Sunday 31 December 2017

Favourite Toys of 2017

2017 has come to a close and since I had so much fun putting a list together last year, I thought I'd go ahead and count down my top 10 favourite toys that I've purchased and reviewed over the last year. It's been a great year for S.H. Figuarts so as expected the line pops up a fair few times, but there's also a few surprises along the way too. To keep the list as varied as possible I've tried to spread the Figuarts entries across different series (so one Kamen Rider, one Ultraman etc.) on top of an additional entry for the Shinkocchou Seihou line. 

Honourable mentions for the handful of figures I bought this year, but haven’t been included as I either haven’t reviewed them yet or they’re still in transit. Few of them would have probably made the top 10, but they deserve a mention regardless:
- Proplica Gurren Lagann Core Drill
- Figma Deadpool [DX Edition]
- Figma Red
- S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider 1
- S.H. Figuarts Takeshi Hongo
- Nendoroid Ash Ketchum
- NX-Edge Style Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

Now that's out of the way, let's take a closer look at some of my favourite releases of 2017!

Thursday 28 December 2017

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 2017 Christmas Special - Twice Upon a Time

Doctor Who 2017 Christmas Special - Twice Upon a Time

After 13 years the annual Doctor Who Christmas special is pretty much a British television tradition. But every so often there’ll come one that stands out from the usual festive fluff, with this time of the year reserved for the current Doctor to bow out and pass the torch onto the next incarnation. Following in the footsteps of 2009’s The End of Time and 2013’s The Time of the Doctor, Twice Upon a Time serves as the swansong for Peter Capaldi’s twelfth Doctor and the debut of Jodie Whittaker in the role, with Steven Moffat also stepping down as showrunner before Chris Chibnall takes the reins. The episode also sees the return of the very first Doctor – now played by David Bradley on the back of his portrayal of William Hartnell in the excellent 50th anniversary biopic An Adventure in Space and Time.

Saturday 23 December 2017

Anime REVIEW: Infini-T Force

Infini-T Force
Infini-T Force is available in streaming form on Viz Media (US Only)

With superhero crossovers all the rage these days what better way is there for Tatsunoko Production to celebrate their 55th anniversary than with a crossover of four of their most popular 70s superhero shows. The stars of Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, Hurricane Polymar, Neo Human Casshan and Tekkaman: The Space Knight come together in Infini-T Force – a new completely CGI series co-produced with distinguished Japanese CGI studio Digital Frontier (Appleseed, Resident Evil: Degeneration). The series ran for a total of 12 episodes, which an additional feature film planned for release sometime in 2018.

Saturday 16 December 2017

Series REVIEW: Ultraseven


The original Ultraman may be the worldwide face of Tsuburaya Productions’ Ultra Series, but in terms of popularity it’s his direct successor that truly won the hearts of Japan. Ultraseven debuted on 1st October 1967, seven months after the finale of Ultraman and running for a total of 49 episodes. Since then, the titular hero has made numerous cameos in succeeding Ultra shows as well as appearing in both a sequel series from 1994 to 2002 and a revival in 2007. Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Ultraseven’s legacy continues to live on through the continuation of the Ultra Series, his in-series son Ultraman Zero and the currently-airing series Ultraman Geed.

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Dada

Release Date: November 2017
RRP: 7344 yen

Although 2017 saw Bandai Tamashii Nations expand into the world of Ultraseven in celebration of its 50th anniversary, the S.H. Figuarts line has also continued to press forward with the most popular adversaries from the original Ultraman series as well. Rounding off the releases for this year is S.H. Figuarts Dada, which like Alien Mefilas was released as a Tamashii web exclusive item. Debuting in episode 28 of the series, Dada Agent #271 was sent to Earth in order to find six human specimens. Since then the Dada have been a recurring presence in the Ultra multiverse, with another agent most recently appearing in Ultraman Geed.

Thursday 7 December 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Amazon Neo

Release Date: October 2017
RRP: 5940 yen

The hunt continues as Bandai Tamashii Nations move forward with Kamen Rider Amazons’ second season! As well as capping off the core (Amazon) cast from the first season in October, season two kicked off with the release of S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Amazon Neo. An Amazon whose life was steeped in tragedy, Chihiro simply wanted to control his insatiable hunger and live as peacefully as possible. His life changed when he met Iyu and joined the 4C Amazon hunting squad, however these turn of events eventually revealed him as both the son of Jin Takayama/Amazon Alpha, the source of a whole new breed of Amazons and as such, purely by victim of circumstance, humanity’s greatest threat.

