Medicom RAH Gyaos Gamera


08/21/15- After getting Medicom's RAH 1954 Godzilla, I became interested in finding out what else Medicom had in their non-Ultra series lineup. It appears that they've released a couple versions of Godzilla (King Kong vs. Godzilla and Mothra vs. Godzilla), plus a couple of Daiei's Gamera franchise critters, Gamera and Gyaos. I've never been a big fan of the look of the flying turtle, but I was interested in Gyaos because he's a winged critter, and I built a model of him when I was a kid. I don't have as deep a nostalgic connection to it as I do the Ultraman stuff, so I'm willing to concede that the vintage Gyaos looks funky compared to the newer 1995 version.

I don't know when Medicom first released this, but I suspect it was pre-2000. I bought this one "used"; the box looked pretty beat-up, with a blue Gyaos pictured on the front (even though Gyaos looks dark/burgandy-colored in the 1967 "Gamera vs. Gyaos" movie). As you can see, this one's silver, which would be the "Space Gyaos" from the movie "Gamera vs Guiron". I assume that this is a re-release and that it was first released in a different color, blue or burgandy.

The Combat Joe figure that came with it was cast in a transparent smoked plastic (like their RAH Alien figure), with the actor's head-banded head stuck on. The figure seemed very old and parts were very loose, so I'm not sure if it originally came with the kit. Not a big deal since I didn't plan to use the figure: I stuck the head on the flesh-colored Combat Joe figure from the Godzilla kit for the picture above. If you're not too picky, it's kinda cool as a movie-themed decorative accessory, but nearly worthless as an armature for a rubber-suit monster, especially Gyaos.

Whereas the Godzilla rubber suit was self-supporting without the figure inside, the Gyaos rubber suit isn't, even without the rubber wings; the legs need something inside them for rigidity. The soft rubber wings are large, hollow castings that make the suit considerably heavier and top-heavy. Building this guy was going to require a lot of straying from the instructions... in other words, an interesting challenge.

Medicom RAH Gyaos Gamera

Initial build picture: He's huge and consumes a lot of display space, even when his wings are posed folded. He's also going to need a lot of work, including determining whether he can be painted. The soft rubberish material is quite slick and even hot glue has a hard time sticking to it. There are many other challenges, such as figuring out how I'm going to close the suit's back opening and attach the cover casting. The adhesive-backed velcro had peeled off, which prompts me to find another, more reliable way of doing it. I also need to figure out a better way of handling how the wings fit in the body -- big problem, more on that later.

The first and easiest part was the armature... easy, because I found my box of leftover Armaverse armature parts. Armaverse is still around, although they have newer versions of the kit (which weren't in stock when I checked, and were more expensive than they used to be... big surprise). Nevertheless, the old stuff worked just fine for building a 3-segment leg/foot assembly, hips, short spine, shoulder, 1-segment arm, and neck.

Medicom RAH Gyaos armature

The leg assembly fit perfectly. I used long segments which placed the knee joint right where it needed to be. Surprisingly, the long segment also worked for the foot, since it's a long foot. The terminating dumbell ball joint filled out the hollow middle toe. I was very pleased with the way this worked out because the long foot segment gives more stability than a short one, and the heavy hips/leg/foot structure helps offset the inherently top-heavy design. The articulation armature makes it a pretty heavy beast! Understand that, even with an optimal armature, the legs are cast with a bent knee pose and just too big and hollow to show much of the results of posing the armature. The rubber's not stretchy enough for the feet to be posed at 90 degrees for a flying pose.

The instructions show two wire segments per wing, enclosed in plastic tubes with the claw in the middle. These plug into the Combat Joe's forearms (with hands removed). Although I did build an Armaverse shoulders/arm assembly, the main wing support comes from a long heavy gauge wire that spans from wingtip to wingtip. My adaptation has the long single wire threaded through the tubes, through the body and through the other wing. The armature's arm segment fits a short distance in the wing and provides additional support for the wire. Ideally, in place of the wire, you'd use a custom wing segment with low-profile hinge at the hands. There's nothing like that in my Armaverse kit, so wire is good 'nuff.

The big construction challenge is how to attach the wings so that they look acceptable, while retaining some degree of poseability. As I mentioned, the wings are big, hollow flexible castings. You trim off the flash at the end, guided by a line. However, there's another faint line cast in the rubber, maybe half an inch in. It appears (instructions are in Japanese) that this excess is supposed to be inserted into the body through a long slit made in the side of the body, and the line indicates where the wing exits the slits. The instructions seem to show 3 spots on the front where the wing is to be glued to the body. They match the wing ribs to the ribs on the body. I made the mistake of assuming that it would be better to glue the entire wing length to the body, front and back side. First, there was the problem of finding a glue that worked. Super glue didn't seem to, and hot glue peeled off. Contact cement showed the most promise, but didn't hold up to the stretching.

From my experiment with hot glue, I saw that posing the wing forward or back pulled the body with it, making it pooch out at the sides, or open at the back. To pose the wings without deforming the body, the wings shouldn't be attached to the body, but should slide freely inside the slit. I spent a lot of time with glue and staples before I realized this. Of course, this meant that in front and behind the wings, there were large open slits. Looked fine from the front, but from the side it looked like a large opening unless the torso and wing were posed just right.

I thought of a few possible ways to mitigate (not solve) the problem. One approach was to rigidize the body casting by gluing foam to it so that it held its shape better, and would be less likely to pooch out/in at the sides. Of course, if the torso pose were changed, the torso would distort. All this does is preserve the torso shape in the at-stasis pose.

