JAPAN ORIGINAL RELEASE: OCTOBER 2014
NORTH AMERICAN DIAMOND REISSUE: APRIL 2017
JAPAN CLOSED MOUTH VERSION: EXPECTED DECEMBER 2018
SERIES: TOHO 30CM SERIES YUJI SAKAI MODELLING COLLECTION
MATERIAL: SOFT VINYL
FROM: “GODZILLA VS. BIOLLANTE”, 1989
HEIGHT: 11.25 INCHES / 28.5 CM
WIDTH (TOE TO TOE): 6.25 INCHES / 15.8 CM
LENGTH (NOSE TO TAIL): 19.5 INCHES / 49.5 CM
FIGURE WEIGHT: 18 OZ / 510 G
REVIEW AND PHOTOS: JOHN STANOWSKI
It’s here! The Toho 30cm Yuji Sakai Modelling Collection Godzilla 1989 (Fourth Kind Warning Systems / Osaka Landing) vinyl figure… has landed!
It’s molded from a sculpt from renowned Godzilla sculptor Yuji Sakai’s ‘Landing Series’. It depicts Godzilla shortly after he climbed out of Osaka Bay and began his rampage through the city.
“Fourth Kind Warning Systems”, or “Alert Level 4” as it’s known in English subtitles, is the warning given when it’s certain Godzilla will make landfall in a specific place, in this case Osaka (home of X-Plus headquarters, by the way. Coincidence?).
Take a look at the photo below.
Look familiar? Is it Real or is it X-Plus? This time it’s real!
I used to say “it looks like it walked right out of the TV screen” a lot in my earlier reviews. It’s time to dust that line off for this figure because, as you can see, it literally looks it was taken right out of this scene!
Okay, let’s dig in.
With the new Yuji Sakai Modelling Collection comes a new box design that starkly contrasts the cool, stylized box art that we’re used to.
I’ve heard it described as everything between being the work of an intern to looking like a 70s record album cover. Okay, so it stinks. But, I’m resolved to look at it this way: it looks like a garage kit box. And that’s ‘sort of’ what this is. Right?
The box comes with the usual X-Plus Garage Toy logo in one corner and the Plex logo in another. A new detail here is the inclusion of a Godzilla vs. Biollante logo.
And for those who need to know, the text reads (in kanji and katakana) Toho 30cm Series Sakai Yuji Modelling Collection. It then repeats “Yuji Sakai Modelling Collection” in English, along with “Godzilla 1989”. Then, in kanji: “fourth kind warning system, Osaka Landing”.
Also new: next to the usual Toho Godzilla licensing sticker is another licensing sticker from Sakai’s company, Zokei Kobo. It says “SAKAI YUJI, ZOKEI KOBO”.
Now, on to what’s inside!
ATTACHING THE TAIL
The figure, as usual, comes with the tail unattached (in this case, two pieces) which needs to be inserted by you.
The tail assembly process should be well known by now: use a hair dryer to heat the “female” end of the joint. This is typically the “butt” of the figure. Warming it will make it soft and agreeable to being invaded by the “male” end (the end with the suction cup-looking flange). Keep the male end cool so that it will be firm. If you are doing this in the summer, you may want to put the tail in the refrigerator (NOT THE FREEZER: you may wind up cracking the flange right off the tail!) for a SHORT while to get it firm and sturdy. Then, just insert, push and twist.
The joints on the tail pieces are not completely round, but this does not get in the way of inserting them. They went in really easy for me.
Since this figure has two pieces, attach the larger tail piece to the body first. Then add on the second, smaller piece.
(Attaching the smaller tail piece to the larger tail piece first would require you to heat the larger piece and, in the process, could soften its male end making it harder to attach to the body.)
And here it is.
I had some doubts about this figure when it was first revealed. Especially with how it looks from the front. But, I ordered one anyway. (Of course, I did!) And now that it’s in front of me I am just blown away by it. Sculpt-wise… THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH IT! There are little things that bug me about the other two X-Plus Heisei Godzilla entries, but this… nothing!
As usual, when reviewing a new figure, I sat down to watch the movie with the figure in front of me, my eyes darting back and forth between it and the screen, comparing every detail I could get a good view of and pause on. Every single time, the figure failed to disappoint.
This is my first time seeing a sculpt by Yuji Sakai that wasn’t either three inches high or riddled with articulation joints. I can see now why his name is so revered.
The 1989 Godzilla suit had a bit of a pointy head but that feature is absent from this figure. (Not that I mind; that point always kind of bugged me.) Other than that, the head sculpt looks accurate, fantastic and awesome!
[ UPDATE: It was just mentioned in the comments that the ‘pointy head’ was only on the ‘sea suit’, so Sakai’s sculpt is right; I’m wrong! ]
Okay, so there is just one thing. From the front, the head seems a little skewed to one side. His eyes, nose and mouth don’t line up perfectly. His left cheek seems lower than his right. Something isn’t quite right here. Thankfully, it’s not overly obvious and from angles other than the front, a non-issue.
