Saturday 31 January 2015

First Impressions: Power Rangers Dino Charge

Power Rangers Dino Charge

While in terms of exposure the Power Rangers franchise has returned with full force since returning to Saban Brands in 2010, it's popularity with long-term fans hasn't been in the best of conditions. The target demographic seem to be enjoying it (which is arguably the most important thing), but poor direction, acting, watered down Super Sentai plots and a pretty abysmal 20th anniversary series have prevented it from winning its oder fanbase. But with Judd "Chip" Lynn returning for 2015's Power Rangers Dino Charge, hype has been at an all-time high. With Lynn behind Power Rangers in Space and the tail end of RPM - two series that vastly differed from their Sentai counterparts, many hoped that this signalled a return to the originality that was severely lacking from both Samurai and Megaforce.  Nickelodeon have now made the first episode available online ahead of it's television premiere, so at long last we can now see if this is the Power Rangers series we've been waiting for.

Wednesday 28 January 2015

Toybox REVIEW: Nendoroid Hana Mutou

Nendoroid Hana Mutou from Captain Earth

Captain Earth probably didn't have quite the impact Bones had hoped that it would, but that doesn't mean it didn't have some pretty great moments. Its beautiful mecha designs were squandered with fleeting action sequences, but in its stead came some really memorable characters that received some nice development. So when my favourite of the Midsummer's Knights - Hana Mutou, was announced for Good Smile Company's Nendoroid line it's fair to say I was pretty excited. "Waifu" isn't a term I like to use often (Gurren Lagann's Nia and Kill la Kill's Satsuki notwithstanding), but the Flare Engine pilot and component of the mysterious Blume spaceship is definitely someone I'll make an exception for...

Saturday 24 January 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Duke Lemon Energy Arms

SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Duke

2014 had a lot of great S.H. Figuarts releases, but it was undoubtedly the year of Kamen Rider Gaim. Not just because it was the current Rider show for most of the year, but also because Bandai Tamashii Nations were able to put out a whopping THIRTEEN different Gaim figures in the space of only eight months. There's still plenty more to go, but the flow of releases has thinned somewhat with only three currently confirmed for 2015. But rather than focus on that, let's take a look at the final Gaim figure released last year - Kamen Rider Duke, aka Professor Ryoma Sengoku - inventor of the series' Drivers and all round mad scientist. Kamen Rider Duke was a Tamashii web exclusive release in December, and the second of the four "main" New Generation Riders to join the Figurarts line.

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Toybox REVIEW: DC Collectibles New 52 Huntress & Power Girl Set

DC Collectibles Huntress & Power Girl 2-pack

It's not an area of discussion that comes up on this blog very often, but I like to consider myself a pretty big Western comics fan. I've got love and time for both Marvel and DC, but if I had to pick a side it'd most likely be with DC Comics - they're the ones with my favourite heroes and the company I regularly buy comics from. With the advent of the New 52 a few years back I've bought a select few titles every month - one of which was World's Finest starring Huntress and Power Girl - the Robin and Supergirl of Earth 2 trapped on a parallel world (which also happens to be the "main" DC universe).

The comic ended its run starring those characters in August 2014, with the title itself facing cancellation in May. Elsewhere, DC Collectibles have produced a rather spiffy two-pack figure set of Huntress and Power Girl which I just couldn't say no to.

Tuesday 20 January 2015

First Impressions: Yatterman Night

Besides being a ridiculously fun fighting game, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom for the Nintendo Wii opened my eyes to a whole load of classic anime franchises from the legendary studio Tatsunoko. And in recent years, a lot of them have had new lives breathed into them with brand new interpretations - in 2008 there was the utterly fantastic Casshern Sins, and then in 2013 came the more mixed Gatchaman Crowds. In 2015, it's Yatterman's turn. Created in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Time Bokan franchise (of which Yatterman was the second instalment of), Yatterman Night (or Yoru no Yatterman as its known in Japan) looks to equally turn the classic 1970s series completely on its head.

Monday 19 January 2015

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who Dalek Collector Set #2 (Dalek Invasion of Earth)

Dalek Collector Set #2 - Dalek Invasion of Earth

In the late 80s through to the 90s and early 00s, Doctor Who toys were produced by a company by the name of Dapol. They drew criticism for some easily avoidable inaccuracies (a six-sided TARDIS console, two-handed Davros and green K-9 - although the latter two were fixed in later rereleases), but released the widest spectrum of Who figures until Character Options took over with the relaunch of the series. One thing Dapol were particularly good at was milking their Dalek mould - in addition to the usual colour schemes they produced red, green, blue and even glittery versions over the years. Imagination certainly wasn't something they were short of.

This short history seems especially appropriate when talking about the second of Character's new range of Toys R Us exclusive 3.75" Dalek Collector sets, as it's the first the company have produced where they show a similar amount of imagination. Admittedly it has a bit more sense to it than Dapol's - taking inspiration from the iconic 1964 story The Dalek Invasion of Earth, but it's still very excited territory for them.

