Monday 31 December 2018

Favourite Toys of 2018

It's that time of the year again! Before we usher in 2019 it's time to look back at all the purchases I've made this year and pick out my ten favourites. This year's offerings are a little different that before in that it also features I few things I haven't reviewed on the site (either because I just never got around to it or it's a relatively recent release and it's on the backlog), but like before I've tried to make it as varied as possible so it isn't just a list of ten Figuarts. It's also worth noting that these are my favourite toys of 2018, so not necessarily the best ones I've bought. So while there may be ones that didn't make the cut I've perhaps rated higher, they don't necessarily have as much emotional significance to me as the ones I've listed here.

While most of my purchases for the year have arrived and been inspected to see if they'd make the list (including the ones I haven't put up reviews for yet), there are a few that are exempt either because they haven't arrived yet or (in the case of model kits) I haven't got around to building them yet. These are:
- Super Mini-Pla Kakure Daishogun
- Super Mini-Pla Gridman & Assist Weapons
- S.H. Figuarts Gudon
- NECA Bride of Chucky Ultimate Chucky & Tiffany 2-Pack

But enough of that, on with the list!

Friday 28 December 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Dan Kuroto Shin ~A New Joy & Anger~

Release Date: November 2018
RRP: 7344 yen

Sometimes Bandai Tamashii Nations' S.H. Figuarts release patterns can be fairly predictable, but by now collectors are fairly used to them throwing a curveball and just come up with a release that you'd never see coming. Recognising that Kuroto Dan/Kamen Rider Genm was by far and large the most popular thing (all thanks to Tetsuya Iwanga's larger than life performance) about Kamen Rider Ex-Aid was one thing, but I don't think anyone was ready for just how much love Bandai were going to give him. Web exclusive figures, event exclusive figures, numerous "display only" figures that may or may not be stuck in development hell and even repaints that came out months before the suit they were originally based on. But even more surprising than that is not just one, but  TWO figures of the man himself in his civilian guise - both of which almost instantly sold out their initial Tamashii web exclusive runs and were quickly set up for a second shipment at the beginning of 2018. Fans of the games master and one true god were given the choice between the black jacketed  S.H. Figuarts Shin Dan Kuroto ~A New Sorrow & Fun~, or the grey jacketed S.H. Figuarts Dan Kuroto Shin ~A New Joy & Anger~ - each with their own unique head sculpts and accessories.

Thursday 27 December 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Muteki Shogun

Release Date: September 2018
RRP: 5940 yen

When Bandai kicked off the Super Mini-Pla line a few years ago one of the key things they expressed interest in was deeper exploration of the Super Sentai franchise. Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger was an obvious place to start given its iconic status globally, but where do you go from there? Well it seems Bandai aren't sticking to any set pattern, first revisiting the pre-Zyuranger years with Chojuu Sentai Liveman's Live Robo and Live Boxer and now fast-forwarding to 1994 and Ninja Sentai Kakuranger. As well as being especially popular due to their appearance in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers season 3, the Kakuranger mecha are undoubtedly some of the most popular Super Sentai has to offer. So it's no surprise really to see Bandai appease fans by dropping the whole set all at once, with Super Mini-Pla Muteki Shogun (known to Power Rangers fans as the Shogun Megazord) leading the charge as a mass release item.

Monday 24 December 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Robot Damashii Strelizia

Release Date: October 2018
RRP: 5184 yen

SSSS.Gridman may be the Studio Trigger anime of 2018 that everyone remembers, but earlier in the year they co-produced a show that anime fans were far more divided on – and in some cases most people would rather forget. Nevertheless Darling in the Franxx was still a thing that happened, and between being a highly publicised series and featuring mecha designs from Shigeto Koyama (Star Driver, Captain Earth), merchandise was pretty much a given. And it was Bandai Tamashii Nations that turned out to surprise fans, not only announcing the Franxx mecha for their Robot Damashii (Spirits) line but also human pilots in the S.H. Figuarts. Though it's looking less and less likely that Bandai will be completing the main cast in either line, at the main bases have been covered with the Robot Damashii Strelizia figure.

Saturday 22 December 2018

Series REVIEW: Power Rangers Ninja Steel

It was only eight years ago that fans were looking forward to a brand new era for Power Rangers, as the franchise returned home to Saban Brands following its nine year stay at Disney. Following Disney's declining interest in promoting the series fans were positive about how its return to Saban would revitalise the brand, and in many ways it did. The Power Rangers brand became more globally recognised than it had been in a long time, and in 2017 we even got an (albeit poorly performing) feature film. But fast forward to 2018 and after four series stretched out to last two years each, a poorly received anniversary season and some questionable writing, fans are ready to say goodbye to Saban once more and looking towards a brighter fusion as Hasbro take over. The "Neo Saban" era bowed out with the release of Power Rangers Ninja Steel in 2017, which as per the other shows in this era returned for its second half the following year as Power Rangers Ninja Super Steel – which also featured the franchise's 25th anniversary celebrations. The release of Ninja Steel marks the second time a Super Sentai season has been skipped over for Western adaptation, with Ressha Sentai ToQger being passed on in favour of the supposedly more marketable Shuriken Sentai Ninninger.

