Kong fans, the wait is over! Nearly 8 years since the release of Peter Jackson’s King Kong figure, Kong from the fourth legendary installment of the MonsterVerse, Godzilla vs. Kong (2021), joins S.H.MonsterArts! Boasting about 26 points of articulation, this Kong aims to be the most expressive it can possibly be. Released in Japan on May 14, 2021 and made available in the US through Bluefin Brands for $67.99. Kong and Godzilla were to coincide with the debut of the movie in Japan. Unfortunately, the movie was postponed due to the pandemic. While some merchandise was also delayed, thankfully both S.H.MonsterArts Kong and Godzilla figures were not affected. Unlike Godzilla, Kong arrived in the US about 4 weeks after the Japan street date. Being a good chunk of time since S.H.MonsterArts’ first go around with King Kong, many collectors had hoped that Tamashii Nations had improved the articulation engineering and not repeat the mistakes that were known with the Peter Jackson’s King Kong figure. So, how did the final product turn out? Let’s dive in!
Kong (2021) looks absolutely fantastic! The proportions and aesthetics are rendered in such a way that it looks quite lifelike. It’s especially hard to translate fur in figure form and I think it looks great the way it turned out. Admittedly, when I first saw Kong promotional images, I couldn’t help feel something was off. It looked like Kong from the movie but something wasn’t quite accurate… As it turns out, this Kong figure doesn’t use the 3D CGI data from the movie like Godzilla. Instead, the figure was sculpted and colored by a well-known animal sculptor, Shinzen Takeuchi. The sculpting is based on Kong’s actual bone structure with its muscles and fur rendered with screen-accurate precision in mind. Though it’s stylized, I think it stays true as to what was seen on screen. It’s sort of a similar situation that occurred with the S.H.MonsterArts Godzilla (2014) figure in that Yuji Sakai sculpted from the ground up based on materials from the movie and no 3D CGI data.
Kong comes with two heads, one closed mouth and one opened mouth. Both are sculpted very well and have their unique expressions. The head attached to Kong out of the box is the closed mouth piece. The sculpting of the fur is well done. The ears towards the back of the head are sculpted nicely. The face depicts sort of a serious or maybe even a sad expression—it works either way. The details become softer around the eyes, nose, and mouth—similar to a real ape. The eyes are sculpted on a separate piece that is inserted into the head giving more of a life like aesthetic. For those interested in knowing how, pop the head off and look inside. You’ll see a white piece inserted into the mold that lines up the eyes. The alternate head features similarly sculpted details. The expression on this piece is your typical, but necessary, angry roaring pose. The teeth are sculpted very well, even the ones further back into the mouth. The tongue is sculpted well and is separate piece. The eyes, mouth, and tongue are separate pieces that were inserted into mold. The sculpting is a little different around the eyes so that it matches more of an angry expression. Both heads are very well done. My only nitpick would be that there is a seam line at the edge of the front row of the teeth. As for the neck, there’s not a whole lot there. Perhaps this is anatomically correct. I was curious to see how the head would look raised a bit higher, however it ended up looking very weird.
The body sculpt is magnificent. Even though it’s stylized to be more of a realistic animal, Takeuchi manages to capture the ideas seen in the movie. The chest area is very muscular and has a large scratch from Kong’s previous battles. As a reminder, this version of Kong is older and has seen some shit. So some battle damage is a welcomed addition. The chest is very smooth and blends the fur texture between the arms and midsection figure. Kong also sports a six pack, because he works out... On the backside of Kong, the fur is rendered in incredible detail. The arms are very muscular and well defined even with the fur details. There are a lot of cuts for articulation on the arms which may be off putting for those who want more of a solid sculpt. But hey, we’re here for articulation, not statutes. Out of the box Kong has closed fists. Each finger is meticulously crafted with extra details on the knuckle areas—smoother in detail like the face area. Kong also comes with three additional sets of hands: opened hands, hands for holding the Battle Axe, and walking on knuckle hands. Each of these hands are just as detailed as the fists. I especially like the opened hands because the sculptor included scars on the right palm. For those who don’t remember, these details come from Kong: Skull Island (2017) where Kong grabs the helicopter blades which sliced his hand. Very neat to throw that in there.
