Monday 29 October 2012

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider x Super Sentai: Super Hero Taisen

It finally happened. After 40 years of Kamen Rider and 35 years of Super Sentai, with only a few fleeting crossovers in between, the two franchises have collided for one big movie event.  The film was released cinematically back in April, and heavily promoted between the two currently airing shows Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters and Kamen Rider Fourze. It also saw the return of the casts of both Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger and Kamen Rider Decade, two series which shared very similar motifs.

The film sees Captain Marvelous/Gokai Red taking control of the DaiZangyack fleet, a crew made up of previous villains in the Super Sentai franchise. In order to seek out the ultimate treasure, Gokai Red has proclaimed war on the Kamen Riders and vowed to eliminate them all. On the other side, Tsukasa Kadoya/Kamen Rider Decade has once again taken his place at the head of DaiShocker, and in turn plans to destroy all of the Super Sentai. As the legendary seven Riders, the Gorangers and many more fall at the hands of both Gokai Red and Decade, the two's former friends wonder what has happened to the heroes they once knew and why the Super Sentai and Kamen Riders have suddenly turned on each other.

Marvelous is back as the leader of the Zangyack...

Of course, in true crossover style the hostilities don't last very long and the climax of the film sees an army of Super Sentai and Kamen Riders take on the enemies of their previous franchises in an all-out costume clad battle.

As is Tsukasa with DaiShocker, looking even sillier than ever.

So with all the hype surrounding Super Hero Taisen, the question that has been on the tongues of many for a good while is whether the film is any good? And at last the answer can safely be said that "no, it really isn't." The opening scene sees Gokai Red single-handedly take out the seven legendary riders (that's Riders 1, 2, V3, Riderman, X, Amazon and Stronger) in under two minutes, which already gives you an idea of how unbalanced some of these battles are. What follows is Gokai Red struggling against Fourze, and then Decade struggling against the Go-Busters. While the Gokaigers (well, Marvelous, Joe and Don anyway) and Decade (along with Kaito and Hina from OOO who decided to tag along) are at the forefront of the film, it often doesn't really know what it should be advertising itself as. Sometimes its a Gokaiger/Decade movie, others it feels like a Fourze/Go-Busters movie, and then an extremely pointless scene involving the Den Liner is thrown in just to remind you that Kamen Rider Den-O is still around.

The source of most of this film's angst

Next comes just how out of character some of the cast are in comparison to their depictions in their respective series, and that's ignoring Gokai Red's sudden turn to evil (Decade has done it before, so that's a little more bearable). The worst offender is Joe Gibken/Gokai Blue, who's gone from being the mostly calm/collected pirate he was into an emotional mess who would have been useless had Don or Hina not be around. The comes Diend's sudden turn to villainy at the very end of the film, which would be fine had he done it for his usual reasons of "treasure" and not "Decade pretended not to be friends with me so I'm going to throw a hissy fit".

Oh, and we still have no idea who or what the hell Narutaki is.

So many colours!

But getting past the obvious plot holes and the fact that a large portion of the film is flat out boring, the are some pretty good moments. The battles between Gokai Red and Kamen Rider Decade have some nice choreography, and are well thought out too (Space Ace vs. Blade Battle Japan vs. Hibiki changes). Then later on, the all rider/all sentai battles have some great moments, with characters like Kamen Rider Black and Shadow Moon receiving little character moments in the dialogue and riders and sentai teaming up corresponding to their respective years. The Gokaigers finally use the long teased OOO keys...and then use them to fire a Gokai Galleon buster. On the humour side of things, we have Yoko calling the Shocker grunts dated and Tsukasa calling the Goseigers boring.


The big CGI centrepiece of the film sees Go-BusterOh face off against the DaiShocker/Zangyack alliance's "Big Machine" (a combination of the Gigant Horse and the Crisis Fortress), with Fourze piloting in the place of Yellow Buster and using the Super Drill and Rocket switches. It works well as a flashy action sequence, and breathes life into the usually lacklustre Go-BusterOh.

Go-BusterOh: Now with added rocket drills

What you'll get out of Super Hero Taisen is honestly going to depend on what you go into watching it looking for. If you're expecting a coherent plot, people to actually stay in character and a reasonable premise and resolution, you're going to be sorely disappointed. If however you go in looking forward to a bit of fun, great fight sequences, cameos, hilarious Tsukasa hair/make-up and the chance to finally see your favourites from both franchises on screen together then the film might not feel like a complete waste of 90 minutes.

Admittedly it isn't the worst crossover film we could have got, but its far from the best either.

Monday 22 October 2012

Toybox REVIEW: Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters mini-pla FS-0O Frog

After a disappointing no-show in terms of movie exclusive minipla mecha last year (I'm still disappointed there was no Variblume Gokai machine), Bandai have returned to form with the exclusive Buster machine that appeared in this summer's Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters movie "Protect the Enetron Tower". The mecha is FS-0O Frog, which can transform from frog mode to submarine mode and is piloted by the tiny Buddyroid Ene-tan (who is also the only female Buddyroid). The frog can also replace RH-03 Rabbit in the Go-BusterOh combo to form Go-Buster Kero-Oh!

As a single box minipla model, FS-0O is simple to build even for minipla standards. The figure has a minimal amount of stickers to apply, which are mostly silver detailing aside from the frog eyes and Go-Buster KeroOh face. The three tadpole missiles stored in the top section are removable, and can be fitted in a slot revealed by opening the frog mouth. Articulation-wise as well as the frog mouth each foot is hinged, while the top turret section and turbines can rotate 360 degrees. As was the case with CB-01, GT-02 and RH-03, a miniature Ene-tan in included which fits behind the frog head.

