While I grew up on WLVI-56’s Creature Double Feature, I don’t remember seeing any Gamera films until I saw this VHS tape at the local video store (remember video stores? that’s where you saw awesome-but-misleading covers like this). Though my heart would always belong to Godzilla, I enjoyed checking out the Gamera films and all his bizarro opponents. The weirdest by far was Gurion, the giant knife-headed lizard-dog, but the flatiron-pated bird Gyaos was cool too.
From his creation in the mid-1960s until the 1990s, Gamera was mostly known to Western fans as a hokey rip-off of Godzilla, and was famously the subject of five episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. The Gamera films starred children (whom Gamera usually befriended) but oddly enough they were also filled with spurting blood. Bodily dismemberment was a frequent occurrence, especially in Gamera vs. Guiron, and Gyaos ate a number of people in his various appearances.
Gamera was resurrected by Japanese director Shusuke Kaneko in 1995’s Gamera: Guardian of the Universe. It’s an incredibly entertaining film that blew away almost everything Toho had been doing in the “Heisei era” of Godzilla films. The effects were great, but more importantly, the film had engaging characters, decent performances, and an intriguing story that added some much-needed mythos to the Gamera world. Kaneko followed it up with two more Gamera films, Gamera: Attack of the Legion and Gamera: Revenge of Iris, and each was better than the last. (Kaneko also directed Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, arguably the best of the Millennium-era Godzilla films.)
Gamera had a few Japanese Bandai vinyl figures in the 1990s (based on both his Showa and Heisei appearances) and Trendmasters made a line of Gamera toys in 1995. It’s only recently that Japanese toy company Kaiyodo got into the act with their super-articulated Revoltech line. In addition to this figure, which is based on his Guardian of the Universe appearance, Kaiyodo has also made a Heisei Gyaos, Showa Gamera and Gyaos, and Gamera and Legion from Attack of Legion. (On a side note, you can read reviews of all these figures over at Infinite Hollywood).
Gamera’s appearance changed in each of the three Heisei films. As the series progressed, he looked less and less like his Showa incarnation and much more spiky and badass. This figure is of Gamera as he appeared in the first film, Guardian of the Universe.
Since this is a Japanese toy, the packaging is extremely collector-friendly. It features a cover that opens to reveal the figure and all its parts. It’s easy to remove the figure and return it to the packaging. There’s a ton of text that means nothing to me because I can’t read Japanese, but I suppose if I did it would be awesome.
The sculpting is top-notch, especially for the size. That’s no surprise when it comes to Japanese products, but it’s worth mentioning. I have no complaints in the sculpt department. The paints are very well-applied too, especially for this scale.
One thing to be aware of is this figure is small. Very small. As you can see from the scale pic, it’s even shorter than a 3 3/4″ figure. A lot of people find that disturbing small for what is supposed to be a giant kaiju, and as someone who grew up on the 8″ Bandai Godzilla vinyls, I get where you’re coming from. This guy is going to run you at least $40, and that’s a lot for a figure this small.
So, what do you get for your money?
- Four interchangeable hands (open and fists)
- Jet exhausts
- An interchangeable pelvis to fit the rocket exhaust
- A fire blast
- A nametag (in Japanese)
- A weird orange box and an orange coin, their usefulness obscure. I guess you can put the hands in the orange box if you wanted to.
The accessories are a lot of fun. You can swap his legs to put him into a blast-off mode, or stick the fire-blast in his mouth so he can toast Gyaos or U.S. Agent or whomever. The fire-blast is translucent, which it gives it a nice touch. The jets have a kind of matte spray to them that is very effective. My only wish is that the set had come with some in-flight jets as well for flying poses.
The small size and the high price point keeps it from a five-star rating–even for an import, this is an expensive gewgaw. But overall, I really like this figure–enough that I went ahead and bought a Gyaos for him to fight. And I want even more. I’ve decided to skip the Legion Gamera (and Legion) and wait for the fully-badass Iris Gamera (assuming Kaiyodo makes it), but I suspect I’ll cave on at least a few of the Showa Godzilla Revoltechs that have been made.
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