Saturday 31 December 2016

Favourite Toys of 2016 & Happy New Year!

Another year has come to an end and though it seems to have been a tough one for many people, there's been some great toy releases nonetheless. Thank you for reading the blog throughout 2016, it's been a big year as readership has grown exponentially and there's some big things in the pipeline for 2017.

But without further ado, here are my favourite ten toys I've reviewed this year on the site. There are a couple of I'm either yet to review or receive, but I'm fairly confident that this list wouldn't change either way.

Friday 30 December 2016

Anime REVIEW: Brave Witches

Brave Witches

Before Kantai Collection came along and flooded Japan with moe ship girls, the skies were ruled by the bare-legged plane girls of Strike Witches. With two anime seasons, a movie, multiple OVAs and a whole host of spin-off media, Strike Witches tapped into that same demand for cute anime girls, military hardware and of course buckets of fanservice. The franchise made a return to screens in 2016 but with the story of the 501st Joint Fighter Wing over the torch was passed to a new team of witches. Instead Brave Witches follows the 502nd Joint Fighter Wing in their fight against the alien Neuroi forces – taking place between the first and second seasons of Strike Witches elsewhere in Europe. 

Thursday 29 December 2016

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Zoffy

While the Ultra Series’ move from its own Ultra-Act line to the S.H. Figuarts brand might not have won everyone over, it can’t be denied that Bandai Tamashii Nations have shown the series a lot of love in the process. In celebration of Ultraman’s 50th anniversary, in a few short months collectors have been treated to Ultraman, Baltan, Zetton and now the year ends quite fittingly with the release of S.H. Figuarts Zoffy. Although his sole appearance in the original series was its final episode “Farewell, Ultraman”, Zoffy has gone on to appear in numerous iterations of the franchise – leading the Ultra Brothers and standing as one of the most respected Ultra Heroes. 

Despite receiving a re-release in 2013, the original 2012 Ultra-Act figure eventually became of the most sought-after releases in line – fetching high prices on the aftermarket until a web exclusive version was released in 2015. It’s only been a year since and now the Figuarts version has arrived, giving buyers an early chance at grabbing the Space Garrison Captain.

Tuesday 27 December 2016

Movie REVIEW: Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger the Movie: The Heart Pounding Circus Panic!

Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger the Movie - The Heart Pounding Circus Panic

2016 might have been billed as Super Hero Year, but as far as the summer goes it was the same standard fare for both Kamen Rider and Super Sentai as the two franchises appeared in their usual cinematic double bill. This year it was the turn of Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger and Kamen Rider Ghost, who also crossed into each other's series earlier in the year for a quick cameo. Zyuohger's summer movie was entitled The Heart Pounding Circus Panic!, and had a running time of only 28 minutes - not much longer than your average television episode.

Monday 26 December 2016

Reviews in Time & Space: The Return of Doctor Mysterio

The Return of Doctor Mysterio

2016 has been a pretty strange year all around, and one without a full series of Doctor Who in sight. There has of course been the "young adult" spin-off series Class on BBC3, but otherwise the show has been on hiatus while filming takes place for the next full series which will introduce new companion Bill to the fold. However it wouldn't be Christmas without the annual Doctor Who Christmas special, and this year the show is tackling something new. Forget about robot Santas and snow that is actually just ash, this year the Doctor comes face to face with a real-life superhero in The Return of Doctor Mysterio.

Thursday 22 December 2016

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Charizard

Whether it was simply due to the popularity of the character, the Pokémon franchise's 20th anniversary or it's appearance in the Super Smash Bros. series, it's fair to say that Charizard quickly became one of the most sought after D-Arts releases and previously fetched an extremely high price on the aftermarket. However patience eventually pays off, and Bandai Tamashii Nations recently reissued the figure under their flagship S.H. Figuarts banner now that the D-Arts line has ceased to exist. While the same core figure, S.H. Figuarts Charizard was a Tamashii web exclusive, featured a new range of accessories and was marketed as being from the Pokémon XY&Z anime series rather than just the general game series. 

Wednesday 21 December 2016

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Necrom

Whether you were a fan of Kamen Rider Ghost as a series or not, it can't be denied that the show hasn't had much luck when it comes to the S.H. Figuarts line. Despite the show boasting a three main Riders, a number of movie ones and a wide variety of forms, Bandai Tamashii Nations have actually released very little from the series so far - opting instead for retail figures from the Kamen Rider 1 movie and Kamen Rider Amazons. The selection is so poor that Kamen Rider Necrom, the show's third Rider and a very significant character, was only released as a Tamashii web exclusive months after the show had completed its run. However Ghost fans need not despair, as Prince Alain has finally arrived to fight alongside (or against) Kamen Rider Ghost and Kamen Rider Specter in figure form.

Tuesday 20 December 2016

Custom Figure: Promotional Blue Classic Dalek

While Character Options have brought out the best selection of Dalek variants by any toy company to date, any Doctor Who (or specifically Dalek) collector will tell you that in-show variants can only give you so much. Between the movies, stage plays, audios, annuals and comics there’s a whole wealth of variants and colour combinations left untapped, and as a customiser bringing these to life in toy form is one of my biggest pleasure. And sometimes some of the most interesting versions aren’t even part of Doctor Who fiction. Over the years companies have used some pretty interesting Daleks as part of various promotions, and although this latest custom isn’t the most extravagant of them it’s certainly one of my favourites.

Monday 19 December 2016

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Black Panther

With the release of both Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange in 2016, it's been a pretty good year for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's hasn't been too bad for Bandai Tamashii Nation's  of range MCU S.H. Figuarts either, with the line delving into Civil War as well as going back to revisit the original Iron Man film. While most of the figures have been costume variants, we have had a couple of new heroes too - Civil War Ant-Man joined the line as a mass release figure in July, and was joined by the Age of Ultron Black Widow shortly afterward as a Tamashii web exclusive. Finally November saw the arrival of T'Challa, king of Wakanda join the line, as S.H. Figuarts Black Panther was also released as a web exclusive. 

Thursday 15 December 2016

Movie REVIEW: Ultraman X the Movie: Here It Comes! Our Ultraman

Ultraman X the Movie: Here it Comes! Our Ultraman

2016 has been another big year for the Ultra Series. Just as 2015 celebrated the 50th anniversary of Ultra Q and the franchise as a whole as well as Tsuburaya Productions making the leap into worldwide simulcasting with Ultraman X, 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the original Ultraman series and the 20th anniversary of Ultraman Tiga (which at the time was the first series in over 15 years). The celebration of these two milestone birthdays and the send-off Ultraman X deserves comes in the form of a feature-length film, entitled Ultraman X the Movie: Here It Comes! Our Ultraman. Although the movie is not available through Crunchyroll like the series, it will however be receiving limited English-dubbed screenings alongside the Ultraman Ginga movie in the US in 2017.

Tuesday 13 December 2016

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Drive Saga: Kamen Rider Mach/Kamen Rider Heart

Kamen Rider Drive Saga: Kamen Rider Mach/Kamen Rider Heart

When a Kamen Rider series draws to a conclusion, rarely is it truly the end. Not only does that Rider make a return alongside the current one in next year’s Movie Wars release, but in recent years the additional Riders have shared the spotlight in their own V-cinema releases. This trend initially kicked off with Kamen Rider W’s Accel and Eternal movies but has recently been revived with Kamen Riders Gaim, Drive and Ghost. In terms of Drive movies Kamen Rider Drive Saga: Kamen Rider Chaser, may have been a side story taking place during the course of the film but the second – Kamen Rider Drive Saga: Kamen Rider Mach/Kamen Rider Heart acts as a true epilogue to the show, bringing back Gou Shijima/Kamen Rider Mach and the Roidmude Heart for one last outing.

Saturday 10 December 2016

Anime REVIEW: School Days

School Days

In 2005 0verflow released an eroge visual novel by the name of School Days. The game quickly became infamous not only for its fully animated gameplay (a rarity for visual novels), but also its huge selection of endings – the “bad” of which were especially graphic and/or brutal. In 2007 TNK released an anime adaptation of the game, which in turn also gained itself a rather notorious reputation. With the show’s finale initially postponed on Japanese television due to it mirroring a real-life news story going on at the time, it doesn’t take a genius to work out what kind of ending the show decided to go with.

Tuesday 29 November 2016

Series REVIEW: Iron King

Iron King

The year is 1972, and with the success of Godzilla and Ultraman tokusatsu superhero series have truly landed in Japan. With the Ultra Series entering its fifth instalment (Ultraman Ace) and Toei making groundwork with the original Kamen Rider, Kikaider and more it seems everyone wants a taste of this success. One of the lesser known shows from this era is Iron King, a 26-episode series created Ultraman/Ultra Seven writer Mamoru Sasaki. Airing from October 1972 to April 1973, the series never quite took off in the same way as its rivals but remains an interesting piece of tokusatsu history.

