Monday, 23 November 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Hero Action Figure Kaiketsu Zubat

Hero Action Figure Kaiketsu Zubat 01

Release Date: September 2020
RRP: 9680 yen

With Bandai Tamashii Nations now having strayed away from the classic tokusatsu heroes of yesteryear, it’s up to companies like Evolution Toy to fill the void and show some love to some of the most under appreciated shows of the Showa era. One of the latest releases in their growing Hero Action Figure line is Kaiketsu Zubat (aka “The Magnificent Zubat”). Starring tokusatsu royalty Hiroshi Miyauchi (Kamen Rider V3, JAKQ Dengekitai, Himitsu Sentai Goranger and more), the 1977 series follows Ken Hayakawa as he battles against the criminal organisation Dakker after his best friend is murdered. Upon donning his Zubasuit, Hayakawa gains superhuman strength and agility.

Friday, 20 November 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Zeo Red Ranger

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Zeo Red Ranger 01

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

The Lightning Collection may have provided fans with a reasonably varied selection of characters so far, but even Hasbro have fallen to the same fate as most Power Rangers figures - Tommy Oliver. As the longest-serving ranger running across multiple series, it doesn’t take long for multiple Tommys to show up in a toy line and in just over a year the Lightning Collection is already up to six. Among those released so far is the Lightning Collection Zeo Red Ranger, our red ranger of the line’s sixth wave and third entry from Power Rangers Zeo. Following the destruction of the Command Centre, the Power Rangers are infused with new powers from the gathered Zeo Crystal - becoming stronger than before to battle the new threat of the Machine Empire.

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection In Space Yellow Ranger

Power Rangers Lightning Collection In Space Yellow Ranger 01

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

The Power Rangers Lightning Collection roster continues to grow as Power Rangers In Space properly joins the fold! While we’ve already seen entries from that series (and a whole team no less) thanks to the release of the Psycho Rangers, wave six of Hasbro’s ever-expanding collectors’ line marks the debut of the titular team. And surprisingly it isn’t the obvious choice to begin with, as the team kicks off with the Lightning Collection In Space Yellow Ranger! Ashley Hammond succeeded Tanya Sloan to become the second Yellow Turbo Ranger, before blasting off into space with her teammates and joining Andros in his fight against Astronema.

Monday, 16 November 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Spider-Man (Toei TV Series)

S.H. Figuarts Spider-Man (Toei TV Series) 01

Release Date: August 2020
RRP: 7150 yen

While comic-based versions of Spider-Man seem to be off limits (whether it’s by choice or license) to Bandai Tamashii Nations, between the Marvel Cinematic Universe and PlayStation game series they’re still hardly short of options. However there was one important version of Spider-Man missing from the S.H. Figuarts range, and given how deeply the line is rooted in tokusatsu it was certainly the most glaring omission of them all. But wait no further, as the “emissary of hell” aka the Spider-Man of Toei’s 1978 television series has finally arrived. Given his powers by a dying alien from the planet Spider, motorcyclist Takuya Yamashiro battles against the Iron Cross Army with his giant robot Leopardon. As a show that paved the way for one of the key tropes of the Super Sentai franchise, Spider-Man is a tentpole of tokusatsu history. 

Friday, 13 November 2020

Miniseries REVIEW: Ultra Galaxy Fight: New Generation Heroes

Ultra Galaxy Fight: New Generation Heroes
Ultra Galaxy Fight: New Generation Heroes is available both subtitled and English dubbed on Youtube

Tsuburaya Productions' Ultraman global takeover plan is a battle that's being fought on several fronts. As well as a simulcast release of the current series and high-quality blu-ray editions of the franchise back catalogue, there's also the ongoing Marvel Comics series and a wider push on toy and merchandising opportunities. But one of the more interesting elements in all of this was the 2019 miniseries Ultra Galaxy Fight: New Generation Heroes. While the concept of an Ultra Fight miniseries is nothing new, this featured a significantly higher budget as well as being the first one to receive a global push on YouTube as well as with a simultaneous English dub version. Originally released as as 13 weekly five-minute episodes, the series was later uploaded as a full 50-minute video. The miniseries acts as both as something of an epilogue to Ultraman R/B as well as a prequel to following series Ultraman Taiga.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Cal Kestis

Star Wars Black Series Cal Kestis 01

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

As we further explore the period of time between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, Star Wars fans are discovering more and more Jedi managed to survive Order 66 and have their own stories to tell. One such character is Cal Kestis, former Padawan and star of the 2019 video game Jedi: Fallen Order. Hunted by the Imperial Inquisitor Second Sister, Cal embarks on a mission that sees him travel across the galaxy to unlock the secrets of a Jedi Holocon. The Black Series Cal Kestis figure was released as part of 2019’s Triple Force Friday celebration - marking the release of Fallen Order, The Mandalorian and The Rise of Skywalker with a slew of new merchandise.

