Looking Back: Mattel’s “Godzilla’s Gang”
November 19, 2013

Remember when Mattel sold Japanese Kaiju figures? Had I not held onto a weird blue monster with big ears since childhood I would’ve answered “uhh, no.” Turns out, Mattel did obtain the rights to distribute toys for the popular Japanese company Popy back in the late 70′s. You  do remember Shogun Warriors, right? Same licensing agreement. Although they do not have the same legendary status, Godzilla’s Gang was a cool little series that I decided to go back and collect recently.

Like I said, I had a few of these as a kid and, miraculously, they’re some of the few vintage toys I had that survived the great purges. Not long ago I decided to figure out what the heck they were. After a little searching I learned they were released as part of Mattel’s eight figure line called Godzilla’s Gang. Well, you know how the collector mentality works. First: “Oh, what other characters were there?” Second: “Oh, I wonder if there are any on eBay.” Third: “Accept, my Best Offer, dang it!”

Turns out the blue guy with the big ears was Ikarusu Planeter. I was able to get a packaged one recently. These were distributed, apparently, more as a rack toy:

Godzilla's Gang Packaging

The back of the card had a little checklist. The bane of the vulnerable collector.

Godzilla's Gang Cardback

I do not know much about the world of Japanese “strange creatures“. I wish I did. I know Godzilla is a thing. And I know Ultraman is another thing. From what I’ve been told, all the creatures in the line (save Godzilla himself) are actually related to the Ultraman property. I have some catching up to do. Anyway, here’s the gang…

GODZILLA

Godzilla

NOKO-GIRIN

Noko-Girin

 MICLAS

Micras

 IKARUSU PLANETER

Ikarusu Planeter

 KING JOE

King Joe

MURUCHI

Muruchi

 ELEKING

Eleking

BEMUSTAR

Bemustar

One of the things about these figures that I recall from childhood was that they had unique footprints. Like, the soles of their feet were not just smooth. They each had a sculpted footprint. For those of you who are in-the-know, how unusual is this? I’ve noticed some other vintage Popy vinyl figures of a similar scale and sculpt style that also have unique footprints. That leads me to believe that Mattel only chose to distribute, at first, eight of these Popy creatures. But more existed in whatever Popy series (“Ultra Saurus”, perhaps) Godzilla’s Gang came from. Please fill me in! Not that I need to expand my collection, mind you.

Godzilla's Gang Footprints

Anyway, even though I don’t know much about Japanese Kaiju, I think this series is rad. I’m glad Mattel introduced us to these as kids. The nostalgia finally caught up with me and now I’m poised to learn more about these wacky creatures. Again, if this is your thing and you have something to share, please do so in the comments below!

Godzilla's Gang

Danny "CantinaDan" Neumann
Action figure anthropologist, Professor Cantina Dan Neumann has been a scholastic contributor to the online community studying the complex world of parumplasticus populus {little plastic people} since the turn of this millenium. His primary focus is the visual cataloging of species exhibits through photo-journalism.
Read other articles by Danny "CantinaDan" Neumann.

 

 

 

6 Comments »

  • Captain Collector says:

    Awesome! I believe there were two different versions of Godzilla (I sold mine off many years ago). If you like these, I’ve got a mint Shogun warriors “Worlds Greatest Monsters” Rodan to show ya ;)

  • Jim Abell says:

    This may have been an Ultraman line that Popy licensed to Mattel while they held the Godzilla rights in the US. Ultraman was made by the television division of Toho (from what I understand, they really aren’t a tv / film studio but more of a mega-conglomerate in Japan) and the Godzilla suit was slightly re-dressed at one point for use as an Ultraman opponent. I’ve got a friend who could fill in all the details on that end of things if you’re interested.

  • Jordan Ferguson says:

    The imprints on the bottoms of the feet may be a monster identifier similar the the silhouettes seen on most Godzilla movies. The grey and orange ones in particular seem less like footprints and more like symbols representing the monster (the orange “crab claw” and strange symbol on the grey foot).
    As a side not I’ve seen a number of fossil footprints and some these look strikingly similar to these relics from another age of giant monsters. All conjecture mind you, but something to think about :-)

  • BANE says:

    Never collected them. I couldn’t get behind ANY character named King Joe…

  • Mark says:

    Cool! I’ve had that Godzilla on my shelf since I was a little kid and I had no idea he was part of a “gang”. I remember using his feet to make imprints in the sandbox. Thanks for the info!

  • Richard Cox says:

    Hi Danny; I’m collecting these guys bagged and the Planeter is one of the last 2 I need. I know this is a long shot but would you be interested in selling? If so please drop me an e-mail (kinggoji AT gmail D0T com)

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