THE BASEMENT TOY BOX: Mattel’s Rodan
Growing up in the 70’s was such a fun time. I would look forward to every Saturday, not only for the Saturday morning cartoons but also for the Creature Double Feature that was on every afternoon at 1. Though this was on a UHF station (WLVI 56 out of Boston) and drawing it in was often a problem, I would still watch it week after week regardless of how snowy the picture was. I cannot describe my excitement when in 1979 a commercial came on during the Saturday morning cartoons for a new toy coming out by Mattel. It was a toy to go with their Shogun Warriors line featuring one of my all time favorite monsters, Rodan! This was in the World’s Greatest Monsters line, a line that had no other releases.
The commercial drew me in and I looked forward to seeing it every time it was broadcast. All I knew is that I wanted this toy but didn’t know how I would get it. Thankfully, during the summer of 1979, my family drove to Pennsylvania to visit my grandparents. One of things my grandparents always did when we visited was bring us to their local Child World to buy us a toy. To be honest, during this particular visit I hadn’t even thought of Rodan being my toy of choice until we went inside and there it was, taking up an entire end cap in the toy store that was a pre-cursor to Toys ‘R Us. As soon as I saw it I knew that was my choice and didn’t even look anywhere else, in case there was something I found that I would want more.
Though the commercials advertised it as being in Mattel’s Shogun Warriors line, the box says it is in the World’s Greatest Monsters line (though no other monsters were ever released). Even their Godzilla figure was packaged as a part of the Shogun Warriors line with the Shogun Warriors logo right on the box. I am really curious if Mattel had plans at one point to release other Toho monsters.
I remember being in awe opening this box and seeing all of the parts, knowing when it was put together that it would be huge. This toy features a wingspan that is 38 inches which is very impressive, especially as a kid. Scale-wise this figure isn’t in scale to the Shogun Warriors Godzilla (in the movies they were approximately the same height) though it still worked to provide hours of fun.
The wings are attached by removing a back panel and attaching them with elastic bands. These bands are what gave the figure the “flapping” action. The back panel also featured three finger holes to make holding this toy to simulate flight much easier. I vividly remember that this flapping was very realistic and added to the overall play value of the toy.
The claws work on a similar method using elastic bands so that if the claws grabbed something, they would stay closed and hold the item. They can also stay open for standing purposes.
The beak could also open and close thanks to a lever on the back of the head. The mechanism is strong enough to also carry items. When using the lever to open and close the mouth, a grinding noise would result thanks to the lever rubbing against a slotted surface. This noise is what they refer to on the box as a squawk. It no way sounds like Rodan’s actual cry from the movies but it was still kind of cool.
The sculpt of this figure, though far from perfect, really conveys the character. When you look at it you know who it’s supposed to be. It is definitely based more on the 1956 version than the one seen in the movies of the sixties, which is a very good thing. This toy at the time retailed for less than $20 and now, if you can find one still in an unopened mint box will cost upwards of $5000! If you are fortunate enough to have one, hold onto it! This is one toy that every monster collection should have!
Don’t forget to check out other entries in my BASEMENT TOY BOX series!