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.