Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Dino Thunder Blue Ranger

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Dino Thunder Blue Ranger 01

Release Date: March 2021
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

The Disney era as a whole might be feeling a little under-represented in Hasbro's Lightning Collection but at the very least two Power Rangers seasons from that time seem to be getting plenty of figures. While Power Rangers SPD rapidly approaches completion, preceding series Power Rangers Dino Thunder also gains another key member with the release of the Lightning Collection Dino Thunder Blue Ranger in the line's eighth wave. The third release from the fan-favourite season, Ethan James is a skilled hacker and computer expert, using the powers of the blue Dino Gem to not only morph into the Blue Ranger but also found it could make his skin impenetrable.

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider V3 (THE NEXT)

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider V3 (THE NEXT) 01

Release Date: February 2008
RRP: 2420 yen

In 2008 Bandai Tamashii Nations introduced a whole new line of Kamen Rider action figures - S.H. Figuarts, the spiritual successor to their previous Souchaku Henshin line. Originally the "S.H" in the name even stood for "Souchaku Henshin", but since then Bandai have also said it stands for "Simple style and Heroic Action - the motto which has accompanied the line since its very beginning. With S.H. Figuarts now having stretched far beyond Kamen Rider also all include a number of other tokusatsu, anime and Western properties, it's a little strange to think that it all began with figures from Kamen Rider: The Next. The 2007 sequel to Kamen Rider: The First had been released in Japanese cinemas just a few months prior, and so Figuarts launched onto the scene with a double bill of releases - S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider V3 (THE NEXT) and also the film's version of Kamen Rider 1. Either could feasibly be consider the very first release from the line, but there's just something fitting considering the next Rider to be the next step in Kamen Rider action figures.

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Doctor Strange (Battle on Titan Edition)

S.H. Figuarts Doctor Strange (Battle On Titan Edition) 01

Release Date: January 2021
RRP: 8800 yen

With the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Infinity Saga having finally come to an end, it seems that all of the toy companies that produce Marvel figures are having one last hurrah before moving onto the next phase - releasing the best versions of these beloved characters that they can. That can definitely be said for Bandai Tamashii Nations, whose S.H. Figuarts line moved into a number of "Final Battle" editions based on the climactic scene from Avengers: Endgame (it helps when you're releasing toys after the movie has been released, rather than just prior like they did initially). However with many key characters absent from Endgame for the most part there are plenty of iconic scenes to explore from Avengers: Infinity War as well, such as this S.H. Figuarts Doctor Strange (Battle on Titan Edition) figure. 

Monday, 6 September 2021

First Impressions: Kamen Rider Revice

Kamen Rider Revice

Well we've made it, 50 years of Kamen Rider. Such a momentous anniversary doesn't go uncelebrated, and while both both it and Super Sentai commemorated their respective milestones earlier in the year with crossover movie Super Hero Senki, now that Kamen Rider Saber has reached its conclusion it's time for the main anniversary series to begin its run. Kamen Rider Revice is the third Kamen Rider series to debut in the Reiwa era, and the 32nd in the franchise overall. Its head writer is Hanta Kinoshita, a novelist and manga writer making his tokusatsu debut with the series. Other key production staff members include producers Chihiro Inoue, Kei Mizutani and Taku Mochizuki, directors Takayuki Shibasaki, Jun Watanabe and Hiroshi Butsuda, with music by Kotaro Nakagawa.

Sunday, 5 September 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Zeo Cogs

Lightning Collection Zeo Cogs 01

Release Date: August 2021
RRP: $41.99/£49.99

Every new Lightning Collection announcement is exciting to some degree, but it's always the villain reveals that prove to be the most exciting - after all, heroes always need some bad guys to fight right? With the trio of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers foot soldiers suitably covered, Hasbro are now moving on to Power Rangers Zeo and getting a little bit robotic with the release of the Lightning Collection Zeo Cogs! Following in the same vein as the Putty Patrollers two-pack release from last year, the Cogs come as part of a Hasbro Pulse exclusive two-pack featuring both the standard silver and red variants of the Machine Empire foot soldiers. Despite the set initially being billed for a November release, Hasbro have uncharacteristically decided to show UK Power Rangers fans some love with the set making a surprise release on the UK version of Pulse two months ahead of the US market.

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Zeo Green Ranger

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Zeo Green Ranger 01

Release Date: March 2021
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

The Power Rangers Lightning Collection draws one step closer to completing another team as the eighth wave in the main line of releases brings us the Lightning Collection Zeo Green Ranger. Following the destruction of both his power coin and the Command Centre, Adam Park calls on the power of the Zeo Crystal to become "stronger than before" and defend the planet from the new threat of the Machine Empire. Although Adam first debuted in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers season two and stayed all the way through until the cast changeover in Power Rangers Turbo, Hasbro have chosen his appearance in Power Rangers Zeo for their first release of this fan favourite character.

