content on this blog. As I have mentioned in my previous post, I was focussed on other things that ultimately did not work out. However, now I am back with a brand new review of the recent S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla (2016) The 2nd Form and The 3rd Form from 2016's Shin-Godzilla.

Godzilla (2016) The 2nd Form and The 3rd Form are the most recent releases in the popular S.H. MonsterArts action figure line from Bandai Tamashii Nations. Pre-orders for this two-figure set opened way back in November 2016 and were released at the end of this past May. These figures were made as Internet exclusives, meaning that they can only be purchased through Bandai's Premium Web Shop in Japan. Due to the merchandising rights between Bandai and Warner Bros., Bluefin Distribution was unable to bring over this set for a North American release, much like how they were unable to bring over the S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla (2016). Because of this, this set is quite scarce and now highly valued in the aftermarket. However, IS this set worth these aftermarket costs? Today we shall see.

Firstly, let us take a look at the box art. Let me say this first and foremost. Ever since the release of the S.H. MonsterArts MFS-3 Kiryu back in 2013, the box art for the MonsterArts line has taken a bit of a turn. Truthfully, I am not a fan. The box art looks bland and standard for my liking. With that being said, the box art for the 2nd and 3rd Form set is no different, but I do like the “Premium” look it has with the matted black coloring, and glossed red text. It adds a bit of quality to the packaging.

Now, you might be wondering, as you're looking at the photos, “Your box is dented, torn and taped up, Arlo. Why?” Well, that was due to piss poor handling by whoever was mailing this $110 set. I fixed it up as best as I could. Trust me, it looked far, far worse when it was delivered to me. Nearly had myself a heart attack! … Not really, but you see my point.

Fortunately, despite the damages to the box, the figures inside arrived safe and sound. Phew! As I shuck their plastic tray out of its wreck of a box, I noticed that the figures don't have the plastic wrappings around them to protect them from being scratched while being handled. I have seen my fair share of in-hand photos of these figures that exemplify paint scratches right out of the box. Much to my relief, however, my figures seemed to arrive fine. A miracle, actually, given how the box looked when I got it.

I will admit. Upon seeing in-hand photos of these figures I was quite disappointed. Mostly with the paint application. It looked very inconsistent, especially where the body meets the tail. It is like that here, but it is not AS noticeable. Especially when put on display with other figures. As I held each of them in my hand, I actually came to appreciate them. The sculpts are not that bad. Actually, they're kinda' great for their size! The more I toyed with them, the more words I previously spat out went back into my mouth. I admit. They aren't so terrible.

First, I will take a look at Godzilla's 2nd Form, which from hereon I will refer to as Kamatakun. Kamatakun is the affectionate nickname given by the fans of this form of Godzilla, named after the section of Tokyo it made landfall in during the movie. This figure is tiny, and I mean TINY! At its tallest, it is around two inches, and in length it is six to seven inches. So, yeah. Not that big. But, despite that, it boasts a great sculpt, great detailing and a good paint job. Between this and the 3rd Form, Kamatakun is the most passable figure between the two in regards to overall detailing.

Kamatakun has a primary light tan/beige coloration for the skin with a brighter skin toned orange highlight underneath the tail. There are nice applications of red paint throughout this figure. Notably inside Kamatakun's gills on his neck, in the crevice above his chest, and in between his tan colored dorsal plates. The big fish-like eyes are a dirty white with a small black dotted pupil in the center. The mouth is given a nicely darkened red color. The teeth, despite how tiny they are, are carefully painted individually. I must admit, better attention of detail was taken here than on the slop-job that was the MonsterArts Godzilla (2016).

Articulation on Kamatakun is limited, but you still have a decent range of motion regardless. The jaw opens and closes on a ball joint. The neck is one piece and is also on a ball joint. Something to note, however, which my friend Steven pointed out to me and covers in his review of this figure, is that the joint inside the neck possesses multiple points of articulation. That means that at some point during this figure's production, the neck was meant to be split into two parts, potentially allowing greater range of articulation. Obviously that idea was scrapped, but the additional ball joint inside the neck remained.

The torso is also on a ball joint, but its movements are very limited. The most I can get out of it is an up and down movement as well as a slight swivel to the left and right. The legs are, too, connected to the body via ball joints as well as the knees and feet. This is where one will need to be VERY careful with this figure. The joints are very small, and any excessive or careless handling will cause the plastic in these areas to break. I choose to treat this part of the figure with extreme caution.

The tail, like any other MonsterArts figure is segmented on ball joints. A decent range of motion can be achieved through it, but not to the extent that we see in the 3rd Form figure, which we will get too shortly.

All in all, Kamatakun, aka Godzilla (2016) The 2nd Form is a nifty little figure. It may be quite tiny and lack a wide range of articulation, but it has a pretty great looking sculpt, nice details and a relatively good paint job. I like it!


Ok, now I will now review Godzilla (2016) The 3rd Form. From hereon, I will refer to it as “Shinagawakun” as Shinagawa is the section of Tokyo where Godzilla rapidly evolves into his third form in Shin-Godzilla. Shinagawakun stands at around five inches tall. Upon this set's release, this is the figure I had the most problems with when seeing the first round of in-hand photos from collectors in Japan. So, is it as bad as I initially thought? Let's find out.