Sunday 27 November 2016

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Double CycloneJoker

With the S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchu Seihou line roughly following the same release pattern as the main S.H. Figuarts line did during its early beginnings it has become fairly easy to predict what Bandai Tamashii Nations are going to do next. Since the release of Kabuto, Kuuga and Agito matched things perfectly (with a healthy dose of Hibiki sprinkled in for good measure), as far as main Kamen Riders go the next destination seemed imminent – Kamen Rider Double CycloneJoker. The lines taken a few diversions with various Kuuga forms and Gatack, but it didn’t stray too far off course and the star of Kamen Rider W finally arrived in October 2016.

Thursday 24 November 2016

Toybox REVIEW: Nendoroid Zelda (The Wind Waker Ver.)

When Good Smile Company dived into the wonderful world of Nintendo it’s fair to say that the Legend of Zelda was one of their biggest offerings – for proof look no further than the amount of re-releases Skyward Sword Link has had since his original release in 2013. Since then GSC and Max Factory have covered a number of Zelda games through the Nendoroid and Figma lines including Wind Waker, A Link Between Worlds, Majora’s Mask and (due for release next year) Twilight Princess. However as varied as this range may be, there was one significant problem – all the figures were of Link. However that’s finally no longer the case, as the Wind Waker version of Princess Zelda herself finally joins the Nendoroid line!

Monday 21 November 2016

Series REVIEW: Power Rangers Dino Charge

Power Rangers Dino Charge

Saban’s new era of Power Rangers hasn’t gotten off to the best start when it comes to appeasing long time fans of the franchise. Power Rangers Samurai’s “follow the Sentai footage as closely as possible” approach was met with criticism, and the less said about Power Rangers Megaforce/Super Megaforce’s attempt at a 20th anniversary celebration the better. However things immediately looked up when Power Rangers Dino Charge (rebranded Power Rangers Dino Supercharge for its second season) was announced, with veteran writer Judd “Chip” Lynn (head writer for Turbo through to Time Force, as well as a writer and executive producer for Jungle Fury and RPM respectively) at the helm. Dino Charge also marks the first time a Super Sentai series has been completely skipped over, with Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters passed up in favour of its successor Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger. After all, if there’s anything that’s bound to be a sure hit with Power Rangers its dinosaurs.

Thursday 17 November 2016

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Zetton

The Ultra Series/Ultraman's sudden move from the Ultra-Act range to the S.H. Figuarts line is something that has caused a bit of a divide among collectors. And with fair reason too - to collect a line for over half a decade and then have it redone in a completely different scale is a bit of a slap in the face. But one thing that move has done that benefits both newcomers and longtime Ultra-Act collectors is that its presented to opportunity to focus more on the numerous kaiju that make up the Ultra universe. First came Alien Baltan, and now he's joined by perhaps the greatest of Ultraman's foes in the original series - Zetton. The ultimate weapon of the Alien Zetton, this giant monster not only defeated Ultraman but also went on to face off against future Ultra Heroes as well - most recently playing a key part in Ultraman Orb.

Tuesday 15 November 2016

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

With every release that comes out of the line proving to be the cream of the crop S.H. Figuarts has to offer, it's no wonder that new Shinkocchou Seihou releases are always the subject of much attention. Initially the line started out with all-new versions of the oldest main Kamen Rider Figuarts done up with sculpts far more accurate to the actual suits, but as it's begun to branch out it's also begun to tackle alternate forms and secondary Riders too. The catch? More releases means some are inevitably going to be Tamashii web exclusives too. The first of these was Kamen Rider Kuuga Ultimate Form, quickly followed up by the first secondary Rider to join the line - Kamen Rider Gatack Rider Form. Unsurprisingly both Kuuga Ultimate and Gatack proved to be in high demand, prompting both figures to receive second runs in order to fulfil preorders. Gatack was initially released in September 2016, with the second shipment happening the following month in October.

Saturday 12 November 2016

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 1 [2016]

The 45th anniversary of Kamen Rider was one Super Hero Year’s biggest milestones, and in celebration Toei produced Kamen Rider 1 – a film that saw Hiroshi Fujioka reprise his role as Takeshi Hongo and team up with the cast of Kamen Rider Ghost against the new threat of Nova Shocker. The film introduced a redesigned suit for the original Rider, presumably having made improvements to himself over his years of fighting. Of course new design meant that an S.H. Figuarts version couldn’t be too far behind, with the 2016 Kamen Rider 1 joining the line as a mass release figure in October.

