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.