Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Series REVIEW: The Return of Ultraman

The Return of Ultraman

Although Ultraseven was originally intended to mark the end of the Ultra Series, Ultraman's popularity was just too much for Tsuburaya Productions to ignore and the franchise eventually returned in 1971 with its fourth instalment – The Return of Ultraman. However much had changed in the three years since Ultraseven's conclusion, with Eiji Tsuburaya passing away in 1970 and his son Hajime taking over the company until his own death in 1973. Originally planned to see feature the original Ultraman returning to Earth, The Return of Ultraman was later restructured to star a new hero – Ultraman Jack, though he would not actually receive this name until much later in 1984. The change also allowed for both the original Ultraman and Ultraseven to appear in the show, marking the first time a shared universe was introduced into the Ultra Series canon.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Figure Complex Amazing Yamaguchi Carnage


Release Date: May 2018 
RRP: 7452 yen

Once upon a time Kaiyodo's Revoltech line ruled the roost when it came to collector-orientated affordable, articulated figures from Japan. But with the rise of competitors such as Figma and S.H. Figuarts, Revoltech's trademark clicky revolver joints began to lose their charm for many buyers. However the line never stopped, and in recent years Revoltech technology has branched off into a number of lines under the "Figure Complex" umbrella. The most popular of these has been the Amazing Yamaguchi line – where sculptor Katuhisa Yamaguchi gives his take on various characters from the Marvel Comics universe. Its latest release is another addition from the Spider-Man family, logically following on from the success of its Venom figure with the release of the symbiote's murderous offspring. With a design evocative of 90s comic edginess and all manner of possibilities when it comes to posing and accessories, Amazing Yamaguchi Carnage is the perfect addition to Revoltech's big comeback.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider 2


Release Date: May 2018
RRP: 6480 yen

Following the release of S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider 1 at the end of last year it was fairly obvious just where Bandai were going to go next. Since you can't do one without the other, so the next Kamen Rider to receive a much needed update in Tamashii Nations premium Figuarts range was of course the original's direct successor - Kamen Rider 2, aka Hayato Ichimonji.  A simple release but one that's essential for any completed Rider lineup, S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider 2 is the second Showa era Rider to join this highly regarded line.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Live Robo


Release Date: March 2018
RRP: 4536 yen

When Bandai released Super Mini-Pla Daizyujin last year its creators expressed interest in expanding the line into other Super Sentai instalments, particularly mentioning Chojuu Sentai Liveman. With mecha that haven't had toys since their original DX counterparts way back in 1988, this was particularly exciting news to fans and now, true to their word, the line continues with Super-Minipla Live Robo! The core robot of the series comprising of three Live Machines, this fan-favourite is the first pre-Zyuranger mecha to be released in any form by Bandai in some time – making this one of the most notable Super Mini-Pla (as well as Super Sentai in general) releases for some time.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Figma Mizuki


Release Date: April 2018 
RRP: 6296 yen 

Even though it took long enough to finally get to making one, there was no way that Max Factory was going to stop at just one Pokémon Figma. Good Smile Company have got a rather extensive little cast going with the Nendoroid line now, but when it comes to their articulated cousins where do you go after Red? After starting at the very beginning, it's time to jump to the latest generation of Pokémon games with the release of Figma Mizuki - aka the female trainer of Pokémon Sun & Moon. After travelling the islands of Alola, helping Lillie and Cosmog from the threat of Lusamine and the Ultra Beasts and becoming the first trainer in the region to tackle the Pokémon League, Mizuki now takes her place as the second Pokémon character to be part of the Figma line.

Monday, 4 June 2018

First Impressions: FLCL Progressive

FLCL Progressive

It's been 18 years and as unlikely as it may have ever seemed, FLCL is back. Thanks to a push from Cartoon Network programming block Adult Swim, the 2000 off the wall OVA series from Gainax and Production I.G. has returned for a further two seasons - FLCL Progressive and FLCL Alternative. While fans briefly got a taste of Alternative when the first episode ran as Adult Swim's April fools joke, it's now time to properly dive into Progressive head first as the series begins its six-episode run. Gainax are out of the picture, so animation is handled solely by Production I.G. in a production collaboration with both Toho and Adult Swim. Curiously, the Japanese language version won't be making it's debut until both Progressive and Alternative receive Japanese theatrical runs in September - making the English currently the only way to experience the show. That's right, the dub is airing months ahead of the Japanese version. What crazy times we live in.

Friday, 1 June 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Freeza -Resurrection Ver.-


Release Date: April 2018
RRP: 5616 yen

You know that a toy line has hit a high point when it's releasing reissues and renewals of previously released figures alongside a steady string of brand new moulds. That's been the case for the Dragon Ball S.H. Figuarts range for some time now, and now that Dragon Ball Super has finished airing collectors are clamouring for those hard-to-get older releases more than ever. Bandai Tamashii Nations have now answered these cries with the release of S.H. Figuarts Freeza Resurrection Ver., giving the Emperor of the Universe a shiny new paint job along with some new accessories to reflect his appearance in the latest series. Better still is that this new Freeza is also a general retail release, whereas the original final form Freeza and Golden form Freeza figures were Tamashii web exclusive figures.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Jack


Release Date: April 2018
RRP: 5940 yen

Even though it might not be celebrating its 50th anniversary for another four years, Bandai Tamashii Nations' journey through the Ultra Series continues with its annual cycle as the S.H. Figuarts line delves into 1971's The Return of Ultraman. Though it may have been the first Ultra series produced without the leadership of creator Eiji Tsuburaya, the series is notable for being the first to introduce a shared continuity to the franchise – with both Ultraseven and the original Ultraman appearing by the show's end. As you'd expect the best way for a new range of Ultraman Figuarts to kick off is with its hero, as S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Jack joins his fellow Ultra Brothers as a retail release figure.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Alien Zarab


Release Date: April 2018
RRP: 5940 yen

It's been nearly two years since the release of S.H. Figuarts Ultraman and since then the line has moved onto the casts of Ultraseven and The Return of Ultraman (in addition to covering newer shows like Orb and Geed), yet by way of miracle Bandai Tamashii Nations still seem dedicated to the original Ultraman series. The latest invader to join the ever-expanding line is deceptive Alien Zarab, who first appeared in episode 18 "Brother from Another Planet" and is notable for being the first alien to actively intimate an Ultra hero after deducing the identity of SSSP member Shin Hayata. S.H. Figuarts Alien Zarab was another Tamashii web exclusive release, which is likely to be the fate of any original series character as the Figuarts line moves forwards into future franchise instalments.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger Minipla Lupin Kaiser


Release Date: March 2018
RRP: 1980 yen (1 complete figure, 5 boxes), 4536 yen (Full case: 12 boxes)

This year the Super Sentai formula has truly been shaken as police and thieves go head to head in Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger, but from a collectors' perspective two teams appearing simultaneously can only mean one thing - more toys! This year of minipla candy toys first yield two four-piece main mecha sharing the same core component, starting with the Lupinrangers' own Lupin Kaiser! This is the combination of the Lupinrangers' three signature Dial Fighters, together with the GoodStriker - a sentient piece of the Lupin Collection that's happy to align itself with both sets of heroes.