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.

Friday, 9 April 2021

Custom Figure: 'The Curse of Fatal Death' Silver Dalek

Custom Curse of Fatal Death Silver Dalek 01

The problem with any sort of toy collecting or customising is that it’s hard to stop at one. The Curse of Fatal Death Black Dalek had been near the top of my Dalek customs wish-list for years, but until I’d finished it I’d never even considered making the rest of the props that appeared in that 1999 Comic Relief Special. Now I want to make all of these weird and wonderful Daleks, and with all the necessary Character Options figures being readily available for once it’s time to strike whilst the iron is hot. The next variant that hit the list was the Curse of Fatal Death Silver Dalek - a lurker among the group but equally interesting when it comes to colour scheme and differences to the “proper” Doctor Who Dalek models.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

First Impressions: Godzilla Singular Point

Godzilla Singular Point

Despite it not being an anniversary year, 2021 is looking to be a big year for Godzilla. As well as finally facing off against King Kong in American Monsterverse sequel Godzilla vs Kong, over in Japan the King of Monsters is also starring in a brand new anime series. Godzilla Singular Point is a co-production between studios Bones (Fullmetal AlchemistEureka Seven, Mob Psycho 100) and Orange (Land of the Lustrous, Beastars), and has been licensed by Neflix much like the Godzilla anime movie trilogy produced by Toho and Polygon in 2017-18. While the series began airing in Japan at the beginning of April, Netflix's preferred binge-model for the rest of the world means that its official intentional release is still unknown outside of "some time later in the year".

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

First Impressions: Thunderbolt Fantasy Season 3

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

How have we gotten through the past two years without another full season of Thunderbolt Fantasy? The greatest Japanese-Taiwanese puppet show to ever grace Crunchyroll briefly returned in 2019 with the feature-length Bewitching Melody of the West, but other than that fans have had to eagerly await the next chapter in Shāng Bù Huàn's adventure. But the wait is finally over, as April delivered a double whammy in Thunderbolt Fantasy content. April Fool's day brought us a wonderful little crossover with Fate/Grand Order, and only a few days later Thunderbolt Fantasy Season 3 began in full swing. Created by Gen Urobuchi and produced as a collaboration between Nitroplus, Goodsmile Company and Pili International, the series has brought nothing but joy so far and the previous tease for season three suggested this will be no exception.

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Custom Figure: "Doctor Who & The Daleks" Blow Torch Dalek

Custom Movie Blow Torch Dalek 01

Doctor Who action figure collectors waited so long for Character Options to produce movie-style Daleks, and just when we all finally accepted it was out of their remit they managed to exploit a loophole and surprise us all. 'The Jungles of Mechanus' set was one of my favourite toy releases of last year, and you can bet that I snapped up plenty to ensure I could work toward painting up a full range of movie Daleks. Among the denizens of Skaro's city is a blow torch Dalek, which appeared in Doctor Who & the Daleks when the TARDIS crew attempted their escape from the Daleks. After locking themselves to await an elevator out of the city, the Daleks summoned this special variant to help cut down the door so that their prisoners could either be recaptured or exterminated.

Saturday, 3 April 2021

First Impressions: SSSS.Dynazenon

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

When Tsuburaya Productions first announced that they would be teaming up with anime juggernauts studio Trigger on an animated adaption of Denkou Chojin Gridman, fans were expecting big things but perhaps weren't ready for quite how much of a rousing success SSSS.Gridman turned out to be. Offering up an incredible series that immediately won over both the tokusatsu and anime communities, it's no real surprise that three years later the two studios are collaborating once more for a second entry into the Gridman universe. This time around it's the support machines of the original 1994 seemingly taking centre stage, amalgamated and reimagined as SSSS.Dynazenon. As well as acting as a double reference to Gridman's American adaptation Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad, for this series the SSSS prefix also stands for "Scared Souls Shine like Stars".

