Kaiju Profile: Baby Godzilla 1998
Written by Les, Titanollante
Edited, voiced by Titanollante
Hello kaiju fans, I'm Titanollante and continuing with G98 month, today we're taking a look at Godzilla's offspring — the Baby 'Zillas!
TriStar's versions of Baby Godzilla debuted in the 1998 “GODZILLA" film, where hundreds emerged from a nest inside Madison Square Garden and threatened to overrun the world should they have escaped. Following both their and the adult Godzilla's destruction, it seemed that the threat was finally gone, but a single egg left intact inside the arena would end up hatching and go on to become the next Godzilla in "Godzilla: The Series."
These monsters are referred to as 'Baby Godzilla' in licensed English AND Japanese media contemporary with the film, as well as more recent publications. The Baby Godzillas are never referred to by a specific name in their film appearance, only called "hatchlings" or "Godzilla's young," while the novelization refers to them as "baby Gojiras." Meanwhile, they're referred to as Baby 'Zillas in the story treatment for the unmade "GODZILLA 2" and are occasionally called that during the Special FX Supervisor commentary on the "GODZILLA" DVD.
The portrayal of the Baby Godzillas was accomplished through a combined use of suitmation, robotics, and most prominently, CGI. A number of suits were constructed for the Baby Godzillas, featuring radio-controlled heads and leg extensions for the suit actors. In all, four "hero suits" were constructed with fully mechanical heads as well as three stunt suits which were significantly lighter and only had mechanisms installed for their eyes and mouths. One major design factor of the Baby suits were their tails, which were designed with bungee cord extending down the length of them in order to allow for natural movement with the rest of the body and to provide counterbalance for the weight of the suits and their angled, stilted legs.
Much like with the adult monster, however, the use of these suits were fairly limited, and shots of them were often either blended with or fully substituted by CGI models. Ultimately, director Roland Emmerich decided to scrap a majority of the running sequences of the suits, for fear of their movement looking too different from that of their CGI counterparts. As a consequence of this, the feet of the suits were often bolted down to the ground during filming of stationary scenes in order to aid the suit actors in balancing, since they would not need to be moving.
For the CGI of the Baby 'Zillas, about 90% of the animation was handled by Centropolis, with the remaining 10% split between Sony and VisionArt animators. According to visual effects artist Karen Goulekas, the mechanical props of the babies were often used as points of reference for handling lighting and realistic posing on the animation of the CG models as well as texturing.
The Baby Godzillas closely resemble their father, but smaller and thinner - their heads and eyes larger in proportion to the rest of their bodies. Their scutes are not fully developed, taking the form of flat, bony plates on their heads and small bumps running down their backs, compared to the large curved spikes of their father. They're colored gray to dim brown with tinges of blue, plus beige undersides. In toys they were more colorful, ranging from red and saturated brown to orange with purple scutes and yellow with red scutes.
The Baby 'Zillas are the offspring of the Godzilla that attacked New York in 1998. The monster asexually laid 228 eggs in Madison Square Garden, which hatched into the Baby Godzillas.
GODZILLA (1998): The Baby Godzillas began to hatch shortly after Niko Tatopoulos and Philippe Roaché's team came upon Godzilla's nest in Madison Square Garden. The team had planned to destroy the eggs with explosives, but discovered there were far more eggs than they had expected and that they far outnumbered their supply of explosives. The hatchlings began to feed on the fish their parent had left in the nest, but their supply began to wane. Smelling the scent of fish on Nick and the others, the babies began to chase them across the arena. Philippe's fellow secret servicemen were devoured by the creatures, but he and the others reached a broadcast room that was normally used to air sporting events and barred themselves inside. Using the recording equipment, Audrey Timmonds broadcast a live report over the airwaves showing the baby 'Zillas roaming through Madison Square Garden and warning of what would happen if they escaped. Colonel Hicks saw the broadcast and ordered three F-18 Hornets to deliver a missile strike on the building. As the jets approached, the humans tried to escape while the babies breached the room. Just as the protagonists escaped the building, missiles collided with Madison Square Garden, destroying it and killing all of the Baby 'Zillas. As the team thought their mission was accomplished, the adult Godzilla rose from under the streets and looked at the bodies of his slain young. He nudged the corpse of one, only for it to lie motionless. Enraged, Godzilla began to chase the humans across New York, leaving the remains of the Garden behind.
