Sunday, 7 March 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Leopardon

Super Mini-Pla Leopardon 01

Release Date: August 2020
RRP: 4950 yen

Between the months of August and September 2020 Bandai went a little Spider-Man crazy, with a number of items celebrating the 1978 Toei series that many fans will agree were long overdue. While Tamashii Nations dealt with the release of an S.H. Figuarts Spider-Man and a reissue of their Soul of Chogokin Leopardon (complete with Spider Bracelet changer this time around), Bandai's candy toy department sought to bring the classic super robot to collectors in a more affordable way with Super Mini-Pla Leopardon. As already the home to so many Super Sentai robots it helped inspire, the Super Mini-Pla line was the perfect place for Leopardon with its emphasis on taking classic robot designs and updating them with modern articulation.

Friday, 5 March 2021

Series REVIEW: Mashin Sentai Kiramager

Mashin Sentai Kiramager

With both audience figures and toy sales seemingly dropping year after year the Super Sentai franchise is in a bit of an odd place right now, and that’s without even considering what Power Rangers forthcoming move toward a reboot universe means for the global sales of the IP. The last few years have seen the long-running franchise both try to slightly reinvent itself in fun new ways, and fall back and the tried and tested format of a dinosaur-themed show. Mashin Sentai Kiramager however felt much more like a back to basics approach. The 44th entry in the franchise kicked off with an Episode ZERO mini-movie, before airing in 2020-2021 alongside both Kamen Rider Zero-One and Kamen Rider Saber in the Super Hero Time line-up. The head writer was Naruhisa Arakawa, a tokusatsu veteran whose key works span Kamen Rider Kuuga, Abaranger, Dekaranger, Gokaiger and so much more.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Miniseries REVIEW: Rider Time: Kamen Rider Zi-O vs Decade -7 of Zi-O!

ider Time: Kamen Rider Zi-O VS Decade -7 of Zi-O!-

If there was one thing certain about Kamen Rider Zi-O, it’s that the ending was never going to last. You can take away the threat of Ohma Zi-O, but there was no way Tokiwa Sougo and co were going to retire to a peaceful highschool life. Slowly but surely the past has chipped away at this new universe, with Zi-O taking up his Ziku Driver once more in both Reiwa The First Generation and NEXT TIME: Geiz, Majesty. Now the Demon King of Time must face off against the Destroyer of Worlds once more, in Rider Time: Kamen Rider Zi-O vs Decade -7 of Zi-O!-. The fourth entry in the Rider Time spin-offs, Zi-O vs Decade was released via the Toei Tokusatsu Fan Club alongside Decade vs Zi-O. Both were written by Toshiki Inoue, and directed by Satoshi Morota.

Monday, 1 March 2021

Miniseries REVIEW: Rider Time: Kamen Rider Decade vs Zi-O -Decade’s Mansion Death Game-

Rider Time: Kamen Rider Decade vs Zi-O -Decade’s Mansion Death Game-

Kamen Rider Decade is a series that often seems to be met to mixed opinion, but if there’s one thing most people seem to agree on it’s how great Tsukasa Kadoya is. It’s clear just how much fun Mashiro Inoue playing him, and every time he returns it’s an absolute joy. His extended stint in Kamen Rider Zi-O was a particular highlight, especially as he returned with a brand new (recoloured) Driver and another decade’s worth of Kamen Rider powers. The rapport between the two Heisei era milestone Riders was so good that they’re back again for a pair of three-part Toei Tokusatsu Fan Club specials, kicking off with Rider Time: Kamen Rider Decade vs Zi-O -Decade’s Mansion Death Game-. As well as being the third instalment in the Rider Time series of spin-offs, this special sees the return of Yuusuke Onodera/AU Kamen Rider Kuuga - his first reappearance since Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider & Decade: Movie War 2010.

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Clone Commander Cody (Archive Release)

Star Wars Black Series Archive Clone Commander Cody 01

Release Date: 2015 (Original Release), January 2021 (Archive)
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

One of the least enjoyable things about toy collecting is seeing how much certain figures you're missing end up costing on the aftermarket. Since I only jumped into collecting the Star Wars Black Series line a few years ago naturally I had a lot of catching up to do, and as a Clone Wars fan Black Series Clone Commander Cody was near the top of my wish list. However with the figure now going for around four to five times its original value, purchasing him wasn't likely to happen any time soon. Clearly there were many other collectors that felt the same, because when Hasbro asked fans what they'd like to see in the next wave of Archive releases (a sub-series dedicated to re-releases of older figures), Obi-Wan Kenobi's clone commander in arms was a landslide winner.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Zordon & Alpha 5