Friday, 2 April 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Fuma

SH Figuarts Ultraman Fuma 01

Release Date: February 2021
RRP: 7150 yen

Getting a full cast out of any series Bandai Tamashii Nations do S.H. Figuarts is almost always a gamble. Sometimes it'll take years for them to release that all-important final character, and sometimes it may never happen at all. In the case of Ultraman Taiga thankfully it hasn't taken them too long at all to complete the whole Tri-Squad lineup alongside villain Ultraman Tregear, with S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Fuma finally joining both Taiga and Titas at the beginning of 2021. For anyone who's been following the line it'll be no surprise to hear that Fuma is a Tamashii web exclusive release, which has been the fate for every figure from the series other than Taiga himself. On the other hand with how fast S.H. Figuarts preorders seem to sell out these days, maybe that's for the best as it gives collectors a chance to actually secure their figures prior to release.

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Movie REVIEW: Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion the Movie: The Swiftly ALFA-X that came from the Future

Henkei Robo Shinkalion the Movie: The Swiftly ALFA-X that came from the Future

Japan loves trains, and Japan loves giant robots. So it’s not really a surprise to hear that Japan LOVED Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion, the 2018 anime series that combined the two in one glorious love-letter for Japan’s railroad system. Touches like adding Vocaloid megastar Hatsune Miku as a supporting character and having a Neon Genesis Evangelion tribute episode only furthered attention toward the show. After the 76-episode series concluded it was announced that it would be continuing on in a feature length movie, and at the end of 2019 Shinkanesen Henkei Robo Shinkalion the Movie: The Swiftly ALFA-X that came from the Future (“Mirai Kara Kita Shinsoku no ALFA-X”) was released in Japanese cinemas.

Monday, 29 March 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Kingdom Cyclonus

Transformers Kingdom Cyclonus 01

Release Date: December 2020
RRP: $29.99/£24.99

Previously Hasbro had carved out a fairly logical path with their current Transformers War for Cybertron trilogy toy lines. Siege depicted the battle between the Autobots and Decepticons on their home planet of Cybertron, whilst Earthrise saw them adopt new alt modes as their battle continued on a distant planet. But when it comes to Kingdom, the final instalment in the trilogy, the narrative seems a little less clear. Not only does it see the present day Transformers teaming up with their future Beast Wars descendants, but also incorporates elements from Transformers: The Movie. As such the Kingdom toy line includes a number of characters from the 86 movie, which is all the more confusing when the Studio Series 86 line is going on at the same time. One such figure is voyager class Cyclonus, Galavatron’s loyal subordinate and fellow herald of Unicron. Despite being released under the Kingdom banner, this feels like a Studio Series 86 figure in everything but name - and a perfect way to celebrate the film’s 35th anniversary.

Saturday, 27 March 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Moff Gideon

Star Wars Black Series Moff Gideon 01

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

Every hero can be judged by the quality of their enemies, and with The Mandalorian taking place between the fall of the Galactic Empire in Return of the Jedi and the rise of the First Order you might think that the Star Wars universe would be short of big bads during this time period. But of course you'd be wrong, as Moff Gideon has quickly proven himself to be one of the Empire's most cunning and threatening leaders. This is of course helped by the fact that actor Giancarlo Esposito has already proven himself to be arguably one of the best TV villains of all time. Thankfully we haven't had to wait too long for Hasbro to add this key character to their various collector toy lines, with Black Series Moff Gideon arriving as part of the line's 28th wave.

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Custom Figure: 'Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150AD' Drone Dalek (Pincer Arm)

Custom Daleks Invasion Earth 2150AD Drone 01

It’s the curse of a customiser that no matter how well a project turns out, you’re always noticing the flaws in it and thinking about how you can improve upon it next time. But skill comes with practice, and there’s a pleasure to be taken in looking back and seeing how far you might have come. So while I’m currently on a custom Dalek kick thanks to having more affordable and readily available parts to hand, I looked back on an older project and decided to give it a bit of a redux. Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150AD is one of my favourite bits of Dalek media, but unlike Dr. Who & The Daleks is unlikely get any official figures via Character Options since there’s no loopholes there for them to exploit. Luckily the colour schemes of the standard Daleks are much easier to reproduce, leading to my new and improved Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150AD Dalek Drone figure.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Anime REVIEW: Cells at Work! CODE BLACK

Cells at Work! CODE BLACK
Cells at Work! CODE BLACK is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll and Funimation

Cells at Work!
did a wonderful job of showing anime fans how the human body works, but of course bodies are not a “one size fits all” subject. We’re all different and how we choose to live affects what goes on inside us, which has allowed Cells at Work! to branch into a number of different manga spin-offs. There are ones centred around both a women and babies’ bodies, as well as titles that focus on specific cells such as platelets, white blood cells and even red bloods that don’t want to work. However there’s one spin-off that stands out from the rest of them, the one that was undoubtedly most deserving of an anime adaptation. Cells at Work! CODE BLACK is about what happens if you don’t treat your body right, and as a result is quite a different experience to the educational whimsy of its parent series. Released alongside Cells at Work!!, CODE BLACK instead sees Liden Films handling animation duties and ran for a total of 13 episodes.