Sunday 3 December 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Mole Amazon

Release Date: October 2017
RRP: 7020 yen

Although Bandai Tamashii Nations are now moving onto releases from the second season of Kamen Rider Amazons, there was still one last character needed to round off the first season cast in a satisfying manner. Despite not bearing the title of Kamen Rider, Mamoru was both a hero and highlight of the show and gets the recognition he deserves with the release of the Tamashii web exclusive S.H. Figuarts Mole Amazon. A homage to the original Kamen Rider Amazon’s enemy-turned-ally from the original 1974 series, this new Mole Amazon was a valued member of the Nozama Peston Service before leaving to help protect the last surviving Amazons in the show’s second season.

Sunday 26 November 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Dan Moroboshi

Release Date: October 2017
RRP: 6264 yen

If there's one area of tokusatsu properties that Bandai Tamashii Nations have left almost completely untouched, its our heroes' civilian identities. Whether it be Kamen Rider, Super Sentai, Metal Heroes, the Ultra Series or something else, there's just so much untapped potential that would undoubtedly be snapped up by fans in an instant. It seems Tamashii have finally cottoned onto this, with the tail-end of 2017 revealing human figures for three iconic heroes from three separate franchises. And with 2017 also being the 50th anniversary of Ultraseven, what better place to start than with S.H. Figuarts Dan Moroboshi. While Retsu Ichijoji and Takeshi Hongo had previously been seen at events, the human guise of Ultraseven came as a complete surprise to everyone - first appearing in magazine scans just before preorders started.

Thursday 23 November 2017

Movie REVIEW: Uchu Sentai Kyuranger: Episode of Stinger

Uchu Sentai Kyuranger: Episode of Stinger

Both Kamen Rider and Super Sentai have enjoyed a steady stream of V-cinema releases for some time now, but while Kamen Rider tends to use this as an opportunity to shine the spotlight on a secondary/tertiary Rider Sentai movies have always remained a team affair. However that’s all about to change with Uchu Sentai Kyuranger: Episode of Stinger. The 41st Super Sentai continues to make history with the first spin-off film focusing on a single ranger, following Stinger/Sasori Orange’s brief departure from the team along with Champ/Ouishi Black between episodes 13 and 15.

Monday 20 November 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Genm Zombie Gamer Level X

Release Date: October 2017 
RRP: 6264 yen 

Since first hitting the line with the level 2 forms of Kamen Riders Ex-Aid, Brave and Snipe back in March, the Kamen Rider Ex-Aid S.H. Figuarts line has slowly been chugging away with the level 5 forms of the aforementioned characters together with the same Kamen Rider Lazer forms. However since it's debut there's been one figure collectors have been especially looking forward to, and with his level 2 form predictably being announced as a Tamashii Nations 2017 event exclusive it's no surprise to see the show's fourth Rider joining the line in this form first. A Tamashii web exclusive, the ultimate game master and self-proclaimed god Dan Kuroto has arrived with the release of S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Genm Zombie Gamer Level X. Or as many fans simply refer to him as,  Dangerous Zombie.

Friday 17 November 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Laputa Robot Soldier [Full Action Ver.]

Release Date: October 2017
RRP: 7560 yen

Despite having produced some the most popular and well-known anime films in the world, it seems Studio Ghibli have never been the biggest fans of action figures. You can find plushies, stationary, papercraft models and all manner of other merchandise, but when it comes to poseable figures of their heroes, heroines and other iconic characters there isn’t exactly a lot to choose from. Which is exactly why Bandai’s Laputa Robot Soldier [Full Action Ver] from their 1986 film Laputa: Castle in the Sky is such a big deal. Having previously produced two versions of the robots as a static figure in 2013 and 2015, Bandai are all about articulation the third time around. The downside? This figure was released as a Premium Bandai store exclusive, with a sizeable price tag even before you factor in things like middleman and shipping fees. Still, as a rare chance to own a proper Studio Ghibli action figure this may not be an opportunity for some fans to pass up.

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Body-chan -Kentaro Yabuki- Edition DX Set [Gray Color Ver.]

Release Date: September 2017 (DX version, grey body), October 2017 (Standard version, pale body)
RRP: 7020 yen (DX version), 4860 yen (Standard version)

When Bandai Tamashii Nations announced that they would be releasing their blank body S.H. Figuarts as part of a new range intended as drawing aids, no one quite expected them to take off the way they did. However the pair have arguably gone on to become two of the most popularised Figuarts in the entire brand, prompting a number of recolours and special event exclusives as well as a string of cheap knock-off versions. The fact that my original DX Body-kun review is the most viewed toy review on this blog by a wide margin speaks for itself. Now they’re back with two brand new versions done in collaboration with manga artists Kentaro Yabuki and Rihito Takarai, each bringing their own style and proportions to the Figuarts body. Like her predecessor the S.H. Figuarts Body-chan -Kentaro Yabuki- Edition comes in both standard and DX varieties, with the DX edition moulded from grey plastic and including a larger amount of accessories.

