Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Marvel Legends Doctor Doom

Marvel Legends Doctor Doom 01

Release Date: January 2020
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

Despite being Marvel's first family, the Fantastic Four haven't had much luck in the modern age. Three middling to terrible films, a lessened presence in the grand scheme of Marvel Comics and a Marvel Legends figure wave exclusive solely to Walgreens stores (and thus, more difficult for worldwide collectors to find). But the times are changing, and with a new ongoing Fantastic Four comic series since 2018 the team are finally once again getting the respect they deserve. In fact, Hasbro's 2020 string of Marvel Legends figures has kicked off with a mass-retail wave of Fantastic Four figures featuring a Super Skrull Build-A-Figure. Among the assortment are all four members of the team and (She Hulk), but no wave would be complete without their greatest enemy - Doctor Doom. Consider one of, if not the greatest villain in the Marvel Universe, the King of Latveria has been long desired by collector's in Hasbro's premier collector line.

Monday, 30 March 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Ankh (Arm)

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Ankh (Arm) 01

Release Date: January 2020
RRP: 3960 yen

If there's one Kamen Rider series S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou looks as though it's going to go all out on, it's Kamen Rider OOO. Much like how Bandai Tamashii Nations previously showed the same dedication to Kamen Rider W, between all the combos already teased OOO looks set to rule the roost for some time. But it's not just the titular Rider taking centre stage, with Bandai also recovering old ground with the S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Ankh (Arm) set. This is the third time the disembodied arm of rogue Greeed has been released – originally appearing as a first-run bonus with the original TaToBa figure before receiving a better quality accessory set version. The new edition takes notes from that second version – releasing in a very similar fashion but with added Shinkocchou Seihou quality.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Beast Morphers Gold Ranger

Lightning Collection Beast Morphers Gold Ranger 01

Release Date: August 2019
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

While its variety and attention to the 27 year history of Power Rangers has attributed to the success of Hasbro's Lightning Collection, for the brand to survive it's important that the line pay as much attention to the new as it does the old. While naturally a brand new range is almost always going to focus on the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers first and foremost, the currently airing Power Rangers Beast Morphers has also seen fair representation in this collector-orientated line on top of its own series-specific range. This all kicked off in wave two of the line, which didn't just include the obligatory Red Ranger but also a Lightning Collection Beast Morphers Gold Ranger figure. Coming some months after Nate Silva's debut as the Gold Hercules Beetle Mantis Ranger on the show itself, this particular release also helps fill a significant void left by the now-defunct S.H. Figuarts Super Sentai line. Though the core trio of Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters (and their respective Buddyroids) may have also received figure, Beet Buster/Jin Masato and Beet J Stag/Stag Buster sadly did not.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who Reconnaissance Dalek

Doctor Who Reconnaissance Dalek 01

Release Date: March 2020
RRP: £12.99

When the 13th Doctor was introduced back in 2018 it brought about a whole rebranding of Doctor Who. There was a new head writer, a new Doctor, new companions, even a new logo. What there wasn't however was a new toy line. Series 11 only brought about a handful of general retail toys, and with the 5.5" figure line mostly living on life support as B&M exclusives the Doctor herself was the only new figure to see the light of day. However 2019 saw Character Toys taking steps to reclaim some of the line's former glory, and with the conclusion of series 12 we're now seeing Doctor Who figures finally return in proper fashion. The current 2020 assortment includes a new 13 variant, companion Graham O'Brien, the Judoon Commander and the 13th Doctor's TARDIS. The star of the wave though is undoubtedly the Reconnaissance Dalek, complete in its makeshift casing from last year's special Resolution.

Monday, 16 March 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who 'The Two Doctors' Collector Figure Set

Doctor Who 'The Two Doctors' Set 01

Release Date: August 2019
RRP: £19.99

2019 saw the Doctor Who figure line truly start making steps towards a comeback. Daleks were back in new Big Finish-inspired two packs, sought after figures were finally getting much-needed reissues and we even got a brand new companion figure in the form of Harry Sullivan. Sure they may be slight retoolings at best and still exclusive to B&M Stores, but the variety of characters and hype around them suggested Character Toys were finally getting serious again. Among the 2019 offerings was a three-figure set based on 1985’s The Two Doctors, once again bringing new variants of popular characters as well as a whole new character. Included in this set are Sixth Doctor companion Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown, the Androgum-spliced Second Doctor and Group Marshal Stike of the Ninth Sontaran Battle Group.

Saturday, 14 March 2020

First Impressions: Mashin Sentai Kiramager

Mashin Sentai Kiramager

Mashin Sentai Kiramager has arrived, and although technically the series already began with the special prequel Episode ZERO movie it just wouldn't feel right to welcome in the 44th Super Sentai series without also giving some early impressions on its first proper episode. So strap on your Kiramai Changer and prepare your Kiramentality, because this episode wastes no time in jumping into the main action. The series is being written by tokusatu veteran Naruhisa Arakawa (Kamen Rider Kuuga, Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger and so much more) and directed by Kyohei Yamaguchi - a regular to Kamen Rider but a relative newcomer to Sentai.

Toybox REVIEW: Hero Action Figure Inazuman

Hero Action Figure Inazuman 01

Release Date: January 2020
RRP: 9680 yen

Once upon a time Bandai Tamashii Nations were releasing S.H. Figuarts from a wide variety of tokusatsu properties, including Kamen Rider, Ultraman, Super Sentai, Metal Heroes and even Kikaider. But as time went on and Bandai began chasing a wider range of properties, that variety has largely dwindled to just Rider and Ultra. Step in Evolution Toy, whose Hero Action Figure line specialises in some of the smaller names in classic tokusatsu. Since 2018 the HAF line has spawned the likes of Red Man, Mirror Man, Zone Fighter, Iron King, Jumborg and more. Now they're beginning to delve into some of Shotaro Ishinomori's legendary back catalogue, starting with Hero Action Figure Inazuman. A brand new figure of the 1973 henshin hero has been long overdue, particularly with the character having kept up appearances in recent years through both cameo appearances and a reimaging in a number of Kamen Rider movies.

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Movie REVIEW: Mashin Sentai Kiramager Episode ZERO

Mashin Sentai Kiramager Episode ZERO

Once again the time has come to debut the brand new Super Sentai series, but this year Toei is doing things a little differently for the long-running tokusatsu franchise. Prior to the series following on from the conclusion of Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger, the 44th Super Sentai series Mashin Sentai Kiramager took to the big screen in a special Episode ZERO prequel film. Released alongside Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger vs Lupinranger vs Patranger as part of the Super Sentai Movie Party, this is the first time a new Sentai team has been debuted outside of either their own series or their predecessor’s VS movie.

Monday, 9 March 2020

Movie REVIEW: Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger the Movie: Time Slip! Dinosaur Panic!!

Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger the Movie: Time Slip! Dinosaur Panic!!

With Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger being the fourth time around for the whole dinosaur Sentai thing, it's gotten to the point where there's naturally going to be some repetition no matter how different the stories are. Two things are almost certain – there's going to be a brand new reason for the dinosaurs' extinction, and at some point the team are going to come face to face with these prehistoric creatures. For Ryusoulger both these things are revealed in their summer movie, Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger the Movie: Time Slip! Dinosaur Panic!!. Released as part of the annual double-bill alongside Kamen Rider Zi-O: The Movie: Over Quartzer, Ryusoulger's first big screen outing is one with little bearing on the series as a whole but a nice little addition to the history of the Ryusoul Tribe.

Saturday, 7 March 2020

Series REVIEW: Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger

Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger

Super Sentai isn't in the best of states right now. Though through all the speculation about falling ratings and declining toy sales the only ones who really know what it means are Bandai, Toei and TV-Asahi, it's at least fair to say it's place in the tokusatsu pecking order has changed somewhat. But it's been long since thought that when the franchise is trouble it always has the sure fire success of dinosaurs to fall back on, rolling the motif out for a fourth time might not bode a whole lot of confidence. Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger is the 43rd entry in the Super Sentai franchise, with the dinosaur theme having last been used back in 2013 with Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger. The production side of things also saw a something of a shake-up too, with plenty of faces new to Sentai brought on board to give it a fresh new feel. This series marks the tokusatsu debut of J-drama writer Junpei Yamaoka, and was directed by Kazuya Kamihoriuchi – a man who particularly caught the attention of viewers for his work on Kamen Rider Build.


