1966 saw Toho release the film "Godzilla vs The Sea Monster" and also saw Japan based toy company Marusan produced a line of Toho Kaiju vinyl figures which included Godzilla, Ebriah, and Baragon to name a few. It is believed Marusan based their Godzilla sculpt on the popular Aurora Godzilla model kit made in the United States. Marusan continued to produce the Standard sized Godzilla and other Toho related kaiju until the company closed in 1970 and Bullmark took over the molds.
A Collector would think that the first ever Godzilla vinyl toy would go for thousands of dollars, yet with Internet Auctions and Conventions, the Marusan Godzilla has become easier to find and can be found priced in the low hundreds, which is still a lot, but more reasonable than expectant. The Marusan Godzilla does have certain features that does result in high dollars, such has the type of stamp that is found on the foot. Typically, the words "SAN" and "JAPAN" are found on the bottom right foot. There is the "Double Stamp" which has "SAN" stamped on both feet and the year 1966 on the left foot.
Today, the Marusan Godzilla with a Double Stamp is easier to come by, resulting in the asking price to come down. There is also a version of the Marusan Godzilla with no stamp marks on the bottom of the feet. Most collectors treat this as a bootleg, but there have been samples confirmed as the Marusan Godzilla without the company stamp.
It's unclear why some figures were produced with no stamp the feet. It's a good possibility these are test sample pieces produced by Bullmark. It has been thought the no stamp figures were early productions by Marusan, but there is really only one characteristic that can positively identify the first release of the Marusan Godzilla... and that's the shape of the tail.
Legend has it, when the Marusan Godzilla was first released, the position of the tip of the tail was pointed nearly straight up. This tail has been refered to as the "Steep" and the "J" tail. Word has it the mold of the tail broke early on during production, resulting in the new mold for the tail to be modified. A Marusan Godzilla with the first tail can command thousands of dollars because it is that rare. It was speculated the tail was modified once more to remove any imperfections, but it is believed Bullmark also resculpted the tail when they took over the mold.
One interesting feature I've always found on the Marusan Godzilla is the red/orange paint drip on the eyes. On most Marusan Godzilla figures, the red paint tends to look sloppy and uneven around the bottom of the eyes. This may have resulted in the wetness of the paint. Later, Marusan corrected the problem using a different type of paint.
MARUSAN GODZILLA COMPARED WITH BULLMARK GODZILLA
While it doesn't dictate the rareness or value of the figure, this collector feels the sloppy eye represents the earliest version of the Marusan Godzilla.
Vinyl colors of the Marusan Godzilla are mainly Blue and a Blue-Green. I suspect the Blue-Green version became available after the Blue version since the Blue-Green versions I've seen have the non-drip eyes. There is a rare green vinyl version that feature green or blue paint. I've seen this version with the double stamp and no stamp at all. Both versions have the drip eyes. A Green vinyl version of the Marusan Godzilla will run into the thousands
While rarity and certain features will bring up the price, condition will always figure into the price. The better condition the figure is, the higher the price will be. Sometimes you'll be taking a chance on a auction. You won't be able to verify any loose joints or damage. Try to view as much pictures as possible when it comes to auctions. The Marusan Godzilla does sport painted highlights, such as silver on the body and spines. More paint the better, but that will drive up the price. The spines tend to have pin holes found on the edges. This is a result of the molding process and can't be avoided, so it wouldn't figure in the value, but less pin holes the better. That is some of the things you'll have to live with when buying certain vintage figures. The same with writing on the feet. This does drop the value. No one wants writing on the feet. Since the figure is standing, any writing would not be seen and really shouldn't be a issue, but Collectors want figures as pristine as possible, which means... no writing on the feet.
The Marusan Godzilla is going on 45 years now, but surprisingly, for the first ever vinyl Godzilla figure made, the figure does seem to get overlooked. This may be due to so many reissues and reproductions of this mold. I found it interesting Bullmark continued using the Marusan mold, only slightly modifying it, when the company was more than capable of producing a new standard mold. Over thirty years later, companies like M1 and Modern Day Marusan countinued to reproduce the Marusan mold. M1 even did a flesh vinyl sample with the first "J" tail. Collectors would feel "why buy a Marusan Godzilla for hundreds of dollars when I can get a M1 that glows for less?". But I do know there are collectors out there that appreciate the history and value of having the first ever vinyl Godzilla figure in their collection.
Special Thanks to Jordan Leitner and Greg Cordaro for their assistance and support for this article.
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