Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Arts & Culture

At 67, Godzilla is nowhere near ready to retire

Godzilla vs Kong.jpeg
Warner Brothers
Toho's iconic monster Godzilla made his most recent screen appearance in Warner Brothers' "Godzilla Vs. Kong" (2021).

Japan's pop culture icon is increasing his footprint in the U.S. market for Christmas

Gojira (or Godzilla as he is known in the U.S.) roared into existence in 1954 and has always been a towering pop culture icon in Japan. But his footprint in the U.S. has not been as large. Chris Mowry is hoping to help change that.

Mowry is the creative manager for Toho International and is putting his passion for the giant monster to good use by creating products designed to increase his popularity in the U.S.

"So my job is to kind of oversee the creative brand product development, you name it, for Godzilla everywhere outside of Japan," Mowry said.

Godzilla makes an impact on holiday shopping

Mowry has a long history with Godzilla dating decades before he took the job at Toho. As a young kid, he saw "Godzilla vs. Gigan" and watched the old Hanna-Barbara cartoons and was hooked. He has spent his life collecting Godzilla and assorted kaiju merchandise. Then while he was living in San Diego and working at IDW Publishing he wrote a Godzilla comic book series.

Godzilla Comic.jpg
Toho Ltd. Co./IDW
Covers from two of the "Godzilla: Rulers of Earth" comic books by Chris Mowry in this undated photo.

Mowry pitched the idea of a Godzilla comic but with one stipulation: "We have to get rights to the other monsters because no one had ever done that before, not Marvel or Dark Horse. We were the first company to really put out Godzilla comics, but also featuring Mothra and Mechagodzilla and a number of the other characters. I ended up writing this longest series in Godzilla comics history that pretty much had me working with Toho regularly. A couple of years after I wasn't there anymore, [Toho] just reached out one day and said, 'hey, would you be interested in working for us?' So it's a very easy decision to make," Mowry said.

Now he is in a position to put his fandom to good use to create products that people who love Godzilla will want, such as a Stern Pinball Machine.

Godzilla-LE-Details-Strobe-10.JPG
Stephen Jensen / F3 Studios
Detail from the recently released Stern Godzilla Pinball machine in this undated photo.

"That was a lot of fun to work on," Mowry said. "The team at Stern is fantastic. It's basically this love letter to Godzilla and especially the Showa era. It's made to feel like if you were to somehow just go back in time to, like, 1978 or so and some kind of pool hall or arcade somewhere. This is what you would play. It's got a bunch of film clips attached to it, obviously, audio tracks from the films themselves, the scores. And it even has the Blue Oyster Cult song. So it's a very '70s focused machine. I finally got to play it last weekend in San Diego for Comic-Con. It was awesome. Well worth the wait."

Godzilla turned 67 this year but shows no signs of slowing down. His most recent screen appearance was earlier this year in the Warner Brothers' film "Godzilla Vs. Kong," and his last Japanese appearance was in "Shin Godzilla" from 2016. And he's making news now because of a new 4K restoration of the original 1954 "Gojira" as well as the flood of recent products just in time for Christmas.

Mowry attributed his newsworthiness to "the fact that this character has such longevity to it and has been around for 67 years, generations of people have grown up on it. And thanks to the Monsterverse Films and the success of 'Godzilla vs. Kong,' there is this whole new audience out there for the character. And of course, the character themes have always been pretty topical with environmentalism and sustainability, all those kinds of things. So all those topics are still relevant today."

Toho has also given Godzilla a much greater social media presence on Instagram and Twitter and is now feeding his YouTube channel with regular content after years of being almost dormant. Mowry is hosting one of the YouTube video series.

Godzilla CHOMP - Episode 1 // "Hello, Toho!"

"So the new series that we just launched is called 'Godzilla Chomp.' It is co-hosted official media program, and it is co-hosted by myself and my dog Peanut," Mowry said. "It's basically kind of like a Godzilla 101 in a way. And it just gives some insight into what we do at Toho International and in L.A. but also giving some very basic facts for people new to the brand new fans. I always joke around and say, it's a show made for my mom who's known me all my life but really has no idea about this character who I've been obsessed with. But we're filling it with a lot of stuff for hardcore fans as well to see, like, old original one-sheets and film reels and things that we kind of have, like in our storage area in L.A."

Mowry has been geeking out over the stuff he is finding in those L.A. Toho vaults, treasures such as old press kits from the 1960s, old one-sheets that have never been folded, and more. Some of these items will be highlighted in the upcoming videos.

Toho is also planning to make the films themselves more readily available and in higher quality formats, which is something fans in the U.S. have longed for. Mowry revealed that there is also a new comic book crossover that will be announced, as well as new partnerships and products from companies such as Mondo and Super 7, companies that understand geeky fandom and are working to create new and exciting collectibles for fans.

Godzilla Pint Glasses.png
Toho Ltd. Co./Super 7
Some of the Godzilla themed collectibles available through Super 7.

T.J. Shevlin is store manager at Super 7 San Diego. He said, "The great thing about getting to do official Godzilla product is just how much the original movies and toys informed what we do at Super7. It really is everything coming full circle for us. We're proud to play a role in his everlasting popularity."

You can use this handy Christmas gift guide if you are shopping for yourself or a Godzilla fan you know.