Thursday, 5 March 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Second Sister Inquisitor

Star Wars Black Series Second Sister Inquisitor 01

Release Date: October 2019
RRP: $20/£20

After a stagnant period of underwhelming entries, the Star Wars video game library finally managed to claw back some of its former glory with the release of Jedi: Fallen Order. Taking place during the great Jedi purge that took place in the years between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, the game was praised for its single-player storyline focus in a period in the Star Wars timeline still rife with storytelling potential. It's launch was one of the main focuses of 2019's Triple Force Friday, with Hasbro releasing several figures from the game in conjunction with its release - and among these was the Black Series Second Sister Inquisitor. The Second Sister is one of the main villains of the game, stalking Jedi fugitive Cal Kestis across the galaxy. Though the Second Sister is original to the game, the Inquisitorius have been a popular part of the new Star Wars canon for some time now - previously appearing in a number of comics and novels, and more significantly the Star Wars Rebels animated series.

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Reviews in Space & Time: Doctor Who 12x10 - The Timeless Children

Doctor Who 12x10 - The Timeless Children

The time has finally arrived, and things will never be the same again. With the Cybermen back in full force, a long-awaited return to Gallifrey and the Master once again in tow, the stage is set for the Doctor Who series 12 finale – The Timeless Children. Showrunner Chris Chibnall brings his series-long arc to forefront of the episode, having planted the seeds for the eponymous Timeless Child as far back The Ghost Monument. Once again directed by series staple Jamie Magnus Stone, the episode follows directly on from the events of both The Haunting of Villa Diodati and Ascension of the Cybermen. “Everything you think you know is a lie.”

Saturday, 29 February 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Magna Defender

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Magna Defender 01

Release Date: August 2019
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

Hasbro's first wave of Power Rangers Lightning Collection figures immediately turned heads by including the perfect assortment characters to show a dedication to the franchise's long and illustrious history. You got the obvious Mighty Morphin representation with the White Ranger, a red ranger and more recent entry with Dino Charge Red, a highly desired fan favourite with the SPD Shadow Ranger and then a much-needed villain to round the wave out with Lord Zedd. By kicking off with such a strong array of figures the heat was on to match that level of quality with wave two, and as far as the fan favourite character goes Hasbro couldn't have done much better than the Lightning Collection Magna Defender. The sixth hero of Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, the Magna Defender was a once noble warrior consumed by vengeance following the death of his son, butting heads with the rangers in his mission to destroy Scorpius. Eventually returning to the light and renouncing his hateful ways, the Magna Defender makes the ultimate sacrifice and passes his powers down to Mike Corbett. On top of being a firm fan favourite, the character's appearance in the Beyond the Grid storyline of the Boom! comic book series means this figure couldn't have been timed any better.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Reviews in Space & Time: Doctor Who 12x09 - Ascension of the Cybermen

Doctor Who 12x09 - Ascension of the Cybermen

The end is almost upon us, and in the finale of Doctor Who series 12 the 13th Doctor must once again battle against an enemy that's taken so much from her in the past - the Cybermen. Following on from the surprise appearance of the lone Cyberman in The Haunting of Villa Diodati, the race towards the end continues in Ascension of the Cybermen - written by show runner Chris Chibnall and directed by Jamie Magnus Stone. Interestingly Ascension is also the fourth two-part finale in modern Doctor Who to feature the Cybermen, following on from Army of Ghosts/Doomsday, Death in Heaven/Dark Water and of course World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls. But despite now having more finale appearances than even the Daleks, many have said that the Cybermen lost their lustre a long time ago. Could this be the episode that finally brings it back?

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Zangetsu Kachidoki Arms

SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Zangetsu Kachidoki Arms 01

Release Date: December 2019
RRP: 6480 yen

Getting a Kamen Rider Zangetsu stage play five years after Kamen Rider Gaim's final V-cinema release was surprise enough, but for it to also debut a brand new form that received an official S.H. Figuarts release just goes to show that Kamen Rider really wasn't messing around in 2019. Kamen Rider Zangetsu -Gaim Gaiden- saw Yuki Kubota reprise his role as Takatora Kureshima, as he stumbles into an underground city deep below Zawame City. The play also sees Takatora receive a new Lockseed and unlock a brand new form - a form that also makes a brief but very welcome cameo in Kamen Rider Zi-O the Movie: Over Quartzer. ather unsurprisingly S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Zangetsu Kachidoki Arms was a Tamashii web exclusive release, its arrival at the very end of the decade a sign that just when you think you have them worked out Bandai Tamashii Nations can still be full of surprises. 

