Wednesday 28 February 2018

Movie REVIEW: Thunderbolt Fantasy: The Sword of Life and Death

Thunderbolt Fantasy: The Sword of Life and Death is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

If there was one thing that stood out among Crunchyroll's simulcast offerings in 2016, it was Thunderbolt Fantasy. A 13-episode collaboration between Gen Urobuchi, Nitroplus, Good Smile Company and Taiwan's Pili International Media, the series was an assault of unique styles and visuals that brought the art of Taiwanese glove puppetry to a wider audience. 2017 remained a fairly quiet time for the show as fans patiently wait for its second season, however it capped the year off with the arrival of Thunderbolt Fantasy: A Sword of Life and Death – a direct to video movie that explores the time both prior to and following on from the series with some of its key characters.

Tuesday 27 February 2018

Toybox REVIEW: 52TOYS Beast Box BB-04 Moma & BB-04EL Elephinx

Release Date: January 2018
RRP: 2678 yen/$21.99

Last year a little Chinese company by the name of 52TOYS rocked the world of transforming robot toys with their Beast Box line - affordable robot animals which all share an alternate cute mode. The line kicked off with the cute but deadly BB-01 DIO (followed closely by the remoulded BB-02 Ghost Dog as well as Police and Clear repaints), with BB-02 JOJO (along with flame and clear variants) coming some months later. That might not sound like many releases, but the line certainly made up for it in charm and ingenuity. Now they're kicking 2018 off with the third mould from their mechanical menagerie - BB-04 Moma! The mighty mammoth is currently available in three different variants - standard, clear and BB-04EL Elephinx.

Thursday 22 February 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Sheryl Nome Anniversary Special Color Ver.

Release Date: January 2018
RRP: 6264 yen

When Mikumo Guynemer and Freyja Wion were released last year it seemed like the time of Macross S.H. Figuarts had finally arrived. Sadly that time came and went in a flash, with the remaining members of Walküre sentenced to Tamashii Nations limbo alongside the likes of Char Aznable and a whole host of Super Sentai and Metal Heroes characters. However even Bandai weren't going to let the 35th anniversary of the Macross franchise go uncelebrated, and in an act of equivalent exchange Macross Frontier's galactic fairy has escaped from said limbo to arrive as S.H. Figuarts Sheryl Nome Anniversary Special Colour Ver.!

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Jugglus Juggler

Release Date: January 2018 
RRP: 7020 yen 

Not content with simply exploring the early years of Tsuburaya Productions' legendary franchise, Bandai Tamashii Nations kicked off their range of modern-era Ultraman S.H. Figuarts last year with a number of releases from Ultraman Orb. Of course no Orb display would be complete without Gai's friend turned enemy turned usually-begrudging ally (it's a fairly complicated relationship to say the least), which is why they've kicked off what will hopefully be another great year of Ultra releases with S.H. Figuarts Jugglus Juggler. Based upon his monster form which made its debut in episode 10 of the series, the figure is a Tamashii web exclusive item as well as the first Ultraman Orb Figuart to not simply be a remould of the titular character.

Thursday 15 February 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider 1

Release Date: December 2017
RRP: 6480 yen

The Shinkocchou Seihou range of S.H. Figuarts is the cream of the crop. The best of the best. So far it's given birth to a wide selection of Kamen Rider figures that were desperately in need of an update, a main Rider that's been missing from the lineup for far too long and later this year will begin to venture outside of the Kamen Rider franchise. So after the end of another successful year, it makes sense to round it off with the one that helped start it all. S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider 1 was one of Bandai Tamashii Nations' final releases of 2017, alongside S.H. Figuarts Takeshi Hongo as the perfect partner piece.