Tuesday 14 November 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Legends LG-46 Targetmaster Kup

Release Date: September 2017
RRP: 4320 yen

As TakaraTomy work through the remaining Titans Return offerings before Hasbro shifts over to the Power of the Primes line, they’re going to extra mile to make the Transformers Legends line really special with many figures receiving an upgrade in the form of an additional Targetmaster. One such figure is the Autobot Kup, a core character for the post-movie years of the Generation One cartoon after making his debut in Transformers: The Movie. Interestingly when Takara originally unveiled this figure it sported a desaturated grey colourscheme similar to his appearance in The Rebirth. However in later pics and for the release itself this colourscheme was changed to one based on his more familiar look from the movie and season three episodes.

Friday 10 November 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Legends LG-45 Targetmaster Hot Rod

Release Date: September 2017
RRP: 4320 yen

Though the Titans Return line is slowly coming to an end to make way for Power of the Primes, TakaraTomy still have a fair few of the moulds to make use of as part of their Transformers Legends line. The 21st wave of the all-encompassing line celebrates all things Transformers: The Movie, with the release of Autobots Kup and Hot Rod alongside a Sharkticon complete with an alternate Sweeps head for the previously released Scourge figure. Hot Rod and Kup are particularly special releases however, with the two now packed with Targetmaster partners alongside the usual Headmaster gimmick brought over from the Titans Return line.

Wednesday 8 November 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Star-Lord

Release Date: September 2017
RRP: 6264 yen (Japanese Edition), $84.99/£99.99 (Western Edition)

With the Marvel Cinematic Universe now truly engrained into the S.H. Figuarts line it’s become customary to expect at least one figure from each new film, and Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 has proved to be no exception. September saw the release of both S.H. Figuarts Star-Lord and a Rocket/Groot 2-pack, both as Tamashii web exclusives. However whereas Rocket still curiously remains exclusive to Japan, Star-Lord follows the recent trend of enhanced Western releases for Marvel Figuarts – coming bundled with effect pieces in the same way Doctor Strange and Spider-Man had earlier.

Monday 6 November 2017

Toybox REVIEW: 52TOYS Beast Box BB-03 JOJO

Release Date: September 2017 (Japan)
RRP: 2678 yen

There have been a lot of great toys released in 2017, but few have won me over quite like 52TOYS’ Beast Box line has. This year saw the Chinese company’s humble little line hit worldwide, with transforming toy collectors all scrambling to pick up their charming (and affordable) transforming cubes. Only a few months after the mass release of their BB-01 DIO and BB-02 Ghost Dog dinosaur figures, they’re back with a brand new creature – Beast Box BB-03 JOJO. This ferocious gorilla is the second animal in their planned series of releases, with a triceratops also initially teased on the back of BB-01’s packaging. Like DIO JOJO also comes in a variety of different colourschemes to suit every taste – kicking things off with both the standard purple and a red/blue “flame” variant.

Thursday 26 October 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Uchu Sentai Kyuranger Minipla Gigant Houou

Release Date: August 2017
RRP: 2150 yen (Single figure – 6 boxes), 4536 yen (Case – Two figures, 12 boxes)

The days of Uchu Sentai Kyuranger feeling crowded for having nine rangers now feel like an eternity ago, as it didn’t take long for the cast to continue to expand with ten, then eleven and now twelve Kyurangers in total. But Houou Soldier marks the arrival of the show’s “sixth” (a title that’s becoming more and more redundant every year) ranger, bringing with him a modified suit, a new transformation device and of course his own mecha. The fourth wave of 2017’s Super Sentai minipla range is Gigant Houou, a three-piece robot made from the Houou Voyager, Houou Station and Houou Base components. Gigant Houou is unique in that it’s Kyuranger’s first wholly independent mecha, with the limbs completely incorporated into the design rather than utilising the limb-swapping gimmick present in the previous releases.