Monday, 22 March 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series The Armorer (Deluxe Version)

Star Wars The Black Series The Armorer (Deluxe) 01

Release Date: October 2020
RRP: $29.99/£29.99 (Deluxe Edition), $19.99/£19.99 (Standard Edition)

With the cancellation of conventions across the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hasbro needed to find a new avenue for all the various exclusives they had planned in 2020 - just as well they had Hasbro Pulse (in the US at least) and the “Fan Channel” (a network of online retailers that stock Hasbro products) to funnel them through. One such exclusive was the Star Wars The Black Series The Armorer, which had a special deluxe release planned for Star Wars Celebration as well as the standard retail version. Leader of the tribe of Mandalorian warriors that Din Djarin hails from, the Armorer is an enigmatic figure that provides spiritual guidance to the clan as well as forging their armour. After surviving the Empire’s attack on Nevarro, it is her who tasks Djarin with reuniting the Child with the Jedi. When questioned why he should return the Child to an order that was once at war with the Mandalorians, she simply utters the show’s iconic words - “This is the way.”

Friday, 19 March 2021

Custom Figure: 'The Curse of Fatal Death' Black Dalek

Custom 'The Curse of Fatal Death" Black Dalek 01

The recent B&M Doctor Who figure releases have been an absolute godsend for Dalek customisers like me who don’t want to spend inflated eBay prices on potential projects, and after allowing me to bolster my TV21 collection with the History of the Daleks releases Character Options have come through once again with their recent reissue of the Imperial Dalek figure. A highly sought after figure that hasn’t seen release since 2010, the opportunity to get one at an affordable price has finally allowed me to do one of my dream projects - the Black Dalek from The Curse of Fatal Death! Never heard of this wonderful bit of Doctor Who comedy from the wilderness years? Read on to find out more!

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Custom Figure: 'The Mutation of Time' Red Dalek

Custom 'Mutation of Time' Red Dalek 01

If there's one thing I've quickly learned during my time on the internet, it's that everyone loves a red Dalek. Those evil pepper pots may come in all different colours, but it's the red ones that always seem to particularly attract Doctor Who fans. So while we're still enjoying this renaissance of classic Dalek figures being readily available via the recent B&M Store exclusive releases, it's a good opportunity to add a few more to my collection. This time around it's The Mutation of Time red Dalek - a particularly popular variant amongst fans but one that has remained absent from my collection until now.

Monday, 15 March 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Studio Series 86 Jazz

Transformers Studio Series 86 Jazz 01

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

Arguably Transformers: The Movie’s biggest claim to fame is how it killed off the majority of the existing cast (aka toys no longer on the shelves) in order for Hasbro to bring in a whole new one (aka toys that were on the shelves), but there were a handful of the classic 1984-85 cast that did manage to survive the kind of cull that other toy-advertising cartoon franchises could only aspire to. One of lucky survivors was Optimus’ culture-loving right hand man Jazz, so it’s only fitting that this particular member of the original Autobot crew found his way out of the War for Cybertron trilogy range and into Studio Series 86 instead. Between these two toy lines Transformers fans have been spoilt for choice when it comes to classic G1 characters, and Studio Series 86 Jazz was an important release in completing that classic Autobot line up.

Saturday, 13 March 2021

Anime REVIEW: Cells at Work!!

Cells at Work!! (Season 2)
Cells at Work!! is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll and Funimation

Anime was probably the last place people expected to get a decent biology lesson in 2018, but then Cells at Work! came along and surprised everyone. The anime adaptation of the manga series by Akane Shimizu (which completed its original run earlier this year) captured the hearts of people across the world, with real doctors even taking the time to comment on its accuracy. Since then it’s been a rather lengthy wait for more, but 2021 saw the show finally return for a second season - this time (and in typical anime second season fashion) adopting the name Cells at Work!!. David Production are once again handling animation duties, and interestingly the show is also running concurrently with the “unhealthy body” spin-off Cells at Work! CODE BLACK.