Monday, 9 November 2020

Toybox REVIEW: G.I. Joe Classified Series "Special Missions: Cobra Island" Cobra Trooper

GI Joe Classified Series "Cobra Island" Cobra Trooper 01

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

We’re only two waves into the new G.I. Joe Classified Series line and already Hasbro have extended it with a store-exclusive sub-range, which in hindsight hasn’t gone down all that well with collectors given the ever-increasing popularity (and as a result, scarcity) of these figures. The Special Missions: Cobra Island range is already confirmed to run across multiple assortments and is being released exclusively at Target in the US, whilst in the UK the first assortment came as standard releases (it’s looking unlikely we’ll receive the second). Whilst this range also includes popular characters like Roadblock and the Baroness, it also inexplicably features army builder characters such as the Cobra Trooper. Naturally a lot of collectors are going to want to fill up the ranks of their ruthless terrorist organisation with these figures, so making it a hard to find is exclusive is a little strange. 

Friday, 6 November 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection In Space Psycho Green

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Psycho Green 01

Release Date: July 2020
RRP: $19.99

With the Power Rangers comic series from Boom! Studios continuing to go from strength to strength, Hasbro's Lightning Collection also has another element of the franchise to draw inspiration from. The line has gotten in on comic-original designs pretty early with the release of both Lord Drakkon and Ranger Slayer, but there was still one character from those earlier issues still outstanding. Issue 20 marked the first appearance of Psycho Green - a sixth Psycho Ranger who battled against Zordon's original team of rangers on the moon in 1969. The short story "Psychotic" revealed his identity as Trek, an alien from the planet Xybria who betrayed his team of Supersonic Rangers to become Dark Specter's first Psycho Ranger. Finally Psycho Green also appeared in The Psycho Path graphic novel, which saw Karone try to help rehabilitate the Psycho Rangers following her time as Astronema. Psycho Green was previously released in Bandai of America's Legacy Collection as an SDCC exclusive in 2018, but joins the Lightning Collection as a somewhat more accessible Hasbro Pulse exclusive. "Somewhat" being because Hasbro Pulse only ships to the US and Canada - making them far more difficult for the rest of the world to acquire.

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection In Space Psycho Rangers

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Psycho Rangers 01

Release Date: August 2020
RRP: $99.99/£99.99

Among the most common complaints of previous Power Rangers toy lines was the lack of full team sets. Figures would be packed as single releases and spread across multiple ways, and should the line prove not as popular as expected there was no guarantee that the team would ever be completed. We saw it with the Bandai of America Legacy Collection, and we even saw it with the S.H. Figuarts line over in Japan as well. So when Hasbro took control of the brand and rolled out the Lightning Collection there was the question of whether history would repeat itself, but it's taken just over a year for that question to be answered. The Amazon exclusive Lightning Collection In Space Psycho Rangers set celebrates the franchise's most recognisable evil rangers, featuring all five figures as well as a number of accessories and premium packaging. Despite quickly becoming firm fan favourites after their debut in Power Rangers in Space, this is this the first time all five Psycho Rangers have appeared together in one toy line.

Monday, 2 November 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Ace

S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Ace 01

Release Date: July 2020
RRP: 6050 yen

Although Bandai Tamashii Nations took things a little off course when they skipped ahead to Ultraman Taro last year, the immediate goal of the Showa era Ultraman S.H. Figuarts range has always been clear - complete the six Ultra Brothers. It's taken a while to get there, but that goal has finally been reached in 2020 with the release of S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Ace. Previously I'd expected this to be release to follow Ultraman Jack given that Bandai had been going in series order, but with the hype surrounding Ultraman Taiga last year it did make sense to jump ahead to Taro and then come back to round things off with Ace. It's been a pretty good year for Ultraman Ace in general given that the 1972 series was also released officially with English subtitles for the first time thanks to the continuing efforts of Tsuburaya Productions and Mill Creek Entertainment. While at the moment there doesn't seem to be any accompanying aliens or kaiju from the series in sight, it's still a big moment to have these key figures of the Ultraman multiverse finally assembled under the S.H. Figuarts banner.

Saturday, 31 October 2020

Custom Figure: "Mission of Doom" Dalek

Custom Mission of Doom Dalek 01

For those who aren’t so into scavenging or producing alternate parts, the release of the Jungles of Mechanus Dalek set opened some great new opportunities for Dalek customisers. With the thicker bases and extended dome lights at their disposal, it wouldn’t take much to produce the movie Daleks that Character Options are unable to produce themselves. The black and red Daleks from Dr. Who & the Daleks are a given, but for my latest custom I decided to dig a little deeper into the world of Doctor Who fandom. The result of that is the Mission of Doom Dalek, one that might be an unofficial colour scheme but still has quite the interesting place in Dalek history.

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Garazeb "Zeb" Orrelios

Star Wars Black Series Garazeb "Zeb" Orrelios 01

Release Date:
August 2020
RRP: $29.99/£29.99

2020 marks a big year for the Star Wars Black Series toy line as it goes through another major overhaul - introducing brand new packaging as well as all-new sculpts for some of its most reused moulds (looking at you Stormtrooper). Among the first waves of relaunched figures were brand new reissues of the Star Wars Rebels cast with photo-real head sculpts (where appropriate), and the return of the Ghost crew can only mean one thing - fans prayers have at long last been answered. At long last, Black Series Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios has finally arrived. The Lasat Honour Guard was the last member of the crew needed in the line, and after years of rumours and teases Hasbro have finally delivered in the form of this deluxe release.