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Dragon Caesar

Release Date: August 2017
RRP: 3780 yen/$45.00

When it comes to giant transforming robots, there’s no way Bandai can ever stop at one. So when Daizyujin was added to their Super Mini-Pla line earlier this year, it was only a matter of time before Dragon Caesar and King Brachion would be joining him. Super Mini-Pla Dragon Caesar is the both the second Super Sentai and Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger release in the line, releasing at retail as a single candy toy model kit rather than being made up of individual components. Like Daizyujin, Dragon Caesar has also been made available in the West via Bluefin Tamashii Nations – giving them new gunpla style packaging as well as of course rebranding them as the Megazord and Dragonzord respectively.

Thursday 19 October 2017

Anime REVIEW: The Reflection

The Reflection
The Reflection is available in streaming form via Crunchyroll

Between Marvel and DC battling it out on the big screen and the popularity of anime such as One-Punch Man and My Hero Academia, superheroes are all the rage wherever you look. However one series that promised to bring both sides of the pond together was The Reflection – which combined the talents of Studio DEEN (Patlabor, Fate/Stay Night) and director Hiroshi Nagahama (Mushishi) with Marvel Comics maestro himself Stan Lee and his POW! Entertainment company.

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Anime REVIEW: Senki Zesshō Symphogear AXZ

Senki Zesshō Symphogear AXZ

I say this every time I write about it, but it’s still hard to believe that Senki Zesshō Symphogear hasn’t just stuck around for four seasons, but a fifth one is pretty much a certainty. But here we are, and everyone’s favourite song-powered armoured girls are back and have added another letter to the title with Senki Zesshō Symphogear AXZ. Expect more explosive battles, more music, more shipping and more girls kicking all kinds of ass. The tagline for this season is “By shedding many tears, the reality you face is…”, which just as gloriously ridiculous as ever.

Friday 13 October 2017

First Impressions: Infini-T Force

Infini-T Force is available in streaming form on Viz Media (US Only)

Tatsunoko Production love a good anniversary, and what better way to celebrate their 55th birthday than with a crossover of some of the many superhero shows they've produced over the years? Infini-T Force brings together the likes of Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, Hurricane Polymar, Neo Human Casshan and Tekkaman in one universe-spanning CGI action series, co-produced with production company Digital Frontier (whose previous works include the likes of the Appleseed movies, live-action Death Note movies as well as an impressive resume of video game cut scenes).

Tuesday 10 October 2017

First Impressions: Time Bokan: The Villains' Strike Back

Time Bokan: The Villains' Strike Back
Time Bokan: The Villains' Strike Back is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

One of the weirder additions to the history books last year was Time Bokan 24 - the newest instalment in Tatsunoko Productions' popular Time Bokan series of shows. And while the show ended in March with confirmation that a second season was indeed in the works, it has now returned under the new title Time Bokan: The Villains' Strike Back. So prepare for twenty-something more episodes of time travelling shenanigans with famous figures from across the ages, only this time something feels different...

Monday 9 October 2017

First Impressions: Love Live! Sunshine!! Season 2

Love Live! Sunshine!! Season 2
Love Live! Sunshine!! is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

Though the Love Live! hype train certainly hasn't shown any signs of stopping over the past few years it's time for it to hit full steam once again as the second season of Love Live! Sunshine!! is finally upon us. When we last left the girls of Aquours they still weren't any closer to saving their school from closure, but they had gotten their first taste of the stage at the regional qualifiers as well as realised that they need to forge their own path instead of simply following in μ's' shadow. Now we're back for another 13 episodes of seaside song times, as Chika, You, Riko, Dia, Kanan, Mari, Yoshiko, Hanamaru and Ruby continue their path to idoldom.

Sunday 8 October 2017

First Impressions: GARO: Vanishing Line

GARO: Vanishing Line
GARO: Vanishing Line is available (in selected territories) in streaming form on Crunchyroll

Even though Zero: Dragon Blood only finished it's run back in April, it feels like it's been an eternity since the last GARO series was airing. That just goes to show how widespread the franchise has become in the last decade, going from a tokusatsu that aired a new season every couple of years to a full-blown franchise spanning multiple timelines and even branching into animation. And speaking of the latter, it's now back for a third anime season - GARO: Vanishing Line. Once again animated by MAPPA, the latest instalment of GARO: The Animation is another standalone series featuring a brand new Golden Knight as well as its own unique setting.

Wednesday 4 October 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Spider Man

Release Date: August 2017
RRP: 6264 yen (Japanese Edition), $99.99/£99.99 (Western Edition)

S.H. Figuarts may have released an impressive number of Marvel Cinematic Universe figures over the past few years but there’s always been one character collectors have been clamouring for. Rival lines Revoltech, Figma and Mafex have all done him in the past, but now with the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming it’s time for Bandai to finally take a crack at everyone’s friendly neighbourhood wall-crawler. S.H. Figuarts Spider-Man is the newest mass release figure from the MCU range, not only retailing in Japan but also arriving in the West as part of a special DX set akin to Bluefin Tamashii Nations' previous Iron Man Mk III and Doctor Strange releases.

