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.
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
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
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.