Godzilla Garage Kits

Godzilla Garage Kits

What started it all

4.23.2023 (updated 5.1)

My life as a Godzilla fan and collector started with and has always revolved around models and garage kits. I must admit I have not paid them much attention nor thought closely about their history and significance in Godzilla toys and collectible history. But without them Godzilla figures and toys would never have gained steam over the years.

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3D怪獣全集 Monsters Catalogue in 3D published by Asahi Sonoroma in 1984 | Hitoshi Hayami’s Godzilla Suit Variation in 3D怪獣全集 Monsters Catalogue in 3D (pp 10-11) and Bandai 怪獣 The特撮Collection ゴジラ東宝怪獣編 Hand Book 1 (pp 11-12).

The start of my fledgling Japanese Godzilla collection began in 1984 with my visit to Rocketships & Accessories. Little did I know those days coincided with the birth of Godzilla garage kits in Japan which took off in 1983 and 1984. When Godzilla returned he brought a wave of Bandai figures, models, books, and more. But little did I know that garage kits had already been born and their makers were shaping those wonderful figures. Back then I bought Monster Catalogue in 3D that chronicled those early days of kits and their legendary modelers such as Masao Inoue and Hitoshi Hayami and Eito Hara. But I did not know their significance and history because I couldn’t read Japanese. I even had a small Godzilla diorama book and failed to connect model kit building to the history of Godzilla toys. Since then I acquired enough kits that some would have thought I was a kit builder. Although I love kits especially for their detail and uniqueness, I’m just not a modeler. So I paid little attention to kits, their history and significance.

Garage kit released items from my 1984 Godzilla collection (left to right): Monster Diorama Encyclopedia (怪獣ジオラマ大図鑑, 1984), Bandai The特撮Collection Godzilla model kit (1984) and The特撮Collection Handbook 3 (4.21.1984)

Last year I started connecting those early kits with the history of Godzilla toys. Back then those kits were the stuff of my dreams and they deeply shaped what I wanted in Godzilla figures and collectibles. I was mesmerized by Hayami Hitoshi’s Godzilla Suit Variation Series. I didn’t know then his work were prototypes for the Bandai figures I would find at Rocketships & Accessories. And somehow by a miracle, forty years later, I became a part of Godzilla garage and model kit history when I created the box art for the X-Plus MechaGodzilla 1974 Model Kit in 2019. Since then I’ve been privileged to create box art for master Godzilla modeler Yuji Sakai. So now garage kits are at the forefront of my thoughts.

MyKaiju™ and Summit Kaiju International X-Plus Model Kit box art. Learn more.

The past and present has compelled me to study the history of Godzilla garage kits. The Aurora Godzilla model kit started it all in 1963 and inspired Murasan to create the first Godzilla soft vinyl figure. That first model kit was the first Godzilla of my childhood. Twenty years later Godzilla garage kits were born with the return of Godzilla to the big screen. Garage kits (ガレージキット) is an assembly scale model kit most commonly cast in polyurethane resin. But they come in a variety of materials: vacuum foam, resin cast, soft vinyl, injection and more. Originally kits were the work of amateurs and hobbyists who make the models that they could not find on the market. Kits are labor-intensive and as a result they are usually produced in limited quantities. Because they were not mass-produced they were more expensive. Their prototypes were later faithfully copied for production. Some of these early garage kits become the prototypes of the first and our favorite Bandai figures. The names of the prototype modeler can be found on the plastic tags that accompanied the figures.1 In Uchusen (宇宙船 vol 18, 1983), Bandai advertised the new soft vinyl KinGoji and MosuGoji for release in November. The prototypes of those favorite Bandai figures were made by Hitoshi Hayami.

宇宙船 (Uchusen Vol. 16 1983) and Bandai Poppy Division advertisement of Godzilla soft vinyl figures

● バンダイポピー事業部 Bandai Poppy Division
ゴジラリアルソフト登場! Godzilla Real Soft (Vinyl) Appears!