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Tregear

S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Tregear 01

Release Date: June 2020
RRP: 7150 yen

With Ultraman Belial seemingly gone for good at the end of Ultraman Geed it was high time for a new dark Ultra to join Tsuburaya Productions' ever-growing Ultraman multiverse. Fans didn't have to wait too long either, as the twisted Ultraman Tregear was introduced in the subsequent series' finale movie - Ultraman R/B the Movie: Select! The Crystal of Bond. A former friend of Ultraman Taro who fell to the darkness after his sense of justice was shattered, Tregear is a remorseless trickster who deceives people by offering to fulfil their dreams. After his defeat at the hands of Ultraman Groob, Tregear would then go on to become the main antagonist of Ultraman Taiga - clashing with the New Generation Heroes and later the Tri-Squad upon their arrival on Earth. As such, it's no surprise that an S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Tregear was in order as soon as Bandai Tamashii Nations began covering Taiga in the line. Tregear was the second release from the series and the first to be a Tamashii web exclusive, with only Taiga himself being released as a general retail item.

Friday, 23 October 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection SPD Omega Ranger & Uniforce Cycle

Power Rangers Lightning Collection SPD Omega Ranger & Uniforce Cycle 01

Release Date:
August 2020
RRP: $29.99/£29.99

With how prominent motorcycles and other vehicles have been in the Power Rangers franchise, it was only a matter of time before Hasbro introduced them into the Lightning Collection. While for many shows these vehicles had more prominence as toys than they did in the series itself, instalments like Power Rangers SPD (as well as its Super Sentai counterpart Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger) featured them quite heavily on-screen too. After all, this was the series where even it’s main villain rode around on a motorcycle. With that in mind, what better place to start than with the Lightning Collection SPD Omega Ranger and Uniforce Cycle set? Arriving to the year 2025 from further in the future to assist Space Patrol Delta’s B Squad Rangers, Sam joins the team as it’s sixth main team member. This set was released exclusively through Amazon.

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Storm Collectibles Mortal Kombat 3 Classic Sub-Zero

Storm Collectibles Mortal Kombat 3 Classic Sub-Zero 01

Release Date: February 2020
RRP: $70

Hong Kong-based manufacturer Storm Collectibles have created quite a name for themselves over the past few years with their range of action figures, particularly in the realm of video games in which they specialise. Their repertoire includes the likes of Street Fighter, Tekken, Darkstalkers, King of Fighters and more, but there’s one franchise particularly that they’ve set the standard for - Mortal Kombat. Focussing on the classic era of the overly bloody fighting game, Storm Collectibles have released a range of characters from the first three games in the series. Among these is their Mortal Kombat 3 classic Sub-Zero, based on the original masked version of the iconic Lin Kuei ice ninja. The classic variant of Sub-Zero appeared in the expanded Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 version (as well as Mortal Kombat Trilogy), alongside his younger brother who has held the mantle since Mortal Kombat 2. The classic Sub-Zero’s identity within the game’s narrative is presented as a mystery (the original Sub-Zero having become Noob Saibot by this point in the timeline), but the truth is to many players it didn’t really matter - all they saw and wanted was an updated version of the classic and instantly more recognisable iteration.

Saturday, 17 October 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who 'Companions of the Fourth Doctor' Set

Doctor Who 'Companions of the Fourth Doctor' Set 01

Release Date: July 2020
RRP: £19.99

The cost of new tooling for the Doctor Who line is clearly still something of an issue for Character Options, even if it is building up new strengths as a B&M Stores exclusive range. Right now the money is going into brand new head sculpts, with bodies being recycled from other figures to increase variety but keep costs down at the same time. It's a practice that can go either way, but clearly Character have thought about it well if it results in releases like the Companions of the Fourth Doctor set. This three-pack brings together three classic characters from Tom Baker's time in the role - Sarah Jane Smith, Romana I and Romana II.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Valkyrie Rushing Cheetah

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Valkyrie Rushing Cheetah 01

Release Date: July 2020
RRP: 6050 yen

Long time S.H. Figuarts collectors will be used to some of the strange decisions Bandai Tamashii Nations make when it comes to which characters are retail releases and which are Tamashii web exclusives, but even then there are still times where placement can feel unjustified. When Kamen Rider Zero-One came onto the scene it immediately boasted an extensive cast of Riders, including the never-seen-before of appearance of a female Rider right from the get-go. As a result A.I.M.S. technical advisor Yua Yaiba immediately gained a firm fan following, but despite her prominence S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Valkyrie Rushing Cheetah still joins the line as a web exclusive. It might be because deep down Bandai still don't feel women characters sell as men, or it could simply be that there's simply no room in the Zero-One range to have any more than two retail releases. Either way, that's sadly the situation for this somewhat landmark Rider. Yua's journey throughout the Zero-One series proved equally tumultuous, going on to act as ZAIA's lapdog before eventually turning against Gai Amatsu and later inadvertently becoming instrumental in the rise of Kamen Rider Ark-Zero. By the end of series, Yaiba goes on to forge her own path - becoming the new commander of a now-independent A.I.M.S Squad.