As far as its sculpt goes, Shinagawakun is pretty great. Despite its very thin frame, Shinagawakun boasts a lot of detailing in its sculpt. Hell, the hole-like detailing on the inside of the mouth and on the thighs are enough to induce anyone's dormant trypophobia. 

However, I think the excellent sculpt work takes a nose dive one third the way down the tail when the sculpt work becomes less defined and more softer in appearance. Mostly due to the multiple layers of paint coating the sculpt. But, it recovers towards the tip where we see that little happy face at the end of Shinagawakun's tail.

Speaking of the paint job, it is a really mixed bag for this figure. After multiple viewings of the film, and flipping through the pages of The Art of Shin-Godzilla. Shinagawakun's paint job is mostly accurate to what he see in the film, though it could have been a little darker than it is. The primary skin color for this figure is a dark red with highlights of pinkish orange underneath the jaw, on the newly formed arms, legs, underneath the tail, and at the very tip of the tail. I don't think the highlighting totally necessary on the tail as it starts abruptly without any sort of fading in from the main body. This was most likely a production error that was carelessly overlooked by quality control managers at Bandai's factory in China. In the movie, it is clear that the tail has no sort of highlighting whatsoever. With that being said, the highlighting on the rest of the body is alright. It is not necessary, but it seems to be one of the creative liberties that Bandai has taken on this figure. Besides the highlighting, Shinagawakun also has a bit of dark green/gray dry brush throughout the body. Again, not sure why that is. However, it does allow the red areas to pop out more.

The teeth are nicely individually painted with care. Once again, this is a far better application than what we saw on the S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla (2016)! 

Even the teeny-tiny claws on the very tiny hands are dabbed quite nicely. 

The toes are fine, but could have been a bit better. The paint was just slapped on. On the bright side, there does not seem to be any sort of paint bleed from what I've noticed.

While Kamatakun has better detailing, I think Shinagawakun has the better articulation! Want him hunched over? You got it. Leaned back to howl? Yup! Want to see him boogie the night away? Bam! Shinagawakun is fun to pose! I was not expecting this guy to be as articulated as he is. It's crazy.

Almost all of the joints, except for the lower jaw are on ball joints. The head is actually split into two articulated parts. The upper jaw is on a ball joint that connects to the top of the neck while the lower jaw is on a hinge joint that connects to the side of the neck. The inside of the mouth is sculpted onto the neck, which I have mixed feelings about. When you open the mouth really wide, it does not look entirely great when looking straight into the figure's maw. The neck is split into two parts allowing you to rear Shinagawakun's head back or learn him forward. The upper body allows you to bend him forward, back and side to side. The mid-section provides you the choice to have Shinagawakun in a lunging forward position, or reared back so he stands upright. Even the tiny little arms are on ball joints and can be slightly maneuvered too, which is neat. The legs and feet can also bend in and out as well. Again, like on Kamatakun, I'd strongly suggest one to be careful when fiddling with the legs. They are still tinier joints and prone to breaking if mishandled.

The tail is where things get really good as it has a very dynamic bend, allowing for some crazy tail poses. It looks very natural. Much like the tails for the Godzilla 2000 Millennium and Godzilla (2014) figures (if only the latter's tail was not so gosh-darn flimsy!) There's only one issue with it is that the end of my figure's tail likes to fall off from time to time. Not a glaring issue, however, since this is a rather normal occurrence for MonsterArts figures. All I'd have to do is pop it back on and that's that.

So, to wrap up things on Shinagawakun, while its paint job is certainly a mixed bag, the figure makes up for it with its dynamic range of articulation that enable one to achieve whatever pose they desire within its possibilities. For that reason alone, I think Shinagawakun is one nifty little figure too!

For anyone wondering, “Why are these figures so small?” Well, they are meant to be in proper scale with the S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla (2016), technically the 4th evolutionary form of Godzilla in Shin-Godzilla. According to official statistics for the movie, the 2nd Form is supposed to stand at 20 meters tall, the 3rd Form at 70 meters tall and then the 4th Form at 118 meters tall. 

To conclude this review, I would like to share my overall thoughts on the S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla (2016) 2nd & 3rd Form set. I bought this set with low expectations in mind, after experiencing how the S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla (2016) turned out. My views towards these figures only sunk when I saw the first set of in-hand photos of them when released. I thought they looked terrible! However, when I received my set and held each figure in my own hands, my mind began to gradually change. I've had them for at least a month now and I personally dig them. With that being said, I will now say that these are still not perfect figures. I think the days when we can expect top notch quality and detail from MonsterArts figures are long gone. The paint could be way better than it is. The 2nd Form has too much of a glossy coating for my liking.  The 3rd Form has very inconsistent paint applications as if one person painted the body and someone else painted the tail. This was most likely the case. My gripes with this set seem to be directed towards paint and detailing, because I think the actual sculpts themselves are superb! 

Is this set worth the after market prices? I have seen many other of my fellow reviewers explain how this is a tricky case as the quality doesn't match the price. So, I will piggyback on what they have expressed. This set was NOT worth the retail price, and it certainly is NOT worth the inflated after market prices. However, if you are a big enough Shin-Godzilla fan, like myself, then perhaps you'd be keen to spend the money to acquire this set. 

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