リアルホビーのゴジラの発売が遅れると報告したが、バンダイポピー事業部から2つのゴジラアイテムが発売される。材質は”ウルトラ怪獣コレクション”と同じソフトビニールなのだが、写真でも判るようにこのキンゴジの大きさとリアルさに注目してもらいたい。キンゴジは全高25cm、尾の長さも同じ位あるのでかなりのボリュームである。因みにマルサン(ブルマァク)のスタンダードゴジラが全高23cmなので高さはほぼ同じなのだが、尾の長さからイメージは倍のボリュームを感じさせる。但し、これは第1号金型からのテストショットなので量産金型になると若平の縮少があるので、全高23cm程になるだろう(ソフトビニール生産の工程は、次号のこのコーナーで特集する予定だ)。分割は擬っていて、足はひざから下なので目立なくてリアルだ。また背ビレも別パーツなので形状はよく再現されているし少しぶ厚いのが難点)。歯は下あごは完全にぬけているが、上あごはつながっている。しかし、ソフトビニールがムクなのでカッターで間を削ればよい。発売時期は11月上旬(ゴジラの誕生日に合わせてか?)価格は1800円。尚、成形色は黒、緑、グレーと3色でアソートして、好みの色を選べるような販売方が検討中だという。We reported that the release of Real Hobby’s Godzilla will be delayed, but two Godzilla items will be released from the Bandai Poppy Division. The material is the same soft vinyl as the “Ultra Monster Collection,” but as you can see in the photo, I would like you to pay attention to the size and realism of this KinGoji. KinGoji has a total height of 25 cm and a tail of about the same length, so it is quite voluminous. By the way, Marsan’s (Bullmark) standard Godzilla is 23 cm tall, so it’s almost the same height, but the length of the tail makes it look twice as voluminous. However, since this is a test shot from the first mold, there will be some shrinkage in the mass production mold, so the total height will be about 23cm (The soft vinyl production process will be featured in this section of the next issue). The split is simulated, and the legs are below the knee, so they are unobtrusive and realistic. Also, the dorsal fin is a separate part, so the shape is well reproduced, but it is a little thick.) The teeth are completely missing in the lower jaw, but are connected in the upper jaw. However, since the soft vinyl is bulky, you can use a cutter to cut the gaps. The release date is early November (to coincide with Godzilla’s birthday?) The price is 1800 yen. In addition, the molding color is assorted in three colors, black, green, and gray, and it is said that we are considering a sales method that allows you to choose your favorite color.

原型製作は、速水仁司氏。このサイズでのリアルソフトの企画は、キングギドラやバルタン星人等がラインナップに上がっている。Prototype production is Mr. Hitoshi Hayami. King Ghidorah, Alien Baltan, etc. have been added to the lineup for real software projects of this size.

こちらは、千円以下で発売されるラインのソフトゴジラ。井上雅夫氏のガレージキット(全長50cc、近頃、京都のボークスで独占販売が決定全高21㎝にスケールダウンしたもので、井上氏が原型を手懸けたわけではないが、監修をしている。キンゴジと同じく11月上旬発売で価格は950円。 This is the soft Godzilla of the line released for less than 1,000 yen. Mr. Masao Inoue’s garage kit (total length 50cc, recently decided to sell exclusively at Volks in Kyoto. Scaled down to a total height of 21cm. Mr. Inoue did not work on the prototype, but supervised it. Same as KinGoji. It will be released in early November and the price is 950 yen.

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Model Graphic Visual Monthly for Every Modeler (月刊モデルクラフィックス Vol. 3 1985, pp 14-17) featuring Hitomi Hayashi’s new Godzilla model. Read translation

Godzilla ’85 (コミックボンボン スペシャル, 講談社, 1985, p 51).

Godzilla Model Kits | 今だからあかす I will reveal it now | 秘ゴジラキットの〝仕掛〟Secret Godzilla kit “gimmick” | ガンダムプラモのブームに火をつけた講談社プラモ仕掛け人グループは、ゴジラブームの一翼をになう怪獣キットの、陰の協力者でもあった。そのすべてを紹介しょう。The Kodansha plastic model group that ignited the Gundam plastic model boom was also a behind-the-scenes collaborator in the monster kit that played a role in the Godzilla boom. Let me introduce you to all of them. | ● 映画のポスターにも使用だれた、原氏のモデル。Mr. Hara’s model, which was also used for movie posters. | ● どこよりも早く、良質の怪獣ディオラマを講談社が特撮。Kodansha special effects monster diorama of good quality earlier than anywhere else. | ● つぃに、新作ゴジラが発場。原詠人氏製作。キットは、おなじみの海洋堂より発売。 | Finally, a new Godzilla is released. Produced by Eito Hara. The kit is on sale from the familiar Kaiyodo. | ● バンダイのプラモによる怪獣ディオラマ。Monster diorama by Bandai’s plastic model. | ▼ バンダイの怪獣ソフトビニール人形にも、企画協力。Planning cooperation for Bandai’s monster soft vinyl doll. | ◀︎ バンダイCMゴジラの製作にも、講談社が協力。Kodansha also cooperated in the production of Bandai Godzilla Commercial. | ゴジラサウンドはキングから Godzilla sound from the King | 講談社の兄弟会社にあたるキングレコードは、ゴジラサウンドブームの仕掛け役だ。六十余名のオーケストラによる新作ゴジラのサウンドトラック盤も、キングレコードが独占発売している。 | King Records, a sister company of Kodansha, is the trigger for the Godzilla sound boom. The new Godzilla soundtrack by an orchestra of more than 60 musicians is also exclusively sold by King Records. | ● 井上雅夫氏(イノウエアーツ)版、新モスゴジキット。Masao Inoue (Inoue Arts) version, new MosuGoji kit. | ● 海洋堂のGSV、タカラのCJ用ゴジラスーツも、速水氏が原型製作。Kaiyodo’s GSV [Godzilla Suit Variation] and Takara’s Godzilla suit for CJ [Combat Joe] are also prototyped by Mr. Hayami. ボークスより発売中。Available from Volks. | ◀︎ バンダイプロモ、ザ•特撮コレクションにも全面協力。Full cooperation with Bandai Promo and The Tokusatsu Collection. | ◀︎ 速水氏原型の、東宝怪獣オールスターキット。海洋堂より発売。Toho Kaiju All-Star Kit, prototyped by Mr. Hayami. Released by Kaiyodo.