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider Saber

Kamen Rider Saber

Ending your series at the height of a global pandemic is difficult enough, but successfully starting a new one at the same time is another obstacle entirely. But it seems the show must go on, and this is the challenge Toei faced as the Kamen Rider franchise marched on into its second Reiwa era series (and 31st overall) - Kamen Rider Saber. As well as featuring a sizeable cast of Riders, the production staff saw a few familiar faces return to the franchise. The series was written by Takuro Fukuda and produced by Kazuhiro Takahashi, both notable for being the chief writer and producer team behind Kamen Rider Ghost. Kamen Rider Saber ran for a total of 49 episodes, a count which not only included an epilogue previewing succeeding series Kamen Rider Revice but also a special crossover with Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger.

Monday, 30 August 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin 'Metallic' Pink Ranger

Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin 'Metallic' Pink Ranger 01

Release Date: December 2020
RRP: $24.99

Hasbro may have gotten the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers team out of the door in the Lightning Collection pretty quickly, but if there's one thing Power Rangers fans know it's that it doesn't take very long for them to show up again. With numerous different versions from both the screen and comics to tap into, the original Power Rangers team will remain a staple part of the toy line for some time.  In fact Hasbro showed their hand last year with the announcement of the Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin 'Metallic' Pink Ranger figure, kicking off a new variation of the team based on the metallic armour the rangers don in season three to battle against Master Vile's enhanced Tenga Warriors. This Hasbro Pulse exclusive release also the marks the first release of a Katherine 'Kat' Hillard version of the Pink Ranger, with her having taken over from Kimberly Hart at this point in the series.

Saturday, 28 August 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Blades Lion Senki

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Blades Lion Senki 01

Release Date: March 2021
RRP: 5500 yen

The titular hero of a new Kamen Rider series being released at a cheaper price point is standard practice for the S.H. Figuarts line now, and for big multi-Rider shows like Kamen Rider Saber a good tactic to get collectors interested in completing the whole set. Phase two of the plan is to immediately follow it up with another retail release Rider at the more usual cost, in this case S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Blades Lion Senki. The second Rider to appear in the series, Rintaro Shindo was born into the Sword of Logos – fighting to uphold the organisation's values as the Water Swordsman. When the manipulations of the current Master Logos were finally revealed, Rintaro regained his resolve to fight and joined Touma against the real enemy.

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts SC-1 Sevenger

S.H. Figuarts SC-1 Sevenger 01

Release Date: June 2021
RRP: 7700 yen

Ultraman Z was a great series that brought us a brilliant new hero with plenty of cool alternate forms, as well as bringing back fan favourites like Zero, Geed and even Ace. But despite the amount of cool Ultraman action going on in the series arguably the real hero of Z wasn't a giant from the Land of Light, but rather a rather determined robot that was always doing its best. Right from the very first episode Sevenger melted the hearts of Ultraman fans across the world, and even though he was eventually phased out in favour of other robots its grand return in the finale was nothing short of glorious. Such was his popularity that S.H. Figuarts SC-1 Sevenger was pretty much inevitable, but what perhaps wasn't was this Tamashii web exclusive release completely selling out of preorders in a matter of days. And this was just one in many Ultraman Z web exclusives selling out, making the Ultraman Figuarts line more lucrative and desirable than ever.

Friday, 20 August 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Carnor Jax

Star Wars Black Series Carnor Jax 01

Release Date: April 2021
RRP: $24.99/£24.99

Star Wars fans around during the years between films who had to rely on expanded media such as novels, films and video games for new content have potentially had it rough since Disney took over control of the franchise, especially with the stories they love being deemed non-canon and being categorised as "Legends", but in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Lucasfilm at least Hasbro are giving them some acknowledgement. This four small range of special edition figures looks at all things Legends, with one release paying homage to Star Wars: Crimson Empire – the 1997 comic book series from Dark Horse that spanned a total of 20 issues as well as a full cast audio drama. Carnor Jax, the Imperial Sovereign Protector who made a bid for the throne following Palpatine's death has arrived in the Black Series. However the big question is, is this release even Carnor Jax in the first place?

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Balzion

Super Mini-Pla Balzion 01

Release Date: April 2021
RRP: 5500 yen

For the most part the Super Mini-Pla range has done a good job of covering the various mecha from each Super Sentai series, but when it comes to some of the older series there are a lot less options to choose from. In some cases (such as Taiyo Sentai Sun Vulcan for example) you might even only get the main mecha and its giant carrier vehicle. However for the Choudenshi Bioman range Bandai really went the extra mile, and on top of those releases also produced something that was LONG overdue a new toy. The mecha of the Anti-Bio Union piloted by their robotic assassin Bio Hunter Silva, Balzion is a villainous counterpart to Bio Robo that appears in the final three episodes of the series. Having received no toys when Bioman was airing back in 1984 and since then only a giant vinyl figure in 2017, the Premium Bandai exclusive Super Mini-Pla Balzion is a truly exceptional release.

