Thursday, 31 December 2020

Favourite Toys of 2020

Favourite Toys 2020

It's that time again! Every year I like to sit down and pick my favourite ten toy releases from the past year. 2020 is a year that's involved a lot of sitting and not much else, but even though the world practically came to a standstill thanks to COVID-19 the year's toy game has been EXTREMELY strong. There were so many excellent figures to choose from, that narrowing it down to just ten proved rather difficult (and for the first time ever, I've properly included an honourable mention). As usual this list is limited to figures that were NEWLY released in 2020, so reissues and older figures I picked up don't count. Not to say older figures don't get some sort of representation on here though, since there seems to be plenty of repaint/remould love on here. Anyway, click on for the full rundown and what's sure to be a few surprises!

Monday, 28 December 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Generations Collaborative 'Back to the Future' Gigawatt

Hasbro Generations Collaborative Back to the Future Gigawatt 01

Release Date: October 2020
RRP: $29.99

The Transformers Collaborative line is such a genius idea that it's hard to believe it took until 2019 to make it a reality. Taking an iconic movie vehicle and turning it into a Transformer is something fans and collectors have thought about for decades. The Generations sub-line kicked off with a rendition of the Ghostbusters' iconic Ecto-1 but has since also added the likes of Top Gun and (soon) X-Men to its roster. The second release in this line is perhaps the most exciting of them all though, as Hasbro and Universal Studio teamed up to bring fans Transformers Generations Collaborative Back to the Future Gigawatt - based on the legendary time travel vehicle from the Back to the Future trilogy. According to his packaging bio this time travelling Autobot quite literally is the time travel vehicle used by Doc Brown and Marty McFly - ready to fly whenever the pair need to make a trip through time. His bio: "You're never outta time when you're a time machine."

Thursday, 24 December 2020

Toybox REVIEW: G.I. Joe Classified Series Cobra Commander (Regal Variant)

G.I. Joe Classified Series Cobra Commander (Regal Variant) 01

Release Date: December 2020
RRP: $19.99

I consider myself a casual G.I. Joe fan at best, so when Hasbro announced the G.I. Joe Classified Series line at the beginning it was always going to be a case of mainly picking up choice favourites (i.e. the core Cobra roster). But whatever happened, there was always going to be one figure that I picked up no matter what. Cobra Commander is one of the most iconic 80s cartoon villains out there, and with the high quality and impressive redesigns Hasbro showed off with the initial wave it was sure to be something special. But then Hasbro went the extra mile and didn't just announce a standard G.I. Joe Classified Series Cobra Commander, but also a Regal Variant with lighter blue colouring and gold highlights. There was a little confusion about how it was being released at first (initially being linked to online store NTWRK before they pulled it at the last minute), but it was eventually revealed to be a Hasbro Pulse exclusive.

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Mandalorian Loyalist

Star Wars Black Series Mandalorian Loyalist 01

Release Date: October 2020
RRP: $24.99/£24.99

Between the Siege of Mandalore finally being realised onscreen in Star Wars: The Clone Wars season seven and The Mandalorian season two as a whole, 2020 has been a great year to be a Mandalorian fan. Hasbro obviously feel that way too with the amount of Mandalorian-based merchandise they've released over the past 12 months, with their Walmart-exclusive range of Black Series Clone Wars figures not featuring one, but TWO Mandalorian figures. The Black Series Mandalorian Loyalist represents the members of Death Watch that rejected the rule of Darth Maul, fighting back for the liberation of their planet under the lead of Bo-Katan Kryze - the sister of former ruler Duchess Satine, murdered by Maul's blade.

Sunday, 20 December 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Mandalorian Super Commando

Star Wars Black Series Mandalorian Super Commando 01

Release Date: October 2020
RRP: $24.99/£24.99

2020 has been an especially good year for Star Wars fans even without a movie instalment, thanks to the release of both Star Wars: The Clone Wars season seven and The Mandalorian season two. Both shows have shown particular love to Mandalore and Mandalorian culture, with the final arc of The Clone Wars depicting the Siege of Mandalore, Ahsoka Tano's dual against Darth Maul and finally their eventual escape from the effects of Order 66. The year has also seen Hasbro launch a new phase of the Black Series toy line, with a four-figure wave celebrating this final arc of The Clone Wars among the releases. These figures were exclusive to Walmart in the US, and via the usual "Fan Channel" in other parts of the world. The Black Series Mandalorian Super Commando is based on the Mandalorian Death Watch soldiers who became loyal to Darth Maul following his victory of Pre Visla and eventual takeover of Mandalore - adopting newly coloured armour sporting the Dathomirian features of the former Sith Lord.

Friday, 18 December 2020

Toybox REVIEW: DX King Joe STORAGE Custom

DX King Joe STORAGE Custom 01

Release Date: September 2020
RRP: 4180 yen

One of the big selling points of Ultraman Z has been the inclusion of mecha among STORAGE’s arsenal, so this was the perfect year for Bandai of Japan to branch out the Ultraman toy line with the inclusion of DX combining mecha. While this kind of toy might be a staple in Super Sentai, to see it in Ultraman (or even Kamen Rider for that matter) is a much rarer treat. And what better character to launch these Ultraman DX robos with than King Joe, rebooted and reimagined for the series as the King Joe STORAGE Custom. After salvaging the wreckage of Alien Barossa’s King Joe, the Global Allied Force’s anti-monster unit STORAGE reverse-engineered the alien robot to create the third mecha in their arsenal. Armed with a powerful Pedanium cannon, this King Joe can split into four separate vehicles - with the pilot sitting within the Core Fighter and issuing commands to the others via remote control.