Sometime later, a lone egg left at the scene of the ruined building would hatch.
Godzilla: The Series: Following the death of the first Godzilla, Niko Tatopoulos convinced Colonel Hicks to send a team into Madison Square Garden in order to ensure that no Baby Godzillas had survived. Nick went in first, but fell into a cavern and was separated from the rest of the team. There, he encountered a surviving egg which hatched into another Baby Godzilla, but rather than attack Nick, the baby imprinted upon him. Knowing the military was approaching, Nick scared the hatchling off with electrical wires, allowing it to escape. Later, this hatchling matured into the next Godzilla, working alongside his adoptive "father" Nick and his team H.E.A.T. to locate and neutralize the threats of rampant mutations around the world.
Physical Capabilities: Although not displaying any outstanding abilities in their movie, the Baby Godzillas are still more than a match for humans with their jaws lined with razor-sharp teeth and their sharp claws. Their primary weapon is jumping, and aside from jumping down on people, they perform 10-foot (or 3 meter) pounces in the novelization.
Agility: Although immediately following their birth the Baby Godzillas are "wobbly on their feet," they soon become capable of walking and then running—reaching speeds of roughly between 40 to 50 miles per hour.
Burrowing: In "Godzilla: The Series," the newborn second Godzilla rapidly burrowed out of the ruins of the Madison Square Garden after being scared by an electric spark.
Corrosive Steam Breath: In the game "GODZILLA: Online," a web-based tie-in game for the TriStar film, the Baby Godzillas possess a green, highly corrosive steam breath attack called Breath Burst which, while capable of dealing large amounts of damage, can only be used sparingly.
Asexual Reproduction: According to Nick Tatopoulos, each Baby Godzilla is "born pregnant," and inherits its father's ability to reproduce asexually. Nick warned that if the Baby Godzillas escaped Madison Square Garden and matured, they would rapidly reproduce and overrun the world, replacing mankind as the dominant species. This threat never came to fruition, as the majority of the Baby Godzillas were eradicated in Madison Square Garden, and the only survivor turned out to be sterile. However, in "GODZILLA: Monster Apocalypse," the first prequel novel to "GODZILLA: Planet of the Monsters," a chapter detailing the destruction caused by Zilla utilises the worst-case scenario of the 1998 film. Like the TriStar Godzilla, the "Monster Apocalypse" Zilla is capable of reproducing rapidly, and all of its young are born fertile. While still juvenile, the infant Zillas are dangerous and capable of coordinating with their brethren. "If you leave one young one alive, no, if you leave just an egg behind, it'll hatch and reproduce all over again"; and, "The young ones were more troublesome than the big ones. They're intelligent and act in herds, acting as decoys for the tanks while the adults attack from the rooftops." In the same vein, the babies are said to form packs to hunt in the 1998 film's novelization, with certain individuals even becoming "leaders."
Much like the multiple types of suits used to portray the Baby Godzillas, a number of different models and props were utilized for their eggs in the film. One such kind, dubbed the "hero egg," was constructed of fiberglass and featured a removable plug in order to allow for the effect of it breaking open without it having to be entirely replaced each time, while the remainder of the full-scale eggs were simply constructed of foam. For scenes where a miniature was used instead, a number of fittingly-scaled eggs were also made, noted by visual effects supervisor Volker Engel as the "potatoes." The various egg types were also dressed with a webbing effect, achieved by coating them in different hot glue sprays from a hot glue gun with a small, mounted fan.
A trademark was filed for the creatures under the name "Baby Godzilla™," and they even received their own copyright icon which appeared in merchandise for the film. However, this trademark was cancelled by Toho and replaced with the older "BabyGodzilla™" trademark. Ultimately, all individual trademarks for the creatures were removed and absorbed under Godzilla's.
Lastly, the Baby Godzillas were scheduled to return in the unmade sequel to the 1998 film, with a pack of them being raised by the surviving Godzilla in the Australian outback. The infants would grow into adolescent "Teen 'Zillas," only to be hunted down and killed by the U.S. military, save for one nicknamed "the Runt." The Runt would go on to help his parent battle the queen of a giant, termite-like insect species in Sydney, only to be apparently killed but later return at the film's conclusion.
That's all for the Baby 'Zillas. Thank you for watching!