Thursday 10 November 2016

Toybox Review: S.H. Figuarts Super Saiyan Vegeta [2016]

Do you hear that? That’s the sound of Dragon Ball Z collectors selling off their S.H. Figuarts Super Saiyan Vegeta –Premium Color Edition- figures after Bandai Tamashii Nations almost immediately followed its release up with the announcement of a newly improved mould. Unlike the five Vegeta figures that have preceded it, this S.H. Figuarts Super Saiyan Vegeta isn’t an exclusive release and marks the first time the character has been a mass release figure – despite being the secondary lead in the franchise by this point. Using the same new-style body as the recent Super Saiyan Trunks figure, this Vegeta is supposedly based on the ascended version from the Cell Saga but ultimately works as him from any point in the show’s timeline.

Monday 7 November 2016

Custom Figure: Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. Dalek Drone

If there’s one thing I regret as a Doctor Who figure collector it’s not grabbing duplicates of the Dalek Collectors’ Sets while they were going cheap. There are a huge variety of variants (ranging from the obscure to the really obscure) left untouched by Character Options, and these days finding the exact versions needed for parts swaps can be a difficult task. However thanks to Forbidden Planet selling The Chase set at a huge discount, I now have three new figures to work with. The first is a pretty simple custom, but one that’s been missing from my collection for the longest time – a movie-style Dalek from the Peter Cushing films produced in the 1960s. More specifically, a drone type Dalek from the second of these films, Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.

Wednesday 2 November 2016

Favourites from Tamashii Nations 2016

Last weekend Bandai Tamashii Nations held their annual Tamashii Nations event, and as usual it was packed full of new items from the likes of S.H. Figuarts, S.H. MonsterArts, S.I.C., Super Robot Chogokin, Soul of Chogokin, Hi-Metal R and more. As usual a lot of these items will probably never see release (I’m personally still waiting on the Kikaider REBOOT Figuart from 2014) but it’s always fun to speculate what could be coming soon. Here are my five personal highlights from the event, based on the items which were available for photography and not on display for attendees only.

And as usual, there was absolutely no sign of Kamen Rider Kiva at the event. Because why break tradition?

Monday 31 October 2016

2017 Power Rangers Movie Toys at MCM London Comic Con

This past weekend was host to the October MCM London Comic Con, and over the past few years the show has grown significantly in size. As well as appearances from various anime and game distributors, the show now also features official representatives from the likes of Good Smile Company, Tamashii Nations and Bandai UK. This year Bandai UK were of particular note, as with them they brought along an exclusive first look at some of the forthcoming 2017 Power Rangers Movie toys due for release very soon. This selection included the 6” Legacy figures (previously seen at cons such as SDCC and NYCC) as well as the debut of the deluxe Red Ranger Power Sword, Morpher and T-Rex Zord!

Read on to check out some quick iPhone shots of the items on display, as well as some general first impressions on each of them.

Friday 28 October 2016

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Legends LG-26 Scourge

The Combiner Wars have come to an end, and now it’s time for the titans ro return! After successfully relaunching combiners as a main range, the Transformers franchise has now turned its attention toward doing the same for Headmasters – creating an all new line featuring both classic Headmaster characters as well as incorporating the gimmick into other existing characters. Among these included Transformers: The Movie/G1 season 3 leader Galvatron, and together with the previously released Combiner Wars Cyclonus Unicron’s trifecta of heralds is complete with the release of Scourge. While the American Titans Return figure sports a deco similar to that of the original G1 toy, TakaraTomy’s Transformers Legends version instead draws its inspiration from the cartoon – offering fans two different interpretations depending on where their nostalgia may lie.

Wednesday 26 October 2016

Anime REVIEW: Beast Wars II

Beast Wars II

While the majority of the Transformers franchise’s 35-year history has been available officially or via fansubs for many years, there are two particular series that have repeatedly eluded English-speaking fans. In 1998 Japan experienced a delay between receiving seasons one and two of Beast Wars (the latter of which became known as Beast Wars Metals), prompting them to fill the gap with their own Beast Wars shows. These were of course Beast Wars II and Beast Wars Neo, both of which were traditionally animated in comparison to Beast Wars’ CGI. Both shows have remained completely unreleased in the West, and thanks to a recent DVD release in Japan and the hard work of Karyuudo Fansubs it is only now that Beast Wars II (read aloud as Beast Wars Second) can be enjoyed with full English subtitles. Has this elusive piece of Transformers history been worth the wait, or is it a forgotten gem that was forgotten for a reason?