Thursday 20 December 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Zero Beyond

Release Date: November 2018
RRP: 5940 yen

When S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Belial Atrocious was released earlier this year as part of the line's Ultraman Geed range, it seemed a given that the Fusion Rise form of the evil Ultra's eternal rival wouldn't be too far behind. Fast forward a few months and Ultraman Zero has finally arrived in the S.H. Figuarts line, calling upon the powers of New Generation Ultras Ultraman Ginga, Ultraman Victory, Ultraman X and Ultraman Orb to become Ultraman Zero Beyond.  Like all of the Ultraman Geed figures outside of the initial Ultraman Geed Primative release, Ultraman Zero Beyond is a Tamashii web exclusive release.

Monday 17 December 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Figma Lillie

Release Date: November 2018
RRP: 6296 yen

Whereas Good Smile Company's Nendoroid line has been fairly flexible about what Pokémon characters it releases (ranging across all generations of games, trainer characters, gym leaders and even the odd anime release), the Figma line has been a little more restricted. So far there's only been two Pokémon figures made, both of which were trainer figures and came from both the first and last of the main game series. However for their third release Max Factory are bucking the trend a little bit, sticking with Pokémon Sun and Moon but moving outside of playable characters with Figma Lillie! The mysterious girl who lives with Professor Kukui, Lillie's connection with her Cosmog 'Nebby' is what kicks off the game's storyline, bringing both her and the player into contact with the Aether Foundation, the Ultra Beasts and Lillie's mother Lusamine. This release is based on her "Lively Lillie" wardrobe she dons toward the end of the game, fresh in her resolve to save both Nebby and her mother.

Sunday 16 December 2018

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

Release Date: September 2018
RRP: 7020 yen

Ever since Kamen Rider Kabuto was released back in 2014, the S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou line has been providing collectors the best of the best when it comes to Kamen Rider Figuarts. However for the most part the line has been extremely Heisei era-centric, with it only expanding into the Showa era last year with the release of Kamen Rider 1. But this year has seen a fair few expansions in the line, not only branching outside of Kamen Rider with Golden Knight Garo but also continuing to delve into the Showa era with both Rider 2 and S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Amazon! A character not only being beloved for being rather unique among his fellow Riders, Kamen Rider Amazon is still particularly relevant even now thanks to the recent Kamen Rider Amazons series. That makes him the perfect choice for the premium Bandai Tamashii Nations treatment.

Friday 14 December 2018

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Amazons the Movie: The Last Judgement

Kamen Rider Amazons the Movie: The Last Judgement

One of the most interesting Kamen Rider success stories of the past few years has undoubtedly been that of Kamen Rider Amazons - the Amazon Prime exclusive web series that not only spawned a second season, but also went on to have both an edited television run in Japan AND found its way onto international versions of the streaming platform. However everything must eventually come to an end, and this year Toei boldy decided to forgo their usual "Super Hero Taisen" Spring movie in favour of a feature-length finale entitled Kamen Rider Amazons the Movie: The Last Judgement. With the second season's story effectively over, this movie returns the to the core of the series – finally bringing fans the climactic showdown between Haruka Mizusawa/Kamen Rider Amazon Omega and his long time rival Jin Takayama/Kamen Rider Amazon Alpha.

(This post is also part of a cross-promotion with - please visit the site and discuss your thoughts on the movie at the dedicated discussion thread there!)

Thursday 13 December 2018

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 11x10 - The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos

Doctor Who 11x10 - The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos

It's been an interesting ten weeks, but the end of Doctor Who series 11 has finally arrived. Over the past two and half months we've been properly introduced to a brand new Doctor, new companions, a new show runner and had new writers take us across journeys through time and space. But all things eventually come to an end, and with the announcement that there won't be another full series until 2020 there's even more riding on both this and the upcoming New Years' Day special. It all ends this year with The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos, written by show runner Chris Chibnall and directed by Jamie Childs.

Monday 10 December 2018

Movie REVIEW: Uchu Sentai Kyuranger vs. Space Squad

Uchu Sentai Kyuranger vs Space Squad

Despite being a tentpole piece of Toei's tokusatsu line up during the 80s and 90s, the Metal Heroes franchise doesn’t quite have the presence it once did in comparison to the likes of Super Sentai or Kamen Rider. That began to change a few years ago following a few movies and cameo appearances from Space Sheriffs, and then last year Gavan rose to the occasion once again as he teamed up with the Dekarangers in Space Squad: Gavan vs. Dekaranger. The end of that film's tease about recruiting further heroes to the team didn't turn out to be an empty promise either, and the story now continues into a second film – Uchu Sentai Kyuranger vs Space Squad. As well as seeing the 41st Super Sentai team into the fold, this film also prominently brings back the new generation Space Sheriff Shaider as well as characters from the seventh Metal Heroes series Sekai Ninja Sen Jiraiya.