Thursday, 11 March 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Studio Series 86 Blurr

Transformers Studio Series 86 Blurr 01

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

It’s been a while since I’ve been so all-in on Transformers that I’m planning to collect every figure from an entire range, but that just goes to show how much I love Transformers: The Movie. The film was one my first experiences with the franchise that I can remember, and even now continues to be one of my favourite films. So to see Hasbro go in on the 35th anniversary so hard with the Studio Series 86 line is an absolute joy, and there was no way I was missing out on them. Joining the first selection of figures is Studio Series 86 Blurr, another Autobot first introduced in the movie. A fast-talking speedster true to his name, Blurr was perhaps most notable for his instantly recognisable voice - delivered by the world’s fastest talking man "Motormout" John Moschitta Jr.

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

First Impressions: Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger

Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger

It's been a whole ten years since Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, so the time is ripe for another big Super Sentai anniversary series. And in celebration of the 45th anniversary, the franchise is getting one hell of a shakeup when it comes to team dynamics. Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger will see a single human ranger team up with a team of four robot characters, each based on a past Super Sentai mecha. On top of that, our lead character isn't the team's red ranger either - instead being predominantly white with multicoloured decor akin to JAKQ's Big One (or more specifically, the Varidorin from Himitsu Sentai Goranger). Even compared to some of the more experimental series Super Sentai has done recently, visually it doesn't look like anything that's come before. The series is being developed by Junko Kōmura, head writer on both Zyuohger and Lupinranger vs Patranger but fittingly also behind a number of Gokaiger episodes. The lead director is Shojiro Nakazawa, whose also worked on a number of series but most notably Gekiranger, Shinkenger and Ninninger.

Sunday, 7 March 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Leopardon

Super Mini-Pla Leopardon 01

Release Date: August 2020
RRP: 4950 yen

Between the months of August and September 2020 Bandai went a little Spider-Man crazy, with a number of items celebrating the 1978 Toei series that many fans will agree were long overdue. While Tamashii Nations dealt with the release of an S.H. Figuarts Spider-Man and a reissue of their Soul of Chogokin Leopardon (complete with Spider Bracelet changer this time around), Bandai's candy toy department sought to bring the classic super robot to collectors in a more affordable way with Super Mini-Pla Leopardon. As already the home to so many Super Sentai robots it helped inspire, the Super Mini-Pla line was the perfect place for Leopardon with its emphasis on taking classic robot designs and updating them with modern articulation.

Friday, 5 March 2021

Series REVIEW: Mashin Sentai Kiramager

Mashin Sentai Kiramager

With both audience figures and toy sales seemingly dropping year after year the Super Sentai franchise is in a bit of an odd place right now, and that’s without even considering what Power Rangers forthcoming move toward a reboot universe means for the global sales of the IP. The last few years have seen the long-running franchise both try to slightly reinvent itself in fun new ways, and fall back and the tried and tested format of a dinosaur-themed show. Mashin Sentai Kiramager however felt much more like a back to basics approach. The 44th entry in the franchise kicked off with an Episode ZERO mini-movie, before airing in 2020-2021 alongside both Kamen Rider Zero-One and Kamen Rider Saber in the Super Hero Time line-up. The head writer was Naruhisa Arakawa, a tokusatsu veteran whose key works span Kamen Rider Kuuga, Abaranger, Dekaranger, Gokaiger and so much more.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Miniseries REVIEW: Rider Time: Kamen Rider Zi-O vs Decade -7 of Zi-O!

ider Time: Kamen Rider Zi-O VS Decade -7 of Zi-O!-

If there was one thing certain about Kamen Rider Zi-O, it’s that the ending was never going to last. You can take away the threat of Ohma Zi-O, but there was no way Tokiwa Sougo and co were going to retire to a peaceful highschool life. Slowly but surely the past has chipped away at this new universe, with Zi-O taking up his Ziku Driver once more in both Reiwa The First Generation and NEXT TIME: Geiz, Majesty. Now the Demon King of Time must face off against the Destroyer of Worlds once more, in Rider Time: Kamen Rider Zi-O vs Decade -7 of Zi-O!-. The fourth entry in the Rider Time spin-offs, Zi-O vs Decade was released via the Toei Tokusatsu Fan Club alongside Decade vs Zi-O. Both were written by Toshiki Inoue, and directed by Satoshi Morota.

