Toy Review: S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla Junior

Godzilla might be dead at the movies (at least for now) but Godzilla collecting has some new life breathed into it thanks to Bandai's S.H. Monsterarts line. I'm more of a vinyl collector on a budget, so I haven't plunged head-long into this borderline prohibitively expensive line just yet. I did score a basic Godzilla a while back and it's certainly an impressive figure. Unfortunately, the prices of the others have been just north of what I consider reasonable for a toy, so I've abstainted... that is, until I saw this Godzilla Junior for the low, low price of $50! Zoinks! Does Junior live up to the cost? Let's take a look!

You might remember Junior from 1995's Godzilla vs. Destroyah, the last movie of the Heisei saga. He's a more mature version of the baby Godzilla with which you're probably more familiar. I always thought his streamlined theropod-esque look was pretty groovy, and it would have been interesting to see how a Godzilla like this would play out as the star of his own movie. Unfortunately, my collection has been Junior-less until now, so I was excited to fill that hole with this Monsterarts figure.

That is, until I opened the box. Oh, it's a nice figure, mind you. The sculpt and paint apps look fantastic, and this toy might even look better than that weird half-sized puppet that the fully matured Destroyah threw around in the movie. The articulation offers a spectacular range of movement that allow Junior to strike poses that look like he popped right off the celluloid. The articulation points might fragment the sculpt into arthropod-like segments that are even more distracting than those of the Monsterarts Godzilla, but I can live with that.

What I can't live with is what you get for your money. I didn't even think about scale when I bought him, but in the movie, Junior is about half the size of Papa Godzilla. This figure maintains the proper scale, which is great, but that means that you get a Godzilla that's roughly the size of a Star Wars figure. For half a Benjamin. Keep in mind the basic Godzilla costs $65 and is double the size. Even taking import costs into account, Junior should be a $35 toy at most.

I suppose that would be okay if you get some sizable accessories along with him, but he only comes with two itty-bitty helicopters (presumably the G-Force and news copters from the movie). Larger and cooler accessories, like the Super-X3 or mini-figures of the smaller forms of Destroyah, would have gone a long way to help justify the price.

Overall, this is a great figure that is just way too expensive. I'm looking at Junior wondering what my $50 bought, and it's obvious that it's not much. I'm more of a vinyl kaiju collector anyway. The vinyl figures are so much more fun and toy-like whereas this is clearly a collector's item meant to live out its existence permanently confined to a display shelf. Godzilla vinyls can also be cost-prohibitive, but I could have picked up a vintage vinyl Junior for less than the money I spent on this Monsterarts figure. I'm not sure if this will be my last Monsterarts figure, especially since the upcoming Godzilla 1964 looks all kinds of cool. But for now, I'll concentrate my money on vinyls where it matters most.

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  1. I personally don't see how you can remotely compare the vinyls to this and think they're the better deal. $10 for a near-immobile, hollow, often poorly-painted or severely off-model painted figure or $40-60 if you strike while the iron is hot for a highly-detailed figure you can reach to just about any pose you could could possibly want. I just... I guess I don't get it. Yeah, the price is high on Junior- because it was a very low production run for a much more obscure character. The line as a whole though, is superior in every other respect to the vinyls.

  2. @Ronnie: As I said, vinyl figures are so much more toy like. I had a few Godzilla vinyls as a kid, and they were all sorts of fun. They were durable and the plastic had a great rubbery feel that you could imagine was indicative of the monster's skin.

    The Monsterarts figures are collector's items. If you gave this Junior to a kid, it would be pieces in minutes. While the vinyls have a great feel, these feel "ugly", for lack of a better word. Kind of like McFarlane or NECA figures, the plastic is hard with sharp edges.

    I guess it depends on which you prefer: toys or collector's items. I can appreciate both, but admittedly I lean towards the toy side. So that's why I prefer vinyl Godzillas.

    Also, $50 for something the size of a Star Wars figure is ridiculous. I can't see why there's this huge increase in price for the Monsterarts line all the sudden. I don't buy the low production run explanation, because the MOTU Classics line is low-run, too, and this Godzilla Jr is twice the price and half the size. Even taking import costs into consideration, it's unreasonable.

    Anyway, I doubt I 'll be getting any more Monsterarts figures. They're great, but not nearly worth the money for me, at least.

  3. I guess. Even as a kid I liked the vinyls for that they were GODZILLA, but it always annoyed me that they were so squishy and immobile. And you can't pretend the american G-Fan market is even half as big as the market for MOTU, Nate. Not to mention that these are much higher quality paint-jobs than MOTU and entirely unique tooling in the case of Junior here. MOTUC maintains the price it does because it's a ratio of about 80% reused parts. With kaiju, there's a much lower potential- the big G cost a bit less because they banked on things like Comicon Burning Godzilla, Burning Godzilla, and the SpaceGodzilla retools to compensate for the price on tooling him- not to mention that, well, he's GODZILLA. (If anyone gets just one, it will be Godzilla- I should know, I did get just one, although admittedly Baby Godzilla's Charmander-esque cuteness is grinding on me every time I see him at a shop.) The vinyls manage by manner of cheap materials and low paint apps.

  4. @Ronnie: Remember that the Monsterarts figures are primarily made for the Japanese market, which has a huge Godzilla fanbase that, I would guess, would be a lot larger than the MOTUC fanbase in the US.

    You make some good points about MOTUC and reuse of parts keeping costs down. And you make another good point that a lot of the basic Godzilla is reusable. But the new Godzilla 1964 figure is $70, and I'm not sure if it has any parts that are reusable. If it's the same size as the 90's Godzilla, that's an easier price tag to swallow than Junior's.

    Ultimately, it just comes down to whether or not I feel like the figure is worth the money. I can understand import costs, low runs, paint apps, and unique parts drive up costs. However, I also understand that lots of figures have import costs, low runs, paint apps, and unique parts, and are much cheaper than this $50 Junior. The Monsterarts price is more than a little above my comfort level, and it makes sense for me to get vinyls instead, especially since I enjoy them more anyway.

  5. It's interesting, because I keep dancing around the Monsterarts line for similar reasons. I WANT to buy one, but they have things that hold me back - such as the Godzilla I would want who only comes with the breath blast in some packages. They are high-cost figures - but many reviews make they LOOK like they are worth the cash.

    Also Nate, with production costs going in the direction they are and the complexity of this item, it sadly is not unreasonable for this guy to be retailing for $50. I get the thought process you are putting into it. To get a significant price reduction, they'd need a lot less parts involved.
    (how do I know? ;) )

  6. I have three figures now, and it is possible to get them at a better deal. Don't use big US retailers, use a Japanes store like HobbyLinkJapan, and wait for sales and use their economy shipping. For example, I picked up the Burning Godzilla for $50 last month, and a Fire Rodan for only $15.