Monday, 26 June 2017

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 10x11 - World Enough and Time

Doctor Who 10x11 - World Enough and Time

It's been a fun ten weeks, but now the end is finally approaching. It's time to begin bidding farewell to Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor, Michelle Gomez as Missy, Steven Moffat as showrunner and potentially Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts too. As Doctor Who series 10 draws to a close we begin the two-part finale with World Enough and Time - written by Moffat and directed by Rachel Talalay, who previously directed the two-part finales for both series eight and nine. As well as bringing back the original Mondasian Cybermen to screens, World Enough and Time also features the much-publicised return of John Simm as the Master, making this the first multi-Master story put to screen.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Legends LG-42 Godbomber

Release Date: May 2017
RRP: 7560 yen

When TakaraTomy revealed that their version of Titans Return Powermaster Optimus Prime would be heavily remoulded to match the original toy and released as Super Ginrai, Transformers fans immediately speculated that a Godbomber wouldn’t be too far behind. They were of course correct, and now the originally Japanese-exclusive Super God Masterforce character (who was eventually released in the West as “Apex Bomber”) has returned with full compatibility with Super Ginrai to form God Ginrai. Transformers Legends LG-42 Godbomber is current only available through the Legends line, with an American release still unconfirmed even though the Super Ginrai mould is being brought over as “Magnus Prime”.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Anime REVIEW: Attack on Titan Season 2

Attack on Titan Season 2
Attack on Titan season 2 is available in streaming form via Crunchyroll

Back in 2013 you couldn’t get away from Attack on Titan. Studio Wit’s adaptation of Hajime Isayama’s manga series about humanity fighting back the onslaught of grotesque giants seemed to be one of those shows that surpassed the popularity of your average anime series. But without a second season in clear sight even two live action films, two compilation films and a comedy spin-off couldn’t stop the franchise from falling into a state of limbo. However four years later and the series is finally back, as Eren, Mikasa, Armin, Levi and the rest of the Survey Corps return for a further 12 episodes of Titan-slaying action.

(This review contains spoilers regarding character identities. You have been warned!)

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 10x10 - The Eaters of Light

Doctor Who 10x10 - The Eaters of Light

Doctor Who has never been one to shy away from a real-life mystery. After all, anyone who's seen The Chase will know that the crew of the Mary Celeste disappeared after the Daleks landed on it while chasing the Doctor through time and space. So this week it's tackling the real fate of the Ninth Roman Legion, which mysteriously disappeared and is thought to have been defeated by Celtic tribes in the north of Britain. The Eaters of Light is also a particularly notable episode because of it's writer Rona Munro - the first person to write for both the modern and classic iterations of the show, having previously written the show's "final" episode Survival in 1986.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Gavan Type-G Space Squad Ver.

Release Date: May 2017
RRP: 6480 yen

Hindsight can be a wonderful thing, but on occasion I’ve looked back at some of my older reviews and been too generous in the past. The original S.H. Figuarts Gavan was definitely one of those times, as I originally failed to truly highlight the off proportions and incredibly flimsy wrist joints which broke shortly after publishing the review. However four years later it seems Tamashii Nations also felt they could do the original Space Sheriff better too, releasing a brand new S.H. Figuarts Gavan Type-G ahead of the release of the Gavan/Dekaranger crossover movie Space Squad. This Gavan will also be followed up later this month with an updated version of the original, coming as part of a web exclusive 2-pack with the Saibarian. Like all Metal Heroes Figuarts thus far, both are Tamashii web exclusive releases.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 10x09 - Empress of Mars

Doctor Who 10x09 - Empress of Mars

The most highly anticipated Doctor Who episodes are usually the ones that feature the return of classic monsters, so it shouldn’t be any surprise to hear that Empress of Mars was particularly high up on series 10’s most hotly tipped offerings. After making their long-awaited modern debut in 2013’s Cold War, Mark Gatiss brings the Ice Warriors back on their home soil as well as making a brand new addition to the Martian hierarchy.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Uchu Sentai Kyuranger Minipla RyuTeiOh

Release Date: May 2017 
RRP: 1890 yen (1 complete figure, 5 boxes), 3780 yen (Full case: 2 complete figures, 10 boxes) 

Uchu Sentai Kyuranger may have started as a series that teased nine legendary heroes taking back the galaxy, but it only took the series a mere nine episodes to throw that number aside. With the introduction of Ryu Commander and then Koguma SkyBlue the follow episode, Kyuranger now boasts an impressive total of eleven rangers with more still to come in the future. But in the meantime new rangers means new mecha, with the third wave of Bandai’s candy toy minipla model kits introducing RyuTeiOh into the mix. This set contains a total of five different boxes – three for the Ryu Voyager and then one each for the Koguma and Sasori Voyagers.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Alien Metron