Monday, 12 October 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who 'U.N.I.T. 1971 - The Claws of Axos' Set

Doctor Who UNIT 1971 - The Claws of Axos Set 01

Release Date: July 2020
RRP: £19.99

As the Doctor Who toy line begins to retrieve its lost strength through the now staple B&M Stores exclusive range, fans are seeing a steady supply of both new characters and re-released (albeit slightly altered) versions of popular and sought after characters from the line’s heyday. One such example is the U.N.I.T. 1971 - The Claws of Axos three-pack, based on the third Doctor story and featuring both old and new releases. Alongside Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart are Captain Mike Yates and Sergeant John Benton - staples of the Doctor’s earthbound adventures and arguably companions of the Doctor in their own right. 

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Time Force Red Ranger

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Time Force Red Ranger 01

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

As someone who collects far too many other toy lines to go all in on the Power Rangers Lightning Collection, I’ve tried to primarily limit myself to reds and sixths (outside of a few favourites) as far as the rangers themselves are concerned. That means it’s especially exciting when Hasbro delve further into the franchise’s history with a series previously untouched, and doubly so when it’s one S.H. Figuarts didn’t make any attempt at. Wave five of the line brought fan-favourite Power Rangers Time Force into the fold, and what better place to start than with the Lightning Collection Time Force Red Ranger. When the Time Force Rangers travel back to the year 2001 in pursuit of Ransik, Wesley “Wes” Collins becomes the team’s second red ranger following the death of Alex Drake. Though originally he was only given a Chrono Morpher to unlock the other Rangers’ abilities in the past, Wes defied them to become the red ranger anyway - becoming a valuable member of the team and even retaining the position after timeline fluctuations undid Alex’s death.

Monday, 5 October 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Cad Bane & Todo 360

Star Wars Black Series Cad Bane & Todo 360 01

Release Date: September 2020
RRP: $29.99/£29.99

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down, and the cancellation of all major events and conventions has seen toy companies have to rethink their plans when it came to their exclusive releases. Hasbro especially have had a lot to work with given both the variety and popularity of their collector lines. One such example is the Star Wars Black Series Cad Bane & Todo 360 set, the long-awaited release of the popular bounty hunter from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. While it's not quite clear what this release was originally planned for, it was meant to be a shared European exclusive. Instead it was released as a fan channel exclusive in Europe across various stores, arriving on month ahead of its US release via Hasbro Pulse. A standard version of the Duros bounty hunter will also arrive as part of the line's 27th wave, however that does NOT include his techno-service droid partner.

Friday, 2 October 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Horobi Sting Scorpion

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Horobi Sting Scorpion 01

Release Date: June 2020
RRP: 6050 yen

Whenever there's a new Kamen Rider series with a multitude of Riders it's always fun to see how many of them receive general retail S.H. Figuarts before Bandai Tamashii Nations implement the Tamashii web exclusive curse, and in the case of Kamen Rider Zero-One the answer is two. Sure the titular Rider's other forms might make it to retail, but of the core six Riders the show only Zero-One and Vulcan managed to escape that fate. The first of the web exclusive Riders is S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Horobi Sting Scorpion, rogue Humagear and founder of the cyberterrorist group Metsuboujinrai.net. Dedicated to exterminating humanity so that his Humagear brothers and sisters could live freely, Horobi continuously clashed with Aruto Hiden – eventually becoming the first host of the rogue satellite Ark. Even after Ark's defeat Horobi continued his crusade to rid the world of human malice, culminating in a climactic showdown between the two Riders.

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Dino Thunder White Ranger

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Dino Thunder White Ranger 01

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

One of the most fun things about collecting the Power Rangers Lightning Collection is that you never know where the latest reveal is going to show up next. Take the Lightning Collection Dino Thunder White Ranger for example - first it showed up in a Malaysian store, then was widely available in UK stores before Hasbro even properly acknowledged its existence. The fan favourite extra ranger from Power Rangers Dino Thunder has had a somewhat tumultuous release, but is finally here and as a Walgreens exclusive in the US. Adopted son of the genius Anton Mercer, Trent Fernandez initially acted as a lone agent - even allying himself with his step father’s evil alter-ego Mesogog against the Dino Thunder Rangers. When the evil within the white Dino Gem was finally destroyed, Trent allied himself with the other rangers to help defeat Mesogog and save his father.

Monday, 28 September 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Marvel Legends Deluxe 'Age of Apocalypse' Apocalypse

Marvel Legends AOA Apocalypse 01

Release Date: August 2020
RRP: $29.99/£29.99

Alternate universe stories are one of my favourite concepts in science fiction, so when it comes to the X-Men it shouldn’t be any surprise to hear that Age of Apocalypse is by far my favourite thing to come out of the franchise. An epic event depicting a universe where Apocalypse successfully wages war on humankind and takes control of the Earth, the 1995-96 story remains the gold standard for AUs in comics. I’m no Marvel Legends collector, but when Hasbro announced a wave of Age of Apocalypse figures my interest was piqued - and there was no way I could resist the deluxe Marvel Legends Age of Apocalypse Apocalypse figure. Separate from the main wave, this special release is a reworking of the 2018 build-a-figure, reimagining the despotic mutant En Sabur Nur in his alternate universe form.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Den-O Sword Form & Gun Form

