A Marusan King Godzilla / King Godoras / King Godras explainer.

Discussion in 'Japan Toys' started by Roger, Jun 14, 2024.

  1. Roger

    Roger Die-Cast

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    A Marusan King Godzilla / King Godoras / King Godras explainer.
    After last week’s Five Points Fest, several people were asking about the history of the King Godras figures we had on the table. A lot of this is spread throughout different threads on the BBS, but I figured I’d get all of the information in one place.

    King Godzilla (キングゴジラ)

    In 1969, after the bankruptcy of the first incarnation of Marusan, a new company called Marusan Co. Ltd. was established by Minoru Ishida, the son of one of the original company’s founders. Ishida wanted to get back into the business of producing kaiju sofubi toys, but he had one major stumbling block: a lack of viable licenses. The licenses for Toho’s Godzilla and Tsuburaya’s Ultraman had been transferred to the Bullmark company after the original Marusan’s bankruptcy.

    Ishida’s solution was to launch Marusan’s own line of original kaiju designs called Marusan's Ultra Monsters. Like other “pachi” (a slang term for bootleg or knockoff) toys of the time that were more or less unauthorized copies of licensed characters, the likenesses and names of these new Marusan monsters deliberately evoked the Toho and Tsuburaya characters that were already known to children, but one particularly brazen example stood out, a reptilian creature dubbed King Godzilla.

    King Godzilla was released in four formats: a small finger puppet, a 23 cm tall "standard size" figure, a 40 cm tall figure whose height and sculpt was a deliberate challenge to the 30 cm Bullmark "giant size" Godzilla, and a towering 50 cm toy.

    An unusual bootleg of the 40 cm toy with the name “Banana Oil” scrawled on the foot in English circulated some time afterwards. Some copies of the toy had a lamp installed so that the figure would light up.

    Here is a Tokyo Toy Banzai video featuring Eiji Kaminaga, the president of the modern Marusan company, talking about the history of the Marusan Ultra Monsters and the possible origin of the name "Banana Oil":



    King Godras (キングゴドラス)

    The modern Marusan company’s first vinyl figures released in the 1990s were reissues of the Marusan's Ultra Monsters figures. Marusan eventually began referring to these monster designs collectively as "Marumon," and uses the label "Classic" to describe the vintage sculpting style. All of these reissues were created by making duplicates from vintage production toys and making molds from these duplicates.

    In the late 2000s, the King Godzilla character was reintroduced with a new sculpt and a less-legally-infringing name, King Godoras. The name was later romanized to King Godras. The first sculpt of this character was part of the TEDEROS line of vehicles and monsters, stood 23 cm high, and was sculpted in a realistic style that matched modern kaiju figure offerings from other companies. Marusan refers to this style as "Conpora," a shortening of the word “contemporary.”

    The 2020s brought two additional King Godras figures. One was a reissue of the 23 cm figure, referred to as Classic King Godras and added to the 350 Series line (named for the 350 yen price of "standard size" figures in the 1970s). The second product was an all new 30 cm sculpt that was based on the vintage 40 cm toy and added to the 450 Series line (named for the 450 yen price of “giant size” figures in the 1970s). For the sake of clarity, I’m referring to the 450 Series figure here as a reproduction rather than a straight reissue.

    All three of these figures continue to be sold in multiple vinyl colors and paint variations in Japan and overseas. More versions of King Godras as well as other Marumon are coming.

    Links

    Mandarake listings for vintage King Godzilla toys:
    Mandarake listings for modern King Godras toys:
    Articles about the history of Marusan and Bullmark:
    Relevant Skullbrain posts with images, if you find more please post them to this thread and I will add them to this post:
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2024 at 2:48 PM
  2. Mark K

    Mark K Addicted

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    A Marusan King Godzilla / King Godoras / King Godras explainer.
    Nice summary of the history of this toy. Thanks for putting this together, Roger.
    Here’s some pictures of examples in my collection:

    King Godzilla red Finger puppet:
    [​IMG]

    King Godzilla 40cm figure:
    [​IMG]

    King Godras conpora figure, Japanese American National Museum Version for the Mark Nagata “Kaiju vs Hero” show:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2024
  3. bbb

    bbb Side Dealer

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    A Marusan King Godzilla / King Godoras / King Godras explainer.
    Incredible thread. Can't wait to dive into this. Choice pieces, @Mark K! The patina on that 40cm... drool worthy.
     
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  4. Roger

    Roger Die-Cast

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    A Marusan King Godzilla / King Godoras / King Godras explainer.
    Thank you for posting those, Mark!

    I also updated the post after a clarification from Kaminaga-san: the Toho and Tsuburaya licenses were transferred to Bullmark after Marusan's bankruptcy.
     
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