Release Date: April 2017
RRP: 5940 yen

While the release of the Ultra heroes themselves may be coming at a slow and steady pace, the Ultraman S.H. Figuarts line has been filling out rather nicely with range of aliens and kaiju on offer. The original series has already seen Baltan and Zetton released with Mefilas and Gomora still to follow, and now 2017 continues its venture in Ultraseven with S.H. Figuarts Alien Metron. The second retail release from the series, Metron’s initial announcement was timed well with the race’s appearance in Ultraman Orb and now its release comes just ahead of Kaiju Club – the Ultraseven “making of” drama series where Metron is already looking to play a regular part.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 10x08 - The Lie of the Land

Doctor Who 10x08 - The Lie of the Land

With Bill having bargained with the Monks for the Doctor's sight at the end of The Pyramid at the End of the World, Earth is now theirs for the taking as the Monks Trilogy reaches its thrilling conclusion in The Lie of the Land. This part of the story takes on a new writer yet again, having been penned by Toby Whithouse in his first (and only) series ten episode. He's certainly no stranger to Doctor Who though, with the likes of School Reunion, The Vampires of Venice, The God Complex, A Town Called Mercy and Under the Lake/Before the Flood among his writing credits.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Daizyujin

Release Date: March 2017 
RRP: 4968 yen 

Not content in being confined to the realms of classic mecha anime, Bandai’s Super Mini-Pla line has now branched into the world of tokusatsu and Super Sentai with Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger’s Daizyujin – perhaps better known around the world as the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Megazord. Conveniently timed alongside the release of Tamashii NationsSoul of Chogokin version, this candy toy model kit offers fans a smaller, cheaper alternative that is both still fully transformable and articulated. As with previous Super Mini-Pla releases, one case holds one whole figure so that collectors can pick up the whole with ease and without ending up with any duplicates on their hands.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Toybox REVIEW: DC Collectibles Batman The Mask of the Phantasm Set

Release Date: January 2016 
RRP: £39.99/$39.99

If there’s one thing DC Collectibles’ range of Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures figures can’t be faulted for, it’s scope. Although the line has suffered severely from QC issues, delays and most recently an insistence on releasing over-priced sets, the line has done a good job of covering these two landmark series – not only featuring the obvious characters but also welcome surprises like Commissioner Gordon, Harvey Bullock, Firefly or Talia Al Ghul. In 1993 Batman: The Animated Series spawned The Mask of the Phantasm – a feature-length film that’s not only earned cult status but widely considered among the best animated films ever. So of course DC Collectibles were going to mark this entry in the line somewhere, releasing a special two-pack including both Batman and Phantasm figures.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 10x07 - The Pyramid at the End of the World

Doctor Who 10x07 - The Pyramid at the End of the World

After receiving a warning from his virtual self in last week's Extremis, the Doctor must now prepare for the incoming monks invasion in the real world - all while still keeping his blindness a secret from companion Bill. The Pyramid at the End of the World is the second part of series 10's "Monk's Trilogy", co-written by Steven Moffat and Peter Harness. This is the fourth story Harness has penned for Doctor Who, following on from series eight's Kill the Moon and series nine's Zygon two-partner The Zygon Invasion and The Zygon Inversion (the latter of which was also co-written with Moffat).

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Heisei Generations: Dr. Pac-Man vs. Ex-Aid & Ghost with Legend Riders

Kamen Rider Heisei Generations: Dr. Pac-Man vs. Ex-Aid & Ghost with Legend Riders

Kamen Rider is a franchise where the weird and wonderful is commonplace, but when Toei revealed that Kamen Rider Ex-Aid and Kamen Rider Ghost would be facing off against Pac-Man in their annual crossover movie it was clear this was going to be something really special. Ex-Aid is a video game-themed series after all, so they’d be fools to make use of their links to Bandai Namco properties! Kamen Rider Heisei Generations: Dr. Pac-Man vs. Ex-Aid & Ghost with Legend Riders is a 45th anniversary Kamen Rider project, dropping the usual “Movie Wars” title but falling under the same banner as those films. As well as reuniting Ex-Aid and Ghost following the latter’s final episode, the film also features Kamen Riders Drive, Wizard and Gaim to celebrate the last five years of Kamen Rider history.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Movie REVIEW: Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger vs Ninninger: Message from the Future from Super Sentai

Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger vs Ninninger: Message from the Future from Super Sentai

