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Meet Hitoshi Hayami

8.16.2022 (revised 8.31.2022)

The earliest years of my life were so impressionable. For that reason, I’ve written a lot about the 80s. 1984 was a magical year. I can’t escape the indelible mark it left on me, my memories and my collection. The return of Godzilla transformed my childhood memories of the 70s into the passion of a teenage collector in the 80s. Godzilla had not been on the big screen since 1975, but he had been on my television screen. The local news announcement of new Godzilla was the shot in the arm that a young Godzilla fan with competing interests like Star Wars. And then Godzilla’s 30th birthday party at Rocketships & Accessories happened and I was introduced to the Japanese world of Godzilla.

Front window of Rocketships and Accessories on South Street, Philadelphia (Photo Credit: Joel Spivak, Source: Hidden City: Let There be Light! New Neon Museum Illuminates Philly’s Colorful Commercial History)

From that day in 1984 until the shop closed, I went down town to Rocketships almost every weekend. I was blown away by something new on every trip. Japanese Godzilla and Ultraman collectibles filled the store display cases and the shelves. The little money I had was spent on buying the latest Godzilla figures and books.Each item is precious and full of the best memories growing up collecting Godzilla. What I amassed from that amazing shop became the foundation of my Japanese Godzilla collection today. Going to Rocketships was like going to Mandarake in Nakano Broadway. It was a toy store before its time and out of this world.

Inside Rocketships & Accessories (Photo Credit: Joel Spivak, Source: ROCKETSHIPS & ACCESSORIES: The Inside Story Of The Outer Space Toy Store)

Out of all my acquisitions the Japanese Godzilla books became most important. They were superior to all my Godzilla magazines published in the U.S. My inability to read the Japanese didn’t stop me from staring at every page and collecting more. The pictures were gold and gave me Godzilla on paper well after he had disappeared from the TV screen. Years later my books became my motivation for studying Japanese.

My five Asahi Sonorama Fantastic Collection Godzilla books: No 5 特撮映像の巨星 ゴジラ (1978年5月1日), No 28 特撮映像の巨星 ゴジラ (1983年8月1日), No 30 ゴジラグラフィティ 東宝特撮映画の世界 (1983年9月20日), No 38 3D怪獣全集 (1984年6月30日), No 44 SFX GODZILLA ゴジラ特撮のすべて (1984年12月30日) (Source: Wikipedia: Fantastic Collection)

Monster Catalog in 3D (3D怪獣全集) was one of my favorite books. It was one of two mooks1 I bought from Rocketships in 1984. They are part of the Asahi Sonorama Fantastic Collection series (ファンタスティックコレクション)2. The Monster Catalog was loaded with Godzilla stuff I had never seen before. It documented in detail the construction of a new Godzilla suit. Little did I know, three decades later I would become social media friends with its maker Shinichi Wakasa who is featured in the book. Throughout the mook are amazing model kits from Godzilla, Ultraman, Kamen Raider, and much more. The blog “Fukuromushi & Kobukuromushi Kaiju Anything Laboratory” describes the mook as so: “An epoch-making book that probably wouldn’t have been so addicted to the world of monster garage kits without seeing this… I’ve seen it so much that it’s worn out… It’s a bible-like mook book that all monster lovers probably have.”3

Mr Hitoshi’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). He created the Godzilla 1954 (cover), Godzilla vs King Kong, Mothra vs Godzilla, King Ghidorah, Mothra Larva, Kumonga, Manda, Miniya, Rodan, and Godzilla in the dioramas above.

Now, decades later, as I met Wakasa-san, I’ve found modeler Hayami Hitoshi (速水仁司), one of the legendary kit builders whose Godzilla kits are featured prominently in this mook. I’ve always been awed by his eight Showa Godzilla incarnations. They are known as the Godzilla Suit Variation Series (ゴジラスーツバリェーション GSV.8シリーズ) that were released by Kaiyodo in 1983. They are laid out in a spread titled, “The man who created Godzilla! Hitoshi Hayami” (ゴジラを造り分かけた男!速水仁司). It reads, “Mr. Hitoshi Hayami can be said to be a modeler who presented a new rhythm in the replacement work with polyurethane. In terms of monster modeling, it seems that the modeler made a great achievement by removing the feeling of resistance to heaping and shaving using paper clay as a material. We truly found the best crafting process for making monsters.”4 At that time, Mr. Hayami along with Mr. Masao Inoue were at the forefront of garage kits. Their influence reached the masses.5