Sunday, 15 August 2021

Movie REVIEW: Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger the Movie: Red Battle! All Sentai Rally!!

Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger the Movie: Red Battle! All Sentai Rally!!

Once upon a time a brand new Super Sentai team would be introduced in the preceding team's Versus Series movie, but as that slowly phased out the Mashin Sentai Kiramager introduced a new way to be welcomed by audiences - their own debut mini-movie. For the 44th Super Sentai this took the form of a prequel Episode ZERO to set up the main series, but to celebrate the franchise's 45th anniversary something a little more lavish was in order. Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger the Movie: Red Battle! All Sentai Rally!! didn't just unleash the newest Super Sentai team upon the world - it also sees them face off against classic villains and team up with all 45 of the previous Red rangers. The 26-minute film was released as part of the Super Sentai Movie 2021 triple-bill - joining both Mashin Sentai Kiramager the Movie: Bebop Dream and Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger Special Chapter: Memory of Soulmates.

Saturday, 14 August 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who 'The Keys of Marinus (1964)' Set

Doctor Who 'The Keys of Marinus' Figure Set 01

Release Date: August 2021
RRP: £19.99

After years of treading water Character Options really kicked into high gear with their B&M Stores exclusive range of Doctor Who figures in 2019 - not only beginning to bring highly sought-after characters back to the market but also brand new figures combining both new and existing tooling. Things are only looking to get even better in 2021, with another selection of sets inspired by the franchise's classic era announced for release. Among these is The Keys of Marinus (1964) Collector Figure Set, one of two three-figure sets based on the First Doctor's era. This a particularly special on, not only bringing new monsters to the fold in the form of the Voord but also another companion. Schoolteacher Ian Chesterton didn't know what he expected to find when he followed student Susan Foreman to a seemingly ordinary Police Box, but it certainly wasn't an unforgettable adventure through time and space with a man simply known as the Doctor...

(A big thank you to Character Options and Evolution PR for the opportunity to review this set ahead of its release this month. This set, along with the other three that make up this latest range, are due to release in B&M stores mid-August.)

Thursday, 12 August 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Shocker Rider (THE NEXT)

S.H. Figuarts Shocker Rider (THE NEXT) 01

Release Date: June 2008
RRP: 2420 yen

With fewer and fewer Kamen Riders left to bring out in the S.H. Figuarts line, a lot of collectors are turning their attention towards who will be the next character Bandai Tamashii Nations REmake – be it as part of the regular line or the Shinkocchou Seihou range. But while it's fair to say most titular series Riders have a pretty good chance of getting a new figure, not all of the really old releases are likely to be on the cards – the S.H. Figuarts Shocker Rider (THE NEXT) being one such example. The mass-produced foot soldiers of the evil organisation in 2007's Kamen Rider: The Next, the Shocker Rider was the fourth release in the S.H. Figuarts line all the way back in 2008 – following on of course from Kamen Rider V3 as well as The Next versions of Riders 1 and 2.

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Special REVIEW: Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger Special Chapter: Memory of Soulmates

Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger Special Chapter: Memory of Soulmates

With the COVID-19 pandemic throwing everything into disarray the usually predictable format of tokusatsu movie releases went out the window, and after a few months of uncertainty Super Sentai broke free from its usual double-billing with Kamen Rider to headline its own Super Sentai Movie Ranger 2021 triple-bill in February 2021. As well as featuring both the delayed arrival of the Kiramager summer movie Bebop Dream and the onscreen debut of the Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger, the lineup also featured the return of the 38th Super Sentai team in Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger Special Chapter: Memory of Soulmates - a brand new short film dedicated to the memory of Ui Tatsu's actress Mana Kinjo.

Sunday, 8 August 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series R5-P8 (Galaxy's Edge)

Star Wars Black Series R5-P8 01

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

When Galaxy's Edge was first announced to be coming to Disneyland (and later Disneyworld), one of the more frustrating things for Star Wars toy collectors was the subsequent announcement of Black Series figures that would not only be available exclusively in the parks but also that they would all be part of three-packs with older, far more common figures. However it seems Hasbro weren't completely heartless when it came to these characters, since a few years later these exclusive figures (Hondo Ohnaka, DJ-R3X and Commander Pyre) were made more widely available through a Star Wars Galaxy's Edge Trading Outpost promotion at Target stores (and standard Fan Channel exclusives in the rest of the world). They weren't the only ones either, as the range also included a couple of new characters that populate the world of Batuu. Hondo Ohnaka might not still have the pirate crew he had back in the days of the Clone Wars, but at least he still has his trusted Astromech droid R5-P8. R5 appears in the pre-show scenes of the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run attraction, helping Hondo prepare guests to pilot in Falcon in the latest of Hondo's business ventures.