Monday, 1 March 2021

Miniseries REVIEW: Rider Time: Kamen Rider Decade vs Zi-O -Decade’s Mansion Death Game-

Rider Time: Kamen Rider Decade vs Zi-O -Decade’s Mansion Death Game-

Kamen Rider Decade is a series that often seems to be met to mixed opinion, but if there’s one thing most people seem to agree on it’s how great Tsukasa Kadoya is. It’s clear just how much fun Mashiro Inoue playing him, and every time he returns it’s an absolute joy. His extended stint in Kamen Rider Zi-O was a particular highlight, especially as he returned with a brand new (recoloured) Driver and another decade’s worth of Kamen Rider powers. The rapport between the two Heisei era milestone Riders was so good that they’re back again for a pair of three-part Toei Tokusatsu Fan Club specials, kicking off with Rider Time: Kamen Rider Decade vs Zi-O -Decade’s Mansion Death Game-. As well as being the third instalment in the Rider Time series of spin-offs, this special sees the return of Yuusuke Onodera/AU Kamen Rider Kuuga - his first reappearance since Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider & Decade: Movie War 2010.

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Clone Commander Cody (Archive Release)

Star Wars Black Series Archive Clone Commander Cody 01

Release Date: 2015 (Original Release), January 2021 (Archive)
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

One of the least enjoyable things about toy collecting is seeing how much certain figures you're missing end up costing on the aftermarket. Since I only jumped into collecting the Star Wars Black Series line a few years ago naturally I had a lot of catching up to do, and as a Clone Wars fan Black Series Clone Commander Cody was near the top of my wish list. However with the figure now going for around four to five times its original value, purchasing him wasn't likely to happen any time soon. Clearly there were many other collectors that felt the same, because when Hasbro asked fans what they'd like to see in the next wave of Archive releases (a sub-series dedicated to re-releases of older figures), Obi-Wan Kenobi's clone commander in arms was a landslide winner.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Zordon & Alpha 5

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Zordon & Alpha 5 01

Release Date: August 2020
RRP: $29.99

With all seven of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers available through the Lightning Collection’s main range, one has to wonder where Hasbro will continue to go to keep the MMPR hype train going. Sure there’s plenty of other instalments in the Power Rangers franchise to draw inspiration from, but it’s always going to be MMPR that makes the big bucks. In recent months we’ve seen Hasbro turn their attention towards monsters with deluxe $30 figures, but on top of that fans were also treated to a Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Zordon & Alpha 5 set as a Walmart exclusive. Despite not receiving that many figures over the years no MMPR collection feels complete without the rangers’ wise mentor and his robotic assistant, so it’s great to see the line get to these characters so early in its lifespan.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Studio Series 86 Kup

Transformers Studio Series 86 Kup 01

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

There’s no better way to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Transformers: The Movie than with a whole line of figures based directly on it, featuring many of the brand new characters that would replace the original 1984-85 cast and go on to be the leads in subsequent seasons of the show. Among those characters is of course Kup, an old Autobot war veteran with plenty of war stories to keep the young un’s entertained (or not so much in Hot Rod’s case). Fun fact - he also happens to be my favourite Autobot in the whole franchise. I have a lot of love for the TakaraTomy Legends figure from 2017, but a more cartoon-accurate version directly referencing the movie? Studio Series 86 Kup was an instant preorder.

Sunday, 21 February 2021

First Impressions: Power Rangers Dino Fury

Power Rangers Dino Fury

With Hasbro now in full control of Power Rangers, the future of the franchise feels pretty uncertain from the perspective of a fan. We know that a new movie is on the way, along with a whole reboot universe being crafted by writer/director/producer Jonathan Entwistle (I Am Not Okay With This, The End of the F***ing World). An exciting prospect for sure, but how this will all take shape - as well as what it means for Power Rangers being an adaptation of Super Sentai, is all unclear. That's still all a fair way off in the future though, and after Power Rangers Beast Morphers ushered in a transition between Saban Brands and the toy giants it's time to see what they can really do with Power Rangers Dino Fury. Adapted from Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger and the fourth dinosaur-themed Power Rangers series, Dino Fury is the first to be produced by Entertainment One - which Hasbro also purchased in 2019.

