Tag Archives: Kaiju movies

X-Plus War of Gargantuas Vinyl Figures – Rondo Awards 2015 Best Toy Category

Collecting the Rondo Awards 2015 Best Toy Category – Part 6

X-Plus War of Gargantuas Vinyl Figures

I continue my series profiling each of the 2015 Rondo Awards nominees for Best Toy/Model/Collectible category with the X-Plus set of vinyl figures from Toho’s 1966 kaiju classic, War of the Gargantuas.

X-Plus War of Gargantuas Vinyl Figures - Rondo Awards 2015 Best Toy Category
PHOTO: JOHN STANOWSKI / KAIJU ADDICTS

 

NOTE: I recently wrote a Monster Kid Memories piece about the impact War of the Gargantuas had on me as a formative Monster Kid when my 5-year-old self tried (unsuccessfully) to watch this movie after convincing my parents to let me stay up late to watch it on TV.   This event was extremely influential in my life-long passion for monsters of the movies.  While I don’t consider this one of my favorite monster, or even kaiju, movies, it certainly is one of the most influential.  If you’re interested, you can read this post by clicking here.

The purpose of this series is two-fold:

  1. review the nominees for Best Toy, Model, Collectible category in the 201 5 Rondo Awards
  2. provide current availability and pricing

I’m not an expert on vinyl figures.  I’m intrigued by them and have been tempted for years to dabble though the price points have kept me at bay so far.  To date, I’ve continued to focus my limited collecting budget on vintage collectibles but if there is a category that could pull me into modern collectibles (other than comics) it is these high-quality, realistic Japanese vinyl figures from companies like X-Plus.

X-Plus, the company behind these amazing figures, specializes in highly detailed soft vinyl figures from the Godzilla, Gamera and Ultraman franchises as well as other Japanese anime and fantasy films.

Product Details

  • MSRP:  $170.00 (sold out at retail)
  • PX Previews Exclusive” on front of package
  • 2014 Diamond release re-issue
  • Material: Soft Vinyl
  • Series:  TOHO 30CM
  • Sanda 12″, Gaira 10.5″

Vinyl figure collectors are a passionate lot, especially kaiju vinyl figure collectors.  Given my lack of expertise in this category, I’m going to defer to two of the more passionate collectors in this field.

First up is this comprehensive video review by Richard Eso from his Fresh Vinyl channel on YouTube:

 

Next, I highly recommend you click the link below and head over to kaijuaddicts.com to read John Stanowski’s review of this figure set.  John is the voice behind Kaijuaddicts.com, which is a gold-mine of information for anyone interested in learning more about X-Plus, vinyl kaiju figures and collecting vinyl in general.  If you’re like me, after you read this review you’ll want to bookmark this site and spend some more time on it–ALOT more time in my case as I’ve found this to be a very informative and readable blog for kaiju vinyl collectors.

Full review over at Kaijuaddicts.com


Where to Find the X-Plus War of Gargantuas Vinyl Figures

In short, good luck!

Both of the reviewers above made it clear that collecting vinyl figures means pre-ordering from Previews or through your local Diamond retailer or face the immediate mark up of the reseller marketplace.

Since the standard process is to pre-order these figures, it’s not surprising that my research didn’t find any in stock at the usual sites.  It appears that another release is in the works, but X-Plus and Diamond have not yet provided specific details on the date.  Since this is a fairly new release, I would expect individual items to begin show up on auction sites and in dedicated collector marketplaces from time to time, but given the passion of X-Plus collectors and the desirability of these particular figures, expect to pay a handsome markup if you are lucky enough to find these guys for sale.

Summary

I’ve learned a lot about soft vinyl figures and X-Plus in writing this post and my interest is piqued.

I’m definitely going to keep an eye out on upcoming releases and pre-order through my local comic shop if something catches my eye — for example, X-Plus just released a gorgeous diecast model of the Nautilus from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea which I would LOVE to have since that is one of my all-time-favorite movies.  Just released in January 2015, t’s selling for $350 on Amazon and over $500 on Amazon

I can certainly see why any vinyl kaiju or X-Plus collector would want to have these figures in their collection.  Not only is War of the Gargantuas one of the best non-Godzilla kaiju films from the 1960s (my opinion) but these figures just look great.  I understand some of the issues with the paint jobs, but as a collector of vintage monster toys, I’m in awe of the realism and detail of these guys and X-Plus figures in general.  The paint jobs certainly are minor in my opinion

I’d love to have these Gargantua figures in my collection thought I doubt I’ll be shelling out $500 or more for them in the near future.

