-Review and photos by Scott Rubin
2020 may be a mess for all of us, but at least we don’t have to worry about getting crushed in the midst of kaiju battles! Well, yet anyway. Coming next year is just that on the big screen from Legendary in partnership with Toho is Godzilla vs. Kong, an epic crossover and continuation of both current film properties. At this point we don’t know very much about the plot (except for Godzilla fighting King Kong, natch), but there’s a lot to make us excited like its place in the shared MonsterVerse world, direction by Adam Wingard, and cast including Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Lance Reddick, and Demián Bichir. To tide us over, Playmates has some really cool of the titular monsters (with more on the way), featuring a variety of figures in two fun scales. We got the chance to take a look at some of the initial releases: 6” Basic Godzilla with Heat Ray and Kong with Battle-Axe, and 11” Giant Godzilla and Giant Kong!
WARNING: these toys and their packaging may offer slight spoilers for the upcoming movie!
The first thing you’ll notice when you see these (and other) Godzilla vs. Kong figures at your local Walmart is that they all have very similar packaging. A heavy-duty cardboard cardback extends around the front of the figure to form a base, with the toy and all of its accessories held down tight by zip ties and other bands. The 11 inch “Giant” figures have just that, while the 6 inch “Basic” figures also have some plastic trays to hold everything in place.
Packages are brightly decorated in orange and blue, and absolutely slathered in logos and titles for the movie, character names, and MonsterVerse, with the name of the specific character at the center-bottom.
The backs of the Giant figure cardbacks are nearly identical, featuring a brief description of the film and a huge screenshot of the titans battling. The basic cardbacks are a bit more interesting because they have more going on; there’s a photo of the toy in action, a description of the character, and, best of all, a “Collect Them All” section! Here you’ll find both of the figures we reviewed plus additional versions of both Godzilla and Kong along with a Skullcrawler and Warbat. It’s a bit hard to tell how different the other Big G and Kong figures are going to be, but I’m interested to see how their other accessories look.
Let’s start small and work our way up. The “Basic” 6 inch scale figures are packed with detail and have a surprising amount of articulation and accessories. Godzilla with Heat Ray is up first. Now, we don’t know exactly how the titan is going to look in next year’s movie (designs, colors, etc. could change even from the shots on the cardbacks), so we can’t speak to accuracy. That being said, it’s obvious that this MonsterVerse version is following in the footsteps of Godzilla and Godzilla: King of the Monsters before it, which established a new baseline for the creature. It’s frankly huge, very thick and beefy, with tree trunk-like legs, relatively flat feet, small arms, a small neck on a short, blunt neck, and jagged dorsal spines. All of those elements continue in this toy, with an overall presentation that I really like.
Godzilla looks tough and ready to do some damage. He’s a bit leaner than his recent appearances would suggest, and very interestingly he is black in color while in the last couple movies he’s been gray. Of course, the most notable evolution seen in King of the Monsters is G’s feet, and the splayed toes with talons continues here (as opposed to the elephant-like stumps in the previous film). He’s posed taking a step forward, with his mouth open in a mighty roar. Unfortunately, my particular figure has a slightly offset lower jaw that looks a bit weird straight on, though in profile it’s still great.
Like most Godzillas, this one balances on his long, thick tail, and his arms are short but not excessively so. There’s a nice sculpted texture to his hide, wrinkly and knobby like a rhinoceros or dinosaur. I absolutely love his spines, big and jagged in three rows going down his back to his tail. The overall black paint doesn’t highlight all of the cool textures, but it is broken up by the gray talons, bright, attentive blue eyes, white teeth, and pink tongue/mouth interior. The spines on the main body are translucent blue plastic and look awesome, fading to light blue paint on the tail.
Speaking of which, Godzilla is articulated at the shoulders, hips, and a ball-jointed tail. Now, none of those are super useful as the range of motion is limited to stay balanced, except you can definitely pose his arms down by his sides or reaching forward. Finally, the titan has two accessories/action features, the first being his titular one. The “heat ray” is a separate translucent blue plastic piece (matching his dorsal spines, of course) of energy erupting from Godzilla’s mouth, and it ends in a little ball that plugs into the roof of the kaiju’s open mouth quite securely.
The second is the “battle damage” feature, a roughly diagonal wound across Godzilla’s chest! Pull off the thick “skin” piece to expose the creature’s viscera, a pulpy muscular surface with bony protrusions all done in a bloody red. It’s pretty gruesome.
Opposing Godzilla is Kong with Battle-Axe! Even more so than the king of the monsters, the great ape here is a genuine action figure. Again, we’re not going to go too deep into comparing the appearance of this toy to the film’s promotional materials, but it’s obvious he follows along the creature’s look from the previous two King Kong movies, especially in the face. Overall, he’s a big old ape, gorilla-like, as you’d expect, with short legs and prehensile feet, a barrel chest, long arms, and a vicious snarling face. So, what makes him Kong, then? Well, the expression on his face is quite striking, as is the intelligence in his beady eyes. There’s also the triple scratch across his chest, here replicated in a paint application.