The waist area is done well and reminds me of a crotch piece seen for wrestlers. Kong’s backside has some definition with tone and muscle for the glutes. Like the arms, the legs are muscular and covered in fur details. Articulation engineering breaks up the sculpt a little but not too bad. I think it’s harder to cover articulation seams with fur and can look really good in certain poses. At least there are no gaps! Poseability will definitely play a part how good it will look. The feet have fur on the tops and smooth on the palms, just like a real ape. Very well done.
Overall, the sculpt is very well done and not a bad take on Kong in articulated figure form. Taking the time to sculpt based on Kong’s bone structure works well and gives it a lifelike appearance. In my opinion, I would have preferred the 3D digital data so that it looked 100% screen accurate, but this works as well. Other collectors may have some choice words regarding the scale of this Kong figure as it stands around 5.7 inches tall which is smaller than the Peter Jackson’s Kong figure and most Godzilla’s in the line. But what’s important is that Kong scales with Godzilla (2021), and for that, this figure hits the mark. Outstanding.
Most of the S.H.MonsterArts line consists of characters with tails allowing for a natural support for standing poses. Although Kong doesn’t have a tail for extra support that doesn’t mean that the articulation isn’t phenomenal! Kong’s range of movement, dare I say, offers probably the most expression within the lineup. It makes sense, as Kong being a humanoid figure is able to offer more expression. Starting with the head, it can slightly tilt up and not so much down. You can twist the head in a 360° motion (though you probably don’t need to) as it sits on a ball joint. The alternate head piece has the same range of movement; however, the tongue is articulated! You’ll need something small like a paperclip or tweezers to lift it. It does sit on a ball joint so can be lifted up and rotated slightly left to right. It doesn’t do a whole lot but it’s nice to know. The neck has limited range and can tilt slightly up and down. It cannot twist or tilt left to right due to the sculpt. That being said, the neck in combination with the head can tilt slightly to the left or right so that Kong can look in another direction besides up, down, and straight forward.
The body has some great articulation engineering. Torso consists of three points of articulation. The upper chest can be tilted upward and downward slightly as well as twisting left to right. The sculpt prevents greater range of movement. The midsection is a floating piece and can be positioned to accommodate posing of the upper and lower abdomen areas. It helps with performing a slight ab crunch as well as bending backward so that Kong can beat his chest. There can be an unsightly gap under the arms depending on how you pose Kong. Thankfully the gap can be closed with the floating midsection piece and perhaps some creative posing of the arm. The waist area connects via ball joint to the crotch piece which is not articulated. This piece is glued into the sculpt. It can tilt up and down but cannot twist left to right. This is important to know: when moving Kong’s upper body be sure to move it by the chest and midsection only as moving the hip area may lead to breakage.
The arms are a huge improvement over Peter Jackson’s King Kong figure. They’re very solid and tight while also allowing for a great range of movement. There are no gaps in virtually any pose. Each arm consists of 5 points of articulation. The elbows can bend quite well and the arms can be moved in motion where Kong can go in for a winding punch to a right hook. The shoulder areas have a great range of movement allowing for some rotation. The arms also can be posed in a walking position on all fours. In case you are wondering, Kong can scratch his ass just like he did at the beginning of the movie! The arms can go up very high as well for poses where Kong is holding the Battle Axe over his head or raising a fist. The wrists have excellent movement and depending on which handpiece you use; some pieces have more movement than others. I’m thoroughly impressed with the range of movement in this figure. Please check out the showcase gallery for many examples of Kong’s expressive arm positions.
Like the hip area, do be careful when moving Kong’s legs. Where the legs connect to the hips do not use ball joints. Instead, a hinged slider joint is used. This joint is thin and will break if stressed. To prevent this from happening, when posing Kong’s legs, always move them by the thigh area while holding area connecting to the hip, AND only move this area up and down as it only tilts those directions. Surprisingly, this doesn’t limit the articulation of the legs as the thigh is connected via ball joint and can be rotated freely in any direction. Kong’s legs can be posed in a high kick position or bent so that he’s kneeling on the ground, or even into a curled-up ball! The range of motion is absolutely fantastic. Each leg has 6 points of articulation. The articulation cuts are visible and can break up the sculpt, however, it is expected. The feet have one point of articulation allowing for the front to tilt upward and downward. The ankles can be rotated 360° accommodate Kong’s various standing positions.