Another approach would be to make the wings thinner by cutting off one side of the hollow casting. The thinner wing would have less differential movement between the front and back sides when the wing were bent, so the wing could be glued to the torso, sealing the slit. Problems: There would still be some pulling of the torso (and distortion), the backside of the wing would be a smooth casting, and cutting the wings apart isn't a reversible modification. Of course, the wing could be totally remade out of leather. As with all things like this, it's a matter of how much time, effort, and expense you want to put in. Did I mention that this isn't a personal favorite kaiju?

Medicom RAH Gyaos Gamera Nitto plastic kit

I didn't know that he shot fire from his tits!
This pic of a model kit boxtop looks eeriely familiar, like it might have been the kit I built as a kid?

Gosh... I think the rubber is actually Silicone! After some deliberate testing, I'm now certain that Super Glue and hot glue don't stick to it... and I doubt anything but silicone paint would either. I think the contact cement seemed to work because it was adhering to the paint coat. Bummer. The ability to join things together and paint is kind of essential when you're doing stuff like this. I'm sure they make silicone adhesives and paint, but I don't have any, and not likely to buy any just for this: If I recall correctly, silicone paint is a specialty item and finicky/hard to use.

I've found that the only reliable way to join parts together with this rubber is to poke holes through it and basically sew it. Staples work, and so does sewing with wire. Tear-resistance? Who knows. Sheesh! Thankfully, I was able to close the back hole by framing the edges of the opening with the tail wire and wiring it to the rubber to form hooks. The hooks will hold the opening securely closed so that the cover can be glued on with contact cement; for that, the bond doesn't need to be very strong. If I need to work on the innards, I'll just pry it up and glue it back down when I'm done.

Who woulda thunkit? Everything else like this that I've dealt with (except their Godzilla-- I was wondering why Super Glue didn't seem to work on that kit either) is made of polyurethane rubber because it's cheaper. You can glue and paint that stuff. It makes sense that sex dolls have silicone skins because you don't want nasty stuff to stick to it. This isn't a sex doll!

It's a little disheartening... no, make that a lot, because the only way this was going to look acceptable to me was by painting it a dark color. The silver Space Gyaos looks lame. In the Gamera vs. Guiron movie, Space Gyaos was little more than a piece of meat to test Guiron's knife-sharpness. Gyaos' vibrasonic beam ricochets off Guiron and slices off his own leg. Then Guiron lops of a wing. Then lops of the other wing, his head, a torso slice, and then another... Not too shabby for a kid's movie! But not the kind of loser kaiju I want in my collection.

Painting dark over a light base isn't a good idea if the paint isn't going to stand up to handling... but on the other hand, I don't have anything to lose, and maybe the silver paint coat will help a dark coat stick. That seems to be the case for the scrap I tested. Nevertheless, it puts the kibosh on my enthusiasm for the project, and means that I'm not going to bother finding solutions for the side slit problem. I'm glad I found out before trying to make a replacement set of wings! What irony... the articulation armature works great but I should avoid handling the figure too much because the paint might rub off!

Medicom RAH Gyaos feet

Medicom RAH Gyaos wingspan

I decided to paint him as depicted in the Nitto kit above, with the wings between the ribs painted burgandy. It's very hard to tell from the film, since Gyaos only comes out at night. X-Plus' Gyaos has the burgandy airbrushed in a general smear across the wings and belly; while I respect the fidelity of X-Plus' renditions, it doesn't look as good, IMO.

The whole thing was first painted in the dark gray Rust-Oleum primer. I then did the German Gray paintjob I'd used on Godzilla '65/Jirass. I thought it looked too green, so I went over it with an airbrushed mist of black, with broad blends on the wing ribs. Hmmmm... I added some red to the mix to give it a hint of dark brown, then finished off with a light misting of Midnight Blue. In the pics it looks like silvery-black, but you can tell it's not when you put a dab of black paint on it... kinda stupid, considering that it will probably need touch-ups and Mongrel Black is a hard color to mix!

The wings were first brush-painted to achieve the opaque color density with crisp edges. Airbrushing made the brush paint job more even and blended, and toned-down the visible brush strokes. I airbrushed burgandy on the back cover because X-Plus did theirs that way, and it added some color... I didn't see evidence of it in the movie, though.

Medicom RAH Gyaos backside

These pics are of the unfinished, post-airbrush treatment, which is 90% of the way there. I masked the eyes and mouth, but haven't gotten around to cleaning them up, painting dark pupils, painting the claws, etc. Jeez, even the frickin' claws are made of a paint-unfriendly material!

Medicom did a so-so job on this one, and I think they did a half-hearted job of solving the design challenge of the wings in an entirely rubber suit. Besides the things I've already griped about, the sculpt seems a bit soft, lacking the grainy skin texture that's visible in close-up shots from the movie. It's also a little pudgy, with legs that seem a tad too fat, and a neck that seems slightly shorter than it should be (?). Those are minor quibbles though; I think Medicom did a respectable job of capturing the unmistakeable look of vintage Gyaos. If this is a re-release of an old product, those shortcomings are understandable and excusable because bolt-counters (anal-retentive collectors) weren't as rabid back then: The bar for manufacturers was much lower.

On eBay, it's priced reasonably for such a large figure with a wingspan of over 21". For the Gamera/Gyaos/daikaiju fan, it's a good deal if you don't mind the silver Space Gyaos look or are willing and able to deal with the kit's issues.

Medicom RAH Gyaos closeup right side

Medicom RAH Gyaos closeup  left side