Check out the mouth on this thing! I’ve never seen so much attention given to the mouth of an X-Plus figure that wasn’t part of the Gigantic Series! W.O.W.!
The inside of the mouth has a deep ridge pattern under the tongue and even on the roof of the mouth! The tongue has a similarly detailed texture, even though it wasn’t nearly that coarse on the suit. This is just unbelievable detail squeezed into a space smaller than a quarter!
The teeth are not individually sculpted like those on the original X-Plus 30cm Series Godzilla 1989 vinyl, but they are much, much closer to being accurate. The downside is that since they are so small and have a weak paint job and they can look like a fat row of gunky molars rather than the double row of sharp wedges that they were on the suit.
More on the mouth, including photos, are down in the Paint Job section.
As usual with X-Plus, the dorsal fins look great. But this sculpt goes above and beyond the call for accuracy and detail. I paused the Godzilla vs. Biollante blu ray a couple of times to compare the fins on screen to the figure in front of me. I expected them to simply capture the ‘spirit’ of the shapes but I discovered much more than that. Yuji Sakai actually took the time to mimic individual spikes on the larger fins. Look at the photo above. There are short spikes, long spikes, spikes curving this way and that, spike huddled in pairs, etc. Seems kind of random, yes? Well it’s not completely. Many of these “random” dorsal fin shapes are actually ridiculously accurate… down to the spike!
The X-Plus Yuji Sakai Godzilla 1989 not only looks accurate, but is more accurate than you can see!
But, wait, there’s more! The upcoming Ric Boy version of this figure will have light-up fins. In cases like this, X-Plus typically makes the Standard versions the same exact way as the Ric’s, sans the lights and wires. And, also typically, light-up fins don’t look anywhere near as good as those made without the soft, translucent vinyl. But, these fins LOOK GOOD! So, either X-Plus decided to make totally opaque fins for the standard, or they’ve stepped up their game and found a way to make the fins look good and light up at the same time. We’ll have to wait for the Rics to come out at the end of October to find out.
JOINTS & SEAMS
I’m very happy to say that the X-Plus Yuji Sakai Godzilla 1989 seems to be seamless!
There are sealed joints above both biceps, below both knees and at both ankles. The back strip with the dorsal fins are also a separate piece. And at each and every one of these spots, the joints are virtually invisible.
The tail is in four pieces, all of which are not glued and sealed and two of which you need to attach yourself. And all four joints are PERFECTLY matched and practically invisible thanks to the ribbed segments in the sculpt.
I can’t help thinking that there must be a seam around the jaw because I can’t see how the intricate paint job inside the mouth could have been applied otherwise. But I just can find a line.
I kept changing my mind on how much I liked the pose (from the front, anyway). I couldn’t help thinking that its slightly outstretched arms made it look like a cartoon character tip-toeing up behind Biollante for a surprise attack. But when I gave the Godzilla vs. Biollante blu ray a spin and saw the scene it came from I was surprised to see how faithfully Yuji Sakai captured the pose. (See the photo from the movie at the top of this page.)
Now, I think I very much like its ‘realistic’, un-posed look. Most X-Plus figures look like they’re posing for the camera — trying to look perfect from every angle. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) The Sakai ’89, though, seems realistic and “alive” to me.
It’s also interesting that this figure’s walking pose has one heel off of the ground. Which brings me to …
I wasn’t going to mention this, but it seems clear that I’m not alone with this little problem. The feet do not meet the floor flush as they should. Instead the figure rests on the ball of the left foot and the right foot heel. Raising the tail up about three eighths of an inch (.95 cm) fixes this problem, but leaving you with another problem.
It may not seem like it’s off by much by looking at the animated GIF above, but in person, and at a low angle, it is kind of obvious.
Thankfully, it doesn’t look like that big of a deal when looking at it from higher angles. Still, I’m not sure we should have this problem for a figure that costs well over $200.
UPDATE: Apparently Yuji Sakai likes to sculpt these with the tails slightly in the air. I somewhat confirmed this by taking a peek at the Dream Evolution book and found other sculpts that do the same thing. So, maybe the figure is just following the original sculpt. Well. Um. At the end of the day the figure leans back so I don’t get it.
The X-Plus Yuji Sakai Godzilla 1989 not only looks accurate, but is more accurate than you can see!
The X-Plus Yuji Sakai Godzilla 1989 has a base coat of dusty, asphalt black. But the quality of this black seems different somehow from the other figures in the line. It looks richer. (See the Size Comparison photos below and you can see the difference.)
I noticed later, under bright light, the reason for the richer-looking black is that the figure is smothered with subtle blueish highlights. They’re almost invisible to be seen as actual highlights, yet they’re there enough to affect the overall look.
The photo above shows an exaggerated view of the highlights which I made obnoxiously visible with Photoshop by cranking up the saturation values of just the blues and aquas. Now you can clearly see how extensive the highlights are. If you’re looking at this review on a computer (and not a phone) you can just faintly see these highlights in the first photo at the top of this page.