Thursday 6 December 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman X & Gomora Armour Set

Release Date: October 2018
RRP: 7560 yen

Ultraman Ginga may have been the last "current" Ultraman figure in the Ultra-Act line before it slowly faded away, but it would be another three years before the S.H. Figuarts line picked up the slack and continued covering the more recent shows with Ultraman Orb. And though Bandai Tamashii Nations have continued this through Ultraman Geed and Ultraman R/B, there's been one titular Ultra hero missing for some time now. However the wait is finally over, as Ultraman X finally makes its high-end figure debut with the S.H. Figuarts Ultraman X & Gomora Armour set. Nicely timed just before the impending release of Ultraman Rosso and Blu, fans can finally own a full New Generations Ultra line up in some shape or form and come one step to it closer solely in Figuarts form.

Tuesday 4 December 2018

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 11x09 - It Takes You Away

Doctor Who 11x09 - It Takes You Away

The shorter episode count certainly hasn't helped matters, but it barely feels like any time has passed at all and we've already reached the penultimate episode of Doctor Who series 11. This is a series that's already been particularly big on locations, so it's no surprise to see it jet off to another area that (for the most part anyway) isn't Cardiff before the finale. This time the Doctor is going Nordic in It Takes You Away, the ninth episode in the series written by Ed Hime and directed by Jamie Childs. This is Hime's first foray in the world of Doctor Who, continuing this series' trend of primarily new writers and directors.

Sunday 2 December 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Crow Amazon

Release Date: October 2018
RRP: 7020 yen

When Kamen Rider Amazons began its second season back in April 2017, it didn't take very long at all for Bandai Tamashii Nations to jump on the merchandise train. But while Kamen Rider Amazon Neo and new editions of returning Amazons Alpha and Omega were released fairly swiftly, there was one character sorely missing from the S.H. Figuarts line. What good is a monster boy without his zombie monster girlfriend? Fast forward to October 2018 and the S.H. Figuarts Crow Amazon is finally upon us, rounding off what is arguably the "core" Amazons cast of the two seasons. A Sigma-type Amazon created from the revived body of Iyu Hoshino and used as 4C's killing machine, the Crow Amazon was released by Bandai as a Tamashii web exclusive.

Friday 30 November 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Golion (Voltron)

Release Date: August 2018
RRP: 5292 yen

When Bandai first announced their Super Mini-pla model kit line, it didn't take much for fans to start speculating which anime and tokusatsu mecha could and should be a part of it. And after finally making it's long awaited debut in the high-end Soul of Chogokin line, this was definitely the next logical stop for one of the 80s most recognisable super robots - Golion, or as he's better known around the rest of the world, Voltron.  Released in Japan under its original Beast King Golion branding, Super Mini-Pla Golion was also brought over to the West by Bluefin and marketed under the more familiar Voltron banner.

Wednesday 28 November 2018

Toybox REVIEW: RIOBOT Iron Giant

Release Date: September 2018
RRP: 15000 yen

Each year this site hosts a lot of different toy reviews (mostly from the same handful of lines, but I digress), but every so often something comes around that's really special. Despite receiving critical acclaim upon its release way back in 1998 and achieving cult status since, The Iron Giant is a film that's never really received much in the way of high end toys. However recent years have sought to change that, and with the film and character recently coming back into the public eye because of its 20th anniversary and cameo appearance in Ready Player One high-end mecha manufacturers Sentinel are finally adding the star to their lavish Riobot line. Now Riobot isn't a line known for it's low prices so this is one that'll also set you back a fair bit, but at half the size and half the price of Mondo's Iron Giant it's definitely one fans have been waiting on for a long time.

Monday 26 November 2018

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 11x08 - The Witchfinders

Doctor Who 11x08 - The Witchfinders

When it was first announced that Jodie Whittaker had been cast as the 13th Doctor, it opened up all kinds of story potential for Doctor Who. Suddenly historical tales could have a whole new spin on them, and there were plenty of ideas available that just wouldn't have worked had the Doctor continued to be a man. The first thing that immediately came to my mind was "what if the Doctor travelled back to there 17th century and was tried as witch"? And by the looks of it I wasn't the only one to think that, because that's exactly what's going on in series 11's eighth episode, The Witchfinders. This one was written by Joy Wilkinson and directed by Sallie Aprahamian, and inadvertently released early when Amazon Prime accidentally uploaded it to their service instead of previous episode Kerblam!. Guess that's what happens when you try to critique the mighty Amazon...