Due to the precedent set by Gaoranger, Boukenger and Gokaiger’s anniversary celebrations, there was the expectation that Doubutsu Sentai Zyohger might celebrate Super Sentai’s 40th anniversary with a special “Vs Super Sentai” movie – featuring guest stars from all across the franchise’s long history. However much like the show itself Toei instead seemed to opt for a more subdued celebration, continuing the standard line of versus series movies with Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger vs Ninninger: Message from the Future from Super Sentai. As well as featuring the return of preceding team Shuriken Sentai Ninninger, this movie also features the first appearance of the Uchu Sentai Kyuranger.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 10x06 - Extremis

Doctor Who 10x06 - Extremis
Note: Extremis is an episode almost impossible to review without discussing spoilers, so this review will be particularly spoiler-laden. You have been warned!

Last week’s episode Oxygen raised the stakes pretty significantly when not only was the Doctor left blinded during his adventure aboard a deep-space mining system, but the TARDIS medical systems were also subsequently unable to cure him. Now not only is the Doctor left vulnerable, but he’s also determined to keep his condition a secret from Bill. Blindness won’t slow down though, and it’s business as usual in Steven Moffatt’s Extremis – the first episode in a loosely connected “Monks Trilogy”.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraseven

Release Date: March 2017
RRP: 5940 yen

2015 marked the 50th anniversary of Ultra Q and 2016 that of Ultraman,   which means 2017 marks the same milestone for the third (and arguably more popular) instalment in the Ultra SeriesUltraseven. Although technically his birthday isn’t until October, Bandai Tamashii Nations have timed their release of S.H. Figuarts Ultraseven perfectly, moving forwards with their new range of Ultraman figures while the Ultra-Act line slowly becomes a distant memory. This line/scale change has already proven to be polarising among collectors, so can Ultraseven help prove that S.H. Figuarts is a good home for the franchise?

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Uchu Sentai Kyuranger Minipla KyurenOh Set 02

Release Date: March 2017 
RRP: 2268 yen (1 complete figure, 6 boxes), 4536 yen (Full case: 2 complete figures, 12 boxes) 

The first Uchu Sentai Kyuranger set got this year’s Super Sentai minipla line off to an amazing start, but with only five of the nine main Voyager mecha represented in the set Bandai almost immediately followed it up with a second KyurenOh set. As the core component of the Kyuranger mecha this wave includes a re-release of Red’s Shishi Voyager, along with the Sasori, Tenbin, Hebitsukai and Washi Voyagers of the remaining four Kyurangers – Sasori Orange, Tenbin Gold, Hebituskai Silver and Washi Pink.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 10x05 - Oxygen

Doctor Who 10x05 - Oxygen

If there’s been one thing wrong with series ten of Doctor Who so far it’s that there’s been a distinct lack of Nardole. Matt Lucas’ character from The Husbands of River Song becoming a series regular came as a surprise, but since then the mystery surrounding him has only heightened as we discovered he was tasked with keeping the Doctor grounded on Earth. Thankfully this time he’s joining the Doctor and Bill on their latest adventure, in the series’ fifth episode – Oxygen. This episode was written by new fan-favourite Jamie Mathieson, who previously penned Mummy on the Orient Express and the excellent Flatline as well as co-writing The Girl Who Died with Steven Moffat.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Movie REVIEW: GARO: Divine Flame

GARO: Divine Flame

While the GARO franchise has grown exponentially in the last few years, the anime side of things seems to have been met to a more mixed reception than the tokusatsu elements. The Carved Seal of Flames (released in the West simply as GARO: The Animation) got off to a slow start but eventually developed into a very strong series, however the second instalment - The Crimson Moon, failed to match its the worst of its predecessor even when it was at its best. However following the conclusion of Crimson Moon the cast of the original series returned once more in GARO: Divine Flame - a feature film once again animated by studio MAPPA and released as part of the franchise's 10th anniversary celebrations.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Myethos 1/8 Scale Nia Teppelin Wedding Dress Ver.

Release Date: March 2017
RRP: 11,800 yen

As a figure collector I’ve fallen victim to many different rabbit holes in the past – Transformers, Figma, S.H. Figuarts to name a few. But scale figures is one thing I’ve avoided for the longest time, not just due to their lack of articulation but also the price and space they command. However when Hong Kong-based company Myethos announced they would finally be releasing a 1/8 scale Gurren Lagann Nia Teppelin Wedding Dress Ver. figure (seen for many years as a garage kit at various conventions) as a mass release item, an exception had to be made. What better way to celebrate the show’s 10th anniversary than with a high-end figure of my favourite character? I may have been celebrating, but my bank account sure wasn’t.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 10x04 - Knock Knock

