Sunday, March 3, 2013

Review: S.H. Monsterarts Destoroyah (Final/Perfect Form)

Introduction:  When the final film in the Heisei (or Versus) series of Godzilla films rolled around, fans of the Big G were in for a shock: Godzilla was going to die. For his final opponent, Toho decided to go full circle and tie the enemy monster's origins in with the weapon that killed the original Godzilla: The Oxygen Destroyer. Dubbed Destoroyah, the beast (in it's final form) looked like a demonic hybrid of arthropod and dragon.  Considered by many to be the ultimate Godzilla enemy, Destoroyah went through a somewhat complicated life cycle (mirroring the Showa era villain, Hedorah). Starting out as a microscopic life form awakened and mutated by the Oxygen Destroyer, Destoroyah evolved into bear sized crab-like monsters with a deadly micro oxygen ray.  After that the crustacean changed into an enormous aggregate form, sporting newly developed tentacles.  Still not finished, Destoroyah's penultimate stage was a legless flying form.  And finally, the beast evolved into it's towering, demonic perfect form.

His first act in his final form was to murder Godzilla Junior.  This set the stage for the King of the Monster's last fight, with Godzilla seeking revenge on the monster that killed his son.

When S.H. Monsterarts Destoroyah was announced mere days before New York Comic-Con, fans were in a frenzy.  The last Heisei supervillain was finally going to be rendered in highly detailed, super articulated form!  What's more, the prototype was on display at the Comic-Con sending the hype through the roof!

The question is:  Was it worth wait?  Read on and find out! 

It's the Destoroyah Signal!

Package (5/5):  The box is typical Monsterarts fare, with a large and menacing portrait of Destoroyah's distinctive head to the right of the display window. Speaking of which, this figure is arranged in a very appealing, front-facing way inside the box. This makes it a MIB collector's dream, as it displays well both in and out of the package.  The tail is actually separated this time, and is tucked behind the main bubble to save space.  A wise decision, as it ended up being less costly than King Ghidorah to ship.  The side and back have some nice promotional images, and the top has a cool logo shaped like the monster's head.  Overall, it's just as appealing as most S.H. Monsterarts boxes.  That is to say, very.

Sculpt (5/5):  Stunning. This is an extremely complicated sculpt, and Shinichi Wakasa nails it. Destoroyah's armored carapace has several different types of surface: Rough, bumpy areas, relatively flat, grooved surfaces, and extremely spiky, ribbed sections. It really gives the impression of an arthropod's shell, and is very appropriate. Large horns are sharply sculpted, as are the claws on Destoroyah's hands, knees, and feet are scarred and grooved like real claws. 

Destoroyah's head is a veritable cornucopia of fine details. The intricate head crests are perfectly accurate to the character, as are the brow ridges. It jaws are insanely detailed, with sharply sculpted individual teeth (both inside and outside the mouth). Cool little details are present as well, like the second set of teeth on the roof of his mouth and the two smaller horns behind his head. Destoroyah's tusks are impressive as well, and contain a surprise (more on that later). The cranial horn is film accurate, gradually becoming narrow and then thick again right before the incredibly sharp tip.

Destoroyah's main wings are large and bat-like, with a bony frame and leathery sections stretched between. The sculpted aspect of these is very well done. Destoroyah's chest has his trademark "floral pattern, which looks great. Below that is a series of small spur-like projections adorning layered armor. The secondary wings are solid, miniature versions of the large wings. They lack the extreme detail of the larger wings, and are easily my least favorite part of the sculpt. 

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Destoroyah's sculpt is the armor on his back and tail. It is layered, bumped, and ribbed, and works extremely well visually. It simply has to be seen in person to be appreciated. The tail terminates in deadly, pincer-like claws. These look particularly nasty, and are perfectly suited to Destoroyah's demonic appearance.

Overall, this sculpt is easily the most intricate I've ever seen on a figure in this scale.  It must be seen to be believed.  