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

Series REVIEW: Power Rangers Beast Morphers

Power Rangers Beast Morphers

With the amount of toys and merchandising there’s been over the last two years it’s easy to think that Power Rangers has become entrenched its latest iteration, but when it comes to the show itself it’s still very much early days. The Hasbro era truly kicked off in 2019 with the release of Power Rangers Beast Morphers, immediately commanding attention from older fans by going back a few years in the Super Sentai timeline to adapt 2012’s Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters. Additionally, while the series once again adopted the two season format used since Power Rangers Samurai, this marked the first time the latter half did not take on the “Super” prefix - remaining as simply Beast Morphers for the entirety of its run.

Friday, 11 December 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Generations Select Super Megatron

Transformers Generations Select Super Megatron 01

Release Date: September 2020
RRP: 6600 yen/$59.99

Although the Transformers Generation One continuity ended in animated form in Japan with the Zone OVA in 1990, the story continued through the manga – eventually becoming Transformers: The Battlestars the following year. Promoting the Return of Convoy element of the franchise, Battlestars saw Optimus Prime resurrected once more as Star Convoy to battle the new Decepticon Emperor Dark Nova. However Dark Nova has his own resurrected champion in the form of Super Megatron, a reformatted Galvatron resurrected following his defeat and burial in ice during Transformers: Headmasters. Whilst Star Convoy did receive an original G1 figure during the run, sadly Super Megatron (as well his upgraded Ultra Megatron form) did not…until now that is. Hasbro and TakaraTomy's Generations Select range is a sub-line of exclusive Transformers toys dedicated to repurposing mainline figures into more obscure homages. Among the line’s 2020 releases is Super Megatron himself, the perfect partner to the new Star Convoy figure released in 2019. Generations Select Super Megatron is an extensive retool of Titans Return (Transformers Legends in Japan) Galvatron, which works as a very neat double homage given the origins of the character within the Battlestars manga.

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Titas

S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Titas 01

Release Date: September 2020
RRP: 7150 yen

Although the number of alien and kaiju releases has noticeably declined in the last few years, the Ultraman S.H. Figuarts range is still going strong and Bandai Tamashii Nations have continued to show an equal amount of love to both the classic and modern eras of the franchise. Before moving full steam ahead on the currently airing Ultraman Z, the line is slowly wrapping up all the key players of 2019’s Ultraman Taiga with the release of S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Titas! An Ultra hero from the Planet U40 and fellow member of the Tri Squad, the warrior sage Ultraman Titas specialises in heavyweight battles with his finely trained body. Unsurprisingly this figure was released as a Tamashii web exclusive, with Taiga himself having been the only general release from the series thus far.

Monday, 7 December 2020

Miniseries REVIEW: Gaim Gaiden: Kamen Rider Gridon vs Kamen Rider Bravo

Gaim Gaiden: Kamen Rider Gridon vs Kamen Rider Bravo

I’m not sure if anyone had “new Kamen Rider Gaim content” on their 2020 bingo card but it seems that the fruit never gets mouldy, as the 2013 series returns once again for yet another spin-off side story. After previous entries has focused on Kamen Riders Zangetsu, Baron, Duke and Knuckle (as well as further stage show entry for Zangetsu), this time it’s the turn of fan favourites Hideyasu Jonouchi and Oren Pierre Alfonzo in Gaim Gaiden: Kamen Rider Gridon vs Kamen Rider Bravo. This two episode mini-series was released exclusively via the Toei Tokusatsu Fan Club, also coinciding with the official announcement of Premium Bandai’s CSM series Sengoku Driver.

Friday, 4 December 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Jin Flying Falcon

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Jin Flying Falcon 01

Release Date: August 2020
RRP: 6380 yen

Bandai Tamashii Nations have been fairly on the ball with their Kamen Rider Zero-One S.H. Figuarts releases, because even though the number of alternate forms has been fairly minimal it’s only taken them a few months to get all of the core cast released. Rounding off the key five is S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Jin Flying Falcon, who of course is a Tamashii web exclusive since that’s seemingly the fate of all Zero-One figures going forwards. The second of the Metsuboujinrai.net Riders, Jin is another rogue Humagear fighting for the liberation of his kind and the subjugation of humanity. However unlike his “father” Horobi, Jin began to question the will of the Ark - his obtaining of singularity becoming a key factor in the battle between humans and Humagears.

