Thursday, 27 January 2022

Series REVIEW: The High School Heroes

The High School Heroes

Milestone anniversaries for long-running franchises can result in some rather interesting side projects, which is something that is definitely true for Super Sentai. Roughly around the time of Sentai's 35th anniversary fans were first introduced to the fanboy antics of Hikōnin Sentai Akibaranger, and now nearly a decade later a different kind of unofficial Sentai has taken shape. The High School Heroes is a tokusatsu mini-drama produced by both Toei and J Storm Inc., starring members of Johnny's JR (an offshoot of prominent but controversial talent agency Johnny & Associates for male idols yet to officially debut) in the leading roles. The series was written by Yuya Takahashi (Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, Zero-One), Toshio Yoshitaka and Masaya Kakehi, the latter of whom also directed alongside Takuro Oikawa and Gen Takezono.

Monday, 24 January 2022

Toybox REVIEW: MAFEX Spider-Gwen (Gwen Stacy)

MAFEX Spider-Gwen (Gwen Stacy) 01

Release Date: September 2021
RRP: 9800 yen

These days numerous companies have gotten in on the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse action but when Medicom first announced they'd be tackling the Academy Award-winning film in their MAFEX line, things were pretty damn exciting. Fast-forward nearly two years and several delays later and both their Miles Morales and Peter B. Parker figures proved to be worth the wait, so it's only natural that they should be joined by a third. MAFEX Spider-Gwen (Gwen Stacy) is the first time MAFEX have tackled this alternate universe Spider-Man where Gwen was bitten rather than Peter, even though they've been also been tackling comic versions of Spidey for some time now. However since her appearance in Spider-Verse Spider-Gwen (or Ghost Spider if you prefer)'s popularity has only continued to skyrocket, so if any version deserves to join the ranks of the MAFEX line it's this one.

Thursday, 20 January 2022

TOP 5: Tokusatsu I'd like to see Rebooted/Revived

Top 5 Tokusatsu I'd like to see Rebooted/Revived

In an attempt to add a bit more variety to the content of the site this year, one of the things I've planned are monthly top five lists - covering everything from what figures I'd like to see in certain toy lines to my favourite characters from specific series. The first topic I've chosen for this new section is a subject I'm sure many will be divided on - reboots. Like it or not, reboots are just as much a part of tokusatsu these days as they are the Hollywood landscape - from gritty reimaginings (that may play fast and loose with the core concepts) like Kamen Rider Amazons or the forthcoming Kamen Rider Black Sun to more straightforward ones like Kikaider REBOOT or last year's Ganbareiwa!! Robocon. While these productions aren't always a rousing success, they can at the very least introduce these classic heroes/characters to a whole new generation.

So without further ado, here are the five tokusatsu productions I'd like to see rebooted or, to use a more specific term for some of them, revived. Not all of them are necessarily that old, but all of them still have plenty of potential that feels untapped. 

(Please note that the following list may contain SPOILERS for some of the shows/films/franchises mentioned. You have been warned!)

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Movie REVIEW: Saber + Zenkaiger: Super Hero Senki

Saber + Zenkaiger: Super Hero Senki

2021 was a huge year for tokusatsu anniversaries. As well as Ultraman celebrating its 55th anniversary, over on the Toei side of things their tentpole superhero shows also hit significant milestones as Kamen Rider and Super Sentai celebrated their 50th and 45th anniversaries respectively. Times like these are usually celebrated by whatever series releases that year, but of course the real way to properly mark the occasion is with a big flashy crossover film! But not only is Saber + Zenkaiger: Super Hero Senki the first time the two franchises have properly crossed paths on the silver screen since 2017's Chou Super Hero Taisen, but producer Shinichiro Shirakura has also suggested that it may be the last time as well. The film was written by Nobuhiro Mouri (a secondary writer on Kamen Rider Saber) with input from Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger writer Junko Kōmura, and directed by tokusatsu veteran Ryuta Tasaki.