Doctor Who 10x04 - Knock Knock

After a trip to the future and a quick jaunt to the past, it's now time for Doctor Who to do the other thing that it's managed so well at in the past - good old fashioned present day horror. The fourth episode in series 10 of the modern era is Knock Knock - written by series newcomer Mike Bartlett and guest starring the legendary David Suchet, perhaps most famously known for his role as Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie's Poirot. Following the episode's original airing a special "surround sound" edition was also released by the BBC, giving the viewer even more immersion into it's creaky wooden house setting.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Snipe Shooting Gamer Level 2

Release Date: March 2017 (3-pack), April 2017 (Individual) 
RRP: 15,768 yen (3-pack), 5184 yen (Individual) 

Joining Kamen Rider Ex-Aid and Kamen Rider Brave as the final figure in the S.H. Figuarts Mighty Action X Beginning Set is Kamen Rider Snipe Shooting Gamer Level 2 – aka genius radiologist Taiga Hanaya. After losing his medical license after failing to save a patient, Taiga initially battled against the Bugsters alone – collecting Gashats along the way as he believes as the only one with nothing to lose, he should be the only one to fight. As well as being part of this special Kamen Rider Ex-Aid 3-pack, Snipe also received an individual release shortly after the set’s initial release. Interestingly this figure’s individual price is slightly higher than that of Ex-Aid or Brave’s, possibly due to the cape driving the cost up.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Brave Fantasy Gamer Level 2

Release Date: March 2017 (3-pack), April 2017 (Individual) 
RRP: 15,768 yen (3-pack), 5184 yen (Individual)

Part two of this S.H. Figuarts Mighty Action X Beginning Set review continues with genius surgeon Hiiro Kagami – aka Kamen Rider Brave Fantasy Gamer Level 2! Using the Taddle Quest Gashat, Hiro fights as part of CR to help contain the Bugster outbreak – working alongside Emu Hojo/Kamen Rider Ex-Aid (albeit begrudgingly at first) as well as sharing a heated rivalry with Taiga Hanaya/Kamen Rider Snipe following the events of Zero Day. Like both Ex-Aid and Snipe, Bandai Tamashii Nations initially released Kamen Rider Brave as part of this special mass release 3-pack before an individual release the following month.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Ex-Aid Action Gamer Level 2

Release Date: March 2017 (3-pack), April 2017 (Individual)
RRP: 15,768 yen (3-pack), 5184 yen (Individual)

Bandai Tamashii Nations have made some rather unexpected decisions with the mainline Kamen Rider S.H. Figuarts lately. Not only was there a surprising lack of Kamen Rider Ghost figures, but seemingly obvious mass releases like Kamen Rider Drive Type Trideron ended up as web exclusives. When it came to announcing Kamen Rider Ex-Aid Figuarts Tamashii Nations had even more surprises up their sleeve, revealing that Kamen Riders Ex-Aid, Brave and Snipe would initially be released as a 3-pack set going by the name of the S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Ex-Aid Action X Beginning Set. Those not interested in buying all three need not panic though, as individual releases were announced to be following shortly afterwards. 

This overall review of the set begins with the title character of the 18th Heisei Era Kamen Rider series (27th overall) – S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Ex-Aid Action Gamer Level 2.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 10x03 - Thin Ice

Watch Doctor Who for long enough and you'll inevitably start to see patterns forming, but even then this current season definitely feels like a throwback to when the show first returned back in 2005. Not only is Bill Potts probably the closest proxy there's been to Rose Tyler since her departure, but now her experiences with the Doctor are pretty similar so far as well. After their initial meeting on present day Earth, both were flung off to the far future before returning to Victorian England for their third adventure. Thin Ice (not to be confused with the Big Finish audio story of the same name) was written by Sarah Dollard, who made her Doctor Who debut last series with Face the Raven.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Toybox REVIEW: 52TOYS Beast Box BB-01 D10 (Police Colour & Neon Blue Versions)

Release Date: March 2017 (Japanese release)
RRP: 1512 yen

Although there may only be two different characters in 52TOYS Beast Box line thus far, that hasn’t stopped the Beijing-based company from maximising their product with the one thing every transforming toy embraces – repaints! In addition to their BB-01 D10 and BB-02 Ghost Dog releases, 52TOYS have also released Police Colour and Neon Blue variants of mascot character D10 – bringing this first wave of Beast Box toys up to the healthy number of four. By the looks of it a few other colourations have been released in China as well, but these were the ones deemed worthy enough to be included in line’s long-awaited wider distribution.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Masterpiece MP-36 Megatron

