Saturday 31 October 2015

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who 5.5" Scale Missy (Purple Dress Variant)

It's taken a bit of time to find its footing again, but collectors can rejoice in the knowledge that the 5.5" line of Doctor Who figures has made its grand return. Now being billed exclusively as "collectors series"figures, these are something a bit more special than your average Who figure and the way this particular one was revealed proves it. Announced as part of a web broadcast with lead product designer Al Dewar and then sold exclusively via Character Options' website, the next character to join the 12th Doctor is none other than Missy! The latest incarnation of the Master (played by the fantastic Michelle Gomez) was released in two variants - a purple dress version with hatted-neutral expression and a black dress version with hatless grinning face. Both versions are limited to only 4,000 pieces each, although the word is that the black dress version is the rarer one as the purple variant is also to be released in the US.

However since I can't afford both and the purple dress is arguably more iconic, that's the variant I decided to go for!

Anime REVIEW: The Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls

The Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls

The last few years of anime have truly been dominated by the phenomenon that is the idol industry. Although they've been around since the 80s with the likes of the original Macross series, the dominance of shows such as The Idolm@ster and Love Live! have provided a boom that's thrust them back into the spotlight once again. And with the latter of those shows currently leading the way, it's no surprise that Idolm@ster has returned once again to compete with its closest rival. Though we said goodbye to the girls of 765 Productions in the Beyond the Brilliant Future movie, the mantle has been passed onto a new generation of girls as we move on to spin-off series The Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls. The show is based on the free-to-play rhythm game of the same name, and once again produced by now-Idolm@ster regulars A-1 Pictures.

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Thor

It's perhaps taken a lot longer than many collectors would have thought, but we finally have a complete line up of the core Avengers from the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Bandai's S.H. Figuarts line. Whether we'll ever get the likes of Hawkeye or Black Widow is anyone's guess, but for the time being it's great to finally have the main gang together. Following on from Captain America, Hulk and multiple versions of Iron Man is the god of thunder himself Thor, based on his appearance in Age of Ultron played by Chris Hemsworth. With Figma's version of the Hulk not due out until May 2016, Bandai haven't just got them out way before their rivals will - they managed to get them out in a matter of months while it'll take Figma nearly two years.

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Reviews in Time & Space: The Woman Who Lived

Doctor Who 09x06 - The Woman Who Lived

When is a two-partner not a two-parter? When it's two stories connected merely connected by a common thread (in this case a character) but are otherwise standalone! Following on from last week's The Girl Who Died is the similarly titled The Woman Who Lived, moving things forward in time as the Doctor reunites with a now immortal Ashildr (once again of course played by guest star Maisie Williams). This was also penned by a different writer to the previous episode - Catherine Treganna, who is a newcomer to mainline Doctor Who but has previous experience with four separate episodes of Torchwood.

Sunday 25 October 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Double Machine

It's been one hell of a good run, but it looks like we've come to the end of the Kikaider S.H. Figuarts for the time being. With Kikaider REBOOT still without any release details (fingers crossed we hear something at the Tamashii Nations event at the end of this month), the release of Kikaider 01's Double Machine motorcycle marks the last of the confirmed figures for this series. Maybe one day we'll get Bijinder and Waruder to finish off the main cast, but in the meantime getting both heroes and five different versions of Hakaider in a seemingly short space of time has been a pretty nice treat. Like the majority of the Kikaider figures, the Double Machine was released as a Tamashii web exclusive.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider Kuuga

Kamen Rider Kuuga

With the way the Kamen Rider franchise now constantly renews itself year after year, it’s hard to believe that there was once a time where it was off the air in Japan. Following the end of Kamen Rider Black RX in 1989 the franchise was completely absent from television throughout the 90s, kept alive through a trilogy of standalone movies from 1992-1994. Following that things went quiet as the Super Sentai and Metal Heroes franchises led the way for Toei, until Kamen Rider made its grand return in 2000. Dubbed with the tagline “A New Hero. A New Legend”, Kamen Rider Kuuga was a lot of firsts. It was the first Kamen Rider show since the death of creator Shotaro Ishinomori two years earlier, it was the first one to be broadcast in widescreen format and, most importantly, it is officially the start of the Heisei era for the franchise.

Sunday 18 October 2015

Reviews in Time & Space: The Girl Who Died

Doctor Who s09e05 - The Girl Who Died

Other than the promised return of Daleks and Zygons, The Girl Who Died (along with it's companion story The Woman Who Lived) has probably been the most talked about and anticipated story of this season of Doctor Who. As well as co-starring Game of Thrones superstar Maisie Williams, this is another one penned by Jamie Mathieson - the man behind previous season highlights Flatline and Mummy on the Orient Express. However there is also another interesting secret behind this episode. Co-written by Moffat himself, The Girl Who Died is the first of a two-part story which also features a different co-writer behind the next part. Intriguing and ambitious - two things I definitely want out of a Doctor Who episode.

