Thursday, 15 March 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Eternal

Release Date: January 2018
RRP: 7884 yen

If there's one series the S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou line has shown a particular dedication to in the last year or so, it's Kamen Rider W. That isn't all that surprising really, given both the show's popularity and its surprise semi-revival last year with the ongoing Kamen Rider W: Fuuto Detective manga. First came Kamen Rider Double CycloneJoker at the end of 2016, followed by Kamen Rider Accel and Kamen Rider Skull last year. Now Bandai Tamashii Nations are kicking off 2018 with the last of the show's Riders - the villain of its summer movie Kamen Rider W Forever: A to Z/The Gaia Memories of Fate. However unlike the others S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Eternal was unable to escape the fate of being a Tamashii web exclusive, making him a little pricier than the others. But as you'll see further down in this review, the figure has a few surprises in store to try and justify this cost.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Anime REVIEW: Land of the Lustrous

Land of the Lustrous
Land of the Lustrous is available in streaming form on HIDIVE

The prevalence and use of 3D CGI in Japan is perhaps one of the biggest ongoing debates you'll find in the anime fandom. Despite the medium coming a long, long way in recent years and resulting in both notable films and shows, you'll always find that sect of fans that argue that it doesn't hold a candle to traditional 2D animation. However if there's one show that can hopefully change this, it's Land of the Lustrous (Hōseki no Kuni). Based on the manga series by Haruko Ichikawa and animated by CGI specialist studio Orange as their first lead project (though their vast repertoire includes the likes of Accel World, Macross Frontier, Ghost in the Shell: Arise, KanColle and more), Land of the Lustrous was one of the hottest shows of the 2017 fall anime season - and with very good reason.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Legends LG-60 Overlord

Release Date: January 2018
RRP: 9180 yen

It was a sad day in the Transformers fandom when it was announced that TakaraTomy wouldn't be continuing with the Legends line as Hasbro moved into the Power of the Primes range - instead bringing over the US versions without any changes as part of a wider brand unification. Many (including myself) will miss Takara's more cartoon-inspired decos, but at least the beginning of 2018 has some pretty hotly anticipated releases. Amongst them is Transformers Legends LG-60 Overlord, a brand new version of the Decepticon general from the second Japanese-exclusive anime series Transformers: Super God Masterforce. The original toy was an exclusive release to Japan and Europe, however with Overlord gaining new popularity thanks to the Last Stand of the Wreckers and other IDW comics the time has finally come for this fan favourite to receive an updated figure. This figure is an extensive remould of Leader class Titans Return Black Shadow, however as that was not released as part of the Legends line this is the first time the mould is making its way over to Japan. And honestly, its better suited to (and arguably intended for) Overlord in the first place.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Para-DX Perfect Knock Out Gamer Level 99

Release Date: January 2018
RRP: 6480 yen 

As anyone who has collected S.H. Figuarts for a while will tell you, Bandai Tamashii Nations will make some truly strange decisions sometimes. Just as the Kamen Rider Ex-Aid range was getting into full swing, Kamen Rider Para-DX in both his Perfect Puzzle and Knock Out Fighter Level 50 forms at various events and the Tamashii showroom in Akihabara. Getting no concrete release information with these displays is pretty common, but as time went on the figures disappeared and were never heard from again. Then all of a sudden S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Para-DX Perfect Knock Out Gamer Level 99 was announced as a Tamashii web exclusive release, completely skipping over the Bugster Rider's previous two forms. Even as the line continues into the later Ex-Aid forms there's still no sign of them on the horizon, suggesting that the pair may have indeed been sentenced to Tamashii purgatory. But for those who need their Parado fix at least there's this version, which not only encompasses both games he fights using but is arguably his definitive version going forwards into the epilogue movies and V-cinema releases.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Ex-Aid the Movie: True Ending

