Godzilla Edition

Collecting Items: Godzilla Edition

The action figure store is a perfect place for a 20 year old. I knew this when I was in my suburban neighborhood home, cleaning the area around my daikaiju, or “giant monster,” action figures over my closet. It was my favorite activity when I went home from college on the weekends.

The wall had two long, wooden planks drilled into it that I treated with the utmost respect. It was my Toho Shrine — a setup in my room with a plethora of six-inch tall, giant monster action figures. Most of it is dedicated to monsters in Godzilla movies; the center-piece is a fat, Funko Pop! doll of Godzilla with bulbous, white eyes and a mouth stuck in a permanent roar.

When I was three years old, my dad was driving me home from Montessori Academy when he said he had a surprise for me. This was when I used to live in Brooklyn. Upon entering my apartment, I found a box-set of Godzilla movies waiting for me on the dining room table.

When I was six years old, I found my first Godzilla figure in a toy store: a light grey, 1954 version. This purchase, or my mother’s in this case, was the start of my ever-expanding collection of figures fueled by my interest in Godzilla.

I love collecting “Big G” figures because it still reminds me of different forms of strength. If we can cut toxic people from our lives like Gigan can slice through objects with his bladed hands, wouldn’t our social lives be amazing? If we can love something or someone with passion as fiery as Godzilla’s atomic breath, wouldn’t we feel the most alive? Every monster is an example of a type of strength inside you.

I wanted to make this collection bigger, but I constantly faced a challenge of where to find another oasis to satisfy my thirst for plastic. While I stood on my brother’s stool I took from his room, I held a gentle grip on my Swiffer Duster as I brushed around each figure, looking for lingering specks of dust.

I mused to myself; eBay is too expensive. I lowered the brush and adjusted Mothra’s legs so she could face Battra. These divine moths were my favorite paired decoration; they complement the center-piece well. I took another look at the whole set. God, ugh, Zilla fell over again. I took the iguana-like incarnation of Godzilla and stood him upright. What a weird-looking thing; a god should be able to stand on its own.

Still on the stool, I tossed the brush aside. I pulled my phone from my pocket and watched the video advertisement for Toy Tokyo on SyFy’s Facebook channel for the sixth time. My eyes, red and irritated from cleaning, each gleamed like the inside of a tomato as different figures flashed in front of them: clay-colored Godzillas, Godzillas covered in glitter, and more atomic lizard galore.

I knew about this store in downtown New York; it was a small hut of an establishment. Would an entire wall from the store fit in my room?

I finally had the opportunity to visit New York after Thanksgiving, and I gave my many thanks and praise to Cthulu that Toy Tokyo was open. The store had a cutout of Godzilla spewing a stream of orange flame from his mouth with the ending burst of the fire bearing the store name.

As I walked through the door meant to fit one person, three people gushed out of the store carrying white, plastic bags. The shelves are clearing! I might as well have been the “Big G” himself, because I spared little expense trying to get past my obstacles politely. I contorted my body in different shapes, trying to squeeze past the line of customers who filled half of the store’s main level.

After moving through the sea of collectors paying for their items, I found what I wanted: columns and cases filled to capacity with Godzilla figures. My mom trailed behind me as I tried out different figures like they were new shoes.

I picked them up, measured their prices, and analyzed the design to see if the price was right. This Shin-Gojira is really red. I don’t remember him being this shade of color in the movie. I WANT IT. This Mechagodzilla is from the Showa era.

It’s savage, yellow eyes remind me of an angry wasp. I love how it captures the villain. I WANT IT. This winged thing is from the new cartoon movie coming out. I don’t even know its name yet. I WANT IT. Huh, the tag says it’s called Servum.

“Are we finished yet?” asked my mom in a tired but gentle manner.

I shifted awkward glances between her and the shelf I found with enough space to place my treasures. Each one was twenty-five dollars.

In a hushed tone, my mom added, “you know, for Christmas, I was going to give you and your brother an extra fifty dollars to spend on whatever you wanted. If you want it now…”

“I want it.”

My mom offered to hold all 75 dollars’ worth of merchandise as I explored the basement. There were dozens of collectable Funko Pop! dolls stacked on top of each other to the point where there was barely any inch of grey, plastered wall visible. I only saw three, however, that were worthy of being behind a locked, see through casing.

Each box was the size of a water bottle, and they were all identical to my center-piece Funko Pop! Godzilla doll, minus one exception: they had signatures. I fell to my knees and, without daring to taint the casing with my human fingerprints, snapped twelve hundred pictures. I knew exactly who these signatures belonged to on each box. I WANT ONE.

I didn’t get one. They weren’t cheap, having been priced at $150. I did get my three action figures, though, and Shin-Gojira, Mechagodzilla, and Servum found their places on my shrine. I would have certainly bought one of those Pop! dolls with the original Godzilla actors’ signatures on them if I had the money to spend. Sure enough, however, I have my eyes on a new centerpiece now.

My collection will continue to grow, and I encourage people to start or continue their own pursuit of objects they are passionate about. It is rewarding to see every item as a step on a journey you can be proud to say you started a long time ago.

PHOTO TAKEN by Jason Aquino