Friday, 3 July 2020

Series REVIEW: GARO: Versus Road

Garo: Versus Road

A franchise’s longevity often depends on just how well it can reinvent itself. Over the past decade and a half GARO has spread itself across multiple mediums and timelines, all unified by the appearance of the titular golden armour and the malevolent dark karma creatures known as Horrors. And in the year of its 15th anniversary, GARO: Versus Road has done it again. A brand new chapter in the GARO legacy, Versus Road brings in new characters and a brand new setting - one that seems very different to what has come before.

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lighting Collection Cybervillain Blaze

Lighting Collection Cybervillain Blaze 01

Release Date: February 2020
RRP: $20/£20

While naturally a line like the Power Rangers Lightning Collection is going to gravitate toward to rangers themselves, four waves (and a handful of exclusives) in and it hasn't done a bad job of giving us some villain representation too. While it's only really Zedd, Goldar and the Putty Patroller covering the monster side of things, between the Psycho Red, Psycho Blue and Lord Drakkon there's been a fair few evil rangers to go around as well. Wave four boosts that number yet again with Lightning Collection Cybervillain Blaze! An evil avatar created by Evox, the twisted version of the Power Rangers Beast Morphers Red Ranger assists the virus in his bid to take over the Morphin Grid. With the Beast Morphers Yellow and Silver rangers still unaccounted for in the line, Blaze is a bit of a surprise entry for the fourth wave but certainly not an unwelcome one.

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series The Child

Star Wars Black Series The Child 01

Release Date: April 2020
RRP: $9.99/£10.99

The Mandalorian has done many things for the Star Wars universe and fandom, but in terms of its impact it doesn't get much bigger than The Child. The best kept secret in the run up to the series premiering on Disney+, from the very first episode "Baby Yoda" fever swept the globe - and with no merchandise planned until the middle of 2020 Hasbro had to scramble to get their product ready to meet demand. It's been a bit of a wait, but finally the Black Series The Child figure has arrived. One of the more unique entries in the 6" collector figure line, The Child's small stature means it comes at a smaller price point than usual - and overall presentation is rather different as well.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Figma Mako Mankanshoku

Figma Mako Mankanshoku 01

Release Date: December 2019
RRP: 7000 yen

Admittedly the Figma line have never been the best at getting "complete" casts of characters out. Given that Kill la Kill was released all the way back in 2013 and Figma Ryuko Matoi and Satsuki Kiryuin were released in 2014 and 2015 respectively, you'd think that Good Smile Company and Max Factory would want to strike whilst the iron is hot and get more of the cast out. Yet here we are at the series' fifth anniversary, and only now are collectors getting their hands on Figma Mako Mankanshoku. Despite her having a very firm fanbase and receiving two Nendoroid releases in that time, it's only now that the undisputed star of studio Trigger's first full-length series gets a poseable action figure of her very own. The moral of the story here is never give up on these companies releasing figures - if they're popular enough and fans are vocal enough, you never know when they'll revisit the range years later.

Saturday, 20 June 2020

First Impressions: Ultraman Z

Ultraman Z

Is there no end to Ultraman's worldwide takeover? Not just content with a popular Netflix animated series based on an ongoing manga, reasonably-priced region-free Blu-Ray sets available in the West and a forthcoming Marvel Comics series, the latest series is available online to the masses! The next logical step from their release of Ultra Galaxy Fight: New Generation Heroes last year, Tsuburaya Productions have announced that Ultraman Z - the 32nd entry in the long-running Ultra Series, will be made available on their official YouTube channel with English subtitles. As well as the first series beyond the New Generation Heroes lineup (which ran from Ultraman Ginga to Ultraman Taiga), Ultraman Z celebrates the tenth anniversary of Ultraman Zero. Sadly the run up to its premiere has also been marred with tragedy, as it was recently announced that Kota Fukihara, one of its lead writers, had tragically passed away at the young age of 37. Whilst it isn't clear how much of the series had been written by Fukihara prior to his death, Tsuburaya have stated that their staff will "continue to strive to create an amazing final product for the series to which he gave all his spirit." So above all else, this one's for you Fukihara.