Release Date: March 2017
RRP: 24,840 yen

It’s been a long time since TakaraTomy released the original Transformers Masterpiece MP-05 Megatron way back in 2007. In that time the line has gone through quite a few changes – a new scale, a closer adherence to cartoon accuracy and a dive into the worlds of Beast Wars and Japanese-exclusive G1 characters. With Optimus Prime having been redone in this new scale way back as MP-10 in 2011, it was high time that the leader of the Decepticons had the same treatment. There may have been a number of third-party “Masterpiece” style figures over the past few years – Xtransbots’ Apollyon, DX-9’s Mightron, Maketoys’ Despotron (all of which I won’t pretend to know anything about because I’m not a third-party person), but the MP-36 Megatron is the real deal. An official, cartoon-accurate, transforming G1 Megatron. That’s the stuff that dreams are made out of.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Toybox REVIEW: 52TOYS Beast Box BB-02 Ghost Dog

Release Date: March 2017 (Japanese release) 
RRP: 1512 yen 

Following a release through Japanese hobby stores such as Amiami in the past month, Chinese company 52TOYS’ adorable line of Beast Box transforming figures are now readily available to any collector who’s happened to come across one of the various pictures and stop-motion videos being shared of these little things. The line is still very much in its early days with only two numbered releases to its name – BB-01 D10 (who as the “mascot” figure is available in standard, police and neon variants) and BB-02 Ghost Dog, a remould of the BB-01 dino figure with a brand new head sculpt. What’s the meaning behind the name “Ghost Dog”? Who knows, but it’s pretty cool though.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 10x02 - Smile

Doctor Who 10x02 - Smile

After dodging alien puddles and being introduced to the weird and wonderful world of the Doctor in last week's Doctor Who episode The Pilot, new companion Bill Potts is now ready to take her first proper journey in the TARDIS. The second episode of this year's series is entitled Smile, and written by children's writer Frank Cottrell-Boyce. This episode is Cottrell-Boyce's second Who outing, having previously penned In the Forest of the Night back in 2014. With that particular episode meeting very mixed reviews from both fans and critics, many were especially interested how this one would turn out.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla GaoGaiGar

Release Date: March 2017
RRP: 4104 yen (1 complete figure, 4 boxes)

Super Mini-Pla is a relatively new candy toy line from Bandai that takes their basic minipla range and enhances it with the qualities of their larger model kits and gunpla range. In typical Bandai fashion to line has centred around Sunrise' back catalogue of classic robots, counting the likes of the Ideon and Combat Mecha Xabungle amongst its early releases. Now the line has dived into the popular Brave franchise to bring fans the King of Braves GaoGaiGar! This combining model kit is split into four different boxes, each containing a different component of GaoGaiGar. Unlike other minipla/candy toy lines where a case will likely contain multiples of each box, a case of Super Mini-Pla will only contain one set of the assigned figure - making it much easier for collectors to buy online without having to worry about ending up with multiples.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Anime REVIEW: Michiko & Hatchin

Long before director Sayo Yamamoto helped take the anime world by storm in 2016 with the figure-skating series Yuri!!! on Ice, she was already making a new for herself heading a number of notably female-headed shows. Before working on Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine in 2012, she made her directorial debut in 2008 with a 22-episode series by the name of Michiko & Hatchin. As well as boasting a unique South American-inspired setting, the show starred noted Japanese actresses Yōko Maki (The Grudge) and Suzuka Ohgo (Memoirs of a Geisha) in the title roles and was animated by the now-defunct studio Manglobe (responsible for Samurai Champloo, Deadman Wonderland, Samurai Flamenco and more). Adding to this all-star staff list was legendary anime figure Shinichirō Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop), who worked on the series as its music producer.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

First Impressions: Atom: The Beginning

Atom: The Beginning
Atom: The Beginning is available in streaming form via Amazon Prime’s Anime Strike service in the US, and AnimeLab in Australia and New Zealand 

Even if you’re relatively new to the anime scene, chances are you’ll have heard about Osamu Tezuka in some way. Whether it’s via some of his most famous works (Astro Boy, Black Jack, Jungle Emperor Leo and more) or simply his iconic art-style, the “Godfather of Manga” remains one of the most influential figures in anime and manga history. His legacy continues today with Atom: The Beginning, a prequel series to Astro Boy written and illustrated by Tetsuro Kashara alongside Masami Yuki and Tezuka’s own son Makoto Tezuka. While the manga series has been ongoing since 2014, this year it has been joined by an anime adaptation – a joint collaboration from studios OLM, Inc., Production I.G. and Signal.MD.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 10x01 - The Pilot

