Friday, 3 July 2020

Series REVIEW: GARO: Versus Road

Garo: Versus Road

A franchise’s longevity often depends on just how well it can reinvent itself. Over the past decade and a half GARO has spread itself across multiple mediums and timelines, all unified by the appearance of the titular golden armour and the malevolent dark karma creatures known as Horrors. And in the year of its 15th anniversary, GARO: Versus Road has done it again. A brand new chapter in the GARO legacy, Versus Road brings in new characters and a brand new setting - one that seems very different to what has come before.

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lighting Collection Cybervillain Blaze

Lighting Collection Cybervillain Blaze 01

Release Date: February 2020
RRP: $20/£20

While naturally a line like the Power Rangers Lightning Collection is going to gravitate toward to rangers themselves, four waves (and a handful of exclusives) in and it hasn't done a bad job of giving us some villain representation too. While it's only really Zedd, Goldar and the Putty Patroller covering the monster side of things, between the Psycho Red, Psycho Blue and Lord Drakkon there's been a fair few evil rangers to go around as well. Wave four boosts that number yet again with Lightning Collection Cybervillain Blaze! An evil avatar created by Evox, the twisted version of the Power Rangers Beast Morphers Red Ranger assists the virus in his bid to take over the Morphin Grid. With the Beast Morphers Yellow and Silver rangers still unaccounted for in the line, Blaze is a bit of a surprise entry for the fourth wave but certainly not an unwelcome one.

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series The Child

Star Wars Black Series The Child 01

Release Date: April 2020
RRP: $9.99/£10.99

The Mandalorian has done many things for the Star Wars universe and fandom, but in terms of its impact it doesn't get much bigger than The Child. The best kept secret in the run up to the series premiering on Disney+, from the very first episode "Baby Yoda" fever swept the globe - and with no merchandise planned until the middle of 2020 Hasbro had to scramble to get their product ready to meet demand. It's been a bit of a wait, but finally the Black Series The Child figure has arrived. One of the more unique entries in the 6" collector figure line, The Child's small stature means it comes at a smaller price point than usual - and overall presentation is rather different as well.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Figma Mako Mankanshoku

Figma Mako Mankanshoku 01

Release Date: December 2019
RRP: 7000 yen

Admittedly the Figma line have never been the best at getting "complete" casts of characters out. Given that Kill la Kill was released all the way back in 2013 and Figma Ryuko Matoi and Satsuki Kiryuin were released in 2014 and 2015 respectively, you'd think that Good Smile Company and Max Factory would want to strike whilst the iron is hot and get more of the cast out. Yet here we are at the series' fifth anniversary, and only now are collectors getting their hands on Figma Mako Mankanshoku. Despite her having a very firm fanbase and receiving two Nendoroid releases in that time, it's only now that the undisputed star of studio Trigger's first full-length series gets a poseable action figure of her very own. The moral of the story here is never give up on these companies releasing figures - if they're popular enough and fans are vocal enough, you never know when they'll revisit the range years later.

Saturday, 20 June 2020

First Impressions: Ultraman Z

Ultraman Z

Is there no end to Ultraman's worldwide takeover? Not just content with a popular Netflix animated series based on an ongoing manga, reasonably-priced region-free Blu-Ray sets available in the West and a forthcoming Marvel Comics series, the latest series is available online to the masses! The next logical step from their release of Ultra Galaxy Fight: New Generation Heroes last year, Tsuburaya Productions have announced that Ultraman Z - the 32nd entry in the long-running Ultra Series, will be made available on their official YouTube channel with English subtitles. As well as the first series beyond the New Generation Heroes lineup (which ran from Ultraman Ginga to Ultraman Taiga), Ultraman Z celebrates the tenth anniversary of Ultraman Zero. Sadly the run up to its premiere has also been marred with tragedy, as it was recently announced that Kota Fukihara, one of its lead writers, had tragically passed away at the young age of 37. Whilst it isn't clear how much of the series had been written by Fukihara prior to his death, Tsuburaya have stated that their staff will "continue to strive to create an amazing final product for the series to which he gave all his spirit." So above all else, this one's for you Fukihara.

Friday, 19 June 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Zero-One Rising Hopper

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Zero-One Rising Hopper 01

Release Date: February 2020
RRP: 3300 yen

Kamen Rider has entered the Reiwa era, and Bandai Tamashii Nations are along for the ride! The Kamen Rider Zero-One S.H. Figuarts range launches with S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Zero-One Rising Hopper, which is of course the base form of the titular Rider. Following the trend of recent years Bandai have opted to make the lead Rider of the currently airing series a particularly enticing release, offering them at a notably lower price point than is typically seen for even general retail Figuarts these days. Aruto Hiden dreams of a world where humans and Humagears can co-exist peacefully, but have Bandai created a figure that allows both them and collectors to do the same? Keeping reading to find out! 

"A jump to the sky turns to a Rider Kick."

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Zeo Blue Ranger

Lightning Collection Zeo Blue Ranger 01

Release Date: February 2020
RRP: $20/£20

Now that we're four waves into the Power Rangers Lightning Collection collectors have a good idea of what to expect from the line, and while as expected the Mighty Morphin roster will likely be the first team out the door more and more are beginning to appear with each coming wave. Whilst Power Rangers Zeo's beginnings started with last year's SDCC-exclusive Dragon Shield MMPR Red/Zeo Gold Ranger two-pack, but wave four is where we get a first glimpse at the core team with the Lightning Collection Zeo Blue Ranger figure. It's not often we see a team kick off with a character that's a red or sixth/extra ranger, but given his past as the former Mighty Morphin Red Ranger the now blue Rocky DeSantos isn't too far off the mark.