Friday 14 October 2016

Series REVIEW: Thunderbolt Fantasy

Thunderbolt Fantasy

After producing modern anime classics such as Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Psycho-Pass and Gargantia on the Verduous Planet, Gen Urobuchi has earned the right to a bit of experimentation. His dive into the world of tokusatsu with Kamen Rider Gaim was met with great success, and after a trip to Taiwan he has now turned his attention towards the world of Taiwanese glove puppetry. Thunderbolt Fantasy is a 13-episode collaboration between Nitroplus, Good Smile Company and renowned Taiwanese puppetry company Pili Internation Media – airing in Taiwanese Min-Nan, Chinese Mandarin and of course Japanese.

Wednesday 12 October 2016

Anime REVIEW: Macross Delta

Macross Delta

Despite Macross celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2013, it’s been a whopping eight years since the hugely popular franchise’s last animated outing Macross Frontier (four if you include the movies and its Macross 7-flavoured spinoff). While it did celebrate this milestone with the Macross 30: Voices Across the Galaxy PS3 game, it wasn’t until 2016 that Macross finally returned to television screens with a brand new instalment – Macross Delta (also written as Macross Δ). Series creator Shoji Kawamori returns once more as the chief director and mechanical designer, with animation duties once again handled by Satelight - the studio also responsible for both Frontier and Macross Zero.

Monday 10 October 2016

Anime REVIEW: Ace Attorney

Ace Attorney

The phrase “video game anime adaptation” is enough to strike fear into anyone’s hearts. Although the list of great anime series based on visual novels is vast, video games in general haven’t been as lucky. While there are the odd gems like Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie and Professor Layton: The Eternal Diva, attempts like Tekken and Blazblue: Alter Memory are more than enough to muddy the waters. 2016 finally saw Capcom’s popular Ace Attorney franchise make it’s leap to animated form, something long overdue for the legal exploits of Phoenix Wright (or Naruhodō Ryūichi in the original Japanese version), Miles Edgeworth (Mitusrugi Reiji) and co. Going by the full title of Gyakuten Saiban: Sono “Shinjitsu” Igirari (Turnabout Trial: I Object to that Truth!) , this 24-episode series covers the first two Ace Attorney games and was animated by A-1 Pictures.

Saturday 8 October 2016

Power Rangers 2017 Movie First Teaser Impressions

Power Rangers Movie Teaser

As a blog that tends to deal in reviews more than news I've generally avoided covering anything that relates to the forthcoming Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie reboot from Lionsgate and Saban Brands. However with the first teaser trailer making its debut at this year's New York Comic Con, it's time to break that silence. Over the past few months we've been treated to casting news, character posters and even the odd movie still, but this is the very first time we get to see anything in motion. Keep reading to check out the teaser trailer, along with some general thoughts on how the movie seems to be shaping up.

Friday 7 October 2016

First Impressions: Brave Witches

Brave Witches

Before Japan was invaded by moe girls wearing boat parts, there was a series doing a similar thing with school girls, aeroplane parts, magical powers, animals ear/tails and a lack of trousers. This series goes by the name of Strike Witches, and after two seasons, a movie, multiple OVAs, novels, manga and more it has evolved into a fully fledged franchise. After some time out of the spotlight it’s back for a brand new spin-off series, this time going by the name Brave Witches. Featuring the same production staff as the previous Strike Witches animated entries, Brave Witches is animated by studio Silver Link – who previously worked on the Strike Witches: Operation Victory Arrow OVAs as well as Watamote!, Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya and more.

Thursday 6 October 2016

First Impressions: Time Bokan 24

Time Bokan 24

Their name might not get batted around as much as it used to, but once upon a time Tatsunoko Productions was among the very best anime studios Japan had to offer. As well as spawning the likes of Speed Racer, Gatchaman, Tekkaman and Casshern, Tatsunoko was also known for its Time Bokan series – which among its various sequels and spinoffs included Yatterman. Now Tatsunoko have come together with Professor Layton creators Level-5 for a brand new instalment, simply going by the name of Time Bokan 24.

