Thursday 28 February 2019

Series REVIEW: Fang of God: Jinga

Kami no Kiba: Jinga

Masahiro Inoue may have made his name among tokusatsu fans as the lovably dickish Tsukasa Kadoya in Kamen Rider Decade, but in the last few years he's been making just as a big of an impact as part of GARO as well. First appearing in Gold Storm -Sho- back in 2015 and then returning once two years later in Fang of God, the Makai Knight turned Horror Jinga has gone on to become not only Ryuga Dougai's recurring rival but also one of the most engaging villains in the whole franchise. A character who was just perfect for a spin-off of his very own, and in Kami no Kiba: Jinga (Fang of God: Jinga) he finally has just that. But exploring Jinga's history as a Makai Knight prior to his son's death and fall to darkness would be too easy, as this 13-episode series takes a much more interesting approach to expanding the character.

Thursday 21 February 2019

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Blu Aqua

Release Date: December 2018
RRP: 5400 yen

When you're marketing a superhero series that has two co-leads, the worst thing you can do is not release both characters at the same time. Clearly Bandai Tamashii Nations recognised this when they moved onto releasing figures from Ultraman R/B, with S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Blu Aqua arriving the same time as his big brother Ultraman Rosso Flame. Just why exactly these couldn't have been released as a two-pack I don't know (since not many people are going to be buying one without the other), but I guess that's just not the way Bandai roll anymore. Still, to get both figures before 2018 was out and on the same month no less is some pretty timely manufacturing on Bandai's part for sure.

(As this figure is largely identical to S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Rosso outside of sculpting and colours, this review will be mostly identical with changes only made where appropriate)

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Rosso Flame

Release Date: December 2018
RRP: 5400 yen

One of the biggest woes of being an S.H. Figuarts collector is seeing a cool design on a brand new show and knowing that you probably won't see a figure of it for months - and in many cases long after the series has come and gone. But in recent years Bandai Tamashii Nations have gotten better and better at releasing figures closer to the times the shows are airing, and as far as the Ultra Series goes they've got the closest they've been yet with Ultraman R/B. S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Rosso Flame arrived a mere week before the series finale aired in Japan, with his brother Ultraman Blu Aqua also releasing on the same date. 

Tuesday 19 February 2019

Series REVIEW: Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger

Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger

After 42 years doing roughly the same thing over and over, it's hard to not to agree that Super Sentai is in dire need of a shakeup. Not that there was ever fundamentally wrong with what the franchise was doing, but declining audience ratings and a varying results when it comes to toy sales speak for themselves. Toei threw a curveball into the formula by introducing a total of 12 rangers in Uchu Sentai Kyuranger to some success, but in order to secure the longevity of the franchise they also tried to think bigger. The result of that planning is Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger - the 42nd Super Sentai series that introduces not just one, but TWO different teams. Combining the ever-popular Phantom Thief motif with their law-enforcement rivals, Lupinranger vs Patranger doesn't just see the Sentai teams face off against an invading evil, but also against each other.

Friday 15 February 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Kakure Daishogun & Tsubasamaru

Release Date: November 2018
RRP: 8100 yen

It's always nice when a Bandai toy line releases a consistent stream of retail items for collectors, but for the line to get really ambitious (as well as completist) any collector will tell you that eventually some of the best releases are going to be Premium Bandai exclusives. This is also true of Super Mini-Pla candy toy range, which has released a number of exclusives along its standard releases to quickly fill out the ranks of a particular series and ensure no design is left untouched. Previously Zyuranger's King Brachion and Liveman's Live Boxer have been released under the Premium Bandai banner, but as far as the Super Sentai range is concerned this is definitely the most exciting exclusive release so far. The Super Mini-Pla Kakure Daishogun & Tsubasamaru set complete the trifecta of key releases from Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, releasing the same month as Muteki Shogun to provide fans with everything in one fell swoop. American fans may know these mecha better as Mighty Morphin Power Rangers' Ninja Megazord and Falconzord, and given their popularity it's no surprise that these model kits were also distributed in the US by Bluefin under the Power Rangers banner.

Monday 11 February 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Meisho Movie Realization Ronin Jango Fett

Release Date: October 2017
RRP: 9504 yen

Bandai Tamashii Nations has more than earned its reputation for high quality and screen-accurate figures through its S.H. Figuarts and Robot Damashii lines, but among some collectors is equally renowned for the ingenious re-imaginings it's given to franchises over the year. The most prominent of these are the Kamen Riders (as well as other tokusatsu properties) of the Super Imaginative Chogokin (SIC) line, but in 2014 it also turned its attention towards Star Wars with its Meisho Movie Realization line, and then the Marvel Universe in 2016 with the similarly named Meisho Manga Realization line. Both lines re-imagine its characters with traditional Japanese styling, and given how much George Lucas borrowed from the samurai aesthetic when creating Star Wars it's truly a match made in heaven. Meisho Movie Realization Ronin Jango Fett is repaint of the Boba Fett figure released nearly two years prior in November 2015 – which in typical Boba Fett fashion now fetches a rather hefty price on the aftermarket.

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Darth Vader (A New Hope)

Release Date: April 2018 
RRP: 6480 yen 

The announcement of Star Wars S.H. Figuarts was a huge moment back in 2015, and in the past few years Bandai Tamashii Nations haven't wasted in any time in putting that license to good use. Though there are still dozens of main characters still be released (many of which have also been on display at various events), the line has done a good job of balancing releases between the three trilogies and anthology films. Given all the Stormtroopers there are it's a brand that's never shied away from variants though, and now Tamashii return with a second S.H. Figuarts Darth Vader. Whereas the previous 2015 figure was based on the Sith Lord's appearance from Return of the Jedi, this newer release is instead based on the version seen in A New Hope.