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Bemular -the Animation-

S.H. Figuarts Bemular -The Animation- 01

Release Date: February 2020
RRP: 7700 yen

The release of Production I.G.’s anime adaptation of the ULTRAMAN manga created an all-new interest in the ongoing series, and with Bandai Tamashii Nations having already produced the cast in figure form back in 2015 this was the perfect opportunity to get those toys back on the market. Whilst previously the manga versions of these characters had been produced under the collaborative S.H. Figuarts x Ultra-Act banner, the dissolution of the former line some years ago means that these new anime versions (featuring new tooling and alternate paint jobs) are strictly Figuarts. The range kicked off last year with the reason of both Ultraman and Ultraman Suit Ver 7, and now they’re joined by S.H. Figuarts Bemular -the Animation-. The mysterious entity that identified itself as “the first enemy” (taking its name from the first kaiju the original Ultraman battled in the 1966 series), Bemular is shrouded in mystery - showing hostility toward Shinjiro and his father but also an interest in developing the former’s Ultraman factor. His connection to Ultraman is another mystery yet to be solved. This figure was the first and currently only one in the anime range to be a Tamashii web exclusive, and its arrival leaves the Ace Suit as the only character only available via the original SHFxUA release.

Saturday, 6 June 2020

Movie REVIEW: GARO: Moonbow Traveler

Garo: Moonbow Traveler

Once upon a time you could have considered GARO to be an obscure tokusatsu series, at least when compared to some of the bigger name franchises. But after 15 years, multiple television series and movies, three anime spin-offs simulcast worldwide and several official English-subtitled US Blu-Ray releases it's fair to say that ship has long since sailed. The fact this particular film even had English subtitles for its Japanese home video release just reinforces the fact. Celebrating 15 years of the Golden Knight, GARO: Gekkou No Tabibito ("Moonbow Traveler") brings back Raiga Saejima and the cast of The Makai Flower for their long-overdue movie outing - bringing together the various threads of the Saejima family storyline for potentially the last time.

(Review contains minor spoilers)

Monday, 1 June 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Mashin Sentai Kiramager Minipla Kiramaizin

Kiramager Minipla Kiramaizin 01

Release Date: March 2020
RRP: 2376 yen (6 boxes, 1 complete model), 4752 yen (12 boxes, 2 complete models)

Super Sentai minipla may be all the rage these days thanks to the deep dives into its history Bandai’s Super Mini-Pla line getting up to, but at the same time the yearly range of candy toy model kits is still trucking away offering the same level of articulation for a fraction of the price. This year it’s the turn of Mashin Sentai Kiramager, a show that may have sadly taken a hiatus due to the COVID-19 crisis but has still wowed audiences with its classic Sentai stylings. The series’ first minipla release features all five of the team’s Kiramei Stones turned Mashin vehicles, not only able to transform into the mighty Kiramaizin but also break down in the small combos of Land Mage and Sky Mage.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Lost Galaxy Red Ranger & Psycho Red Ranger

Lightning Collection Lost Galaxy Red & Psycho Red 01

Release Date: September 2019
RRP: $39.99/£39.99

Thanks to the internet and clever fans able to quickly decipher coded toy listings, the Power Rangers Lightning Collection admittedly hasn't thrown out that many surprises collectors haven't seen rumoured or leaked beforehand. When Hasbro do manage to catch those fans unaware though, they definitely do it in style. The Lightning Collection Lost Galaxy Red Ranger and In Space Psycho Red Ranger set didn't just feel like it came out of nowhere, in typical Lightning Collection style it hit store shelves barely any time after its official reveal. The set takes its inspiration from the Power Rangers Lost Galaxy episode "To the Tenth Power", where the sinister Psycho Rangers are revived by Deviot to help destroy the rangers once and for all. Overwhelmed, it's only when the Lost Galaxy rangers team up with Andros and the Space Rangers that they're able to defeat the Psychos once more.

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Toei Tokusatsu World Official - First Episode Reviews

Toei Tokusatsu World Official

Over the past two months I've been working on a collaboration piece with the good people over at Toku Toy Store, in which myself and group of other writers challenged ourselves to first episode reviews for every one (or at least all the ones available in our region) of the shows uploaded to Toei's own Toei Tokusatsu World Official YouTube channel. This is a recent undertaking by Toei to make their shows that little bit more available worldwide, with the first two episodes of each series available with subtitles in a range of different languages. Further episodes are being uploaded without subtitles, however Toei have said they're making a "public call" for fans to develop and upload subtitles themselves. The specifics of this aren't very clear and have been a subject of debate, but at the very least we currently have an official outlet with episodes of around 70 different anime and Tokusatsu series. While that does include some of the more well-known franchises like Kamen Rider, Super Sentai and Metal Heroes (where available), there's also a wealth of obscurer content which many fans probably haven't even heard of! If you ever wanted a primer on the Toei Fushigi Comedy Series or Shotaro Ishinomori's love of mascot-esque robots, then you've come to the right place.

