Full Review: X-Plus Sanda Vs. Gaira, War Of The Gargantuas Vinyl Figure Set (Diamond Re-Issue)
夏 東宝30CMシリーズ 「サンダ＆ガイラ」
JAPAN KIT RELEASE: 2007
JAPAN FIGURE RELEASE: 2008
JAPAN WONDER FEST RE-ISSUE: 2011
DIAMOND REISSUE: 2014
SERIES: TOHO 30CM SERIES
MATERIAL: SOFT VINYL
FROM: “THE WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS”, 1966
HEIGHT: (SANDA) 12 INCHES / 30.4 CM, (GAIRA) 10.5 INCHES / 26.6 CM
ARTICULATION: SHOULDERS, WRISTS, KNEES, ANKLES
REVIEW AND PHOTOS: JOHN STANOWSKI
DISCLAIMER: When I was five years old I got angry every time these guys came on TV. One reason was that they weren’t Godzilla and they were taking up Godzilla’s slot on Creature Double Feature. Another reason was they weren’t even proper monsters; just “regular guys in leaf suits” as my five-year-old self called them. Because of this, I’m no Gargantua expert. I only recently started appreciating the movie and now think that it is one of the best―even though it still doesn’t have Godzilla in it. I’m not sure how qualified I am to do a review on these figures. I may not have the same sensibilities you longtime Gargantua lovers do, but I’ll do my best.
• • •
A sequel to “Frankenstein Conquers The World” (1965), “War of the Gargantuas” (1966) features a double dose of mayhem. Apparently, Frankenstein had survived his fall into the fiery earth and continued to grow in size while hiding in the mountains. At some point some of his live cells broke away and traveled down the river to the sea where they, naturally, grew into a watery clone in the completely and utterly plausible way in which anyone would expect.
After growing nearly as tall as his brother, Gaira discovers a taste for humans and ventures out of the sea in search of more. This leads him, of course, back to the mountains where the Japanese Defense Force nearly kill him with masers and an electrified lake. (Take a good look. This is probably the only time you’ll see the army so effective against a kaiju!) The army’s deathblow was interrupted by the surprise arrival of Sanda, the original Frankenstein. He saves the life of his younger “brother” and nurses him back to health, only to discover that being an older brother isn’t so easy.
Sanda and Gaira were first put out by X-Plus as vinyl kits back in 2007 and have since enjoyed three more incarnations. The latest is a two-figure set licenced for North America and circulated by Diamond Comic Distributors. This set was released early in January of 2014. The original Japanese releases are very hard to come by and have the appropriate higher price tags. If you ever wanted the X-Plus Gargantuas, the time to get them is right now.
Both figures come bundled in a standard X-Plus 30cm Series Box: plain cardboard with art on the front. This set is the Diamond re-issue. You can identify it by the “PX Previews Exclusive” logo on the front.
Both figures are wrapped loosely in plastic and kept in place by a single wire twist tie each.
THEY STAND FINE
Once you free your Gargantuas from the box, you should adjust some limbs. Knees and ankles were twisted out of position so that they would fit into the package better. Also, Gaira’s arms were pushed down to his belly. Be sure to raise them up as they’re an important part of his balance. Consult the photos here in this review and tweak the joints until both figures are able to stand on their own. If you lightly poke a figure and it wobbles too much, you have more tweaking to do. It’s completely possible to get both of them into a fairly balanced and sturdy stance.
To my untrained Gargantua eye, these figures are awesome representations of the suits. To doublecheck, I revisited the movie last night with both of these guys on my lap. I must have hit the pause button 50 times to compare the figures to what was on the screen. I really couldn’t find anything wrong with the sculpts except for one thing: both of their torsos seem really wide when viewed from the front or back. Sorry if I got that wrong, but it bugged me enough to want to mention it.
FACES: I’m really impressed with both faces. To me, not only did they get all of the features down, they also seem to capture each creature’s personality. I may just be imagining it, but Sanda seems wiser while Gaira looks a touch childlike and primitive.
TEXTURE: I realize how difficult it must be to represent hair, fur or leafy bodysuits in a sculpt but I think the sculptor did a great job on these figures. Gaira is particularly impressive.
JOINTS & SEAMS
Both figures have moveable joints at the shoulders, wrists, below the knees and the ankles. Gaira has an extra joint on the left elbow. Every one of these joints has a special place they want or need to be. Correctly positioning the joints in the legs will ensure that your figures stand well on their own and don’t topple over. The hands are the only joints where you have a little freedom to tweak.