Kamen Rider Ex-Aid the Movie: True Ending

Although Kamen Rider summer movies have been tying themselves into their respective series for some years now, when one comes along with a name like "True Ending" that immediately suggests that it isn't going to be another parallel universe tale like the pre-Decade Heisei years were known for. Kamen Rider Ex-Aid the Movie: True Ending serves as the final conclusion to the 27th Kamen Rider Series, though given that both a crossover film and numerous V-cinema releases from that the title has become somewhat moot since then. But as far as Ex-Aid's time in the spotlight goes this could indeed be considered the end, and what better place to do than on the big screen. Not only was the film released as part of double-bill with Uchu Sentai Kyuranger the Movie: The Geth Indaver’s Counterattack, it also received a special Playstation VR preview which allowed fans to check out some of its fight scenes in glorious 360° vision.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Movie REVIEW: Thunderbolt Fantasy: The Sword of Life and Death

Thunderbolt Fantasy: The Sword of Life and Death is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

If there was one thing that stood out among Crunchyroll's simulcast offerings in 2016, it was Thunderbolt Fantasy. A 13-episode collaboration between Gen Urobuchi, Nitroplus, Good Smile Company and Taiwan's Pili International Media, the series was an assault of unique styles and visuals that brought the art of Taiwanese glove puppetry to a wider audience. 2017 remained a fairly quiet time for the show as fans patiently wait for its second season, however it capped the year off with the arrival of Thunderbolt Fantasy: A Sword of Life and Death – a direct to video movie that explores the time both prior to and following on from the series with some of its key characters.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Toybox REVIEW: 52TOYS Beast Box BB-04 Moma & BB-04EL Elephinx

Release Date: January 2018
RRP: 2678 yen/$21.99

Last year a little Chinese company by the name of 52TOYS rocked the world of transforming robot toys with their Beast Box line - affordable robot animals which all share an alternate cute mode. The line kicked off with the cute but deadly BB-01 DIO (followed closely by the remoulded BB-02 Ghost Dog as well as Police and Clear repaints), with BB-02 JOJO (along with flame and clear variants) coming some months later. That might not sound like many releases, but the line certainly made up for it in charm and ingenuity. Now they're kicking 2018 off with the third mould from their mechanical menagerie - BB-04 Moma! The mighty mammoth is currently available in three different variants - standard, clear and BB-04EL Elephinx.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Sheryl Nome Anniversary Special Color Ver.

Release Date: January 2018
RRP: 6264 yen

When Mikumo Guynemer and Freyja Wion were released last year it seemed like the time of Macross S.H. Figuarts had finally arrived. Sadly that time came and went in a flash, with the remaining members of Walküre sentenced to Tamashii Nations limbo alongside the likes of Char Aznable and a whole host of Super Sentai and Metal Heroes characters. However even Bandai weren't going to let the 35th anniversary of the Macross franchise go uncelebrated, and in an act of equivalent exchange Macross Frontier's galactic fairy has escaped from said limbo to arrive as S.H. Figuarts Sheryl Nome Anniversary Special Colour Ver.!

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Jugglus Juggler

Release Date: January 2018 
RRP: 7020 yen 

Not content with simply exploring the early years of Tsuburaya Productions' legendary franchise, Bandai Tamashii Nations kicked off their range of modern-era Ultraman S.H. Figuarts last year with a number of releases from Ultraman Orb. Of course no Orb display would be complete without Gai's friend turned enemy turned usually-begrudging ally (it's a fairly complicated relationship to say the least), which is why they've kicked off what will hopefully be another great year of Ultra releases with S.H. Figuarts Jugglus Juggler. Based upon his monster form which made its debut in episode 10 of the series, the figure is a Tamashii web exclusive item as well as the first Ultraman Orb Figuart to not simply be a remould of the titular character.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider 1

Release Date: December 2017
RRP: 6480 yen

The Shinkocchou Seihou range of S.H. Figuarts is the cream of the crop. The best of the best. So far it's given birth to a wide selection of Kamen Rider figures that were desperately in need of an update, a main Rider that's been missing from the lineup for far too long and later this year will begin to venture outside of the Kamen Rider franchise. So after the end of another successful year, it makes sense to round it off with the one that helped start it all. S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider 1 was one of Bandai Tamashii Nations' final releases of 2017, alongside S.H. Figuarts Takeshi Hongo as the perfect partner piece.