Saturday 17 October 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Hakaider Squad (Red Hakaider/Blue Hakaider/Silver Hakaider)

It’s been a pretty good couple of years for Android Kikaider fans. Last year saw the character revitalised in the form of the Kikaider REBOOT movie, while Bandai Tamashii Nations turned to the original 1972 series and produced S.H. Figuarts figures of both Kikaider and Hakaider (as well as their bikes). This year (as far as the figures go anyway) it’s been the turn of Kikaider 01, but this time Bandai have gone a little bit further than just the title character and his arch nemesis. Released as a limited edition exclusive three-pack, the Hakaider Squad have arrived! Comprised of Blue Hakaider, Red Hakaider and Silver Hakaider, these three were former DARK scientists reborn into cyborg bodies to serve Gill Hakaider. Together the four Hakaiders are able to combine and form the mighty Gattaider (who looks much more impressive in the anime than the live-action show), and were 01’s main enemies before their eventual defeat and the arrival of SHADOW.

Thursday 15 October 2015

First Impressions: Shin Kanpai Senshi After V

Shin Kanpai Senshi After V

Last year the world was introduced to a brand new unendorsed Super Sentai (and tokusatsu in general) parody by the name of Kanpai Senshi After V (Cheers Squadron After V). While the show hardly broke new ground and proved somewhat divisive among Western toku fans (some of whom were probably expecting a faster-paced Akibaranger style comedy), it was a fun little show that lovingly poked fun at the franchise we all know and love. So it’s great to see that it’s now returned for a second season, this time going under the slightly altered title of Shin Kanpai Senshi After V (New Cheers Squadron After V). Time to pour a beer and raise a glass to our heroes’ victories once more!

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Toybox REVIEW: 66 Action Kamen Riders Wave 7

It's been a little while since we last saw them, but Bandai's ever popular 66 Action candy toy line is back for a brand new seventh wave of mini-scale articulated action figures! This time the line bids its grand farewell to the reign of Kamen Rider Drive, as well as throwing in another two key Riders from that all important Heisei era lineup before throwing in a little surprise at the end too. So if you're a fan of Kamen Rider Chaser, Kamen Rider Blade, Kamen Rider Agito or even Kamen Rider 3 - this is one wave that you'll definitely want to check out.

Monday 12 October 2015

Anime REVIEW: Ninja Slayer From Animation

Ninja Slayer From Animation

Once upon a time if you ever had a completely over the top idea for an anime series, Gainax were probably the people you needed to give a call though. Times change though, and following their breakthrough success with Kill la Kill most anime fans will probably agree that Trigger are now the first ones that spring to mind (though in a fairness, a sizeable portion of their staff is ex-Gainax anyway). So when it was revealed that the schlocky cyberpunk ninja novel series Ninja Slayer was getting an animated adaptation, Trigger felt like something of a perfect fit. An original net animation (ONA) which was broadcast via the Niconico streaming website, Ninja Slayer From Animation ran for a total of 26 episodes, with each one averaging about 15 minutes long. It will however be receiving a television airing in Japan sometime in 2016, with the episodes re-edited in what will likely be a 13-episode block.

Sunday 11 October 2015

Reviews in Time & Space: Before the Flood

Doctor Who s09e04: Before the Flood

When we last left the Doctor and Clara in Under the Lake they had become part of a ghostly encounter in the underwater mining facility the Drum. After the Doctor deciphered the message that each of the ghosts were mouthing, he set off in the TARDIS to 150 years previously to discover the source of the situation. Meanwhile as Clara and the remaining crew members stayed in the year 2119, a new ghost suddenly appeared - the Doctor himself. Now the story splits into two different time periods for the conclusion of the latest Doctor Who adventure from writer Toby Whithouse - Before the Flood.

Saturday 10 October 2015

First Impressions: Garo the Animation: The Crimson Moon

Garo: The Crimson Moon

While perhaps not to the taste of many long time GARO fans, last year's Garo: The Animation (or more specifically Honō no Kokuin/The Carved Seal of Flames) was a pretty big deal in that it at least provided a tangible link legally between the franchise and its fanbase outside of Japan. It also must have proved a success, because following the end of Gold Storm -Sho- is franchise is embarking on yet another animated outing. Taking place in a whole new setting with a brand new cast of characters, this chapter in the chronicles of the Golden Knight goes by the name of The Crimson Moon (Guren no Tsuki). Funimation's simulcast simply refers to it as Garo: The Animation 2, but that's nowhere near as catchy now is it?

Thursday 8 October 2015

Toybox REVIEW: Figma Lucina

Good Smile Company continue to expand their coverage of Nintendo properties with the long awaited arrival of Figma Lucina! After several months of delays, the time-travelling star of Fire Emblem: Awakening and fighter from the latest Super Smash Bros. was finally released in August 2015. While many other collectors (be they Fire Emblem or Smash fans) were probably hoping for different characters, considering Max Factory’s penchant for female figures and their insistence of covering the latest game in the series Lucina seems like a no-brainer for the line. So anyone desperate for a Marth figure will have to settle for the forthcoming Nendoroid instead.