Below are links to all 22 reviews I contributed to the project, one of which you'll also recognise as a show that got a full series review on this very blog. Please give them a read if you have the chance, they're a little shorter than my regular reviews if that helps! Also bear in mind that these are reviews of the first episodes only, so opinions are solely based on the content provided in those.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Clone Commander Bly

Star Wars Black Series Clone Commander Bly 01

Release Date: March 2020
RRP: $20/£20

2020 truly is the year of the Clone Trooper. The final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars has come and gone, finally giving closure to the story George Lucas and Dave Filoni started all the way back in 2008. On top of that, 2020 also marks the 15th anniversary of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, where Darth Sidious finally made his move and activated Order 66 - commanding the clones to turn against their Jedi generals. Amongst the clones loyal to the Republic was Clone Commander Bly, who finally arrives in Hasbro's Black Series as part of its latest wave. Appearing in both The Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith, Bly is most notable for his appearance in the latter - where he gunned down Jedi Master Aalya Secura on the planet Felucia.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Custom Figure: Dr. Who & the Daleks (Movie) Black Dalek

Custom Black Movie Dalek 01

For the last of my three Character Options Dalek figures I recently acquired to do customs with, I decided to do something a little more popular. The 1960s Dalek movies starring Peter Cushing boast some of the most impressive looking and colourful classic-style Daleks out there, but sadly for whatever reason they’ve been overlooked by the current Doctor Who toy line. While previously I’ve done a simple base/light swap to make a Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150AD standard Dalek, but that definitely wasn’t enough. Time to bring in the big cheese himself - the Black Dalek from 1965’s Dr. Who and the Daleks.

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider: Reiwa The First Generation

Kamen Rider: Reiwa The First Generation

It's the beginning of a new generation for the Kamen Rider franchise, and after a series celebrating the past 20 years of the Heisei era it's time to look toward the future. Kamen Rider Zero-One has kickstarted the Reiwa era in full force, but it seems Kamen Rider Zi-O has at least one more fight in him as the gang returns for the obligatory Winter crossover movie. But with Heisei Generations no more, it's time for a new banner to rise. Kamen Rider Reiwa: The First Generation sees the baton properly passed to Aruto Hiden, forging a new Kamen Rider legacy for the Reiwa era.

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts MonsArmor Option Parts Set

S.H. Figuarts Ultraman X MonsArmor Set 01

Release Date: January 2020
RRP: 7150 yen

When you have a gimmick as cool as turning iconic Ultra Series into cyberspace-styled armour, then just one figure is never going to be enough. Bandai Tamashii Nations were kind enough to give collectors a taste of that potential with the S.H. Figuarts Ultraman X & Gomora Armour Set, but if there was any Ultraman figure deserving of an additional accessory pack - it was this one. Accessory packs are a bit less common in the line than they used to be, but just over a year later Bandai came through and the S.H. Figuarts MonsArmor Option Parts Set became a reality. Naturally for something as niche as this Tamashii Web exclusive status was inevitable, as well as a price tag that's only really going to appeal to completionists. But take the plunge, and you'll have the MonsArmors of Eleking, Bemstar and Zetton to add to your Ultraman X arsenal.

Monday, 4 May 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Imperial Probe Droid

Black Series Imperial Probe Droid 01

Release Date: April 2020
RRP: $29.99/£27.99

May the 4th is a special day for Star Wars fans across the globe every year, but 2020 marks a particularly spectacular occasion. It's been 40 years since The Empire Strikes Back was first released in cinemas, so of course it's being celebrated with all manner of new toys and merchandise. Leading Hasbro's charge as far as the Black Series goes is a new selection of retro-carded figures akin to their 40th Anniversary A New Hope range, but there are plenty of other treats for collectors as well. The Black Series Imperial Probe Droid continues the (still relatively new) deluxe range of figures incorporated into the line, for characters that are a little too large and/or detailed to fit under that standard $20 price point. Given that the Probe Droid is the first thing we see in The Empire Strikes Back and sets the whole film in motion, arguably there isn't a better choice for the Black Series to celebrate this milestone anniversary.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Custom Figure: Denys Fisher "Red Top" Dalek

Custom Denys Fisher Dalek 01

Continuing my current lockdown project of creating some new custom coloured Daleks, I tried to look into various media that I hadn't sought inspiration from before. I've done movie Daleks before, and I've also done audio and stage play ones. But a toy deco one? That would be something new. One of my favourite classic Dalek toys is the 1977 toy by Denys Fisher, which sported a red dome and blue eyestalk. As far a toy-unique colours go I would say it's probably the most notable amongst all Doctor Who lines there's been over the years, so was the perfect choice for my latest custom.

Friday, 1 May 2020

Custom Figure: Brotherhood of the Daleks Red "Thalek" Dalek

Brotherhood of the Daleks Red "Thalek" Dalek 01

Like many I’ve suddenly found myself with a lot more free time over the past few weeks thanks to this Coronavirus lockdown business, and one thing I really wanted to dip my hand back into was the world of custom Dalek figures. It’s been some years since my last project, and the increasing scarcity/price of classic Daleks on the aftermarket hasn’t made getting back into it any easier. However luckily I was able to get my hands on a Classic Dalek Set #2 on eBay, so had three new canvases to work with. My first instinct is to always trawl through all the various Big Finish audios to find variants I hadn’t tackled yet, and this time my eyes turned toward the excellent Brotherhood of the Daleks by Alan Barnes. The cover for the story features a distinct red Dalek, revealed to a particularly special case as it’s not just a Dalek - it’s a Thalek.

