Thursday 18 April 2024

Toybox REVIEW: SJHU Project Shin Universe Robo

SJHU Project Shin Universe Robo 01

Release Date: January 2024
RRP: 21,000 yen

"There was an idea...The idea was to bring together a group of of remarkable people to see if they could become something more. To see if they could work together when we needed them to, to fight the battles that we never could." 
- Nick Fury, The Avengers

The Shin Japan Heroes Universe is a collaborative project between Toho, Studio Khara, Tsuburaya Productions and Toei that brings together the works of Hideaki Anno for all manner of merchandising and special events. During and following the production of his Rebuild of Evangelion film series, Anno went on to reimagine the tokusatsu juggernauts from his childhood in three critically acclaimed films - Shin Godzilla, Shin Ultraman and Shin Kamen Rider. As part of the project, Bandai unveiled one of most ambitious and bizarrest pieces of crossover merchandise you'll ever find. SJHU Project Shin Universe Robo - a Premium Bandai exclusive figure which takes Evangelion Unit 01, Godzilla, Ultraman and Kamen Rider and combines them in a classic style giant robot. As if the sheer insanity of the toy wasn't enough, further hype was built around the project with the production of a special web commercial directed by renowned special effects director Hiroshi Butsuda - showing off a full CG transformation sequence before showing off the robot in all its glory with a practical suit. Toys rarely get much stranger than this.

Tuesday 16 April 2024

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Geats: Jyamato Awaking

Kamen Rider Geats: Jyamato Awaking

If there's one important thing for a modern Kamen Rider fan to learn, it's that a series ending is never "the end". As finite as an ending may seem, between subsequent Winter crossover movie, V-Cinext releases and any other spin-off Toei might want to throw out in the not-too-distant future you can guarantee that all your favourite Riders will be back a good few times long after the final episode has aired. Kamen Rider Geats is no exception to this of course, with the stars of the Desire Grand Prix back once more for their first V-Cinext/epilogue outing in Kamen Rider Geats: Jyamato Awaking. Keeping things in-line with the show's continuity series head writer Yuya Takahashi returns once more to provide the story, with the film directed by tokusatsu veteran Koichi Sakamoto.

Sunday 14 April 2024

First Impressions: Shinkalion: Change the World

Shinkalion: Change the World

Proving that trains and giant robots continue to be a winning combination, the Shinkansen Robo Henkei Shinkalion franchise has returned for a third instalment in 2024 - but this time mixing things up a little bit. Not only does Shinkalion: Change the World appear to be starting afresh with a brand new continuity (ignoring the 2018-19 original series and its 2021-22 sequel Shinkalion Z), but it's also working with a slightly older cast. From a production standpoint things have slightly changed too, with Production I.G. and Signal.MD taking over animation duties from OLM. The first episode has also been made available worldwide via the official Shinkalion YouTube channel, albeit without subtitles.

Saturday 13 April 2024

Toybox REVIEW: MAFEX Endoskeleton (Terminator 2 Ver.)

MAFEX Endoskeleton (Terminator 2 Ver.) 01

Release Date: January 2024
RRP: 14080 yen

While the quality of the Terminator franchise certainly declined in later years, no one can deny the strength and impact those first two films had. The general consensus may lean toward Terminator 2: Judgment Day being the better of the pair (I personally prefer the first one), but both are very close to what should be considered 'perfect' films. Along with the strength of the cast, story and dialogue of the films, one aspect that's really stood the test of time is the robot designs and visual effects - with the T-800 Endoskeleton definitely earning a place among science-fiction's greatest. And now to go along with their various Arnie T-800 figures Medicom have released a fully skinless version in the form of the MAFEX Endoskeleton (Terminator 2 Ver.).