Thursday, 5 August 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection In Space Red Ranger vs Astronema

Power Rangers Lightning Collection In Space Red Ranger vs Astronema 01

Release Date: November 2020
RRP: $39.99/£39.99

If there's one thing that can be said about Hasbro and their treatment of the Power Rangers brand, once they got the ball rolling with the Lightning Collection it just never stopped rolling. Between all the mainline releases, two-packs, exclusives and monster releases it can be incredibly hard to keep track of everything that's come out so far, let alone buy it all. At the end of last year Hasbro released a further two sets in their growing range of "versus" two-packs, one of which was a match many fans/collectors were extremely excited to see - Lightning Collection In Space Red Ranger vs Astronema. After passing over Andros in favour of Leo in the Lost Galaxy Red Ranger/Psycho Red set, it's great to see the leader of the Power Rangers in Space debut in an even more fitting two-pack against his sister Karone's evil alter ego – the Princess of Evil Astronema.

Monday, 2 August 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Hero Action Figure Iron King

Hero Action Figure Iron King 01

Release Date: November 2019
RRP: 8800 yen

Bandai Tamashii Nations' S.H. Figuarts line may rule the roost when it comes to collector-orientated tokusatsu action figures, but if you're looking for characters outside the Kamen Rider and Ultraman franchises then Evolution Toy are offering some serious competition with their Hero Action Figure line. For several years now HAF have been delivering some of the lesser known names in Showa era tokusatsu – from Tsuburaya properties like Fireman, Jumborg and Mirrorman to Toei names like Inazuman and Kaiketsu Zubat. However the range stretches even further than the big name companies too, with one such example being Hero Action Figure Iron King – the titular hero from the 1973 kyodai hero series by Nippon Gendai and Senkosha. Though he may resemble an Ultra hero, Iron King is an entirely separate hero – the hydro-powered alter ego of bumbling Goro Kirishima, sidekick to the suave National Security agent Gentaro Shizuka.

Friday, 30 July 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers War for Cybertron: Kingdom Ultra Magnus

Transformers Kingdom Ultra Magnus 01

Release Date: March 2021
RRP: $49.99/£49.99

The combination of both the War for Cybertron trilogy and Studio Series 86 lines has proven quite effective in getting fans old and new back into Transformers toys, especially those (like myself) who have always dreamed of completing a relatively screen-accurate cast of Transformers: The Movie in modern form. Although it’s the Studio Series 86 line that's leading the charge in that respect, there are still plenty of incredible releases coming out of War for Cybertron too – such as the War for Cybertron: Kingdom leader class Ultra Magnus figure. After previously appearing in the beginning of the trilogy as part of the Siege line, Ultra Magnus returns to not be able to deal with it all over again in Earth mode as part of the Kingdom range.

Friday, 23 July 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Liner Boy

Super Mini-Pla Liner Boy 01

Release Date: September 2020
RRP: 4950 yen

Credit to Bandai, when they reveal a series is joining the Super Mini-Pla line they do their best to ensure fans aren't disappointed when it comes to variety. The KyuuKyuu Sentai GoGoFive range with the double release of Victory Robo and Grand Liner, and only a few months later they were back for round three. This time it's the turn of Liner Boy - a transforming bullet train/space shuttle with an AI unit that allows it to function without a pilot. Super Mini-Pla Liner Boy was another kit released as a Premium Bandai exclusive, which for the most part seems to be the fate for any Super Sentai mecha released outside of the main one.

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Movie REVIEW: Ultraman Taiga the Movie: New Generation Climax

Ultraman Taiga the Movie: New Generation Climax

With Ultraman Z having launched the franchise's worldwide availability on YouTube and the everything from Ginga to R/B having either streamed on Crunchyroll or now released on Blu-Ray via Mill Creek, 2019 instalment Ultraman Taiga feels like a bit of an outlier for fans outside of Japan. Like the previous New Generations Heroes series it returned for a movie epilogue in 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic its cinema release was delayed for five months. Ultraman Taiga the Movie: New Generation Climax brings together the heroes of the previous six Ultraman series, almost seeming like an end cap to this era of Ultra shows even though its spirit effectively continued on into Z.

Monday, 19 July 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 01

Release Date: July 2020
RRP: 13200 yen

The Bandai Super Mini-Pla line has done some pretty sizeable model kits in the few years it's been around, but when it comes to pushing just what the line to offer from the Super Sentai franchise Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner is possibly their most ambitious project yet. Their second release from KyuuKyuu Sentai GoGoFive is another Premium Bandai exclusive, which isn't really all that surprising given the size and price of this behemoth. Standing at an incredible 27cm (nearly 11") tall, Grand Liner not only outclasses anything the line has put out thus far but it also does it while still being a combining robot – made up of five heavily armoured which make up the GoLiner.