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Lord Drakkon

Lightning Collection Lord Drakkon 01

Release Date: November 2019
RRP: $20/£20

While the show itself might be continuing on strongly, for many older fans one of the more exciting Power Rangers projects to have come out in recent years is the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comic book series from Boom! Studios, adding in brand new stories of the original team whilst bringing it into a more modern setting. The comic's first big event was Shattered Grid, which saw all Rangers across time, space and dimensions threatened by Lord Drakkon - an alternate universe version of Tommy Oliver that continued on the path of evil. Though the comics have created more of their own rangers since Drakkon has certainly had the most impact on the franchise as a whole, so naturally fans quickly clamoured for fans of the evil Green and White Ranger fusion. Bandai of America released a figure at the tail end of their Legacy line, but as a Power Morphicon exclusive it quickly became scarce and expensive on the aftermarket as well as being prone to significant QC problems. Not long after Hasbro step in as the new owners of the franchise, and immediately begin asserting their superiority over their predecessors with their own collector line. Lightning Collection Lord Drakkon joins the ever-expanding range as part of its third wave, not only making it far more accessible to collectors than Bandai's version but also showing Hasbro's dedication to the ongoing comics as well as the shows themselves in the line.

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Toybox REVIEW: NECA Aliens Xenomorph Warrior (Arcade Appearance)

NECA Xenomorph Warrior Arcade Appearance 01

Release Date: 2017
RRP: $29.99

If there's one thing NECA know, it's how to do a good repaint. While the company has produced a range of high quality horror and sci-fi figures through their Ultimate line-up, another particularly popular faucet of their repertoire has been video game-themed figures based on characters' appearances in retro console or arcade games. These releases have included the likes of Godzilla, Batman, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Freddy Kruger, but the Aliens franchise has proven particularly lucrative. Whether its through their own games or the Alien vs Predator crossover, people can't get enough of Xenomorphs and honestly who can blame them. The Xenomorph Warrior (Arcade Appearance) figure is based on the classic 1990 side-scrolling arcade game from Konami, in which the player could choose from either Ellen Ripley or Corporal Hicks. Here the Xenomorphs took on bright neon colour schemes, with the warriors looking particularly garish in their pink and purple cel-shaded glory.

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Thor [Avengers Endgame]

S.H. Figuarts Thor Endgame 01

Release Date: January 2020
RRP: 6600 yen

Avengers Endgame’s moment in the spotlight has come and gone by now, but when you’re working on the kind of timeframe Bandai Tamashii Nations does it’s not surprise to see S.H. Figuarts being released months later. Unlike a lot of the other Avengers Thor was one of the characters whose design was kept completely under wraps prior to the release of Endgame, so not to spoil the big changes the character went through during the film’s five year time skip. So unable to join many of the other key characters in being released in the run up to the film, S.H. Figuarts Thor [Avengers Endgame] was finally released at the beginning of 2020 as a Tamashii web exclusive. Once again late to the party, this is the third of four Thor S.H. Figuarts to be an exclusive - the only retail release being the original Age of Ultron one all the way back in 2015.

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Clone Commander Gree

Black Series Clone Commander Gree 01

Release Date: July 2017, March 2020 (Reissue)
RRP: $24.99

With the resurgence of Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Disney+ clone troopers are very much back in the public eye, so of course Hasbro haven't wasted any time capitalising on that popularity amongst their various Star Wars toy lines. While there are a fair few new variants on the market it's also an opportunity to re-release a few old favourites as well. Black Series Clone Commander Gree was originally released as a Toys R Us exclusive all the way back in 2017, but in 2019 was announced to be returning as a Fan Channel exclusive - meaning it would be made available again via a select number of retailers. Gree is best known for his appearance in Revenge of the Sith, assisting Yoda with the droid attack on the Wookies on their home planet of Kashyyyk. When Order 66 came through Gree was foolish enough to try and take down the wizened Jedi Master, resulting in a rather quick death for the clone trooper.

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Meisho Movie Realization Yumiashigaru Stormtrooper

Movie Realization Yumiashigaru Stormtrooper 01

Release Date: May 2017
RRP: 9020 yen

If there’s one thing you can almost certainly guarantee with any Star Wars toy line, it’s that one Stormtrooper variant is never enough. And with a line with as much imagination as Meisho Movie Realization, you can bet that Bandai Tamashii Nations intends to milk that design for everything that it’s worth. The Yumiashigaru Stormtrooper is the fourth of five original trilogy variants to be released, reimagining the Galactic Empire soldiers with the aesthetics of jeudal Japan’s infantry. “Ashigaru” means “light of foot” and refers specifically to an infantry class, whilst “Yumi” is the Japanese word for bow. Like most of the variants released after the original, the Yumiashigaru Stormtrooper was a Tamashii web exclusive.

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Zi-O NEXT TIME: Geiz, Majesty

Kamen Rider Zi-O NEXT TIME - Geiz, Majesty

No matter how finite a Kamen Rider series ending seems these days, a V-Cinema sequel is pretty much a certainty. After Kamen Rider Build quickly restored the memories of its cast in its NEW WORLD duology, it's now time to see where the characters of Kamen Rider Zi-O are headed next in Kamen Rider Zi-O NEXT TIME: Geiz, Majesty. When we last saw the gang Tokiwa Sougo had used the powers of Oma Zi-O to rewrite time, creating a world where he and his friends live an ordinary life in the present. As its title suggests, the film focuses on Myokoin Geiz as well as featuring guest cameos from a number of secondary Kamen Riders.

