Flash, Bang, Fizzle…
We are all well aware that the JSDF in the Showa Godzilla films were about as useful as a chocolate teapot, yet I doubt the films would have had the fun that they do, if (along with all-in wrestling monsters and Godzilla Facepalms) the frollicks were not supplemented by the Toho effects team throwing all manner of explosive effects at actors such as Haruo Nakajima who had to endure not only their enormous suits, but the injuries which came from being shot at…
There is one weapon that did prove effective against a variety of monsters across a few Toho monster movies – even finishing a few off – and become a fan favorite over the Showa period: the so called Maser Tank, of which this type 66 version we are reviewing is considered to be the ‘classic’ version.
Appearing in over a dozen films – not just Godzilla movies – the Maser weapon seems to have been based on the real world Ammonia Maser device, devised and constructed by Charles H. Townes and his team in 1954.
A forerunner to the more modern laser, this weapon is depicted in the various films as a heavy energy projector which is either static or mounted on a tank drawn trailer.
The first film to feature what we might describe as a Maser was the Toho film The Mysterians (1957). As with many post war SF films in Japan (prior to Godzilla) the theme is a thinly disguised reference to the US occupation and its aftermath. In this particular offering, aliens descend to earth to kidnap Earth women for breeding purposes. This rather gets everyone’s dander up and the Japanese army breaks out the first Maser analogues, known as “Markalite Cannons” – several tripod-mounted weapons, with which the Japanese strike back against the invaders and their robot monsters.
This 1961 film sees the Markalite Cannon of the earlier film put into a mobile form, as the ‘Atomic Heat Ray’. Very similar in form to the classic Maser Cannon, this was used to great effect in breaking Mothra’s cocoon in Paris, but proved useless against its final form.
This is what happens when you kidnap tiny girls from a monster island. Will the fools never learn…?
Divide by Zero: This is not Even My Final Form
All the pieces are in place, though. A highly charged energy weapon, on a transporter, and in the next film in the developmental arc, it moved towards complete form in its introduction to the Godzilla canon as the ‘A Cycle Light Gun’, which was used to help free Earth monsters from alien control, so that they might gang up and give King Ghidora a right good kicking!
Mary Shelley Spinning in Her Grave
In 1966, the final, classic Maser Cannon was unleashed, though sadly it did not feature in a Godzilla movie.
In the “War of the Gargantuas” it is the “Type 66 Maser Cannon” which is deployed to battle the beast Gaira. Perhaps as it was its first outing, it must have had the element of surprise, as it is ‘super effective’ against the evil beast of the film.
Let Beauty Awake!
From then on, ’til the end of the Showa series of Godzilla films, the Maser would be trotted out in two more films to supplement the insanely bad shots of the JSDF: “Godzilla vs. Gigan” and “Godzilla vs. Megalon.”
Though the design would be updated in the Heisei series of the Godzilla films, the old type 66 remains the classic design and has been available in several toy forms before (including as a nice RC model by Aoshima).
However, today we are looking at the 1/87 scale version of the Type 66, by Wave – an interesting choice of scale as it implies someone at the company fancied putting both this and a Kaiju into their HO scale model railway…
Wave is really becoming the go-to place for esoteric kits these days…
Simple, without being simplistic. Classic Toho style.
Once again, another simple kit… And I admit I am getting to like the challenges presented by such small scale kits, where the devil is not so much in the detail, but in the lack of it.
Let’s see if this kit and modeler live up to each other…