Introduction to Collecting X-Plus Vinyls
X-Plus is a Japanese company which produces hyper-realistic (compared to other collectibles) soft vinyl figures. They are in the statue category as they typically have little or no articulation. X-Plus makes figures based on the Godzilla, Gamera and Ultraman franchises. They also include occasional dips into other non-Godzilla Toho kaiju as well as television series like “The Space Giants” and more. The figures come from all eras starting where it all began in 1954 up to Final Wars.
Unlike smaller and cheaper vinyls, X-Plus vinyls are super, high quality. More care is taken to hide their joints. Textures are deep and tactile delights. And probably one of the more refined features of X-Plus vinyls are the individually sculpted teeth. Where smaller vinyls simply have two ridges in their mouths with teeth merely painted on, X-Plus sculpts each tooth as a separate piece. The paint jobs are works of art themselves alone, carefully capturing the shades and hues from the “real” thing as opposed to sloppy, assembly line air brushing.
One curious thing about X-Plus figures is that their photographs NEVER look as good as they do in person. So if you really like what you see online, be prepared to be blown away when you have it in front of you!
X-Plus does its best to produce Godzilla figures which look like they stepped right out of the movie. And—with the exception of the Gigantic Series—there is no fancy, artistic stylization. And there are no phoney-looking sculpts. (Although, sometimes, they might miss the mark a little). Every effort is made to capture the essence of each kaiju character. And even more effort is put into including every single detail. Very often you’ll find details on an X-Plus figure that you didn’t even realize were there on the actual monsters.
Sculpts are Based on the Suits
Keeping in line with the super-accurate nature of these figures, you’ll often find details that were not meant to be seen in the films, but actually do exist on the monster suits used to film the scenes. Most of the Godzilla figures have a tiny mesh of holes in the neck which were used by the suit actors to see through. Occasionally you’ll find even more suit details that weren’t meant to be seen on the big or small screen.
From Ultraman: the Giant Series Gyango has a visible zipper on its back. Red King has a fat flap on one side of his back. And Skydon’s eyes are not level with each other. Each of these details can be verified by revisiting the movie or episode.
Figures are Soft Vinyl
Being made of vinyl, these figures will last a lifetime and beyond. One thing to note about soft vinyl is that the warmer they get, the softer they will become. Don’t worry, they don’t get squishy like a stress doll. Although they might give a little to squeezes in the hot summer months.
And because they are vinyl figures (just like the Bandai’s), you will now and then find seams and doll-like joints which, usually, are well hidden.
They are ‘Statues’; little to no Articulation
These figures are meant to be collected, displayed on shelves and not played with. There is usually no articulation. And even when there is articulation possible with non-glued joints, the limbs usually have “place” it was meant to be.
Every brief once in a while, there will be some articulation possible and even intended. The Toho 30cm Series Godzilla 1989 has a hinged jaw and the Toho 30cm Series Kiryu 2003 has joints which you are free to pose as you like.
Godzilla, Gamera, Ultraman and More
The two most popular franchises X-Plus makes figures based on are Toho and Ultraman properties. The Toho figures are mostly filled with Godzilla and his foes. But you’ll also find the original Rodan and Mothra as well as the Gargantuas, Sanda and Gaira, Baragon from Frakenstein Conquers the World, Gappa, the original Mogera and more.
Probably most of the figures X-Plus puts out are based on the Tsuburaya Ultra series: Ultra Q and Ultraman series from 1966 all the way to the present. Both Ultraman and ultra kaijus are produced.
More recently, X-Plus has been making figures from the Daiei Gamera franchise. The Showa Gameras and enemy monsters are being released in the 25cm Series line, and all three Gameras from the Heisei films have already been released in the 30cm Series.
Other occasional figures have come out based on Daimajin, Spectreman, The Space Giants and more.
Multiple Figure Sizes
X-Plus puts figures out in differently scaled lines.
THE LARGE MONSTER SERIES
This series includes figures that are all around about 25cm tall (almost 10 inches) or larger or smaller depending on the character. Because of this, collectors often refer to this line as the “25cm Series”. Godzilla from all eras, Showa Gamera and especially Ultraman figures populate most of this line. New figures come out every month.
THE REBORN SERIES
This is not really a series at all and is part of the Large Monster Series. I’m making a point to mention it because there is a noticeable size difference between very old Ultraman kaiju releases which tend to be shorter than the 25cm average height and those marked “Reborn”. Reborns are new sculpts and tend to be larger and more in scale with other franchise figure in the Large Monster Series.
THE 30CM SERIES
This includes the Toho 30cm Series, Daiei 30cm Special Effect Series and the Giant Series (Ultraman kaiju). They are about 12 inches tall and noticeably larger than the Large Monsters Series. Not every figure in this series is tied to the 30cm/12-inch height. While most figures do clock in at around 12 inches, other figures will attempt to stay in scale. So a Space Godzilla or Hedorah will be taller than 30cm, while a Baragon or will be a little shorter. New figures come out every month.
REAL MASTER COLLECTION
This series has the distinction of using Polyresin instead of Vinyl. Polyresin figures are heavily, solid and more statue-like. The resin material also let’s the sculpt shine in a way vinyl can only come close to. The one drawback to polyresin figures is their fragility. Little doral fins, spikes, spines and antennae are easily broken off if mistreated. The Master Collection typically mimics other regular vinyl releases. So, if you are attempting to hunt down a Gigan, Kiryu or a Spacium Pose Ultraman, make sure it’s vinyl if that’s what you want. Master Collection = resin!
THE GIGANTIC SERIES
This one just started in late 2013. It is a line of truly huge figures which are so big that they laugh at shelves and almost demand their own table. Unlike almost everything else X-Plus puts out, these figures tip the scales away from accuracy in favor of fierce and powerful stylization. So far, only one figure released has been released: Godzilla 2001. the plan is to release two Gigantic Series figures per year.