The beginning of movie accurate Godzilla figures is credited to these modelers. Even Godzilla suit design begins with sculptors and modelers. Their work bears distinctive marks, signatures and stylization that we have come to love. I’m impressed by my friends and fellow collectors who build kits. I’m in awe of their work. And for that reason I’ve begun taking an inventory of my collection for kits and figures to document their story. In addition, I’ve started investing in vintage kits and related collectibles here and there to piece together a small representation of kit history.

Some of the garage kits I’ve collected over the years.

Since my first encounter with garage kits in 1984, I didn’t know the modelers’ names, nor the kit manufacturers unless they were in English. But they were always near and sitting on my shelves. Their work was the foundation of my Godzilla collection. Not only Monster Catalogue in 3D, but also the work of author and modeler Masami Yamada introduced me to kit building in The Definitive Edition Godzilla Introduction (決定版ゴジラ入門, 1984). Flash forward to today, I’m playing catch up translating these old books for the history of Godzilla garage kits and doing deep dives on web pages to learn more. Kaiju Kits (kaijukits.com) provides a comprehensive model library thoroughly documenting the earliest kits to the most recent releases from their well-known manufacturers to lesser-known: Billiken, Beninside, Kaiyodo, Gow Row, Honey Bones, Inoue Arts, M-1, Monster Maker 28, Resin Chef Team Ukekue, Marmit, Max Factory, Shinzen, T-s Facto, Tanaka Studios, Volks, West Kinji, X-Plus, Zo Models, to name a few.

Enjoy this video from the “Mysterious Mountain Exhibition” (怪山展, 6.1-7.31.1987) put on by Masami Yamada during the infancy of garage kits. Learn more

Godzilla garage kits can be found at conventions, shops and the web. Manufacturers and modelers are a post and message away on social media. They post their latest creations and when and where they will appear. Wonder Festival (ワンダーフェスティバル) was created as a “garage kit party” where enthusiasts could trade kits.2 3 Today thousands attend the show to purchase kits. I went to Wonder Festival in the Summer of 2016. And in 2022, my box art for Yuji Sakai’s Godzilla 2002 was on display at the X-Plus booth. For those of us who are not kit builders like myself, X-Plus created the Favorite Sculptors Line (FSL) to release some of the classic kits in soft vinyl for us. Whether older kits or newer releases, many can be found on Mandarake and Buyee Japan. Godzilla kits can be found at conventions, particularly G-Fest. Last year my friend Leslie scooped up the Monster Maker 28 Godzilla 1975 for me. And during my trip to Japan I bought the Billiken Godzilla 1954 from the Mandarake shop in Osu Kannon Temple shopping street in Nagoya. Since returning home, I’ve purchased two more kits through Buyee Japan.

Kaiyodo ’83 Catalogue, Uchusen (1983, 1989, 1993), ARTPLA (1983, 1984), Hobby Japan (1985, 1992, 1993, 1998, 2002), Model Graphic (1985), Figure King (2016), and Godzilla Super Diorama Theater (1992)

A few months ago Hitoshi Hayama began sharing his work on Twitter. He has posted magazine covers, spreads and stories documenting his work. His posts have sent me searching for more garage kit history. I’ve been buying and translating books, catalogs, magazines, pamphlets, websites and tags. Recently, I found the Kaiyodo 1983 catalog. Now I’m pulling out all my issues of Hobby Japan, Uchussen and Figure King magazines that I have been collecting since the 90s. They are full of Godzilla garage kit history. They contain articles and ads on Godzilla and tokusatsu kits while setting them in their historical contexts. Masami Yamada’s book, Godzilla Super Diorama Theater, stimulated my desire for toy photography back in the 90s. Just a few years ago I met the legend in Japan and interviewed him for the second issue of MyKaiju Magazine.

Pages from The Definitive Edition Godzilla Introduction (決定版ゴジラ入門) edited by Masami Yamada featured models from the early garage kit era. See more

A few months ago, I purchased a small collection of Hayami’s early garage kits. And during my recent trip to Japan I was given two classic Volks Godzilla kits. In the near future I will write about these and the history of Godzilla garage kits.


1. Wikipedia: Garage Kits

2. Wonder Festival

3. Wikipedia: Wonder Festival