Sunday 1 October 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Nappa

Release Date: August 2017
RRP: 7560 yen

The S.H. Figuarts line is full of prototypes that never saw the light of day and the Dragon Ball line is no exception. The series may have recently hit a sweet spot where new releases are coming in at a better rate, but that doesn’t change the fact that the whereabouts of Kid Buu, Maijin Vegeta, GT Goku and Jaco the Galactic Patrolman are still unknown. But arguably one of the most anticipated among these was Nappa. First appearing way back in 2012, Nappa immediately faded into the unknown until the Dragon Ball line got a new lease on life – and with that Nappa also got a brand new figure. The new and improved S.H. Figuarts Nappa is now on par with the newly released Saiyan Saga Vegeta figure, with Nappa himself released as a Tamashii web exclusive in Japan as well as the usual wider release in the US via Bluefin Tamashii Nations.

Friday 15 September 2017

Movie REVIEW: Ultraman Orb the Movie: Lend Me the Power of Bonds!

Ultraman Orb the Movie: Lend Me the Power of Bonds!

Since the debut of Ultraman X in 2015 and the introduction of Crunchyroll’s worldwide simulcasting the Ultra Series has gone from strength to strength, and the popularity of last year’s Ultraman Orb only further solidified this new generation of Ultraman as a franchise to be reckoned with once more. Not content with just returning in the form of Amazon Prime prequel series Ultraman Orb: The Origin Saga, the cast also returned for one last hurrah in this feature-length film, entitled Ultraman Orb the Movie: Lend Me the Power of Bonds! As well as crossing over with other new generation Ultras X, Ginga and Victory, Lend Me the Power of Bonds! also celebrates the 50th anniversary of Ultraseven – much like how X movie Here It Comes! Our Ultraman celebrated the same milestone for the original Ultraman the year before.

Wednesday 13 September 2017

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

Release Date: August 2017
RRP: 6480 yen

When the S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou line kicked off three years ago many assumed it would prioritise brand new versions of the titular Kamen Riders of each series (along with the few forgotten ones), with their order based on their original release dates in the mainline. While this has remained somewhat true, the line has now grown to accommodate villains, alternate forms and additional riders – both as mass release figures and Tamashii web exclusives. Given the popularity of Kamen Rider W, it’s no surprise to see that the line’s first movie Rider is (and as a retail release no less) S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Skull. First appearing in Kamen Rider x Decade & W: Movie War 2010 before later getting his own segment the following year in Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider OOO & W featuring Skull: Movie War Core, Kamen Rider Skull aka Sokichi Narumi is the founder of the Narumi Detective Agency, Shotaro’s mentor and of course Akiko’s father.

Monday 11 September 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Orb Origin

Release Date: August 2017
RRP: 5940 yen

The biggest downside to the Ultra-Act line coming to an end and the Ultra Series being incorporated into S.H. Figuarts is everything began afresh. With Ultraman Ginga the last “new” Ultra-Act and Figuarts going all the way back to the original Ultraman, newer Ultras such as Victory or X have sadly gone without high-quality articulated figures. However things are about to change, as Bandai Tamashii Nations launch a number of Figuarts releases from 2016’s Ultraman Orb and start a new wave of modern Ultraman figures. Kicking things off were a double bill of figures based on Orb’s true form – S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Orb Origin released as a general retail figure, while S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Orb Origin The First (based on his appearance in the Amazon Prime exclusive Ultraman Orb The Origin Saga) was unsurprisingly released as an Amazon exclusive.

Friday 8 September 2017

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider x Super Sentai: Chou Super Hero Taisen

Chou Super Hero Taisen

If there’s one thing that tokusatsu fans seem to almost unanimously agree on, it’s that the Super Hero Taisen films aren’t that great. While both the Kamen Rider and Super Sentai franchises often excel at smaller crossovers, when the two come together it’s less of an excuse to tell a really good story and more to just cram as many characters/suits on screen as humanly possible. After taking a break last year to make way for the brilliant Kamen Rider 1, the now annual film series is back sounding louder than ever in 2017 with Kamen Rider x Super Sentai: Chou Super Hero Taisen. After previous two instalments Heisei Rider vs. Showa Rider: Kamen Rider Taisen and Super Hero Taisen GP: Kamen Rider 3 were almost entirely Rider focused, this film marks the first proper crossover on the two franchises on the big screen since 2014’s Super Hero Taisen Z.

