Tuesday 27 February 2024

Toybox REVIEW: ACT MODE Kirika Akatsuki

ACT MODE Kirika Akatsuki 01

Release Date: June 2023
RRP: 9500 yen

Between all the various toy lines and anime franchises Good Smile Company cover they don't go all-in on a specific property all that often, but whenever they do they certainly like to make it count. Years after the Figma range died before it really began, Symphogear finally got the love it deserved in the ACT MODE line. And not just content with releasing the original three girls of the franchise, Good Smile quickly followed up with the announcement of the rest of the cast to complete the lineup. ACT MODE Kirika Akatsuki is the fifth and penultimate character to be released in the line - bringing fans one step closer to completing the collection.

Friday 23 February 2024

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Wild Force Lunar Wolf Ranger

Lightning Collection Wild Force Lunar Wolf Ranger 01

Release Date: April 2022
RRP: $24.99/£24.99

When it comes to both Power Rangers and Super Sentai toys, logic tends to dictate that if a company is going to only release one member of a team it's going to be the Red Ranger. They are largely considered to be the mascot of the series, and it's certainly the route Bandai Tamashii Nations have taken with the revived S.H. Figuarts range. But to their credit Hasbro have bucked this trend quite a few time with the Lightning Collection, only only jumping between teams but also colours as well. Wave 10 saw the debut of Power Rangers Wild Force in the line, kicking things off with the Lightning Collection Wild Force Lunar Wolf Ranger. If you're not starting with the Red, then sixth is always a solid place to start as well.

Wednesday 21 February 2024

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Dino Fury Red Ranger

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Dino Fury Red Ranger 01

Release Date: April 2022
RRP: $24.99/£24.99

Despite an obvious bias towards the original series, all in all the Power Rangers Lightning Collection
has done a pretty good job of releasing rangers from a variety of different teams. While there are still plenty unaccounted for and lots of incomplete teams, it has at least covered a fair portion of the franchise one way or another over the past few years. But as important as looking back on the franchise's 30-year history may be, it's also important to look at the present – with the lines tenth retail wave including the Lightning Collection Dino Fury Red Ranger. As the (then) currently airing series as well as one of the first fully under Hasbro's leadership, Power Rangers Dino Fury marks a key point in the Power Rangers timeline and one definitely deserving of representation in the line.

Monday 19 February 2024

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Darth Vader (Obi-Wan Kenobi)

S.H. Figuarts Darth Vader (Obi-Wan Kenobi) 01

Release Date: November 2023
RRP: 9900 yen

Even amongst all of the Star Wars series that have been released on Disney+ over the past few years Obi-Wan Kenobi was particularly significant – bridging the gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope for the former Jedi Master. However the series was just as notable for the return of Darth Vader, who attempts to chase down Kenobi throughout the series before a final showdown with him on a barren moon. So of course the show prompted a whole range of new action figures (because what Star Wars product doesn't?), with Bandai Tamashii Nations joining in the fun with two new S.H. Figuarts releases of the iconic characters. S.H. Figuarts Darth Vader (Obi-Wan Kenobi) is their fourth rendition of the Sith Lord, following on from a Return of the Jedi version in 2015, a A New Hope version in 2018 and a second Return of the Jedi one in 2019.

Thursday 15 February 2024

Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider (1979) (Skyrider)

Kamen Rider (1979) (Skyrider)

Following the conclusion of Kamen Rider Stronger in 1975, the Kamen Rider franchise seemed to have come to its conclusion. However the success of anime series such as Space Battleship Yamato created a renewed interest in science-fiction and tokusatsu works across Japan, and together with re-runs of the original Kamen Rider series a new boom for the franchise had begun. It wasn't long before producer Tohru Hirayama was put in charge of a brand new instalment, originally intended to be a revival of the original. Kamen Rider (1979) began airing in October 1979 and ran through to the following October, for a total of 54 episodes. To avoid confusion with the original series (as well as the fact it would eventually diverge from being just a revival), it is also known by the names New Kamen Rider and, perhaps best of all, Skyrider.