While I appreciate the work that went into applying the stealthy blue highlights which I can only faintly detect with my eyes, I still feel this figure could do with a few visible splashes, like a bit of dirt here and there (as on the ’64) to break up its overly clean feel.
The inside of the mouth has a meticulously detailed reddish/purple color filling the lower regions of a very detailed texture in the sculpt. A meaner red coats the higher elevations of this veiny ridge pattern. And if that’s not cool enough for you… look up! They did the same thing to the roof of the mouth which looks even better!
The tongue gets the same two-color treatment but with a muddy purple. (Which confuses me because the tongue was clearly red in the movie.)
It’s not really visible in my photos, but my figure has some slight red overspray around the mouth which, fortunately, can’t be seen with out a camera close-up.
Unfortunately, the teeth don’t look as great as the rest of the mouth. And don’t even begin to compare to the simpler, superior paint job on the original X-Plus 30cm Series Godzilla 1989. The care taken to paint each single tooth on the original (which you can see below) just didn’t happen on the Sakai version.
But, it probably couldn’t happen. The teeth on the Sakai ’89 are so small that they must have been very difficult to paint. They just covered them all in an off white and then added a tartar brown dabbed into the tiny crevices in between each tooth for shadowing. But the result is somewhat of a gunky mess if you look too closely. Even from normal viewing distances, the results look a little sloppy.
Despite the failed paint job, the teeth on the Sakai ’89 absolutely crush the original figure when it comes to being sculpted accurately.
The eyes on the Sakai ’89 are painted far more simply than the eyes on the original 30cm Series Godzilla 1989 which had a palate of brown, black and yellow. The Sakai has only black balls floating on a light brown. Fortunately, the glossiness of the paint used on the eyes picks up the light in the room adding a little specular twinkle for a “third color”.
But which eyes are more accurate? The original figure wins here. The Sakai ’89 eye colors are technically painted too simply. There are plenty of close-ups in the movie which show Godzilla’s eyes looking more complex than depticted on the Sakai ’89. However, there are scenes where the eyes “appear” to be just black and brown. You decide.
As is typical with X-Plus, the dorsal fins feather into a boney white along the edges and look great as usual. The smaller dorsal ridges that creep up to the head and all the way down to the tip of the tail fade out nicely. The claws seem to have gotten extra attention on this figure. They’re darker than usual, fading from a black to dark brown to dark tan at the tips.
Left to right: X-Plus Large Monster Series Godzilla 1989, 30cm Yuji Sakai Godzilla 1989 and the original 30cm Series Godzilla 1989.
TOHO 30CM SERIES YUJI SAKAI MODELING COLLECTION
Left to right: The Sakai Godzilla 1989, 1991, 1992 and 2001. This collection lines up perfectly with itself.
Left to right: Toho 30cm Series Godzilla 1964, Yuji Sakai Godzilla 1989 and Godzilla 2003. The Sakai ’89 will produce a dip in your 30cm Shelf skyline.
Left to right: Toho 30cm Series Godzilla 1968, 1984, Sakai 1989 and 2004.
The ’68 was the first “shortie” and was, for quite a while, the only one. But then came the ’84 and shortly after, the ’04 and now the Sakai ’89. This foursome is frustratingly short compared to the typical height of other Godzillas in the 30cm Series. But now they number high enough to make up exactly one third of the 30cm Series Godzilla catalog. If this keeps up, we won’t be able to call them short anymore and just accept the fact that the 30cm Series figures are simply no longer in perfect scale with each other.
Being short ain’t all bad! The fact that the Sakai ’89’s height really places it in a middle category between the Large Monsters Series and the 30cm Series makes it just a little closer to being in scale with the Large Monsters Series Biollante. I don’t think many OCD scale freaks will complain that much if you pair these two together on the shelf.
Despite it’s lack of height, this figure has a tail longer than most other figures in the series. It’s a whopping 15 inches long (20 inches from tail tip to toes) and reaches almost straight back with very little curves. This makes it just a little bit unfriendly on the shelf. For what’s it’s worth, the tail curves ever so slightly to the figure’s right so placing him on the shelf facing the right is the way to go, especially since this angle matches the scene from which this sculpt sprung.
This figure is freakishly AWESOME. It has a crazy-accurate sculpt and impressive details all over. While it lacks noticeable highlights and has gunky teeth, it’s good points far outweigh the bad. Despite my early apprehensions, the 30cm Series Yuji Sakai Godzilla 1989 is now one of my all-time favorite X-Plus figures. And certainly my absolute favorite Heisei figure.
I’m drooling over the very idea of a second entry into the Yuji Sakai Modelling Series. I pulled out my copy of the Yuji Sakai Dream Evolution book to take a peek at what could possibly come next but found very little as far as entries in the 30cm size range. I’m hoping this book either isn’t complete or that perhaps brand new sculpts might be on the way from Sakai.
Hurry, X-Plus! More of this, please!
By John Stanowski Originally posted October 13th, 2014 on Kaiju Addicts.
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