Wednesday 6 September 2017

Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider Ex-Aid

Kamen Rider Ex-Aid

Kamen Rider is a franchise that genuinely sticks to tradition, but every so often there comes a series that just seems to completely break away from the norm be it visually or thematically. With the titular Rider’s neon pink bodysuit, moulded hair helmet and anime-like eyes, it was immediately clear that Kamen Rider Ex-Aid was going to be one of those shows. Written by Lupin III Part 4’s Yuya Takahashi (who previously worked on Drive’s Type Tokujo specials as well as the Super Sentai-inspired Eight Ranger) and directed by Toei veteran Shojiro Nakazawa (head director for Kamen Rider Wizard as well as numerous Sentai series), Ex-Aid brings video games and medicine together as it celebrates 45 years of the long-running franchise.

Monday 4 September 2017

First Impressions: Kamen Rider Build

Kamen Rider Build

Isn’t it amazing how quickly a year can fly by? Roughly this time last year Kamen Rider fans were looking forward to video games and medicine with Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, and now it’s the time of bottles, combos and equations with Kamen Rider Build. Written by franchise newcomer Shogo Muto and directed by Ryuta Tasaki (Kamen Rider Gaim, Gingaman, Akibaranger), the 19th Heisei Rider series (and 28th in total) may not only bring a close to this generation of Kamen Riders but will also mark a brand new timeslot for the show. As of October, Super Hero Time will be not only be moving 90 minutes forward to 9:00-10:00am JST but additionally Kamen Rider will begin airing before Super Sentai. While unlikely to bring about any real change, it is an interesting bit of trivia for those who still follow when these shows air in Japan.

Friday 25 August 2017

Movie REVIEW: Space Squad: Gavan vs. Dekaranger

Space Squad: Gavan vs Dekaranger

Crossovers can be a strange thing. Sometimes they can pair up the most unexpected of things (take the recent DC Comics/Looney Tunes crossover for example) and others are such perfect match ups that you can’t believe they didn’t happen sooner. The pairing of Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger and Space Sheriff Gavan definitely counts as the latter. After the roaring success of their 10 Years After special, the space-cop Super Sentai team are back once again and teaming up with the new Gavan, Geki Jumonji – who took on the mantle in the 2012 Gavan movie and subsequently appeared in Super Hero Taisen Z as well as the Next Generation Sharivan and Shaider movies. Space Squad: Gavan vs. Dekaranger isn’t just a match made in heaven, it’s one with its sights set on the wider Sentai and Metal Heroes universes as well.

Thursday 24 August 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Amazon Sigma

Release Date: July 2017
RRP: 6696 yen

The second season of Kamen Rider Amazons may have come and gone, but the S.H. Figuarts line still has a few characters from the first season up its sleeve before kicking off season two with Kamen Rider Amazon Neo in October. The first of these two Tamashii web exclusive releases is S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Amazon Sigma, which will be followed by Mamoru/Mole Amazon also in October. Amazon Sigma is the resurrected Peston Service member Jun Maehara, his corpse reanimated with Amazon Cells to become Nozama’s ultimate Amazon killing machine.

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Movie REVIEW: Girls in Trouble: Space Squad Episode Zero

Girls in Trouble: Space Squad Episode Zero

While Toei tokusatsu hero crossovers have become fairly commonplace these days thanks to the annual Super Hero Taisen movies, every so often one rolls around that promises something really special. The Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger  and Space Sheriff Gavan crossover Space Squad: Gavan vs. Dekaranger is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated events in sometime – bringing together these space-faring heroes in a crossover that not only sounds good on paper but also makes perfect sense continuity-wise as well. But before we get onto the main action there’s also Girls in Trouble: Space Squad Episode Zero – a prologue V-cinema release starring Jasmine/Deka Yellow and Umeko/Deka Pink as well as the new Space Sheriff assistants Shelly, Sisi and Tammy.

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Gomora

Release Date: July 2017
RRP: 8964 yen

It’s only been a year, but already the Ultraman S.H. Figuarts line has spawned a nice variety of monsters and aliens to go along with the iconic silver giants. However while these releases may have been varied they still all have one thing in common – they’re all humanoid designs that wouldn’t look that out of place in the usual Figuarts packaging. That all changes with the release of S.H. Figuarts Gomora – the first "kaiju-esque" creature to appear in the line. As mass release figure, this is the fourth monster to be released from the original Ultraman series – with Alien Dada still set to follow this November. Originally appearing in the two-part story The Prince of Monsters, Gomora was the first kaiju to battle Ultraman to a draw and has since gone on to become more than just an opponent – acting as both friend and ally in later instalments of the franchise.