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Jawa (40th Anniversary Packaging)

Star Wars Black Series Jawa 01

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

Much of Star Wars success in regards to toys comes down to just how iconic some of the designs the franchise spawned are, but another reason that it has dominated the action figure market for so long is simply because of how expansive it is. No matter how long they appeared in the films, there was a time when seemingly everyone received an action figure at some point - leading to toy lines filled all manner of alien species. But the most popular ones will always be the ones that had some integral role in the films, and when it comes to screen presence few races are quite as memorable as the Jawas. Tatooine's junk-hunting, droid-selling nomads led to R2-D2 and C-3P0 falling into the hands of Luke Skywalker, and so the adventure began. Because of this the Jawas have more than earned their place in Hasbro's Black Series line, and as one of the first characters released in Kenner's original Star Wars toy line the Black Series Jawa initially came as a somewhat special release.

Monday, 17 February 2020

Reviews in Space & Time: Doctor Who 12x08 - The Haunting of Villa Diodati

Doctor Who 12x08 - The Haunting of Villa Diodati

Doctor Who and Mary Shelley - a match made in heaven? One might think so given the amount of times the two have crossed paths, with the 19th century writer having previously crossed paths with the Tenth Doctor in the Battles in Time comic strip and been a fully-fledged companion to the Eighth Doctor in a series of Big Finish audio adventures. But without arguing just which of these are considered canon, it’s time for a new first encounter with Doctor 13 in The Haunting of Villa Diodati. Edging one step closer to the two-part series finale, this episode from writer Maxine Alderton and director Emma Sullivan promises to be the injection of gothic horror series 12 has lacked thus far.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Meisho Movie Realization Akazonae Royal Guard

Meisho Movie Realization Akazonae Royal Guard 01

Release Date: May 2016
RRP: 8856 yen

While Bandai Tamashii Nations' Meisho Movie Realization line seemed like a brilliant idea right from the get-go, the fact it's managed to last so well over the years is a testament to just how perfect samurai versions of iconic Star Wars characters really is. Admittedly the line so far has been particularly villain-heavy, but when those are the designs that lend themselves to best to that aesthetic who can blame Bandai for sticking to the bad guys. The ranks of the Galactic Empire have been filled out rather nicely with two versions of Darth Vader and a legion of Stormtrooper variants, but for real prestige look no further than the Meisho Movie Realization Akazonae Royal Guard. "Akazonae" translates to "blood-red armour", and specifically refers to the crimson armor worn by famed Sengoku era General Sanada Yukimura. The perfect reference for Emperor Palpatine's elite bodyguards, which are among the figures in the line to have been released as a Tamashii web exclusive.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Series REVIEW: Inazuman

Inazuman

The early 1970s saw a boom in the popularity of live-action superheroes shows on Japanese television, spurred on by the success of series such as Kikaider, The Return of Ultraman and of course Kamen Rider. In 1972 Daisuke Ban had already become tokusatsu royalty for his portrayal of Jiro in Kikaider, and the following year he not only reprised that role in Kikaider 01 but also took the lead in another Shotaro Ishinomori creation. Running from October 1973 until September 1974, the psionic-powered Inazuman is notable for having its story split across two distinct "chapters". Whereas the first 25 episodes were simply released under the name Inazuman, for the subsequent 23 it was renamed Inazuman Flash – featuring a brand new villain and a slightly darker tone. That first half also saw significant success in Hawaii alongside both Kikaider series and Kamen Rider V3 – all of which have since been officially licensed by the Honolulu-based JN Productions (aka Generation Kikaida). In subsequent years Inazuman would go on to cross over with Kikaider in both manga and animation, made a cameo alongside other Ishinomori heroes in 2011's OOO, Den-O, All Riders: Let's Go Kamen Rider and then finally a reimagined version teamed up with Kamen Rider Fourze in 2012's Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider Wizard & Fourze: Movie Wars Ultimatum.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who 'The Sontarans' Collector Figure Set

Doctor Who 'The Sontarans' Set 01

Release Date: August 2019
RRP: £19.99

Summer 2019 was a big season for Doctor Who toys. After years of multi-pack repaints (with the odd new figure) exclusive to B&M stores that largely slipped under the radar, Character Options came out with a huge new range that injected some energy back into the once great line. There were Big Finish-inspired Dalek sets, there were TARDISes and there were of course more three-packs. Among these was The Sontarans Collector Figure Set, which not only paid homage to one of the show’s most popular monsters but also gave collectors the one thing they’re always crying out for - another companion. Included in this set at Commander Linx from 1973’s The Time Warrior, Field Marshall Styre from 1975’s The Sontaran Experiment, and popular Fourth Doctor companion/Royal Navy Surgeon-Lieutenant Harry Sullivan.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Reviews in Space & Time: Doctor Who 12x07 - Can You Hear Me?