Friday, 19 June 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Zero-One Rising Hopper

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Zero-One Rising Hopper 01

Release Date: February 2020
RRP: 3300 yen

Kamen Rider has entered the Reiwa era, and Bandai Tamashii Nations are along for the ride! The Kamen Rider Zero-One S.H. Figuarts range launches with S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Zero-One Rising Hopper, which is of course the base form of the titular Rider. Following the trend of recent years Bandai have opted to make the lead Rider of the currently airing series a particularly enticing release, offering them at a notably lower price point than is typically seen for even general retail Figuarts these days. Aruto Hiden dreams of a world where humans and Humagears can co-exist peacefully, but have Bandai created a figure that allows both them and collectors to do the same? Keeping reading to find out! 

"A jump to the sky turns to a Rider Kick."

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Zeo Blue Ranger

Lightning Collection Zeo Blue Ranger 01

Release Date: February 2020
RRP: $20/£20

Now that we're four waves into the Power Rangers Lightning Collection collectors have a good idea of what to expect from the line, and while as expected the Mighty Morphin roster will likely be the first team out the door more and more are beginning to appear with each coming wave. Whilst Power Rangers Zeo's beginnings started with last year's SDCC-exclusive Dragon Shield MMPR Red/Zeo Gold Ranger two-pack, but wave four is where we get a first glimpse at the core team with the Lightning Collection Zeo Blue Ranger figure. It's not often we see a team kick off with a character that's a red or sixth/extra ranger, but given his past as the former Mighty Morphin Red Ranger the now blue Rocky DeSantos isn't too far off the mark.

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Bemular -the Animation-

S.H. Figuarts Bemular -The Animation- 01

Release Date: February 2020
RRP: 7700 yen

The release of Production I.G.’s anime adaptation of the ULTRAMAN manga created an all-new interest in the ongoing series, and with Bandai Tamashii Nations having already produced the cast in figure form back in 2015 this was the perfect opportunity to get those toys back on the market. Whilst previously the manga versions of these characters had been produced under the collaborative S.H. Figuarts x Ultra-Act banner, the dissolution of the former line some years ago means that these new anime versions (featuring new tooling and alternate paint jobs) are strictly Figuarts. The range kicked off last year with the reason of both Ultraman and Ultraman Suit Ver 7, and now they’re joined by S.H. Figuarts Bemular -the Animation-. The mysterious entity that identified itself as “the first enemy” (taking its name from the first kaiju the original Ultraman battled in the 1966 series), Bemular is shrouded in mystery - showing hostility toward Shinjiro and his father but also an interest in developing the former’s Ultraman factor. His connection to Ultraman is another mystery yet to be solved. This figure was the first and currently only one in the anime range to be a Tamashii web exclusive, and its arrival leaves the Ace Suit as the only character only available via the original SHFxUA release.

Saturday, 6 June 2020

Movie REVIEW: GARO: Moonbow Traveler

Garo: Moonbow Traveler

Once upon a time you could have considered GARO to be an obscure tokusatsu series, at least when compared to some of the bigger name franchises. But after 15 years, multiple television series and movies, three anime spin-offs simulcast worldwide and several official English-subtitled US Blu-Ray releases it's fair to say that ship has long since sailed. The fact this particular film even had English subtitles for its Japanese home video release just reinforces the fact. Celebrating 15 years of the Golden Knight, GARO: Gekkou No Tabibito ("Moonbow Traveler") brings back Raiga Saejima and the cast of The Makai Flower for their long-overdue movie outing - bringing together the various threads of the Saejima family storyline for potentially the last time.

(Review contains minor spoilers)

Monday, 1 June 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Mashin Sentai Kiramager Minipla Kiramaizin

Kiramager Minipla Kiramaizin 01

Release Date: March 2020
RRP: 2376 yen (6 boxes, 1 complete model), 4752 yen (12 boxes, 2 complete models)

Super Sentai minipla may be all the rage these days thanks to the deep dives into its history Bandai’s Super Mini-Pla line getting up to, but at the same time the yearly range of candy toy model kits is still trucking away offering the same level of articulation for a fraction of the price. This year it’s the turn of Mashin Sentai Kiramager, a show that may have sadly taken a hiatus due to the COVID-19 crisis but has still wowed audiences with its classic Sentai stylings. The series’ first minipla release features all five of the team’s Kiramei Stones turned Mashin vehicles, not only able to transform into the mighty Kiramaizin but also break down in the small combos of Land Mage and Sky Mage.