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Tomopop Review: Bandai's S.H.MonsterArts King Kong

4:00 PM on 07.08.2013 // Scarecroodle

The eighth wonder of the S.H.MonsterArts line

When people think "kaiju", quite often Godzilla and his ilk are the first things to come to mind. As such, some might be surprised by the "American kaiju", King Kong, breaking into the S.H.MonsterArts line which, up until this point, basically had been like Godzilla's private country club. Perhaps even more surprising is that this King Kong is based on the incarnation seen in Peter Jackson's 2005 King Kong rather than a version who had actually battled Godzilla in film, or an earlier, more iconic interpretation. However, after seeing the S.H.MonsterArts King Kong in action, I'm not sure I would have had it any other way.

Hit the jump for the full review.

Figure Name: S.H.MonsterArts King Kong "King Kong 2005"
Figure Maker: Bandai
Retail: US$65
Available at: Amazon | Big Bad Toy Store | Entertainment Earth

S.H.MonsterArts King Kong differs from previous MonsterArts releases, like Godzilla (reviewed), in that his packaging features a taller, more narrow design; a choice that no doubt reflects the fact that Kong Kong is the first entry in the line to feature neither wings nor a tail. The packaging otherwise has the same solid display value and adheres to many of the usual conventions.

SHM King Kong comes with two alternate faces, three alternate sets of hands, a hand holding a tiny Ann Darrow, a tree limb, and a stand. The hand sets are closed fists (default, as seen on the figure), open hands, grasping hands (for holding the tree), and extended midknuckles (for standing on four "legs").

King Kong's default head (seen left) features a neutral, gruff expression where one tooth adorably sticks out from his lower lip. The next one sports an angry, roaring face (which can double as getting ready to eat something --- or someone!). The final head features a somewhat indiscernible yet playful expression (one that I don't necessarily recall from the film). It somewhat looks like he might be hooting and makes for a fun design.

Rather than just get a ball-joint at the neck, the head fits onto a central peg while being partially anchored by two additional bumps. The bumps seem to help keep the face on straight while providing additional clearance if you want the head to turn up or down a little.

Most of the movement is rooted at the base of the neck, which features a spectacular range of movement; it allows King Kong to turn his head a good deal sideways as well as fully up for his quadripedal stance.

You'll also notice a lot of trademark information on the underside, which is probably the most unobtrusive place for it. There's another logo on the underside of his left foot.

S.H.MonsterArts King Kong's body sculpt features some superb craftsmanship. The torso and limbs all look solid, with some really cool, distinct fur matting on the forearms, and similarly strong pattern on the thighs. The upper torso is well-shaped, and the articulation doesn't really stick out except for the elbows.

The paint is somewhat less impressive, given that it seems to be a lot of solid color, although it's an issue true to the original character design. In the film, this was compensated for by lighting effects which gave the appearance of differing hues; an advantage that SHM King Kong unfortunately lacks. This obscures some of the finer detail when viewed from a distance. However, it's worth noting that King Kong's battle scars (which are sculpted in) will stick out at least somewhat given the glossier paint used.

One of the coolest aspects of the SHM King Kong is its ability to alternate between bipedal and quadripedal stances, just like in the film. This option is one of the reasons why the Peter Jackson King Kong is superior to other incarnations. This transition is accomplished largely by a generous range of movement on the torso joint as well as the hips' ability to swing a good deal up.

Naturally this means he can also sit, like when he might need a rest between shots. While he's still seated, I want you to note the two pin-joints in his feet as well as the previously mentioned logo on his left foot. As much as I dislike having a logo there, it's a pretty neat design.

Between the hips, toe joints, foot joint (which features rotation and a pivot), upper torso joint, and lower torso (waist) joint, you can get a good range of movement from King Kong which can facilitate some fun poses. The included stand (partly seen on the side) is pretty much unnecessary.

The S.H.MonsterArts King Kong stands roughly 6.5-inches tall on two legs, about 4-inches on four. This means he scales in a somewhat interesting way against the other S.H.MonsterArts figures, especially considering that the Peter Jackson King Kong is supposedly only 25-feet tall on his hind legs while Godzilla is generally depicted as being considerably larger (although it's worth noting that King Kong was "upscaled" to fight Godzilla in the movies as well).

On his hind legs, the SHM King Kong is a little taller than the SHM Godzilla, while being a good deal shorter on all fours.

Bandai's S.H.MonsterArts King Kong might be the most interesting entry in the line thus far, offering a wide array of poses which replicate that of his movie counterpart. The alternate heads provide great display options which further accentuate the figure's already strong poseability and helps to cement SHM King Kong's position as being among the best that the S.H.MonsterArts line has to offer.

[ A kong-sized thanks to Bluefin Tamashii Nations for providing this review sample. ]

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Scarecroodle, Associate Editor
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