Doctor Who 12x07 - Can You Hear Me?

We’re moving into the final stretch of Doctor Who series 12 now, and while many fans are already looking forward to the mystery of the Timeless Child being solved with its two-part finale there’s still time for a few more one-off adventures before then. Can You Hear Me? is adventure spanning multiple locations (this time across time and space), directed by Emma Sullivan and written by the combined efforts of Chris Chibnall and series newcomer Charlene James. The next episode preview following the end of Praxeus suggested a good old fashioned dose of Who-brand horror, but if there’s anything that this series has proven so far it’s that looks can often be deceiving.

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Jet Garuda

Super Mini-Pla Jet Garuda 01

Release Date: June 2019
RRP: 6480 yen

When it comes to Japanese toy lines collectors often have to wait a few months between releases, but it seems Bandai have got themselves into a nice little groove with their Super Mini-Pla range. Retail releases are often paired up with a related Premium Bandai exclusive, which has resulted in a nice little double whammy of primary and secondary mecha releases on the Super Sentai side of things. So when it was finally Chōjin Sentai Jetman's turn, Jet Icarus was of course paired up with a Super Mini-Pla Jet Garuda release. Of course that Premium Bandai exclusivity does mean this release goes for a slightly higher price than it's counterpart, but as you'll soon see there's more than enough on offer here to ensure that Jet Garuda justifies it.

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Reviews in Space & Time: Doctor Who 12x06 - Praxeus

Doctor Who 12x06 - Praxeus

While audiences may still be reeling from the shocking events of Fugitive of the Judoon, the Doctor herself doesn’t have time to process the fact that everything she thought she knew may be a lie. The mysteries of the Timeless Child and an unknown incarnation of the Doctor take a back seat this week, as Doctor Who returns to its usual episodic shenanigans with Praxeus. Kerblam! writer Pete McTighe returns to pen the episode alongside Chris Chibnall, with the episode directed by series 12 staple Jamie Magnus Stone. It’s time to put those revelations to the side for now, because Earth is in peril once more.

Friday, 31 January 2020

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Zi-O the Movie: Over Quartzer

Kamen Rider Zi-O the Movie: Over Quartzer

Kamen Rider Summer movies have always marched to their own beat. Though there’s been a more consolidated effort to bring them into series canon since Kamen Rider Double, throughout the Heisei era they’ve ranged from side stories, true endings and even alternate universes. When the 20th anniversary and finale of the era has to top all of that, it better have some pretty big plans in store. Following on from Be the One’s strange new idea of being named after the show’s opening theme, Kamen Rider Zi-O the Movie: Over Quartzer is another cinematic opportunity for Kamen Rider Zi-O to round out the Heisei era in style. But whereas Heisei Generations FOREVER was most definitely a 20 Kamen Rider Kicks celebration of the main 20 Heisei series, this particular film is a little more interesting in its approach...

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

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

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Beast 01

Release Date: November 2019
RRP: 7700 yen

The release pattern of the S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou line isn’t quite as easy to predict as it was a few years ago, but there’s still some framework there that Bandai Tamashii Nations seems to follow. For the most part when a main Rider is released the secondary will eventually follow, and these days they’re also almost certainly a Tamashii web exclusive. Given that Kamen Rider Wizard came out all the way back in November 2018 Bandai have taken their time to get to him, but 2019 featured some pretty big releases for the line so S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Beast was a good way to ring the year out. The latest Rider to be revitalised in Bandai’s premium Figuarts range, Kousuke Nitoh is also it’s second Kamen Rider Wizard release. With no sign of Haruto’s other forms it could also be its last for some time, but at least with Flame Style it is in excellent company.

Monday, 27 January 2020

Reviews in Space & Time: Doctor Who 12x05 - Fugitive of the Judoon

Doctor Who 12x05 - Fugitive of the Judoon

We're at the halfway point of Doctor Who series 12 now and the official social media accounts have been teasing big things for this episode. Not that the return of modern series favourites the Judoon isn't big enough, but Fugitive of the Judoon has been touted as something much more than just that. The episode was directed by Nida Manzoor and written by both Chris Chibnall and Vinay Patel, the latter of whom was responsible for the rather brilliant (and my personal favourite of the previous series) Demons of the Punjab. Strap yourselves in for spoilers, speculation and some potentially hot takes, because there is A LOT to unpack with this episode.