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who History of the Daleks #4 Set

History of the Daleks #4 01

Release Date: October 2020
RRP: £19.99

With a total of four History of the Daleks sets having released in 2020, this year of B&M Store exclusives have rather nicely encompassed the First Doctor's tenure and the height of Dalekmania. By 1965 they were so popular that only six months after The Chase that they returned once more in the 12-part epic The Daleks' Master Plan. After building an alliance of various species across space, the Daleks have created their ultimate weapon - the Time Destructor. After discovering their plot the Doctor steals their supply of Taranium, the rarest mineral in the universe and key component of the weapon, in a bid to stop them. And so begins another chase across time and space. The story is notable for the first appearance of Nicholas Courtney in Doctor Who (here playing the Space Agent Brett Vyon) as well as the deaths of two companions. This two Dalek set contains both a standard Dalek drone with pyro-flame attachment, as well as the black Dalek Supreme.

Monday, 30 November 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who History of the Daleks #3 Set

History of The Daleks #3 01

Release Date: October 2020
RRP: £19.99

2020 has been a pretty terrible year all around, so for Doctor Who fans the growing resurgence of Character Option’s figure range has been something of a shining light. Even though the majority of releases are still B&M Stores exclusives, the selection we’ve seen this year far outclasses anything we’ve seen since the line’s heyday. Among their October range of releases the History of the Daleks continues with this third set in the assortment, focusing on the 1965 story The Chase. This story saw the Daleks pursue the Doctor throughout time and space in their own time ship, eventually landing on the planet Mechanus and fighting a dual to the death with the Mechanoids. This two figure set features one Guard Dalek, and one standard silver Dalek drone.

Sunday, 29 November 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts The Child

S.H. Figuarts The Child 01

Release Date: September 2020
RRP: 3850 yen

Disney and Lucasfilm might have successfully been able to keep the Child (aka Baby Yoda) a secret in the lead up to season one of The Mandalorian, but in order to do so it meant there wasn't any figures or merchandise in sight at the height of his popularity. Fast forward to a year later and the midst of season two and the companies behind Star Wars certainly aren't going to make that mistake again, with just about every bit of merch you could possibly imagine on the shelves right now. Meanwhile Bandai Tamashii Nations are comfortably in the midst of their S.H. Figuarts releases, and The Mandalorian (Beskar Armor) means nothing without an S.H. Figuarts The Child to go with it. As you can expect from a character of this size Bandai are offering it as a much smaller (and thus cheaper, but S.H. Figuarts standards at the very least) release compared to their full-sized figures, but are also offering plenty of accessories alongside it to help convince you that the Child is worth your money.

Friday, 27 November 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts The Mandalorian (Beskar Armor)

S.H. Figuarts The Mandalorian (Beskar Armor) 01

Release Date: September 2020
RRP: 7700 yen

The biggest problem when it came to toys from The Mandalorian was that every company had to strike whilst the iron was hot, despite not knowing anything about how the series was going to pan out. Take that brown and tan armour we saw the titular character wearing in all the promo images and footage for example - all those toys produced were slightly inaccurate within five minutes of the first episode and then by the third the armour had been completely discarded. It's only now a year after the completion of season one that the Disney+ series is getting the full action figure treatment, and this is one element of Star Wars that Bandai Tamashii Nations aren't going to drag their heels on. Following only a few months after their original S.H. Figuarts Mandalorian figure, Din Djarin returns in a new S.H. Figuarts The Mandalorian (Beskar Armor) variant! Despite only being a little bit more expensive than its predecessor, this is a far more extensive release that's able to fully capitalise on the success of the series in terms of design and accessories.

Monday, 23 November 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Hero Action Figure Kaiketsu Zubat

Hero Action Figure Kaiketsu Zubat 01

Release Date: September 2020
RRP: 9680 yen

With Bandai Tamashii Nations now having strayed away from the classic tokusatsu heroes of yesteryear, it’s up to companies like Evolution Toy to fill the void and show some love to some of the most under appreciated shows of the Showa era. One of the latest releases in their growing Hero Action Figure line is Kaiketsu Zubat (aka “The Magnificent Zubat”). Starring tokusatsu royalty Hiroshi Miyauchi (Kamen Rider V3, JAKQ Dengekitai, Himitsu Sentai Goranger and more), the 1977 series follows Ken Hayakawa as he battles against the criminal organisation Dakker after his best friend is murdered. Upon donning his Zubasuit, Hayakawa gains superhuman strength and agility.

Friday, 20 November 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Zeo Red Ranger

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Zeo Red Ranger 01

Release Date: August 2020
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

The Lightning Collection may have provided fans with a reasonably varied selection of characters so far, but even Hasbro have fallen to the same fate as most Power Rangers figures - Tommy Oliver. As the longest-serving ranger running across multiple series, it doesn’t take long for multiple Tommys to show up in a toy line and in just over a year the Lightning Collection is already up to six. Among those released so far is the Lightning Collection Zeo Red Ranger, our red ranger of the line’s sixth wave and third entry from Power Rangers Zeo. Following the destruction of the Command Centre, the Power Rangers are infused with new powers from the gathered Zeo Crystal - becoming stronger than before to battle the new threat of the Machine Empire.

