# # Strange Toys I Have Known: Yes, we have Nokogirin - we have Nokogirin today!

Brother, I Can See Your Skull.

Brother, I Can See Your Skull. - The Coreyshead Blog

Strange Toys I Have Known:
Yes, we have Nokogirin – we have Nokogirin today!


The Japanese have some fascinating bugs on their islands, thus it is no wonder these startling and wonderful animals would figure to a noticeable degree in their sci-fi and fantasy.

Nokogiri Kuwagata (Saw stag beetle, Prosopocoilus inclinatus)The Nokogirin (ノコギリン) kaiju hails from episode 26 of the Ultra series – “Return of the Ultraman” and is loosely based upon the Nokogiri Kuwagata (saw stag beetle, Prosopocoilus inclinatus) of Japan. Nokogiri means “wood cutting saw” and this particular beetle is so named for the large, down-turned, saw-like mandibles of the males.

NokogirinAs a fan of the giant monster designs that populate the wild and wooly Ultraman universe, I’ve long been familiar with other insect characters, such as Satan Beetle and Antlar. Unfamiliar with Nokogirin prior to running across it in an online auction, I assumed it was a looser sculpt of one of the aforementioned bug kaiju. Upon receipt of the toy, I learned that it was an entirely different monster – cool!

One of the things that makes this toy “strange” is its interesting pedigree:

NokogirinManufactured in the 70’s for Mattel by Bandai, Nokogirin was sold in the US as part of “Godzilla’s Gang“. It, along with all the other toys in the set *except* Godzilla, are recasts of Popy Ultra Saurus toys (that’s right: Popy toys from Japan recast by Bandai in Taiwan for Mattel in America – whew!). In other words, “Godzilla’s Gang” was made up of characters that had *nothing* to do with Godzilla … ah, what do American kids know, anyway?

NokogirinLike a bridge between two worlds, the toy is smaller, standing around 6″ in height, reflecting what has become standard scale among mass-produced, vinyl kaiju. At the same time, its less-faithful, looser sculpt and devil-may-care colors hearken back to the older, larger toys that proceeded it.

NokogirinOne surprise for me is the obvious sloppiness of the paint application – while the toy looks good at first glance, closer inspection reveals that whomever was doing yellow that day was a bit of a Messy Marvin. There is a dab of yellow on one claw and runs of it up the belly-side from excess paint on the tail. I’m fairly certain it would have never passed QC in a Popy plant. Nice job, Tibor!

Another bit of strangeness is that, while the toy has similar characteristics to the beetle it is named after, there appears to be some confusion as to the intended orientation of its head.

Nokogirin vs Ultraman Jack - note the orientation of the monster's headNokogirinNokogiri Kuwagatta’s mandible and horn (for lack of a more educated term) are oriented so that the horn, much smaller in relation to the body of the real insect than on the toy, is on the top side of the animal’s head, curving towards the earth. In the episode of “Return of the Ultraman,” Nokogirin’s greatly enlarged horn is clearly seen bobbling around on this same side of the body, as if the creature was not actually meant to be bipedal. The toy, on the other hand, was assembled and marketed with the horn on the belly side, like a proboscis.

Color me confused.


NokogirinNokogirinI understand the reasoning, actually. Standing erect, the toy is much more interesting and personable with the horn facing “forward” – less awkward and real-world bug-like. So natural, in fact, that it never even occurred to me that it might be facing the “wrong” direction. The first few shots I took of the toy reflect this. After researching the character, I came to the conclusion that, while cuter and more fanciful looking with the trunk-like horn facing forward, it is more correct (and I prefer) the horn on the back of the head – even though it looks more like a rhinoceros beetle positioned this way.

Certainly, whichever way the manufacturer of the toy says is right is right – but when it comes to pointless, aesthetic minutiae, I’m stubborn.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

One Response to “Strange Toys I Have Known:
Yes, we have Nokogirin – we have Nokogirin today!”

  1. […] while back I brought Nokogirin and Godzilla’s Gang to your collective attention. What I didn’t mention is that Nokogirin was not the only of the […]

Leave a Reply