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Den-O Sword & Gun Form 01

Release Date: May 2020
RRP: 8800 yen

Bandai Tamashii Nations immediately set the bar pretty high when it came to the S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou range, but their recent releases have been pushing the envelope and showing off just why these are a cut above normal Figuarts. It's always the most exciting when it's announced they're going to be moving onto a new Kamen Rider series to see what new tricks they'll throw in, but I don't think anyone quite expected what they had in store for Kamen Rider Den-O. S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Den-O Sword Form & Gun Form is a two-in-one deal that features two of the Rider's main form changes in one figure, thanks to a number of swappable parts. Bandai had previously toyed with the idea of a larger transforming Den-O figure at the Tamashii Nations event in 2017, but since that never came to pass you could consider this its spiritual successor. Sure it may not transform properly, but adding form changes to S.H. Figuarts even in this capacity is something that hasn't been dared since its predecessor line Souchaku Henshin. 

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Black Widow (Black Widow Ver.)

SH Figuarts Black Widow (Solo Movie) 01

Release Date: June 2020
RRP: 6600 yen

Among all the key characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the one who’s had the most unfortunate time of things is undoubtedly Black Widow. First came her troubled subplot in Avengers: Age of Ultron, then came her rather unceremonious death in Avengers: Endgame and now after years of being denied one, her upcoming solo movie has been delayed indefinitely thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. But while the wheels of Hollywood may have stopped turning the merchandising game certainly hasn’t, with both Hasbro and Bandai Tamashii Nations having both put out their Black Widow movie offerings at the time of film’s originally proposed May 2020 release date. S.H. Figuarts Black Widow may come only a short time after the release of the Endgame version, but given her absence from the film’s final battle this general release figure fits in pretty well with Tamashii’s current slew of re-released characters. Whilst Hasbro have been fairly thorough with their Marvel Legends wave, this version of Widow and Taskmaster are currently the only characters released on the Bandai side of things.

Monday, 21 September 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts The Mandalorian

S.H. Figuarts The Mandalorian 01

Release Date: May 2020
RRP: 6600 yen

Compared to the more mixed reaction to the sequel trilogy The Mandalorian has become the first Star Wars franchise’s new golden goose, so it’s no surprise to see toy companies making the most out of the lucrative Disney+ series. Bandai Tamashii Nations have solidified their Star Wars range as a key part of the S.H. Figuarts brand, and now that only continues to expand with the release of S.H. Figuarts The Mandalorian. The first of what will likely be many releases from the series, this figure features the bounty hunter Din Djarin is his initial armour.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Anime REVIEW: Gundam Build Divers Re:Rise

Gundam Build Divers Re:Rise
Gundam Build Divers Re:Rise is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll and YouTube

While the model kits have always been a huge part of Gundam culture, the arrival of Gundam Build Fighters in 2013 truly went and made them a significant Gundam multimedia. Sure there had been anime specials based on gunpla before, but this loving tribute to the hobby won the hearts of fans worldwide and ensured a whole string of gunpla-based sequels. Next came Gundam Build Fighters Try in 2016, followed by Gundam Build Divers in 2018. Finally we return to the virtual reality MMO of Gunpla Battle Nexus Online in Gundam Build Divers Re:Rise - a direct sequel to the previous show starring an all-new cast. Despite beginning in October 2019, the 26-episode series ended in August 2020 - owing not only to a one-cour break between its two halves but also a two month delay because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Captain Marvel (Avengers: Endgame)

SH Figuarts Captain Marvel (Avengers Endgame) 01

Release Date: June 2020
RRP: 7700 yen

Avengers: Endgame provided Marvel Cinematic Universe fans with the largest assembly of Marvel heroes on screen yet, and it's no surprise to see that Bandai Tamashii Nations are largely going the same way with their S.H. Figuarts releases as well. In fact so much so that they're also currently doubling up on the main cast members with "final battle" editions with decos and parts more accurate to the film itself (since a lot of the original releases were presumably based off of concept art). There's still plenty of gaps though, with one being filled with the release of S.H. Figuarts Captain Marvel (Avengers: Endgame)! The second S.H. Figuarts release of Carol Danvers, this Tamashii web exclusive release is based on her new costume and appearance following the film's five year time skip – notably appearing at the end of the film to help the Avengers' last stand against Thanos' forces.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who "The Jungles of Mechanus" Dalek Set

Doctor Who 'The Jungles of Mechanus' Dalek Set 01

Release Date: September 2020
RRP: £24.99

Between a wave of new modern series releases and their current slate of B&M exclusives Character Options have really impressed Doctor Who toy collectors with their 2020 offerings, but I don’t think anyone was fully expecting what they’ve pulled out for their latest Character online store exclusive. The 1965 story The Chase featured a number of Daleks not native to the television production, and were in fact borrowed from the forthcoming Dr. Who and the Daleks - a colourful movie adaptation of the first Dalek story. Though they originally appeared in the story sans fender and with smaller lamps as “Guard Daleks”, the final episode featured blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameos of them in their full movie glory. And it’s because of this technicality, that Character have been able to release The Jungles of Mechanus exclusive Dalek set - 2-pack of colourful and unique Daleks that definitely appeared in The Chase and aren’t in any way simply movie Daleks. Really, who could have seen that coming?

