|King of the Monsters|
He's larger than life. He's the star of over two-dozen films. He's an international icon. He's the King of the Monsters. Few people haven't at least seen part of a Godzilla film. It's certainly no exaggeration in making the claim that the big guy is one of the most recognizable characters in the world of cinema. What began as a dark allegory of the nuclear age in 1954, originally titled Gojira in Japan, Godzilla would soon become the longest running movie franchise in history. As of 2011, Godzilla has been the star of 28 films, not including the 1998 American version. Currently, another American Godzilla film is in the works while Japan has put their series on hiatus.
In the early '90s Trendmasters had been nearly nonexistent in the world of toy companies, overshadowed by heavyweights like Mattel, Playmates Toy Biz, Kenner, Hasbro, and so many others. However, that changed in 1994, when Trendmasters released their formidable Godzilla toy line. Prior to '94, American Godzilla fans were sorely missing the assortment of Godzilla figures that are available today. Without the accessibility of the internet it was even difficult to get imported G-figures from Japan - not to mention that the Bandai and Bullmark toy lines were often very expensive.
In the early '90s the second series of popular Godzilla films were being produced in Japan, now referred to as the Heisei Series, although, at the time, many of these films were not yet being distributed in America. By 1994 American Godzilla fans were finally getting their own giant monsters appetite satisfied with the impressive Dark Horse comic book series and with G-Fan, a magazine (that's still being published today) that focused solely on the Big-G and his kaiju (fan term for a giant Japanese monster) brethren.
Trendmasters took their chances with Godzilla in '94 and it paid off, big time. The toy line proved to be a huge success. Their first line of figures were the 5" series, consisting of Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, MechaGodzilla, King Ghidorah, and Mecha-Ghidorah.
|Trendmasters' 5" Rodan|
It's interesting to point out that Trendmasters chose to base their figures off the Heisei series of Godzilla films, which - at that point - many American fans had yet to see, due to the films not receiving international distribution. The Rodan and MechaGodzilla figures were based on the Godzilla Vs. MechaGodzilla II (1993) designs (technically Rodan was known as Fire Rodan through much of the film) and Mecha-Ghidorah who was first seen in Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah (1991).
|Packaging from the first line of figures|
Next in Trendmasters toy line were 12" light-up/sound Godzilla figures, which included not only the King of the Monsters himself, but also Gigan - the giant monstrous cyborg from Nebula M8 who first appeared in the '70s film, appropriately titled: Godzilla Vs. Gigan. Gigan was one of the few monsters from the earlier G-films to make an appearance in the toy line. Fan favorites such as Varan, Baragon, and Megalon were also later released but it was near the end of the line, thus less were produced, making them quite collectible.
|One step 'a-head' of the other Godzilla toys|
|Three heads are better than one|
|40th Anniversary Collector's Edition|
|Wind-Up Walker MechaGodzilla|
|Godzilla Trading Cards|
|Godzilla Giant Playset|
The Godzilla Attacks New York Giant Playset was one of the hallmarks of the toy line. By shooting 'atomic blasts' out of Godzilla's mouth one could devastate a playset resembling New York City. The set included collapsible buildings, military vehicles, and frightened pedestrians.
|Monster Island Unleashed!|
|Space Godzilla Figure From The Godzilla Wars Series|
|Godzilla With Snap-On Armor|
|MechaGodzilla Gets An Upgrade|
Trendmasters soon expanded their Godzilla line with 'Godzilla Wars' featuring figures with snap-on armor and the inclusion of Space Godzilla into the series. A less-than-stellar series of human figures, called G-Force, were also released in the Godzilla Wars line.
|Unreleased Prototype For The Godzilla Mega-Monster Mutation Figure|
|The Very Impressive, Yet Sadly Unproduced Destroyah Figure|
|Trendmasters' Gamera Series|
Ironically, Godzilla made Trendmasters a competitor in the toy market and also caused their eventual demise once retailers began refusing their figures based on Tri-Star's Godzilla: The Series cartoon.
It would also seem that, aside from the '94 line of Godzilla figures, Trendmasters never seemed to make wise decisions regarding their toy lines. After all, this is the same company that chose to create toy lines based on:
Battlefield Earth = box-office bomb/failed toy line
Gamera = not well known in America, especially in the mid-90s/failed toy line
Forbidden Planet = a 1956 sci-fi flick most kids haven't seen/failed toy line
Independence Day = sci-fi summer blockbuster to be sure, but not really a kids film/failed toy line
Mars Attacks = same as above, except for it not being a blockbuster/failed toy line
Extreme Ghostbusters = poor attempt at the largely superior show, The Real Ghostbusters/failed toy line
Lost In Space = based off a show most '90s kids were unfamiliar with & the film bombed/failed toy line
Gumby = need any more be said?/failed toy line
Casper = not exactly the franchise that lends itself to great toys/failed toy line
Is it any wonder why Trendmasters went out of business? It's actually rather surprising that they were around until 2002, and even more of a shock that they even produced such an exceptional Godzilla toy line back in 1994. However, for them, lightning never struck twice.