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Zordon & Alpha 5 01

Release Date: August 2020
RRP: $29.99

With all seven of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers available through the Lightning Collection’s main range, one has to wonder where Hasbro will continue to go to keep the MMPR hype train going. Sure there’s plenty of other instalments in the Power Rangers franchise to draw inspiration from, but it’s always going to be MMPR that makes the big bucks. In recent months we’ve seen Hasbro turn their attention towards monsters with deluxe $30 figures, but on top of that fans were also treated to a Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Zordon & Alpha 5 set as a Walmart exclusive. Despite not receiving that many figures over the years no MMPR collection feels complete without the rangers’ wise mentor and his robotic assistant, so it’s great to see the line get to these characters so early in its lifespan.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Studio Series 86 Kup

Transformers Studio Series 86 Kup 01

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

There’s no better way to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Transformers: The Movie than with a whole line of figures based directly on it, featuring many of the brand new characters that would replace the original 1984-85 cast and go on to be the leads in subsequent seasons of the show. Among those characters is of course Kup, an old Autobot war veteran with plenty of war stories to keep the young un’s entertained (or not so much in Hot Rod’s case). Fun fact - he also happens to be my favourite Autobot in the whole franchise. I have a lot of love for the TakaraTomy Legends figure from 2017, but a more cartoon-accurate version directly referencing the movie? Studio Series 86 Kup was an instant preorder.

Sunday, 21 February 2021

First Impressions: Power Rangers Dino Fury

Power Rangers Dino Fury

With Hasbro now in full control of Power Rangers, the future of the franchise feels pretty uncertain from the perspective of a fan. We know that a new movie is on the way, along with a whole reboot universe being crafted by writer/director/producer Jonathan Entwistle (I Am Not Okay With This, The End of the F***ing World). An exciting prospect for sure, but how this will all take shape - as well as what it means for Power Rangers being an adaptation of Super Sentai, is all unclear. That's still all a fair way off in the future though, and after Power Rangers Beast Morphers ushered in a transition between Saban Brands and the toy giants it's time to see what they can really do with Power Rangers Dino Fury. Adapted from Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger and the fourth dinosaur-themed Power Rangers series, Dino Fury is the first to be produced by Entertainment One - which Hasbro also purchased in 2019.

Friday, 19 February 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Studio Series 86 Grimlock & Autobot Wheelie

Transformers Studio Series 86 Grimlock & Autobot Wheelie 01

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

The Studio Series range has been providing Transformers fans with fantastic representations of live-action movie characters for a good few years now, but there’s always been one film from the franchise that’s been off its radar. With 2021 marking the 35th anniversary of Transformers: The Movie, there’s no better time for Hasbro to unleash Studio Series 86 on the world. As a longtime fan of Transformers first big screen outing, a toy line truly dedicated to its cast is something both I and many other Transformers fans have dreamed of for some time. Sure there have been plenty of G1 figures and reimaginings over the years, but having them all in one place in an anniversary toy line is a very exciting prospect. Among this first wave of characters is Studio Series 86 Grimlock & Autobot Wheelie, the first Leader class figure to be released. The powerful but not so bright leader of the Dinobots is a prominent character in the film, making friends with the lost Autobot Wheelie and bringing him along on their mission to destroy Unicron.

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Toybox REVIEW: MAFEX Batman (Batman: Hush)

MAFEX Batman (Batman: Hush) 01

Release Date: July 2020
RRP: 7800 yen

If there’s one toy line that feels unrivalled when it comes to high-end comic-style superhero figures right now, it’s Medicom’s MAFEX line. Sure they don’t come cheap and long delays are often common, but when it comes to those perfect comic sculpts there’s no one quite like them. But as nice as they are, my previous experience with the MAFEX line has been mixed to say the least. Poor QC is something often on the tip of everyone’s tongues, and after having one figure have both wrist joints completely disintegrate 30 seconds out of the box (followed by months of exchanging emails with Medicom customer service in order to get replacement parts) certainly soured me on them somewhat. However so many of these figures just look so good it’s hard to say no, and MAFEX Batman (Batman: Hush) was just one I couldn’t pass up. Based on the caped crusader in the acclaimed 2002 story by Jeph Loeb (which was turned into an animated film in 2019), this is the first in the line’s range of Hush figures which has now gone on to include Superman, the Joker, Catwoman and of course Hush himself.