Wednesday 29 April 2015

Movie REVIEW: The Idolm@ster Movie: Beyond the Brilliant Future!

The Idolm@ster Movie: Beyond the Brilliant Future!

Idols, idols, idols. Whether it's music, television, films or video games you can't get away from them when it comes to Japan. And anime is absolutely no exception, going all the way back to the 80s with the likes of Macross or Magical Angel Creamy Mami. These days among the plethora of idol-based anime available there are arguably two franchises that constantly battle it out of the top spot - ASCII Media Works' Love Live and Namco Bandai's The Idolm@ster. While personally I couldn't tell you the first thing about Love Live outside of the fact it's popular, The Idolm@ster has gone on to become quite a favourite of mine after the 2011 series took me completely by surprise. These days A-1 Pictures have moved on with a series covering the Cinderella Girls spin-off game, at the beginning of 2014 they brought the original cast back for a feature length film entitled The Idolm@ster Movie: Beyond the Brilliant Future! (or Kagayaki no Mukōgawa e!). Time to dust off those glow sticks and cheer for the girls of 765 Production all once again.

Friday 24 April 2015

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Masterpiece MP-24 Star Saber

Six years ago I started this blog with the aim of reviewing my then-ever growing Transformers collection. However thanks to a variety of circumstances (raised prices, difficulty finding the figures I wanted in the UK, Hasbro’s increasing focus on the movie franchise) my collection diverted away from transforming robots and into the world of mecha and tokusatsu heroes. My love for the Transformers franchise never went away though, and I continued the then-airing Transformers Prime along with catching Dark of the Moon and Age of Extinction in cinemas (both of which I thought were awful, but that’s another topic altogether). I keep an eye on what’s going on with the toy line though, and right now it seems to be in a pretty great state. Almost makes me want to return to what was once one of my biggest fandoms, but I guess you can’t collect everything.

Masterpiece Star Saber however was a figure I could not pass up. The Autobot (or Cybertron in Japan) Supreme Commander from the 1989 series Transformers Victory, Star Saber managed to receive the prestigious Masterpiece line treatment from TakaraTomy after winning the “Fan’s Choice” poll in 2013. The 24th figure in the line, he is the first in that does not hail from the main Generation One cast (although Victory is technically part of G1, it just never aired in the West) – a fact that has proven quite divisive among Transformers fans. As one of my favourite characters, all I have to say is “Good job Japan!”

Friday 17 April 2015

First Impressions: Ninja Slayer From Animation

Ninja Slayer From Animation

Ever since they burst onto the scene with Kill la Kill in 2013, many anime fans will have surely had their eyes fixed on Trigger. While by no means their first rodeo (both as a studio and previously as members of Gainax), the series definitely put them on the mark as one of the studios to watch in the current anime climate. Last year the studio tackled its first light novel-adapted series with the appropriately named When Supernatural Battles Become Commonplace, and now they're back again with another existing franchise suited to their over the top nature. Based on the science fiction novel series originally published across Twitter, Ninja Slayer From Animation is an online series airing on Niconico in Japan and Funimation in North America.

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Black Beet

S.H. Figuarts Black Beet

While some series may take years to get the whole main cast released in the S.H. Figuarts toy line, it's safe to say that Juuko B-Fighter isn't going to be one of them. Hot on the heels of Blue Beet comes Takuya's evil clone and rival - Shadow, aka Black Beet. Meanwhile fans of Saban's adapted shows are more likely to know him as the Shadowborg from Big Bad Beetleborgs, or even the Machine Empire's General Venjix from the 10th anniversary Power Rangers Wild Force episode "Forever Red". But whichever version of the character you're familiar with, it's the same fantastic suit has been begging to get the S.H. Figuarts treatment for a long time. 

Just to show they aren't messing around, Bandai Tamashii Nations will also be releasing G-Stag and Reddle as a 2-pack at the end of May, completing the four main B-Fighter characters in a mere five months (albeit all as Tamashii web exclusives). The perfect way to celebrate the series' 20th anniversary don't you think?

Monday 13 April 2015

First Impressions: Garo: Gold Storm -Sho-

Garo: Gold Storm Sho

Hey look, it's a new GARO series! Once upon a time saying such a thing would have felt more like a novelty, but now as the franchise approaches its 10th anniversary there always seems to be at least one entry from the now numerous continuities on the go. Of course a landmark anniversary such as that means there's bit more going on in celebration, and first up is a return to the world of Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness with another chapter in Ryuga Dougai's ongoing story - Garo: Gold Storm -Sho-. This itself follows on from a movie prequel chapter titled simply titled Garo: Gold Storm, which unfortunately won't be viewable to those outside of Japan for a while yet. Shame, because there have been some rather interesting changes to the Golden Knight going on.

Saturday 11 April 2015

First Impressions: Wish Upon the Pleiades

Wish Upon the Pleiades

Things have been a little quiet for Gainax over the past few years. Sure the legendary anime studio have produced a string of anime adapted from various sources (Medaka Box, C3-bu and Magica Wars), but in terms of original products there hasn't been a peep out of them since Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt way back in 2010. But proving that the loss of some of their leading staff members (who've gone on to form studio Trigger) isn't the end of them, they're back with a brand new magical girl series - Wish Upon the Pleiades. Well, it isn't technically new since the show is based on a bunch of Youtube shorts the studio produced back in 2011 in association with automobile company Subaru. But hey, it's great to have you back Gainax.

