東宝30CMシリーズ 「バラン（1958版） 大怪獣バラン」
JAPAN ORIGINAL RELEASE: 2012
JAPAN REISSUE: (MONOCHROME) 2013
DIAMOND REISSUE: APRIL 2014
SERIES: TOHO 30CM SERIES
MATERIAL: SOFT VINYL
FROM: “VARAN THE UNBELIEVABLE”, 1958
HEIGHT: 12 INCHES / 30.4 CM
WIDTH: 7 INCHES / 17.7 CM
LENGTH: 14 INCHES / 35.5 CM
FIGURE WEIGHT: 12.7 OZ / 360 G
REVIEW AND PHOTOS: JOHN STANOWSKI
X-Plus first released the Toho 30cm Series Varan vinyl figure (based on Varan The Unbelieveable, 1958) in 2012. This was followed by a limited release of a monochrome version in 2013. While not impossible to get, both were mostly rare and getting pricey in the aftermarket.
April 2014 saw the release of the Diamond Reissue, made by X-Plus especially for the North American market. Varan has once again become available to collectors who missed out the first two times around. This review is for the Diamond Reissue.
I have to say that I wasn’t expecting to get overly excited for this figure. Varan isn’t very high up on my favorite kaiju list. It was the completist in me that pushed the Add to Cart button.
However, when I finally had the figure in front of me I was kind of blown away! Especially with the sculpt of the head. I always saw Varan as having an unimaginative, short, snouty head, but this figure really made me appreciate the design. So, now, yeah, I LOVE THIS THING!
THE BOX / ASSEMBLY
The Diamond Reissue Box is identical to the one used for the original Japanese release with the exception of English being used on the rear warning label and the “PX Previews Exclusive” logo on the front, lower left. (Previews is the publication Diamond Distributors puts out to alert comic shops of their products.) So, let the Previews logo be your guide when considering purchasing. The Diamond release has a slightly more vivid paint scheme compared to the original release. It also has softer vinyl used on the back and tail. Other than that, they’re identical.
I have to admit I had a lot of trouble getting the tail attached on my Varan figure for a couple of reasons. One, the tail is made of much softer material than usual and collapses easily with the force required to push it into the body. Second, the body hole is very firm and difficult to soften with heat. The reason for this is that there is a double layer of vinyl there. The entire back piece from nape of the neck to tail, and straight down behind the shoulders is one, separate piece made of softer material. To reinforce the body hole, X-Plus molded the front piece to include an “arc” at the bottom for the hole. This double layer didn’t seem to want to let me soften it up with heat.
The solution is just to heat and soften it up as much as you can while making the tail as firm as it can get by putting it in the refrigerator for a SHORT while. (Do NOT put it in the freezer! You may wind up cracking the flange right off the tail.) That way the “suction cup” flange around the end of the tail won’t collapse onto itself when inserting it into the body.
You may want to take this opportunity to insert something into the tail to weigh it down before attaching. I’ve heard many a tale of toppling Varans in the Summer heat. More on this later.
Okay, let’s move on. Behold! Varan The Unbelieveable! …X-Plus-Style.
To my untrained eye for Varan, this figure is a knock-out representation of the ’50’s monster from the film. I mean, like… wow! I watched the movie last night with the X-Plus Varan on my lap to compare its sculpt to the big guy on screen. And I’d say it’s a very impressive likeness.
When I watched Varan first crawl out of the lake on all fours, I noticed that the spines on my figure didn’t match up at all to what was on screen. The movie showed the spines being thicker and almost straight, a far cry from the thin, curved protrusions on the X-Plus vinyl. I wondered how X-Plus could get something so wrong. CUT TO: Varan walking upright. Suddenly the spines on screen matched the vinyl EXACTLY, with almost scary precision.
I realized that the appearance of the spines change depending on the angle in which they’re viewed. It turns out they appear wider from above and thinner from the side. Toho monster suit maker, Keizo Murase, made the spines for the suit by cutting pieces of a vinyl hose into short lengths, and then carefully slicing them length-wise so that they would come to a point from above and the side. This seems like a cheap way to add detail to a prop used in a movie, but he was required to make spines that wouldn’t break or impale the suit actor or any crew members. Still, I think it worked great. You’d never know you were looking at hoses in the movie.
So, not only did X-Plus get the sculpt of the spines dead right, they went even further! If you run your finger along the bottoms of the spines on this figure, you’ll notice that their undersides are concave, just like a sliced hose! X-Plus, why did I ever doubt you?
MORE ABOUT THE SPINES
The spines on the head, back and tail are clear. If it weren’t for the refraction from the curved surfaces, you’d be able to see right through them. Light passes through them with ease giving this figure extra points for visual-interest. Plus, this just makes the figure look even more like the suit.
The clear vinyl used is very soft and if you run your finger down the back with some pressure, the spikes will bend out of your way. A nice touch. However, the downside is the squooshy back and soft tail I mentioned earlier.
The unique texture Keizo Murase created for Varan’s back (inspired by peanut shells) is faithfully reproduced on the figure and looks unmistakably Varan-ish.
Another impressive detail is the sculpt of Varan’s wings, or “membranes” as GodzillaFanFreaks called them. There’s just a ton of detail and texture all over this thing.
The head sculpt on the X-Plus Toho 30cm Series Varan is freaking amazing! It won me over very quickly and even made me do a 180 on my appreciation for the original design. I think it’s the spikes flaring out from his cheeks that gives him a kind of dragon feel that I never really noticed before.
If all the X-Plus figures got together and had a staring contest, Varan would win…
And the eyes. Those eyes! Those pissed-off-why-are-you-dumping-chemicals-in-my-lake eyes! Wow! If all the X-Plus figures got together and had a staring contest, Varan would win. Well, it may be a draw between him and the 30cm Godzilla 1964. But, that’s not bad!
