X-PLUS' GIANT ULTRA-SERIES MONSTERS

 

01/12/18- I've been collecting this stuff for many years now, and have been on the lookout for kaiju and aliens that I didn't have, to fill gaps. I've been reluctant to buy X-Plus' Ultra-series kaiju for my 30cm/12in/1:6 collection: Their size-naming scheme is confusing. What does "large" mean? I'm not a scale-size nazi, but I like for stuff to fit in, and I'll concede that suit actors come in different sizes. So I have no complaints as long as it's in the general ballpark.

I only recently figured out that for their Ultra-series monsters, "Large" means about 10 inches tall and "Giant" means about 12 inches tall. (Though not really... I'll explain later.) Two inches of height difference doesn't sound like much, but it can have a big impact on the perceived size, since width scales proportionally. I finally made some sense of X-Plus' naming scheme thanks to the Japanese second-hand sales site, Mandarake.co.jp, which shows previously sold items: The ones with "Giant" printed on the boxes were listed as 30cm (~12in).

Most of their Ultraseries releases are the 10-inch size, but it appears that X-Plus has made a number of classic Ultra-series creatures in their Giant series: Gyango, Zarabu Seijin, Mephiras Seijin, Red King, Dodongo, Skydon, Buruton, Goldon, Keera, Hidora, Zaragas, Gorgos (from Ultra-Q)... and maybe more? I don't think any of these are recent releases and are relatively hard-to-find, so when I came across some of the more obscure kaiju that I didn't have, I was curious enough about their size and quality to buy them.


SKYDON FROM ULTRAMAN

 

X-Plus Giant Skydon from Ultraman

Some of X-Plus' Giant releases are obvious, popular choices that have been made in the 30cm size by other manufacturers. Some are more obscure: Skydon is one of the odd choices; it's not one of my favorite monster designs (it looks like a giant mutant Ankylosaurus dinosaur), but the Ultraman episode is entertaining and memorable. It's wacky. It pokes fun at itself and is filled with genuinely funny gags (Ide, sitting in the background of the HQ control room, tweezing his nose hairs).

Skydon isn't a recent release (2013), and there's a very good review at the Kaiju Addicts website, so I won't regurgitate it. However, I was surprised to learn from the review that the lopsided eyes accurately reflects the sculpting of the actual monster suit-- I'd never noticed it, but it's true. The one that I bought didn't have lighted eyes, but the head is constructed of the same painted clear plastic; it would be easy to add LEDs, a battery and switch. However, activating the light feature wouldn't be any easier than it is for the official lighted version (you have to remove the head: Break out the heat gun!) unless it were modified. Since this is a belly-crawler, I think X-Plus could have put an easy-opening hatch or switch in the belly where it wouldn't be seen.

I wouldn't have been quite as generous with the praise as the reviewer: One thing I'd add is that the paint job looks slightly shiny (first 2 pics), which makes it look cheap-- reminiscent of some 6-inch Bandai vinyls that I've bought. It's not accurate to the finish of the suit (or the image on the box), which looks matte and dusty. I noticed a subtle difference in the shade of brown of the head, body, and tail sections.

X-Plus Giant Skydon from Ultraman

I was surprised to learn that CCP had also released a 30cm vinyl version of Skydon (after X-Plus), also with optional lighted eyes. I've only seen CCP's pictures of it, but it looks slightly better with its more realistic-looking matte-painted finish (assuming that's accurate to what was released). X-Plus has a very good reputation for the sculpt quality and finish of their "Large" Ultra-series (and Godzilla) products: I suspect that their "Giant" product line wasn't produced with quite the same care, and that their 10-inch version has a more realistic finish.

Despite that, it wouldn't be very difficult for the average modeler with an airbrush or knowledge of weathering techniques to improve the finish. Even if their "Giant" line isn't up to their reputation, I wouldn't be dissuaded from buying another Ultra-series creature from their line (like Zaragas).