Monday 21 August 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Vegeta [2017]

Release Date: July 2017
RRP: 5616 yen

With Dragon Ball Super now over 100 episodes in, it’s fair to say that the Dragon Ball franchise is back in a big way. The same goes for its S.H. Figuarts line too, which has crawled back from the odd web exclusive every so often to a string of regular releases that are both retail and exclusive. August will see the long awaited release of S.H. Figuarts Nappa, with Tienshinhan and Yamcha figures to follow the end of the year. With so many Saiyan Saga-era figures coming, it seems only fitting that there’s also a brand new S.H. Figuarts Vegeta based on his original antagonistic appearance – finally getting the retail release treatment he deserves like the Super Saiyan version did last year.

Friday 18 August 2017

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Ghost RE:BIRTH: Kamen Rider Specter

Kamen Rider Ghost REBIRTH: Kamen Rider Specter

While many will argue that Kamen Rider Ghost is a series that suffered from a number of problems, even its fans often agree that Makoto Fukami could have been handled far better. After initially making a strong debut opposing Takeru’s collection of the Eyecons, Kamen Rider Specter quickly fell into the background as he joined the heroes’ side – lacking in personality and only highlighted by an often confusing evil doppelganger subplot. But even though the show’s now over there’s still a chance to salvage his character in Kamen Rider Ghost RE:BIRTH: Kamen Rider Specter – a V-cinema release following Makoto and Alain’s continued mission in the Ganma world following the show’s conclusion.

Wednesday 16 August 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Freyja Wion

Release Date: July 2017
RRP: 5940 yen

"Junbi wa iinka ne?"

After years of wishing, waiting and seeing prototypes that get release on show at various Tamashii Nations events, the idols of the Macross franchise are finally getting some love from the S.H. Figuarts line. After kicking the Walküre girls off with Mikumo Guynemer, Bandai are continuing the line with their second Macross Delta release – S.H. Figuarts Freyja Wion. The idol from Windermere and newest Walküre member is another retail release for the line, with the fates of Kaname, Makina and Reina still unknown. With their releases quite likely riding on the success of Mikumo and Freyja, these figures need to count if we ever want to see more Macross Figuarts in the future.

Monday 14 August 2017

Custom Figure: TV21 Dalek Comics Menoid Master Mechanoid

The Menoid Master is the leader of the Mechanoids in the TV21 Dalek comic strips, which told the story of Dalek history and conquests in world outside of Doctor Who. Whereas the Mechanoids that appeared in The Chase were simply robots that were abandoned on the planet Mechanus, the Mechanoids of the comics were a different story. As the Daleks began their plans for conquest across the cosmos, the Mechanoids were among their earliest opposition – warning them to stay away from their territory. War was narrowly avoided thanks to the efforts of the Zerovians, but the Mechanoids were still wary of the Daleks and continued to consider them enemies.

Saturday 12 August 2017

Movie REVIEW: Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger Returns: Give Me Your Life! Earth Champion Tournament

Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger Returns: Give Me Your Life! Earth Champion Tournament

It's amazing how fast time flies. Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger's big 35th anniversary bash was a whole six years ago, which means now Super Sentai's 40th anniversary has now passed us as well. That said, Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger still has a few last hurrahs left in it - not just presumably from next year's vs. series movie but also their obligatory epilogue movie, Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger Returns: Give Me Your Life! Earth Champion Tournament! When we last left the Zyuohgers quite a lot had changed for planet Earth, and we rejoin Yamato, Leo, Sela, Tusk, Amu and Misao as part of this brave new world.

Thursday 10 August 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Nendoroid Link Breath of the Wild Ver. DX Edition

 Release Date: July 2017
RRP: 4167 yen (Standard Edition), 5370 yen (DX Edition)

Continuing in their goal to seemingly make a new Link figure for every Legend of Zelda game going forwards, Good Smile Company are back again with Nendoroid Link: Breath of the Wild Ver. in both standard in DX Editions. While some are surely thinking “do we really need yet another Link figure?”, when it comes from one of the most popular Zelda games of all time and is based on a design that’s a significant departure from the usual one the answer is most definitely yes. Breath of the Wild Link is the third Link Nendoroid (following on from the Wind Waker and Majora’s Mask versions) and the sixth overall including the three Figma releases. It’s also the second to be released in 2017, coming only a few months after the release of Figma Link Twilight Princess Ver.