Kong is almost entirely covered in a sculpted hair texture which is good overall and better in some places than others. This thins out to bare skin on his chest, face, the palms of his hands, and the bottoms of his feet. Paint applications are decent, with Kong being an overall muddy brown with some lighter spots and some trending toward black. The sections of skin are dark black, and your eyes will be drawn to his face with the intelligent orange eyes, yellowed teeth, and red interior in the open mouth. This is very distinct from Kongs with a closed mouth (see below on the Giant figure); it looks like the other Basic scale Kong with Fighter Jet has a closed mouth, so look for that one if you prefer that appearance.
I was really impressed by Kong’s articulation, and as I noted above, he’s a straight up action figure. He’s got a swivel neck, ball-jointed shoulders, swivel and hinged elbows, swivel wrists, ball-jointed hips, and hinged knees. Kong is quite poseable and fun to play with, though with his simian form there are certain things he can do. I was pretty proud of getting him into a convincing running pose, and overall, he’s quite intimidating. That goes double when you add in his accessories! As advertised, this Kong comes with a Battle-Axe which fits into his open right fist. It’s basically a bone with some kind of obsidian lashed to an end as a makeshift blade. It doesn’t have the most impressive sculpt or paint job, but it gets the job done and gives Kong a leg up on his bestial foe.
Like Godzilla, the great ape also has a battle damage feature with a swathe of skin removable from his right shoulder. It’s gruesome and quite evocative.
Alright, let’s super-size! Starting with the kaiju again, we’ve got Giant Godzilla. This is an epic toy. Standing about 11 inches tall, Godzilla is basically a gigantic version of the Heat Ray toy, but with a fairly different color scheme. Big boy has the same trunk-like legs, flat feet with talons, heavy body, roughly humanoid arms with thumb and three-fingered hands, triple dorsal spine ridges, and a blunt head with very little neck and short muzzle. At this scale you can easily see the great sculpted textures at play, in some places bumpier and in some nearly plated; it’s a real shame that there weren’t more paint applications or even a wash to highlight all of that good stuff! This Godzilla is a very pretty purplish/grayish-blue, a little lighter on the underbelly than the back, with gray talons on both hands and feet.
Godzilla’s spines are a much brighter blue with even lighter highlights and look really good. As with little G the giant version has white teeth and pink tongue, though in opposition the larger fellow has menacing orange eyes versus the smaller toy’s blue. Again, like the smaller version, Giant Godzilla is articulated at the shoulders and thighs, but also at the wrists and ankles. Similarly, there’s only so much you can do with the leg articulation and keep the toy stable, but moving the arms up and down and rotating the hands can give you different poses. I should note that Godzilla definitely has a “good side,” with a series of quite unsightly screw holes on his left side; stick to the right and he looks great!
Now, in my research I’ve found King Kong to be canonically 25 feet tall, so I have no idea how he’s going to be a threat to the much larger Godzilla, but that’s neither here nor there when talking about the toys. Giant Kong is also approximately 11 inches tall, and it’s very striking just how different their body shapes are. Kong is definitely a super-sized version of his smaller toy, a gorilla-like primate in form with massive muscles. He has the same hair patterns and again, lots of really good work done on those textures (that’s quite hard to see unless you get very close). And here, the closed mouth with its one protruding tusk-like tooth immediately screams Kong!
Like Godzilla, there is a bit of a color change between the smaller and larger versions, with this Giant incarnation of Kong quite a bit darker than his smaller doppelganger. Giant Kong still has black skin, but his hair is nearly black too while the littler one was more brown. These dark colors are broken up only by the three scratches on his chest, yellow teeth, and orange eyes with white sclera and black pupil; the triple color there really makes the creature look intelligent.
When it comes to articulation, Giant Kong is pretty good for a figure this size with a slightly swiveling head, shoulders, wrists, ankles, and essentially a Y-crotch. All of that pretty much gives you two really good poses: Kong standing with his arms at his sides and glowering, or charging to do some massive damage with his arms up over his head! Like Godzilla this figure has some pretty large screw holes, but thankfully Kong’s are on his back so you won’t see them very often.
As a kaiju fan I’m excited for Godzilla vs. Kong, and while the wait until next year (hopefully!) may seem interminable these toys are a nice entertaining thing to tide us over. I think the small figures will appeal most to younger fans with their articulation and fun accessories, while the sheer size, scale, and imposing look of the Giant ones will give collectors great nostalgic vibes. I should note that the big boys are bulky, heavy, and very sturdy, and will fit in well with your other larger-scale kaiju. These toys are currently available exclusively at Walmart and quite affordable: $10 for the Basic figures and $20 for the Giant ones. Get yours now and act out your own Godzilla vs. Kong scenes before the movie comes out!
Review and photos by Scott Rubin
Review samples courtesy of Playmates Toys