Saturday, March 2, 2013

Toy Review: West Kenji SD Godzilla and Minilla

Today's review is a toy set that means a lot to me personally for a variety of reasons.  I've been a huge fan of  Godzilla movies since I was a young boy, and though I am a collector, I don't own much in the way of Godzilla memorabilia.  However, when I saw this kit at a local comic shop many years ago, it just seemed to call to me.  West Kenji was a Japanese manufacturer of soft vinyl model kits featuring the likenesses of a variety of characters from the Godzilla universe.  Regrettably, West Kenji seems to have closed up shop.  I'm not at all sure when they stopped producing these kits, but this particular one was released in 2003.  It's a shame as I would have liked to pick up a few more.

When I was young I used to spend a good portion of my free time painting lead and resin miniatures for use with role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons.  Knowing that acrylic paints would work well with vinyl as well, I started in on painting this set almost immediately.  This was my first try at such a kit, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well it all worked out.  Vinyl models like these usually come in parts and need to be fitted together.  In the case of this set, the heads, arms, and legs were all separate from the bodies.  It was a snap to trim off any extra gray vinyl from the parts and assemble the two figures.  My biggest worry was that when painted, any movement of the parts would wind up rubbing the paint off from around the joints.  However, time has shown this to be a baseless fear.  These two might as well be small mass-production toys in regards to their durability.  I won't go into much detail of how I actually painted these up, but a variety of techniques yielded up a pretty nice look.

If you don't already know, SD stands for "super deformed" which refers to a particular style of Japanese caricature.  SD characters are usually drawn with large heads, and small arms and legs, as if they were children.  There are actually quite a few lines of SD toys that represent anime characters, giant monsters (or kaiju), robots (Gundam especially), and so on.  The design of Godzilla in this kit follows his appearance in the late 60's film, "Son of Godzilla," along with his baby, Minilla.  It is entirely appropriate that this kid-friendly movie's heroes wind up in miniaturized form.

Here is the end result of my paint job on these particular SD figures.  Godzilla stands about four inches high, and Minilla measures around two and a half inches.


The texture on the figures is quite nice, and detail accurately represents the look of the monster suits from the movies.  Although Godzilla is technically supposed to be a charcoal gray color in the films, I chose to add a bit of green to his skin tone.  This is how Godzilla was always represented in toy form when I was a child.

Godzilla looks good from just about any angle.

The seams for arms, legs, and neck can be seen here.  Each can rotate 360 degrees.

He's got a minimum of articulation, but this is hardly abnormal for a vinyl figure.  Godzilla's characteristic dorsal fins are nicely represented here.

Minilla has the same level of detail as Godzilla, if not the same number of points of articulation.  Minilla's head, and arms can be rotated.

Minilla just looks like a baby Godzilla.  He hasn't even grown his fins yet!  In the films, Godzilla is often shown teaching him the ropes of being a giant monster, including how to breath fire.  Minilla seems only to be able to puff out smoke rings, however.

Godzilla is always looking out for Minilla.  Oddly, there never is a mention of Momzilla anywhere in the movies.

"I love you, Daddy!"

This is a phrase any father would long to hear, and it's part of why I love this movie so much.  I am always reminded of my own relationship with my boys when I watch it.  It's just a really cute and fun movie, and they seem to love it as much as I do.  This kit, too, was a lot of fun to build and paint, and I still get a lot of joy out of it to this day.


  1. These are favorites for me too! I love that you painted them, but I think it is fantastic that just as I loved watching Minilla and Godzilla with my Dad (and then pretending to be them with him), our boys carry on this tradition with you.
    No Mrs. Gojira, hmmmmmmm. Note to self: when giving the birds and the bees speech, leave out giant mutated Japanese monsters. They don't do it like that!

  2. This is awesome dad! You have such amazing pictures and I cant believe you painted them yourself!!!! Im impressed!

  3. What about a Sculpy Momzilla? It is 2013, you know, and way past time for Mom-monsters to be represented in their essential domestic fullness,Mrs. Schreck notwithstanding.