Designer Toys 101: What is Neo-Kaiju and Sofubi?

If you are new to this column, it is truly meant to be read from the beginning to the most recent.
Please start with the first installment, "What are Designer Toys?"

When we first discussed Kaiju in this column — way back HERE — it seems to have left some questions unanswered. Or, at least, a couple of questions for one reader. But when one person asks, I tend to assume there are quite a few others with the same question that don't speak up. So they remarked that they've heard Neo-Kaiju and Sofubi used interchangeably with Kaiju and wanted to know what the difference, if any was.

Once you've read my original Kaiju post, it's actually quite simple to explain: as you learned therein, Kaiju is the Japanese word for "Strange Creatures" but was originally coined to describe monster movies like Godzilla. To some purists, the term Kaiju should only be applied towards Designer Toys based on the creatures from these style films and thus a new term — Neo-Kaiju — was created. Literally meaning New Kaiju (or New Strange Creatures), Neo-Kaiju is used by some to simply describe any Designer Toy figure made in the Kaiju style but not based on any specific Kaiju movie monster.

Sofubi, on the other hand, is a term we slightly discussed in the original post. It literally means "soft vinyl" and is used to describe the type of vinyl figures are typically manufactured with in Japan. While softer than other vinyls, it is actually considered to be of higher quality. All traditional Kaiju (and still some modern ones) are cast in Sofubi, but some people treat Sofubi as if it were a category of Designer Toy rather than simply a different material Designer Toys can be cast in.
There are people who collect Sofubi releases, so there is validity to this belief, but there is no set style necessary for casting in Sofubi; Kidrobot could make a Dunny in Sofubi if they wanted. So, personally, I've always felt it was erroneous to treat the term Sofubi as if it were interchangeable with Kaiju.

Next Week: What is an Artist Series?

The video used in this week's column was courtesy of Andy B. from Kaiju Korner.

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