Tuesday 4 October 2016

First Impressions: Kamen Rider Ex-Aid

Kamen Rider Ex-Aid

When early rumours suggested that the newest Kamen Rider would be a wearing a bright pink bodysuit and a helmet that sported moulded pink hair and cartoon-styled eyes, most dismissed it just like they would any earlier Rider/Sentai rumours. But when Kamen Rider Ex-Aid was fully revealed to the public those rumours turned out be true, unveiling a video-game themed Rider that’s quite unlike anything seen in the franchise’s 45 year history. Forget ghostly hoodies and Eyecons, now comes the time of gaming and Gashats. Written by Yuya Takahashi (Drive’s Type Tokujo specials, Lupin III Part 4), Ex-Aid is the 18th Heisei era Rider series and the 27th overall.

Monday 3 October 2016

First Impressions: Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans Season 2

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans Season 2

Following its brief hiatus over the past few months, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans has finally returned for its second season! Comprised of another 25 episodes to bring the total count up to a comfortable 50, this latest instalment in Sunrise’ landmark mecha franchise continues the story of the rebellious child soldiers Tekkadan and their struggle for freedom in the era following a catastrophe known as the Calamity War. Like the first season it is written and directed by Mari Okada and Tatsuyuki Nagai respectively – a pair that also previously worked together on shows such as Toradora! and AnoHana.

Thursday 29 September 2016

Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider Ghost

Kamen Rider Ghost

After the sheer insanity/genius of giving a Kamen Rider a car instead of a bike, it’s almost as if Toei went motif crazy in order to make the 2015-16 Rider seem just as innovative. Eyeball collectibles, hoodies, historical figures, a pirate ship that can transform into a giant iguana – these are just some of the facets that make up Kamen Rider Ghost. Spanning a total of 50 episodes, including a crossover with currently airing Super Sentai series Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger, the 17th Heisei era Kamen Rider series (and 26th in total) marks Takuro Fukuda’s debut as lead writer and stars Shun Nishime as the titular character.

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Anime REVIEW: Love Live! Sunshine!!

Love Live! Sunshine!!

When you've created a juggernaut like Love Live! School Idol Project, you can't just end things when your idols retire. Although μ's seem just as popular as ever, their time in the spotlight is over as a new idol group takes to the stage in sequel series Love Live! Sunshine!!. Once again animated by Sunrise in a joint project with ASCII Media Works and Lantis, this new series takes place sometime after Honoka and co have gone their separate ways, paving the road for a swarm of prospective idols in the titular tournament. Forget about μ's, now comes the time of Aqours.

Monday 26 September 2016

Toybox REVIEW: 4InchNel Mega Man

Although Capcom haven’t really been doing the video game series any favours lately, toy companies on the other hand have really jumped on the Mega Man (or Rockman as he’s known in Japan) franchise. Some of the more notable releases include Bandai’s D-Arts figure, Good Smile’s Nendoroid and Kotobukiya’s scale model kit. But now Sentinel are also joining the party – kicking off what is hoped to be a wide range of Mega Man figures in their 4InchNel line. As the name suggests this line features figures around four inches in height, with far more affordable prices than the high-end mecha figures the company have become known for. Also released at the same time was the 4InchNel Mega Man.EXE figure, but for now we take a look at the iconic gaming character in his original and most well-known guise.

Wednesday 21 September 2016

Toybox REVIEW: Ultra-Act x S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Suit Ver 7.2

Ultraman may have scaled down and joined the S.H. Figuarts line but Ultra-Act is not dead quite yet – hanging on by a thread with figures based on the ongoing Ultraman manga series. However these are not straightforward Ultra-Act releases like some might expect, instead branded as a special Ultra-Act x S.H. Figuarts crossover. The second character to arrive (and third release in total) is Ultraman Suit Ver 7.2 – the Ultra suit worn by no-nonsense SSSP operative Dan Moroboshi. As the character’s name would suggest, this Ultra Suit is of course based on Ultraseven – reimagined in a more mechanical fashion. Unlike manga Ultraman who originally saw release at retail, Ultraman Suit Ver 7.2 is a Tamashii web exclusive figure.

Monday 19 September 2016

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Whis

Despite boasting a lot of unreleased prototypes and a bit of a spotty period with few releases, it’s fair to say that Dragon Ball has remained one of the more consistent ranges S.H. Figuarts has on offer. With the arrival of Dragon Ball Super creating renewed interest in the franchise, the line has also experienced something of a renaissance – with new characters, “renewal” figures and premium colour editions all on offer. Earlier this year saw the release of popular new character and God of Destruction Beerus, and no long behind him comes his faithful attendant Whis. Unfortunately unlike his master Whis is a Tamashii web exclusive figure in Japan, but will undoubtedly see more widespread release in the US via Bluefin.