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection In Space Yellow Ranger

Power Rangers Lightning Collection In Space Yellow Ranger 01

Release Date: August 2020
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

The Power Rangers Lightning Collection roster continues to grow as Power Rangers In Space properly joins the fold! While we’ve already seen entries from that series (and a whole team no less) thanks to the release of the Psycho Rangers, wave six of Hasbro’s ever-expanding collectors’ line marks the debut of the titular team. And surprisingly it isn’t the obvious choice to begin with, as the team kicks off with the Lightning Collection In Space Yellow Ranger! Ashley Hammond succeeded Tanya Sloan to become the second Yellow Turbo Ranger, before blasting off into space with her teammates and joining Andros in his fight against Astronema.

Monday, 16 November 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Spider-Man (Toei TV Series)

S.H. Figuarts Spider-Man (Toei TV Series) 01

Release Date: August 2020
RRP: 7150 yen

While comic-based versions of Spider-Man seem to be off limits (whether it’s by choice or license) to Bandai Tamashii Nations, between the Marvel Cinematic Universe and PlayStation game series they’re still hardly short of options. However there was one important version of Spider-Man missing from the S.H. Figuarts range, and given how deeply the line is rooted in tokusatsu it was certainly the most glaring omission of them all. But wait no further, as the “emissary of hell” aka the Spider-Man of Toei’s 1978 television series has finally arrived. Given his powers by a dying alien from the planet Spider, motorcyclist Takuya Yamashiro battles against the Iron Cross Army with his giant robot Leopardon. As a show that paved the way for one of the key tropes of the Super Sentai franchise, Spider-Man is a tentpole of tokusatsu history. 

Friday, 13 November 2020

Miniseries REVIEW: Ultra Galaxy Fight: New Generation Heroes

Ultra Galaxy Fight: New Generation Heroes
Ultra Galaxy Fight: New Generation Heroes is available both subtitled and English dubbed on Youtube

Tsuburaya Productions' Ultraman global takeover plan is a battle that's being fought on several fronts. As well as a simulcast release of the current series and high-quality blu-ray editions of the franchise back catalogue, there's also the ongoing Marvel Comics series and a wider push on toy and merchandising opportunities. But one of the more interesting elements in all of this was the 2019 miniseries Ultra Galaxy Fight: New Generation Heroes. While the concept of an Ultra Fight miniseries is nothing new, this featured a significantly higher budget as well as being the first one to receive a global push on YouTube as well as with a simultaneous English dub version. Originally released as as 13 weekly five-minute episodes, the series was later uploaded as a full 50-minute video. The miniseries acts as both as something of an epilogue to Ultraman R/B as well as a prequel to following series Ultraman Taiga.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Cal Kestis

Star Wars Black Series Cal Kestis 01

Release Date: October 2019
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

As we further explore the period of time between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, Star Wars fans are discovering more and more Jedi managed to survive Order 66 and have their own stories to tell. One such character is Cal Kestis, former Padawan and star of the 2019 video game Jedi: Fallen Order. Hunted by the Imperial Inquisitor Second Sister, Cal embarks on a mission that sees him travel across the galaxy to unlock the secrets of a Jedi Holocon. The Black Series Cal Kestis figure was released as part of 2019’s Triple Force Friday celebration - marking the release of Fallen Order, The Mandalorian and The Rise of Skywalker with a slew of new merchandise.

Monday, 9 November 2020

Toybox REVIEW: G.I. Joe Classified Series "Special Missions: Cobra Island" Cobra Trooper

GI Joe Classified Series "Cobra Island" Cobra Trooper 01

Release Date: August 2020
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

We’re only two waves into the new G.I. Joe Classified Series line and already Hasbro have extended it with a store-exclusive sub-range, which in hindsight hasn’t gone down all that well with collectors given the ever-increasing popularity (and as a result, scarcity) of these figures. The Special Missions: Cobra Island range is already confirmed to run across multiple assortments and is being released exclusively at Target in the US, whilst in the UK the first assortment came as standard releases (it’s looking unlikely we’ll receive the second). Whilst this range also includes popular characters like Roadblock and the Baroness, it also inexplicably features army builder characters such as the Cobra Trooper. Naturally a lot of collectors are going to want to fill up the ranks of their ruthless terrorist organisation with these figures, so making it a hard to find is exclusive is a little strange. 

Friday, 6 November 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection In Space Psycho Green

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Psycho Green 01

Release Date: July 2020
RRP: $19.99

With the Power Rangers comic series from Boom! Studios continuing to go from strength to strength, Hasbro's Lightning Collection also has another element of the franchise to draw inspiration from. The line has gotten in on comic-original designs pretty early with the release of both Lord Drakkon and Ranger Slayer, but there was still one character from those earlier issues still outstanding. Issue 20 marked the first appearance of Psycho Green - a sixth Psycho Ranger who battled against Zordon's original team of rangers on the moon in 1969. The short story "Psychotic" revealed his identity as Trek, an alien from the planet Xybria who betrayed his team of Supersonic Rangers to become Dark Specter's first Psycho Ranger. Finally Psycho Green also appeared in The Psycho Path graphic novel, which saw Karone try to help rehabilitate the Psycho Rangers following her time as Astronema. Psycho Green was previously released in Bandai of America's Legacy Collection as an SDCC exclusive in 2018, but joins the Lightning Collection as a somewhat more accessible Hasbro Pulse exclusive. "Somewhat" being because Hasbro Pulse only ships to the US and Canada - making them far more difficult for the rest of the world to acquire.

