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.