Height: 50 meters (in giant form)
Weight: 25,000 tons (in giant form)
Aliases: J.J., Jetto Jaga!
Appearances: Godzilla vs Megalon (1973)
One of the more colorful characters to venture out of Kaiju Eiga, Jet Jaguar has proven to be a hit with both experienced and young collectors. A size-shifting android from the seventies, Jetto Jaga (as his name is pronounced in Japan) was created by the protagonist of Godzilla vs Megalon (1973), Goro Ibuki. Like many great robots of sci-fi, Jet Jaguar began as a mindless servant – but became much more when he gained sentience when stressed by the capture of evil-doers. In addition to his size-shifting abilities, Jet Jaguar used his advanced mind to communicate with Godzilla – joining the King of the Monsters in defending Earth from these evil men, and the tag-team of Gigan and Megalon!
There is no doubt that Jet Jaguar’s only film appearance is… interesting. Godzilla vs Megalon polarizes fans in a way most of the classic films do not. Love it or hate it, the film is still very unique – and the story of how Jet Jaguar was created for the movie is as unique as the film itsself. In 1972, Toho hosted a contest in which fans could submit original ideas for a New Toho Hero. Tokusatsu heroes (such as Ultraman, Spectreman, and Zone Fighter) were extremely popular during the seventies, and the film company was eager to see if their fans could create another jackpot character. The winning drawing was of an Ultraman-esque robot named “Red Alone”, drawn by a young boy. The name was changed, but the design’s shape, features, and color scheme were all directly translated into the character we all know and love today. Originally, J.J. was to star in his own film – pitted against a rejected Godzilla villain, Megalon. After several months in production, “Jet Jaguar vs Megalon” was scrapped, eventually being revised by Godzilla series screenwriter Shinichi Sekizawa. The new film would include Godzilla squaring off against not only Megalon, but a very popular foe as well – Gigan.
Vinyl figures of Jet Jaguar have existed through every vinyl-boom in collecting history. The first figure of J.J. was made by Bullmark in 1973 to coincide with the release of the film, and features a very stylized silhouette. Bullmark created two versions – a giant sized and a medium sized, both of which are pictured below from the collection of Alex Merdich.
Bandai has also produced two of the most popular figures of Jet Jaguar. The first, known as one of the ‘classic’ 8″ figures, was released in 1993 and features a decently accurate (but somewhat bulky) sculpt with a matte paint job. The figure still holds up well to this day, and fetches middle range prices as most collectors are still eager to add this well-known figure to their collections. Bandai’s second effort for the android was a much more recent release in their Movie Monster’s series. The new Bandai was released in 2007, and features an incredibly pleasing and accurate sculpt. The paint scheme is equally as impressive – the figure is extremely vibrant and features both matte and metallic paints, both applied where accurate. The later 6″ Jet Jaguar Bandai stands as not only one of the best J.J. figures ever made, but as one of Bandai’s finest as well. You can see both of these figures below, from the collection of Jon @ UnCanny.
The 2007 release also came in two variants based on versions of Jet Jaguar seen in the Bandai produced ‘Godzilla Island’ television series. One, Nurse Jet Jaguar, is a plain white mold of the figure with a red medic plus painted on the chest. The other, known as Red or Fireman Jet Jaguar, was just that – a red Jet Jaguar.
Many other well known companies have taken a crack at ol’ Jaga – in this case, several. Going back a bit into the nineties, Marmit’s first Jet Jaguar release was part of their Vinyl Paradise line. The VP figures were all made in standard scale (9+ inches), most of them cast in solid vinyl, resulting in larger, bulkier figures. Jet Jaguar is no exception to this. The Marmit Vinyl Paradise Jet Jaguar clocks in at 11 1/2 inches, right under a foot tall. This vinyl was released in 1999 toward the end of the VP line, and resembles a larger, bulkier version of the original Bandai. The Marmit is sprayed with metallic colors, and came in two variations – Blue or Grey cast vinyl.
Marmit’s other series-related Jet Jaguar vinyl came from the medium sized Para-Babies line five years later in 2004. The PB J.J. (hah!) stands at six inches tall, and was released with a miniature flying Jet Jaguar. Marmit’s Para-Babies were all six inch scaled, fairly stylized figures featuring enlarged heads and colorful paint schemes. Jet Jaguar is no exception to this – though given his already colorful nature in comparison to his Toho comrades, Jet Jaguar’s original primary color based scheme was kept intact. Just like it’s Vinyl Paradise predecessor, this J.J. was only made in two variants (both featuring the same paint scheme), Blue or Grey castl. Variety aside, this matte painted robot is one of the most charming vinyls of Jetto to ever hit shelves. And unlike almost every other vinyl produced of the character, this release was painted with Golden, not Black, eyes.
Much later, The Bullmark Jet Jaguar sculpt would be revived in the Iwakura series of Bullmark Mini’s – two sets of ten different classic vinyl molds made into 3″ figures. The mini J.J. is pictured below with a comparison shot for size reference, from the collection of Jon @ UnCanny.
Other notable companies to tackle this colorful android include X-Plus and Gigabrain. X-Plus has released a couple of recent efforts, all of which representing unmatched detail and accuracy. In 2010, X-Plus released a boxed vinyl figure with bright blue eyes – the internet release of which had interchangeable hands (not pictured). In 2012, X-Plus made an excellent set for fans with the below-pictured MegaroGoji and Jet Jaguar 25cm set. Each figure is superbly sculpted and painted – Only 100 of these were made.
In 2016 X-Plus reissued the 25cm Jet Jaguar as a standalone lightup RIC exclusive on their official site. They were made available in Japan, and many dealers had them brought overseas to offer to U.S. fans.
As mentioned, Gigabrain entered the Jetto fray as well, and made quite a splash. A more recent vinyl company banner, Gigabrain has really stepped up to the plate and provided fans with some excellently sculpted vinyls, all of which are released in a good half-dozen paint schemes. Jet Jaguar is no exception to this. Proving to be one of the most popular figures of the character ever produced, the Gigabrain Jet Jaguar is a standard sized vinyl that comes in many shapes and sizes – some cast from clear vinyl, others painted anything from black and purple to lime green and blue.
Other noteable Jet Jaguar figures include the Toyvault 14″ Jet Jaguar plush, and several smaller gashapon J.J. figures.
(More photos coming soon! Top featured image courtesy of talented friend John Stanowsky of Kaijuaddicts.com)