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

First Impressions: Kamen Rider Saber

Kamen Rider Saber

With Kamen Rider gearing up to celebrate its 50th anniversary next year and seemingly a harder push to bring previous shows and merchandise to North America (there'll be none of that "the West" business here), now seems to be a particularly pivotal time for the franchise as a whole. Although Kamen Rider Zero-One faced some difficulties during its final stretch thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the wheels at Toei keep on turning and now it's time to introduce the second Kamen Rider of the Reiwa era. Kamen Rider Saber is the 31st series in the franchise overall, joining Mashin Sentai Kiramager in the current Super Hero Time line up. The show is being written by Takuro Fukuda (Kamen Rider Ghost), and directed by longtime Rider director Takayuki Shibasaki. Saber also sees a changeover in the lead suit actor once again, with the mantle now being passed on to Kosuke Asai - whose credits include Zyuoh Eagle, Ninnin Red, Lupin Red, Kamen Rider Cronus and most recently Kamen Rider Vulcan.

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Kit Fisto

Star Wars Black Series Kit Fisto 01

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

The Star Wars Black Series has been showing a great deal of prequels love in recent waves, so it's about time that Hasbro filled out the ranks of the Jedi Council a little bit more. Joining Plo Koon in one of the most recent wave of releases is the Nautolan Jedi Master Kit Fisto, who appeared during the Battle of Geonosis in Attack of the Clones before being struck down by Darth Sidious in Revenge of the Sith. Fisto also appeared in both the 2d animated and CGI Clone Wars series, with both depictions helping making him a firm fan favourite.

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider Zero-One

Kamen Rider Zero-One

2019 saw the dawning of a new era for Kamen Rider, as after 20 series we said goodbye to the Heisei era with Kamen Rider Zi-O and welcomed in the Reiwa era. Though not as monumental as the franchise returning to television screens after a long absence with Kuuga in 2000, nevertheless there was plenty of speculation on what changes Kamen Rider Zero-One may bring to the table. Written by Yuya Takahashi (Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, Kamen Rider Amazons: The Last Judgement) and directed by Teruaki Sugihara (Lupinranger vs Patranger), Zero-One ran for a total of 45 numbered episodes, with five additional clip episodes produced during a hiatus brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Custom Figure: ‘The Curse of the Daleks’ Supreme Dalek

Custom Curse of the Daleks Supreme Dalek 01

Back in 2015 in my Ultimate Adventure custom Dalek post I foolishly said that I wished The Curse of the Daleks had its own unique Dalek variant so that I could make customs from all three Doctor Who stage plays. This was actually incorrect, as Curse of the Daleks did indeed have its own unique variant - a black Supreme Dalek using the same body as the original 1963 Daleks. So, having an abundance of these Daleks at my fingertips thanks to the release of the B&M History of the Daleks sets, I set about finally filling this gap in my collection.

Monday, 31 August 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Vulcan Shooting Wolf

SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Vulcan Shooting Wolf 01

Release Date: April 2020
RRP: 6050 yen

Kamen Rider Zero-One has already kicked the Reiwa era off with a plethora of Riders to choose from, but in typical Bandai Tamashii Nations fashion it’s inevitable that most of the will end up as Tamashii web exclusives. Other than Zero-One himself, so far only one Rider has managed to escape this fate. S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Vulcan Shooting Wolf is the second of the Zero-One releases in the line so far, and sees the figures returning to their standard pricing after Zero-One’s low price incentive. Debuting in the show as the captain of A.I.M.S., Isamu Fuwa had a hatred and vendetta against all Humagears. But as he began to spend more time with Aruto Hiden and saw how he fought for them, Fuwa was taken on a path of self-growth that lead him to chase a new dream.

Friday, 28 August 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Ranger Slayer

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Ranger Slayer 01

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

While the Power Rangers Lightning Collection might have over 25 years' worth of television content to draw from, in the last few years the Boom! Studios comic universe has also developed quite the repertoire of original characters. Hasbro quickly showed an interest with the release of Lord Drakkon in wave three, but given Tommy's popularity (not to mention the need to truly stick it to Bandai of America) that seemed a given. It was where the line went next in regards to the comics that was really going to show how dedicated Hasbro are, and collectors didn't have too long to wait for the release of the Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Ranger Slayer in wave five. Another denizen of the World of the Coinless introduced in Shattered Grid, the Ranger Slayer is an alternate version of Pink Ranger Kimberly Hart – brainwashed to serve as Drakkon's enforcer. After breaking free of Drakkon's control, the Ranger Slayer has since gone on to lead a ground of time-displaced Rangers in Beyond the Grid, as well as most recently returning to her home dimension in an attempt to finally restore peace.

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Anime REVIEW: BNA: Brand New Animal

BNA: Brand New Animal
BNA: Brand New Animal is available in streaming form on Netflix

Between the successes of Kill la KillLittle Witch Academia, SSSS.Gridman and most recently Promare, it seems as though studio Trigger can do nothing wrong. Their combination of mesmerising animation and easy to follow social commentary has gone down a treat with anime fans, leading them to be a studio where everyone is excited to see what they have planned next. Their latest offering comes as part of Netflix's ever-growing "Netflix original anime" lineup, taking viewers to a world of anthropomorphic animals in BNA: Brand New Animals. Written by Kazuki Nakashima (Gurren LagannKill la KillKamen Rider Fouze) and directed by Yoh Yoshinari (Little Witch Academia), BNA comes hot on the heels of BEASTARS - another Netflix-fronted anime starring anthropomorphic animals. Could this be the furry revolution that we all saw coming?