Monday, 6 April 2020

First Impressions: Digimon Adventure:

Digimon Adventure (2020)
Digimon Adventure: is available in streaming form via Crunchyroll

The Digimon franchise has continued to trundle on comfortably over the past two decades, but no matter how good subsequent instalments have been as far as the anime goes it's never been able to fully escape the shadow of the original Digimon Adventure. Whether this is a case of the fans refusing to move or Toei Animation themselves, 2015-18's six-film sequel series Digimon Adventure Tri still wasn't the last we'd be seeing of the eight original Chosen Children (or for a certain generation of fans, Digi Destined). On top of a further sequel to Tri in the form of Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna, 2020 has also spawned a complete reboot to the original series - once again simply taking the name Digimon Adventure: (that colon makes all the difference). On top of completely reworking the story from the ground up, this series also brings the timeline forward to present day. Given the huge advances there's been in the internet since 1997, that alone could lead to a very different series indeed.

Sunday, 5 April 2020

First Impressions: Garo: Versus Road

Garo: Versus Road

First Kami No Kiba reunited the cast of the Ryuga Dougai era, and then Moonbow Traveler brought together three generations of the Saejima family for one truly unforgettable movie. So where does the GARO franchise go from there? You clearly can't top moments like those, so instead the franchise has renewed itself yet again for its 15th anniversary - introducing a brand new continuity in the form of Garo: Versus Road. A new continuity isn't the only thing that's different though, with the Golden Knight entering the world of virtual reality in a tale that promises to be rather different than the GARO we've seen previously. So plug yourselves in, because it's time to get digital.

Friday, 3 April 2020

Series REVIEW: Ultraman Taiga

Ultraman Taiga

The Ultra Series has been on an upwards swing for some time now, but 2019 truly was the year that Ultraman made its bid for world domination. Finally emerging triumphant in their long-running legal battle with Chaiyo, Tsuburaya Productions wasted no time in establishing the franchise on a global platform - both through fully-subtitled Blu-Ray releases of the show's back catalogue and partnerships with leading brands such as Marvel Comics. But back in Japan business also continued as usual, with the seventh entry in their New Generation Hero lineup arriving in the form of Ultraman Taiga. The 31st Ultra series overall and first to premier in the Reiwa era, though much like previous series Ultraman R/B Taiga was not simulcast worldwide the speed of Mill Creek's current home video releases suggests that it won't be long before the son of Ultraman Taro is legally available to a wider audience.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Marvel Legends Doctor Doom

Marvel Legends Doctor Doom 01

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

Despite being Marvel's first family, the Fantastic Four haven't had much luck in the modern age. Three middling to terrible films, a lessened presence in the grand scheme of Marvel Comics and a Marvel Legends figure wave exclusive solely to Walgreens stores (and thus, more difficult for worldwide collectors to find). But the times are changing, and with a new ongoing Fantastic Four comic series since 2018 the team are finally once again getting the respect they deserve. In fact, Hasbro's 2020 string of Marvel Legends figures has kicked off with a mass-retail wave of Fantastic Four figures featuring a Super Skrull Build-A-Figure. Among the assortment are all four members of the team and (She Hulk), but no wave would be complete without their greatest enemy - Doctor Doom. Consider one of, if not the greatest villain in the Marvel Universe, the King of Latveria has been long desired by collector's in Hasbro's premier collector line.

Monday, 30 March 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Ankh (Arm)

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Ankh (Arm) 01

Release Date: January 2020
RRP: 3960 yen

If there's one Kamen Rider series S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou looks as though it's going to go all out on, it's Kamen Rider OOO. Much like how Bandai Tamashii Nations previously showed the same dedication to Kamen Rider W, between all the combos already teased OOO looks set to rule the roost for some time. But it's not just the titular Rider taking centre stage, with Bandai also recovering old ground with the S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Ankh (Arm) set. This is the third time the disembodied arm of rogue Greeed has been released – originally appearing as a first-run bonus with the original TaToBa figure before receiving a better quality accessory set version. The new edition takes notes from that second version – releasing in a very similar fashion but with added Shinkocchou Seihou quality.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Beast Morphers Gold Ranger

Lightning Collection Beast Morphers Gold Ranger 01

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

While its variety and attention to the 27 year history of Power Rangers has attributed to the success of Hasbro's Lightning Collection, for the brand to survive it's important that the line pay as much attention to the new as it does the old. While naturally a brand new range is almost always going to focus on the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers first and foremost, the currently airing Power Rangers Beast Morphers has also seen fair representation in this collector-orientated line on top of its own series-specific range. This all kicked off in wave two of the line, which didn't just include the obligatory Red Ranger but also a Lightning Collection Beast Morphers Gold Ranger figure. Coming some months after Nate Silva's debut as the Gold Hercules Beetle Mantis Ranger on the show itself, this particular release also helps fill a significant void left by the now-defunct S.H. Figuarts Super Sentai line. Though the core trio of Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters (and their respective Buddyroids) may have also received figure, Beet Buster/Jin Masato and Beet J Stag/Stag Buster sadly did not.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who Reconnaissance Dalek

Doctor Who Reconnaissance Dalek 01

Release Date: March 2020
RRP: £12.99

When the 13th Doctor was introduced back in 2018 it brought about a whole rebranding of Doctor Who. There was a new head writer, a new Doctor, new companions, even a new logo. What there wasn't however was a new toy line. Series 11 only brought about a handful of general retail toys, and with the 5.5" figure line mostly living on life support as B&M exclusives the Doctor herself was the only new figure to see the light of day. However 2019 saw Character Toys taking steps to reclaim some of the line's former glory, and with the conclusion of series 12 we're now seeing Doctor Who figures finally return in proper fashion. The current 2020 assortment includes a new 13 variant, companion Graham O'Brien, the Judoon Commander and the 13th Doctor's TARDIS. The star of the wave though is undoubtedly the Reconnaissance Dalek, complete in its makeshift casing from last year's special Resolution.

