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REVIEW / NECA Godzilla video game tribute figure

 

You know you’re in trouble when you have to call on a city-destroying monster to save you from even worse city-destroying aliens. Such is the Saw-esque plight that has befallen humanity in 1988’s Godzilla: Monster of Monsters, the loveable lizard’s 8-bit debut on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Published by Toho, the studio who created Godzilla and produced his films, it was actually a pretty solid side-scrolling action game. Inhabitants from the mysterious Planet X are attempting to conquer the universe, starting with Earth; with a legion of space monsters at their disposal, it’s up to Godzilla to travel from planet to planet, repelling the invasion forces and saving the earth…so he can wreck it himself, at at a later date of his choosing. You can also play as Mothra, but let’s be honest: living wrecking ball Godzilla is who we were there to play as, and who we are thrilled to see years later immortalized in action figure form as part of Neca’s video game tribute series.

 

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Neca’s popular line of video game tribute figures takes existing sculpts and gives them a new paint job to look like their classic 8-bit and 16-bit incarnations. Even the packaging gets a makeover. Neca has once again gone out of their way to craft a pitch-perfect homage to the original NES video game box art. The 1988 cover is still a thing of terrifying beauty, featuring the King of Kaijus in all his grindhouse glory; he’s spitting thermo-nuclear beams as 1960s era flying saucers gently, oh so gently tickle him with lightning. Neca has made only a few tongue-in-cheek changes; a nod to the game which was in turn a nod to the movies. It’s attention to details like this that really elevate these video game tributes above the common action figure fare.

 

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Like their other video game tribute figures, Godzilla comes in a video game-styled box, complete with mock wear and tear around the edges. On the front of the box, in the lower right hand corner where Nintendo’s signature golden sunburst is usually found, is a familiar looking NECA-branded seal of quality. On the back of the box, screenshots have been replaced with pictures of the figure, along with the diminutive – but no less deadly! – sprite from the game on which it’s based. They’ve even kept some of the text from the original game box, with a few action figure-appropriate tweaks.

 

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Opening the front flap reveals actual graphics from the game, specifically the hexagonal grid that served as the world map for each planet. For the millennials among you, each space on the chess-like board represented either a short side-scrolling level or a fighting game-style battle. But our monster was not mindless; he didn’t stomp, punch and kick his way through life without reflecting on it, as evidenced by the touchingly contemplative scene behind him in his windowed packaging, taken straight from the game’s somber ending. Could he be reflecting on the words of another infamous monster, “My person was hideous and my stature gigantic. What did this mean? Who was I? What was I? Whence did I come? What was my destination? These questions continually recurred, but I was unable to solve them.” You and me both, ‘Zilla. You and me both.

 

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This is basically Neca’s Godzilla 1985 figure with some minor modifications. In the spirit of full disclosure, the 1985 figure wasn’t well-received by some diehard Godzilla fans, who were hypercritical of the sculpt. So if it bugged you that one of his toenails was longer than all the others in the 1985 figure, it’s still going to bug you. But I’m not reviewing this as a diehard Godzilla fan, rather as a diehard video game fan. And as a diehard video game fan, I think this figure is pretty damn cool. The bright blue paint job brings out so much more detail in the sculpt than Godzilla’s traditional dark olive coloration. Viewed dead on, the video game-mimicking pixelation is a little too sparse – a couple of pixel patches on his chest give him the 8-bit nipples he never knew he needed – but in profile (which is how he appeared in-game) the effect is striking. The colors particularly pop on his decade-appropriate “Mohawk,” a.k.a. the huge center row of spikes running down his spine, which have been entirely re-sculpted to match his more pronounced 8-bit silhouette.

 

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Though less game-accurate, he’d be no less imposing without the updated ‘do. This Godzilla stands 6″ tall, but measured from head to tail he’s nearly 12″ long. His tail is so long, in fact, that the last 4″ had to be separated to fit in the box. And while I’m talking tail, I have to say I was impressed by the amount of articulation they managed to pack into one of Godzilla’s favorite and most formidable weapons. The removable “tail root” is attached to the base of the spine via a ball joint, and is divided into four sections that can each rotate 360°; this is capped with another ball joint, where the wired “tail tip” attaches. Though he has peg holes in both feet, all you need is his massive tail to help balance him in a variety of mid-mayhem poses. In total, there are 30 points of articulation, including bendable tail; his elbows and knees are on swivel joints, his jaw is on a hinge joint, and the rest of him – ankles, wrists, hips, shoulders, torso, base of the neck and base of the skull –  is chock full of ball joints. But be warned: if your figure is like mine you’ll need to carefully free up the stiff joints, a little prehistoric Pilates.

 

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“Alas, poor King Kong! I knew him, Mothra; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy”

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He might not look exactly like his 8-bit incarnation, but this pixelated paint job just screams game sprite; seriously, it might come across as a little goofy in pictures, but looks absolutely awesome in person. This figure really stands out among NECA’s already impressive lineup of video game tribute figures as a “must have” addition to your collection. Even if you don’t have any nostalgia for Godzilla: Monster of Monsters on the original Nintendo Entertainment System, it’s still a bright blue Godzilla!

 

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