Saturday, 17 July 2021

Series REVIEW: Zone Fighter

Zone Fighter

At the height of Japan's second monster boom, declining theatre attendance saw Toho look toward bringing their particular brand of superhero/monster tokusatsu to television - inspired by Tsuburaya Productions' revival of the Ultra Series through The Return of Ultraman and Ultraman Ace. With the popular Godzilla franchise at their disposal naturally these plans would somehow involve the King of Monsters, but although Godzilla himself was effectively a superhero by this point a different kind of hero to be the face of the series. The result was 1973's Ryusei Ningen Zone (Meteor Man Zone), copyrighted in the US as and perhaps best known as Zone Fighter. The second of Toho's superhero shows after the previous year's Rainbowman, Zone Fighter curiously combined elements of both kyodai (giant) and henshin (transforming) heroes. The series ran for a total of 26 episodes, however due a combination of low ratings and financial woes caused by the 1973 oil crisis no further episodes were produced and the series was left without a conclusive ending.

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 2 (THE FIRST Ver.)

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 2 (THE FIRST Ver.) 01

Release Date: October 2010
RRP: 2750 yen

S.H. Figuarts have come a long way in 13 years, but even with the arrival of the Shinkocchou Seihou range you can’t necessarily rely on every character to get a new figure that does the suits justice. Cinematic remakes Kamen Rider: The First and Kamen Rider: The Next are two such examples – the mould of which the majority of characters/variants share was one of the first Figuarts releases back in 2008. When Kamen Rider 1 (THE FIRST Ver.) hit shelves he was quickly followed by S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 2 (THE FIRST Ver.), rather amazingly covering the reimagined Double Riders in both their movie appearances a whole year before their original television counterparts were released.

Monday, 12 July 2021

Movie REVIEW: Mashin Sentai Kiramager the Movie: Bebop Dream

Mashin Sentai Kiramager the Movie: Bebop Dream

Although the Super Sentai and Kamen Rider summer movies typically release side by side, the COVID-19 pandemic put a swift half to those plans happening in 2020. Both movies were delayed, eventually releasing at different times with other films from their respective times instead. Whereas Kamen Rider Zero-One the Movie: RealxTime debuted alongside Kamen Rider Saber the Movie: The Phoenix Swordsman and the Book of Ruin in December, Mashin Sentai Kiramager's movie offering was instead held off until February 2021 where it could be released as part of a special Super Sentai triple bill. Joining Mashin Sentai Kiramager the Movie: Bebop Dream for this rather unique triplet of releases were Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger Special Chapter: Memory of Soulmates and (in their onscreen debut) Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger The Movie: Red Battle! All Sentai Rally!!.

Sunday, 11 July 2021

First Impressions: Ultraman Trigger: New Generation Tiga

Ultraman Trigger
Ultraman Trigger: New Generation Tiga is available to stream on YouTube

July 10th 2021 marked both Ultraman Day and the 55th anniversary of the Ultraman franchise, so what better way to celebrate that with the premiere of a brand new Ultraman series? It's a particularly big year for the franchise as Ultraman Tiga also celebrates its 25th anniversary, and to mark the occasion this monumentally popular series is being reimagined for a whole new generation in Ultraman Trigger: New Generation Tiga. The series is said to be a reinterpretation of Tiga's story for the current audience to enjoy, as well as featuring callbacks and parallels that will appeal to those who grew up with the first Heisei era Ultraman series. The franchise's plans for world domination continue as Tsuburaya Productions are once again uploading the series to their official YouTube channel with English subtitles, with episodes staying online for two weeks from their premiere. 

Saturday, 10 July 2021

Movie REVIEW: Mashin Sentai Kiramager vs Ryusoulger

Mashin Sentai Kiramager vs Ryusoulger

Even at a time where many tokusatsu projects have been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, some traditions just can't be passed over. The (mostly) annual Super Sentai V-cinema (or V-cinext as it prefers to be called nowadays) Versus Series returned in 2021 for its 27th instalment – Mashin Sentai Kiramager vs Ryusoulger. Kiramentality and chivalry join forces in this crossover movie written by Ayumi Shimo, who wrote episodes for both Mashin Sentai Kiramager and Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger as well as Uchu Sentai Kyuranger vs Space Squad tie-in miniseries Hero Mama League. The film was directed by tokusatsu regular Koichi Sakamoto, who again worked on episodes for both series.

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Black Series Darth Maul (Sith Apprentice)

Star Wars Black Series Darth Maul (Sith Apprentice) 01

Release Date: April 2021
RRP: $24.99/£24.99

2021 marks the 50th anniversary of Lucasfilm, and to celebrate Hasbro are dedicating a new range in the Black Series to all the parts of the Star Wars universe Disney would probably rather you forget about. This four figure (with potentially more to come) selection looks at all things Legends - the novels, comics,  video games and other bits of expanded media which were deemed non-canon when the House of Mouse took over control of the franchise. Among these releases is the Black Series Darth Maul (Sith Apprentice) figure - a variant of the ever-popular Sith Lord based on his appearance in Dark Horse Comics' Star Wars: Darth Maul four-part comic series from 2000.

