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.