Saturday 17 January 2015

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who Dalek Collector Set #1 (Children of the Revolution)

Dalek Collector Set #1 - Children of the Revolution

Despite a rather mixed reception toward Character Options' no-longer-particularly-new 3.75" scale Doctor Who figures, it's an almost universally agreed fact that the Dalek figures are the best on offer. With the more recent waves having now dived into the realm of classic-era Daleks, its no surprise that a series of two-figure collector's sets were soon put into production and released as Toys R Us exclusives. Some of these proved to be more imaginative than the usual "... of the Daleks" sets released in the older scale, featuring Daleks that haven't even appeared onscreen in the television show! The first of these three sets is based on Children of the Revolution, a Doctor Who Magazine/Panini Books comic strip featuring the Eighth Doctor in world populated by human-factor Daleks that escaped the aftermath of 1967 story The Evil of the Daleks. This is the second time Character have paid homage to the story, the first being the Eighth Doctor/Dalek Alpha set released at the end of 2013.

Thursday 15 January 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Luigi

S.H. Figuarts Luigi

It's time to warm up that second player controller as Luigi joins Mario in the S.H. Figuarts line! After the roaring success of the Mushroom Kingdom's number one plumber it's no surprise that his more cowardly brother is following soon after, proving that Bandai's release of Nintendo's poster child was anything but a one-off thing. The year of Luigi may be well behind us now, but with the genius of Mario Kart 8's "Luigi death stare" still fresh in everyone's minds the lean green plumbing machine certainly won't be going back into his brother's shadow any time soon. Luigi number one!

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Toybox REVIEW: 66 Action Kamen Riders Wave 4

66action Kamen Riders Wave 4

Bandai's brilliant 66 Action line has now stretched out into the likes of the No More anti-piracy campaign, Dragon Ball Z and (soon) Ultraman, but it probably wouldn't be where it is today without the success of the Kamen Rider figures it pumped out through the course of 2014. Rounding things off in December last year was wave four of the popular range of 66mm candy toys, adding Kamen Rider Drive Type Speed, Kamen Rider Gaim Kachidoki Arms, Kamen Rider Wizard Flame Style and Kamen Rider Faiz to the mix. That's a total of three new Riders to add to the ever growing collection, and yet another form for the lead Rider of 2013-2014.  

Tuesday 13 January 2015

First Impressions: The Idolm@ster: Cinderella Girls

The Idolm@ster: Cinderella Girls

The original Idolm@ster anime was something of a surprise hit with me. Lured in only by screen caps I'd seen of the series without any prior knowledge of it or the video game series it was based off, I ended up falling in love with it's great characters and story of aiming for the top. So when a spinoff series named The Idolm@ster: Cinderella Girls (again, based off of the game of the same name) was announced for the Winder 2015 anime season, it certainly piqued my interest. Once again animated by A-1 Pictures, this series is set apart from the original and focuses on a brand new set of girls and their journey to become Japan's newest idol troupe.

Monday 12 January 2015

First Impressions: Durarara!!x2 Shou

Durarara!!x2 Shou

Can you believe its been FIVE years since the first season of Durarara!! first aired? There's nothing quite like linking back to an older review and realising how much your writing style has changed to make something feel old. But enough about my writing habits - Durarara!! (or DRRR!! as it's often abbreviated to) has indeed returned, in what's arguably been one of the longest-awaited and hotly-anticipated anime sequels in recent years. With Brain's Base relinquishing animation duties, the task of bringing Durarara!!x2 Shou to life has been passed on to Studio Shuka - a brand new studio made up of several staff members behind the original series. When an anime sequel gets an entirely new studio behind it to make it happen, that's certainly a pretty big deal.

Sunday 11 January 2015

Movie REVIEW: Kikaider REBOOT

Kikaider REBOOT

While not every classic tokusatsu hero has proved to have the staying power of Kamen Rider or Super Sentai, one way or another many of them have been revived over the last few years. The Metal Heroes' Space Sheriffs received continuation in the form of a new movie and a handful of v-cinema spin-offs, while the likes of Inazuman, Space Ironmen Kyodain, Azumaizer-3 and La Belle Fille Masquée Poitrine have all found new life in recent Kamen Rider movie outings. But other than a quick cameo in OOO, Den-O, All Riders: Let's Go Kamen Riders, Kikaider and company haven't had a live-action project since 1995's Mechanical Violator Hakaider. This all changed in 2014, with the arrival of Kikaider REBOOT - a brand new cinematic reboot of the popular Shotaro Ishinomori hero. It's clear that the character's popularity hasn't wavered in Hawaii either, with Generation Kikaida officially releasing the movie on DVD in the US shortly after its home video release in Japan. So make no mistake, Kikaider is still a big deal.

Saturday 10 January 2015

Anime REVIEW: The Boy with the Guitar: Kikaider vs. Inazuman

The Boy with the Guitar: Kikaider vs. Inazuman

Following his time on the Android Kikaider live-action series, lead actor Daisuke Ban immediately went on to star in another superhero creation of Shotaro Ishinomori - the moth-like energy mutant Inazuman. Like Kikaider, Inazuman also had its own accompanying manga series with notably differed from the its live-action counterpart - in this case even featuring a different protagonist and design for the hero. While the two never properly crossed over in live-action, an issue of the Inazuman manga saw the heroes cross paths. This issue was then adapted as part of the Kikaider anime series in 2003, becoming the one-off special The Boy with the Guitar: Kikaider vs. Inazuman.