Doctor Who 10x01 - The Pilot

After a year's absence Doctor Who has finally returned to television screens for another full series (its tenth since the show's relaunch in 2005, and 36th in total), and it's already promising to be a year of both hellos and goodbyes. While this newest set of episodes introduces brand new companion Bill Potts (played by Pearl Mackie) to the Whoniverse, by the end of its Christmas special Peter Capaldi's time as the Doctor will be over and along with it Steven Moffat's time as show runner. But it's a good few months until Chris Chibnall's reign begins and we still don't know who's going to be cast as the 13th Doctor, so in the meantime let's just focus on the series at hand. This year kicks off with the cleverly titled The Pilot, which not only references the story itself but also seemingly acknowledges the "fresh start" approach a new companion often brings to the show.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Miniseries REVIEW: Kamen Sentai Gorider

Kamen Sentai Gorider

Ever since the Super Hero Taisen series became an annual thing, a lot of tokusatsu fans will probably tell you that a huge crossover film featuring both Kamen Rider and Super Sentai isn't necessarily a good thing. However one good thing that came out of 2015's Super Hero Taisen GP was Kamen Rider 4 - a web miniseries that expanded on events following the film as well as giving Kamen Rider 555 some much needed closure. With the release of Chou Super Hero Taisen in 2017 Toei are at it again with Kamen Sentai Gorider - another three-part internet miniseries featuring the aforementioned Rider/Sentai fusion team. More importantly it also features a number of returning Riders, including Kamen Riders Lazer, Blade, Baron, Marika, and Another Agito.

This review contains spoilers for Kamen Rider Agito, Blade, Gaim and up to episode 23 of Ex-Aid.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Uchu Sentai Kyuranger Minipla KyurenOh Set 01

Release Date: February 2017
RRP: 2268 yen (1 complete figure, 6 boxes), 4536 yen (Full case: 2 complete figures, 12 boxes)

After 40 years of relatively following the same format, Super Sentai has decided to go big this year with Uchu Sentai Kyuranger. As well as boasting an initial total of nine rangers (which looks to quickly be bumped up to 12), the suits are more unique than ever before – each sporting their own unique shapes and/or flourishes. Of course a new Sentai means a new year of minipla candy toys, and Bandai are kicking things off in style with the first of two KyurenOh sets. This first set includes the Shishi, Ookami, Oushi, Chameleon and Kaijiki Voyagers, with the remaining four held back for the following wave.

Monday, 10 April 2017

First Impressions: Kamen Rider Amazons Season 2

Kamen Rider Amazons Season 2

For tokusatsu fans one of the most pleasant surprises of 2016 was Kamen Rider Amazons, the Amazon Prime-exclusive series with an aesthetic loosely derived from 1974’s Kamen Rider Amazon. Offering a grittier, less gimmick-driven Kamen Rider, the series quickly became popular and arguably succeeded in areas attempts such as Kamen Rider The First/Next and Kamen Rider Shin had failed. Now after an eight month break (and subsequent TV-airing) the show has returned for a second 13-episode season, taking place sometime after the conclusion of the first season and introducing an all-new cast. However fans need not worry, as Haruka, Jin and all the other previous characters will also be appearing in due course.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Anime REVIEW: Mobile Suit Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans Season 2

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans Season 2
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans season 2 is available in streaming form via Daisuki

The past few years have seen Mobile Suit Gundam go from strength to strength, enjoying a steady flow of series, OVAs, blu-ray releases and of course model kits. Part of this recent success can of course be attributed to Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, the latest entry in the long-running mecha franchise which concluded its first 25-episode series mid-2016. The show’s dub also marked the first time in over a decade that Gundam aired in the US on Toonami – the programming block that helped popularise Gundam in the West back in the 90s with Gundam Wing. After a short break Iron-Blooded Orphans returned for a second season in October 2016, running for a further 25 episodes until April 2017. As before the series was helmed by Mari Okada and Tatsuyuki Nagai – a writer/director combination that had previously collaborated on AnoHana in addition to other popular works.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Series REVIEW: Zero: Dragon Blood

Zero: Dragon Blood

After several months of silence following the release of Makai Retsuden and the Ashura special, the GARO franchise made its triumphant return in 2017 with the release of Zero: Dragon Blood - the second spin-off series following fan-favourite Rei Suzumura aka Zero the Silver Fanged Knight. In addition to Ray Fujita reprising his role as Rei, Mary Matsuyama also returns as Makai Priest Rekka, with series creator Keita Amemiya once again in the directors' chair. The 13-episode series was written by Sumiko Umeda, who had previously written episodes for Yami o Terasu Mono, Makai no Hana and Gold Storm -Sho-.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Game REVIEW: Weiss Schwarz Love Live! Sunshine!! Range

RRP: £18.99 per deck, £4.95 per booster (8 cards) 
Where to buy?: Available from your friendly local game shop! 