Monday, 16 March 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who 'The Two Doctors' Collector Figure Set

Doctor Who 'The Two Doctors' Set 01

Release Date: August 2019
RRP: £19.99

2019 saw the Doctor Who figure line truly start making steps towards a comeback. Daleks were back in new Big Finish-inspired two packs, sought after figures were finally getting much-needed reissues and we even got a brand new companion figure in the form of Harry Sullivan. Sure they may be slight retoolings at best and still exclusive to B&M Stores, but the variety of characters and hype around them suggested Character Toys were finally getting serious again. Among the 2019 offerings was a three-figure set based on 1985’s The Two Doctors, once again bringing new variants of popular characters as well as a whole new character. Included in this set are Sixth Doctor companion Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown, the Androgum-spliced Second Doctor and Group Marshal Stike of the Ninth Sontaran Battle Group.

Saturday, 14 March 2020

First Impressions: Mashin Sentai Kiramager

Mashin Sentai Kiramager

Mashin Sentai Kiramager has arrived, and although technically the series already began with the special prequel Episode ZERO movie it just wouldn't feel right to welcome in the 44th Super Sentai series without also giving some early impressions on its first proper episode. So strap on your Kiramai Changer and prepare your Kiramentality, because this episode wastes no time in jumping into the main action. The series is being written by tokusatu veteran Naruhisa Arakawa (Kamen Rider Kuuga, Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger and so much more) and directed by Kyohei Yamaguchi - a regular to Kamen Rider but a relative newcomer to Sentai.

Toybox REVIEW: Hero Action Figure Inazuman

Hero Action Figure Inazuman 01

Release Date: January 2020
RRP: 9680 yen

Once upon a time Bandai Tamashii Nations were releasing S.H. Figuarts from a wide variety of tokusatsu properties, including Kamen Rider, Ultraman, Super Sentai, Metal Heroes and even Kikaider. But as time went on and Bandai began chasing a wider range of properties, that variety has largely dwindled to just Rider and Ultra. Step in Evolution Toy, whose Hero Action Figure line specialises in some of the smaller names in classic tokusatsu. Since 2018 the HAF line has spawned the likes of Red Man, Mirror Man, Zone Fighter, Iron King, Jumborg and more. Now they're beginning to delve into some of Shotaro Ishinomori's legendary back catalogue, starting with Hero Action Figure Inazuman. A brand new figure of the 1973 henshin hero has been long overdue, particularly with the character having kept up appearances in recent years through both cameo appearances and a reimaging in a number of Kamen Rider movies.

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Movie REVIEW: Mashin Sentai Kiramager Episode ZERO

Mashin Sentai Kiramager Episode ZERO

Once again the time has come to debut the brand new Super Sentai series, but this year Toei is doing things a little differently for the long-running tokusatsu franchise. Prior to the series following on from the conclusion of Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger, the 44th Super Sentai series Mashin Sentai Kiramager took to the big screen in a special Episode ZERO prequel film. Released alongside Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger vs Lupinranger vs Patranger as part of the Super Sentai Movie Party, this is the first time a new Sentai team has been debuted outside of either their own series or their predecessor’s VS movie.

Monday, 9 March 2020

Movie REVIEW: Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger the Movie: Time Slip! Dinosaur Panic!!

Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger the Movie: Time Slip! Dinosaur Panic!!

With Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger being the fourth time around for the whole dinosaur Sentai thing, it's gotten to the point where there's naturally going to be some repetition no matter how different the stories are. Two things are almost certain – there's going to be a brand new reason for the dinosaurs' extinction, and at some point the team are going to come face to face with these prehistoric creatures. For Ryusoulger both these things are revealed in their summer movie, Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger the Movie: Time Slip! Dinosaur Panic!!. Released as part of the annual double-bill alongside Kamen Rider Zi-O: The Movie: Over Quartzer, Ryusoulger's first big screen outing is one with little bearing on the series as a whole but a nice little addition to the history of the Ryusoul Tribe.

Saturday, 7 March 2020

Series REVIEW: Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger

Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger

Super Sentai isn't in the best of states right now. Though through all the speculation about falling ratings and declining toy sales the only ones who really know what it means are Bandai, Toei and TV-Asahi, it's at least fair to say it's place in the tokusatsu pecking order has changed somewhat. But it's been long since thought that when the franchise is trouble it always has the sure fire success of dinosaurs to fall back on, rolling the motif out for a fourth time might not bode a whole lot of confidence. Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger is the 43rd entry in the Super Sentai franchise, with the dinosaur theme having last been used back in 2013 with Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger. The production side of things also saw a something of a shake-up too, with plenty of faces new to Sentai brought on board to give it a fresh new feel. This series marks the tokusatsu debut of J-drama writer Junpei Yamaoka, and was directed by Kazuya Kamihoriuchi – a man who particularly caught the attention of viewers for his work on Kamen Rider Build.

