So Just How Big Is Godzilla?
A Model Builder's Guide to Godzilla's Size Changes
Robert Biondi

(Originally published in The Kaiju Review Issue # 4 Winter 1993)

Contrary to what the English dub of the original Godzilla, King of the Monsters would have us believe, Godzilla was never "over 400 feet tall". What follows is a history of Godzilla's height, or correctly, increase in height. In the 1954 Japanese original, Dr. Yamane estimates that Godzilla is 50 meters tall (167 feet). Godzilla destroys Tokyo, but is later killed by the Oxygen Destroyer. A second Godzilla appears in the next movie: GodzilIa Raids Again (1955). This creature is also 50 meters tall and would remain this size for the following Godzilla movies through to Terror or MechaGodzilla (1975).

In 1984, Toho presented Godzilla (Godzilla 1985 in the U.S.) as a direct sequel to the 1954 original, thus ignoring the existence of the 14 other films in the series. At the same time, the height of the new Godzilla was increased to 80 meters (267 feet) larger than the average hotel in San Francisco. Toho probably did this to make Godzilla appears more imposing alongside Tokyo's modem skyscrapers. Godzilla is also 80 meters tall in Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989). In Godzilla vs. King Ghidora (1991), futurians attempt to prevent Godzilla's creation. However, their complicated time-travel plan backfires, and Godzilla is reborn in 1992, now towering at 100 meters (334 feet) or the size of multiple Chicago hotels. Godzilla is this size in Godzilla vs. Mothra, released in the U.S. as Godzilla and Mothra: Battle for Earth (1992) and the following sequels; Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla (1993), Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994) and Godzilla vs. Destroyah (1995). When the series returned after the TriStar fiasco with Godzilla 2000, the King of the Monsters returned to the 80 meters (267 feet) version, and has stayed at that height ever since. These changes in Godzilla's height has meant a little confusion for collectors, especially when trying to estimate Godzilla's scale in relation to his height. But first, let's go over what scale is.

Scale is the factional way of showing a model's size in comparison to the real thing. For example, if a Godzilla model is in 1/250 scale, the real Godzilla (if he truly existed) would be 250 times greater than the model. With Kaiyodo's fine set of soft vinyl Godzilla models, which we'll call The Godzilla Gallery, a basic scale of 1/250 is used. Therefore, Kaiyodo's 1954, 1955, 1962, 1964, and 1968 Godzilla kits are all 8" representations of a monster that is 50 meters tall. However, the Kaiyodo 1984 and 1989 Godzilla kits are also 8" tall, but are shown to be in 1/500 scale. Further, the 1991 Godzilla kit is 9" tall and is in 1/400 scale.

Why this discrepancy in scale between the pre- and post- 1984 Godzilla models? Remember, the 1984 and 1989 Godzillas are 80 meters tall and the 1991 Godzilla is 100 meters tall. Since Kaiyodo apparently wanted to work in. the same size rather than scale (and probably also stay in the same price range), the 1984, 1989 and 1991 Godzilla models had to be reduced in scale in order to match the rest of the series. Also, Kaiyodo broke the 8"-9" constant size of their "Godzilla Gallery" by releasing their 1992 Godzilla in 1/350 scale (11" tall). Perhaps Kaiyodo did this to give the 1992 Godzilla better detailing, as it's a superb kit. But not only does this put the 1992 Godzilla out of size range of the other Godzilla models, it's also out of scale for Kaiyodo's two excellent Battra models which are in 1/400 scale! It was hoped that Kaiyodo would eventually release a 1992 Godzilla model in 1/400 scale to match with these other kits, but that seems unlikely at this time.

Granted, all this may make little difference to some Godzilla collectors, like one poor dumb schmuck from Las Vegas whom we will affectionately call "David H." But what if, like me, you're a perfectionist on correct scale? The solution would be to collect the Kaiyodo Godzilla Gallery set and substitute the following Godzilla models with the ones below:

Kaiyodo Kits:
Substitute Kits:
Finding some of these substitute kits may be a little tricky, but once obtained and displayed along with the Kaiyodo 1/250 pre-1984 Godzilla models, an interesting and accurate display of Godzilla's different appearances and heights will be created. By the way, my suggestions are not meant in any way to criticize the Kaiyodo 1984-1992 Godzilla kits. On the contrary, place these four kits together as a "Godzilla New Age" display!

To close, C.S. Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Namia fantasy series, believed that the things we consider important in life appear bigger as we grow older. Could Godzilla's progressive increase in height mean that Toho is hinting that we should be more appreciative of the King of the Monsters? Perhaps not, but then again...

(Sizes in meters havoc been glanced from various Japanese "Godzilla Digest" books. Conversions have been calculated by the author and are approximate).

Article © 1993, 2003 Robert Biondi/Visagraph Films International.