Sunday 25 November 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Rogue

Release Date: September 2018
RRP: 6246 yen

Kamen Rider Build may have finished its television run a few months ago but there's still plenty from the series to look forward to. As well the forthcoming V-cinema release and the cast's return in Heisei Generations Forever, on the toy side of things Bandai Tamashii Nations have been continuing to expand their releases throughout the rest of this year and the beginning of 2019. Now that Hokuto's Kamen Rider has already joined the battle, it's time for Seito's to arrive - introducing S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Rogue. The former head of the Touto Institute of Advanced Physics, Prime Minister and leader of Faust, the disgraced Gentoku Himuro turns his back on Touto and allies himself with Seito - discarding his Night Rogue identity and undergoing gruelling training to become their new Rider. However Gentoku would eventually betray Seito and Namba Industries, fighting alongside Kiryu Sento against Evolto in the name of love and peace. S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Rogue is a Tamashii web exclusive release.

Thursday 22 November 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Antlar Review

Release Date: September 2018
RRP: 7560 yen

When Bandai Tamashii Nations first revealed that the Ultra-Act line would be drawing to a close and Ultraman was joining the flagship S.H. Figuarts line, who would have thought we'd still be getting monsters from the original series two years later? Despite moving forwards into Ultraseven and Return of Ultraman as well as the newer era Ultra Series, the line just keeps coming back to that first series. S.H. Figuarts Antlar is the seventh foe the original Ultraman faced to be graced a figure in the line, coincidentally appearing in the seventh episode of the series - The Blue Stone of Baraji. This episode is also notable for featuring a civilisation that worshipped another Ultraman from their past, later retconned to be Ultraman Noa. Since then Antlar has made several appearances in the franchise, most recently appearing as one of Zaigorg's henchmen in the Ultraman X movie. Like all of the original series releases since Gomora, S.H. Figuarts Antlar is a Tamashii web exclusive release.

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 11x07 - Kerblam!

All in all it's been a pretty solid series of Doctor Who thus far, but you'd have to blind not to notice that things have been a little different this time around. There's been aliens, there's been space and there's been time travel, but there's been a much lesser focus on memorable monsters and enemies that helped make Doctor Who what it is today. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but with the likes of the Daleks and Cybermen retired for the time being it is a bit odd to see the 13th Doctor without some intergalactic threat to quash. However things look like they might be a little more familiar with Kerblam! – the seventh episode in the series written by Pete McTighe and directed by Jennifer Perrott.

Monday 19 November 2018

Anime REVIEW: Planet With

Planet With
Planet With is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

Satoshi Mizukami is a man that's become quite popular among manga readers for titles like Psycho Staff and Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer, but for the anime-only crowd he's pretty much an unknown. However this year he made his anime debut with Planet With, a 12-episode series from J.C. Staff (the studio behind Revolutionary Girl Utena, Excel Saga, Toradora! and so much more) that's been a pet project of his for the last four years. The results were interesting to say the least.

Friday 16 November 2018

Movie REVIEW: GARO: Fang of God

GARO: Kami no Kiba

Even though fans were treated to the fantastic GARO: Vanishing Line anime earlier this year, it feels like it's been a while since the last proper GARO series. The last live-action entry in the ever-growing franchise was Zero: Dragon Blood back at the beginning of 2017, which being a Zero series (not that that's in any way a bad thing) was fairly low on Golden Knight action. 2018 did however kick off with a brand new movie entry, continuing the story of Ryuga Dougai in GARO: Kami no Kiba ("Fang of God").

Wednesday 14 November 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Orb Dark

Release Date: October 2018
RRP: 5940 yen

If there's one thing Bandai Tamashii Nations like saving for their annual Tamashii Nation event figures, it's black repaints. Between Kamen Rider Joker, Proto-Drive, Dark Kabuto and Genm Level 2 there's definitely a predictable pattern to these sought-after exclusives. Tamashii Nation 2018 was absolutely no exception, not only presenting fans with the opportunity to own Kamen Rider Build's Hazard form but also their first S.H. Figuarts Ultraman exclusive. The first character to be released from the currently airing Ultraman R/B, S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Orb Dark (or to use his full name, Ultraman Orb Dark Noir Black Schwarz) is a repaint of the Ultraman Orb Origin figure previously released back in August 2017. 

Monday 12 November 2018

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 11x06 - Demons of the Punjab

Doctor Who 11x06 - Demons of the Punjab

Since this current series of Doctor Who seems to be all about the simple stories, one about going back in time to visit your own relatives and the dangers that can bring about seemed almost inevitable. The show already did an excellent job of that back in 2005 with Father's Day, but the concept is so ingrained into science fiction culture that there's always room for a second go. Episode six of the 2018 series is entitled Demons of the Punjab, directed by Jamie Childs and written by Vinay Patel – making it the first episode this series without credited writing input from showrunner Chris Chibnall.

