EYE SCREAM'S BANILA FROM ULTRAMAN

 

Eye Scream/President Banila box

09/17/15- With these Japanese kaiju articles, the Kaiju Name Game comes up pretty often. I'd prefer to title the articles with the name that the manufacturer uses, but sometimes they pick peculiar English spellings that no one else uses. On the other hand, sometimes the accepted English spelling of the name sounds... dumb (like Alien Guts and Alien Cool). It's a crap-shoot whether an "l" or "r" will be used to represent the Japanese pronunciation of that sound. In this case, on the box they call it "Vanilla". Based on how it's pronounced by the actors, it should be spelled "Banira" (like "Gojira" instead of "Gojila"). However, the most common spelling on the Internet is "Banila" (sometimes as "Banilla"), so that's what I'm going with.

I didn't even know there was a company named "Eye Scream". I'd originally seen this in Hobbylink Japan's website where it's listed as discontinued by a company named "Beagle". However, the bottom of the figure's foot is stamped "President" (also on the box). Distributor? Manufacturer? Producer? Due to either the obscurity of this product or its funky search key words, it's hard to find information about this on the Internet, so the little bit I know comes mainly from the hlj.com website.

There were two paint variations of this 34-cm Banila released in March 2008 for 18,000 yen (about $150 US in 2015 bucks): A regular version, and this "burning color" version.

They also produced two variations of Banila's nemesis, Aboras (Aborasu) in December 2007. Both appeared in episode 19 of the original Ultraman.

From the President/Eye Scream page it looks like in 2007-2008, they also produced Pagos, open/closed cowl versions of Gabora, and 2 paint variations of Neronga (all with the same submissive puppy/belly-dragging/tail-lifted pose), plus 2 color variations of Garamon. They also made a huge 80 cm Pagos and a giant 55 cm Garamon.

Banila was the only one that interested me because I have the other kaiju (from Billiken, CCP, and Medicom) and I'm happy with them. I didn't have any expectation of ever running across Banila so when it popped up on eBay, I nabbed it.

Although the box says it's a 30-cm figure, it's actually 34-cm tall, just like hlj.com says (good for them!). This is a big one and tends to make some other "30-cm" figures look a little puny. I've more-or-less gotten over that neurosis.

It's basically a PVC statue (not soft vinyl). The legs and arms aren't articulated, and the feet and hands look like they could rotate, but are keyed/notched and glued on. The only articulation on the entire figure are the four pieces under the snout that make up the mouth.

The figure is balanced with a slight forward lean which relies most on the right foot to keep it from falling forward. Although the foot is long and relatively rigid, it's made of PVC which is fairly stiff, but has a habit of gradually bending over time, especially when it's hot. If it has this problem, it's easy to fix with a heat gun, but that may be only a temporary fix. Making PVC reliably rigid usually involves inserting metal rods.

The sculpture is faithful to the suit and the detailing is appropriate for subject matter like this (there's usually no knock-your-socks-off micro-detail in monster suits). There's a bit of zipper detail on the back, and the eyes appear to be unpainted natural translucent PVC (except for the pupils), with a lifelike glossy sheen.

The paint job doesn't look nearly as good as the prototype pics shown at President's website, but the neon orange is kind of a cool color if you like that sort of thing. I'd have to give it a thumbs sideways "huh?" because it's a strange mix of screen-faithful sculpting with a fanciful paint choice. They took this even farther with Aboras and Garamon, and I think it's inspired by the trendy wild paint jobs on the Bullmark-style stuff. Personally, I think that a realistic paint job belongs on a realistic sculpture. The paint application is fairly routine-- yellow airbrushed sections over a bright orange base coloration with some dark airbrushed shading, seemingly in random areas and to create shadows. The zipper detail that peeks through a few sections of the back fin is painted silver. (That was an odd decision since the zipper isn't really noticeable in any obvious way in the show.) Unlike the prototype pics of the regular version, they didn't paint the teeth; it looks like the factory did a fairly quick and perfunctory paint job. (To be fair though, a factory can't spend hours painting each one as if it were a prototype.)

It took me a while to figure out what they probably meant by "burning color". My first guess was that it meant they were taking artistic license to do a variation in brighter colors. As far as I know, Banila didn't change colors in the episode, and didn't catch on fire. However, from the dark shading in random areas, I figured that it's probably an attempt to depict the acid burns Banila received during its fight with Aboras, as in "battle damaged". The problem is, the darkened areas don't look like the acid burns received during the fight (see top right pic), but more like he just got dirty from rolling around in toner dust.


The prototype differs significantly from what rolled off the assembly line at the factory in China. (Pic borrowed to make it disappear-proof.)

In the Ultraman episode, both Banila and Aboras (referred to as "devils") are woken from their ancient slumber (in what look like high-tech specimen jars) and mindlessly smash buildings... until they find each other and battle to the death, with Banila being the loser.

People love winners, so maybe that's why Aboras seems to be the more popular of the two? Admittedly, he does look more fierce. IMO, Banila won the battle of monster-suit designs. Banila is a much more imaginative and elaborate monster design with its pig-like snout, unusual 4-piece mouth (I didn't realize this until I got this figure), large drooping belly, fin pattern on back, and dual skinny tails (a single casting in this figure). I'm surprised that they (Tsuburaya) used this monster in such a disposable way since it looks like it wasn't derivative of an existing monster suit and probably took a lot of effort to make. Aboras' design does absolutely nothing for me; besides clearly being Red King's body with a different head, I think the design of the head is funky. The jaw is ridiculously long relative to the head: Besides that being an aesthetic complaint, it doesn't look like there would be room for any jaw musculature. I have an extra Billiken Red King, but I haven't felt sufficiently inspired to transform it into Aboras. Sorry... that's just me.


From the Gomora episode (26) depicting the kid's daydream. Apparently, someone on the production team really liked the Aboras design.

As I said, finding Banila was a pleasant and unexpected surprise; I thought that Medicom's Seabozu was the last 30-cm vintage Ultra-series kaiju that I'd find.

I've enjoyed my mission of documenting the obscure 30-cm/12"/1:6 stuff for the few English readers who might be interested in it. It's such a small niche-within-a-niche interest, and there's very little English text information about it on the Internet; noticeably less than before. Granted, this isn't important stuff by any measure. However, I'd always assumed that the Internet was an ever-expanding universe of information about obscure, niche stuff. Instead, what I'm sensing is that while the Internet universe is expanding, the breadth of subject matter that fills it is isn't expanding at the same rate and in some cases, may actually be contracting as old websites die and the information disappears or doesn't get refreshed. Most of my bookmarked links to kaiju stuff are dead-- the websites are gone, the domain names are for sale. Images catalogued by Google often lead to pages with "Photo not found." Google searches yield dozens of pages of results for websites that have exactly the same cloned/canned text or aggregate eBay listings, which dilute the search for the dwindling sources of unique information about the obscure stuff. I can only imagine what it will be like five years down the road.

Eye Scream President Burning Color Banila


I attempted to tone down the bright colors. It's hard to tell what color the onscreen version of Banila is. In some pics, it appears to have a wet red sheen, which matches the verbal description (red demon); in other production photos, it looks more orange. If I wanted it to better match the onscreen depiction, I'd add more white to the eyes... but I like the natural translucent way they look because they don't look painted on; the "whites" aren't a color that you can paint. They look like the suit's eyes with the lighting turned off.

Eye Scream/President Burning Color Banila, repainted

30-cm Banila (Ultraman)

Eye Scream/President Burning Color Banila, headshot (repainted)

 

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