Introduction: The third giant monster introduced by Toho (after Godzilla and Anguirus) the immense pterosaur Rodan has always enjoyed immense popularity among kaiju fans. It was no surprise then that Toho resurrected him for their Heisei Godzilla series in 1993's Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II. It was a surprise, however, that he was portrayed as one of the smaller monsters. At a "mere" 70 meters, he was dwarfed by the rest of the film's 100+ meter monster cast. Toho made up for this by giving him a scrappy attitude and no small amount of power. After being defeated by Godzilla early in the film, Rodan also changes into a more powerful form, dubbed "Fire Rodan". With this transformation the pterosaur gained an orange/red coloration and his own projectile attack: The Uranium Beam!
Fast forward to last year's Tamashii Winter Festival. The prototype for S.H. Monsterarts Fire Rodan was shown and generated a lot of excitement. The details were sharp, the colors were perfect... It was a real work of art and a Heisei Rodan fan's dream come true.
The figure was released in July, and of course Yours Truly was chomping a hold of the little guy. Was he worth the wait? Read on and find out:
Packaging (5/5): The packaging for S.H. Monsterarts Fire Rodan is nothing out of the ordinary. It has the standard promo pics on the back. It has a clear plastic bubble on the front so that you can see the figure inside. And it has a nice graphic of Fire Rodan's head and neck on the bottom and right side of the box. Granted the configuration is different due to Rodan's unusual shape, but it's still very similar to past releases. So why the perfect score? For one reason only: It's just beautiful. The main color of the box is a fiery red and the picture of Rodan on the front (as well as the clear bubble) leaves absolutely no mystery as to what you're getting. It's very straightforward, and very aesthetically pleasing.
Sculpt (4.5/5): This is very nice sculpt with a single flaw that keeps it from being perfect. We'll get to that in a minute, though... On to the good stuff! First off, this is an incredibly detailed sculpt. Rodan is covered in individually sculpted spines, barbs, and teeth. Despite his small size these details are very sharp. His reptilian skin is covered in armored scales, pits, wrinkles, and grooves. Rodan's leathery wings have a realistic, bat-like look and texture. His legs and feet are well done too, resembling those of a bird (with overlapping scutes to drive the point home!). His spiky neck and horns are faithfully reproduced and perfectly capture the look of the monster. Most impressive of all are the various barbed scales that comprise his chest armor. They overlap each other, resulting in a very realistic and beautiful layered pattern. It's somewhat reminiscent of samurai armor.
The sculpt isn't perfect, however. The beak of Fire Rodan (in both the film and the prototype) is supposed to come to a rather sharp point. The beak on the production piece has a rounded tip, resulting in a soft appearance. It's also lopsided, and the left side of his jaw bulges and droops, giving the cartoonish appearance of someone talking out the side of his mouth.
It does not kill the aesthetic. It is annoying that a high end figure would have such a problem, however.
Paint (3.5/5): Fire Rodan's paint is absolutely perfect... From the neck down. The body is a beautiful and bright orange/red with various accents and shades of cream, orange, and yellow. The work on the inside of the leathery wings and the chest armor have to be seen to be believed.
And then there's the head. The eyes are sloppily painted gold, giving Rodan a crazed look. The painters failed to over the beak in solid gray (like in the film). The red from the beak pokes through from underneath! The horns are painted nicely, but the rest of the head is rather distracting. All in all, it's disappointing and hurts the aesthetic.
Note: Drew mentioned that Tamashii seems to have issues with gold paint. That would explain the eye issues. Hopefully there are no strange gold paint issues when Ghidorah comes around.
Articulation (3/5): The articulation on Fire Rodan is, like the paint, very disappointing. It's not because the articulation is lacking... It's due to a very annoying issue. But again, let's focus on the good first. Rodan is very articulated for such a small figure. He has the following articulation: a ball jointed lower jaw, several ball jointed segments on his head and neck, double ball joints where the torso meets the wing (covered by a sheath to cover the obvious joint), several hinged sections on the wings (allowing for what would be a good range of movement), hinged wrists, ball jointed hips, double hinged knees, ball jointed ankles, and several segmented ball jointed sections make up the tail.
For a figure of this size and style, that's more than a decent amount of articulation. However, it's not the amount of articulation that is responsible for the low score. It's the fact that Rodan is very flimsy, with several joints that can't support their own weight. The ends of the wings in particular (as well as the tail) often fall out of place with the slightst provocation. Unfortunately this limits the posing possibilities quite a bit. Overall the articulation on this figure was quite disappointing.
Accessories (5/5): Now we get to where this figure truly shines! Fire Rodan comes with a plethora of accessories that really add to its value. It comes with: Three stands: One for Fire Rodan (including and arm and cradle for flying and a special cradle for hovering/standing, and personalized with Fire Rodan's picture and name), one for the Uranium Beam (With "Pteranodon Forever" and a picture of the pterosaur of that name printed on it; referencing a certain character in the film's fascination with the species), and one for Godzilla's Spiral Ray; Two beams: the Uranium Beam, and Godzilla's Spiral Ray; and an extra head for Mechagodzilla depicting his pecked out eye he received in a skirmish with Rodan. The stands are pretty cool, and they hold Rodan and the Uranium Beam well. The beam itself is made from a translucent purple plastic and fits relatively well in the monster's mouth. Godzilla's Red Spiral Ray looks incredible, and is molded in translucent plastic. It's a solid, thick beam with spirals of energy swirling around it. And Mechagodzilla's extra head is a very nice touch. It sports a dark colored lens for his right eye with a hole in the center.
Overall, the accessories are definitely the best part of this figure. The are numerous and they all make sense. Even Godzilla's Spiral Ray is justified in its inclusion: After all, Godzilla gained the ability to use it after Rodan sacrificed himself to save him.
Watch Out! Rodan falls apart easily. His tail falls off and the sheath around the tip of the tail is tiny. It could easily be lost. Also Rodan's stomach spikes are sturdy and SHARP! This is a collector's figure and should be kept away from small children.
Overall (4/5): I was tempted to give this a lower score... However, it is still a very nice looking figure that blows the old vinyl version out of the water as far as sculpt, scale, and articulation go. The accessories partially make up for the fairly unstable joints by supporting the figure. And it one of the cheapest releases in the line. I recommend this figure to fans of Fire Rodan, S.H. Monsterarts collectors, and fans of the Heisei Godzilla series in general. However, if you're on the fence about it it won't kill you to skip it. Overall, I'm a bit disappointed but I don't regret the purchase. His size, color and shape ensure that he will be a unique piece on any S.H. Monsterarts shelf.
Note: S.H. Monsterarts Fire Rodan is actually smaller than the retailers list him as. Not a deal breaker for me, seeing as he's actually in scale with Godzilla.