Thursday 31 January 2019

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Build the Movie: Be the One

Kamen Rider Build the Movie: Be the One

The Heisei era Kamen Rider summer movies have taken a lot of different forms over the years. First they started out as alternate universe adventures, but eventually began tying themselves into their respective series with varying degrees of impact. The recently they even took the form of an epilogue, with Ex-Aid's True Ending picking things up at the end of the series. So with all these different options at hand, it was going to be particularly interesting to see what route Kamen Rider Build decided to take – a series that's not only set in a parallel universe to begin with but also has been careful to tie its movies and spin-off material into the bigger picture. Released alongside Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger en Film, Kamen Rider Build the Movie: Be the One returns these movies to the usual post-Decade format – taking place just prior to the show's final endgame against Evolto.

Saturday 26 January 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Grand Admiral Thrawn

Release Date: July 2017 (SDCC Exclusive Version), Fall 2017 (Standard Retail Version)
RRP: £20/$20

Star Wars Rebels added a lot of great things to the new Star Wars canon, but undoubtedly one its most popular moves with bringing back Grand Admiral Thrawn as a main antagonist for its final three seasons. First appearing in the 1991 novel Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn, the character was a huge part of the franchise's expanded universe and prominently featured in all manner of tie-in media. Following the rebranding of the expanded universe into the non-canon Star Wars Legends in 2014, Thrawn's future was up in arms. But since appearing in Rebels the Chiss admiral has once again become a popular part of the Star Wars universe - also appearing in a new trilogy of novels by his creator. So when Hasbro's Black Series toy line began tackling characters from Rebels, they couldn't have picked a much better choice. The Black Series 6" Grand Admiral Thrawn was first released as a 2017 San Diego Comic Con exclusive, joining the main line a few months later.

Thursday 24 January 2019

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Gudon

Release Date: December 2018
RRP: 7560 yen

If there's one thing you can't fault the S.H. Figuarts Ultraman range on, it's the variety of figures they've offered fans over the past few years. Whereas the likes of Kamen Rider has so many Riders and form changes to get through they rarely get to touch the monster designs from each series, the Ultra range has provided an excelled supply of both aliens and kaiju to face off against. Well, that was certainly true of both the original series and Ultraseven, but The Return of Ultraman doesn't seem to have been so lucky. S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Jack was followed quickly by Twin Tail, but it wasn't for another six months that prehistoric kaiju's eternal rival Gudon joined them. The third release from The Return of Ultraman, S.H. Figuarts Gudon is also the first Tamashii web exclusive from the series - and no other announcements on the horizon, possibly the last as well.

Friday 18 January 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Clone Captain Rex

Release Date: Early 2018
RRP: £20/$20

If there's one collecting rabbit hole I never truly wanted to get down, it's Star Wars figures. Although the franchise will always be dear to me, the sheer volume of characters and variants on offer makes it feel like a pretty overwhelming prospect. Previously I limited myself to a few select characters and have picked up a few S.H. Figuarts, but thanks to a current resurge in interest I finally find myself experiencing Hasbro's Black Series for the first time. This has been their main Star Wars action figure line since 2013, coming in both 3.75" form and a more Marvel Legends-esque 6" variety. As I'm currently going through a rewatch of Star Wars: The Clone Wars I just couldn't say no the Black Series 6" Clone Captain Rex figure – who was released as part of the main line last year after early previews as a 2017 Hascon exclusive. Commanding officer of the 501st Legion (which would later go on to become "Vader's Fist") under Anakin Skywalker, Rex is one of the few clones to escape the effects of Order 66 – continuing life in hiding until joining the crew of the Ghost in Star Wars: Rebels.

Wednesday 16 January 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Nendoroid Kamina Review

Release Date: November 2018 
RRP: 4444 yen

Dig the wax out of your ears and listen close! The bad reputation of Team Gurren echoes far and wide in Giha Village. When they talk about its badass leader, that man of indomitable spirit, that paragon of masculinity, they're talking about him - the mighty Nendoroid Kamina! That's right, after nearly ten years since the last Gurren Lagann release Good Smile Company have finally returned to Gainax's beloved mecha series to round off the core trio of main characters - two years after the series has celebrated its tenth anniversary, but close enough. Simon will be joining the line later in 2019, but first it's time to celebrate the release of the man who first inspired him the pierce the heavens and kick logic to the curb. Kamina has finally arrived on the scene, and if he has anything to do with it you'll certainly hear about it. Just who the hell do you think he is?!