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection In Space Psycho Rangers

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Psycho Rangers 01

Release Date: August 2020
RRP: $99.99/£99.99

Among the most common complaints of previous Power Rangers toy lines was the lack of full team sets. Figures would be packed as single releases and spread across multiple ways, and should the line prove not as popular as expected there was no guarantee that the team would ever be completed. We saw it with the Bandai of America Legacy Collection, and we even saw it with the S.H. Figuarts line over in Japan as well. So when Hasbro took control of the brand and rolled out the Lightning Collection there was the question of whether history would repeat itself, but it's taken just over a year for that question to be answered. The Amazon exclusive Lightning Collection In Space Psycho Rangers set celebrates the franchise's most recognisable evil rangers, featuring all five figures as well as a number of accessories and premium packaging. Despite quickly becoming firm fan favourites after their debut in Power Rangers in Space, this is this the first time all five Psycho Rangers have appeared together in one toy line.

Monday, 2 November 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Ace

S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Ace 01

Release Date: July 2020
RRP: 6050 yen

Although Bandai Tamashii Nations took things a little off course when they skipped ahead to Ultraman Taro last year, the immediate goal of the Showa era Ultraman S.H. Figuarts range has always been clear - complete the six Ultra Brothers. It's taken a while to get there, but that goal has finally been reached in 2020 with the release of S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Ace. Previously I'd expected this to be release to follow Ultraman Jack given that Bandai had been going in series order, but with the hype surrounding Ultraman Taiga last year it did make sense to jump ahead to Taro and then come back to round things off with Ace. It's been a pretty good year for Ultraman Ace in general given that the 1972 series was also released officially with English subtitles for the first time thanks to the continuing efforts of Tsuburaya Productions and Mill Creek Entertainment. While at the moment there doesn't seem to be any accompanying aliens or kaiju from the series in sight, it's still a big moment to have these key figures of the Ultraman multiverse finally assembled under the S.H. Figuarts banner.

Saturday, 31 October 2020

Custom Figure: "Mission of Doom" Dalek

Custom Mission of Doom Dalek 01

For those who aren’t so into scavenging or producing alternate parts, the release of the Jungles of Mechanus Dalek set opened some great new opportunities for Dalek customisers. With the thicker bases and extended dome lights at their disposal, it wouldn’t take much to produce the movie Daleks that Character Options are unable to produce themselves. The black and red Daleks from Dr. Who & the Daleks are a given, but for my latest custom I decided to dig a little deeper into the world of Doctor Who fandom. The result of that is the Mission of Doom Dalek, one that might be an unofficial colour scheme but still has quite the interesting place in Dalek history.

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Garazeb "Zeb" Orrelios

Star Wars Black Series Garazeb "Zeb" Orrelios 01

Release Date:
August 2020
RRP: $29.99/£29.99

2020 marks a big year for the Star Wars Black Series toy line as it goes through another major overhaul - introducing brand new packaging as well as all-new sculpts for some of its most reused moulds (looking at you Stormtrooper). Among the first waves of relaunched figures were brand new reissues of the Star Wars Rebels cast with photo-real head sculpts (where appropriate), and the return of the Ghost crew can only mean one thing - fans prayers have at long last been answered. At long last, Black Series Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios has finally arrived. The Lasat Honour Guard was the last member of the crew needed in the line, and after years of rumours and teases Hasbro have finally delivered in the form of this deluxe release.

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Tregear

S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Tregear 01

Release Date: June 2020
RRP: 7150 yen

With Ultraman Belial seemingly gone for good at the end of Ultraman Geed it was high time for a new dark Ultra to join Tsuburaya Productions' ever-growing Ultraman multiverse. Fans didn't have to wait too long either, as the twisted Ultraman Tregear was introduced in the subsequent series' finale movie - Ultraman R/B the Movie: Select! The Crystal of Bond. A former friend of Ultraman Taro who fell to the darkness after his sense of justice was shattered, Tregear is a remorseless trickster who deceives people by offering to fulfil their dreams. After his defeat at the hands of Ultraman Groob, Tregear would then go on to become the main antagonist of Ultraman Taiga - clashing with the New Generation Heroes and later the Tri-Squad upon their arrival on Earth. As such, it's no surprise that an S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Tregear was in order as soon as Bandai Tamashii Nations began covering Taiga in the line. Tregear was the second release from the series and the first to be a Tamashii web exclusive, with only Taiga himself being released as a general retail item.

Friday, 23 October 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection SPD Omega Ranger & Uniforce Cycle

Power Rangers Lightning Collection SPD Omega Ranger & Uniforce Cycle 01

Release Date:
August 2020
RRP: $29.99/£29.99

With how prominent motorcycles and other vehicles have been in the Power Rangers franchise, it was only a matter of time before Hasbro introduced them into the Lightning Collection. While for many shows these vehicles had more prominence as toys than they did in the series itself, instalments like Power Rangers SPD (as well as its Super Sentai counterpart Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger) featured them quite heavily on-screen too. After all, this was the series where even it’s main villain rode around on a motorcycle. With that in mind, what better place to start than with the Lightning Collection SPD Omega Ranger and Uniforce Cycle set? Arriving to the year 2025 from further in the future to assist Space Patrol Delta’s B Squad Rangers, Sam joins the team as it’s sixth main team member. This set was released exclusively through Amazon.

