Winter WonderFestival 2011
Godzilla, Ultraman, and More at Tokyo Model and Toy Collectors Show
Author: Ed Godziszewski
Official Site: Wonder Festival
Once again, it’s that time of year for the winter season orgy of model kits, toys, and cosplay otherwise known as Wonder Festival. Hosted once again by toy and kit maker Kaiyodo, this year’s event again took place February 6, 2011 at the Makuhari Messe, just a few train stops down the Keio Line from Tokyo Disneyland. And as usual, this year’s show had its share of surprises as well as the weird, wacky, and wonderful.
If you are fan of Japanese movie monsters, the news isn’t quite so good. Continuing the trend of the last few years, the number of kits related to Japanese SF films has been on a steady decline, a fact which several of the major kit makers have bemoaned. And the news is about the same for TV superheroes as well. New product does continue to show up, but the variety is no longer there.
For fans of mecha, this year’s bounty included a hefty one-meter scale Atragon, some excellent Ultraman show vehicles, a MONSTER ZERO Planet X saucer, and an atomic heat ray canon from MOTHRA (made by Resin Chef’s Bill Gudmundson). In the giant monster realm, M-1 offered the most amazing piece, a resin kit casting from Fuyuki Shinada’s Varan prototype, made for the original story version of GMK. Yuji Sakai continued to stun his fans (and their collective pocketbooks) with an incredible MOTHRA VS GODZILLA set.
And for entertainment value, it’s still hard to beat the company which annually displays an array of custom made hand puppets. The staff enjoy showing off the capability of their handiwork, having the monsters growl, shoot their rays (compressed air), etc. This year, as an added touch, they set up dioramas for their puppets to interact with. So not only do you get to see a Godzilla 54 in action, you get to see him poke his head over the mountain on Odo Island while doing so. Baragon gets to emerge from the forest in a rural shrine setting. My favorite addition to their menagerie was a flying Rodan 64 with a Mothra caterpillar perched atop its back, ready for the attack. Despite having no catalog and never displaying prices, they are always at WonderFest, so business must be good.
Godzilla 55 seemed to be in vogue this year, with no less than three 30cm scale entries— a new kit sculpted by venerable model maker Hiroshi Sagae, one from T-‘s Facto, and one from X-Plus which will be able to square off against a companion Angilas 55. While their figures tend to be pricey and scarce, X-Plus excels at releasing high quality pre-painted figures. In addition to the prototypes for the 55 pair, they also displayed their upcoming enormous 30cm scale final stage Hedorah (¥26,250 retail), which puts that figure at close to 40cm in total. The X-Plus table was for show only— they actually had nothing for sale. But it was the first time to see in person many of their rare 30cm figures like Angilas, Gorosaurus, and Godzilla 68.
Daimos deserved special attention for several new items: A nicely detailed SY-3 from DESTROY ALL MONSTERS that comes with a transparent resin cast Fire Dragon (that contains a Kilaak Saucer), an Aurora-styled Godzilla 62, and a Dr Who helicopter from KING KONG ESCAPES.
The prize for originality this year goes to T’s Facto for their 10cm resin kit of the original Godzilla prototype sculpture which comes mounted on a replica of the original table that sculptor Toshimtsu used. But all in all, I would estimate that the volume of monster kits has dwindled by around 40% since my first visit to Winter WonderFest in 2006.
Conspicuous by it absence was anything at all related to the new live action SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO film. With the film still in theaters and all the hype surrounding it’s release, you would have thought this would have generated a few Yamato items, even if they were from the animated series. Aside from a lonely Comet Empire carrier resin kit, the show was Yamato-free (not counting the standard issue Bandai plastic kit available everywhere).
Being considerably warmer and less windy than the last few years, this year’s cosplay event had a lot more entrants and much bigger crowds of photographers showering attention on them, which really seems to be the point of the whole thing. The characters ranged from the familiar to the obscure, the weird and wacky to the cool. If you like to see interesting variations on human behavior, you need look no further than cosplay at Wonder Fest.
This year’s special event tie-in was a display of motorcycle props from the new live action KARATE-ROBO ZABORGAR movie. Although I expect there must have been some kind of talk show held at the display, it must have happened while I was off snapping pictures of models.
While WonderFest may not be the mecca for monster kits and merchandise that it once was, it still has more than enough to keep one entertained, and its sheer scale never fails to make for an exhausting day.
Be sure to check out Ed’s previous reports on Wonder Festival and Super Festival: