Friday, 23 July 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Liner Boy

Super Mini-Pla Liner Boy 01

Release Date: September 2020
RRP: 4950 yen

Credit to Bandai, when they reveal a series is joining the Super Mini-Pla line they do their best to ensure fans aren't disappointed when it comes to variety. The KyuuKyuu Sentai GoGoFive range with the double release of Victory Robo and Grand Liner, and only a few months later they were back for round three. This time it's the turn of Liner Boy - a transforming bullet train/space shuttle with an AI unit that allows it to function without a pilot. Super Mini-Pla Liner Boy was another kit released as a Premium Bandai exclusive, which for the most part seems to be the fate for any Super Sentai mecha released outside of the main one.

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Movie REVIEW: Ultraman Taiga the Movie: New Generation Climax

Ultraman Taiga the Movie: New Generation Climax

With Ultraman Z having launched the franchise's worldwide availability on YouTube and the everything from Ginga to R/B having either streamed on Crunchyroll or now released on Blu-Ray via Mill Creek, 2019 instalment Ultraman Taiga feels like a bit of an outlier for fans outside of Japan. Like the previous New Generations Heroes series it returned for a movie epilogue in 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic its cinema release was delayed for five months. Ultraman Taiga the Movie: New Generation Climax brings together the heroes of the previous six Ultraman series, almost seeming like an end cap to this era of Ultra shows even though its spirit effectively continued on into Z.

Monday, 19 July 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner

Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner 01

Release Date: July 2020
RRP: 13200 yen

The Bandai Super Mini-Pla line has done some pretty sizeable model kits in the few years it's been around, but when it comes to pushing just what the line to offer from the Super Sentai franchise Super Mini-Pla Grand Liner is possibly their most ambitious project yet. Their second release from KyuuKyuu Sentai GoGoFive is another Premium Bandai exclusive, which isn't really all that surprising given the size and price of this behemoth. Standing at an incredible 27cm (nearly 11") tall, Grand Liner not only outclasses anything the line has put out thus far but it also does it while still being a combining robot – made up of five heavily armoured which make up the GoLiner.

Saturday, 17 July 2021

Series REVIEW: Zone Fighter

Zone Fighter

At the height of Japan's second monster boom, declining theatre attendance saw Toho look toward bringing their particular brand of superhero/monster tokusatsu to television - inspired by Tsuburaya Productions' revival of the Ultra Series through The Return of Ultraman and Ultraman Ace. With the popular Godzilla franchise at their disposal naturally these plans would somehow involve the King of Monsters, but although Godzilla himself was effectively a superhero by this point a different kind of hero to be the face of the series. The result was 1973's Ryusei Ningen Zone (Meteor Man Zone), copyrighted in the US as and perhaps best known as Zone Fighter. The second of Toho's superhero shows after the previous year's Rainbowman, Zone Fighter curiously combined elements of both kyodai (giant) and henshin (transforming) heroes. The series ran for a total of 26 episodes, however due a combination of low ratings and financial woes caused by the 1973 oil crisis no further episodes were produced and the series was left without a conclusive ending.

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 2 (THE FIRST Ver.)

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 2 (THE FIRST Ver.) 01

Release Date: October 2010
RRP: 2750 yen

S.H. Figuarts have come a long way in 13 years, but even with the arrival of the Shinkocchou Seihou range you can’t necessarily rely on every character to get a new figure that does the suits justice. Cinematic remakes Kamen Rider: The First and Kamen Rider: The Next are two such examples – the mould of which the majority of characters/variants share was one of the first Figuarts releases back in 2008. When Kamen Rider 1 (THE FIRST Ver.) hit shelves he was quickly followed by S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 2 (THE FIRST Ver.), rather amazingly covering the reimagined Double Riders in both their movie appearances a whole year before their original television counterparts were released.

Monday, 12 July 2021

Movie REVIEW: Mashin Sentai Kiramager the Movie: Bebop Dream

Mashin Sentai Kiramager the Movie: Bebop Dream

Although the Super Sentai and Kamen Rider summer movies typically release side by side, the COVID-19 pandemic put a swift half to those plans happening in 2020. Both movies were delayed, eventually releasing at different times with other films from their respective times instead. Whereas Kamen Rider Zero-One the Movie: RealxTime debuted alongside Kamen Rider Saber the Movie: The Phoenix Swordsman and the Book of Ruin in December, Mashin Sentai Kiramager's movie offering was instead held off until February 2021 where it could be released as part of a special Super Sentai triple bill. Joining Mashin Sentai Kiramager the Movie: Bebop Dream for this rather unique triplet of releases were Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger Special Chapter: Memory of Soulmates and (in their onscreen debut) Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger The Movie: Red Battle! All Sentai Rally!!.

Sunday, 11 July 2021

First Impressions: Ultraman Trigger: New Generation Tiga

Ultraman Trigger
Ultraman Trigger: New Generation Tiga is available to stream on YouTube

July 10th 2021 marked both Ultraman Day and the 55th anniversary of the Ultraman franchise, so what better way to celebrate that with the premiere of a brand new Ultraman series? It's a particularly big year for the franchise as Ultraman Tiga also celebrates its 25th anniversary, and to mark the occasion this monumentally popular series is being reimagined for a whole new generation in Ultraman Trigger: New Generation Tiga. The series is said to be a reinterpretation of Tiga's story for the current audience to enjoy, as well as featuring callbacks and parallels that will appeal to those who grew up with the first Heisei era Ultraman series. The franchise's plans for world domination continue as Tsuburaya Productions are once again uploading the series to their official YouTube channel with English subtitles, with episodes staying online for two weeks from their premiere. 

Saturday, 10 July 2021

Movie REVIEW: Mashin Sentai Kiramager vs Ryusoulger

Mashin Sentai Kiramager vs Ryusoulger

Even at a time where many tokusatsu projects have been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, some traditions just can't be passed over. The (mostly) annual Super Sentai V-cinema (or V-cinext as it prefers to be called nowadays) Versus Series returned in 2021 for its 27th instalment – Mashin Sentai Kiramager vs Ryusoulger. Kiramentality and chivalry join forces in this crossover movie written by Ayumi Shimo, who wrote episodes for both Mashin Sentai Kiramager and Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger as well as Uchu Sentai Kyuranger vs Space Squad tie-in miniseries Hero Mama League. The film was directed by tokusatsu regular Koichi Sakamoto, who again worked on episodes for both series.

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Black Series Darth Maul (Sith Apprentice)

Star Wars Black Series Darth Maul (Sith Apprentice) 01

Release Date: April 2021
RRP: $24.99/£24.99

2021 marks the 50th anniversary of Lucasfilm, and to celebrate Hasbro are dedicating a new range in the Black Series to all the parts of the Star Wars universe Disney would probably rather you forget about. This four figure (with potentially more to come) selection looks at all things Legends - the novels, comics,  video games and other bits of expanded media which were deemed non-canon when the House of Mouse took over control of the franchise. Among these releases is the Black Series Darth Maul (Sith Apprentice) figure - a variant of the ever-popular Sith Lord based on his appearance in Dark Horse Comics' Star Wars: Darth Maul four-part comic series from 2000.

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Special REVIEW: Kamen Rider Specter x Blades

Kamen Rider Specter x Blades

Kamen Rider fans probably didn't expect the 5th anniversary of Kamen Rider Ghost to be celebrated with a multi-part Kamen Rider Saber crossover story, but then given that the two shows share the same writer in Takuro Fukuda was there really any other way to do it? The latest Toei Tokusatsu Fanclub special kicked off at the end of May with Kamen Rider Saber x Ghost, and after leaving things on a pretty sizeable cliffhanger there wasn't much of a wait before part two came along. This time it's the turn of those true blue secondary Riders, as Kamen Rider Specter x Blades takes to the stage. As well as Mio Kudo and Shun Nishime reprising their roles as Kanon Fukami and Takeru Tenkuji respectively, this part also sees Ryosuke Yamamoto naturally rejoin the crew as Makoto Fukami/Kamen Rider Specter.

Sunday, 4 July 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Meisho Movie Realization Ronin Mandalorian

Meisho Movie Realization Ronin Mandalorian 01

Release Date: April 2021
RRP: $100

Given the clear inspiration it takes from Japanese stories such as Lone Wolf and Cub, The Mandalorian is the perfect candidate for representation in Bandai Tamashii Nations Meisho Movie Realization line. Previous releases Boba Fett and Jango Fett prove that the Mandalorian armour lends itself particularly well to line's reimagining of classic Star Wars characters as feudal era samurai, and the popularity of The Mandalorian would make the figure an almost sure-fire seller. But while it's extremely pleasing to see the release of the Meisho Movie Realization Ronin Mandalorian figure, the circumstances of its release are some of the strangest Bandai have done in a while. The figure was produced as a Tamashii web exclusive, but only made available via the US version of the web store. Whether this means Japan have their own plans for a Movie Realization Mandalorian in the future (maybe based on the full Beskar armour version of the suit?) is unknown, but right now the Japanese Tamashii Nations website doesn't even acknowledge this figure's existence on its Meisho Movie Realization page. But despite these strange origins, Bandai certainly haven't skimped on the extremely high quality the line has shown in the past.

Friday, 2 July 2021

Custom Figure: 'Dr Who & the Daleks' Movie Red Dalek

Custom Movie Red Dalek 01

Official 5.5" scale movie Daleks are something Doctor Who toy collectors have dreamed of for years (or more specifically, as long as Character Options have been producing the toys), but the licensing kerfuffle that comes along with them meant most of us assumed it was never going to happen. The silver and blue Daleks' split second appearance in The Chase was able to let the Jungles of Mechanus set happen, but sadly the red and black Daleks would need to remain potential custom projects for fans themselves to work on. Thankfully the aforementioned Mechanus set provided a perfect base figure to do that just that, and with a few spare sets in hands I finally went about fulfilling that dream of having the Dr. Who and the Daleks movie Daleks as part of my display.

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Series REVIEW: Thunderbolt Fantasy Season 3

Thunderbolt Fantasy Season 3
Thunderbolt Fantasy is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

If prior to 2016 you told me that famed anime writer Gen Urobuchi was going to team up with NitroplusGood Smile Company and Taiwanese puppet production Pili International Multimedia to produce one of the greatest series he's ever done, I probably would have been sceptical no matter how amazing that already sounds on paper. But that is exactly what Thunderbolt Fantasy is, and 26 episodes spanning two seasons (as well as two additional movies) fans have been treated to a storyline that somehow manages to get more and more wild each episode, unforgettable characters and more puppet violence than you could ever hope for. Two years after the release of prequel/side-story The Bewitching Melody of the West, it finally returned for its long overdue third season which was delayed thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sunday, 27 June 2021

Anime REVIEW: Godzilla Singular Point

Godzilla Singular Point
Godzilla Singular Point is available in streaming form on Netflix

It's hard to believe that despite being a franchise spanning over 65 years at this point, there's never been a fully-fledged Godzilla anime series. We've had a couple of American cartoon series over the years and a trilogy of CGI animated films from Toho and Polygon in 2017-18, but in 2021 did the King of the Monsters properly jump into television anime with Godzilla Singular Point. A co-production between acclaimed studios Bones and Orange, Singular Point is a "Netflix Original" series that released weekly in Japan between April and June before all 13 episodes dropped worldwide on the 24th June. The series was written by Toho Enjoh, an award-winning Japanese author specialising in science and speculative fiction.  

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Anime REVIEW: SSSS.Dynazenon

SSSS.Dynazenon
SSSS.Dynazenon is available in streaming form on Funimation

After lying dormant for decades, Gridman the Hyper Agent has come a long way in the past six years. When Trigger revealed their Denkou Chojin Gridman: "boys invent great hero" short at the Japan Animator Expo back in 2015, who would have thought that a collaboration between the animation studio and Tsuburaya Productions would eventually lead to the creation of a Gridman Universe. Following the success of SSSS.Gridman in 2018, this universe continued to expand in 2021 with the release of SSSS.Dynazenon. This second animated instalment ran for a total of 12 episodes, introducing a whole new cast of characters and story despite the familiar setting. After being revealed to mean "Special Signature to Save a Soul" at the end of the previous series, here the "SSSS"-prefix takes on a whole new meaning right from the very beginning - "Scarred Souls Shine like Stars".

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Batman (1989)

S.H. Figuarts Batman (1989) 01

Release Date: 7480 yen
RRP: September 2020

It's always fun when Bandai Tamashii Nations throw an absolute curveball of a release into the S.H. Figuarts line. While they've done a fair number of DC Universe figures (mostly live action movie-based, but also a couple from Batman Ninja surprisingly), but it's definitely fair to say that they're nowhere near as much a priority for the line as the Marvel Cinematic Universe figures are. So when it was announced that they would be producing a S.H. Figuarts Batman (1989) figure, based on the Dark Knight's appearance in Tim Burton's first big budget Batman film where he was portrayed by Michael Keaton, it came as a real surprise. The figure was released as a Tamashii web exclusive in Japan, but unsurprisingly was one of the more readily available Figuarts in foreign markets as well.

Friday, 18 June 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Victory Robo

Super Mini-Pla Victory Robo 01

Release Date: July 2020
RRP: 5500 yen

One of the great things about the Super Mini-Pla line has been the fact that you just don't know where in Super Sentai history Bandai are going to revisit next. Whilst the higher-end candy toy/model kit line has largely stayed within the post-Zyuranger/Power Rangers section of the franchise, there's been no set pattern in terms of which series is done next - giving everyone's favourites a good chance of showing up relatively soon. Following on from Sun Vulcan Robo and the rest of the Taiyo Sentai Sun Vulcan releases at the beginning of 2020, the second half of the year belonged to KyuuKyuu Sentai GoGoFive. As well as bursting out the gate with their Super Mini-Pla Victory Robo release, Bandai quickly set about filling up the show's line-up - with the enormous Grand Liner releasing the same month and Liner Boy and Victory Robo Black Version following shortly after (Victory Mars is still sadly outstanding). Super Mini-Pla Victory Robo was a retail release for the line, comprised of a total of five individual boxes - one for each of the five 99Machines.

Monday, 14 June 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Marvel Legends Carnage (Venompool Wave)

Marvel Legends Carnage (Venompool Wave) 01

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

There are so many characters in the Marvel Comics universe that Hasbro could probably get away with brand new ones for each and every release and still not run out, but with new collectors joining all the time of course you’re going to keep all of the favourites in circulation. The psychotic symbiote and Spider-Man villain Carnage is one such character, having previously graced the line in 2018 as part of the Monster Venom build-a-figure wave and now having returned two years later in the Venompool build-a-figure assortment. A slightly different take on the classic character to the previous release, this Marvel Legends Carnage has also seen a re-release in 2021 - perfect for helping to generate hype in the lead up to Carnage’s cinematic debut in the forthcoming Venom: Let There Be Carnage.

Friday, 11 June 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Saber Brave Dragon

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Saber Brave Dragon 01

Release Date:  February 2021
RRP: 3520 yen

In what’s basically become standard practice for Bandai Tamashii Nations now, every time a new Kamen Rider or Ultraman series starts the titular character will be released in the S.H. Figuarts line at a significantly lower cost, acting as an entry point/gateway drug for any new collectors looking to dip their toes in the long-running toy line. It’s a pretty clever tactic, because even the most thrifty of fans are going to struggle to pass up something like S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Saber Brave Dragon at the price of 3520 yen. The star of the second Reiwa era Kamen Rider series blazes into the S.H. Figuarts line with this reasonably priced release, quickly followed the month after by the more conventionally priced Kamen Rider Blades.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Bo-Katan Kryze

Star Wars Black Series Bo-Katan Kryze 01

Release Date: February 2021
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

One of the highlights of The Mandalorian season two for many Star Wars fans was how it helped bridge the gap even more between the live-action and animated sections of the franchise, with many core characters making their leap to live-action after years of development in the animated series. One such character was Bo-Katan Kryze, the Mandalorian and former Death Watch operative who defied both Maul and the Empire before being presented with the Darksaber in a bid to unite Mandalore once more. When she appears in The Mandalorian (played by her voice actor Katee Sackhoff), not only is she instrumental in teaching Din Djarin that the ways of Mandalore are more flexible that he was taught, but has lost the Darksaber at the hands of Moff Gideon. She has been a key character in the development of the Mandalorians for many years now, which is why a Black Series Bo-Katan Kryze figure is LONG overdue.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider: The Next

Kamen Rider: The Next

After retelling the origin story of double Riders Takeshi Hongo and Hayato Ichimonji in Kamen Rider: The First, Toei decided to push on with the story of this cinematic reboot - releasing Kamen Rider: The Next in 2007. The film was once again written by Toshiki Inoue, with both Masaya Kikawada and Hassei Takano reprising their roles as Hongo/Rider 1 and Ichimonji/Rider 2 respectively. This time around though the film was directed by Ryuta Tasaki, a regular to the world of tokusatsu who continues to direct episodes of both Kamen Rider and Super Sentai to this day. As well as continuing the story of the double Riders, The Next also brings Shiro Kazami aka Kamen Rider V3 into the mix - portrayed by actor Kazuki Kato (Daisuke Kazama/Kamen Rider Drake in Kamen Rider Kabuto, as well as Blue in the Sentai parody series Kanpai Senshi After V).

Friday, 4 June 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 1 (THE FIRST Ver.)

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 1 (THE FIRST Ver.) 01

Release Date: September 2010
RRP: 2750 yen

Back in early 2008 Bandai Tamashii Nations started up a brand new action figure range with the tag line of “simply style and heroic action”. That line was S.H. Figuarts, and 13 years later it’s evolved and expanded far beyond what collectors dreamed of at the time. And to think it all started with figures from Kamen Rider: The Next. However it wouldn’t be for another two years that the reimagined double Riders would be reissued in their Kamen Rider: The First looks. The release of S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 1 (THE FIRST Ver.) was a very different time for the line - one where preordering wasn’t such a mad rush, and the figures themselves were far more affordable.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider: The First

Kamen Rider: The First

The 50th anniversary celebration of the Kamen Rider franchise may have revealed that Hideaki Anno's Shin Kamen Rider will be releasing some time in 2023, but all the way back in 2005 there was another attempt at retelling the original 1971 series story in movie format. Kamen Rider: The First was written by Toshiki Inoue and directed by Takao Nagaishi, starring Masaya Kikawada (who would later play Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger's Master Red) and Hassei Takano (Kamen Rider Ryuki's Miyuki Tezuka/Kamen Rider Raia and Ultraman Gaia's Hiroya Fujimiya/Ultraman Agul) in the lead roles of Takeshi Hongo and Hayato Ichimonji respectively. The film was followed up by a sequel, Kamen Rider: The Next, in 2007 and currently remains one of the only pieces of Kamen Rider media released on home video in the US. Media Blasters released the film on DVD in 2007, although sadly the title is long since out of print.

Sunday, 30 May 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Asajj Ventress

Star Wars Black Series Asajj Ventress 01

Release Date: February 2021
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

Given that the Star Wars Black Series has been running since 2013, it's amazing that there are so many key characters from Star Wars: The Clone Wars that still don't have figures. But with the raised interest in the franchise's television output thanks to The Mandalorian as well as Hasbro doing a little reshuffle of their main 6" collector line, it seems this is finally being rectified. As well as a whole wave of special exclusive Clone Wars releases in themed packaging recently, the main range is getting in on it too - the long awaited Black Series Asajj Ventress is finally here. After being saved from slavery and becoming a Jedi Padawan only to see her Master murdered right in front of her, Ventress eventually ended up in the employment of Count Dooku as his personal assassin. After being betrayed by him as well, Ventress returned to her home on Dathomir to join Mother Talzin's Nightsisters before eventually going it alone as a bounty hunter. Her path would eventually lead her back to the Jedi Order, fighting alongside Quinlan Vos on a mission to assassinate Dooku before eventually meeting her death at the hands of her former master.

Friday, 28 May 2021

Special REVIEW: Kamen Rider Saber x Ghost

Kamen Rider Saber x Ghost

If you created two core entries in the Kamen Rider franchise and had the opportunity to bring them together in one crossover special, of course you'd take that chance. Following on from Yuya Takahashi colliding the worlds of Zero-One and Ex-Aid in Kamen Rider Genms -The Presidents-, Kamen Rider Saber head writer Takuro Fukuda now brings his works together in Kamen Rider Saber x Ghost. Released through the Toei Tokusatsu Fanclub, this (for now at the very least) one episode special also celebrates the fifth anniversary of Kamen Rider Ghost - with Shun Nishime returning to the role of Takeru Tenkuji for the first time since his guest appearance in 2018's Kamen Rider Zi-O.

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Dino Thunder Red Ranger

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Dino Thunder Red Ranger 01

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

With so many different teams and characters to choose from, one of the most exciting parts of new Power Rangers Lightning Collection reveals is when something from a previously untouched (by Hasbro at least) series is announced. The line began work on Power Rangers Dino Thunder with the exclusive White Ranger figure earlier in 2020, but it was with the announcement of the main line’s seventh way that work felt properly underway with the Lightning Collection Dino Thunder Red Ranger. Soccer player and student at Reefside High School, Connor McKnight bonded with the Red Dino Gem and leads the Dino Thunder Rangers - mentored by his teacher and Power Rangers alumni Dr. Tommy Oliver.

Monday, 24 May 2021

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Saber: The Phoenix Swordsman and the Book of Ruin

Kamen Rider Saber: The Phoenix Swordsman and the Book of Ruin

It's usually around the winter time that Kamen Rider fans look forward to the latest crossover movie, but with the COVID-19 pandemic still raging things had to be done a little differently in 2020. With Kamen Rider Zero-One the Movie: REALxTIME postponed from its original summer release date, the typical movie scheduling Toei have kept for both Kamen Rider and Super Sentai was thrown into chaos. The Mashin Sentai Kiramager movie was pushed back to Spring 2021 to feature alongside other Super Sentai productions, with a short Kamen Rider Saber movie taking its place to create a Kamen Rider Splendid Double-Feature event at the end of December. At only 22 minutes long, Kamen Rider Saber: The Phoenix Swordsman and the Book of Ruin is the shortest Kamen Rider movie there has been in some time. As such, the film was properly labelled as a "short movie" ("Gekijō-tanpen") rather than given the usual movie-prefix ("Gekijō-ban").

Saturday, 22 May 2021

Custom Figure: 'Dr Who & the Daleks' Movie Black Dalek

Custom Dr Who & the Daleks Black Dalek 01

Continuing what seems to be a big year for getting back into custom Dalek figures, I turn my attention away from The Curse of Fatal Death for a moment and back to something everyone has wanted to see in Character Options' toy line for some time now - movie Daleks. While it was obvious that Character's licensing didn't extend to the two Dalek movies (Dr Who & the Daleks and Daleks' Invasion Earth - 2150AD) of the 1960s, the wonderful loophole that was the props appearing in The Chase did lead to the Jungles of Mechanus collector set release last year. Of course you can't have Dalek drones without a proper chain of command, so having bought multiples of the set for exactly this in mind it was time to get to work on the black Dalek itself.

Thursday, 20 May 2021

Series REVIEW: Toei's Spider-Man

Toei's Spider-Man

In the late 1970s the Toei Company made a three year licensing deal with Marvel Comics that allowed them to take their characters and reimagine them for a Japanese audience. This collaboration was key to the creation of the Super Sentai franchise as we know it today, with many of its tropes introduced through both Battle Fever J and subsequent instalments Denshi Sentai Denjiman and Taiyo Sentai Sun Vulcan. But prior to these came the most infamous result of the partnership - Toei’s Spider-Man. Released in 1978 and running for a total of 41 episodes (plus one 25-minute movie), Toei’s Spider-Man took the iconography of Marvel’s legendary hero and transformed him into in a true henshin hero. In recent years the character has gone though something of a renaissance - prominently appearing in the various Spider-Verse crossover comic series, receiving a dedicated documentary on Disney+ and slated to appear in the 2022 sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Z Putty

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Z Putty 01

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

The original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is always going to be the big seller when it comes to the Lightning Collection and Hasbro’s control of the franchise in general, but with the whole of original team now available in the flagship collector line they’re going to come up with a few new ideas to continue hitting that MMPR sweet spot. Naturally re-releases are obviously on the cards (such as the forthcoming “Metallic Armour” versions), but it’s also a chance to get some other interesting figures out as well. One such example is wave seven’s Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Z-Putty, based on Lord Zedd’s legion of clay soldiers from season two. Although faster, stronger and more resilient than the old Putty Patrollers, Zedd’s versions had one fatal weakness - one punch to the Z emblem on their chest would instantly cause them to explode.

Monday, 17 May 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Studio Series 86 Hot Rod

Transformers Studio Series 86 Hot Rod 01

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

The price of Transformers toys have been going up steadily for years now, but another tactic Hasbro have recently started to introduce is releasing smaller figures at higher price points and then making up for it with better engineering and/or accessories. Take War for Cybertron: Siege Shockwave for example - a voyager class-sized figure at best, but comes with armoured parts to justify a leader class price point. On the one hand it does unfortunately make some figures more expensive than they perhaps should be, but on the other it can lead to some pretty interesting releases and help maintain proper scale between figures. An excellent example of this release method is Studio Series 86 Hot Rod, a deluxe class figure that's been released at the voyager class price point. Arguably he's the perfect character to get this sort of treatment in a Transformers: The Movie-centric line - he's the star of the movie and if any Autobot deserves to get the perfect toy in a line celebrating it's 35th anniversary, it's him.

Friday, 14 May 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Black

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 01

Release Date: April 2021
RRP: 7700 yen

The S.H. Figuarts line has been running long enough now that we're seeing plenty of Kamen Riders previously released be redone as part of the "true bone carving" S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou range, but it's only now that we are seeing a Rider that had previously been remade be done for a third time. And outside of the original Kamen Rider himself, if that was going to happen to any Rider it was going to be Kamen Rider Black. Bandai Tamashii Nations released the first Kamen Rider S.H. Figuarts figure all the way back in 2009, with a renewal version with updated proportions and accuracy following in 2013. Fast-forward nearly nine years and the renegade Century King has returned once more, almost perfectly timed with the announcement of the Kamen Rider Black Sun reboot due next year. S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black was a retail release, pushing the envelope for the line even further as it uses rubber shoulder covers to create an even more seamless sculpt. 

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Crosshair

Star Wars Black Series Crosshair 01

Release Date: February 2021
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

Star Wars: The Bad Batch is fully underway on Disney+ and it's nice that there are actually toys from the series available to coincide with the release for once. That said, it probably helps that Clone Force 99 aka "The Bad Batch" had already debuted on The Clone Wars last year. While Hasbro sadly couldn't get the whole team ready for the series premiere two out of five certainly isn't bad, as Black Series Crosshair joins Hunter in the latest wave of the six inch action figures. The team's sniper, Crosshair was augmented with sharper vision to make him the perfect shot on the battlefield. His superiority complex and uncaring attitude has often caused him to butt heads with the "regs", as well as making him more susceptible to the Kaminoans' programming and Order 66.

Monday, 10 May 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger Change Heroes Twokaizer


Release Date: April 2021
RRP: 2200 yen

Super Sentai has it pretty rough these days when it comes to action figures of its heroes. Over in the West we may have numerous Power Rangers figure lines, but over in Japan it's clear that the mecha are the things that make the money - especially with the tragic demise of the Super Sentai S.H. Figuarts range. There have been varying gimmick ranges over the last decade or so, but never really anything consistent or seemingly at the same scale - it's only really with the introduction of Bandai's SHODO candy toy line is Super Sentai getting anything relatively consistent. However 45th anniversary series Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger is also bringing along its own gimmick line - "Change Heroes", derived from the fact that its four robotic members are able to switch between both humanoid and animal/vehicle modes. The line has also included a figure of Zenkaizer himself, and now its sixth release comes in the form of Change Heroes Twokaiser! The sixth ranger of the Zenakigers, Zox Goldtsuiker is a "World Pirate" that travels between parallel dimensions. His main form is heavily based on the Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, with additional forms based on both the Chouriki Sentai Ohranger and Samurai Sentai Shinkenger

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Toybox REVIEW: G.I. Joe Classified Series Zartan

G.I. Joe Classified Series Zartan 01

Release Date: February 2021
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

The G.I. Joe Classified Series is a line I've only showed a passing interest in so far (and even then I'm only really interested in the Cobra characters), but the quality Hasbro have shown on these figures so far has been exception. If only the same could be said of the distribution, with many collectors in the US (the place the franchise has always been most prominent) often struggling to get a hold of them. Nevertheless the line has continued on relatively stronger, with mercenary and Cobra affiliate Zartan among its latest releases. Leader of the militarised biker gang the Dreadnoks and a master of disguise, Zartan is often found working alongside Cobra and is arguably one of its most prominent and well-known agents.

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Movie REVIEW: Zero-One Others: Kamen Rider MetsubouJinrai

Zero-One Others: Kamen Rider MetsuboJinrai

Both the series itself and its epilogue "summer" movie might have now passed, but it isn't quite the end for Kamen Rider Zero-One just yet. Now it's time for the true epilogue in the form of its direct to Blu-Ray V-Cinema releases, which in typical fashion focus on the various other Kamen Riders of the series. The first of these films is Zero-One Others: Kamen Rider MetsubouJinrai - thrusting the formerly villainous members of Humagear terrorist group Metsuboujinrai.net into the spotlight. The film was written by Zero-One head writer Yuya Takahashi, and directed by the the show's secondary writer Masaya Kakehi.

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Hunter

Star Wars Black Series Hunter 01

Release Date: February 2021
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

As always May 4th marks the annual Star Wars Day: May the 4th Be With You celebrations, and this year Disney are marking the occasion with the premiere of brand new animated series Star Wars: The Bad Batch on Disney+. After making their debut on the final season of The Clone Wars, the series follows Clone Force 99 (aka “The Bad Batch”) - an elite team of clone troopers created with “desirable mutations, during the time after Order 66 and the rise of the Empire. Meanwhile Hasbro have been quick off the mark this time around, with the first Bad Batch figures now available as part of the Black Series collectors’ line. Included in this first selection of releases is Hunter, clone commando sergeant and the team’s leader.

Sunday, 2 May 2021

Custom Figure: 'The Curse of Fatal Death' Grey Dalek (Variant)

Custom Curse of Fatal Death Grey Dalek (Variant) 01

Completing the full lineup of Dalek variants from the 1999 Doctor Who Comic Relief special The Curse of Fatal Death has now become a personal goal of mine, and thanks to the improved availability of Character Options classic Daleks these days (thanks B&M store exclusives!) it's a goal I've gotten very close to completing in a short space of time. My third custom in this particular set of figures is the Curse of Fatal Death Grey Dalek (Variant), named as such by me due to being a little different to the other Daleks that appear in the story.

Friday, 30 April 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Bio Robo

Super Mini-Pla Bio Robo 01

Release Date: February 2021
RRP: 5500 yen

One benefit of Bandai’s Super Mini-Pla model kit line has been to create new versions of iconic Super Sentai mecha with modern articulation, but another one has simply been a shot at getting affordable versions of these classic designs to begin with. Something like a DX Bio Robo will run you hundreds on the aftermarket, but now you can own one at a fraction of the price with the Super Mini-Pla Bio Robo set. The mecha from 1984’s Choudenshi Bioman is the latest Super Sentai to receive the premium model kit treatment, with its individual components Bio Jet 1 and Bio Jet 2 able to transform and combine into the mighty bio particle-powered robot.

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Zero-One the Movie: REALxTIME

Kamen Rider Zero-One the Movie: REALxTIME

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the production and release of many films and television shows, and in the tokusatsu world one of the most obvious victims is Kamen Rider Zero-One. From a string of emergency clip episodes to a hastily condensed endgame that fit the adjusted episode count, it's impressive that the production staff were still able to provide a reasonably satisfying ending despite everything against them. However it wasn't just the series itself that was affected, but also what would have been it's "summer" movie - Kamen Rider Zero-One the Movie: REALxTIME. Postponed from its original July 2020 release, the movie was teased at the very end of the series and announced to be released in December instead. Because of this change, REALxTIME was released as a double bill alongside Kamen Rider Saber the Movie: The Phoenix Swordsman and the Book of Ruin as part of a "Kamen Rider Splendid Double Feature", rather than the traditional pairing with the Super Sentai summer film.

Sunday, 25 April 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Studio Series 86 Scourge

Transformers Studio Series 86 Scourge 01

Release Date: December 2020
RRP: $29.99/£32.99

With Cyclonus already released as part of the Kingdom line and Galvatron soon to follow later in the year, the Studio Series 86 range is going to run out of key characters from Transformers the Movie to release if Hasbro aren't careful. Especially when it comes to the Decepticon side of things, since there were far fewer new Decepticons in the film than there were Autobots. The villains are also looking seriously outnumbered in the first wave of figures from the 35th anniversary celebratory line, with Studio Series 86 Scourge being the only Decepticon amongst a sea of Autobots. A herald of Unicron, "Scourge the tracker" commands the Sweeps - an army of huntsmen built in his image.

Friday, 23 April 2021

Miniseries REVIEW: Kamen Rider Genms -The Presidents-

Kamen Rider Genms -The Presidents-

It's that true within genre fiction that you can rarely keep a good villain down, and for the Kamen Rider franchise that seems doubly so for Kamen Rider Genm. After being both dying and resurrecting within Kamen Rider Ex-Aid itself before meeting his apparent end in Another Ending - Genm vs Lazer, Kuroto Dan returns once more to terrorise the world of Kamen Rider Zero-One in Kamen Rider Genms -The Presidents-. A two-part miniseries released via the Toei Tokusatsu Fan Club, this special was previously announced all the way back in 2018 as an April Fools' joke, eventually coming to fruition the same way Kamen Rider Brain did back in 2019. It was also written by Yuya Takahashi, who served as the head writer on both Ex-Aid and Zero-One.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Miniseries REVIEW: Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger Spin-Off: Zenkai Red's Great Introduction

Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger Spin-Off: Zenkai Red's Great Introduction

As the 45th anniversary series, there's no doubt that Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger is going to celebrate the legacy of Super Sentai in some big ways. Before the show had even begun airing it received a big screen movie debut, and now only a couple of episodes in fans have already been treated to its first spin-off special. Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger Spin-Off: Zenkai Red's Great Introduction is a two-part miniseries that released exclusively on the streaming service TELASA. Chronologically it takes place after the aforementioned Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger the Movie, and before the show's seventh episode. The special introduces a new challenger to the Zenkaiger leadership, played by actor/singer Daiki Ise - who performed the opening song for Ressha Sentai ToQger as well as songs for both Kyoryuger and Ninninger.

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Kuiil

Star Wars Black Series Kuiil 01

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

Hasbro needed a little bit of time to get the ball rolling, but now Star Wars fans have plenty of action figures from Disney+ smash hit The Mandalorian to look forward to in a number of different scales and styles. Wave 28 of the Black Series paid particular attention to the show, as Moff Gideon and Greef Karga were also joined by a Black Series Kuiil figure. A hermit Ugnaught that’s freed himself from a life of service and chosen to live in solitude, Kuill encounters Mandalorian Din Djarin when he arrives on Arvala-7 in search of “the asset”. Later the Mandalorian enlists his help again Moff Gideon and the Empire remnants in a bid to protect the Child, where he is shocked to find Kuill has repaired and reprogrammed bounty hunter droid IG-11. Kuiil is tragically gunned down by Imperial Scout Troopers attempting to retake the Child, and is buried by Mando in an unmarked grave on the planet Nevarro.

Monday, 19 April 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Kingdom Arcee

Transformers Kingdom Arcee 01

Release Date: September 2020 (Eathrise), March 2021 (Kingdom Re-release)
RRP: $19.99/£17.99

With Transformers: The Movie celebrating its 35th anniversary this year and the Studio Series 86 line celebrating that with movie-inspired renditions of key characters, it’s likely that the Transformers franchise has picked up some new collectors in recent months. And to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to complete the film’s lineup of brand new characters, Hasbro have kindly re-released the deluxe class Arcee figure in the War for Cybertron: Kingdom range after previously releasing her as part of the previous year’s Earthrise range. Other than new packaging the figure remains unchanged between releases, but with the likes of Ultra Magnus, Cyclonus and Galvatron all gracing the Kingdom line it makes sense to bring back the prominent female Autobot and have the majority of the cast available between both Kingdom and Studio Series 86.

Friday, 16 April 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Ixa Save Mode/Burst Mode

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Ixa 01

Release Date: November 2020
RRP: 8800 yen

When S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Kiva was finally released back in 2019, Kamen Rider fans breathed a collective sigh of relief as they crossed off the figure that had been at the top of wish lists for the best part of a decade. But with a new Kiva on the market, that of course means that the previous figures released from the series don’t quite stack up. And what can you expect - the original S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Ixa was released all the way back in 2010. But Bandai Tamashii Nations are back with a brand new S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Ixa Save Mode/Burst Mode figure, bringing the show’s secondary Rider firmly in the modern S.H. Figuarts era. Though Ixa may have been a Tamashii web exclusive release, like the original release it covers both Save and Burst modes of the standard Ixa suit - making it the ideal display piece for both the 1986 and 2008 versions of the character and any of the nine users it had. The Ixa System got around a lot.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

First Impressions: Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion Z

Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion Z

As if SSSS.Dynazenon and Godzilla Singular Point weren’t enough to convince you that this is a particularly great season for mecha anime, it’s all aboard the the bullet trains once more as Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion returns for a second series! The 2018 smash hit from TakaraTomy, Japan Railways Group and OLM, Inc. returns with a fresh new look - now going by the title of Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion Z. So get ready for more in-depth train trivia, potentially surprising cameos and wonderful robot fights that’ll tempt you to pick up some toys, because if the first series was anything to go by then Shinkalion Z should prove quite the wild ride.

Monday, 12 April 2021

Toybox REVIEW: MAFEX Spider-Man (Miles Morales)

MAFEX Spider-Man (Miles Morales) 01

Release Date: December 2020
RRP: 8580 yen

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was released all the way back at the end of 2018 and was instantly a smash hit, so it’s crazy to think that only now all of the collector-orientated toy companies are getting in on the action. Hasbro released their Marvel Legends at the end of 2020, while Sentinel have announced the first of their own figures to be released later in the year. However it was actually Medicom who were first off the mark with the announcement of multiple figures from the film for their MAFEX Miracle Action Figure line, but of course in typical MAFEX fashion it didn’t quite go according to plan. MAFEX Spider-Man (Miles Morales) was originally scheduled for release in June 2020, but that date just continued to slip back until he finally hit stores six months later. Though the first of MAFEX’s Into the Spider-Verse figures this is actually the second Miles produced for the line - following on from an adult form of his comic counterpart released back in 2019.