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Storm Collectibles Mortal Kombat 3 Classic Sub-Zero

Storm Collectibles Mortal Kombat 3 Classic Sub-Zero 01

Release Date: February 2020
RRP: $70

Hong Kong-based manufacturer Storm Collectibles have created quite a name for themselves over the past few years with their range of action figures, particularly in the realm of video games in which they specialise. Their repertoire includes the likes of Street Fighter, Tekken, Darkstalkers, King of Fighters and more, but there’s one franchise particularly that they’ve set the standard for - Mortal Kombat. Focussing on the classic era of the overly bloody fighting game, Storm Collectibles have released a range of characters from the first three games in the series. Among these is their Mortal Kombat 3 classic Sub-Zero, based on the original masked version of the iconic Lin Kuei ice ninja. The classic variant of Sub-Zero appeared in the expanded Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 version (as well as Mortal Kombat Trilogy), alongside his younger brother who has held the mantle since Mortal Kombat 2. The classic Sub-Zero’s identity within the game’s narrative is presented as a mystery (the original Sub-Zero having become Noob Saibot by this point in the timeline), but the truth is to many players it didn’t really matter - all they saw and wanted was an updated version of the classic and instantly more recognisable iteration.

Saturday, 17 October 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who 'Companions of the Fourth Doctor' Set

Doctor Who 'Companions of the Fourth Doctor' Set 01

Release Date: July 2020
RRP: £19.99

The cost of new tooling for the Doctor Who line is clearly still something of an issue for Character Options, even if it is building up new strengths as a B&M Stores exclusive range. Right now the money is going into brand new head sculpts, with bodies being recycled from other figures to increase variety but keep costs down at the same time. It's a practice that can go either way, but clearly Character have thought about it well if it results in releases like the Companions of the Fourth Doctor set. This three-pack brings together three classic characters from Tom Baker's time in the role - Sarah Jane Smith, Romana I and Romana II.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Valkyrie Rushing Cheetah

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Valkyrie Rushing Cheetah 01

Release Date: July 2020
RRP: 6050 yen

Long time S.H. Figuarts collectors will be used to some of the strange decisions Bandai Tamashii Nations make when it comes to which characters are retail releases and which are Tamashii web exclusives, but even then there are still times where placement can feel unjustified. When Kamen Rider Zero-One came onto the scene it immediately boasted an extensive cast of Riders, including the never-seen-before of appearance of a female Rider right from the get-go. As a result A.I.M.S. technical advisor Yua Yaiba immediately gained a firm fan following, but despite her prominence S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Valkyrie Rushing Cheetah still joins the line as a web exclusive. It might be because deep down Bandai still don't feel women characters sell as men, or it could simply be that there's simply no room in the Zero-One range to have any more than two retail releases. Either way, that's sadly the situation for this somewhat landmark Rider. Yua's journey throughout the Zero-One series proved equally tumultuous, going on to act as ZAIA's lapdog before eventually turning against Gai Amatsu and later inadvertently becoming instrumental in the rise of Kamen Rider Ark-Zero. By the end of series, Yaiba goes on to forge her own path - becoming the new commander of a now-independent A.I.M.S Squad.

Monday, 12 October 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who 'U.N.I.T. 1971 - The Claws of Axos' Set

Doctor Who UNIT 1971 - The Claws of Axos Set 01

Release Date: July 2020
RRP: £19.99

As the Doctor Who toy line begins to retrieve its lost strength through the now staple B&M Stores exclusive range, fans are seeing a steady supply of both new characters and re-released (albeit slightly altered) versions of popular and sought after characters from the line’s heyday. One such example is the U.N.I.T. 1971 - The Claws of Axos three-pack, based on the third Doctor story and featuring both old and new releases. Alongside Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart are Captain Mike Yates and Sergeant John Benton - staples of the Doctor’s earthbound adventures and arguably companions of the Doctor in their own right. 

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Time Force Red Ranger

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Time Force Red Ranger 01

Release Date: June 2020
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

As someone who collects far too many other toy lines to go all in on the Power Rangers Lightning Collection, I’ve tried to primarily limit myself to reds and sixths (outside of a few favourites) as far as the rangers themselves are concerned. That means it’s especially exciting when Hasbro delve further into the franchise’s history with a series previously untouched, and doubly so when it’s one S.H. Figuarts didn’t make any attempt at. Wave five of the line brought fan-favourite Power Rangers Time Force into the fold, and what better place to start than with the Lightning Collection Time Force Red Ranger. When the Time Force Rangers travel back to the year 2001 in pursuit of Ransik, Wesley “Wes” Collins becomes the team’s second red ranger following the death of Alex Drake. Though originally he was only given a Chrono Morpher to unlock the other Rangers’ abilities in the past, Wes defied them to become the red ranger anyway - becoming a valuable member of the team and even retaining the position after timeline fluctuations undid Alex’s death.

