Thursday, 18 April 2019

Miniseries REVIEW: Rider Time: Kamen Rider Ryuki

Rider Time: Kamen Rider Ryuki

As the final farewell to Heisei era of Kamen Rider, there was no way that Kamen Rider Zi-O wasn't going to go all out in celebrating the past 20 years of the franchise. The time travelling series has paid tribute to both the past and potential future of Kamen Rider, with numerous special guest actors returning to reprise their roles from their respective series. But when it comes to the obligatory spin-offs the show has, no one could have expected Rider Time: Kamen Rider Ryuki – a three-part miniseries that serves as a sequel to 2002's Kamen Rider Ryuki. Airing exclusively on Japan's Video Pass streaming service, the miniseries was written by original series co-writer Toshiki Inoue and brings back several members of the original cast to reprise their roles.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Anime REVIEW: Steins;Gate 0

Steins;Gate 0
Steins;Gate 0 is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

In 2011 the anime world was taken storm by Steins;Gate – a series based on a 2009 visual novel from famed developers Nitroplus. Its popularity led to a follow-up OVA and movie, both of which were original material that continued the story beyond that of the original game. When a sequel game was released in 2015, it was only a matter of time before it also received an anime adaptation. Fast forward to 2018 and Steins;Gate 0 was unleashed upon the world, presenting fans with a familiar but very different world to the ones they were previously used to. The series ran for a total of 23 episodes, along with a bonus OVA released shortly after its completion.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Poppy Toki Meki Crisis Gamer Level X


Release Date: March 2019 
RRP: 6264 yen

Despite still arguably taking up the majority of the S.H. Figuarts line's tokusatsu slots, Kamen Rider releases have become a lot less predictable than they were a few years ago. It's April 2019, and the final forms for the titular Riders from the last three years are still surprisingly absent. However you can always rely on Bandai Tamashii Nations to throw out a few surprises, and with Kamen Rider Ex-Aid's popularity still going strong one of their latest ones was S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Poppy Toki Meki Crisis Gamer Level X. Poppy Pipopapo's well-deserved ascent to Rider status was a very popular move by the series, however despite her being a main character she didn't transform nearly enough as she should have. But getting a Figuarts release is still more than Ex-Aid Hyper Muteki has achieved so far, even if it is a Tamashii web exclusive.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Anime REVIEW: ULTRAMAN

Ultraman is available in streaming form on Netflix

Although the franchise has always remained a staple of Japan's superhero culture, Ultraman has been enjoying something of a revival on a worldwide scale in the past few years thanks to a number of different factors. Legal subtitled streaming options and Tsuburaya Productions finally taking full control of global distribution after years of legal difficulties might be key ones, but not all of Ultraman's modern recognition has come from onscreen. In 2011 an ongoing manga series written by Eiichi Shimizu and illustrated by Tomohiro Shimoguchi began publication, serving as a direct sequel to the original 1966 series. Eight years and 12 volumes later, ULTRAMAN now has its own 3DCG animated adaptation. Originally announced in 2017 alongside the production of SSSS.Gridman, the series has been co-produced by Production I.G and Sola Digital Arts and is available exclusively on Netflix.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series 6" Hera Syndulla


Release Date: September 2017
RRP: £20/20

It's proving to be a rather arduous process, but slowly but surely Hasbro seem to be working their way through the cast of Star Wars: Rebels. Though there doesn't seem to be any clear plans for Zeb, at the very least Ezra and Chopper will both be coming out later in the year to round out the main crew. But before then cast your minds back to late 2017, when ace pilot, captain of the Ghost and rebel leader Hera Syndulla was finally added to The Black Series. A Twi'lek and central figure in the beginnings of the Rebel Alliance, Hera is a particularly interesting character in the modern Star Wars canon - with her ship having made a cameo appearance in Rogue One and her being retroactively confirmed (albeit offscreen) to have participated in the battle of Endor during Return of the Jedi.

Friday, 5 April 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series 6" Sabine Wren


Release Date: November 2016
RRP: £20/$20

The Star Wars universe is one that inhabits movies, animated series, books, comics, video games and more, but as far as the Black Series collector toy line goes its the films that naturally take priority. However every so often Hasbro will throw fans of the extended universe a bone, and in 2016 produced a handful of figures to coincide with Star Wars: Rebels. First came Jedi Kanan Jarrus and Ahsoka Tano, but they were soon followed by the show's resident graffiti artist and Mandalorian heroine Sabine Wren. Prior to her release Sabine had come second in Hasbro's fans' choice poll in 2015, which is all the more reason why her release was so hotly anticipated.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Thunder Gridman


Release Date: November 2018
RRP: 6480 yen

With the original series celebrating its 25th anniversary last year and returning to television screens in animated form with SSSS.Gridman, tokusatsu fans are currently experiencing a Gridman revival. But while Good Smile Company are off creating new merchandise for Trigger's anime series, Bandai are also capitalising on the hype as the original Denkou Chojin Gridman line-up joins the Super Mini-Pla range. The first big name Gridman toys to be produced since the Ultra-Act releases back in 2012, the Super Mini-Pla Thunder Gridman set offers a fairly comprehensive look into Tsuburaya Productions' 1993 classic. Included in this four piece set are Gridman himself, along with the three Assist Weapon vehicles – the Thunder Jet, Twin Driller and God Tank.

Friday, 29 March 2019

Series REVIEW: Ultraman R/B

Ultraman R/B

With the Ultra Series having firmly established itself as an annual franchise once more, Tsuburaya Productions have finally been getting the traction they needed to go stand by side with its closest rivals once again. Merchandise revenue is on the up, and with both Tsuburaya's victories over Chaiyo in court and interest in bringing Ultraman to a global platform the state of the series is looking pretty great right now. The Ultraman New Generation continued in 2018 with Ultraman R/B – the 30th entry in the franchise overall and the last that will be produced during Japan's Heisei era. Sadly this is also the first series since Ultraman X to not be simulcast with English subtitles via Crunchyroll, with the relationship with the streaming service and Tsuburaya seemingly having come to an end for at least the time being.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Zero


Release Date: February 2019
RRP: 5940 yen

Ever since the Ultra Series was integrated into the S.H. Figuarts line back in 2016, Bandai Tamashii Nations' pattern of releases has been fairly predictable. Each year has progressed coverage of the classic shows one by one, and then in the last few years it's also split off the cover the newer Ultraman series as they're released – with both Ultraman X and (soon) Ultraman Ginga coming later to round off the "New Generation" Ultra releases. While there's no indication of when all the things in between the two will be covered, there's one key hero that was just too important to wait for. Appearing throughout the New Generation Ultra Series as well as having a key supporting role in Ultraman Geed, S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Zero has been released in his original form. This is actually the second release for the son of Ultraseven in the line, with Ultraman Zero Beyond having previously been released among the Geed range.

Monday, 25 March 2019

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Cross-Z Magma


Release Date: January 2019
RRP: 6480 yen

Once upon a time the thought of a secondary Kamen Rider getting more figures than the lead character was unthinkable, but if the last two years have proved anything its that just because your name is the title of the series it doesn't mean your the most marketable character. Just as Bandai Tamashii Nations have produced more Kamen Rider Genm figures in the S.H. Figuarts line than they have Ex-Aid, it's Kamen Rider Cross-Z that seems to be enjoying the most releases from Kamen Rider Build. With the release of S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Cross-Z Magma at the beginning of this year, all four of Ryuga Banjou's main in-series forms have been released in the line. Admittedly all of them with the exception of Cross-Z Charge have been Tamashii web exclusives, but since that's the way most things seem to get released these days that's still a pretty impressive track record.