Billiken's Goro from Ultra-Q

Goro from Ultra-Q TV show


Sorry, I'm not Goroh and these aren't the milk cans you're looking for.

(Hey, I said I was sorry, didn't I?)

08/07/15- Kaiju obsession is a terrible affliction, boo effin hoo. It's not easy to get your fix of 12" Ultra-series monsters once you've gone through the relatively easy-to-find stuff. There aren't that many companies making this stuff, probably because it doesn't sell very well. New 12" releases from companies like Billiken and CCP are few and far between, and probably made in small batches, so they're often snapped up quickly by the Japanese maniacs. I think it's advantageous to read Japanese so you know when and what's going to be released.

Moreover, it's not easy to find out what's been released in the past, and even harder to find it for sale.

Billiken is a good example of this. I first learned that they made 12" scale Ultra kaiju because of eBay: I believe they made Gabora, and I know they made Gomora... but they hardly ever show up on eBay, and info about them on the WWW is scarce, even at Billiken's or collectors' websites.

I ran across this unbuilt kit of Goro at an online retailer of previously-owned goods. I believe the kit's from around 2002, based on a Billiken leaflet catalog included in the kit. It was cool seeing their product lineup for that year, but sad to realize that I already had most of their releases that I thought looked cool. I also noticed what wasn't in their catalog, older releases that I knew existed. So what other hard-to-find stuff that I don't know about is out there? Anyway, desperation is why I've been taking opportunities to buy second-tier releases that I might have been more selective about in the past. I also realize that I may have to scratch-build some of the stuff that I want that hasn't been and may never be released.

Goro's one of those second-tier kits. I'm not a huge fan of giant simian monsters. I suppose it's similar to the way that I have little interest in getting the Namegon (a giant snail monster) vinyl that I know exists, or a hypothetical kit of Mogera (a giant mole) that hasn't been made into a kit (as near as I can tell). Kit versions of giant real-world critters just don't seem as much like monsters to me as something reptilian or alien. It's not anything personal that I have against snails and moles. Heck, a live cat or squirrel would probably fit in with this scale.

Ultra-Q's second episode featured critter always looked kind of funky to me too. It's a great episode with a sad story, but the monster suit looked especially crude, with lifeless eyes and a hastily-sculpted face. There isn't much to like there. The man-in-a-suit version of King Kong from the same era (which the Goro suit was reputedly a modified version of) seems to have a more appealing look, even though it appears to have a similar sculpt quality. My theory is that King Kong looks better because he's sculpted to look mean. Goro is sculpted to look innocent and non-threatening. He's just a big monkey who doesn't spend much time being angry. So he looks kinda dopey.

Intentionally or not, Billiken seems to have captured the crudeness of the monster suit and the character's innocent quality in the sculpture. The face, hands, and feet have a rough-hewn quality. While the hands have fingernails, they're not crisply sculpted. The toes don't have nails at all, and look "dented". This goes with the sculpting style of the fur, which lacks crisp hair detail, and is more focused on broad strokes like the bunching and fit of the fur suit. I think it works well in consideration of the actual suit, which seems to have a short carpet-like fur instead of hair-like fur. From my own sculpting efforts, I believe that it takes skill and experience to know when to show restraint and to not over-sculpt (which is my affliction), especially with hair and fur. Gluing on real fur might help make it look more screen accurate, or it might just make it look like a plush doll.

The "kit" wasn't much of a kit, since it was pre-painted and most of the vinyl castings were already trimmed. The only work was cutting out the plugs in the torso casting, heating and inserting the parts. IMO, this isn't the kind of kit that one spends time puttying seams and repainting. The paint job is adequate and appropriate, and the limited arm poseability is useful. That leaves the lower legs and tail as the only candidates for puttying; IMO, it isn't worth it.

As sculpted, the right arm is supposed to be holding an (optional) casting of the creature's human friend, Goroh. (The kit does include two pewter castings of milk cans.) If you don't have the Goroh figure, it looks odd for the creature to be staring at his empty palm. The limited poseability of the arm takes care of that, and the sculpting of the fur permits posing it either way. You can't do that with the legs; they're sculpted to fit in a specific pose, with a slight amount of adjustment to ensure that both feet are flat on the surface.

"Scale" is a bit of a misnomer when talking about these 12"/30-cm monster figures, as is talking about the height. Within the group of figures/models/dolls that seem to display well together, rarely are they exactly 12" or 30-cm tall. Rarely are they a consistent scale, either. This is reasonable since they don't represent real-world creatures and shows in the era that they came from weren't obsessively concerned about observing a consistent scale defined by a fully fleshed-out backstory. If you collect these things, it behooves you to make peace with that; I find it more useful to disregard the world of the show that they appeared in and only consider if they look good displayed together. With Godzilla, who has grown from 50 meters to 150 meters through the years, having a collection of consistent-scale figures would present some challenges in displaying them. I don't think it would look very good as a display, either.

The Goro kit is a good example of that. By published nerdo-stats, Goro is 50 meters tall, but in the show, he's not much taller than a four-story building. At 40 meters tall, Ultraman should be shorter, but in the shows he towers above buildings taller than 4 stories. It might lead one to believe that a monster in a show is a big as he needs to be to fit a scene.

In a collection, height doesn't tell the full story either. When I learned that Goro was an 11" tall kit, I was concerned that he would appear puny displayed with taller figures. However, due to his bulk, the size of his face and hands, he looks oversized, like he could easily whup just about every other 12" kaiju in my collection. The assumption that Billiken makes kaiju garage kits that are slightly undersized compared to Medicom's RAH Ultra series figures isn't always true. They make 'em whatever the hell size they want to make them, and I'm cool with that.


Billiken Goro with Medicom Ultraman size comparison

Goro from Ultra-Q TV episode