Friday 10 April 2015

First Impressions: The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan

A few years ago you couldn't escape The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Arguably the first big-hitter for now renowned studio Kyoto Animation, the light novel turned anime series proved a worldwide hit - spawning both a second season and feature film. But after nearly six years without any Haruhi in our lives, the franchise is back with a brand new spinoff series entitled The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan. However this time things are a little bit different. As well as animation duties being handed over to Satelight, this alternate reality series doesn't have a Haruhi Suzumiya in sight. And if like me you enjoyed the original series but couldn't stand the lead character, that doesn't sound like a bad thing at all.

Tuesday 7 April 2015

Anime REVIEW: Yatterman Night

Yatterman Night

Over the past few years, legendary anime studio Tatsunoko Production have done quite a lot of reimagining to their classic shows. 2008's Casshern Sins moved the cybernetic superhero into a post-apocalyptic world, while 2013 turned the world of Science Ninja Team Gatchaman on it's head with the social-media influenced world of Gatchaman Crowds. With 2015 heralding the 40th anniversary of Tatsunoko's Time Bokan franchise, it's time for 1970s series (and most popular franchise instalment) Yatterman to receive similar treatment. Yatterman Night brings the timeline long after the original series, featuring a brand new cast as well as a brand new spin. This time it's the Doronbow Gang's time in the spotlight.

Monday 6 April 2015

Custom Figure: "Doctor Who - The Ultimate Adventure" Dalek

While putting together my custom Seven Keys to Doomsday Dalek I also worked on another project based on a stage show variant. This time it was from 1989's Doctor Who - The Ultimate Adventure, which starred saw Third Doctor Jon Pertwee return to the title role for the first stint before things were later handed over to Sixth Doctor Colin Baker. The stage show featured a rocky alliance between the Daleks and the Cybermen, along with a band of mercenaries led by 80s Cyberleader actor David Banks. It also featured songs, which certainly is something (although not quite as bad as I expected when listening to the audio adaptation). With the budget smaller than the more ambitious Seven Keys to Doomsday the Daleks went through a slight redesign to make them more manageable for the stage, along with a new colour scheme that just begged for a custom to be made.

Sunday 5 April 2015

Custom Figure: "Doctor Who and the Daleks in the Seven Keys to Doomsday" Dalek

Over the last few months I've been getting reacquainted with Big Finish's fantastic range of Doctor Who audio adventures, and among the ones that have particularly caught my attention are their adaptations of the mostly-forgotten stage shows. This trilogy of audiences revives 1965's The Curse of the Daleks, 1974's Doctor Who and the Daleks in the Seven Keys to Doomsday and 1989's Doctor Who: The Ultimate Adventure for a whole new audience, allowing them to experience something that only those who attended the shows themselves have previously been able to. I especially enjoyed both Seven Keys to Doomsday and The Ultimate Adventure, and was instantly curious as to how the Daleks looked when they appeared on stage. One quick image search later, and I'd found my next batch of custom Dalek projects.

Saturday 4 April 2015

Anime REVIEW: Gundam Build Fighters Try

Gundam Build Fighters Try

I don't think anyone quite expected Gundam Build Fighters to be the success that it was. What could have easily been a shameless cash grab to sell a bunch of remoulded model kits turned out to be a wonderful tribute to the ever-growing hobby of gunpla and model kit building in general, filled with exhilarating fight sequences and a cast of memorable characters. And as an anniversary-esque series to the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise as a whole, it couldn't really be topped. So after such a resounding success, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that it's back for round two - this time going by the monicker of Gundam Build Fighters Try. And once again, Bandai have been kind enough to stream the whole series for free on their Youtube channel, giving fans across the world a chance to enjoy it legally and end up buying a kit or two (which is probably their plan all along...).

Thursday 2 April 2015

FEATURED: BRIAN the Robot - in toy form!

If you live in the UK and watch TV (or watch anything I guess thanks to Youtube ads and all that jazz), chances are you'll have seen at least one insurance ad featuring BRIAN the Robot. Travelling the country to give you the very best quotes, BRIAN has starred in a number of different ads as well as getting into a spot of bother recently where he was captured and nearly turned to scrap. But he made it out okay, and now he's infiltrating homes across the country as announced their latest offer - BRIAN toys! That's right, if you take out any home or car insurance with Confused you'll also get this free BRIAN toy which boasts pull-back action and says eight different phrases. Thanks to the people at Confused, My Shiny Toy Robots has been granted a VIP look at this great novelty toy.

Wednesday 1 April 2015

Anime REVIEW: Garo: The Animation

Garo the Animation

It still seems strange to say that for the last year and a half there's always been a GARO series on television. What was once a great little adult-orientated tokusatsu series is now a full-blown franchise, with always at least one project seemingly on the go. But between last year's Makai no Hana and the forthcoming The One Who Shines in the Darkness sequel Gold Storm the franchise went off in a different direction, spawning it's very first full-length anime series. Simply named Garo: The Animation but also known as Honō no Kokuin (The Carved Seal of Flames), the show takes GARO back into what looks to be the past, making it a nice contrast to the modern day and near-future setting of it's two live-action brothers. It's also notable for being the first GARO series to get proper exposure in the West, having been simulcast via the Funimation website.