 Paint (5/5):  Like the sculpt, the paint work on S.H. Monsterarts Destoroyah is extremely detailed and gorgeous. Various shades of red accentuate the complicated shape of the figure perfectly. There are bright red hues for the tips of the spikes that adorn Destoroyah's body, and darker coloration on the wider, flatter surfaces. The toe claws, knee claws, hand claws, teeth, and tusks are flawlessly painted, with no slop in sight. And the floral pattern is a perfect shade of yellow. The result is nothing short of stunning and easily the most detailed paint job of any Monsterarts figure to date. Just awesome.

Note:  While some are put off by the translucent red eyes (which were actually yellow in the film) I love them. They shine demonic red when lit properly, and add to the overall evil look of the figure.

Articulation (3/5):  When it comes to articulation, Destoroyah is a mixed bag. In an effort to make the figure's wings steadier and more durable, Tamashii engineered the shoulders using ball joints. The wings are connected to the outer part of a free floating shoulder section.   This is a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, the wings are much less likely to snap off (like the fragile wings of King Ghidorah).  One the other hand, the shoulders tend to be dragged down by the weight of the wings.  As a result of the somewhat odd articulation, the shoulder sections actually sit much lower on the torso than in the film.  There's also a space between the torso and shoulder.  This can be adjusted slightly, but not to the point of film accuracy.

On the wings themselves, there is a series of movable plastic plates.  These plates can be shifted slightly.  However, due to the fact that they are loose and a bit flimsy, it's not recommended that you mess around with them too much.  About midway up the wing there's a minuscule ball joint.  It doesn't allow much movement, and seems pretty pointless.  

Aside from those negative points there's a lot to love about the articulation.  There is an unbelievable amount of movement in Destoroyah's thick, armored neck.  The legs and arms have a good range of motion as well, in spite their thickness.  The thighs in particular have a sort of inner sheath where they meet the body.  This was most likely added to preserve the aesthetic when spreading the legs outward.  The mouth articulation works better than Godzilla 1995's and can sit flat against the upper jaw.  Destoroyah's fingers are articulated, which is a Monsterarts first.  The fingers are ball jointed and have a surprising range of movement!  The biggest surprise of all though, was the tusks around Destoroyah's jaws.  They actually have articulation!!

Destoroyah's tail is awesome.  Just like his neck, it has an excellent range of motion despite its thickness.  The clawed tip on the end has slight articulation.  

Overall articulation is a mixed bag.  What's done well is done EXTREMELY well, but there were some questionable decisions regarding the wing and shoulders which drag the score down.     

Uh-oh it's Godzilla!  Better whip out the big guns!

Laser Horn!  Oh, uhhhh....

Hey, here's the Micro Oxygen Ray-

It... oh...

Accessories (0/5):  Nothing to see here, folks.  No Laser Horn, no Micro Oxygen Ray, no nothing.    Pretty disappointing.  This line seems to be moving away from the effect parts and other accessories.  It's a shame, really.                       

Yikes!  That's a thin wing connection! 

WATCH OUT!  First off, the large cranial horn is VERY sharp, so keep this figure out of reach of children! Second, the mid wing connector is very thin. It seems strong, but be cautious! Third, the wing plates seem a bit flimsy. And finally, the tail claws seem like they could potentially be fragile.  Placing them around Godzilla's neck and dragging him is not recommended.

Overall 4/5:  As with most S.H. Monsterarts releases, this is easily the best figure of Destoroyah available. It is insanely detailed, and extremely well painted. A couple of glaring issues drag the overall score down, though. The wing plates are the most obvious.  And I'm really not a fan of Tamashii's decision to nix the accessories. The lack of Destoroyah's signature attack, the Horn Katana (Laser Horn), is very disappointing. Regardless, I recommend this figure to any fans of the character as it is absolutely beautiful on display.

It was nice that we got through the entire review without Destoroyah trying to murder Junior...  Oh...
Spoke too soon.

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