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.