Friday 16 September 2016

Toybox REVIEW: Figma A Link Between Worlds Link DX Edition

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild may be drawing ever closer, but thanks to the slow process that is figure manufacturing Figma’s latest entry from the prolific franchise takes us back to 2013 and the release of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds on the 3DS. Previewed at Wonderfests for years but only now finally seeing release, Figma A Link Between Worlds Link is the second Link from Max Factory and the fourth from Good Smile Company as a whole. This figure had the particular honour of being released in two different formats – in addition to a general release version a “DX Edition” with more accessories was also made available via the GSC Online Store as well as any of the brand’s partner stores across the globe.

Wednesday 14 September 2016

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider 1

Kamen Rider 1

With Super Sentai and Kamen Rider celebrating their 40th and 45th anniversaries this year, Toei have dubbed 2016 as “Super Hero Year” with very good reason. But while the former franchise might seem like it’s been slacking a bit on the celebration front, the same can’t be said for Kamen Rider. In addition to the Amazon Prime exclusive Kamen Rider Amazons series, a legendary hero has also made his return to the fold. Kamen Rider 1 sees Hiroshi Fujioka reprise his role as Takeshi Hongo/Kamen Rider 1, crossing over with the cast of Kamen Rider Ghost in a feature-length celebration. Fujioka himself was actively involved in the development of the film, writing it alongside prolific tokusatsu veteran Toshiki Inoue. While both Rider 1 and Fujioka have made various reappearances over the years, this film sees him once again in the leading role – complete with a brand new look to go with it.

Monday 12 September 2016

Toybox REVIEW: Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger Minipla Cubes Condor, Kuma & Komori/Condor Wild & Wild Tousai King

The fourth wave of Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger minipla/candy toy model kits may seem small, but its components certainly add up to much bigger things. With Zyuohger the Movie: The Heart Pounding Circus Panic having recently hit Japanese cinemas, this wave introduces the film's exclusive cube animal Cube Condor, along with its combined form of Condor Wild. However just to make sure collectors don't necessarily skip over what could be considered an inessential mecha, Bandai have also snuck Cube Kuma and Cube Komori into the mix - the final two of the show's four auxiliary mecha. When combined with Zyuoh King, Zyuoh Wild and Tousai Zyuoh, these 13 animals can be brought together to form the mighty Wild Tousai King!

Monday 5 September 2016

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Alien Baltan

Ultraman has finally made his move to the S.H. Figuarts line, but he isn't alone! The Ultra Series in general has always held its monsters and aliens in high regard, with many becoming almost as iconic as Ultraman himself. This also means that they get a good selection of toys (far more than you'll ever find with the likes of Kamen Rider or Super Sentai), from vinyl toys and articulated figures all the way up to bizarre moe girl gijinka statues. With Ultraman's Figuarts debut perfectly timed with the show's 50th anniversary, it makes sense that more would follow quickly afterward. The second Ultra Series Figuarts release and first Ultra foe to join the line is Alien Baltan, who made his debut in the second episode of the original Ultraman series and has gone on to become one of the franchise's most iconic villains.

Monday 29 August 2016

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla [1954]

Once upon a time the S.H. MonsterArts line looked to be the perfect answer to articulated kaiju toys, offering a variety of monsters from Godzilla's long and illustrious history with the usual high standard of Bandai Tamashii Nations toys. However more recently it seems like the line may have fallen into more difficult times, not only predominantly taken up with web exclusive releases but also toys of Godzilla himself - leaving many other popular monsters sadly unrepresented. However the truth is there are still plenty of Godzilla costumes left to do, and it is only now that Bandai are getting to possibly the most important of them all. The original 1954 Godzilla finally joins the line as its latest mass release figure, just in time to coincide with the release of the Shin Godzilla movie in Japanese theatres.

Thursday 25 August 2016

Toybox REVIEW: Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger Minipla Tousai Zyuoh

One thing Super Sentai fans always seem to go nuts for is a good evil ranger arc. And though it was definitely a bit short-lived, Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger certainly had one of those. Eager to spice up his blood games, Dethgalian leader Genis kidnapped three Zyuman and fused their powers into one human - and thus The World was born! Beating the five Zyuohgers at every turn, Genis' brainwashing was eventually undone and Misao Mondo joined the team as Zyuoh the World! Armed with the animals Cube Rhinos, Cube Crocodile and Cube Wolf, Zyuoh the World has the power of three Zyuman and can combine these three animals into the mighty Tousai Zyuoh. Tousai Zyuoh joins the Zyuohger minipla candy toy line in its third wave, and despite only being three animals is undoubtedly the biggest set yet.