Move over µ's, there’s a new idol group in town. Last year we saw the girls of Love Live! School Idol Project hand over the torch, a new generation of idols in Love Live! Sunshine!!, who will be returning to screens later this year for a second season. In the meantime Weiss Schwarz developers Bushiroad are continuing the success of their multi-anime franchise card game with a brand new range of Love Live! Sunshine!! cards starring Chika, You, Riko, Kanan, Dia, Mari, Yoshiko, Hanamaru and Ruby – aka Aqours

Once again thanks to the wonderful team at Esdevium Games (the UK distributor for Weiss Schwarz, the Pokemon Trading Card Game, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Cardfight Vanguard and a whole host of other card and board games) we’re taking a look at the Love Live! Sunshine!! trial deck, along with four packets of booster cards to help bolster your deck.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

First Impressions: Attack on Titan Season 2

Attack on Titan Season 2
Attack on Titan season 2 is available in streaming form via Crunchyroll

It's been nearly four years since the final episode of Attack on Titan's first aired, but that wait has finally come to an end. With a premiere date of April 1st it all felt like Studio Wit could be playing one cruel joke on us all, but the show's second season has finally arrived! It's easy to get worked up about how this season is only going to be 12 episodes long as opposed to the original's 25 (and how that will affect the show's very glaring pacing problems) but right now it just finally feels good to have the show back at long last. Will 2017 finally be the year non-manga readers find out what secrets are hiding down in Eren Jaeger's basement? Or will this be another year of thrilling action painfully cutaway to further flashbacks and exposition?

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Toybox REVIEW: The LEGO Batman Movie Set 70901 Mr Freeze Ice Attack

Release Date: January 2017
RRP: £19.99/$19.99

The LEGO Batman Movie has been out in cinemas now for a few months now and its fair to say that it's been a pretty big success. Once again, Warner Bros and LEGO have proven that just because a film is based on a toy line, doesn't mean that it can't be something more than a shameless advertisement. That said, the film did a pretty good job of roping me back into a state of brick mania, as can be seen by my rapidly growing collection of LEGO Batman sets. After rounding off the majority of the main cast through the Joker Balloon Escape and Catwoman Catcycle Chase sets, my attention was turned towards some of the other famous rogues available in the more affordable sets. Mr Freeze has always been a favourite of mine, and given the "upgrades" he's received in this movie set 70901 Mr Freeze Ice Attack was a no brainer.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Anime REVIEW: Fuuka

Fuuka is available in streaming form via Crunchyroll

We live in a time where each anime season can debut anywhere between 20 and 30 new shows, and in the advent of simulcasting it can be even harder to choose which ones to take note of and which ones to ignore. This was my situation back in January, when I was looking for a potential new show to pick up alongside the continuations of Time Bokan 24, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans and Dragon Ball Super. Enter Fuuka – brought to my attention via Twitter through a quick trailer on Crunchyroll. This 12-episode series from Diomedéa promised highschoolers starting a band, music, romance and an end theme by Megumi Nakajima (aka Macross Frontier’s Ranka Lee), so seemed like a pretty solid choice at the time. Sadly I couldn’t have been more wrong. 

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Movie REVIEW: Power Rangers

Power Rangers (2017 Movie)

When Saban Brands bought back the rights to the Power Rangers franchise from Disney in 2010, the company began a push to recapture the widespread popularity the franchise had when it began way back in 1993. But increased exposure and merchandising was just a small part of it - the big news came in 2014 when it was announced that Saban would be partnering with Lionsgate to produce a brand new Power Rangers film reboot. On the 24th March 2017 Power Rangers was released, directed by Dean Isralite and starring Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin and Becky G in the roles of Jason, Kimberly, Billy, Zack and Trini respectively. The main cast was rounded out by Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa, Bill Hader as the voice of Alpha 5 and Bryan Cranston as Zordon - who had previously provided monster voices on the original series over 20 years ago.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Ultra-Act x S.H. Figuarts Ace Suit

Sad news Ultra-Act fans – it looks like the line may truly be dead. Not only are the original Ultra Series characters now being redone in the S.H. Figuarts line, but the reveal of Ultraman Orb figures suggests future ones will be too. However Ultra-Act still quietly lives on in the form of the Ultra-Act x S.H. Figuarts crossover line, which so far has been solely dedicated to characters from the ongoing Ultraman manga series. The line’s fourth release (and third unique mould) is another Tamashii web exclusive – the Ace Suit (also known as Ultraman Version A), the third Ultra hero in series and heroic identity of Seiji Hokuto.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Anime REVIEW: Time Bokan 24