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Special REVIEW: Kamen Rider Specter x Blades

Kamen Rider Specter x Blades

Kamen Rider fans probably didn't expect the 5th anniversary of Kamen Rider Ghost to be celebrated with a multi-part Kamen Rider Saber crossover story, but then given that the two shows share the same writer in Takuro Fukuda was there really any other way to do it? The latest Toei Tokusatsu Fanclub special kicked off at the end of May with Kamen Rider Saber x Ghost, and after leaving things on a pretty sizeable cliffhanger there wasn't much of a wait before part two came along. This time it's the turn of those true blue secondary Riders, as Kamen Rider Specter x Blades takes to the stage. As well as Mio Kudo and Shun Nishime reprising their roles as Kanon Fukami and Takeru Tenkuji respectively, this part also sees Ryosuke Yamamoto naturally rejoin the crew as Makoto Fukami/Kamen Rider Specter.

Sunday, 4 July 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Meisho Movie Realization Ronin Mandalorian

Meisho Movie Realization Ronin Mandalorian 01

Release Date: April 2021
RRP: $100

Given the clear inspiration it takes from Japanese stories such as Lone Wolf and Cub, The Mandalorian is the perfect candidate for representation in Bandai Tamashii Nations Meisho Movie Realization line. Previous releases Boba Fett and Jango Fett prove that the Mandalorian armour lends itself particularly well to line's reimagining of classic Star Wars characters as feudal era samurai, and the popularity of The Mandalorian would make the figure an almost sure-fire seller. But while it's extremely pleasing to see the release of the Meisho Movie Realization Ronin Mandalorian figure, the circumstances of its release are some of the strangest Bandai have done in a while. The figure was produced as a Tamashii web exclusive, but only made available via the US version of the web store. Whether this means Japan have their own plans for a Movie Realization Mandalorian in the future (maybe based on the full Beskar armour version of the suit?) is unknown, but right now the Japanese Tamashii Nations website doesn't even acknowledge this figure's existence on its Meisho Movie Realization page. But despite these strange origins, Bandai certainly haven't skimped on the extremely high quality the line has shown in the past.

Friday, 2 July 2021

Custom Figure: 'Dr Who & the Daleks' Movie Red Dalek

Custom Movie Red Dalek 01

Official 5.5" scale movie Daleks are something Doctor Who toy collectors have dreamed of for years (or more specifically, as long as Character Options have been producing the toys), but the licensing kerfuffle that comes along with them meant most of us assumed it was never going to happen. The silver and blue Daleks' split second appearance in The Chase was able to let the Jungles of Mechanus set happen, but sadly the red and black Daleks would need to remain potential custom projects for fans themselves to work on. Thankfully the aforementioned Mechanus set provided a perfect base figure to do that just that, and with a few spare sets in hands I finally went about fulfilling that dream of having the Dr. Who and the Daleks movie Daleks as part of my display.

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Series REVIEW: Thunderbolt Fantasy Season 3

Thunderbolt Fantasy Season 3
Thunderbolt Fantasy is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

If prior to 2016 you told me that famed anime writer Gen Urobuchi was going to team up with NitroplusGood Smile Company and Taiwanese puppet production Pili International Multimedia to produce one of the greatest series he's ever done, I probably would have been sceptical no matter how amazing that already sounds on paper. But that is exactly what Thunderbolt Fantasy is, and 26 episodes spanning two seasons (as well as two additional movies) fans have been treated to a storyline that somehow manages to get more and more wild each episode, unforgettable characters and more puppet violence than you could ever hope for. Two years after the release of prequel/side-story The Bewitching Melody of the West, it finally returned for its long overdue third season which was delayed thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sunday, 27 June 2021

Anime REVIEW: Godzilla Singular Point

Godzilla Singular Point
Godzilla Singular Point is available in streaming form on Netflix

It's hard to believe that despite being a franchise spanning over 65 years at this point, there's never been a fully-fledged Godzilla anime series. We've had a couple of American cartoon series over the years and a trilogy of CGI animated films from Toho and Polygon in 2017-18, but in 2021 did the King of the Monsters properly jump into television anime with Godzilla Singular Point. A co-production between acclaimed studios Bones and Orange, Singular Point is a "Netflix Original" series that released weekly in Japan between April and June before all 13 episodes dropped worldwide on the 24th June. The series was written by Toho Enjoh, an award-winning Japanese author specialising in science and speculative fiction.  