X-Plus Giant Skydon from Ultraman

X-Plus Giant Skydon from Ultraman

X-Plus Giant Skydon from Ultraman

As for the size: Yep, it's a big 'ol chunk of plastic! Because it's a belly-crawler, the height measurement is pretty meaningless (it's about 7in/18cm tall, but about 15in/38cm long). The main thing is that it looks to-scale as a big, heavy kaiju in a 12in/30cm/1:6 collection.

X-Plus Giant Skydon from Ultraman, lighted
I trimmed the plastic collar that holds the head in to make it easier to install a battery for the LEDs. (Light to the horns was blocked because they don't look good when lit.)

 


 

X-PLUS' HIDORA FROM ULTRAMAN

 

X-Plus Giant Hidora from Ultraman

01/26/18- Hidora is an even stranger choice: As far as I know, X-Plus has made the only 30cm series version of Hidora to date. my guess is that Hidora/Hydra isn't a very popular or desirable Ultraman monster: What are the odds of finding two X-Plus' Giant Hidora, released in 2012, for sale in 2018 at the same time? I bought one of 'em.

I just rewatched the episode. I hadn't watched it in a loooong time, and only remembered the broad strokes. While it was a fresh and pleasant experience with nice visuals and a haunting story, it's probably not an episode that makes it onto many lists of favorite Ultraman episodes.

I showed it to my wife and she said it looked like a chicken. Giant bird kaiju just don't appeal much to me, and the Hidora costume is kind of a funky design with a potato-like torso (later converted to the equally funky Gigass suit). For me, this would be a fourth or fifth-round pick in the Kaiju draft.

X-Plus Giant Hidora from Ultraman

Even though I've referred to the "Giant" series as 12in/30cm, this bipedal guy is only 10.5in/27cm tall... which isn't much taller than their "Large" series, as I understand it (10in/25cm tall). I don't have their Large series Hidora, but I'd like to believe that there'd be a noticeable difference in volume (the amount of space it takes up, which is more noticeable than height): The "Large" one would probably be noticeably smaller than the "Giant" one and would probably look too small to fit in with my 12in/30cm/1:6 collection. Probably... but I don't know. Although the pic above shows the glaring height difference compared to Medicom's Ultraman, the Giant series Hidora fits in with the varied heights of other monsters in my collection, albeit as a shorter kaiju, like Dorako. Clearly though, the Japanese government needs a bureau of toy kaiju standards to get the manufacturers on the same page. Poor Hidora...

The finish on this guy is much better than the (nearly nonexistant) one on Skydon. At least it looks like they painted it; its body is airbrushed with a matte dark brown paint, with what looks like a brown ochre (reddish brown) wash on the wings. There's a subtle hint of purple on the chest and neck. The beak, horns, and claws are brush-painted greenish white with the claws and horns receiving the usual blended application of dark coloration at the base. Actually, you can just look at the pictures to see for yourself! In fairness to Skydon, Hidora is a better canvas to show off a paint job. However, Skydon's paint job would be much easier for the modeler to improve.

X-Plus Giant Hidora from Ultraman

X-Plus Giant Hidora from Ultraman

This one came with the same "Rick Boy Exclusive" lighted eye gimmick shown in Kaiju Addict's review of Skydon. As with Skydon, the head has to be removed (with heat) to access the large assembly that holds the batteries (1.55v LR44/357/303 coin x 2) and the on/off switch. That ensures that you'll maybe do it once or twice, and never again (just remember to remove the batteries in case they leak). It's not a design flaw per se; it's the "exclusive" concept of adding a special electronics feature to a standard figure without changing its design. If the feature were incorporated into the design, a switch might have been hidden in the foot, or the head might have been attached with magnets so that it was easier to remove. Nevertheless, the lighted eyes do look cool... but not cool enough to go through the hassle of removing the head (and risk breaking off horns) each time that you want to turn it on and off... which is why I didn't bother to shoot any photos with the lights on. (I may dicker with it to make the lighting more practical.)

As with most of these vinyl kaiju, articulation is sparse and hardly worth mentioning: The arms and feet rotate. The arms look good only in a limited range of rotation; the feet rotation is mainly useful for adjusting the balance so the figure can stand.

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