Cool Swag I Forgot I Had: Imperial Godzilla

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I’m in a Godzilla mood. Maybe it’s the new Legendary Pictures Godzilla movie on the way, or maybe the slew of new S.H. Monsterarts figures currently being released by Bandai Japan, but I’m just in a Kaiju state of mind. Actually, I think I know what it is. While digging through my parents’ shed the other day I stumbled upon something wonderful.

For some reason unbeknownst to mankind, parents, both mine and many other kids’, had this rule I refer to as “The Culling”. The idea was basically that if a child refused to clean their room, or failed to complete the task by a pre-determined time, the parents would enter the room with a big black garbage bag and “clean it for them”. The idea, if I understand correctly, was to teach kids that if the toys were valued at all they wouldn’t just be left lying around. Unfortunately I was a very messy kid and I never really learned that lesson, so many of my favorite childhood toys were lost in these culls.

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Somehow, due to either voodoo or luck, one of my favorite toys survived all those years of action figure prosecution. While identical pieces bought off eBay, from comic stores, or garage sales have helped me fill the gaps in my collection left by The Culling, this Imperial Toys Godzilla remains one of, if not THE single, oldest toys in my personal collection.

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Normally this is where I would start talking about Imperial Toys, or how they ended up producing toys of Godzilla, King Kong, or why they boxed them together with the Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster, but truth be told I don’t really care about the collectability of this toy. What stands out to me is that I got it in 1985 or ’86 back when I was 3 or 4 and somehow I’ve been able to keep it all this time. It hasn’t always been in the spotlight, and hell, there were plenty of times I thought I lost it, but somehow Godzilla has endured.

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It’s amazing how much history one toy can have. I remember when my parents first bought him for me from a Child World (do you remember those stores?) and it was instantly the coolest toy I owned. I almost immediately lost his tail at my grandmother’s house one summer just to find it a year later at a family Barbeque. He used to take trips to my cousin’s place where my brother and I would fight over who’s “dragon” was better (my brother owned some 2-headed thing) and the left side of Godzilla’s head still bears the scar from a surgery I forced my father to perform on him when I randomly decided his head was uneven and needed to be fixed (yep, even at 4 years old I was customizing things).

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I remember the countless number of pictures I drew of this toy- every Godzilla picture I did, in fact, used this guy as a reference point for what Godzilla looked like. In fact, I recognized this figure as “the one true Godzilla” so much that I was convinced for the better part of my childhood that Godzilla had a silver chest just like the toy, and I never understood why the movies “couldn’t get it right.” Maybe that’s why the 1968-1972 “SoshingekiGoji” design is my favorite Godzilla suit- this toy has a pretty good likeness for what it was (minus the silver chest and bizarre “Joker lips”, of course). I don’t think Imperial was shooting for a screen-accurate Godzilla when they produced this toy, but they gave us one of the most influential Godzilla designs 80’s kids would get for years and it matched up well enough with what was in the movies that we knew exactly who it was supposed to be.

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I don’t know if I love this toy because it’s Godzilla, or if I love Godzilla because of this toy, but I know my life-long love of the King of the Monsters had to start somewhere, and this is a good place to start. I don’t know what the future holds for ImperiGoji here, but for now he has taken his rightful place in the toy room, and I can’t imagine anything that could de-throne him as King of my collection.

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