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August 3, 2004

Review: Chogokin Mechagodzilla 1974

Filed under: Toy News — Rumble Crew @ 10:23 pm

Yep, I’m stupid. It took me over eight months to discover that Bandai’s GD-56 Mechagodzilla 1974 was cool, but now I bear witness to His Rivet-Covered Glory.

Why? For starters, they absolutely nailed the likeness. Every angle, every armor segment and every rivet is right where it should be. I can imagine the sculptor sitting in front of the suit for days, whittling away and scrutinizing every detail to make sure that kaiju freaks everywhere would be satisfied.

Then there are the features. The knee missiles pop off. The hands swap out to make it look like the finger missiles have been fired. The mouth and chest hatch open. Swap out the head and fold back the arms, and you can put him in flying mode. Push on the spikes on his back and make his head spin.

There are a couple of minuses. Metal parts are limited to the chest and legs, a little disappointing for a toy that bears the Chogokin moniker. It would also have been nice if it came with a little plastic stand for when you pose him in flying mode. All of these things just amount to the difference between an A and an A- in my book, though.

Like any other toy company, Bandai can’t resist squeezing as much as they can out of tooling costs by issuing color variations. A few months after the regular one came out, a GD-56M chrome version was released. Many collectors, myself included, rolled their eyes at this, but here’s a little secret: the chrome one is better.

Even if you don’t have the normal one to compare to, once you take the chrome one out of the box you are completely dazzled. Instead of just dipping the whole thing in chrome, selected parts are left with a matte finish, and the remaining surfaces are gloss. This contrast only brings out the beauty of the sculpt even more.

Again, there are some minor downsides. The chrome one costs a bit more (7500 yen as opposed to 6800 yen), has grayscale package art, and lacks the neat clamshell presentation of the original. Also, the finish on the metal parts isn’t as glossy as the plastic ones, so in a strange way the low die-cast content works in the toy’s favor.

Relatively speaking, not too many of these were made. Less than 10,000 of the normally colored version were cranked out by Bandai, and perhaps even less of the chrome ones were produced. From what I’m told, demand for these in Japan has been steady and strong, to the point where some dealers are asking American sellers if they could re-import the toys back.

Should you get one? If you have a special place in your artificial heart for Mechagodzilla and you feel like paying for it, definitely, but if you must pick one, go for the chrome. If my words haven’t convinced you, then squint at this picture. Yep, same tan wood and tile coffee table, same perspective, same schmuck taking the picture. My apologies.

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