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection In Space Silver Ranger

Power Rangers Lightning Collection In Space Silver Ranger 01

Release Date:
October 2021
RRP: $22.99/£24.99

Hasbro's surprising love for Power Rangers in Space continues as the team draws one step nearer to completion with the release of the Lightning Collection In Space Silver Ranger! One of the final members of the team to make it to the line, Zhane was released through Hasbro Pulse in very limited quantities with plans for a wider Walgreens-exclusive release in US at some point this year. For the rest of the world, the figure was available via the fan channel in similarly limited fashion - making the Silver Ranger a particularly scarce item in this time of uncertain release times and quantities.

Sunday, 16 January 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Figma SP-134 Yuuri (Gloria)

Figma SP-134 Yuuri (Gloria) 01

Release Date: August 2021
RRP: 9900 yen

While things have definitely gotten a lot better in recent years when it comes to getting Pokémon toys of things other than the Pokémon themselves, it feels like most companies are still only scratching the surface when it comes the vast universe of human characters the franchise has to offer. Take Max Factory's Figma line for example, who to this day have only released a total of six characters in their ever popular range. The fourth release, as well as the first from 2019's Pokémon Sword & Shield, is Figma SP-134 Yuuri - the female avatar in the game perhaps better known to the rest of the world by her default Western name of Gloria. Another release exclusive to the Pokémon Center store (though also accessible through channels such as middleman services and Amazon), Yuuri is the third trainer avatar release - following on from Red in 2017 and then Mizuki (Selene) in 2018.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Studio Series 86 Dinobot Slug & Daniel Witwicky

Transformers Studio Series 86 Dinobot Slug & Daniel Witwicky 01

Release Date: July 2021
RRP: $52.99/£54.99

The 35th anniversary of Transformers: The Movie may have come and gone, but the Studio Series 86 line continues to run strong with plenty of characters still left for Hasbro to release. Among them are of course fan-favourites the Dinobots, four of which had a prominent place in the film (Snarl's whereabouts continue to be a mystery to this day). With Hasbro's current strive for G1 accuracy it also means bigger Dinobots than ever before, continuing with the Leader class Dinobot Slug & Daniel Witwicky. Due to the name's connotations in certain parts of the world, this is the new marketed name for the triceratops formerly known as Slag.

Sunday, 9 January 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection In Space Black Ranger

Power Rangers Lightning Collection In Space Black Ranger 01

Release Date: May 2021
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

There may be still plenty of Power Rangers teams untouched by Hasbro's Lightning Collection but at least a lot of the ones that have made headway on are nearing completion. While the prioritising of franchise golden goose Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was to be expected it's quite impressive how much love they've thrown to Power Rangers in Space as well - with numerous villains released from the fan-favourite series on top of the heroes themselves. The line's ninth wave continues to build upon that impressive streak with the release of the Lightning Collection In Space Black Ranger aka Carlos Vallerte, who took over as the second green Turbo Ranger before blasting off into space with the rest of the team in search of the captured Zordon.

Friday, 7 January 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series K-2SO

Star Wars Black Series K-2SO 01

Release Date: 2016, September 2021 (Re-release)
RRP: $22.99/£21.99

The redesign of the Star Wars Black Series packaging brought about a lot of opportunities for Hasbro, one of which was the chance to re-release a whole range of older figures and make them seem brand new again. Not just because of their fancy new packaging with connecting mural artwork, but also through improved head sculpts that made use of their (then unavailable) photo-real technology. The first batch of figures to get this treatment were the cast of Star Wars: Rebels upon the launch of the redesign, and then some time later it was also the turn of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Initially released all the way back in 2016, the Rogue One crew have been given a new lease on life – joined by a largely unchanged re-release of the Black Series K-2SO figure. While arguably Orson Krennic was far more needing of a reissue, it makes sense that the programmed Imperial Security droid would join his companions so that collectors were able to pick up the whole group in one fell swoop.

Wednesday, 5 January 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Wrecker

Star Wars Black Series Wrecker 01

Release Date: June 2021
RRP: $31.99/£33.99

The introduction of deluxe figures to the Black Series was a fantastic idea on Hasbro's part, since it finally allowed some of the larger and/or more intricate characters of the Star Wars universe that didn't fit into the $20 price point to be released. And if there's one character that needed it, it’s Wrecker – the muscular clone commando of Clone Force 99, aka "The Bad Batch". After making their debut in the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the Bad Batch have now gone on to star in their own self-titled animated series – chronicling their adventures during the rise of the Galactic Empire.