Sunday 13 January 2019

SERIES Review: Thunderbolt Fantasy Season 2 - Sword Seekers

 Thunderbolt Fantasy Season 2 - Sword Seekers
Thunderbolt Fantasy is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

In 2016 Gen Urobuchi went one better than just dazzling anime fans with yet another animation work - this time he did it with puppets. Teaming up with Nitroplus, Good Smile Company and Taiwanese company Pili International Urobuchi brought Thunderbolt Fantasy into the world - bringing the intricate art of Taiwanese glove puppetry to a whole new audience worldwide. The popularity of the show led to a one-off special entitled The Sword of Life and Death the following year, and then at the tail end of 2018 it finally returned for a full second season. Taking the subtitle of Sword Seekers, these further 12 episodes continue the story of Shāng Bù Huàn and were released in both Taiwanese Min-Han (in Taiwan) and Japanese (for the rest of the world).

Friday 11 January 2019

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Wizard Flame Style

Release Date: November 2018
RRP: 7884 yen

With figure construction and engineering having come leaps and bounds in the ten years the S.H. Figuarts line has been around, it's natural that some Kamen Rider figures are looking a little dated compared to newer releases. While arguably all the pre-Gaim figures could do with some sort of modern update (if they haven't received one already), there are few more sorry cases than that of Kamen Rider Wizard. The original toy was released in 2013 so wasn't even that old compared to some figures, but despite boasting an impressive accessory count was plagued by structural issues (i.e. it constantly fell apart) and off proportions. However five years later and Haruto Soma is finally getting the justice he deserves, with the release of S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Wizard Flame Style!

Wednesday 9 January 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Figure Complex Amazing Yamaguchi Spider-Gwen

Release Date: June 2017
RRP: 5900 yen

Between Infinity War, Venom, the Playstation 4 game and of course Into the Spider-Verse, 2018 was truly the year of Spider-Man. My enjoyment of that last release in particular found me wanting to go back and pick up some of the Spidey figures I've missed over the years, and Figure Complex (aka Revoltech)'s Amazing Yamaguchi Spider-Gwen seemed like the perfect place to start. Parallel universes have always been my absolute favourite sci-fi trope, and from what I've read of the Spider-Gwen comic the writers have done an excellent job of twisting pre-established Marvel characters into something new and exciting. Both the comic and her design itself have proved exceedingly popular, and between her appearances in both Into the Spider-Verse and Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors it seems Spider-Gwen's popularity will just continue to rise.

Sunday 6 January 2019

Anime REVIEW: SSSS.Gridman

SSSS.Gridman is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

As completely different mediums the worlds of tokusatsu and animation rarely properly collide, but whenever they have in the past it's usually turned out to be something special. Whether it's the anime adaptation of Shotaro Ishinomori's original Kikaider manga, the recent expansion of the GARO mythos, the wonderfully weird Kamen Rider SD or even the various Ultraman animated attempts you're usually in for an interesting ride. 2018 saw Tsuburaya Productions announce a number of new animated projects, including an adaptation of the ongoing Ultraman manga due for release on Netflix later this year. But much bigger news was their plans with studio Trigger, as they prepared to bring back the Hyper Agent himself - Denkou Chojin Gridman. Directed by Akira Amemiya and written by tokusatsu veteran Keiichi Hasegawa (head writer on Ultraman Dyna and Ultraman Nexus, among many other works), SSSS.Gridman breathed new life in the 1993 hero as well as introducing him to a brand new audience.

Thursday 3 January 2019

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Zero

Release Date: November 2018
RRP: 9990 yen

While S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Garo may have taken a whole four years to go from its initial Tamashii Nation event reveal to becoming a reality, Bandai Tamashii Nations were much quicker at following it up with another high quality GARO release. Why settle for just the Golden Knight when you can have the Silver Fanged Knight too? Rei Suzumura has arrived as the second non-Kamen Rider release for Figuarts' premium offshoot - S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Zero. Coming seven years after the release of the original Zero Figuart, this new edition follows in its footsteps as a Tamashii web exclusive. It's also one of the pricier standard sized Figuarts on the market too, originally selling for the same 9990 yen price tag as Garo himself.

Wednesday 2 January 2019

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 2019 New Year's Day Special - Resolution

2018's series of Doctor Who has been all about breaking traditions. We've had a female Doctor, no returning monsters for the entire season and now it seems even the annual Christmas episode is no more. At least for the now anyway, as this year it was replaced by a special New Year's Day episode instead. Given that it's already been announced that the next full series won't be landing until 2020, Resolution could quite possibly be the only Doctor Who for the year so it had quite a lot to live up to. Written by show runner Chris Chibnall and directed by Wayne Yip, Resolution also welcomes the return of a familiar old foe.