That Nautilus model on Amazon at $350, however…..

 

 

Lesson #2: Monster Movies are Scary

Monster movies are scary.

It’s a lesson I learned early in my journey to becoming a monster kid.  How one responds to that fear is what separates monster kids from everybody else.  Monster kids love the monsters that scare them.

This is the story of how I learned this lesson and how I responded.

My parents were naively trusting. Either that, or they cunningly knew I wouldn’t make it 5 minutes into the movie.  Maybe it was a little of both.  Whatever the reason, they agreed to let me stay up past my bedtime to watch WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS on the network Friday Night Movie.  It was 1971 and I was 5 years old.

The previous summer, I had seem my first monster movie, King Kong, at the public library and I was hooked.  I checked out every library book on movie monsters I could find over the course of that summer and did the same at the school library when summer ended.  Books were good, but in the days before streaming and even VHS tapes, actually seeing a monster movie was a big deal.  Especially when you were my age.

Each week, I scoured the new issue of TV Guide and circled the movies I wished I could see.  I had an early bedtime, so my options were limited.  Then I saw it– the ABC Friday Night at the Movies World Premiere Event — WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS.

I found this TV Guide Ad from 1974 on eBay — though not the channel or the year I discovered this movie, it is similar to the ad that captured my imagination in 1971:

TV-Guide-War-of-Gargantuas

I had never heard of this movie before seeing this ad, but I knew about Ringling Brothers’ Gargantua.  So I figured, by name and appearance, this movie was going to be like a crazy version of KING KONG with two monsters.  I knew had to see this movie, and I carefully prepared my campaign to convince my parents began.  To my surprise, they agreed to let me stay up and watch it as soon as I asked.  Naive, or wiley…always the question.

I spent the rest of the week in complete anticipation of that night.  At last, Friday night arrived and I sat in front of the TV with baited breath.

Fans of this movie know it wastes absolutely no time in getting to the thrills or, in the case of my 5 year-old-self, the terror.

As the eerie sounds of the theremin played over the opening sequence, we see a ship at sea.  With lightening crackling overhead, a lone captain mans the ship against the coming storm.  Within seconds, an octopus tentacle snakes through an open door of the ship and wraps around the captain’s leg.  He fights it off, only to be ensnared again by another tentacle.  We then see the massive octopus, larger than the boat, as it begins to pull the helpless sailor toward it.  Suddenly, the captain is free and the tentacles gone.  The startled and relieved sailor looks out to see an epic battle raging between the giant octopus and something else– a humanoid of massive proportion.  This gargantua kills the octopus, but it’s intent was not to save the captain and his ship.  He then grabs the vessel and, like a child in the bath tub, rocks the boat violently, trying to get at the tasty human morsels inside.

That was enough for me.  I turned off the TV and ran to find my parents.  I hadn’t even made it to the opening title of the film.

I have since seen this movie many times.  I watched it earlier today as I prepared to write this and, out of curiosity, I timed the opening scene at 3:58.  I had convinced my parents to let me stay up late to watch a monster movie and I made it all of 4 minutes.

Where KING KONG made me feel excited and sad, WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS scared me.

This movie taught me an important lesson about monster movies — they were SCARY!

Of course, becoming a monster kid meant facing your fears and watching the movie.  For me, this happened incrementally.

PLANET of the APES was my next attempt.

I made it all the way to corn fields before giving in to the my fear.  I didn’t even get to see the apes in my first effort.  But I made it past the frightening scenes of death in the spaceship and the disturbing, anxiety-provoking music and Taylor’s trek across the Forbidden Zone.  Progress.

But that’s a story for another time.

Attempting to watch GARGANTUAS was a critical step for me as a five-year-old.  Perhaps more important, I didn’t let my fear stop me.  I remained curious about monsters and I kept coming back for more.  I was becoming a Monster Kid.

 


 

If you haven’t seen WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS in a long time or, Heaven forbid,  you’ve never seen it, click on the image below to stream it on Amazon Instant Video.  This is a fun 60’s monster movie and, in my opinion, one of the best non-Godzilla kaiju films ever: