One of the most anticipated characters to hit the S.H.MonsterArts line, Mothra (1992) from the Heisei series makes its debut. Released as a web exclusive in Japan, Mothra is a regular release in North America with an MSRP of $64.99. The only Mothra figure I’ve ever owned was by Trendmasters, and that was a decent release, thanks to Mothra’s simple shape, but it was very much out of scale with that line’s Godzilla. Thankfully, that is not an issue with this release. Mothra’s wingspan is huge and the figure is in perfect scale with the rest of the Heisei releases of the S.H.MonsterArts line. I have to admit that after having slightly disappointed impressions with Battra, I was concerned that Mothra would suffer similar flaws since they were released only a few months apart from each other. Thankfully, most of Battra’s flaws were rectified in Mothra’s design, however there’s still room for improvement.
Mothra’s entire sculpt is absolutely stunning. Crafted by the hands of veteran monster sculptor Yuji Sakai, the fluffy, feathery texture is recreated perfectly. Interestingly enough, Mothra is mostly comprised of ABS with some PVC parts - the exact opposite of Battra. I’d like to think that they designed them this way to reflect their opposite personalities and agendas found in the films, but it’s most likely coincidental. That being said, Mothra has more weight to it than Battra. The body is a little over four inches long and has a wingspan measuring thirteen inches long!
Mothra’s head is made of a harder ABS material and boasts an amazing amount of fluffy feathering textures. The antennae are quite thin and are sculpted much like a bird’s tail feather, only more insect-like. The extra texturing around the eyes is particularly well done while using the same type of texturing style found on the body. It naturally distinguishes the head from the eyes. The eyes are beautifully sculpted and are encased in clear plastic that allows for reflection of natural light to illuminate them. Mothra’s head piece is not translucent like Battra’s. This means that light needs to be concentrated directly towards the eyes in order to illuminate them. This is a questionable design decision, as Mothra’s big blue eyes naturally glowed in the movies and it added life to the character. Battra’s translucent head design easily allowed natural light to illuminate its eyes to achieve that lifelike look and it worked very well. It’s disappointing but not a deal breaker since it is possible to illuminate them using reflective light. Its maw is crafted using PVC and is very smooth to the touch compared to the rest of the body. The little tusks use the fluffy, feathery texture as well, but are not as rigid.
The midsection of the body is about the same size as the head and it is finely detailed with the emulated fluffy texture. This part of the body is also made of a thicker and harder ABS material since it essentially acts as an anchor for the legs and wings. The abdomen is comprised of a softer ABS material to allow for better articulation. The texturing continues the fluffy hair emulation but in more of a downward direction, as if it were already flying and air was flowing through it. It looks very cool. The stinger is crafted using PVC and is smooth and clean like the maw. Mothra’s texture throughout the whole body is mostly a consistent style, whereas Battra’s was more unique due to the exoskeleton design.
The legs are insect-like, but they resemble the styling of a bumblebee or arachnid. The fluffy feathering texture continues throughout each leg, although a lot thicker than in the rest of the body. There are some excellently designed grooves and meticulous sculpting in the talons given their small sizing. The legs are overall a simple shape and a lot less intricate than Battra’s, but they still look fantastic.
Mothra’s wings are beautifully sculpted and the shape is 100% accurate. These wings are heavier and thicker than Battra’s. They’re made of the same cheap feeling material, but because it’s thicker, it doesn’t feel like it’ll break easily setting a pose. The texturing is mostly smooth throughout each wing. There are skeletal-like rivets to help emulate an insect membrane, similar to those found in butterflies. The edges of the wings are very smooth and convex, however, the top front edge of the wing utilizes the fluffy feathering texture. It can be considered a type of armor, though not as effective as an exoskeleton would be. Where the wings connect to the midsection, the texturing is comprised of the fluffy feathering texture. It’s very thick at the base and gradually gets smoother and finer as it tapers off slightly before the middle of the wing. This is very well executed and definitely gives some depth to the wing design. Like Battra, Mothra’s wings are split into two parts rather than kept one whole piece. It looks awkward but its articulation does allow for the wings to be lined up properly for a more natural look found in the movie. Unfortunately, since they are separated into two parts, the bottom wings metal rod hinges are exposed near the midsection. It doesn’t make sense that they weren’t enclosed, but at least they can be filled with black clay or putty.
Overall, Mothra’s design is beautifully crafted and executed almost to perfection. The small fine texturing details are simple and effectively convey this creature as something gentle and not threatening. It is the best sculpted Mothra figure I’ve ever seen.
Mothra offers an array of points of articulation. Some design choices were a step in the right direction while others seemed to take a few steps back. The head has an excellent range of motion. It’s able to tilt upward at about a 25 degree angle and look downward at about a 55 degree angle. The head can tilt left and right at about 20 degrees both ways. Additionally, Mothra’s head can rotate 360 degrees if desired since it’s attached using a ball joint and the head design lacks any protruding horns or spikes that would inhibit such movement. The maw is articulated as expected, able to open and close using small hinges. Since Mothra’s facial design doesn’t have any horns like Battra’s, the maw can open very wide to emulate a loud screeching attack pose. As a unique feature, Mothra’s antennae are also articulated and allow for limited movement in any direction. They are attached to the head using small ball joints, so if they’re extended too far, they’ll pop off. If this happens, it’s easy enough to pop them back into place. Additionally, the little tusks on the face are also articulated and can be moved in any direction, although these pieces are stiffer than the antennae. They seem to have a better range in movement, like a set of pincers (only moving them from left to right instead of up and down).
The midsection has no articulation and acts as an anchor for the wings and legs. The abdomen does offer a good amount of articulation though. It’s very similar to Battra’s, but a lot easier to pose due to the softer ABS material. Mothra’s abdomen is comprised of seven segments, each connected to a ball joint and peg system. Additionally, each of these segments are layered free floating pieces, meaning they’re able to twist and turn 360 degrees while connected to each other. It’s easy to turn the whole abdomen upside down, though it is not recommended. It has one segment more than Battra’s, which makes a difference in how the abdomen functions. It can tilt upwards and downwards at about 70 degrees and swing left and right at about 80 degrees. This is definitely an improvement and adds more expression to any desired pose. The stinger is not articulated, although I don’t believe it was able to move in the movie either. Given the limited nature of Mothra’s design, the abdomen’s articulation is simple yet very effective.
Mothra’s leg articulation engineering is a breath of fresh air after Battra’s ball joint system design. Each leg is attached to the midsection by a ball joint which can be rotated 360 degrees. The legs themselves are divided into three segments of swivel joints. This means that the legs won’t fall apart when touched and can be easily posed in any direction the swivel joints will allow. This adds a great deal of motion and expression. The legs can be tucked in or stretched out. It’s exactly how I pictured it. My figure in particular has very sturdy legs and I’m able to hold it upside down by the legs with none detaching from the midsection. This of course may vary from figure to figure, so be careful. The talons seem to be fixed or maybe have extremely limited movement while trying to rotate them in a different direction. It’s hard for me to tell without applying a lot of force.
The wings’ articulation design is good but ultimately disappointing, especially when compared to Battra’s. The wings are again separated into two pieces, however, unlike Battra’s wing design, where the pieces are separate yet attached to one hinge at the midsection, each of Mothra’s wing pieces are separately connected to hinges mounted onto the midsection. This may be because Mothra’s wings are slightly larger and thicker than Battra’s and need additional support to avoid drooping. However, by engineering them this way, it has limited the range of movement and at times offers awkward posing that isn’t particularly true to the character. For example, the top wing pieces are able to flap upward very high, at just about 90 degrees, exceeding the maximum range of motion Battra’s could achieve. However, flapping the top wing pieces downward, they stop flush with the body. The same range of motion occurs for the bottom wing pieces, where they are able to flap downward at a 90 degree angle and flapping upwards stops around 20 degrees, creating a huge awkward gap if the top wing pieces are raised to their maximum potential. This is because of the separate hinge joints stacked on one another at the midsection. They rub against each other and the wings can’t move because one is blocking the other. As a result, Mothra’s separate wing pieces can’t be held together to form one wing piece while attempting to reach the maximum range of motion presented by each individual wing piece. Instead, you get about a quarter of the maximum range of motion and sometimes the bottom wings droop and don’t look natural. That being said, if you don’t mind separating the wings, you can achieve many different poses, though nothing movie accurate. If you’re looking for a more movie accurate pose, it’s very limited.
Overall, Mothra’s articulation is great. I essentially liked everything except for the articulation engineering in the wings. Its posing abilities are similarly limited like Battra’s, yet they feel more expressive. This figure can perform unique poses that weren’t possible in the movie, like a hornet attack stance or an intimating pose with all four wing parts separated pose. It is a shame though that it’s harder to achieve a more neutral pose because of the wing articulation engineering. I do like that the legs are sturdy and don’t fall off easily when touched.
Mothra is arguably one of the most colorful monsters in the Godzilla universe. To output a figure with desaturated colors or messed up patterns would be disappointing and the ultimate deal breaker for me. Thankfully, the paint used for Mothra is top notch. I don’t think it could look any better. Mothra mostly consists of white and orange throughout the head and body, while the wings display eye-catching color patterns of yellow, red, orange, white, and black. Starting with the head, it’s mostly white with carefully layered patterns of orange and black, none of which use any blending. The maw is colored brown, which blends into a darker brown toward the base. The antennae are mostly white, however, the feathery part of it uses dry brushed streaks of yellow to help define the grooves. It looks quite nice. The small tusks are colored a solid white. The eyes are a beautiful blue, especially when properly lit.
The neck piece is split into two colors, orange, and black. From there, the midsection uses some unique color patterns that make good use of black orange, and white. The bottom of the midsection uses a race stripe pattern which transitions into a unique “M” shape on the topside: the bottom of it is black, the middle is a solid line of orange on both sides, and the top is white and orange. The colors are stenciled onto this section as well. That being said, it’s very clean and precise. The abdomen changes up the pattern but utilizes the same colors found in the midsection. On the top and sides of the abdomen, it’s striped like the common bee and alternates between orange and white all the way to the stinger. The underside of the abdomen is black with no blending and continues to be clean and precise. The stinger is brown and, like the maw, blends with darker shades of brown toward its base. From a distance, the legs look like they’re entirely white. However, upon closer inspection they have small dry brush strokes of yellow that blend with white. It’s not bad and I certainly appreciate the time and effort that was taken to give it a little more color. It definitely makes the legs look less feathery and more rigid. The talons use a dull yellow color, with the grooves and indents painted an even darker shade of yellow. It really adds some depth, something not found in Battra’s poorly painted talons.
The wings are absolutely fantastic. I’ll be honest, after reviewing Battra’s wing paint application, I had low expectations. Thankfully they corrected the blending issues with this release. Mothra’s signature wing pattern design is presented without any sort of flaws. The top wing pieces are mixed with black, yellow, orange, and red colors. The eye pattern on the top corners of the wings uses these colors well. The large yellow pattern doesn’t suffer from any poor dithering as seen in Battra’s wing pattern. It probably helped that the yellow pattern is outlined with a solid stripe of orange instead of being blended with black. Toward the inner part of the wing, it’s striped with white and orange to enhance the feather-like texture. The lower wing pieces use this effect as well. This is where the paint really shines. The whole lower wing consists of blending yellow to red without paint slop, scratches, or dithering, just a fantastic blend of colors. The lower wings’ black pattern doesn’t use any blending with any other colors and is outlined in dark red. This level of quality is exactly how the wings for all their insect monsters should be painted in the future. The wing paint application is definitely the highlight of this figure. Here’s hoping they’ll continue this technique with Megaguirus.
The paint application is outstanding. Everything is colored correctly and the patterns are screen accurate. There’s not much left to say, I’m very pleased with it.
Mothra doesn’t come with any effect parts, but it does come with a flight stand specifically made for it. The base of the stand is exactly the same as Battra’s, similar to the wall painting found in Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992) of Battra and Mothra fighting many, many years ago. However, this time it’s colored a gold-yellow color instead of red. The cradle that holds Mothra looks just like a mold of its underbelly and supports Mothra’s legs. I found it a bit more difficult to balance Mothra on this cradle due to its elongated design. The cradle isn’t as supportive as it should be in my opinion, but it works if balanced correctly.
Tamashii Nations did a wonderful job with this figure. After Battra’s release, I was hoping that they would fix the mistakes with the wing paint application, which they did. The figure isn’t perfect though and I hope that the wing engineering in future releases of other incarnations of Mothra will be corrected. I would have also liked to have seen the head made of the translucent material so that surrounding light would give the eyes an awesome blue glow. I do enjoy this figure though. It should be handled as a display piece more than an action figure, but it’s comforting to know that parts won’t fall off easily. I’d say it’s worth the price tag. The sculpting alone is absolutely fantastic and I don’t think there’s another figure out there that can match it.
Is it a must have? Yes. Do I recommend Mothra? Yes.