Super Festival 80 Wrap Up
On April 28, 2019, the 80th spring edition of Super Festival was held at the Tokyo Science Museum near the Imperial Palace area. Vendors, toy makers, shop owners, production company reps, artists, actors, personalities and the hottest lines of tokusatsu, anime and independent toys were represented in full effect during the extremely popular one-day event.
Seemingly endless tables of character products from today and yesteryear were sold, including American pop fare. At the entrance of the museum prior to opening, M1-GO from Fukushima were taking orders for their heavy sellers, while X-Plus rolled out their exclusive Frankenstein glow-in-the-dark Aurora-styled boxed model kit based on Toho Studios’ FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD (1966). The event oozed like a professional flea market with industry personalities popping in and out, including monster designer Keizo Murase (VARAN, KING KONG VS. GODZILLA, DAIMAJIN, GAMERA) and optical effects animator Sadao Iizuka (GODZILLA, RODAN, WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS, ULTRAMAN). Wandering around you might have run into suit actor Eiichi Kikuchi (SPACE GIANTS, RETURN OF ULTRAMAN, DENJIN ZABOGA, GRIDMAN), Robert Baldwin (ZYUDEN SENTAI KYORUGER, CHOSEI KANTAI SEIZA X, GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA), or Hiroko Sakurai (ULTRA Q, ULTRAMAN, OPERATION: MYSTERY!) In addition, talk and autograph sessions were held with actors Takao Katsuro of OPERATION: MYSTERY! (1968) and Ryo Hayami of KAMEN RIDER X (1974).
As the floodgates opened many fans rushed to the showroom floor, while others waited patiently in line to purchase 1 of the 75-piece limited run X-Plus Frankenstein model kits (which sold out in less than an hour). This creative line reared its head again earlier this year with an Aurora-themed boxed Shin Godzilla model kit at Wonder Festival 2019. The series continues to pick up steam as it primes itself for more releases which still await final approval. X-Plus’ Gee Okamoto mentioned, “The reaction from the public has been positive, and it is our hope to continue to make more of these types of figures for Japan monster film fans.”
The company plans to debut a New York ComiCon exclusive this fall through their Star Ace subsidiary that handles releases in America, and will collectively travel to check the pulse of collectors at American conventions as their 2019 lineup seen at Super Festival rolls out soon with items from the world of: GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS, ULTRAMAN, 2001: A SPACE ODDYSEY, GAMERA, SPECTREMAN, KAMEN RIDER and more.
Okamoto added, “We’re always thankful to our fans. Customers who purchase our products are important to us, and we will continue to strive forth in our efforts to bring collector pieces from Japan to the public worldwide.” Many of the items pictured on display from Super Festival are currently available for preorder or order directly from the company and through various retailers abroad.
Some talented fans profess their appreciation for X-Plus’ craftsmanship through artistic expression. In 2015, Jeremy Soles of Summit Kaiju International created such a global network of professional content creators and enthusiasts who equally treasure the company’s designs while spreading a positive message to genre fans across the globe. Soles indicated that many have transcended the boundaries of fandom in their making of detailed dioramas and photographing figures in natural surroundings, a photographic process labeled “Kaiju In Nature,” (#kaijuinnature). His humble networking efforts has led to a multitude of web and print products that advance charitable organizations.
Regarding the Frankenstein exclusive Soles mentioned, “It’s amazing that the company finally secured the license for actor Koji Furuhata’s likeness who played Frankenstein in the film, and I hope they’ll do more of these types of kits in the future.” The Summit Kaiju International group featured reviews of figures in the Leslie Chambers Kaiju Reviews & the Figure Mania shows online. Soles even created his own creature Batholith the Summit Kaiju.
During the Tokyo leg of his first trip overseas he gauged first hand public reaction to X-PLUS products and other collectible treasures available in major cities.“I think collectors should definitely experience at least one trip to Japan and Super Festival if possible. If you have the time, it’s definitely worth visiting,” said Soles. Through the wide-open eyes of a foreigner you too can see a different aspect of Godzilla culture, and catch your own collection fever in the birth nation of the King of the Monsters.
The next installment of Super Festival is scheduled for June 30, 2019.
Edward L. Holland is a public affairs photojournalist working in Japan. He has written for Stars and Stripes, Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, and assisted artists at various conventions and events in the US and Japan.