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Taiga

S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Taiga 01

Release Date: December 2019
RRP: 3520 yen

With S.H. Figuarts now fully caught up on the back catalogue of New Generation Hero Ultraman releases, it's time for Bandai Tamashii Nations to start looking forwards and they certainly aren't wasting any time on it. Only a few months after the release of Ultraman Ginga in October, Bandai sent off 2019 in style with the release of the latest Ultra Hero - the son of Taro, S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Taiga. Hailing from the seventh New Generation Hero (and potentially last if the movie title "New Generation Climax" is anything to go by) series, Ultraman Taiga is a particularly interesting release as it sees Tamashii try a few things they've done with the Kamen Rider range - possibly suggesting that, much like the show itself, the Ultra Series has risen to once again stand at equal footing with it's long-time rival. Makes no difference to Bandai either way, as they're reaping the benefits regardless.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Grand Moff Tarkin

Black Series Grand Moff Tarkin 01

Release Date: March 2018
RRP: $20/£20

There are so many characters in the Star Wars universe crying out for a figure, that sometimes even the most obvious candidates take their sweet time to become a reality. Good things do usually come to those who wait though, and a lengthy wait Black Series Grand Moff Tarkin eventually arrived at the beginning of 2018. Portrayed by legendary actor Peter Cushing, Governor Wilhuff Tarkin was the right hand man of Emperor Palpatine himself - overseeing the completion of the first Death Star before dying aboard the battle station after that critical blast from Luke Skywalker. Though in terms of the saga movies he only appeared in a A New Hope, the character went on to appear (thanks to both incredible and at the same time uncanny advancements in CGI) in Rogue One as well as the Rebels animated series. A younger version also appears in Star Wars: The Clone Wars - depicting his first meeting with Anakin Skywalker, the man who would go on to become Darth Vader.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 12x04 - Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror

Doctor Who 12x04 - Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror

If there's one thing this current era of Doctor Who will be remembered for (aside from the obvious of course), it'll be its return to the show's historical roots. Before the days of Daleks and Cybermen, Doctor Who was perceived as a time-travelling show which would educate as well as entertain. Chris Chibnall's time as show runner has already seen the Doctor meet the likes of Rosa Parks, King James I, Ada Lovelace and Noor Inayat Khan - and now that continues on in the fantastically named Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror. Written by Nina Metivier and directed by Nida Manzoor, series 12 episode four puts a new spin on the Serbian-American scientist and his struggle for recognition during his lifetime.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Taro

S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Taro 01

Release Date: November 2019
RRP: 6050 yen

For a time it seemed like Bandai Tamashii Nations' plans for integrating the Ultra Series into the S.H. Figuarts line were clear. Working from the very beginning they'd tackle a new series each year – starting with Ultraman in 2016, Ultraseven in 2017 and so on. This pattern lasted as far as The Return of Ultraman in 2018, before Bandai decided to throw all my carefully planned theories out the window at the end of last year with the release of S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Taro. Completely skipping over Ultraman Ace for the time being, Taro's surprise announcement was likely to do with his involvement in the then-airing Ultraman Taiga, where he is of course the titular hero's father. Coming at such a late point in the year Taro is currently the only release from his 1973 series in the line, however if the 2019 Tamashii Nation event was anything to go by hopefully it won't be long before he's joined by a kaiju or two.

Monday, 13 January 2020

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 12x03 - Orphan 55

Doctor Who 12x03 - Orphan 55

After all that excitement and series-wide arc teasing from Spyfall, it already feels like Doctor Who could do with a bit of a breather and a well-deserved holiday. But of course, no holiday ever goes according to plan in this show. Entitled Orphan 55, episode three takes the Doctor and fam to a far away holiday resort with a dark secret. The story was directed by Lee Haven Jones and written by Ed Hime, making it the first episode of series 12 to not have been penned by show runner Chris Chibnall.