Saturday 10 November 2018

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

Release Date: August 2018
RRP: 7020 yen

In 2014 fans got one step closer to a full S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider line up with the release of Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Hibiki, and though Kamen Rider Kiva was still nowhere in sight the fact Bandai Tamashii Nations were finally tackling Kamen Rider Hibiki suggested its other characters wouldn't be too far behind. What followed instead was nearly four years of silence, prompting fears that Ibuki, Todoroki and Zanki may be condemned to Figuarts limbo. However it's now 2018 and all of that has changed, most of all because Kiva is FINALLY coming. But before then the other three core Hibiki Oni are on the way, starting with S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Ibuki! Ibuki was a Tamashii web exclusive release, and Todoroki and Zanki will both follow suit next year.

Wednesday 7 November 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Nendoroid Guardian

Release Date: August 2018
RRP: 5370 yen

With Breath of the Wild going on to become of the most popular and beloved Legend of Zelda titles of all time, there was no way that Good Smile Company were going to stop at just one figure. While fans are still sadly waiting for a properly proportioned Figma release, the Nendoroid line definitely went all out with its version of Link. So what's next? Zelda? Maybe one of the four Champions? Not quite. Instead we have the Nendoroid Guardian – the ancient six-legged automatons created by the Sheikah to help in the fight against Calamity Ganon. Unfortunately for Link, Ganon's malevolence is now in control – and the Guardians patrol Hyrule Castle ready to attack any invader.

Monday 5 November 2018

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 11x05: The Tsuranga Conundrum

Doctor Who 11x05 - The Tsuranga Conundrum

Doctor Who series 11 has officially reached the halfway point, and for this week's episode the franchise is getting back to basics a bit. There's a spaceship, there's an alien, and there are also plenty of long corridors to be running down. The Tsuranga Conundrum is the fifth episode of the series, once again written by showrunner Chris Chibnall and directed by Jennifer Perrott. With "Team TARDIS" properly in place since the events of Arachnids in the UK, it's time for the adventures in space in time to truly begin.

Saturday 3 November 2018

Series REVIEW: Denkou Chojin Gridman

Denkou Chojin Gridman

Tsuburaya Productions may be best known for the both Ultraman and the Ultra Series, but that isn't the only tokusatsu series they've given birth to in their 55 year history. There's also been the likes of Redman, Mirrorman, Jumborg Ace, Fireman and many, many more. But to the more casual Western fan around during the Power Rangers boom, there's one definitely more recognisable than the others – Gridman, alternatively its American-adaptation counterpart Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad. Denkou Chojin Gridman (also known as Gridman the Hyper Agent) is a 39-episode series produced between 1993 and 1994, and would be Tsuburaya's last non-Ultra giant series until 2006. The series has enjoyed something of a resurgence among fans lately, thanks to English subtitles being made available legally in the US through TOKU and of course more significantly Trigger's (currently airing) anime adaptation SSSS.Gridman.

Thursday 1 November 2018

Toybox REVIEW: NECA Ultimate Chucky

Release Date: November 2017
RRP: $29.99/£29.99

Halloween has only just passed, and like many I've spent the last month or so getting into the spirit by revisiting some of my favourite horror films. And as far as gore-filled slasher fests go, the Chucky series is definitely the closest to my heart. During my rewatch of all seven films I came to the conclusion that the maniacal doll first seen in 1988's Child's Play needed plastic representation in my collection, and wandering around a convention recently NECA stepped in to provide just that. Joining the likes of Freddy, Jason and Leatherface, NECA's Ultimate Chucky figure is designed to be the very best among their ever-popular horror range.

Tuesday 30 October 2018

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 11x04 - Arachnids in the UK

Doctor Who 11x04 - Arachnids in the UK

With space and time both neatly ticked off this week Doctor Who returns home for another present day adventure, and it's sure to be one that'll get certain fans' spines tingling. Arachnophobia sufferers beware, because there's Arachnids in the UK and in 2018 things are going to be looking a little more realistic than they did back in 1974's Planet of the Spiders. The fourth episode in series 11 was written by showrunner Chris Chibnall, and directed by Sallie Aprahamian.

Thursday 25 October 2018

Anime REVIEW: FLCL: Alternative

Some anime series wait years to get a sequel. Others wait years and then not only get one, but two almost simultaneously. This was exactly the case for beloved cult classic FLCL (aka Fooly Cooly), which after 18 years didn't only just come back in the form of the six-part FLCL: Progressive, but also spun off in a different direction with another six-part series - FLCL: Alternative. Like Progressive this new series doesn't have any input from original co-creators Gainax, instead coming solely from Production I.G. in collaboration with Toho and Adult Swim. As the series was first released through Adult Swim, for the time being only the English dubbed version is available to Western fans. We did however get a taste for Alternative in its original language earlier in the year, with the first episode airing subtitled as part of Adult Swim's annual April Fools' Day shenanigans.