Monday, 5 October 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Cad Bane & Todo 360

Star Wars Black Series Cad Bane & Todo 360 01

Release Date: September 2020
RRP: $29.99/£29.99

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down, and the cancellation of all major events and conventions has seen toy companies have to rethink their plans when it came to their exclusive releases. Hasbro especially have had a lot to work with given both the variety and popularity of their collector lines. One such example is the Star Wars Black Series Cad Bane & Todo 360 set, the long-awaited release of the popular bounty hunter from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. While it's not quite clear what this release was originally planned for, it was meant to be a shared European exclusive. Instead it was released as a fan channel exclusive in Europe across various stores, arriving on month ahead of its US release via Hasbro Pulse. A standard version of the Duros bounty hunter will also arrive as part of the line's 27th wave, however that does NOT include his techno-service droid partner.

Friday, 2 October 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Horobi Sting Scorpion

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Horobi Sting Scorpion 01

Release Date: June 2020
RRP: 6050 yen

Whenever there's a new Kamen Rider series with a multitude of Riders it's always fun to see how many of them receive general retail S.H. Figuarts before Bandai Tamashii Nations implement the Tamashii web exclusive curse, and in the case of Kamen Rider Zero-One the answer is two. Sure the titular Rider's other forms might make it to retail, but of the core six Riders the show only Zero-One and Vulcan managed to escape that fate. The first of the web exclusive Riders is S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Horobi Sting Scorpion, rogue Humagear and founder of the cyberterrorist group Metsuboujinrai.net. Dedicated to exterminating humanity so that his Humagear brothers and sisters could live freely, Horobi continuously clashed with Aruto Hiden – eventually becoming the first host of the rogue satellite Ark. Even after Ark's defeat Horobi continued his crusade to rid the world of human malice, culminating in a climactic showdown between the two Riders.

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Dino Thunder White Ranger

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Dino Thunder White Ranger 01

Release Date: August 2020
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

One of the most fun things about collecting the Power Rangers Lightning Collection is that you never know where the latest reveal is going to show up next. Take the Lightning Collection Dino Thunder White Ranger for example - first it showed up in a Malaysian store, then was widely available in UK stores before Hasbro even properly acknowledged its existence. The fan favourite extra ranger from Power Rangers Dino Thunder has had a somewhat tumultuous release, but is finally here and as a Walgreens exclusive in the US. Adopted son of the genius Anton Mercer, Trent Fernandez initially acted as a lone agent - even allying himself with his step father’s evil alter-ego Mesogog against the Dino Thunder Rangers. When the evil within the white Dino Gem was finally destroyed, Trent allied himself with the other rangers to help defeat Mesogog and save his father.

Monday, 28 September 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Marvel Legends Deluxe 'Age of Apocalypse' Apocalypse

Marvel Legends AOA Apocalypse 01

Release Date: August 2020
RRP: $29.99/£29.99

Alternate universe stories are one of my favourite concepts in science fiction, so when it comes to the X-Men it shouldn’t be any surprise to hear that Age of Apocalypse is by far my favourite thing to come out of the franchise. An epic event depicting a universe where Apocalypse successfully wages war on humankind and takes control of the Earth, the 1995-96 story remains the gold standard for AUs in comics. I’m no Marvel Legends collector, but when Hasbro announced a wave of Age of Apocalypse figures my interest was piqued - and there was no way I could resist the deluxe Marvel Legends Age of Apocalypse Apocalypse figure. Separate from the main wave, this special release is a reworking of the 2018 build-a-figure, reimagining the despotic mutant En Sabur Nur in his alternate universe form.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Den-O Sword Form & Gun Form

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Den-O Sword & Gun Form 01

Release Date: May 2020
RRP: 8800 yen

Bandai Tamashii Nations immediately set the bar pretty high when it came to the S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou range, but their recent releases have been pushing the envelope and showing off just why these are a cut above normal Figuarts. It's always the most exciting when it's announced they're going to be moving onto a new Kamen Rider series to see what new tricks they'll throw in, but I don't think anyone quite expected what they had in store for Kamen Rider Den-O. S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Den-O Sword Form & Gun Form is a two-in-one deal that features two of the Rider's main form changes in one figure, thanks to a number of swappable parts. Bandai had previously toyed with the idea of a larger transforming Den-O figure at the Tamashii Nations event in 2017, but since that never came to pass you could consider this its spiritual successor. Sure it may not transform properly, but adding form changes to S.H. Figuarts even in this capacity is something that hasn't been dared since its predecessor line Souchaku Henshin. 

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Black Widow (Black Widow Ver.)

SH Figuarts Black Widow (Solo Movie) 01

Release Date: June 2020
RRP: 6600 yen

Among all the key characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the one who’s had the most unfortunate time of things is undoubtedly Black Widow. First came her troubled subplot in Avengers: Age of Ultron, then came her rather unceremonious death in Avengers: Endgame and now after years of being denied one, her upcoming solo movie has been delayed indefinitely thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. But while the wheels of Hollywood may have stopped turning the merchandising game certainly hasn’t, with both Hasbro and Bandai Tamashii Nations having both put out their Black Widow movie offerings at the time of film’s originally proposed May 2020 release date. S.H. Figuarts Black Widow may come only a short time after the release of the Endgame version, but given her absence from the film’s final battle this general release figure fits in pretty well with Tamashii’s current slew of re-released characters. Whilst Hasbro have been fairly thorough with their Marvel Legends wave, this version of Widow and Taskmaster are currently the only characters released on the Bandai side of things.