AND THERE ARE MORE
There are several older and discontinued series which should be mentioned because you’re bound to come across them while scoping out older figures. Please scroll to the bottom of the page or click here to see them.
Figures have Limited Runs
X-Plus Godzilla figures are not like other collectibles in that they’re not always around like, say, S.H. Monsterarts figures. Basically every new X-Plus vinyl that comes out is a limited edition and most are gobbled up quickly. New figures are announced and then pre-orders are taken. You can pre-order these from a variety of online stores, most notable of which are Hobby Search and Hobby Link Japan. After this cycle is complete you’ll have to rely on online stores with leftover stock and Ebay sellers (who very often jack up the prices) to find that older figure. The longer you wait to grab an older figure, the higher the price will become. In the aftermarket, X-Plus figures get very expensive very quickly.
Occasionally figures get re-issued and become available again. There is no schedule for re-issues and they are random. The re-issues are made available as part of the month’s regular set of new offerings, and they do take up a slot meaning that there will be one less new figure during the month a re-issue is made available.
Recently, re-issues have been occuring more frequently and many have been made available only as Ric Boy Exclusive Versions.
Ric Boy Exclusive and Standard Versions
X-Plus Vinyl Figures usually come in two flavors, regardless of which size they are or which series they belong to.
RIC BOY MINI FIGURES
The Ric Boy Exclusive Editions always have something extra, and with a slightly higher price tag. That extra thing has traditionally been a mini-figure somehow related to the figure. E.g. the 25cm Godzilla 1989 came with a mini Super X2 and the 30cm Godzilla 1989 came with a mini rose-form Biollante. Typically, the extra mini figure is not in scale with the main figure.
RIC BOY ALTERNATE LIMBS/FEATURES
Ric Boy Exclusives may also come in the form of extra, alternate heads or limbs for different looks. The 25cm Gamera 1996 came with an alternate head, tail and all four limbs so that you could switch him from a standing pose, to a crawling pose. Usually, the extra limbs are limited to just one or two. The 25cm King Caesar comes with alternate ears for either a dog-like, or alert look.
RIC BOY LIGHT GIMMICK
Another type of Ric Boy exclusive, and more common lately, is the light gimmick. Godzilla 1962, 1964, 2003 and more have come with dorsal fins which light up. The Ric Boy Mothra Imago came with light-up eyes and in Baragon’s case, light-up eyes and horn.
Ric Boy Exclusive editions are typically only available from the X-Plus Ric Boy website. The site is in Japanese and would require translation and the use of a forwarding service like Tenso.com since X-Plus will not ship overseas. See the Where To Buy X-Plus page for tips on making this work. However, many Ric Boys make it to sites like Ebay, though at higher prices.
Standard versions are what you will find to be most available in stores in Japan or in the aftermarket. They are simply, just the figure with no extras.
X-Plus figures are not for casual collectors since they are very expensive. The prices will vary but, basically, the Large Monster Series (25cm) are around about $100 each when first released. The 30cm Series are around about $200. The Ric Boy versions of both series are usually $30 to $50 more on top of that. And figures in the aftermarket, especially on Ebay, can double, triple and even quadruple in price the further they get from their release date.
To collect X-Plus you need an undying love of Godzilla and if that’s you I’m describing, then when you see one of these in person, you’ll be one of the few who realize how mindboggingly awesome they are.
The X-Plus Addiction, or
What the X-Plus Collecting Experience is Like
It’s not unheard of for those with the means to quickly grow a large collection in a short amount of time. There’s a joke going around in Godzilla collector circles that these figures are addicting. I certainly feel that way and it’s the reason why I named this website Kaiju Addicts. So, if you are a weak-minded fool when it comes to Godzilla like I am, you may be very surprised at how many X-Plus figures you accumulate despite the price tags.
Part of the reason for this addiction I think is the fact that each figure is a limited edition and most of them are not within your reach. At least, not at first. Little by little they show up, new or used, on sites like Ebay and Yahoo Japan. And that’s when you strike and bring that prize home, ready again to plot your next victory.
THE LEAST EXPENSIVE WAY TO GO
You’ll get the most bang for your buck if you ignore most or all of the previous releases and their often crazy mark-ups and pay strict attention only to new figures. You’ll watch them get announced, get excited, make your pre-order and then wait for Box Day when your new X-Plus is finally shipped to you.
But if you do want to join in on the search for older figures, see the Where to Buy X-Plus Figures page for more information and tips.
Less Common X-Plus Lines – Master Collection, Kaiju Museum etc.
The Monster Museum (or Kaiju Museum) line started in 2012 and is a series of (so far) nine miniature Ultraman and ultra kaiju figurines. They are only four inches tall and made of fragile polyresin. The details on them are outstanding, especially for such little figures. Each one also comes in a plastic display case. So, if you are hunting down old Ultra kaiju and you stumble upon an amazing $50 DEAL, stop. It’s probably a 4-inch polyresin figurine.
At one point, I’m guessing in the early 2000’s, X-Plus attempted to break into the U.S. market with an side company called X-Plus USA. They put out a selection of smaller Godzilla vinyls with subpar sculpts, resin “Chess Piece” figurines and large polyresin statues like Mothra, King Ghidorah and a couple of others. I’m not very familiar with any of these releases since I don’t consider them to be modern fare (post 2009). But I’m telling you what little I know of them, so that you will be prepared when you go shopping for older figures.
Also note that some comic book shops and online stores are referring to the new X-Plus North American Diamond Re-issues as coming from X-Plus USA. They’re not. They’re still coming from X-Plus in Japan and distributed by Diamond Comics in North America.