Tuesday 23 October 2018

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 11x03 - Rosa

Doctor Who 11x03 - Rosa

It started off in present day, it's gone off into outer space and so by the law of averages it's now time for Doctor Who to tackle the past in its third episode of series 11. Simply titled Rosa, this is an episode that takes the show back to its semi-educational roots and brings the timeless story of civil rights activist Rosa Parks to a whole new audience. Once again directed by Mark Tonderai, the episode is notable for being co-written (alongside showrunner Chris Chibnall) by Malorie Black – the first black writer for the show in its 55 year history.

Saturday 20 October 2018

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 11x02 - The Ghost Monument

Doctor Who 11x02 - The Ghost Monument

The woman has now fallen to Earth, and now it's time for her to take to the skies with new friends in tow as Doctor Who series 11 continues with The Ghost Monument. This may be the second episode in the series but it still has plenty of "firsts" on offer too, the most significant of those being the new title sequence and new look TARDIS. The Ghost Monument was written by series showrunner Chris Chibnall and directed by series newcomer Mark Tonderai, who has previously directed episodes of both Gotham and Black Lightning.

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers: The Ride 3D Deluxe Class Evac

Release Date: 2012
RRP: $30

I recently went on a trip to Universal Studios Resort in Orlando, and quite a lot has changed since I was last there about a decade ago. For a start the park (along with the ones in Singapore and California) now is host to Transformers: The Ride 3D - a motion vehicle 3D ride where passengers assist NEST in defending the last shard of the Allspark from a Decepticon attack. Passengers board the Autobot Evac as they race through both NEST facility and the nearby city, fighting against the likes of Ravage, Bonecrusher, Devasator, Grindor, Starscream and of course Megatron alongside Bumblebee, Sideswipe and Optimus Prime. Evac is a Transformer created exclusively for the ride, and is also available in toy form exclusively at Universal Studios gift stores. This deluxe class figure has been available consistently since 2012 and probably will continue to be until the ride eventually closes, which is a pretty impressive production run when you think about it.

Friday 19 October 2018

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 11x01 - The Woman Who Fell To Earth

Doctor Who 11x01 - The Woman That Fell to Earth

Doctor Who has returned to television screens once again, and this time it's a debut that could give even the 2005 revival a run for its money in terms of anticipation. The show that's built itself on change continues to grow as it welcomes Jodie Whittaker, the 13th Doctor and the first woman in the 55 year old role. That isn't the only new thing the show's 11th series has to offer either, as it also brings along a new head writer in the form of Chris Chibnall, new companions, a new TARDIS, a new logo, a new episode running time and even a new airdate as it moves from Saturday evenings to Sunday for the first time since its revival. That's a lot of changes, and these changes have brought about a lot of discussion - both for better and for worse. But amidst all the speculation and damnation, there was one message that was clear - no one knew exactly what these changes would bring until we saw them in action. Series 11 kicks off with The Woman Who Fell to Earth, a special 65 minute episode to welcome in this new era.

First Impressions: SSSS.Gridman

SSSS.Gridman is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

2018-2019 is proving to be a rather busy time for Studio Trigger. They collaborated earlier in the year with A-1 Pictures on Darling in the Franxx, hit the big screen the beginning of next year with Promare and even have a Kill la Kill video game in the works. But for tokusatsu fans, there's one particular Trigger project that stands out from them all. The studio have teamed up with Ultraman creators Tsuburaya Productions to create SSSS.Gridman - a brand new anime adaptation of the TsuPro's 1994 series Denkou Chojin Gridman (adapted in the US as Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad). This isn't the first time Trigger have dabbled with Gridman either, having previously brought its cancelled sequel hero Gridman Sigma to life in their Japan Animator Expo short boys invent great hero. Sandwiched between the GARO series and the forthcoming Ultraman manga Netflix series, it's a pretty great time for tokusatsu anime adaptations.

Friday 5 October 2018

Anime REVIEW: Cells at Work!

Cells at Work!
Cells at Work! is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll 

Anthropomorphism – the one thing that will ensure that anime never runs out of ideas. From monsters and countries to guns and warships, the act of turning things into marketable moe has always proven to be particularly popular. Now 2018 has shown that won't be changing any time soon with the release of Cells at Work! (Hataraku Saibou), adapted from the ongoing manga series of the same name by Akane Shimizu. This time it’s the turn of the human body, turning the millions of cells inside of us all into a whole selection of memorable characters. Running for a total of 13 episodes and animated by JoJo's Bizarre Adventure maestros David Production, Japan's answer to Osmosis Jones might just be the series you didn't know you wanted but secretly have always needed.

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Anime REVIEW: Gundam Build Divers

Gundam Build Divers
Gundam Build Divers is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll and Youtube 

Sometimes there's no shame in shameless consumerism, and with Gundam Build Fighters both Bandai and Sunrise seemingly found the perfect formula for creating a Mobile Suit Gundam entry that's thoroughly enjoyable despite being primarily created to shift boxes and boxes of gunpla. Following the sequel series Gundam Build Fighters Try in 2015 this specific subset of the franchise went pretty quiet other than a few OVA-style specials here and there, but in 2018 it came back in full force under the new name of Gundam Build Divers. The game may be a little different, but it's still business as always when it comes to building customised Gundams and battling them across a series chock-full of franchise references and homages. But does it manage to capture the same magic as the original Build Fighters?