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper

Star Wars Black Series Purge Stormtrooper 01

Release Date: October 2019
RRP: $24.99/£23.99

The end of 2019 saw the world gripped by a new wave of Star Wars mania not only coming from both The Rise of Skywalker and The Mandalorian, but from Jedi: Fallen Order - the brand new video game thrusting players back to fallout of Order 66 and the great Jedi purge. The release of the game was also celebrated as part of Triple Force Friday with a wave of new releases from Hasbro's Black Series line, which also included a few store exclusive releases to keep collectors on their toes. If fans wanted to bolster out their Stormtrooper ranks with Darth Vader's elite Jedi extermination unit, they'd need to visit GameStop to get a hold of the Black Series Purge Stormtrooper figure. In the US the figure was also available to those who preordered the special edition of the game, while in the rest of the world fans unfortunately needed to clamour to whichever online retailer was lucky enough to have it for sale.

Friday, 10 January 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Garo (Saejima Raiga)

SH Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Garo (Saejima Raiga) 01

Release Date: October 2019
RRP: 9082 yen

Despite first being unveiled at the Tamashii Nations event all the way back in 2014, it would take S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Garo a further four years to finally see release. The end result though was certainly one of the figures tokusatsu figures Bandai Tamashii Nations have ever produced – one so good that they certainly weren't going to be content with only releasing it just once. First we got the Saejima Kouga version, and now his son carries on the legacy of the Golden Knight with the Tamashii web exclusive S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Garo (Saeijima Raiga) version! First appearing the Makai No Hana ("Makai Flower") series, Raiga's story recently continued in the 2019 film Gekkou No Tabibito ("Moonbow Traveller") – finally reuniting him with his father as well as yielding a few other surprises for long time GARO fans. One surprise which this particular figure also shares…

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

First Impressions: Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story

Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story
You can watch Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story on Funimation Now, Crunchyroll & Hi-Dive

Nine years ago Puella Magi Madoka Magica was released, and anime was never really the same again. While it was far from the first magical girl series to put a darker spin on the genre, it’s success has led to more than just a few pale imitations. Madoka Magica also helped put Gen Urobuchi on the map, and arguably he’s gone on to become one of the most well known writers in modern anime fandom. Well it’s the beginning of a new decade and the world of Madoka is back, in the brand new spin-off series Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story. Based on the mobile game of the same name, this series lacks the Urobuchi touch but does feature several familiar names from the original. Shaft are still fronting the series, with Gekidan Inu Curry (the team behind the witches and labyrinths of the original series) are now directing and writing. For worldwide release the series will be made available first on Funimation Now, and then on both Crunchyroll and Hi-Dive a few days after its Japanese broadcast.

Monday, 6 January 2020

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 12x02 - Spyfall, Part Two

Doctor Who 12x02 - Spyfall Part Two

The Master is back! The Doctor is trapped in an unknown place and her companions are falling their deaths! If there was anything Spyfall Part One succeeded in, it was giving Doctor Who the kind of jaw-dropping cliffhanger that the show hasn’t seen for a good while. Thankfully it’s mid-week debut on New Year’s Day meant that fans didn’t have to wait long for the second part, which saw the series return to its current Sunday evening time slot. Written by series show runner Chris Chibnall and directed by Lee Haven Jones, Spyfall Part Two already has a lot riding on it.

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Movie REVIEW: Thunderbolt Fantasy -Bewitching Melody of the West-

Thunderbolt Fantasy -Bewitching Melody of the West-
Thunderbolt Fantasy -Bewitching Melody of the West- is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

As well as continue to prove that ornate puppet murder is the way forward for entertainment, Thunderbolt Fantasy season 2 presented fans with plenty of new things to speculate on. One such topic was the prominence of Làng Wū Yáo, the mysterious red haired musician and old acquaintance of Shāng Bù Huàn. Voiced by Takanori Nishikawa (better known by his stage name T.M. Revolution), the character was created as a means for the musician to promote the franchise but quickly added to the series proper by creator Gen Urobuchi. Now his origins are explored in Thunderbolt Fantasy -Bewitching Melody of the West-, a new feature-length presentation released at the end of 2019.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 12x01 - Spyfall, Part One

Doctor Who 12x01 - Spyfall Part 1

With no Doctor Who on television screens since Resolution, 2019 has felt like an especially long year. But with the dawn of 2020 that long wait is finally over, as the 13th Doctor (and fam) return for the show’s 12th series since it’s 2005 relaunch. Already we know from the trailer that this series promises both Cybermen and Judoon, and if you’ve been paying any attention to the filming pictures in the last year a few other surprises along the way. The series kicked off on New Year’s Day with the secret agent-styled Spyfall, Part One, the first two-part story since 10th Doctor swan song The End of Time to retain the same title across both parts.