HYDRA (making)

Hydra design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “It feels like a birdman.”

It is known that Hydra was designed after the real-life statue that appeared in the show. It is a statue named Kōgenryū (literally, “wild field dragon”) that still remains in existence at the Izu Shaboten (Cactus) Park (Hydra’s alias is Kōgenryū in the show as well, but it means “plateau dragon” with a different Chinese character used).

As to how this statue was chosen for the show, Yuzo Higuchi, director of this episode, plainly says in a book that they found it by chance during location scouting. Things were often decided in such an easy-going way back then while I love it.

Hydra was sculpted by Ex Production instead of Ryosaku Takayama who should have already been extremely busy in making Narita-designed Ultra Kaijus one after another.

Enlarged head part of the design

Ex (representing “expert”) Production pronounced as “Ekisu Purodakushon” or abbreviated as “Ekisu Puro” in Japanese was formed by the founders including Masao Yagi and Keizo Murase who had been involved in the sculpting work for Toho tokusatsu movies such as Godzilla.

It seems to have been when Ex Production was just established that the order was placed with them for the Hydra costume. Murase founded his own sculpting company in 1972 called “Twenty” (written and pronounced as “Tsenny” in Japanese) known to have made the massively sculpted costumes of Vakishim and Verokron for “Ultraman Ace.”

Among other things, it is said Vakishim was too large to take out of the workshop and that they had to sever the costume temporarily for delivery to the studio.

Hydra at the back of the Bisen studio

According to Murase, Hydra’s scales all over the body were made from an artificial leather material by cutting each piece apart and pasting them over each other.

He says they made scales for King Ghidorah by casting the latex pieces from the mold, which enabled them to give the scales more solidity with the center part of each piece slightly elevated while the same method could not be applied to a TV show kaiju due to the budget and schedule.

The Hydra costume was remodeled into Guigass by Ex Production afterwards. In the 1970s, Ex Production and Twenty seem to have played their active roles in sculpting characters mainly for the shows featuring human-sized heroes such as Kamen Rider and Kikaider.

Incidentally, it is likely that Izu Shaboten Park has changed its name into Izu Shaboten Zoo Park (Izu Shaboten Dobutsu Koen) with the Kōgenryū statue remaining as it had been.

Izu Shaboten Zoo Park Map shown at their website (I added the Kogenryu statue inscription)

10 thoughts on “HYDRA (making)”

  1. Tsuburaya released this show on DVD which features Ultra Kaiju going on tours around different parts of Japan, and one of the episodes had Hydra visit the statue that he was based on!

  2. I remember in another of Tsuburaya’s shows “Triple Fighter” there was a scene where the characters battled kaijin at the Shaboten Park close to the Kōgenryū.

    1. Oh, that’s great! The name Triple Fighter is another show that really makes me feel nostalgic!
      The Shaboten Park seems to have been used as a filming location for tokusatsu shows such as Kamen Rider back then frequently including the Kōgenryū statue.
      Thanks for your information!

    1. and I notice something are alike in each episode of these three tokusatsu series. The Creature or Spirit ? Destroyed all the car that passed the road which kids was killed by car crashes.In the pictures Hydra from Ultraman, Gonda from Magma taishi and Kurumanikurasu from Spectreman.

      1. The kaiju you described as Gonda is called Umibouzu (literally, “see bonze” referring to a mysterious monster found in the sea. The name Seabose of Ultraman also originated from umibouzu) while I don’t remember the story about him unfortunately.
        Kurumanikurasu surely reminded me of Hydra when the episode aired when I was a kid. I remember it was to appear as Dumpnikurasu in the first place because he hates dump trucks, but the name was changed when the episode actually aired.
        Hey, everything you mentioned makes me feel nostalgic!

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