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Anime REVIEW: SSSS.Dynazenon

SSSS.Dynazenon is available in streaming form on Funimation

After lying dormant for decades, Gridman the Hyper Agent has come a long way in the past six years. When Trigger revealed their Denkou Chojin Gridman: "boys invent great hero" short at the Japan Animator Expo back in 2015, who would have thought that a collaboration between the animation studio and Tsuburaya Productions would eventually lead to the creation of a Gridman Universe. Following the success of SSSS.Gridman in 2018, this universe continued to expand in 2021 with the release of SSSS.Dynazenon. This second animated instalment ran for a total of 12 episodes, introducing a whole new cast of characters and story despite the familiar setting. After being revealed to mean "Special Signature to Save a Soul" at the end of the previous series, here the "SSSS"-prefix takes on a whole new meaning right from the very beginning - "Scarred Souls Shine like Stars".

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Batman (1989)

S.H. Figuarts Batman (1989) 01

Release Date: 7480 yen
RRP: September 2020

It's always fun when Bandai Tamashii Nations throw an absolute curveball of a release into the S.H. Figuarts line. While they've done a fair number of DC Universe figures (mostly live action movie-based, but also a couple from Batman Ninja surprisingly), but it's definitely fair to say that they're nowhere near as much a priority for the line as the Marvel Cinematic Universe figures are. So when it was announced that they would be producing a S.H. Figuarts Batman (1989) figure, based on the Dark Knight's appearance in Tim Burton's first big budget Batman film where he was portrayed by Michael Keaton, it came as a real surprise. The figure was released as a Tamashii web exclusive in Japan, but unsurprisingly was one of the more readily available Figuarts in foreign markets as well.

Friday, 18 June 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Victory Robo

Super Mini-Pla Victory Robo 01

Release Date: July 2020
RRP: 5500 yen

One of the great things about the Super Mini-Pla line has been the fact that you just don't know where in Super Sentai history Bandai are going to revisit next. Whilst the higher-end candy toy/model kit line has largely stayed within the post-Zyuranger/Power Rangers section of the franchise, there's been no set pattern in terms of which series is done next - giving everyone's favourites a good chance of showing up relatively soon. Following on from Sun Vulcan Robo and the rest of the Taiyo Sentai Sun Vulcan releases at the beginning of 2020, the second half of the year belonged to KyuuKyuu Sentai GoGoFive. As well as bursting out the gate with their Super Mini-Pla Victory Robo release, Bandai quickly set about filling up the show's line-up - with the enormous Grand Liner releasing the same month and Liner Boy and Victory Robo Black Version following shortly after (Victory Mars is still sadly outstanding). Super Mini-Pla Victory Robo was a retail release for the line, comprised of a total of five individual boxes - one for each of the five 99Machines.

Monday, 14 June 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Marvel Legends Carnage (Venompool Wave)

Marvel Legends Carnage (Venompool Wave) 01

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

There are so many characters in the Marvel Comics universe that Hasbro could probably get away with brand new ones for each and every release and still not run out, but with new collectors joining all the time of course you’re going to keep all of the favourites in circulation. The psychotic symbiote and Spider-Man villain Carnage is one such character, having previously graced the line in 2018 as part of the Monster Venom build-a-figure wave and now having returned two years later in the Venompool build-a-figure assortment. A slightly different take on the classic character to the previous release, this Marvel Legends Carnage has also seen a re-release in 2021 - perfect for helping to generate hype in the lead up to Carnage’s cinematic debut in the forthcoming Venom: Let There Be Carnage.

Friday, 11 June 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Saber Brave Dragon

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Saber Brave Dragon 01

Release Date:  February 2021
RRP: 3520 yen

In what’s basically become standard practice for Bandai Tamashii Nations now, every time a new Kamen Rider or Ultraman series starts the titular character will be released in the S.H. Figuarts line at a significantly lower cost, acting as an entry point/gateway drug for any new collectors looking to dip their toes in the long-running toy line. It’s a pretty clever tactic, because even the most thrifty of fans are going to struggle to pass up something like S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Saber Brave Dragon at the price of 3520 yen. The star of the second Reiwa era Kamen Rider series blazes into the S.H. Figuarts line with this reasonably priced release, quickly followed the month after by the more conventionally priced Kamen Rider Blades.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Bo-Katan Kryze

Star Wars Black Series Bo-Katan Kryze 01

Release Date: February 2021
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

One of the highlights of The Mandalorian season two for many Star Wars fans was how it helped bridge the gap even more between the live-action and animated sections of the franchise, with many core characters making their leap to live-action after years of development in the animated series. One such character was Bo-Katan Kryze, the Mandalorian and former Death Watch operative who defied both Maul and the Empire before being presented with the Darksaber in a bid to unite Mandalore once more. When she appears in The Mandalorian (played by her voice actor Katee Sackhoff), not only is she instrumental in teaching Din Djarin that the ways of Mandalore are more flexible that he was taught, but has lost the Darksaber at the hands of Moff Gideon. She has been a key character in the development of the Mandalorians for many years now, which is why a Black Series Bo-Katan Kryze figure is LONG overdue.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider: The Next

Kamen Rider: The Next

After retelling the origin story of double Riders Takeshi Hongo and Hayato Ichimonji in Kamen Rider: The First, Toei decided to push on with the story of this cinematic reboot - releasing Kamen Rider: The Next in 2007. The film was once again written by Toshiki Inoue, with both Masaya Kikawada and Hassei Takano reprising their roles as Hongo/Rider 1 and Ichimonji/Rider 2 respectively. This time around though the film was directed by Ryuta Tasaki, a regular to the world of tokusatsu who continues to direct episodes of both Kamen Rider and Super Sentai to this day. As well as continuing the story of the double Riders, The Next also brings Shiro Kazami aka Kamen Rider V3 into the mix - portrayed by actor Kazuki Kato (Daisuke Kazama/Kamen Rider Drake in Kamen Rider Kabuto, as well as Blue in the Sentai parody series Kanpai Senshi After V).