Monday 24 September 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Grease

Release Date: August 2018
RRP: 6264 yen

It's an unfortunate truth of the S.H. Figuarts line these days that no matter how much of a main character a particular Kamen Rider may be, the way Bandai Tamashii Nations release these figures its almost certain that someone will end up as a Tamashii web exclusive rather than a general retail release. Kamen Rider Build got off to its odd decisions pretty early with the standard Kamen Rider Cross-Z being an exclusive while the less prevalent Cross-Z Charge was a general release. S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Grease is the latest Build character to join the line, with Hokuto's own Kazumi Sawatari kicking off what will most likely be a string of Tamashii web exclusives from here on out.

Friday 21 September 2018

Movie REVIEW: Ultraman Geed the Movie: Connect the Wishes!

Ultraman Geed the Movie: Connect the Wishes!

Although for the most part heroes never fully retire in the world of tokusatsu, it can often be a bittersweet moment when one series comes to an end and the baton is passed onto a new hero. However there's always one last farewell in the form of a movie, and Ultraman Geed's story is no exception as the 2017 Ultra returns in Ultraman Geed the Movie: Connect the Wishes!. As per previous entires Tsuburaya Productions' latest Ultra Series film instalment also acts as a crossover with 2016's Ultraman Orb - a hero that has continued to stay in the spotlight since his original series thanks to an Amazon Prime exclusive prequel series, a biography-style recap series and more recently a dark version of the titular character's powers appearing in the currently airing Ultraman R/B.

Sunday 16 September 2018

Movie REVIEW: Engine Sentai Go-Onger: Ten Years Grand Prix

Engine Sentai Go-Onger: Ten Years Grand Prix

The realisation that Engine Sentai Go-Onger came out ten years ago might be making some fans pretty old right now, but there is one silver lining to this reminder of just how quickly time can pass. After both Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger and Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger reunited for special V-Cinema releases a decade after their original appearances, it's now time to go at full-throttle mach speed once again as the 32nd Super Sentai team return for Engine Sentai Go-Onger: Ten Years Grand Prix. So grab your Engine Souls and get ready to 'met on once again, as all seven team members are back for one last adventure.

Thursday 13 September 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Pandon "The Biggest Invasion in History" Set

Release Date: August 2018
RRP: 8100 yen

Although the latter half of 2018 will be going full force on modern Ultra Series releases with both the long awaited Ultraman X and Ultraman R/B figures, Bandai Tamashii Nations still have plenty of love to give to the classic era of Ultraman. This year may have seen the S.H. Figuarts line move ahead into The Return of Ultraman but there's still plenty of room for releases from both the original series and Ultraseven - with this particular one being extra special. The vanguard of the Alien Ghos and the final opponent of Ultraseven, the twin-headed monster has finally arrived! S.H. Figuarts Pandon "The Biggest Invasion in History" set celebrates the two-part finale of the 1967 series, arriving as a Tamashii web exclusive release.

Monday 10 September 2018

Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider Build

Kamen Rider Build

After the Kamen Rider aesthetic was taken a little bit off course in 2016 with Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, things fell back into a bit more familiar territory with the series that followed. The compound eyes make a natural return, and the hero's two-part red and blue costume wasn't just a callback to the similarly styled Kamen Rider W – the colourscheme also harked back to heroes like the Kikaider brothers and Metalder. Welcome to Kamen Rider Build – the 19th entry in the show's Heisei period run and the 28th series in the franchise overall. Notably written in its entirety by Shogo Muto and with Ryuta Tasaki as lead director, Build is also the first (and possibly only) of the post-Decade series to take place in a parallel universe.

Tuesday 4 September 2018

First Impressions: Kamen Rider Zi-O

The end of the Heisei Era has arrived, and to celebrate the 20th and final entry in this chapter of Kamen Rider a new king has risen who is heir to the power of all Riders. His name is Kamen Rider Zi-O, and 10th anniversary series Kamen Rider Decade his series will commemorate all of the previous Heisei Riders to date. This comes not only in the form of the Ride Watch gimmick line and Ride Armour forms, but also cameo appearances from past actors, Rider-themed monsters and more. Heading the writing and directing of the series are Kento Shimoyama (Shuriken Sentai Ninninger, Kikaider REBOOT and most recently the Gorider miniseries) and Ryuta Tasaki (a man involved in nearly all of Heisei Rider, as well as both Super Sentai and Power Rangers) respectively. Its opening theme "Over Quartzer" is performed by Shuta Sueyoshi and ISSA – the former having previously performed "Climax Jump" for Kamen Rider Den-O and the latter "Justiφ's" for Kamen Rider 555. Even before you get into the series itself, there's plenty of callbacks going on here.