Overall, the articulation engineering is a major step up from the previous Kong entry. I standby that this figure may be the most expressive in the S.H.MonsterArts line. Everything has a good amount of range while hiding most gaps. The alternate accessories add more expression and allow for more poseability. The thing to be careful about is the hip area though. Not sure why they decided not to use ball joints per usual but it does seem to work as intended.
The paint application on Kong is well done. It’s about as what you’d expect, full of different shades of light and dark browns. The fur parts of the figure seem to have a semigloss finish whereas the skin portions are glossy. In my opinion, I think the figure might be a little glossy. I think would have benefited a matte finish. The head has some great dry brushing effects applied to the fur with light and dark browns to accentuate the details. The blending is really good around the face area for both headpieces. The face uses a very dark brown coloration. The eyes are painted well thanks to being painted on a separate piece before inserting into the mold. My figure has aligned eyes on both headpieces. The paint on the teeth of the alternate head looks good with no blobs of excess paint present. The inner mouth and tongue don’t have any shading and are a solid fleshy pink color. Overall, both heads look great.
The main body, arms, and legs are fairly consistent and use the same light and dark browns coloration. Dry brushed highlights are present on various parts like the arms, backside, and legs. Like the face, the chest, hands, and feet are a darker paint with a glossy finish. It’s nice that paint is different from the rest the figure in these areas however it can be a pain to take photos as these areas tend to be really shiny. Definitely bound to have collectors looking for creative ways to light their figures. The scratch along the chest is highlighted with a light brown coloration to stand out. Kong’s backside probably has the most highlighting effects so that is not a blanket of brown paint.
There’s not a whole lot more to talk about in regards of paint on this figure. Overall, I think it’s fairly well done and brings out a lot of details. There is no paint slop or overspray and the blending is consistent throughout parts of the figure. My only critique would be to use a matte finish. The coloration on the face and chest areas are great and look quite accurate to what’s seen on screen. Very well done overall.
Kong comes with one alternate open mouth head piece, three alternate sets of hands (opened, griped for the Battle Axe, and walking knuckle hands), and a Battle Axe! All of these accessories are sculpted very well and pop on and off the figure quite easily. To get the Battle Axe into Kong’s griped hands, I recommend heating up the fingers with a hairdryer to prevent possible breakage. Once you finish heating it up and have the Battle Axe secured, put it in the freezer for a few minutes so that the plastic can cool down and tighten the grip around the Battle Axe. The walking knuckled hands are great for when Kong is on all fours—very lifelike. The opened hands are great for poses where Kong is reaching for something, climbing, or resting on the ground.
The Battle Axe is rendered in great detail with the bone smooth with fine detailing. What looks like a Godzilla’s hide is wrapped around the axe—very detailed. The blade portion of the axe is essentially a Godzilla’s dorsal spine. The paint on here is okay and very much feels stenciled. Your mileage may vary on the silver dry brushing effect. I would have also liked to have seen maybe one more additional alternate head. Kong is so expressive in the movie and I feel like this was a missed opportunity. A stand similarly bundled with S.H.MonsterArts Nargacuga would have been a nice addition for some in the air Kong action! That being said, these are some fantastic accessories and allow for some incredible poses and re-creations of fan favorite moments from the movie.
Please enjoy the additional gallery below of Kong and Godzilla duking it out!
*The atomic breath effect part used was from the S.H.MonsterArts Godzilla (2019) Poster Version figure.
*The buildings used are available through Outland Models.
Overall, Kong is a fantastic figure! To those collectors who’ve been asking for one, you will not be disappointed. The amount of expression this figure is capable of is all worth the $67.99 price tag. With great details and lifelike appearance, I couldn’t imagine it turning out any other way (aside from using the actual 3D data from the movie). As a reminder, do be careful while moving the lower half of Kong. If you experience any stiffness in the hip areas, I strongly recommend using a hairdryer on low heat for a few minutes to loosen the joints before play. Remember that the hip joint does not use ball joints and only moves up and down on a sliding guide. But don’t be afraid to play with it as this figure truly is meant to be posed in different ways. At the time of this writing there are limited Kong’s left on the market. Don’t sleep on this release and get it while you can. If you don’t believe me, look at the aftermarket for S.H.MonsterArts Peter Jackson’s King Kong. Complete your GvK collection now and look forward to the next MonsterVerse figure, Mechagodzilla (2021)!