Saturday 27 June 2015

Toybox REVIEW: DC Collectibles "Batman: The Animated Series" Joker

There have been many different popular interpretations of the Joker in television and film over the years - Caesar Romero in the Adam West Batman series, Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton's 1989 movie, Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, and a variety of different animated versions voiced by different actors. But when asked which of all of these versions is the best, it's fair to say that most fans will agree on the DC Animated Universe version voiced by Mark Hamill. Appearing in Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures all the way up into Batman Beyond and Justice League, Hamill's Joker has even reached a new audience in the form of the Arkham series video games. So when DC Collectibles revealed they would be doing a new line of animated series figures based on Bruce Timm's iconic designs, it's unsurprising that the Joker was quickly among the planned lineup.

However not being in the first wave of figures seems to have worked to the Joker's advantage, as after numerous reports of bad quality control and breakages DC Collectibles postponed the release of wave two in order to tweak them in light of these issues. About time considering how infamous breakable their lines are, but still definitely a good move on DCC's part. So with the wave two figures finally upon us, what we should be seeing here is a Clown Prince of Crime figure far more suited to it's "collectible" status and accompanying price tag.

Thursday 25 June 2015

Anime REVIEW: Wish Upon the Pleiades

Wish Upon the Pleiades

Not so long ago Gainax were among the kings of the anime world. Boasting the likes of Gunbuster, Nadia, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gurren Lagann and more, you weren't likely to find an anime fan who wasn't familiar with at least one thing on their rather impressive resume. And if they weren't, then they were likely to have seen something influenced by the studio's distinct sense of spectacle. However in recent years the once legendary studio isn't quite what it used to be, with many of it's staff having moved elsewhere - be it Hideaki Anno's Studio Khara, Hiroyuki Imaishi's Studio Trigger or another studio. Since then Gainax's offerings have been slim, and what they have put out has either been met to rather mixed reception or been less than stellar. But in 2015 Gainax returned to the scene with a brand new original series, expanded from a series of shorts produced in 2011 in association with automaker Subaru. With a series of Youtube shorts, a 12-episode series and a movie project in the works, is Wish Upon the Pleiades (Houkago no Pleiades) exactly what the studio needed to return to glory?

Monday 22 June 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Yoshi

It’s baffling how it’s taken them so long to realise it, but recently Nintendo have really gotten wise to the fact that people want toys of their various gaming properties. All of a sudden Nintendo figures have started popping up everywhere, from both various Japanese manufacturers and the World of Nintendo line here in the West. But while Good Smile Company seem content tackling the major players from the likes of Zelda, Metroid, Kid Icarus and Fire Emblem, it’s Bandai Tamashii Nations that are covering everyone’s favourite series about a plumber that never actually does any plumbing. After the successful release of Mario, Luigi and a number of accessory sets, S.H. Figuarts in now turning its attention toward the wider Super Mario cast. And even though there was plenty of different places for Bandai to start, it probably comes as no surprise that next up would be Yoshi – the brothers’ long-tongued, egg-throwing dinosaur buddy that first appeared in Super Mario World way back in 1990.

Saturday 20 June 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Mashin Chaser

While Kamen Rider is probably the luckiest franchise when it comes to getting its villain characters as part of the S.H. Figuarts line, the amount that have received mass release is quite minimal. Thankfully if you're a Rider or Rider-esque character it means you probably have a good chance of getting that treatment, and given his prominence in the show it should be no surprise to anyone to find that Mashin Chaser is the next character/form from Kamen Rider Drive to join the line. The Roidmude Shinigami/Grim Reaper, Mashin Chaser serves as a rival to Drive until his true origins are revealed - leading on to what is perhaps one of the most engaging elements of the series so far. But for now let's just enjoy Chase in this monstrous form, ready to wheel up at a moment's notice and cause a rather elaborate road block for our hero.

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts G-Stag & Reddle

If you asked me about a year ago if I'd have a complete collection of Juuko B-Fighter S.H. Figuarts by summer 2015, I'd have probably laughed in your face. But Bandai Tamashii Nations have really delivered when it comes to the 1995 instalment of the Metal Heroes franchise, with releases coming hot on the heels of each other to get the whole team out in a relatively short space of time. Blue Beet came in January, Black Beet followed in March and then finally in May G-Stag and Reddle have joined them as a Tamashii web exclusive 2-pack release. For those more familiar with the American adaptation Big Bad Beetleborgs, you're probably more likely to know these two as the Green Hunter and Red Striker Beetleborgs.

Of course, the most obsessive of collectors will probably argue that to truly get a complete B-Fighter lineup we need the Extradimensional Supplier Kabuto/White Blaster Beetleborg. But let's not get too ahead of ourselves, we have a pretty good thing going on here right?

Saturday 13 June 2015

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider Drive & Gaim: Movie Wars Full Throttle

Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider Drive & Gaim: Movie Wars Full Throttle

The ending of a Kamen Rider series is often a sad thing, and although the following is usually enough to soften its passing there's always at least one thing to look forward to - the annual Movie Wars team up. This time Kamen Rider Gaim returns for its last hurrah alongside the currently airing Kamen Rider Drive for the predictably long-winded title Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider Drive & Gaim: Movie Wars Full Throttle. As usual the film is split up into three sections - individual Gaim and Drive components before the two come together for a crossover that incorporates elements from both's individual stories.

Thursday 11 June 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Gill Hakaider

S.H. Figuarts Gill Hakaider

The Kikaider franchise has truly been the runaway success of the S.H. Figuarts line in the last year or so. While certain Super Sentai teams are still lacking a full lineup, Bandai Tamashii Nations have rather neatly made it through both Android Kikaider and Kikaider 01 and are only a couple characters short of the full "main" cast. Of course, it does help that for five of those figures all they need to do is repaint it. The second release to cover the Kikaider 01 side of things is Gill Hakaider - the second Hakaider who now contains Professor Gill's brain inside his head. Not only is this version of Hakaider much more prominent in the show (appearing for the entirety of 01), but also has a radically different personality to his predecessor. Gone is the machine whose sole purpose is to destroy his rival, and in his place comes a thuggish, straight up villain Hakaider whose goals involve world domination as well as crushing the Kikaiders. In the toku Gill Hakaider is a separate entity from Professor Gill and works as a subordinate of SHADOW, while in the manga and anime Gill Hakaider is quite literally the Professor in a robot body - who builds SHADOW out of the ashes of his former evil organisation DARK.

Gill Hakaider was a Tamashii web exclusive, originally released in May 2015.

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Anime REVIEW: Idolmaster: Xenoglossia

Idolmaster: Xenoglossia

While The Idolm@ster gaming franchise from Namco Bandai wouldn't truly make its mark in the world of anime until A-1 Pictures full-length series in 2011, two previous attempts at bringing the girls to television screens were made prior to that. Although 2008's The Idolm@ster Live for You! was only a 17-minute short bundled with the game of the same name, 2007's Idom@ster: Xenglossia was a very different story. Produced by prolific studio Sunrise and directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai (who would later go on to direct AnoHana), Idolmaster: Xenglossia discards the original premise of a production studio and in favour of exactly the kind of thing you'd expect from Sunrise: giant robots.

Friday 5 June 2015

Toybox REVIEW: 66 Action Ultraman Wave 2

66 Action Ultraman Wave 2

Although its fair to say that Bandai's 66 Action candy toy line has been a resounding success, so far only the Kamen Rider franchise has managed to scrape more than wave out of it - with both Dragonball Z and No More Piracy seeming to be a "one and done" affair (though to be fair it isn't like they could do much more with the latter anyway). That's all changed now though as the Ultra Series/Ultraman selection has returned for a second wave, treating fans to a further four figures from Tsuburaya's landmark tokusatsu series. Collectors can now expand their 66 Action collection with the likes of Ultraman Taro, Ultraman Leo, Ultraman Tiga and the Alien Magma.

Thursday 4 June 2015

Wishlist: Top 5 Tokusatsu S.H. Figuarts I'd Like to see

As regular readers of this blog will have already figured out by now, I'm a pretty big fan of the S.H. Figuarts toyline. Covering Kamen Rider, Super Sentai as well as a huge number of other tokusatsu, anime and live-action properties, the line has arguably become one of the first things collectors associate with Bandai Tamashii Nations. And that's not surprising, as between both mass release and Tamashii web exclusive the line churns out approximately 3-5 new figures a month (sometimes more). But even with all these new figures every month I, like every other collector, have a short wish list of figures I'd like to see from the line one day. So without further ado here are the top 5 tokusatsu S.H. Figuarts I'd like to see from Tamashii Nations, including both specific characters and entire teams.

Warning: The following post contains gratuitous amounts of Kikaider