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Second Sister Inquisitor

Star Wars Black Series Second Sister Inquisitor 01

Release Date: October 2019
RRP: $20/£20

After a stagnant period of underwhelming entries, the Star Wars video game library finally managed to claw back some of its former glory with the release of Jedi: Fallen Order. Taking place during the great Jedi purge that took place in the years between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, the game was praised for its single-player storyline focus in a period in the Star Wars timeline still rife with storytelling potential. It's launch was one of the main focuses of 2019's Triple Force Friday, with Hasbro releasing several figures from the game in conjunction with its release - and among these was the Black Series Second Sister Inquisitor. The Second Sister is one of the main villains of the game, stalking Jedi fugitive Cal Kestis across the galaxy. Though the Second Sister is original to the game, the Inquisitorius have been a popular part of the new Star Wars canon for some time now - previously appearing in a number of comics and novels, and more significantly the Star Wars Rebels animated series.

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Reviews in Space & Time: Doctor Who 12x10 - The Timeless Children

Doctor Who 12x10 - The Timeless Children

The time has finally arrived, and things will never be the same again. With the Cybermen back in full force, a long-awaited return to Gallifrey and the Master once again in tow, the stage is set for the Doctor Who series 12 finale – The Timeless Children. Showrunner Chris Chibnall brings his series-long arc to forefront of the episode, having planted the seeds for the eponymous Timeless Child as far back The Ghost Monument. Once again directed by series staple Jamie Magnus Stone, the episode follows directly on from the events of both The Haunting of Villa Diodati and Ascension of the Cybermen. “Everything you think you know is a lie.”

Saturday, 29 February 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Magna Defender

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Magna Defender 01

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

Hasbro's first wave of Power Rangers Lightning Collection figures immediately turned heads by including the perfect assortment characters to show a dedication to the franchise's long and illustrious history. You got the obvious Mighty Morphin representation with the White Ranger, a red ranger and more recent entry with Dino Charge Red, a highly desired fan favourite with the SPD Shadow Ranger and then a much-needed villain to round the wave out with Lord Zedd. By kicking off with such a strong array of figures the heat was on to match that level of quality with wave two, and as far as the fan favourite character goes Hasbro couldn't have done much better than the Lightning Collection Magna Defender. The sixth hero of Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, the Magna Defender was a once noble warrior consumed by vengeance following the death of his son, butting heads with the rangers in his mission to destroy Scorpius. Eventually returning to the light and renouncing his hateful ways, the Magna Defender makes the ultimate sacrifice and passes his powers down to Mike Corbett. On top of being a firm fan favourite, the character's appearance in the Beyond the Grid storyline of the Boom! comic book series means this figure couldn't have been timed any better.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Reviews in Space & Time: Doctor Who 12x09 - Ascension of the Cybermen

Doctor Who 12x09 - Ascension of the Cybermen

The end is almost upon us, and in the finale of Doctor Who series 12 the 13th Doctor must once again battle against an enemy that's taken so much from her in the past - the Cybermen. Following on from the surprise appearance of the lone Cyberman in The Haunting of Villa Diodati, the race towards the end continues in Ascension of the Cybermen - written by show runner Chris Chibnall and directed by Jamie Magnus Stone. Interestingly Ascension is also the fourth two-part finale in modern Doctor Who to feature the Cybermen, following on from Army of Ghosts/Doomsday, Death in Heaven/Dark Water and of course World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls. But despite now having more finale appearances than even the Daleks, many have said that the Cybermen lost their lustre a long time ago. Could this be the episode that finally brings it back?

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Zangetsu Kachidoki Arms

SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Zangetsu Kachidoki Arms 01

Release Date: December 2019
RRP: 6480 yen

Getting a Kamen Rider Zangetsu stage play five years after Kamen Rider Gaim's final V-cinema release was surprise enough, but for it to also debut a brand new form that received an official S.H. Figuarts release just goes to show that Kamen Rider really wasn't messing around in 2019. Kamen Rider Zangetsu -Gaim Gaiden- saw Yuki Kubota reprise his role as Takatora Kureshima, as he stumbles into an underground city deep below Zawame City. The play also sees Takatora receive a new Lockseed and unlock a brand new form - a form that also makes a brief but very welcome cameo in Kamen Rider Zi-O the Movie: Over Quartzer. ather unsurprisingly S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Zangetsu Kachidoki Arms was a Tamashii web exclusive release, its arrival at the very end of the decade a sign that just when you think you have them worked out Bandai Tamashii Nations can still be full of surprises. 

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Jawa (40th Anniversary Packaging)

Star Wars Black Series Jawa 01

Release Date: May 2017
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

Much of Star Wars success in regards to toys comes down to just how iconic some of the designs the franchise spawned are, but another reason that it has dominated the action figure market for so long is simply because of how expansive it is. No matter how long they appeared in the films, there was a time when seemingly everyone received an action figure at some point - leading to toy lines filled all manner of alien species. But the most popular ones will always be the ones that had some integral role in the films, and when it comes to screen presence few races are quite as memorable as the Jawas. Tatooine's junk-hunting, droid-selling nomads led to R2-D2 and C-3P0 falling into the hands of Luke Skywalker, and so the adventure began. Because of this the Jawas have more than earned their place in Hasbro's Black Series line, and as one of the first characters released in Kenner's original Star Wars toy line the Black Series Jawa initially came as a somewhat special release.