Time Bokan 24
Time Bokan 24 is available subtitled in streaming form via Crunchyroll 

Tatsunoko Productions are responsible for a whole host of classic anime, and in the last decade or so have done a pretty good job at reviving them. First Neo Human Casshern was given a darker twist with Casshern Sins, then Science Ninja Team Gatchaman got all political with Gatchaman Crowds, and then finally Yatterman threw the spotlight on the bad guys with Yatterman Night. The latter series also marked the 40th anniversary of Tatsunoko’s Time Bokan franchise – which encompassed a number of their series with similar themes/format. Now the studio have teamed up famed video game developers Level-5 for another new Time Bokan series, simply titled Time Bokan 24. Its mission: to seek out the history not written in the textbooks.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Ghost the Movie: The 100 Eyecons and Ghost’s Fateful Moment

Kamen Rider Ghost the Movie: The 100 Eyecons and Ghost’s Fateful Moment

The annual Kamen Rider summer movie: A chance to tell a standalone adventure with a slightly more extravagant budget than the series can allow. Sometimes it’s a chance to add additional characterisation or development to elements that the show didn’t have time for, and sometimes it’s a chance to tell stories in strange new worlds or parallel universes. And sometimes it can even be all of the above, which is certainly the case with Kamen Rider Ghost the Movie: The 100 Eyecons and Ghost’s Fateful Moment. Released as a double bill feature with Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger the Movie: The Heart-Pounding Circus Panic!, The 100 Eyecons is the third theatrical outing for Kamen Rider Ghost – preceded by Movie Wars Genesis and Kamen Rider 1.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Perfect Cell -Premium Color Edition-

Unlike retail S.H. Figuarts where the most popular releases might eventually be reissued, Tamashii web exclusives are a one-time deal. If you’re unable to purchase one on release, you’re stuck with the gamble that is aftermarket prices. However the Dragon Ball range has presented Bandai Tamashii Nations with a bit of a conundrum – as despite being made up of mostly web exclusives in Japan they has proved incredibly popular overseas. Fans are clamouring for reissues, so Bandai have come up with the “Premium Color Editions” – slight repaints of previous figures to give the illusion of an all-new figure. The range kicked off last year with new versions of Vegeta and Trunks, with the third now arriving in the form of S.H. Figuarts Perfect Cell – a figure previously released in 2012 and as one of Dragon Ball Z’s most popular characters, long overdue this treatment.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Toybox REVIEW: 52TOYS Beast Box BB-01 D10

Release Date: Available now (China), March 2017 (Japan)
RRP: 1512 yen (Japan)

Created by Chinese company 52TOYS, Beast Box is a line that’s quickly taking Asian toy collectors by storm. Currently available in four different flavours (BB-01 D10, BB-02 Ghost Dog and then D10 B.B.P.D. and Neon Blue variants), these cube-to-dinosaur transforming figures have become the subject of many stop motion videos online – catching the eye of collectors across the world. Although the line is currently only available from China, a Japanese release is coming at the end of March 2017 (with preorders already available via Amiami) followed by a possible US release in the near future. Eager to get my hands on one as soon as possible, I scoured the internet to bring readers an English language review of the line’s mascot figure, BB-01 D10, just ahead of Japanese release.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Pint Size Heroes Yellow Ranger & Putty Patroller

RRP: £3 per figure
Where to buy: Available in the UK exclusively from Tesco

Now is truly the age of vinyl toys. What was once a somewhat unique niche even among collectors has now become a global juggernaut, thanks to the like of Funko and their multi-franchise Pop! Vinyl line. However Pops aren’t the only line the brand have on the market, and now the company are tackling blind-bagged figures with their Pint Size Heroes line. Thanks to the wonderful people are Underground Toys we’re taking a look at two figures in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers range, which given the imminent release of the new movie could not have come at a better time. 

Monday, 6 March 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Movie 5" Alpha 5

Release Date: January 2017
RRP: £9.99/$9.99

With only a few weeks to go until the release of the new Power Rangers movie from Saban and Lionsgate, promotion and the accompanying toy line are in full swing. Between the figures, zords and roleplay toys available in addition to the usual Legacy and Ninja Steel lines Power Rangers fans have never been more spoilt for choice. Leading the line for children and collectors alike are the basic 5” figure range, which are widely available as opposed to the 6.5” Toys R Us exclusive Legacy figures. This review takes a look at the line’s Alpha 5 figure, who now sports a slightly different look to his 1993 counterpart and is voiced by comedian Bill Hader.