1) Bandai “The Godzilla Collection” Godzilla 1962 and 1984 with tag marked「原型:速水仁司」 (Prototype: Hayami Hitoshi); 2) Mr. Hayami’s KinGoji 1983 from the GSVシリーズ (Source: 田口康成 @Gpz900riJp); 3) Kaiyodo’s early garage kit by Mr. Hayami (Source: GR-7 @ggrasperZX); 4) Mr. Hitoshi Hayami’s 5 Kaiyodo garage kits from 1983 (Source: GR-7 @ggrasperZX)

Mr Hayami created prototypes and kits that Bandai used for the soft vinyl monsters of “The Godzilla Collection” (グレートモンスターシリーズ) and Ultraman figure lines. His name and credit appear in the bottom right corner on the back of Bandai tags (原型:速水仁司). He also created prototypes used for Bandai’s The Tokusatsu Collection (The特撮Collection) model kits and for the Takara Combat Joe Godzilla! His models were the foundation for our Godzilla figure collection.

1) Godzilla Lands (Terebi Magazine 2/1984); 2) Godzilla vs King Ghidorah diorama ; 3) Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla (Terebi Magazine 4/1984) 4) How to build Godzilla (Source: @HayamiHitoshi); 5) Bandai The特撮Collection ad: 遂にプラモでもゴジラが登場する。モデルアップされたのは、”モスラ対ゴジラ”のゴジラで、全長177㎝、スケールは約30分のとなる。ディオラマベースとメーサー車のミニモデルが付く予定とか。マニアでも満足が出来るようなディスプレイモデルになるという事ですので、期待がもてそう。 (写真は、本誌でもおなじみの京都 の速水仁司くんが製作した試作見本 です。) “Godzilla finally appears in plastic models. The upgraded model is Godzilla from “Mothra vs. Godzilla,” with a total length of 177 cm and a scale of about 30 minutes. There are plans to include a diorama base and a mini model of the Maser vehicle. It will be a display model that even enthusiasts can be satisfied with, so I have high expectations. (The photo is a prototype made by Mr. Hitoshi Hayami from Kyoto, who is familiar with this magazine.)”; 6) Bandai The特撮Collection 1/350 scale Godzilla Model Kit box; 7) Mr. Hitoshi created the prototype for the Takara Combat Joe MosuGoji and Deformed Destroy All Monsters figures; 8) Godzilla vs Gigan diorama

Mr Hayami’s work can be found in many Japanese publications and advertisements through the years. The Bandai Monster Hand Books (バンダイ 怪獣 The特撮Collection ゴジラ東宝怪獣編), published as a sale promotion for the model series, and Terebi Magazine (テレビマガシン) featured his Kaiyodo Godzilla kits in dioramas. For all these years, I wanted to own Mr Hayashi’s kits, especially the Godzilla 1974 figure. I didn’t know his name and I didn’t knew who made them until recently when I came across his Twitter account (速水仁司 Hayami Hitoshi). Mr. Hayami has been sharing pages from those publications along with their backstories. It has been a pleasure to read the stories of the legendary monster maker.

  1. A mook is a publication which is physically similar to a magazine but is intended to remain on bookstore shelves for longer periods than traditional magazines, and is a popular format in Japan. The term is a portmanteau of “magazine” and “book.” Source: Wikipedia)
  2. The Fantastic Collection series (ファンタスティックコレクション) was published by Asahi Sonorama. It goes by the nickname “Fancolle” (ファンコレ). Early on it went by the name Fantastic TV Collection (ファンタスティックTVコレクション). This mook was published to explain anime and special effects. And since its first issue in 1977, over 70 editions have been published. (Source: Wikipedia: Fantastic Collection)
  3. Source: Fukuromushi & Kobukuromushi Kaiju Anything Laboratory (フクロムシ&コブクロムシ怪獣なんでも研究所): 3D怪獣全集, published 2009年09月01日 23:02, 「おそらくこれを見なければこれほど怪獣ガレージキットの世界にはまることはなかったであろうエポックメイキングな一冊、1984年に朝日ソノラマから発行されたファンコレNo.38 『3D怪獣全集』デッス… 怪獣ガレキ愛好家の方々はおそらくみなさん持っていらっしゃるであろうバイブルのようなムック本ですね」
  4. ファンタスティックコレクション 3D怪獣全集 (Monsters Catalogue in 3D), Asahi Sonorama, p 10–11.
  5. 「当時、バンダイはガレージキットを非常に意識していたようで、井上氏、速水氏等、当時のGK最前線におられた方々とも接触しています。」 Source: Modeling labo Krabat Garage: Back to the 80’s 83年のビッグバン, Kaiju Garage Kit History, 2010年08月08日 12時13分02秒

Hero image is a modification of original illustration by Hitoshi Yoneda (米田仁志).