Monday, 24 August 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Putty Patrollers

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Putty Patrollers 01

Release Date: August 2020
RRP: $29.99/£29.99

While the Power Rangers Lightning Collection might be fairly lacking on the villain side right now, at least Hasbro are getting some of the more obvious ones out of the way quickly. And if “Monster of the Week” figures are off the table right now, there’s nothing like a good army builder to swell up those ranks - and what better army builder than the original Mighty Morphin Putty Patroller? While first released as a set with the Fighting Spirit Green Ranger, the Putties are now returning to the line as a Hasbro Pulse exclusive two-pack, giving collectors the chance to pick up two at a slightly discounted price.

Friday, 21 August 2020

Custom Figure: 2015 Skaro Dalek

2015 Skaro Dalek Custom 01

While the classic Dalek design has managed to make it back for a few new Doctor Who episodes, it's fair to say that the 2005 update truly rules the roost in terms of default design these days. However there was one particular variant of the classic casing that proved quite favourable with fans, so much so that it's surprising that Character Options have done an official figure themselves as part of their ongoing toy line. I'm talking of course about the 2015 Skaro Dalek, which appeared in the series nine premiere two-part story The Magician's Apprentice and The Witch's Familiar. Taking the Doctor, Clara and Missy back to the Daleks' home planet of Skaro, the twelfth Doctor crosses paths with a dying Davros in a city filled with Dalek variants from across the years. 

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Series REVIEW: Dogengers

Dogengers

Local heroes are a huge part of Japan's superhero scene. From heroes that act on behalf of a specific company to heroes that represent cities or prefectures, these mascots are beloved across Japan - educating children and proving that being a hero goes beyond just what you see on television. Unfortunately they're also something many Western tokusatsu fans ever get a glimpse at. Even if you go beyond the obvious language barriers, the clue is in the name - many of these heroes act locally and thus their exploits are rarely seen on wider scale. However this year the various heroes of Fukuoka came together for Dogengers - a 12-episode crossover series which has quickly gained a cult following. The series was created with the intention of promoting "good health and wellbeing" and directed by Fumie Arakawa - notable for being the first ever woman director in tokusatsu, having worked on a number of Super Sentai series as well as last year's fan-favourite Tokusatsu Gagaga. The heroes featured in the series are Kitakyushu City's KitaQman, Ohga Pharmacy's Ohgaman, Yamashiro Gas' Yamashiron, the hero of Tengen El Brave and Fukuokalibur. Dogengers takes its name from "dogen", a phrase in the Hakata dialect similar to that of "y'all".

Monday, 17 August 2020

Custom Figure: TV21 Comics Dalek Drone

Custom TV21 Dalek Drone 01

Anyone who’s been following this blog will know I’m a HUGE fan of the Dalek comics printed in the pages of TV Century 21 (later simply TV21) during the 1960s and republished as The Dalek Chronicles. I’ve done a few custom figures over the past few years, even managing to source one of the rare Golden Emperor model kit. But with figures of the original 1963 proving quite pricey on the aftermarket, making any more has felt like a pipe dream. That is until Character Options announced the B&M Stores exclusive History of the Daleks sets. With the figures now back on the market, it’s time to fill up the ranks with a couple of Dalek drones. After all, you can’t have a proper Dalek hierarchy if you don’t have the ones at the bottom.

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Toybox REVIEW: G.I. Joe Classified Series Destro

GI Joe Classified Series Destro 01

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

Hasbro’s
continuing expansion of its six-inch figure lines continues with the return of one of its most iconic properties - G.I. Joe! Whilst as a British person who grew up in the 90s I may not have experienced the popularity of the franchise in the same way America or other parts of the world did, its reputation and legacy shouldn’t be understated. But then neither should the fact that G.I. Joe has definitely fallen on hard times in recent years, likely due to the middling response to the two live-action movies. Now in 2020 Hasbro are ready to try once more on both the classic 3.75 and 6” fronts - the latter debuting in the new G.I. Joe Classified Series line. Among its first wave are operatives from both the heroic Joes and the terrorist organisation Cobra, including the Scottish arms dealer James McCullen Destro XXIV, better known as simply Destro. Through M.A.R.S. (Military Armament Research Syndicate), Destro maintains a steady alliance with Cobra in order to reap the profits of war - however he’s also not adverse to turning against them if it’s better for business.

