Kollecting kaiju: So You Want to Start a Kaiju Collection

So You Want to Start A Kaiju Collection
A Beginner’s Guide to Kaiju Collecting
John Rocco Roberto

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


Kaiju collecting can quickly become a very expensive as well as addicting hobby.  It is also a very satisfying one, thanks mostly to the popularity of the current series of films, as well as the mass production of “Garage” kits and figures, the kaiju enthusiast has more choices to choose from than just a few years ago. The problem, as far as the beginner is concerned, is trying to decide which aspect of the hobby to concentrate on.  We all wish we could acquire every piece that is out there, but it is beyond most collector’s financial means.  The question then becomes; should one concentrate on collecting the various vinyl figures, as released by Bandai, Yamakatus, Yotaka and others, or the various model kits, as released by Billiken, Kaiyodo, Paradise and Max Factory, to name a few?  Or, should one try to collect a sample from each (not to mention other collectibles, like toys, playing cards, ice cube trays, etc.)?  Each area offers advantages as well as disadvantages to the collector, but the most important aspect of any collector to consider, and one that is easily overlooked, is space. Display space.
There is no point in starting a kaiju collection if you cannot display your collection or show it off to others.  Part of the joy in any collection is the ability to show your prized possessions to others, and there is no way of doing that if your figures and models are sitting in a box at the back of your closet.  So first, make display considerations before choosing your field of interest.  Where would the collection look best, will the items be displayed on wall shelves or table tops; if on wall shelves, where do you have empty wall space!  Will display cases be used, or book cases; will you place the figures individually standing, or clustered together (like a family photo)!
We all wish we had unlimited space to display our pieces, and there is nothing worse than acquiring a sought-after piece only to discover you have no room to display it.  There are also many factors to consider when making display arrangements:

  • Displaying items on shelves frees up furniture tops.
  • Using display cases limits the need to dust items.
  • Displaying items standing individually allows you to concentrate on the single piece.
  • Displaying items in the cluttered fashion allows you to fit more pieces into one space.

Whichever style you choose, the important thing is that you are comfortable with it.  Remember, others will look at your collection, you have to live with it.  Once display considerations have been made, then the items to add to your collection can be made. You may wish to pick up items as they interest you, not concentrating on any one aspect of the hobby, having selections representing toys, models, and figures, or you may wish to limit your choices solely on one aspect, such as modeling. Whichever you choose, the choice should be a personal one. There are, however, a few things to consider when choosing a field:

  1. Model collecting allows an individual to concentrate on well detailed figures, allowing a wide variety of choices. Current kits being produced offer a range from single standing figures to detailed dioramas, as well as giving the modeler the choice of materials to work with, like vinyl, resin, or metal.  Hobby Japan is probably the best source of information on current and new items available on the market.
  2. Model kits, however, are not without their drawbacks.  They are difficult to build, and generally require above average kit-building abilities.  Excess parts have to be trimmed, joint seams need to) be filled, detail has to be painted; these are not the old “snap, glue and display” kits we all grew up with, and your ability to work well with models should be considered before committing to this route.
  3. Model kits are also expensive, running anywhere from $30 to over $300.  All these factors should be taken into consideration when deciding if model collecting is for you. If so, then you’re in for a wonderful hobby experience.
  4. Vinyl figures, especially those released by Bandai, have an advantage over model kits in that they are relatively inexpensive, and are ready to be displayed (the average cost runs from $25 to $185). The detail, however, is not as good as with the model kits, but that has been changing with the more recent releases.  The key disadvantage is that the figures are not to scale with each other.  A major drawback if you’re a perfectionist.  If scale is not a factor, vinyl figures offer an inexpensive way to build a collection quickly.  Word to the wise: do not become obsessed with acquiring any one item; merchandise from Japan is slow in getting here (despite sources like ebay), and although a piece may seem hard to find, you will, with patience, find it in plenty supply in a few months.
  5. Shop around, don’t let specialty stores or dealers convince you that the items are not available elsewhere, and do not over pay!  Current yen to dollar ration is about ¥125 = $1.00.  You can find the yen prices in most issues of Hobby Japan as well as other related Japanese magazines.  Rule of thumb: anything marked up over 30 – 40% is a rip-off.

With a little patience and forethought, kaiju collecting can be a very satisfying hobby.  Enjoy!


Editor’s Note
Since the article was first written 10 years ago, several company’s products have become harder and harder to find.  This has caused an increase in the price of several items.  However, with the release of each new Godzilla film Bandai has issued several  new vinyl figures related to the new film, as well as a few based on the old Showa series (the most recent releases being Titanosaurus and MechaGodzilla II).  Bandai has also released an American version of their popular vinyl figures, and these can easily be found through ebay, as well as several on line specialty stores.  It is still recommended that the serious collector seek outHobby Japanfor the latest releases and yen prices. Although written 10 years ago, the “rule of thumb” of anything 30 – 40 % marked up is still a rip off.

Article © 1993, 2003 John Rocco Roberto/Visagraph Films International.