Tuesday 8 August 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla GaoGaiGar Set 02

Release Date: June 2017
RRP: 3078 yen (3 boxes)

As anyone who's bought Bandai toys in the past can attest to, one is never enough. So when Super Mini-Pla GaoGaiGar was released earlier this year, it was inevitable that the model kit was going to be followed up with either upgrade parts of another robot from The King of Braves GaoGaiGar. Lo and behold a few short months later we have Super Mini-Pla GaoGaiGar Set 02, an upgrade set which includes GoldyMarg, Stealth Gao II and the Gatling Driver. With Super Mini-Pla GaoGaiGar now in possession of what's arguably his signature weapon, it's hammer time.

Wednesday 2 August 2017

Anime REVIEW: One Punch Man

One Punch Man

Every so often there comes an anime series that you just can’t escape from even if you aren’t watching. In 2015, that series was undoubtedly One Punch Man. ONE’s webcomic turned manga turned anime series was a worldwide hit, prompting all sorts of discussion, images and debate about whether its hero could beat up Goku in a fight. With studio Madhouse now confirming that a second season will be arriving in 2018, now is the time for the uninitiated (i.e. myself) to catch up and experience one of the most talked-about shows of the past few years.

Monday 31 July 2017

Series REVIEW: Ultra Q

Ultra Q

Back in 1966 before the days of Kamen Rider, Super Sentai or even Ultraman, there were still kaiju. Thanks to the success of the original Godzilla in 1955 and the subsequent films that followed, giant monster fever was about to hit an all-time high. While continuing his work on the Godzilla films with Toho studios, special effects legend Eiji Tsuburaya and his company Tsuburaya Productions teamed up with the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) to create Ultra Q, an episodic fantasy series pitched as Japan's answer to The Twilight Zone and The Outer LimitsUltra Q was the very first entry in the long-running Ultra Series, with the original Ultraman starting only two weeks after it's 28-episode run. The rest of course is history. 

Thursday 27 July 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Doctor Strange

Release date: June 2017
RRP: 6480 yen (Japanese Edition), $84.99/£99.99 (Western Edition)

Bandai Tamashii Nations' journey through the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues with the release of S.H. Figuarts Doctor Strange! Although coming quite a while after the release of the character's film debut last year, the figure does time nicely with the growing hype for Avengers: Infinity War next year when the character (as played by Benedict Cumberbatch) will interact with the rest of the MCU for the first time. As well as releasing as a Tamashii web exclusive in Japan, Doctor Strange was released officially in the West as part of an exclusive set which also includes a number of flame effect parts.

Wednesday 26 July 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Mikumo Guynemer

Release Date: June 2017 
RRP: 5940 yen 

Bandai Tamashii Nations have given the Macross franchise a lot of love in the past few years, but in the usual fashion that love is usually reserved for the various Valkyries and other mecha that feature in the show rather than the characters themselves. However that's all about to change, as poseable Macross figures finally become a reality with the release of S.H. Figuarts Mikumo Guynemer. The first of the five Walküre girls to appear in the line, the "Mysterious Venus" of Macross Delta was a mass release figure - with Freyja Wion following suit in July. While there's still no word on the release of Kaname, Makina and Reina, prototypes at the very least have been produced so hopefully one day the group will be complete. But for now, it's time to see what the Kumo-Kumo has to offer.

Tuesday 25 July 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts King Joe

Release Date: June 2017 
RRP: 7560 yen 

Ever since the Ultra Series found its new home with S.H. Figuarts the line has gone from strength to strength, limited not only to the Ultramen themselves but also aliens, kaiju and even an alternate version of the original Ultraman suit. This year marked the line’s jump to Ultraseven, with Bandai Tamashii Nations’ third release from the show adding another staple opponent to the ever-growing line-up of Ultraman creatures. To Ultra fans King Joe needs no introduction, originally making its debut in episodes 14 and 15 of Ultraseven before going on to reappear (albeit sometimes in different colours) in Ultraman Max, Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle, Ultra Galaxy Legend, Ultraman Ginga S, Ultraman X and more.

Monday 24 July 2017

First Impressions: The Reflection

The Reflection
The Reflection is available in streaming form via Crunchyroll

Surely the combination of Stan Lee, Studio DEEN and director Hiroshi Nagahama (Mushishi, Detroit Metal City) is a recipe for success right? This summer anime fans will find out with the release of The Reflection, a new collaborative effort between Studio Deen and Lee’s own Pow! Entertainment. This isn’t the first time Stan Lee has dived into the world of anime, but with an increase in superhero shows thanks to the success of Tiger & Bunny, One-Punch Man and My Hero Academia the competition is pretty stiff these days.