"There is so much writing in English on Japanese cinema that can't be accepted at face value — not because the writers are careless, but because the differences in culture and language are just too intricate. When I see August Ragone's name on a piece of writing, it gives me permission to place my faith in it completely. Among Japanese fantasy film historians, he's the best working in English." —Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Aoshima's Diecast GFW Goten-go!!

新世紀合金 轟天号 ゴジラファイナルウォーズ版!

Retailers order form for the new GODZILLA FINAL WARS version.

Last October, Aoshima, under its "Miracle House" division, issued an amazing diecast replica of the Goten-go from Toho's ATRAGON (1963). As part of the "Shin Seiki Gokin" (or "New Century Alloy") line, this nearly 14" monster is not only predominantly diecast, unlike the line's previously issued Maser Cannons from THE WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (1966), but it also boasts some of the same special features seen in the original film.

For starters, all of the bow and aft stabilizers, as well as the conning tower, retract into the hull of the ship, by spring-loaded manual operation, and button release. You can simulate the airborne juggernaut streaking through the sky to challenge the Mu Empire, or drilling through the very earth itself to reach the very heart of the enemy's power center. No other version of the Atragon released commercially boasts these features.

But, here comes the pièce de résistance, powered by three AAA batteries, the iconic bow drill actually operates, in both forward and reverse — and the battering ram at the tip also undulates. But, wait! There's more... The aft engine nozzles as well as the bottom lifting jets glow, very brightly, via LED bulbs. "Blinding" might be a better word. This amazing toy for big boys also comes in two editions, "Normal" and "Weathered" (which is a limited edition) — the former comes with one Mu Power Console and two Goten Task Force Soldiers in full gear.

Without question, Aoshima's achievement is, the greatest mass-market product based on this famous movie warship ever issued — hands down. Of course, that's my opinion, and I absolutely love the almighty Atragon (known in Japan as the "Goten-go") and the original Honda-Tsuburaya film. So, I was hoping that Aoshima would come up with another great "Toho Mecha" as a follow-up... I'm still undecided on what to make of this follow-up, hitting Japanese hobby shop shelves next month:

Is this déjà vu? No, it's the Goten-go from the opening scenes of GODZILLA FINAL WARS (2004). While they may look identically, superficially, to the non-fan, the revamped Goten-go features sharper, sweepback stabilizers, and a redesigned conning tower and deck guns. These are more blocky than the smoother, rounder tower and guns of Shigeru Komatsuzaki's original design — and I don't really care for this modern reworking.

As for the diecast itself, it has the same special features as the 1963 version issued by Aoshima last year, because it's virtually the same toy. The only differences are the aforementioned stabilizers, conning tower and guns. Everything else is the same, exact product. Now, if you're a completist (I gave that delusion up a long time ago), you're going to want to grab one of these puppies when it's released in September. As for me, it should come as no surprise that I will remain extremely content with the 1963 version.

And, contrary to that last statement, I will continue to look forward to newer. bigger and better versions of the original Atragon/Goten-go that will be released in the future. In the meantime, I still have that 32" vinyl kit from Paradise to build...

Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

Aoshima's original 1963 diecast ATRAGON is the one to get!

• Aoshima's official Shin Seiki Gokin Toho Mecha webpage.
• CollectionDX's review of Aoshima's original Atragon with video.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Designer Daikaiju from Yoshihito Sugahara

バンダイの大怪獣 Tシャツ!

Sugahara breaths new life into the original! ©1954 Toho Co., Ltd.

A dynamic design of the golden triple-threat! ©1964 Toho Co., Ltd.

The original flying terrapin of terror! ©1965 Kadokawa Pictures

Guilala from THE X FROM OUTER SPACE! ©1967 Shochiku

These amazing high-end t-shirts, designed and executed by noted artist Yoshihito Sugahara, have been commissioned by Bandai's apparel division, and are available online and through various brick-and-mortar outlets in Japan only. Sugahara has designed a number of shirt for Bandai; everything from Ultraman through Toei Heroes, and are pretty damned impressive. While they may be well-worth tracking down for the hardcore fan, be forewarned: they range in price from $30-$39 USD.

I'll be also be featuring more samples of Bandai and Sugahara's tokusatsu t-shirt designs in future posts — stay tuned!