Wednesday 10 April 2024

Special REVIEW: Geats Extra: Kamen Rider Gazer

Geats Extra: Kamen Rider Gazer

With quite easily the most Kamen Riders introduced in a single series ever, Kamen Rider Geats certainly isn't going to run out of fodder for spin-off fodder any time soon. The Toei Tokusatsu Fanclub already got a good head start on ancillary material during the show's run, and it looks to be continuing on following its conclusion with the release of Geats Extra: Kamen Rider Gazer. This one-off special is the third major instalment in the Geats Extra series (following on from Kamen Rider PunkJack and Kamen Rider Tycoon meets Kamen Rider Shinobi), chronicling the origins of Niramu/Kamen Rider Gazer as well as acting as a prequel of sorts to the Kamen Rider Geats: Jyamato Awaking V-Cinext release.

Monday 8 April 2024

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Studio Series 86 Dinobot Snarl

Transformers Studio Series 86 Dinobot Snarl 01

Release Date: June 2023
RRP: $54.99/£55.99

Transformers: The Movie offered some of the greatest mysteries to the Transformers fandom. Which of the damaged Decepticons specifically turned into Scourge and Cyclonus? Whatever happened to Cyclonus' Armada? And perhaps the greatest of all - just where the hell was Snarl during the events of the film? Despite being seen alongside his fellow Dinobots for a handful of scenes, he's bizarrely absent for almost the entirety of the runtime despite the Dinobots being main characters in the story. While that mystery may never truly be solved, at the very least Hasbro haven't forgotten about him - with Studio Series 86 Dint Snarl being the next Leader Class release in the popular range of new toys based on the film.

Thursday 4 April 2024

Series REVIEW: GARO: Heir to Steel Armor

GARO: Heir to Steel Armor

In 2013 the GARO franchise took a surprising turn with the release of GARO: The One Who Shines in the Darkness – a series featuring a brand-new protagonist in the golden armour completely removed from previous entries. From there the story of Ryuga Dougai continued to grow, expanding into multiple series and films to truly become its own separate continuity. Ten years on from Ryuga's debut and GARO has marked the occasion with the next chapter in his story – GARO: Heir to Steel Armor (GARO: Hagane o Tsugu Mono). Heir to Steel Armor also marks the first time a live-action GARO series has been simulcast to worldwide audiences, releasing on the official GARO Youtube channel with English subtitles shortly after their Japanese broadcast.

Wednesday 3 April 2024

Anime REVIEW: Brave Bang Bravern!

Brave Bang Bravern!

Masami Ōbari is a name synonymous with mecha anime. TransformersDancougaGravionGundam - these are just some of the shows/franchises that the legendary artist and director has leant his talents too. So when it was announced that he would be working on a brand new show in 2024, excitement was naturally high. Combine that with a name like Brave Bang Bravern!, and minds will already be cast back to the super robot shows of old. Outside of Ōbari's name this 12-episode series seems to come from quite humble roots - animated by the relatively new CygamesPictures (Blade Runner Black Out 2022), a subsidiary of video game company Cygames.

Wednesday 27 March 2024

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series R5-D4

Star Wars Black Series R5-D4 01

Release Date: December 2023
RRP: $24.99/£24.99

Of all of the things to happen on The Mandalorian purely in the name of fan service, the droid that Luke Skywalker almost bought instead of R2-D2 becoming Din Djarin's personal astromech has to be one of the wildest. But that's exactly what happened in the show's third season, with R5-D4 finally leaving Tatooine after so many years (and several previous cameos on the show) to join the Mandalorian and Grogu on their adventures. His prominence on the show has naturally also resulted in a flurry of new figures, among them of course being a brand new Black Series R5-D4 release.

Wednesday 20 March 2024

Toybox REVIEW: MAFEX The Mandalorian Ver. 2.0

MAFEX The Mandalorian Ver. 2.0 01

Release Date: February 2024
RRP: 10780 yen

The six-inch Star Wars action figure market has become rather competitive in recent years, particularly when it comes to the most popular characters. While Hasbro will always rule to roost in terms of range with the Black Series, both Bandai's S.H. Figuarts and Medicom's MAFEX lines have become quite the rivals in regards to higher-end alternatives. Multiple seasons also mean multiple renditions of characters, and now Medicom are back with their MAFEX The Mandalorian Ver 2.0 figure. After their initial Mandalorian release back in 2021, this new version of Din Djarin takes inspiration from the second season of The Mandalorian with modifications, improvements and a tonne of new accessories.