Monday 28 October 2019

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Monsterarts Gamera [1995]

SH MonsterArts Gamera [1995] 01

Release Date: August 2019
RRP: 10800 yen

It isn’t very often we see something that isn’t Godzilla related in the S.H. MonsterArts line these days, but every so often Bandai Tamashii Nations creeps something through that reminds fans just how much untapped potential the line has. One of the most pleasant surprises in 2015 was S.H. MonsterArts Gamera [1996], based on the titanic turtle’s appearance in the second of the Heisei era Gamera trilogy - Gamera 2: Attack of Legion. Though sadly an accompanying Legion figure never came to fruition a version of Gamera based on the 1999 instalment Gamera 3: The Revenge of Iris eventually arrived in 2018, and now in 2019 the trinity is finally complete with S.H. MonsterArts Gamera [1995]. Based on the monster’s appearance in Shusuke Kaneko’s epic Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, this is the only of the three Gamera figures to have been a Tamashii Web exclusive.

Friday 25 October 2019

Anime REVIEW: Beast Wars Neo

Beast Wars Neo

Beast Wars and the wider Beast Era is largely considered one of the best (if not controversial) periods in Transformers history, but over in Japan there's much more to the story than some fans might realise. During the long delay between the release of seasons one and two of the original series, Japan took things in their own direction with two of their own 2D animated Beast Wars series – 1998's Beast Wars II and 1999's Beast Wars Neo. Now 20 years later, once again thanks to the work of Karyuudo Fansubs Beast Wars Neo: Super Lifeform Transformers joins its predecessor in being fully available with English fansubs. With its own cast of exclusive characters and the return of one of the most iconic figures in Transformers history, is Beast Wars Neo everything fans had hoped for?

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures Darth Vader

Release Date: October 2019
RRP: $10/£10

Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures is an ongoing series of Youtube shorts that takes key moments from across the Star Wars universe and reimagines them with stylised animation. Though the series has had an accompanying toy line for some time, previous waves have simply been re-releases of other lines done up in new packaging. For 2019 though Hasbro are going all in on the animated aesthetic, relaunching the line with a brand new 5" range that fully embraces the look and feel of the series. Additionally figure also has its own unique gimmick – truly putting the "action" back in action figure. Among the first wave of figures to debut at this year's Triple Force Friday is of course none other than the mighty Sith Lord Darth Vader, and as a huge sucker for stylised figures like this I knew that I just had to check the line out and see what it has to offer.

Sunday 20 October 2019

Toybox Review: MAFEX Iron Spider

Release Date: July 2019, August 2019 (Reissue)
RRP: 7800 yen

After beating off the likes of Revoltech and Figma, Bandai's S.H. Figuarts line ruled the roost for a good while when it came to collector-grade Japanese figures in 6" scale. However in the last few years they've begun to face some stiff competition from Medicom and their "miracle action figure" MAFEX line - directly challenging them with their own versions of characters from Star Wars, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and more. Discussions of inconsistent quality prevented me from buying into the line for some time, but as it begins to extend further into both comic and movie-based properties I've found myself more and more interested. While other lines are now turning their attention to Avengers: Endgame, Medicom are still trailing behind covering Infinity War – and among their releases this year was the MAFEX Iron Spider figure. But despite coming nearly a year after the S.H. Figuarts version, Medicom's edition of Spider-Man's hi-tech suit still got plenty of attention – not just selling out on release but also getting a reissue only a month later.

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Woz

Release Date: July 2019
RRP: 6050 yen

IWAE! Whether he is in the service of the overlord Zi-O or the saviour Geiz, the mysterious retainer from the year 2068 arrives in the S.H. Figuarts line! S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Woz is both the third Rider and third general release figure from the Kamen Rider Zi-O range, though as far as the latter is concerned he’s also likely the last figure from the show Bandai Tamashii Nations will give such treatment. Though Kamen Rider Woz and the Miridewatches were introduced with the arrival of the alternate future White Woz, the powers were later taken by the main timeline’s Black Woz and continued to be used by him after his counterpart’s erasure.

Saturday 12 October 2019

First Impressions: Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE

Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE
Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE is available in streaming form via Crunchyroll and Youtube

Bandai and Sunrise caught lightning in a bottle when they made Gundam Build Fighters. If their success at turning a completely merchandise-driven show into a charming and heartwarming tribute to the Gundam franchise wasn't enough to prove that, their less successful attempts to replicate that since are. That isn't to say said shows aren't highly marketable though, as we return to Gunpla Battle Nexus Online in Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE. Following on from the original Gundam Build Divers some time later with a brand new cast, the series celebrates 40 years of the Gundam franchise and is available not only via Crunchyroll but also Sunrise/Bandai themselves on their own GundamInfo Youtube channel.

Thursday 10 October 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Ezra Bridger

Release Date: May 2019
RRP: $20/£20

It may have taken Hasbro over three years to get there, but slowly but surely we draw ever closer to having the full main cast of Star Wars Rebels as part of the Black Series. Kicking off with Kanan and Ahsoka all the way back in 2016, more and more of the Ghost crew have found their way into the franchise's premier six-inch line until now we stand with only one absent from the line-up. But before we lament the lack of Garazeb "Zeb" Orrelios, let's take a moment to look at the Jedi Padawan and revolutionary hero from the planet Lothal. Star Wars Black Series Ezra Bridger was released as part of the line's 21st wave, alongside fellow Rebels star Chopper.

Tuesday 8 October 2019

Anime REVIEW: Senki Zesshō Symphogear XV

Senki Zesshō Symphogear XV
Senki Zesshō Symphogear XV is available in streaming form via Crunchyroll

All good things eventually come to an end, and sadly in 2019 we say goodbye to a series that’s continue top itself in heart, action and of course excess with each and every season. The fifth and final season of Satelight's beat-thumping sci-fi magical girl series Senki Zesshō Symphogear has arrived, rounding off seven years and 52 episodes worth of story build up in another 13-episode package. This time the season goes by the full name of Senki Zesshō Symphogear XV, with the typically outlandish subtitle of “Create a history, with the light God could not know”. So strap yourselves in and prepare for "All Systems Green", because if there's one thing Symphogear guarantees it's one hell of a ride

Sunday 6 October 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Stormtrooper with Blast Effects

Release Date: 2018
RRP: $24.95/£34.99 

If there’s one thing any budding toy photographer needs in their collection, it’s effect parts. But while buying them separately is all well and good, it’s always nice when figures themselves come with them as well. Hasbro have done an excellent job making them standard with their Power Rangers Lightning Collection figures, but over in the Star Wars Black Series it’s few and far between. When they do release one though they really make it count, such as this deluxe Black Series Stormtrooper with Blast Effects figure. Decking out their standard Stormtrooper with some new scorch mark battle damage, this set also comes with a variety of effect parts and a display base. It was released as a Disney Store exclusive in the US, with further exclusivity varied around the rest of the world.

Wednesday 2 October 2019

Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider Kiva

How do you follow on from a smash hit like Kamen Rider Den-O? This is the exact problem Toei faced in 2008, when the time-travelling train series was about to make its final stop (that is until the deluge of sequel films of course). Their answer was to go a little bit horror with Kamen Rider Kiva – bringing in veteran writer Toshiki Inoue (Kamen Rider Agito, Kamen Rider 555) once more to spearhead the series. The 48-episode series served as the ninth entry in the Heisei series (and 18th Kamen Rider series overall), starring actor Koji Seto in the lead role of Wataru Kurenai. Seto would go on to immediately reprise his role at the beginning of the following series, helping to set in motion the events of the world-hopping anniversary series Kamen Rider Decade.