Friday 31 August 2018

Anime REVIEW: Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory

Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory
Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

Good things eventually come to those who wait, and given that fans have been waiting nearly 13 years it's fair to say they were long overdue a new season of Full Metal Panic!. The military-charged mecha series by Shoji Gatou finally returned to television screens in 2018, for a new 12-episode season entitled Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory. But despite all that time away it seems very little has changed for the franchise (other than some sharper animation and CGI mecha designs) - animation duties may have now moved from Gonzo and Kyoto Animation to Xebec, however the original cast have all returned to reprise their roles.

Monday 27 August 2018

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Heisei Generations FINAL: Build & Ex-Aid with Legend Riders

Kamen Rider Heisei Generations FINAL: Build & Ex-Aid with Legend Riders

It's only a matter of days until the premiere of Kamen Rider Zi-O, the latest Kamen Rider series that marks both the 20th anniversary and the end of the Heisei Era in the franchise. But when it comes to their movies, Toei perhaps jumped the gun a bit when it came to the last entry in the annual Movie War series. The 2017 crossover between Kamen Rider Build and Kamen Rider Ex-Aid was titled Kamen Rider Heisei Generations FINAL: Build & Ex-Aid with Legend Riders, and as the name suggested also brought along a few older faces. Also returning for this movie (complete with their original actors) are Kamen Rider Ghost, Kamen Rider Gaim, Kamen Rider Fourze and Kamen Rider OOO.

Friday 24 August 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Cross-Z Charge

Release Date: July 2018
RRP: 5940 yen

S.H. Figuarts release patterns can be confusing at the best of times, but every so often Bandai Tamashii Nations will go and do something truly baffling. After announcing the first Kamen Rider Cross-Z suit as a Tamashii web exclusive, S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Cross-Z Charge was almost immediately revealed to be a retail release. At the time this made sense given that the first Cross-Z suit was quickly replaced as Ryuga Banjou traded his Build Driver up for a Sclash Driver, but in hindsight makes a lot less sense as the Charge suit was quickly sidelined for good as the original Cross-Z returned - eventually being replaced by the Great Cross-Z and Cross-Z Magma suits (both of which are also web exclusives). But all that aside, Kamen Rider Cross-Z shows up in Kamen Rider Build as the action heats up and the war between Touto, Seito and Hokuto begins. Utilising the experimental Sclash Jelly, Ryuga finds his reason to fight - but will this be enough to overcome the dangerous side affects these new powers are having on him?

Wednesday 22 August 2018

Toybox REVIEW: 52TOYS Megabox MB-01 Alien

Release Date: May 2018
RRP: $29.99

52TOYS' Beast Box line has been going from strength to strength with its own fantastic cube animal designs, but now that the line has gained some traction it's also turning its attention toward some more iconic figures in popular culture. Enter Megabox – an offshoot of the Beast Box line which so far has revealed to be covering the likes of the Alien franchise, Predator and even Getter Robo. The first release in this line is known as both a Xenomorph or the Big Chap, but to most of the world is probably just best known as the Alien. Based on the design from the first Alien film, the Megabox MB-01 Alien kicks off 52TOYS foray into licensed designs in a big way.

Monday 20 August 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Beast Box BB-05 Delta

Release Date: July 2018 (International)
RRP: 2678 yen (Japan)

Not so long ago Beast Box was simply this charming but obscure little selection of robot dinosaur figures most collectors would simply come across on Chinese social media posts, but thanks to a wider release on both Japanese and American website 52TOYS fun little range of transforming animal cubes has gathered quite the fan following. We've had a dinosaur, a gorilla and a mammoth, and now it's time to go back to the age of the dinosaurs once again with the release of BB-05 Delta. The fourth mould in the Beast Box line, Delta is initially available in his standard blue and white colourscheme, a TRON-line neon deco and an orange rescue repaint named Vanguard.

Thursday 9 August 2018

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

Release Date: August 2016 
RRP: $25.99/£22.99

Of all the Batman: The Animated Series characters you'd expect DC Collectibles to release in their highly anticipated yet also highly repeatedly delayed and widely criticised line, Zatanna probably wasn't one of them - until you remember just how much of a fanboy Paul Dini is when it comes to her. What's perhaps stranger though is the fact Zatanna was a single card release, while far more characters and designs would later be shunted off into highly overpriced collectors' sets (looking at you especially B:TAS Mr Freeze and Poison Ivy). Still, one of the main charms of this line has been some of the more left-field choices there's been when it comes to releases, and Zatanna is definitely one of the best among them. Appearing solely in the episode "Zatanna", this version of Zatanna has no apparent magic powers (until her reappearance in Justice League Unlimited that is), but goes back a long way with Bruce Wayne/Batman. Or as she knows him, "John Smith".