Tuesday 13 February 2018

First Impressions: Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger

Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger

Now that Uchu Sentai Kyuranger has properly broken the mould with its 12-member team, it's time for Super Sentai to really start experimenting with its format. 2018 is going to be a huge year for the franchise, as for the first time in its 43 year history it will be debuting not one, but TWO different Super Sentai teams in the same series. This year it's all about cops and robbers with Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger, capitalising on Japan's love for the "phantom thief" character archetype popularised by the likes of the Lupin III series and (more recently) Persona 5. Of course where there are dashing thieves the law enforcement isn't too far behind, which means the two teams will likely be butting heads even as they face off against a common enemy.

Friday 9 February 2018

Series REVIEW: Uchu Sentai Kyuranger

Uchu Sentai Kyuranger

After Zyuohger marked the 40th anniversary of Super Sentai with a celebration of the format and tropes it had built up over the years, it only felt right that the franchise try something new with its 41st series. So when it was announced that Sentai would be heading out into the stars with the space-faring Uchu Sentai Kyuranger, things felt a little different. For the first time ever the series would be kicking off would an incredible nine different rangers (taking that number all the way up to 12 by its end), with each suit showing off more unique attributes outside of their designated colours. The production side of things also saw some change as TV-Asahi took on greater involved in the form of a chief producer role, Bandai of America participated in the early design stages and midway through Super Hero Time moved to a brand new timeslot. After 41 years change may be long overdue, but was it enough to usher in a new era of Super Sentai?

Tuesday 6 February 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Takeshi Hongo

Release Date: December 2017
RRP: 6264 yen

From the second it was first revealed at the 2016 Tamashii Nations event, S.H. Figuarts Takeshi Hongo was a figure that was sure to get everyone talking. All of a sudden affordable articulated figures of Kamen Rider civilian forms didn't just seem like a pipe dream, igniting the hope that maybe one day other Riders would receive similar treatment. Of course the trouble with Tamashii Nations events is that not every figure seen at these events is going to definitely see release, but if one figure felt like it might eventually see the light of day it was this one. Jump forward to the end of 2017 and Bandai Tamashii Nations capped off the year with a trifecta of iconic tokusatsu heroes in their civialian guises - kicking off with Ultraseven's Dan Moroboshi before moving onto Space Sheriff Gavan's Retsu Ichimonji before finishing off with Hongo himself. Not just the perfect way to end another year of S.H. Figuarts, but the perfect partner piece to the S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider 1 released in the same month.

Sunday 4 February 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Figma Red

Release Date: December 2017
RRP: 6296 yen

Good Smile Company has been dabbling with Pokémon figures in the Nendoroid line for some time now, but 2017 marked a big moment for collectors as Max Factory got involved with the Figma line. Capping off what has undoubtedly been a strong year for toys no matter what your preferred fandom or toy line is something that always felt like a possibility, but never quite felt like it was going to be reality. And with the year also marking the 20th anniversary of the Pokémon franchise it couldn't have come at a better time. He's conquered the eight Kanto gym leaders, beaten the Elite Four to become the Pokémon league champion and filled all 151 slots of Professor Oak's original Pokédex. But now, Figma Red has finally arrived to tackle collections across the globe.

Friday 2 February 2018

Toybox REVIEW: NX Edgestyle Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

Release Date: December 2017
RRP: 3780 yen

2017 marked Gurren Lagann’s 10th anniversary, and though Gainax aren’t really in much of a position to give it the celebration it deserves at least there were at least some notable merchandise releases to mark its birthday. Myethos kicked off the year by finally releasing their 1/8 scale Nia Teppelin Wedding version statue, while Bandai Tamashii Nations closed it off with a double bill of surprise releases. Following on from November’s Proplica Core Drill was the release of NX EdgeStyle Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann – adding the titular mecha’s final form to Bandai’s growing range of super-deformed articulated robots. Bandai choosing Tengen Toppa over regular Gurren Lagann is a little surprising, but given the scarcity of other figures for the various forms (the only other articulated figure is the 2008 Revoltech) it’s far from unwelcome.