Wednesday 24 August 2016

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ant-Man

Of all the new media Bandai Tamashii Nations has dug into for the S.H. Figuarts line, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has got to be one with the most worldwide appeal. After working their way through Iron Man 2, 3 and Avengers: Age of Ultron, the line has now began the tackle latest big event to hit screens - Captain America: Civil War. Following the obligatory new versions of both Captain America and Iron Man, relative newcomer Ant-Man has arrived as a surprise mass release figure! Although Civil War may not be the first movie outing for Scott Lang, his solo outing was overlooked by Bandai making this first Ant-Man in the Figuarts line and a much needed boost to Team Cap.

Monday 22 August 2016

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman 50th Anniversary Edition

The Ultra Series has been particularly notable amongst the various tokusatsu properties covered by Bandai Tamashii Nations because its the only that's ever had the honour of its very own distinct toy line. For the past 16 years the Ultra-Act line has covered a wide range of characters from Tsuburaya Productions flagship franchise, but despite nearly approaching a total of 80 different releases it seems the line's time is finally up. Ultra-Act had slowly turned to renewal figures rather than unreleased characters, and a crossover between the Ultra-Act and S.H. Figuarts brand was shortly followed by the news that Figuarts was soon to have its own selection of Ultraman figures. This meant the same classic characters once again in a whole new scale, so it's no surprise that not every collector welcomed the news with open arms. For many however this was an exciting new direction for both Figuarts and the Ultra Series, and the timing couldn't be better with Ultraman celebrating his 50th Anniversary in 2016. Such an occasion meant not just one, but two releases of the new S.H. Figuarts Ultraman figure - a standard release and a special anniversary variant that also shows off Tamashii's latest offshoot - Option Act.

Sunday 21 August 2016

Special REVIEW: Gundam Build Fighters Try: Island Wars

Gundam Build Fighters Try Island Wars

The Mobile Suit Gundam franchise may well be a multi-million yen space-faring epic about the horrors of war, but everyone knows that's only one side of it. The other half is all about how many model kits Bandai can sell at the same time, and the Gundam Build Fighters spin-off isn't one to shy away from fully embracing it. Though not the first gunpla-themed spin-off from Sunrise, Gundam Build Fighters captured audiences in a way its predecessors had failed to - not only showing the hobby off in a brilliant way but also proving itself to be worthy celebration of Gundam's long heritage. It was quickly followed by sequel series Gundam Build Fighters Try, and now its cast have returned for a one-off special episode entitled Gundam Build Fighters Try: Island Wars. Like both series this episode has been made available for free on Youtube via GundamInfo, welcoming audiences across the globe back to the world of Gunpla battle.

Friday 19 August 2016

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Legends LG-23 Galvatron

Transformers toys are currently in a pretty good place. The success of the Combiner Wars line has been followed by the revival of another classic Generation One gimmick - the Headmaster. Here, each robots head is in fact itself a smaller robot (or Nebulon partner, depending on your choice of fiction) - acting as a pilot or gunner when the larger body is in its alt mode. Over in the West this line is known as Titan Return, with Hasbro reviving several classic Headmaster characters while reimagining others using the gimmick. Meanwhile in Japan new figures continue to be implemented into their Transformers Legends line, which also encompasses various figures from Hasbro's Generations line. The 23rd release in this line is the new Titan Master version of Galvatron, the reformatted version of Megatron who acted as Unicron's herald in Transformers: The Movie and the new Decepticon leader for the rest of the G1 cartoon. With the last G1 Galvatron figure being a poorly received deluxe in 2008, not only is a new figure long overdue but with 2016 marking the 30th anniversary of Transformers: The Movie it couldn't have come at a better time.

Friday 12 August 2016

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider Ghost & Drive: Super Movie Wars Genesis

Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider Ghost & Drive Super Movie Wars Genesis

Just as the latest Kamen Rider is beginning to find his footing, his predecessor returns for one last goodbye as part of a Movie Wars crossover which has been a franchise staple for the past seven years. This time it's the turn of Kamen Rider Ghost, reuniting once more with Kamen Rider Drive in the time-travelling Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider Ghost & Drive: Super Movie Wars Genesis. Other than boasting a "super" along with the typically lengthy title, Movie Wars Genesis throws one big format change into the works - making it a particularly notable entry in this popular series of crossovers.