Monday, 10 August 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Plo Koon

Star Wars Black Series Plo Koon 01

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

There once was a time where pretty much any Star Wars character, regardless of screen time, was guaranteed an action figure. These days this is far from the case even in the beloved 3.75" lines, let alone 6" collector series lines like The Black Series. There even staple characters can take years to be released - the line began all the way back in 2013 but it took until 2020 to get a Count Dooku. Among some of the other Prequel Era characters just begging for release are the Jedi Council members, many of whom appeared in the films themselves but had their popularity cemented through Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Now Hasbro have finally begun to answer collectors' prayers with their latest wave of figures, featuring two prominent members of the council (that aren't Yoda or Mace Windu). The first of these characters is Plo Koon, the Jedi Master recognisable by the antitox mask he wears over his mouth and eyes. In The Clone Wars series, he was notable for working alongside Clone Commander Wolffe and the Wolf Pack Squad, as well as being the Jedi Master that discovered a young Ahsoka Tano.

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who History of the Daleks #2 Set

History of the Daleks Set #2 01

Release Date: July 2020
RRP: £19.99

After the release of The Daleks in 1963, the UK quickly entered the phase Doctor Who fans affectionately know as Dalekmania. Given their popularity it's no surprise that the BBC quickly made plans for a follow up in the show's second series. That of course is 1964's The Dalek Invasion of Earth, a six-part story that truly cemented the Daleks' place in the series. The story is also notable for being the first Doctor Who serial to make extensive use of location filming, as well as being the last appearance of companion Susan Foreman. Now The Dalek Invasion of Earth is being celebrated by Character Options in their second History of The Daleks set, released as part of the 2020 B&M store exclusive assortment. This set features both a standard silver Dalek and the black Supreme Dalek as they appeared in the story, complete with enlarged fenders and energy collection discs on their backs.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who History of the Daleks #1 Set

History of the Daleks Set #1 01

Release Date:
July 2020
RRP: £19.99

Doctor Who toys took a huge step toward recapturing their former glory last year, as the now (for the most part anyway) B&M Stores exclusive range of figures from Character Options debuted a number of new figures that included both brand new characters and designs based on the Big Finish audios. While the figures are still mostly retools and repaints, the level of ingenuity going into them to create what feel like all-new pieces boded well for the future. The line has returned for a new assortment in 2020, and that faith was certainly not misplaced. Among a range of three-packs covering both the classic and modern series, the Daleks have also made a grand return in the form of new two-packs that chronicle their evolution across Doctor Who. History of the Daleks #1 takes us all the way back to 1963 with their debut story The Daleks, with a pair of the ruthless aliens in the original livery.

Friday, 31 July 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Sun Vulcan Robo

Super Mini-Pla Sun Vulcan Robo 01

Release Date: February 2020
RRP: 5720 yen

1981’s Taiyo Sentai Sun Vulcan is notable for a number of different reasons. It is currently the only Super Sentai series to be a direct sequel to its predecessor, as well as the only team to be entirely comprised of men. But from a merchandise perspective it also added a significant staple to the franchise - a combining robot. Mecha had been a part of Sentai since Battle Fever J, but it wasn’t until Sun Vulcan that they were made of multiple vehicle components. Now Sun Vulcan Robo, the first combining Super Sentai robot, has joined Bandai’s Super Mini-Pla range - the model kit line that’s quickly become home to updates of these classic mecha. Though Sun Vulcan Robo was the only general retail item from the series it certainly didn’t come alone, with both the giant Jaguar Vulcan carrier and SODO versions of the team joining it as Premium Bandai exclusive items.

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Anime REVIEW: Space Battleship Yamato 2199

Space Battleship Yamato 2199

It’s impossible to overstate just how influential Space Battleship Yamato is. Both setting the standard and paving the way for future sci-fi anime, the 1974 series by Yoshinobu Nishizaki and Leiji Matsumoto touches nearly every faucet of how the medium is perceived and functions today - from its American dub adaptation Starblazers being instrumental in bringing anime to worldwide audience to its fandom being an integral part in the early days of cosplay. Some have even cited it as a huge influence on the original Star Wars. But while its influence has never dwindled, the combination of distribution and the perpetual cycle of newer shows means its legacy isn’t always recognised as much as it should be. However between 2012 to 2013 the landmark series saw a tremendous return to form under the guise of a brand new remake, Space Battleship Yamato 2199. Originally released as seven cinematic films, it was then later transformed into a 26-episode series - eventually releasing in the West once again with its Starblazers monicker (only this time without any significant dub changes).

Sunday, 26 July 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Disney Select V.I.N.CENT & B.O.B.

Disney Select V.I.N.CENT & B.O.B. 01

Release Date: February 2020
RRP: $24.99/£29.99

Coming from a time when the world was very much caught in a Star Wars frenzy, it isn't any surprise that the most memorable characters of Disney's The Black Hole are its robots. It may have tried to incite terror with the crimson Maximilian, but it also went for the "cute and sassy" market too with its hero robots. V.I.N.CENT (Vital Information Necessary CENTralized) is part of the U.S.S. Palomino crew that finds itself aboard the U.S.S. Cygnus, where he meets an older model in his series - B.O.B. (Bio-Sanitation Battalion). B.O.B. helps the crew unravel the mysterious of the Cygnus and its captain Dr Hans Reinhardt, but is sadly killed by Maximilian during their escape. V.I.N.CENT on the other hand makes it out alive, journeying with the other survivors into the titular black hole. Both robots have been immortalised alongside Max in Diamond Select's Disney Select toy line, quickly becoming must-have releases for fans of this fun but somewhat troubled film.