These joints are somewhat well hidden on the Sanda figure which was sculpted to have material drape over and hide them. Gaira isn’t as lucky and these joints are a bit more visible.
On both figures, the head and shoulders are molded onto one piece, the bottom of which is a jagged line which zig-zags up and down over the top of the body. Also on both, these glued seams are not an overly perfect match. If you’re picky like I am and want to find something to complain about, look here closely. Thankfully this mismatch isn’t nearly as obvious from the front as it is the back.
Also on both figures, the lower teeth, lip and chin are a separate glued piece. On Gaira, this is well hidden, but not so much on Sanda.
Both figures have a pose which faithfully captures the personality of each Gargantua.
Sanda’s pose shows he’s ready to rumble, yet knows restraint thus proving the older brother is wiser.
Gaira’s pose shows his immaturity; that or his acceptance that he’s the smaller guy. His arms are raised to protect himself from his non-people eating bully of a brother, yet he seems ready to kick some ass if pushed too far.
Sanda’s body has a base coat of a medium brown with a myriad of tan highlights and darker brown shadows. All of these colors are much more visible in person and I’m afraid my photos don’t do them justice. The finger nails are a glossy brown which is a nice touch for a toy, but they’re a bit too glossy to be realistic.
The much less impressive Gaira is covered in mostly one shade of green with sparse darker green shadows and just a scant touch of light brown here and there.
The brightest color on Sanda is on his hair and parts of his shoulders. His face is a dull, unsaturated brown which looks pretty good to me. The transition in the paint from hair to face is done well. But for some crazy reason, the ears share color with the hair, not the face… lazy and disappointing. The teeth are very well done. And, the eyes are very impressive in that they’re so small yet somehow they managed to add whites and pupils.
Gaira disappoints again with a face that is far too dark. It looks like this time they tried to make the ears closer in hue to the face rather than the hair, but the attempt is barely noticeable. Teeth here are also well done and the reddish inner lip feathers nicely into the green of the face. Again, the eyes are really good seeing as how they’re so tiny. Even more impressive is that they managed to fit in some color around the pupils unlike Sanda.
In movie reality, the Gargantuas aren’t nearly as tall as Godzilla. Yet, these figures look perfect beside other figures in the Toho 30cm Series like the X-Plus Godzilla 1964 seen above. If anything, they’re actually a little larger than the others. And, of course, they’re absolutely taller than the X-Plus Baragon 1965 (right) and other figures in the Large Monster Series.
Finally, an X-Plus figure damn near in scale with the Revoltech Type 66 Maser Cannon! If I remember correctly, Gaira’s foot was just larger than a car. The tank pulling the 66 is much larger than a car so this looks like a perfect match!
Usually, discussion of a figure’s footprint, or the shelf space it takes up, isn’t warranted when it comes to biped figures, especially those without tails. They just don’t take up a lot of space. But Sanda and Gaia are a two-figure set and many, if not most, collectors will want to display them together. As a unit, including the space inbetween them, they could take up the same amount of space as two 30cm Series Godzillas. Here are four ideas on Gargantua arrangements which take up slightly different spaces.
FINDING MORE BALANCE
It’s usually a precarious arrangement when you let biped figures stand on their own two feet without support. Though, I have to say I am amazed at how well both Gargantuas stand without any aid. They look as if they are top heavy, yet they just laugh at my little test pokes.
However, There’s no reason why you shouldn’t invest in a little insurance for the long-term shelf arrangement. You may not have noticed but the figures in all four of the photos above are touching each other. This is further enhancing their already pretty solid balance so accidental bumps into the shelf should be of less concern. Just get them both arranged around about how you’d like and then, while making sure both feet are flat on the shelf, slowly push one figure toward the other until they touch. Take care not to have one slightly pushing the other. The rough texture on both make it easier for them to “lock” together. Now they’re working as a team!
I think this set is just amazing. The sculpts are true to the suits, especially in the faces and have awesome texture. Though Gaira does disappoint somewhat with obvious seams, an overly dark face and a mostly monochome paint job. Both are super well-balanced and have great shelf presence. Most of all, it’s nice that so many collectors finally had a chance to grab these super rare figures once again thanks to Diamond Comics. If you didn’t already order these, get them while you still can!
By John Stanowski Originally posted January 12th, 2014 on Kaiju Addicts.
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