I've been in a Japanese mood lately, and in the last little while I have become obsessed with Kamen Rider and started planning another Japan trip.It's pretty fair to say that I've officially switched sides from Team Ultraman to Team Kamen Rider, but that doesn't mean I like the toys any less.Eventually (either here at the Plastic Eyeball or over at ) I'll give Kamen Rider the spotlight it deserves.Until then, let's take another look at the Ultraman universe and finish off my (current) collection of vinyl Ultra Monster figures.
EX RED KING
One of the first kaiju figures I bought in Japan was this guy: Red King.Well, specifically he's "EX Red King".I chose him over the regular version of Red King because 1) with his orange colors, he's closer to looking like a "red" king than the classic green version, and 2) look at those arms!In this special EX form, Red King gained giant, beefy gorilla arms.It almost looks like what you would get if you crossed Godzilla with King Kong.I know Red King is a classic Ultraman monster, but I still greatly prefer this look over the original.
Speaking of classic Ultraman monsters, his most famous adversary is the alien Baltan.This one is the hilariously named "Basical" version as seen in Ultraman Cosmos.He is pretty similar to the original Baltan, so I guess "basical" is supposed to mean something like "classical".Anyway, he's a cool looking monster and I love the way the black patterns on his body almost look like some kind of alien camo.These vinyl figures from Bandai are usually made nice and sturdy for real play (unlike some of the other super articulated/super fragile figures aimed at adults).That being said, his right claw pops off with only the slightest of tugs.It can be popped back on easily enough and stays in place, but usually that stuff doesn't happen with these guys.It's not a huge deal (and it could even be used for some unintended battle damage, but I'm assuming most people won't have this issue.I was just lucky.Or something.
Here's Baltan again!This is the "Powered" version, because he was seen in Ultraman Powered.This one stands out from other versions with his tall, lanky proportions and wicked long pincers.I ended up getting three Baltan figures on my Japan trip, and in my head each one represented me and my brothers.I guess I was imagining the three of us as aliens with these guys playing the roles.Anyway, this version represented Alexander, the middle brother who is tall and lanky (but without wicked long pincers).Basical Baltan represented Marcel, my youngest brother (both of my brothers are younger and taller than me - Basical stands at the middle height of the three that I got).That means there's only one left: MY Baltan...
Awwww yeeeeeaaaah!Look at him!He may be the shortest of the three, but he makes up for it by being the best looking and altogether coolest version.The other Baltans might argue that point, but Mecha Baltan here is easily my favorite version out there.From his cybernetic parts to his sparkly golden skin, he might not be the weirdest looking Baltan there is, but he's still my favorite.I just get lost in those sparkles!Every time I pick him up, I end up sitting there going, "Oooooo.... pretty.....".It's actually rather Gollum-like of me.
It's not often that I choose "cool" over "weird" like I did with the Baltans, but it helps when a figure falls into both categories.This is Reicubas, the monster... shrimp.But he's giant, not shrimpy!Well, he's giant on TV - the figure's not that big.I've mentioned in my previous Ultraman posts that I did some searching for weird monsters online before we went to Japan, and this is one of the figures that appealed to me early on.When it comes to monster figures, you can't go wrong with ones based on bugs or crustaceans, and you can't go wrong with Reicubas.
Sometimes humanoid monsters can be just as cool as the beastly ones, and sometimes they look so cool that you need to balance them out with a stupid name so they don't just totally blow your mind.Case in point, here's Gigi.Similar in name and appearance to Dada (who was covered ), Gigi starts out as three soldiers from the Gigi race who combine as a giant to battle Ultraman Cosmos.Ya know, Ultraman Cosmos seems to have some cool looking monsters, I might have to check the series out.Anyway, Gigi has the standard articulation for vinyl figures (which is often just the shoulders andneck), but instead of the standard neck swivel, Gigi's faces can be rotated so that any of the three can face forward.I prefer the yellow eyes myself.They're the weirdest.
Sometimes an Ultraman must battle an evil version of themselves, and this is the evil version of Ultraman Tiga.Apparently Evil Tiga isn't really an evil version of Tiga, but a separate entity who closely resembles Tiga, and starts out good then goes bad.So he looks like Tiga and goes by the name Evil Tiga.That sounds like an evil version of Tiga to me.I actually have the Ultraman Tiga episodes with Evil Tiga on DVD, but I haven't gotten around to watching them yet.I should get to it, but I'm too obsessed with Kamen Rider right now.Sorry Ultraman.
Now if you can't find an evil version of the hero, you could always make one.Or many.The Darklops are mass produced robots modelled after Ultraman Zero.I've always had a fondness for the dark versions of heroes, so I had to make sure I grabbed a few of them in Japan.I got Ultraman Tiga (Sky Type) as well, but not Zero.I'll have to remedy that when I go back.Sky Type Tiga was covered in myUltraman spotlight.
I had a birthday while we were in Japan, and my brother Alexander offered to buy me some vinyl figures.I chose a few, then I told him to choose one on his own and surprise me.He chose Armored Darkness, a giant sentient suit of armor that serves an evil emperor.When I asked my brother why he chose him, the answer I got was "he looks cool".Good enough.I said way back in mythat I have a thing for sentient suits of armor, so he's got that going for him.But he can also possess other beings (including kaiju and Ultramen), and even revive fallen monsters at will.Seriously, what's not to love?
For the last figure in the spotlight, lets go back to something beastly.The humanoids are all well and good, but you just can't beat a nice giant beast.This is Super COV (Cosmic Organism Vanguard).An upgraded version of the regular COV, he can shoot energy blasts from his head, and if that doesn't work he has a vicious set of bladed arms.When I went to Japan I had originally planned on skipping the classic dinosaur looking kaiju, because I figured they were more likely to be too old-school and boring for me.Turns out there are just as many weird dino-types as there are others, so they're all good in my book.
Now as I said at the top of the post, I have recently crossed over from Team Ultraman to Team Kamen Rider .I'm hoping to head back to Japan next year, and if I do you can bet I'll be stocking up on Kamen Rider stuff.That being said, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for bizarre monsters, andyou have to go with Ultraman for the biggest bizarre monster selection.