Wednesday 7 October 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Agito Ground Form

The Shinkocchou Seihou sub-line of S.H. Figuarts has managed to make a massive impact despite only having a handful of releases to it's name, with the team at Bandai Tamashii Nations pouring in all their efforts to make of the best Kamen Rider action figures that have ever been produced. Not only has it brought us one step closer to having all the lead Heisei era Riders with Kamen Rider Hibiki, but also brought us fantastic renewals of some of the oldest figures in the mainline - namely Kamen Rider Kabuto and Kamen Rider Kuuga. Continuing with that trend and also fittingly following on from Kuuga is Kamen Rider Agito Ground Form - the second of the Heisei Riders and another character in desperate need of an upgrade.

First Impressions: Attack on Titan: Junior High

Attack on Titan: Junior High

The final anime season of 2015 brings some good and bad news. The good news is that Attack on Titan has finally returned! However the bad news is that this return isn’t the season two that many were hoping (and still waiting) for. Instead this season marks the debut of Attack on Titan: Junior High (Shingeki! Kyojin Chūgakkō) – a comedy reimagining of the franchise based on the parody manga of the same name. Production I.G. are fully spearheading animation duties this time around, with Studio WIT seemingly ducking out for the time being. It might not be a season two, but will this fill the void in the meantime?

Tuesday 6 October 2015

First Impressions: Kamen Rider Ghost

Kamen Rider Ghost

It's the beginning of October, and that means Halloween is almost upon us. And in what can only be considered as a piece of absolutely perfect timing, the newest Kamen Rider probably wouldn't look out of place at a Halloween party either. Now that Kamen Rider Drive has come and gone, the latest entry and hero of the long-running franchise goes by the name of Kamen Rider Ghost. Once again Toei are getting some fresh faces on the staff for the show, with the head writing duties being handled by Ultraman Max/Ultraseven X sub writer Takuro Fukuda. In the directors chair is Satoshi Morota, who's work on the franchise dates all the way back to Kamen Rider Hibiki in 2005.

Monday 5 October 2015

Anime REVIEW: Senki Zesshō Symphogear GX

Senki Zesshō Symphogear GX

Although the Macross franchise is not due to make its return until the beginning of next year, anime studio Satelight found the perfect musical-themed action series to fill the void with. Since debuting back in 2012, Senki Zesshō Symphogear has gone from strength to strength, returning the following year for a sequel in the form of Senki Zesshō Symphogear G. Now two years later, the relic-powered armoured magical girls are back once again for a third sequel – this time under the name Senki Zesshō Symphogear GX. And with a tagline like “Believe in Justice and Hold a Determination to Fist”, it sounds to be just as ridiculously over the top as ever.

Sunday 4 October 2015

First Impressions: Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

If there's one thing I have to commend the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise for, it's its tenacity. Despite original creator Yoshiyuki Tomino-helmed and 35th anniversary celebration series Gundam Reconguista in G not going down quite as well as hoped and firmly dividing fans, the mecha juggernaut is back a year later with a brand new series as if nothing phased it at all. This new series, entitled Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans (but also referred to as G-Tekketsu), is a rather curious beast being the brainchild of Tatsuyuki Nagai and Mari Okada - the writer and director team behind AnoHana of all things. While this isn't either's first foray into the world of mecha (Nagai previously directed Idolmaster: Xenoglossia while Okada worked on Aquarion Evol), but it does set a rather interesting precedent on what to expect from this latest instalment of Japan's landmark mecha franchise.

Reviews in Time & Space: Under the Lake

Doctor Who s09e03 - Under the Lake

After two-parter The Magician's Apprentice and The Witch's Familiar kicked the latest season off with a bang, this week sees Doctor Who move back into more familiar territory with a good old fashioned "base under siege" story. Under the Lake was written by Being Human writer Toby Whithouse, who's previous forays on Who include the episodes School Reunion, Vampires of Venice, The God Complex and A Town Called Mercy. Certainly an interesting resume, which quite a variety of episodes. School Reunion however happens to be a particular favourite of mine.

Saturday 3 October 2015

Anime REVIEW: Gatchaman Crowds insight

Gatchaman Crowds insight

When Tatsunoko Production announced back in 2013 that legendary anime series Science Ninja Team Gatchaman would be receiving a revitalisation, I don't think anyone quite expected the end result. Instead of a nostalgia-fueled series about bird-motifed heroes, Gatchaman Crowds was a very different kind of superhero story - vivid, insightful and with a very clear message. It wasn't without its faults (the main one being a terrible final episode only rectified by a "director's cut" version), but it quickly gained a firm fan following and arguably broke out of it's namesake's shadow. 2015 saw the series make it's grand return under the title of Gatchaman Crowds insight, bringing with it once again it's unique blend of aliens, superheroes and incredibly relevant political and social commentary.

Friday 2 October 2015

Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider Drive

Kamen Rider Drive

Give a Kamen Rider cosmically powered switches or transforming fruit armour and only a few people will bat an eyelid. Give him a car instead of a bike however and suddenly the world has been turned upside down. Although not the first Kamen Rider show to give their lead character four wheels instead of two (that would be Kamen Rider Black RX), Kamen Rider Drive is the first series to make it exclusively that Rider’s mode of transportation. With the series having just come to an end in Japan, it’s time to take a look back at the past year of Kamen Rider before things start afresh again with Kamen Rider Ghost in a few days’ time.