Friday, 4 June 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 1 (THE FIRST Ver.)

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 1 (THE FIRST Ver.) 01

Release Date: September 2010
RRP: 2750 yen

Back in early 2008 Bandai Tamashii Nations started up a brand new action figure range with the tag line of “simply style and heroic action”. That line was S.H. Figuarts, and 13 years later it’s evolved and expanded far beyond what collectors dreamed of at the time. And to think it all started with figures from Kamen Rider: The Next. However it wouldn’t be for another two years that the reimagined double Riders would be reissued in their Kamen Rider: The First looks. The release of S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 1 (THE FIRST Ver.) was a very different time for the line - one where preordering wasn’t such a mad rush, and the figures themselves were far more affordable.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider: The First

Kamen Rider: The First

The 50th anniversary celebration of the Kamen Rider franchise may have revealed that Hideaki Anno's Shin Kamen Rider will be releasing some time in 2023, but all the way back in 2005 there was another attempt at retelling the original 1971 series story in movie format. Kamen Rider: The First was written by Toshiki Inoue and directed by Takao Nagaishi, starring Masaya Kikawada (who would later play Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger's Master Red) and Hassei Takano (Kamen Rider Ryuki's Miyuki Tezuka/Kamen Rider Raia and Ultraman Gaia's Hiroya Fujimiya/Ultraman Agul) in the lead roles of Takeshi Hongo and Hayato Ichimonji respectively. The film was followed up by a sequel, Kamen Rider: The Next, in 2007 and currently remains one of the only pieces of Kamen Rider media released on home video in the US. Media Blasters released the film on DVD in 2007, although sadly the title is long since out of print.

Sunday, 30 May 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Asajj Ventress

Star Wars Black Series Asajj Ventress 01

Release Date: February 2021
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

Given that the Star Wars Black Series has been running since 2013, it's amazing that there are so many key characters from Star Wars: The Clone Wars that still don't have figures. But with the raised interest in the franchise's television output thanks to The Mandalorian as well as Hasbro doing a little reshuffle of their main 6" collector line, it seems this is finally being rectified. As well as a whole wave of special exclusive Clone Wars releases in themed packaging recently, the main range is getting in on it too - the long awaited Black Series Asajj Ventress is finally here. After being saved from slavery and becoming a Jedi Padawan only to see her Master murdered right in front of her, Ventress eventually ended up in the employment of Count Dooku as his personal assassin. After being betrayed by him as well, Ventress returned to her home on Dathomir to join Mother Talzin's Nightsisters before eventually going it alone as a bounty hunter. Her path would eventually lead her back to the Jedi Order, fighting alongside Quinlan Vos on a mission to assassinate Dooku before eventually meeting her death at the hands of her former master.

Friday, 28 May 2021

Special REVIEW: Kamen Rider Saber x Ghost

Kamen Rider Saber x Ghost

If you created two core entries in the Kamen Rider franchise and had the opportunity to bring them together in one crossover special, of course you'd take that chance. Following on from Yuya Takahashi colliding the worlds of Zero-One and Ex-Aid in Kamen Rider Genms -The Presidents-, Kamen Rider Saber head writer Takuro Fukuda now brings his works together in Kamen Rider Saber x Ghost. Released through the Toei Tokusatsu Fanclub, this (for now at the very least) one episode special also celebrates the fifth anniversary of Kamen Rider Ghost - with Shun Nishime returning to the role of Takeru Tenkuji for the first time since his guest appearance in 2018's Kamen Rider Zi-O.

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Dino Thunder Red Ranger

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Dino Thunder Red Ranger 01

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

With so many different teams and characters to choose from, one of the most exciting parts of new Power Rangers Lightning Collection reveals is when something from a previously untouched (by Hasbro at least) series is announced. The line began work on Power Rangers Dino Thunder with the exclusive White Ranger figure earlier in 2020, but it was with the announcement of the main line’s seventh way that work felt properly underway with the Lightning Collection Dino Thunder Red Ranger. Soccer player and student at Reefside High School, Connor McKnight bonded with the Red Dino Gem and leads the Dino Thunder Rangers - mentored by his teacher and Power Rangers alumni Dr. Tommy Oliver.