X-Plus’ devotion to suit accuracy over stylization becomes even more apparent with the inclusion of the peep holes molded into the neck which Haruo Nakajima used to see from inside the suit.
The fingers are only partially individually sculpted, but this may just be how the suit was just like with the Godzilla 1962.
This figure has individually sculpted teeth and if you peer into the mouth you’ll find that even the tongue looks like a separate piece. This is the kind of attention to detail X-Plus puts into their figures raising them above other vinyls. This is one toy that’s not a toy!
JOINTS & SEAMS
The seam at the tail joint is somewhat apparent and seems to me to be needlessly so. The sculpt is tucked in at the joint, like string tied tightly around a finger. And it doesn’t look like there was any attempt to make the back texture cross this line. Perhaps X-Plus was merely following the look of the suit, but I couldn’t get a good look at this area in the movie.
JIGGLE JOINTS noun \ˈji-gəl\ˈjȯints\
There are unglued joints below each knee. Both are free to move and rotate, but both ends are sculpted to fit precisely in a fixed position. So, basically, all you can do is jiggle them; the idea of changing their orientation should be off the table.
Apart from the seams on the tail and knees, there is very little else to interrupt your visual love affair with this figure.
The remaining seams are either filled in very well, or just not really noticeable. There are lines above both elbows but they really don’t stand out unless you look for them. The seams at the ankles are very well hidden. There is a seam along the bottom front of the neck which is worked into the sculpt pretty good. The face (upper jaw, eyes, nose and forehead) is a separate piece as is the bottom jaw. Both well hidden! Finally, the back has seams running down the length of the body, just behind the shoulders and are very well hidden by being worked into the sculpt. I didn’t even realize they were there until I noticed them when I had the figure in front of a very bright light while shooting photos.
I become very disappointed when I get an X-Plus figure cluttered with obvious seams and lines. But, the X-Plus 30cm Series Varan does not offend at all. They did a great job on it.
The pose is typical of Varan as he marched through the woods against the Defense Force and again as he bulldozed his way through the airport. My only gripe is that his right leg is so far back that this figure is prone to toppling.
The X-Plus 30cm Series Varan vinyl figure may look “just brown” at first, but there really is lots to see. This figure does have a base coat of a very dark brown; almost a light, dusty black. Reddish brown patches cover the chest, arms and legs; the dark brown creeps in to fill the creases in these areas. The peanut shell texture on the back and tail have light brown/tan highlights. This color is also used on the claws which are feathered in on the feet, yet abrupt on the hands. A similar color coats the strips of folded wing membrane on the sides which are also expertly shadowed with dark brown. A more vivid yellowish brown covers the spikes flaring out from Varan’s cheeks. The whites of Varan’s eyes are clouded in a brown tinge making this toy look all the more un-toylike. Finally, the brown creeps up the bases of the clear spines for an awesome looking feathered transition.
This color scheme no doubt came from Varan’s brief appearance in Destroy All Monsters since the original suit was simply a brown/dark tan. I don’t mind the change since the only image we have of a color Varan comes from his second appearance. I do wish, though, that the reds were a little more unsaturated since they seem to stand out a bit much. Overall, though, this is one of the more impressive X-Plus paint jobs I’ve seen.
Here’s a size comparison with two of Varan’s buddies from the 50’s: the Toho 30cm Series Godzilla 1954 (which is a little taller than most figures in this line) and on the right, Anguirus 1955.
The 30cm Series Baragon 1968 (a tad shorter than most figures) and Mechagodzilla 1974 (a bit taller than most). Still a good-looking scale match.
The 30cm Series Varan with its Large Monster Series (25cm Series) counterpart.
For those of you who don’t have their first X-Plus vinyl yet, here’s the Varan figure with a DVD for a real-world size comparison.
FOOTPRINT / SHELF CONSIDERATIONS
The 30cm Series Varan is about 14 inches (35.5 cm) long from nose to tail, and about 12 inches (30.4 cm) long from toes to tail. The tail curves slightly to the figure’s left and this makes it a little more accommodating for space if your shelves are up against a wall. This Varan looks good facing front or angled to either side; although the tail might get in the way if you place him facing the the right.
As mentioned earlier, The X-Plus 30cm Series Varan is apt to having tumbling issues. The figure’s right leg is so far behind the other that it’s very easy to tip it over if you bump his head just the right way. I don’t have any of the specifics behind these tales of toppling Varans, but I suspect that, in the summer months when vinyl gets softer than usual, that the right foot must start to bend under his weight which is only 3/4 of a pound. This is why I suggested putting marbles or something into the tail before attaching. This would weigh it down and help to hold him upright. Problem is having marbles in one of your figures can be annoying and we collectors shouldn’t have to do that.
Some alternatives would be to prop Varan up with support from another figure on his right side. Or, even better, use another figure’s tail (or some other weight) to lay over Varan’s tail (though the spikes may get in the way). I don’t know how likely it is that your Varan will begin to tilt down, but better safe than sorry. If you choose not to reinforce Varan, just keep an eye on his right leg and especially his right foot in the summer months and look for signs of bending. Hopefully none of this will be necessary. Some collectors have told me that their Varan is fine and always was.
For a figure I wasn’t expecting much from, this thing totally surprised me and is pretty damn nice. It has an accurate sculpt that’s so good it made me appreciate the actual suit more than I ever did. It has an extra nice paint job and (mostly) well-hidden seams. I’m not up on all the Varan figures ever made, but the X-Plus has surely got to be near the top of the Essential Varans to own list!
This figure made me a believer!
By John Stanowski Originally posted April 30th, 2014 on Kaiju Addicts.
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