While frog mode looks pretty good, there isn't really a lot to say about the submarine mode. Mostly because there really isn't much to it. The front legs and back feet simply flip to the side, and the pole piece stored on the bottom of the figure is inserted vertically. That's really all there is to it.

Finally we have Go-Buster KeroOh, which is formed by swapping out all the rabbit pieces on Go-BusterOh. I wasn't a huge fan of the Go-BusterOh combination, and its no surprise that many of the flaws carry over to this version (of no fault of this kit). While I do like the unique look of the robot's arm and the sheer ridiculousness of its face (how can you say no to a giant scuba diving robot?), the green doesn't mix quite as well with red and blue as the yellow did making an even more garish mess of colour.

FS-0O Frog isn't a spectacular figure, but neither is it a terrible one. For a one box kit and a one off appearance mecha (at the time of writing it shows no sign of appearing in the Go-Busters series), its a perfectly good toy, and adds nicely to the weird menagerie of animals already in the line. One for completists undoubtedly, but in a series with no green ranger its hardly going to look amiss on a display shelf.

Paint gone wrong.

Monday 15 October 2012

Mega Bloks Power Rangers Super Samurai Battle Damaged Gold Ranger, Mega Mode Blue Ranger & Mystery Figure


Rounding off wave 2 of the Super Samurai Mega Bloks blind bags are these three guys, two of which are common and the other the super secret rare "we don't even tell you what it is on the flyer" figure.

First up we have the battle damaged Gold Ranger figure, which is essentially a scuffed up version of the first wave's Gold figure. The sash is messed up as well as the black marks all over the figure, and quality seems pretty good overall. He comes packaged with his barracuda blade once again.

Secondly there's the Mega Mode Blue Ranger figure, who like his Mega Mode wave mates comes with a jointed Mega Blade weapon (Pink is feeling pretty left out right now). Its a reasonably good figure, but the weakest of the three types of blue rangers included in these bags thus far.

Finally comes the "mystery figure", who is in fact a solid red version of the Super Mega Mode Red Ranger and not the standard Mega Mode like I'd said in an earlier post. I still hold that its a pretty underwhelming mystery figure and looks like some sort of prototype, but in hand I found it does have some noveltly/unique value to it and is currently the only Super Mega Mode in the blind bags.

So that's wave two over and done with. It seems unlikely there'll be a wave three since nothing has been heard about it yet (and Samurai is on the way out), but if it does come I'd like to think it'll feature a more interesting range of characters. So far we've had 4 types of Red, 3 Blues, 2 Greens, 2 Gold, 1 Yellow and 1 Pink. At the very least I hope they manage to sneak some sort of morphed Yellow minifigure into the mix.

Saturday 13 October 2012

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Red Buster

After so many recent Super Sentai Figuarts being Akibaranger related, it feels strange to suddenly move back to one that doesn't have anything to do with it. But here were have S.H. Figuarts Red Buster, star of the current and 36th Super Sentai series Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters. Love it or hate it, the Go-Busters show hasn't had much luck in the ratings department and so is currently in the middle of re-tooling as it moves into its final 20 episodes. Perhaps as a result of this, Red Buster is currently the only mass release Go-Buster Figuart, with Blue Buster, Yellow Buster and the three Buddyroids all Tamashii Web Exclusives (although Usada Lettuce is packed with Yellow Buster). A lot is riding on Red Buster, because if he isn't up to scratch shelling out for four or more web exclusives is going to be a pretty bitter pill to swallow.

Straight away you'll notice that the box is far busier than your average Figuart fact you can only see half the figure! In the corner is a stylised image of the figure, and covering the legs is an eye catching foil red glasses logo. The back of the box is equally busy, with multiple pictures of Red Buster, flanked by green and white text, translucent background images and a big "BUSTERS READY GO!" banner.

While Figuarts sculpts usually don't cause many complaints, Red Buster unfortunately has several flaws. Before you even take him out of the box you can notice the biggest one - the shoulders, which hang down as if Hiromu had both his shoulders dislocated before being shoved in a box. Due to the way the body has been designed to incorporate the straps, the arms are incapable of pointing straight down or forwards. The waist joints also have seemingly no range of motion whatsoever.

Much like how Bouken Red settled for solid red joints, Red Buster's elbows have black joints since (for whatever reason) red/silver ones were too difficult. This may put off a lot of people, but compared to the shoulder problem is feels fairly minuscule. I can't argue that there are details missing, but there's something about the overall finish of the figure which makes it look much more toy-like than his predecessors. One plus I will give the figure though is that the ankles are excellent.

I mentioned in my Bouken Red review that the hands were surprisingly fiddly, given that Figuarts hand swapping is so seamless. Unfortunately, Red Buster is even worse. The hands just don't want to connect easily, and applying the necessary force is even harder on the left hand where there's a tiny Morphin Brace to worry about.

Red Buster is also extremely lacking in the accessory department. In total he comes with 8 hands (closed fists, 2 pairs of gripping hands and a pair of open hands), the Sougan Blade, the Ichigan Buster and Ichigan Buster Special Mode. While these are arguably the main things Red Buster should have come with, there are so many missed opportunities I can think of off the top of my head. There's no sign of the Sougan Blade in binoculars mode or the Ichigan Buster in camera mode, and on a more wishful thinking note - a swappable  folded out Morphin Brace (after all, Bandai seem to love tiny accessories) or glasses-less helmet could have been included. When you remember that this guy cost the same amount as Bouken Red, Deka Red and Red Hawk, all of whom were very well stocked, its just another strike against his name.

Red Buster is still a step above most American figures, but in comparison to other Figuarts he comes as a real disappointment. Whether it been the flawed sculpt or lack of accessories, you can't help but feel that it could have been better. With low expectations for Blue and Yellow Buster, fingers crossed that Bandai step up their game for the as-yet-unannounced Beet and Stag Busters.