Friday, 19 February 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Studio Series 86 Grimlock & Autobot Wheelie

Transformers Studio Series 86 Grimlock & Autobot Wheelie 01

Release Date: January 2021
RRP: $49.99/£49.99

The Studio Series range has been providing Transformers fans with fantastic representations of live-action movie characters for a good few years now, but there’s always been one film from the franchise that’s been off its radar. With 2021 marking the 35th anniversary of Transformers: The Movie, there’s no better time for Hasbro to unleash Studio Series 86 on the world. As a longtime fan of Transformers first big screen outing, a toy line truly dedicated to its cast is something both I and many other Transformers fans have dreamed of for some time. Sure there have been plenty of G1 figures and reimaginings over the years, but having them all in one place in an anniversary toy line is a very exciting prospect. Among this first wave of characters is Studio Series 86 Grimlock & Autobot Wheelie, the first Leader class figure to be released. The powerful but not so bright leader of the Dinobots is a prominent character in the film, making friends with the lost Autobot Wheelie and bringing him along on their mission to destroy Unicron.

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Toybox REVIEW: MAFEX Batman (Batman: Hush)

MAFEX Batman (Batman: Hush) 01

Release Date: July 2020
RRP: 7800 yen

If there’s one toy line that feels unrivalled when it comes to high-end comic-style superhero figures right now, it’s Medicom’s MAFEX line. Sure they don’t come cheap and long delays are often common, but when it comes to those perfect comic sculpts there’s no one quite like them. But as nice as they are, my previous experience with the MAFEX line has been mixed to say the least. Poor QC is something often on the tip of everyone’s tongues, and after having one figure have both wrist joints completely disintegrate 30 seconds out of the box (followed by months of exchanging emails with Medicom customer service in order to get replacement parts) certainly soured me on them somewhat. However so many of these figures just look so good it’s hard to say no, and MAFEX Batman (Batman: Hush) was just one I couldn’t pass up. Based on the caped crusader in the acclaimed 2002 story by Jeph Loeb (which was turned into an animated film in 2019), this is the first in the line’s range of Hush figures which has now gone on to include Superman, the Joker, Catwoman and of course Hush himself.

Monday, 15 February 2021

Miniseries REVIEW: Ultra Galaxy Fight: The Absolute Conspiracy

Ultra Galaxy Fight: The Absolute Conspiracy
Ultra Galaxy Fight: The Absolute Conspiracy is available both subtitled and English dubbed on Youtube

When Tsuburaya Productions released Ultra Galaxy Fight: New Generation Heroes via their official Youtube channel in 2019, it showed a dedication toward bringing the Ultraman franchise to global audiences that rival tokusatsu properties can't even begin to compare to yet. This wasn't just releasing the currently airing show with English subtitles - it was creating an all-new weekly miniseries especially for streaming on a free platform with two language choices. It's no surprise that an offer like that proved a hit, so of course TsuPro followed it up with a sequel. Ultra Galaxy Fight: The Absolute Conspiracy was released as a ten episode miniseries, with each individual episode averaging around ten minutes long. As well as leading into the beginning of Ultraman Z, The Absolute Conspiracy also begins a new story arc that will continue on into future Ultra Galaxy Fight instalments.

Saturday, 13 February 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who Coal Hill School Set

Doctor Who Coal Hill School Set 01

Release Date: November 2020
RRP: £19.99

2020 was the year that the B&M exclusive range of Doctor Who figures really kicked into high gear, and even after two impressive waves of releases Character Options weren't completely done yet. Just as the year was closing a further two sets were announced - one based on The Witch's Familiar from 2015 and another based on 1988's Remembrance of the Daleks. That latter release was the Coal Hill School collector figure set, featuring releases of both Seventh Doctor companion Ace and a standard Imperial Dalek - two popular and now highly sought after figures.