Friday, November 23, 2007

[Reviewed] Something winged, something blue.

Well, it's been a while since I've done a review. I think sometimes I get caught up in the thrill of the hunt, so to speak, such that I forget to go back and look at why I collected what I did.

So today it's Dream Rocket. While when viewing my display cabinet, it becomes apparent that my vinyl-collecting hobby has flowed into several different lines, Dream Rocket is clearly the cornerstone of my collection. The 114-gallon tub of toys says so.

When I began collecting Japanese vinyl, I was taken by Dream Rocket's glossy vinyl that is somehow both lightweight and delightfully chunky at the same time. As someone that collected plastic dinosaurs and lizards for most of his childhood, this kind of standard-size kaiju seems like a perfect fit now that I think about it for a bit. Much less designer toy and more Museum of Natural History.

Gazura is an original kaiju from DR's Monster File series. I believe he is the second sculpt in the series, but I don't know the release timing of the older releases. DR's website has a brief back story for Gazura, involving a battle between Gazura and another monster which was observed by a TV crew. (I can't translate this part so well, so I won't butcher the story in my attempt). There is also a profile of Gazura and some information on the history of this toy:


Underground Kaiju Gazura
Length: 55 meters
Weight: 27,000 tons
Digs through the earth with claws and tusks that are 30 times as hard as diamond.
Special technique of extending its neck to swiftly stab with its tusks.

While Gazura was intended to be an 'orthodox' dinosaur kaiju, there were difficulties in its design. The first design involved three horns emerging from its neck, but it ended up resembling Gabora. After that, a shark kaiju motif was used for its head design. However, this design did not quite have the same impact. Thereafter, a rock kaiju design was used for the tusks and neck gimmick, and the end result was Gazura.

In comparing the design of Gazura to Gumos and Gilmos, the creator first thought it to be a bit weaker, but after seeing the finished product, it looked better than it expected. Although there were points that could have been changed, the creator is glad to have made something with a different appeal.


And I suppose 'different appeal' is perhaps the key term to Gazura. There are not a lot of quadrupedal kaiju in the rosters of new Japanese vinyl. While this does make it nice and easy to store Gazura in plastic bins (unlike those terrible 12-inch+ sculpts), this does cause it to be shelf un-friendly. Secondly, Gazura also draws from a somewhat uninspiring dinosaur-igin. To my inner 6-year-old, it looks most like an Ankylosaur with big elephant tusks. In the dinosaur world, the battle strategy of an Ankylosaur consisted primarily of turtling down into the ground until the attacker became tired, at which point it would turn around and thump them in the nuts with its clubbed tail. From a kaiju-design standpoint, it's kind of funny that the designer of Gazura was preoccupied with its resemblance of Gabora, where I would think the head design and armored shell is much more like Gamera. It's like looking for shapes in clouds, I guess. There are only so many 'cool' animal body parts that one can choose from in building kaiju.

It took me a while to come around, but I finally picked up my first Gazura a couple of months ago from Super7. And, of course, it was one of the store exclusive versions that had been sitting there forever and ever (since 2006, I think). The bag was certainly dusty enough for 2006. This one had been sitting in the 'to buy' list since time immemorial, and I figured the moment was ripe to buy it before it disappeared for good. I've learned THAT lesson before. And there's worse things you can do with $60- like buy puny fight figures. Haha. DINOSAUR WILL EAT YOU.

And then we didn't see Gazura for most of 2007 until Kaiju-Taro issued its first volume of its DR / KT Galaxy series. Done up in a neat, minimalistic Pink Floyd 'Dark Side of the Moon' theme, the sales page featured the cryptic caption of, "The Dark Side of Dream Rocket." Volume 1 consisted of five black Gazura, each painted in a single shade of hot pink, blue, green, purple or orange. Most people, I think, were unimpressed. On my end, I can only assume that each one was produced in fairly limited numbers, because I think most people would not be inclined to make the set. For good measure, I bought two.

The story of Gazura's design, I suppose, sort of ties into my feeling on the sculpt itself. The body of Gazura incorporates beautiful lines and intricate detail into the shell pattern and the sculpted 'fur' on the upper legs. On the other hand, the bullet-shaped head with tusks seems like a whittled down version of something else; now that I've read the story, I guess it was a design compromise. The extending neck is a neat feature, when I guess action features are few and far between on vinyl toys. I do appreciate the dinosaur aesthetic, and it's a really fun toy that looks good in a herd- like a museum diorama.

Given that I'm not completely sold on the sculpt, the paint work really needs to be a major driving factor when I buy a Gazura release. Part of my reason for initially passing on the Super7 Gazura was that the store photo was very small and somewhat overexposed, which betrayed the very subtle blend of green, yellow and blue on the GID vinyl. But having now seen it in person, the blend of green and yellow on the shell works very well with the greenish-tinted GID materials; the light blue spray on Gazura's belly provides a nice point of contrast. The overall verdict? Much better than the photoshop-doctored stock photos would have you believe.

The Galaxy Gazuras were an interesting color choice. As K-T's website will attest, the contrast of matte black (madblack!) and fluorescent colors is beautiful. Beautiful, maybe. A little underwhelming for a Dream Rocket paint scheme? I thought so. And as much as I would love to have a fluorescent rainbow of Gazura, I have a hard time paying $250 for a few spots of color difference. I did buy a couple, however- blue and pink- and as with most Dream Rocket toys, there is more than meets the (camera) eye. In this case, the black vinyl was given a light silver spray over some of the unpainted areas, and the tusks were coated to have an unfinished matte texture (or was the rest of the vinyl sprayed with a glossy coating?). Does raw vinyl have a glossy or matte finish? While, I don't think these stack up well to the last K-T exclusive Gazura (the beautiful King and Queen versions, which I do not have), the colors are simple, but well-executed. I'm excited to see how K-T gives the Galaxy treatment to their other Monster File designs- Volumes 2 through 4? I certainly hope so.

Believe it or not, I began this article when the Galaxy Gazuras were released, and it's taken me this long to finish. I always think that I over-think writing these reviews, which isn't really good for production time. Anyway, hopefully I can get more posts together a bit more expediently. Maybe another before Christmas?

DR/KT Galaxy Gazura (blue).

Super 7 exclusive Gazura.

DR/KT Galaxy Gazura (pink).

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