Wednesday 31 January 2024

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Absolute Diavolo

Release Date: November 2023
RRP: 9350 yen

Although the epic conclusion to the fight between The Kingdom and the Land of Light is still yet to be told, Tsuburaya Productions aren't going to let Ultraman fans forget about the story they're weaving in Ultra Galaxy Fight any time soon. The same can also be said for Bandai Tamashii Nations, who quickly followed up the release of S.H. Figuarts Absolute Tartarus with a second Absolutian to join the fight against the Ultras. S.H. Figuarts Absolute Diavolo is a Tamashii web exclusive release and key player in the Ultra Galaxy Fight story - having a historic rivalry with Ultraman Regulos and as well as battling Ultraman Trigger in a bid to obtain the Eternity Core.

Monday 29 January 2024

Series REVIEW: Ultraman Blazar

Ultraman Blazar

After 25th anniversary celebrations of both Ultraman Tiga and Ultraman Dyna in the form of Ultraman Trigger: New Generation Tiga and Ultraman Decker, it was fair to assume that Ultraman Gaia would receive similar treatment for the Ultraman series in 2023. However Tsuburaya Productions aren't always that predictable, and after director Kiyotaka Taguchi (Ultraman X, Ultraman Orb, Ultraman Z) decided that replicating a show as good as Gaia was a near-impossible task, he instead sought to create a brand new series from the ground up. That series was Ultraman Blazar, the 35th entry in the Ultra Series and fifth to be produced in the Reiwa era. As has been the case for the last few years Blazar was simulcast worldwide via the official Ultraman YouTube channel, but this time TsuPro went one step further. In addition to simulcast subtitles in a variety of languages, English (starring Power Rangers alumni Johnny Yong Bosch in the lead role), Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Taiwanese Mandarin, Thai, Indonesian, Malay and Hindi were also produced and released at the same time. When Tsuburaya said they wanted to bring Ultraman to the world more than ever before, they really meant it.

Wednesday 24 January 2024

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Pre Vizsla

Star Wars Black Series Pre Vizsla 01

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

If there's one thing that can be guaranteed about this era of Star Wars it's that Mandalorians won't be going away any time soon, and when it comes to action figures the more Mandalorian variants the better as far as Hasbro are concerned. Thankfully they've got plenty of instalments across the Star Wars galaxy to pull from, with certain characters long overdue immortalisation in the current collector lines. Black Series Pre Vizsla is one such example, being a key player in Star Wars: The Clone Wars whose involvement set so much in motion that's still in play today. Death Watch, Bo-Katan, Darth Maul's rule of Mandalore, the Darksaber...it all started here.

Monday 22 January 2024

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Blazar

S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Blazar 01

Release Date: November 2023
RRP: 7150 yen

For the last few years both Ultraman and Kamen Rider fans have been able to enjoy the newest (titular) S.H. Figuarts releases at a lower price than what Bandai Tamashii Nations usually demand, meant to act as a sort of "gateway" entry to a new range and entice collectors to pick up more. Sure said releases are usually missing key accessories that end up getting packed in with other releases, but if you were planning to pick up more than one character anyway it's not a bad money saving opportunity. However those days might just be coming to an end though, with both the latest entries from both franchises bucking that trend. With the forthcoming Kamen Rider Gotchard it's likely due to that chrome finish, but with S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Blazar it's a little less obvious. One of the last Ultraman releases for 2023, this retail release is more along the lines of your average S.H. Figuarts purchase. Is there enough here to justify that? Let's find out!

Sunday 21 January 2024

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider No. 0

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider No. 0 01

Release Date: October 2023
RRP: 8250 yen

Although Shin Kamen Rider stayed fairly true to the original 1971 series in a lot of ways, there were also some key areas where it diverged quite significantly - the main one being the portrayal of SHOCKER. Rather than a secret terrorist organisation bent on world domination, the Sustainable Happiness Organization with Computational Knowledge Embedded Remodeling (or SHOCKER for short) is a cult-like organisation that has vowed to "lead all mankind to happiness". Another major difference was the  identity of the film's main villain - Ichiro Midorikawa, the son of Doctor Midorikawa (and brother to Ruriko), who was transformed into Chou Augment-01 by SHOCKER. Planning to exact his version of SHOCKER's goal through the Habitat Project, at the end of the film he assumes the identity of Kamen Rider No.0 to battle against the Double Riders. S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider No.0 is the fourth release in the Shin Kamen Rider range - following on from Kamen Rider 1 and Kamen Rider 2 as well as the Cyclone motorcycle. As per everything else in the range past Rider 1, the figure is a Tamashii web exclusive.