Thursday 8 January 2015

First Impressions: Kantai Collection

Kantai Collection

Kantai Collection is arguably one of the most popular franchises in Japan right now, but there's probably a fair portion of the Western anime fanbase out there who've either never heard of it or simply know it as "the boat girl" thing. Starting with humble origins as a turn-based freemium game by Kadakowa, KanColle has since massed manga, light novels, drama CDs, figures and of course - even more games! But 2015 is the year the franchise has branched out into a fully fledged anime, courtesy of Diomedéa - the studio behind Shiryaku! Ika Musume. Airing worldwide on online streaming site Crunchyroll, it's time for Kantai Collection to set its sights on global domination.

Wednesday 7 January 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Baron Lemon Energy Arms

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Baron Lemon Energy Arms

Every year Bandai holds a Tamashii Nations event where they showcase the latest figures from the brand, from S.H. Figuarts to Chogokins, Robot Damashiis and more. But as well as showing off forthcoming releases (or in Bandai's case - simply teasing things that may never get released at all), these shows are also an opportunity for some limited edition event exclusives. Previous Figuarts exclusives have included Kamen Rider Joker and Kamen Rider Den-O Super Climax Form, but 2014 was the year of S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Baron Lemon Energy Arms. Making Kaito Kumon's mid-season upgrade from Kamen Rider Gaim came as a surprise to fans, as many were sure such a prominent suit would simply get the web exclusive treatment.

But no batted an eyelid, because usually these exclusives are later offered as usual on the Tamashii webshop. However unfortunately this year the exclusives were only made available later via lottery, causing a scramble to get these figures while you could and a speedy hike in value. If you already have one consider yourself lucky. If not, I am saddened for your wallet's loss...

Monday 5 January 2015

Anime REVIEW: Ai Tenchi Muyo!

Tenchi Muyo! has become somewhat of a relic to 90s anime fans, particularly those in the West who were treated to the often-horrendously censored version that broadcast on Cartoon Network's Toonami block during its heyday. But since the franchise has fallen into something of a slump, with no mainline instalment since 2003-05 and a number of spin off's that have been met to mixed reception (2002's Tenchi Muyo! GXP, 2009's Saint Knight's Tale aka War on Geminar and 2005's Sasami: Magical Girls Club - the latter of which is completely unrelated to the Tenchi timeline). That is until now, as AIC have breathed new life into the show with Ai Tenchi Muyo!  - a series of 50 (plus 10 recaps) 3-5 minute episodes created to promote tourism in the city of Takahashi in Okayama.  It seems like a bizarre concept for something like Tenchi which draws most of its plot from outer space, but it certainly beats no new Tenchi at all.

Sunday 4 January 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Bujin Gaim Blood Orange Arms

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Bujin Gaim Blood Orange Arms

While it's true that most S.H. Figuarts deemed not worthy enough for mass retail end up on Bandai's own Tamashii Webshop, sometimes there are characters minor enough to go elsewhere for their release - a website that goes by the name of Unfortunately, this is also a place many fans have said exclusives go to die, with afterthoughts like the ZERO Kamen Rider Fourze Zodiarts ending up on there to minimal fanfare. However every so often you'll get a gem among these limited exclusives, and the latest release is Kamen Rider Bujin Gaim Blood Orange Arms. The main villain from the movie Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider Gaim & Wizard: The Fateful Sengoku Movie Battle, this November 2014 release is just further proof that Bandai really are dedicated to giving fans as much Gaim as they possibly can while interest is still high.

Friday 2 January 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Gaim Kiwami Arms

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Gaim Kiwami Arms

2014 may be over but I still have a fair few figures from last year to review, thanks to combination of late December release dates and the eternal wonder that is slow Christmas post. So going back to the tail end of November we had the release of S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Gaim Kiwami Arms, the final form of the titular Rider and what is likely to be the final mass release Kamen Rider Gaim Figuart. There are only a handful of riders left to go now, and Bandai Tamashii Nations are now beginning to turn their attention towards Kamen Rider Drive. Together with the three forms of Black RX, this has been my first foray into buying multiple forms of the same Rider - something I hopefully don't plan to repeat any time soon (for budgetary reasons more than anything else) but couldn't resist for what has quickly become mine (and many others') favourite Kamen Rider series.

Thursday 1 January 2015

Happy New Year 2015!


It isn't very often I take a break from the non-stop reviewing to do a more editorial style blog entry, but the start of a brand new year seemed like a good time to make a few changes around here. I've been doing My Shiny Toy Robots now for six years now, with the last two or three in particular seeing the site really rise in terms of productivity and viewership. So to start this (hopefully) very brief post I'd like to thank everyone who's taken a look at this blog at some point (even if it was just one review!) and hope that you'll stick around this year and beyond for what I have in store for the place.