Monday, 17 February 2020

Reviews in Space & Time: Doctor Who 12x08 - The Haunting of Villa Diodati

Doctor Who 12x08 - The Haunting of Villa Diodati

Doctor Who and Mary Shelley - a match made in heaven? One might think so given the amount of times the two have crossed paths, with the 19th century writer having previously crossed paths with the Tenth Doctor in the Battles in Time comic strip and been a fully-fledged companion to the Eighth Doctor in a series of Big Finish audio adventures. But without arguing just which of these are considered canon, it’s time for a new first encounter with Doctor 13 in The Haunting of Villa Diodati. Edging one step closer to the two-part series finale, this episode from writer Maxine Alderton and director Emma Sullivan promises to be the injection of gothic horror series 12 has lacked thus far.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Meisho Movie Realization Akazonae Royal Guard

Meisho Movie Realization Akazonae Royal Guard 01

Release Date: May 2016
RRP: 8856 yen

While Bandai Tamashii Nations' Meisho Movie Realization line seemed like a brilliant idea right from the get-go, the fact it's managed to last so well over the years is a testament to just how perfect samurai versions of iconic Star Wars characters really is. Admittedly the line so far has been particularly villain-heavy, but when those are the designs that lend themselves to best to that aesthetic who can blame Bandai for sticking to the bad guys. The ranks of the Galactic Empire have been filled out rather nicely with two versions of Darth Vader and a legion of Stormtrooper variants, but for real prestige look no further than the Meisho Movie Realization Akazonae Royal Guard. "Akazonae" translates to "blood-red armour", and specifically refers to the crimson armor worn by famed Sengoku era General Sanada Yukimura. The perfect reference for Emperor Palpatine's elite bodyguards, which are among the figures in the line to have been released as a Tamashii web exclusive.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Series REVIEW: Inazuman


The early 1970s saw a boom in the popularity of live-action superheroes shows on Japanese television, spurred on by the success of series such as Kikaider, The Return of Ultraman and of course Kamen Rider. In 1972 Daisuke Ban had already become tokusatsu royalty for his portrayal of Jiro in Kikaider, and the following year he not only reprised that role in Kikaider 01 but also took the lead in another Shotaro Ishinomori creation. Running from October 1973 until September 1974, the psionic-powered Inazuman is notable for having its story split across two distinct "chapters". Whereas the first 25 episodes were simply released under the name Inazuman, for the subsequent 23 it was renamed Inazuman Flash – featuring a brand new villain and a slightly darker tone. That first half also saw significant success in Hawaii alongside both Kikaider series and Kamen Rider V3 – all of which have since been officially licensed by the Honolulu-based JN Productions (aka Generation Kikaida). In subsequent years Inazuman would go on to cross over with Kikaider in both manga and animation, made a cameo alongside other Ishinomori heroes in 2011's OOO, Den-O, All Riders: Let's Go Kamen Rider and then finally a reimagined version teamed up with Kamen Rider Fourze in 2012's Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider Wizard & Fourze: Movie Wars Ultimatum.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who 'The Sontarans' Collector Figure Set

Doctor Who 'The Sontarans' Set 01

Release Date: August 2019
RRP: £19.99

Summer 2019 was a big season for Doctor Who toys. After years of multi-pack repaints (with the odd new figure) exclusive to B&M stores that largely slipped under the radar, Character Options came out with a huge new range that injected some energy back into the once great line. There were Big Finish-inspired Dalek sets, there were TARDISes and there were of course more three-packs. Among these was The Sontarans Collector Figure Set, which not only paid homage to one of the show’s most popular monsters but also gave collectors the one thing they’re always crying out for - another companion. Included in this set at Commander Linx from 1973’s The Time Warrior, Field Marshall Styre from 1975’s The Sontaran Experiment, and popular Fourth Doctor companion/Royal Navy Surgeon-Lieutenant Harry Sullivan.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Reviews in Space & Time: Doctor Who 12x07 - Can You Hear Me?

Doctor Who 12x07 - Can You Hear Me?

We’re moving into the final stretch of Doctor Who series 12 now, and while many fans are already looking forward to the mystery of the Timeless Child being solved with its two-part finale there’s still time for a few more one-off adventures before then. Can You Hear Me? is adventure spanning multiple locations (this time across time and space), directed by Emma Sullivan and written by the combined efforts of Chris Chibnall and series newcomer Charlene James. The next episode preview following the end of Praxeus suggested a good old fashioned dose of Who-brand horror, but if there’s anything that this series has proven so far it’s that looks can often be deceiving.

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Jet Garuda

Super Mini-Pla Jet Garuda 01

Release Date: June 2019
RRP: 6480 yen

When it comes to Japanese toy lines collectors often have to wait a few months between releases, but it seems Bandai have got themselves into a nice little groove with their Super Mini-Pla range. Retail releases are often paired up with a related Premium Bandai exclusive, which has resulted in a nice little double whammy of primary and secondary mecha releases on the Super Sentai side of things. So when it was finally Chōjin Sentai Jetman's turn, Jet Icarus was of course paired up with a Super Mini-Pla Jet Garuda release. Of course that Premium Bandai exclusivity does mean this release goes for a slightly higher price than it's counterpart, but as you'll soon see there's more than enough on offer here to ensure that Jet Garuda justifies it.