Monday, 21 September 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts The Mandalorian

S.H. Figuarts The Mandalorian 01

Release Date: May 2020
RRP: 6600 yen

Compared to the more mixed reaction to the sequel trilogy The Mandalorian has become the first Star Wars franchise’s new golden goose, so it’s no surprise to see toy companies making the most out of the lucrative Disney+ series. Bandai Tamashii Nations have solidified their Star Wars range as a key part of the S.H. Figuarts brand, and now that only continues to expand with the release of S.H. Figuarts The Mandalorian. The first of what will likely be many releases from the series, this figure features the bounty hunter Din Djarin is his initial armour.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Anime REVIEW: Gundam Build Divers Re:Rise

Gundam Build Divers Re:Rise
Gundam Build Divers Re:Rise is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll and YouTube

While the model kits have always been a huge part of Gundam culture, the arrival of Gundam Build Fighters in 2013 truly went and made them a significant Gundam multimedia. Sure there had been anime specials based on gunpla before, but this loving tribute to the hobby won the hearts of fans worldwide and ensured a whole string of gunpla-based sequels. Next came Gundam Build Fighters Try in 2016, followed by Gundam Build Divers in 2018. Finally we return to the virtual reality MMO of Gunpla Battle Nexus Online in Gundam Build Divers Re:Rise - a direct sequel to the previous show starring an all-new cast. Despite beginning in October 2019, the 26-episode series ended in August 2020 - owing not only to a one-cour break between its two halves but also a two month delay because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Captain Marvel (Avengers: Endgame)

SH Figuarts Captain Marvel (Avengers Endgame) 01

Release Date: June 2020
RRP: 7700 yen

Avengers: Endgame provided Marvel Cinematic Universe fans with the largest assembly of Marvel heroes on screen yet, and it's no surprise to see that Bandai Tamashii Nations are largely going the same way with their S.H. Figuarts releases as well. In fact so much so that they're also currently doubling up on the main cast members with "final battle" editions with decos and parts more accurate to the film itself (since a lot of the original releases were presumably based off of concept art). There's still plenty of gaps though, with one being filled with the release of S.H. Figuarts Captain Marvel (Avengers: Endgame)! The second S.H. Figuarts release of Carol Danvers, this Tamashii web exclusive release is based on her new costume and appearance following the film's five year time skip – notably appearing at the end of the film to help the Avengers' last stand against Thanos' forces.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who "The Jungles of Mechanus" Dalek Set

Doctor Who 'The Jungles of Mechanus' Dalek Set 01

Release Date: September 2020
RRP: £24.99

Between a wave of new modern series releases and their current slate of B&M exclusives Character Options have really impressed Doctor Who toy collectors with their 2020 offerings, but I don’t think anyone was fully expecting what they’ve pulled out for their latest Character online store exclusive. The 1965 story The Chase featured a number of Daleks not native to the television production, and were in fact borrowed from the forthcoming Dr. Who and the Daleks - a colourful movie adaptation of the first Dalek story. Though they originally appeared in the story sans fender and with smaller lamps as “Guard Daleks”, the final episode featured blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameos of them in their full movie glory. And it’s because of this technicality, that Character have been able to release The Jungles of Mechanus exclusive Dalek set - 2-pack of colourful and unique Daleks that definitely appeared in The Chase and aren’t in any way simply movie Daleks. Really, who could have seen that coming?

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

First Impressions: Kamen Rider Saber

Kamen Rider Saber

With Kamen Rider gearing up to celebrate its 50th anniversary next year and seemingly a harder push to bring previous shows and merchandise to North America (there'll be none of that "the West" business here), now seems to be a particularly pivotal time for the franchise as a whole. Although Kamen Rider Zero-One faced some difficulties during its final stretch thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the wheels at Toei keep on turning and now it's time to introduce the second Kamen Rider of the Reiwa era. Kamen Rider Saber is the 31st series in the franchise overall, joining Mashin Sentai Kiramager in the current Super Hero Time line up. The show is being written by Takuro Fukuda (Kamen Rider Ghost), and directed by longtime Rider director Takayuki Shibasaki. Saber also sees a changeover in the lead suit actor once again, with the mantle now being passed on to Kosuke Asai - whose credits include Zyuoh Eagle, Ninnin Red, Lupin Red, Kamen Rider Cronus and most recently Kamen Rider Vulcan.

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Kit Fisto

Star Wars Black Series Kit Fisto 01

Release Date: July 2020
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

The Star Wars Black Series has been showing a great deal of prequels love in recent waves, so it's about time that Hasbro filled out the ranks of the Jedi Council a little bit more. Joining Plo Koon in one of the most recent wave of releases is the Nautolan Jedi Master Kit Fisto, who appeared during the Battle of Geonosis in Attack of the Clones before being struck down by Darth Sidious in Revenge of the Sith. Fisto also appeared in both the 2d animated and CGI Clone Wars series, with both depictions helping making him a firm fan favourite.