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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Countdown To Godzilla 2014: BioGoji/GhidoGoji Suit

Films: Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) and Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)

The 1989 Godzilla featured a triangular build, with stocky legs recalling the 1962 Godzilla. The chest and shoulders featured pronounced musculature, which gave the 1989 Godzilla a very powerful appearance. The number of dorsal plates was reduced, but oddly the largest plate placed at shoulder level. The tail was shorter than the previous suit and the underside was smooth, in common with all Godzilla suits from 1962 to 1975. The other features of the 1984 Godzilla, such as the fangs, ears and four toes were all retained. The neck of the 1989 Godzilla was longer and the size of the head reduced. The face was changed radically, and featured a fierce expression with several new features; a feline-like upper lip, multiple rows of shark-like teeth and eyes with large, brown irises and very little white showing. The new face added much to Godzilla’s evil personality, making the King of the Monsters appear fiercer and more dragon-like than before. It also made him look more intelligent, as it seems like he would even know how to make a QR code.

A second costume was specially built for water scenes. Called Sea 1989 Godzilla, this suit was made of lighter material. Although constructed from the same molds as the land suit, the sea suit featured some differences, such as a pronounced crest at the top of the head and odd-looking, square shoulders. The sea suit was also used for Godzilla’s grand appearance as he lumbers out of the volcano at Mt. Mihara. Interestingly, the first constructed 1989 Godzilla suit was rejected, and is thus called the NG (No Good) 1989 Godzilla suit. Compared to the land and sea suits, the NG suit featured a wide, flat head, a short, thick neck and thinner thighs. The NG suit was employed for publicity photos, but also appears in the finished film when Godzilla approaches the Twin 21 Towers in Osaka. Previously, all Godzilla suits featured a zipper that ran along one side of the body to allow entry for the suitmation actor. Both the land and sea Godzilla suits had a new feature that would apply to all later Godzilla suits; the dorsal plates were mounted on a separate block-shaped piece of rubber that could be detached from the suit by means of velcro strips. This set could be alternated with a special set of dorsal plates made in Fiber Reinforced Plastic (FRP) that would glow electrically, giving greater realism when Godzilla’s dorsal plates emitted light. Furthermore, a mechanical upper-half for Godzilla, which was constructed from the same molds as the costumes, was employed for close shots. This method was also employed in the subsequent films, though with a varying degree of success in matching the mechanical figures with the Godzilla suits.

The Land and Sea 1989 Godzilla costumes were repaired and employed in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991). The Land 1989 suit was fitted with a new head and used for the climatic battle with Mecha-King Ghidorah at Shinjuku. Compared to the previous head of the land suit, the new head looked a bit wider and flatter. This costume, 1991 Godzilla A, was later cut in half. The upper half was used in the scenes when Godzilla emerges in the Bering Sea, advances up the hill at Hokkaido, and also for tight shots during the first battle with King Ghidorah. The lower half of the suit was later used when Godzilla tramples Rodan at Adonoa Island in Godzilla vs. Mecha-Godzilla (1993). The Sea 1989 suit was fitted with round shoulders, an especially pronounced chest, and a new head that featured a high crest and a splendidly fierce face. This costume, 1991 Godzilla B, was employed for the majority of the filming of Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah. In this author’s opinion, 1991 Godzilla B is the best and most powerful image of Godzilla in the Heisei Series of Godzilla films.

In Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992), 1991 Godzilla B was used in the underwater battle with Battra, when Godzilla emerges from the volcano at Mt. Fuji, and when Battra toppled the Landmark Tower onto Godzilla (though in this last instance the suit was empty and rigged into position with over-head wires). 1991 Godzilla B should have had QR code stickers on it, as it has the dubious distinction of being stolen from Toho before shooting commenced on Godzilla vs. Mothra (see note).

Note: On March 17, 1992, someone snuck into Toho's special effects department and stole this suit from Toho Studios and remained stolen for several weeks. Ultimately, an old lady discovered this stolen suit laying on a beach near Tokyo Bay in a poor state. It was returned to Toho and repaired in time to be used in both the underwater fight sequence with the larval Battra, and for Godzilla's rise from the erupting Mt. Fuji in Godzilla vs. Mothra, its last film appearance before a well-earned retirement.
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