Thursday, 21 October 2021

Movie REVIEW: Zero-One Others: Kamen Rider Vulcan & Valkyrie

Zero-One Others: Kamen Rider Vulcan & Valkyrie

Earlier in the year Kamen Rider Zero-One dropped what was perhaps the biggest cliffhanger since Diend turned his gun on Decade (or the Rider War began depending on which version of Decade you're watching), as Kamen Rider MetsubouJinrai destroyed the bodies of its four Humagear hosts and set out on a new path of destruction. Now several months after the release of Zero-One Others: Kamen Rider MetsubouJinrai the conclusion of the story is finally here, as the A.I.M.S. Riders take to the stage in Zero-One Others: Kamen Rider Vulcan & Valkyrie. Although the Kamen Rider Genms -The Presidents- special is technically set afterward, for the time being it's also fair to say this acts as the main end to the Zero-One story. Like the previous film, it was written by the show's head writer Yuya Takahashi and directed by secondary writer Masaya Kakehi

(WARNING: Spoiler discussion will be particularly heavy in this review)

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who History of the Daleks #7 Set

History of the Daleks #07 01

Release Date: September 2021
RRP: £19.99

The fact Character Options have been releasing their new History of the Daleks sets in chronological order has made it quite easy for Doctor Who fans to predict just what'll be in each set, but it does come with a worry of repetition. After all the Daleks have only changed so much over the years, with the late 60s stories in particular showing minimal differences between them. However Character have recognised this as well, and for the most recent wave of B&M Store exclusive releases they're mixing things up a bit. Rather than near-identical Daleks from both The Power of the Daleks and The Evil of the Daleks on shelves at the same time, we're jumping from 1966 with set #5 all the way to 1972 with the History of the Daleks #7 set. Number six will follow in due course, but for now we're looking back on Day of the Daleks - a significant story for a number of reasons. Not only is it the Daleks' return to the show since their "final end" in Evil, but also their first face-off against the Third Doctor AND their first appearance on the show in colour. 

Sunday, 17 October 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Anakin Skywalker (The Clone Wars)

Black Series Anakin Skywalker (Clone Wars) 01

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

In commemoration of Lucasfilm's 50th anniversary Hasbro have been touching some of the more forgotten (at least in the eyes of Disney and its revised canon) elements of the Star Wars franchise, but that doesn't mean they don't have the energy for a little more Star Wars: The Clone Wars love. Hot on the heels of special book-style releases revisiting various parts of the "Legends" canon, these Target-exclusive (or via the fan channel outside the US) Black Series figures are a real celebration of the seven-season series that did so much to expand on the Clone Wars and the prequel era as a whole. And one of the characters it did the most of all for was Anakin Skywalker, helping to flesh out his time as a Jedi Knight in the lead up to his eventual fall to the dark side. With his costume as it appeared in the animated series still unrepresented, this is the perfect time to welcome this particular Black Series Anakin Skywalker into the line.

Friday, 15 October 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Obi-Wan Kenobi (The Clone Wars)

Black Series Obi-Wan Kenobi (Clone Wars) 01

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

In recent years Hasbro have done an excellent job in expanding the selection of Star Wars properties represented in the Black Series – not just limiting it to the films, but also the various television productions, video games, novels, comics and more. With Star Wars: The Clone Wars being such a big part of the franchise's TV offerings it's gotten some fairly good representation, but there are still a lot of key characters (or variants) missing. To celebrate Lucasfilm's 50th anniversary Hasbro put out a special wave of Clone Wars-inspired figures, which was the perfect opportunity to fill in some of those gaps. We've seen numerous figures based on his appearances in the films themselves and even one based on his Genndy Tartakovsky Clone Wars microseries costume, but finally Black Series Obi-Wan Kenobi arrives in his familiar Star Wars: The Clone Wars guise.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Ultraman Tiga Multi Type

S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Ultraman Tiga Multi Type 01

Release Date: July 2021
RRP: 6600 yen

The Shinkocchou Seihou range has been the crowning glory of the S.H. Figuarts line for some time now, but when it comes to the various franchises it covers its scope is severely limited. Whereas Bandai Tamashii Nations have extended into the likes of tokusatsu, anime, movie and video game properties with the mainline, Shinkocchou Seihou has remained strictly Kamen Rider for the most part with a couple of GARO releases also thrown in for good measure. That all changes in 2021 though, with the 25th anniversary of Ultraman Tiga providing just the excuse Bandai needed to expand the line into the Ultra Series. S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Ultraman Tiga Multi Type is the first of what will hopefully be many more Ultraman Seihous, and their first version of this phenomenally popular Ultraman since the renewal version Ultra-Act way back in 2014. Although a standard S.H. Figuarts Tiga was teased at events as far back as 2017, obviously those plans have changed as Shinkocchou Seihou's "true bone carving" method ushers in a new age of Ultraman figures.

Friday, 8 October 2021

Anime REVIEW: Digimon Adventure:

Digimon Adventure:

The Digimon franchise has existed in many different forms over the years but when it comes to sheer popularity, most struggle to compete with the original Digimon Adventure. After being dragged out for six-part film series Digimon Adventure Tri. from 2015-2018 to celebrate the franchise's 15th anniversary and then for further sequel Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna in 2020, it seemed like Toei had exhausted everything they could do with the original Chosen Children - other than reboot the whole thing that is. Digimon Adventure: (also commonly known as Digimon Adventure (2020) to avoid confusion) began in April 2020 - bringing back the cast of the original series in an all-new story. The series ran for a total of 67 episodes, though a significant hiatus was taken after episode three due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Custom Figure: 2015 Skaro Dalek (1965 Variant)

Custom 2015 Skaro Dalek (1965 Variant) 01

New History of the Daleks releases means a whole new set of custom Dalek projects lined up, the first of which is the perfect compliment to an earlier project from last year. We're still quite a way off from these B&M exclusive sets from reaching the modern era (let alone the Twelfth Doctor), so unless Character Options have any more surprise releases from the story up their sleeves Daleks from The Magician's Apprentice and The Witch's Familiar won't be appearing any time soon. But with 60s Daleks back on the market, this is the perfect opportunity to make another of these 2015 Skaro Daleks – this time based on the later 60s design seen in both The Power of the Daleks and The Evil of the Daleks. Much like its brethren based on the original 1963 casing, these Daleks were seen inhabiting the Daleks' home planet of Skaro after the Doctor (with Clara and Missy in tow) was summoned to meet the dying Davros.

Monday, 4 October 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who History of the Daleks #5 Set

History of the Daleks #05 01

Release Date: September 2021
RRP: £19.99

Despite limitations, Character Options' Doctor Who action figure range came back in full force in 2020 – continuing their partnership with B&M stores to deliver a selection of exclusive releases. Among the most popular of these was the History of the Daleks line – a chronological progression through the stories of the Doctor's most feared enemies in the form of double-pack releases. Starting with 1963's The Daleks and making its way to 1965's The Daleks' Master Plan last year, it has now returned in 2021 with The History of the Daleks #5 Set – The Power of the Daleks (1966). Marking the debut of the Second Doctor, this fully missing adventure (though now available as an animated recreation) sees the Doctor arrive on the planet Vulcan – where a capsule of Daleks has been discovered. Though the Daleks seem subservient, they are secretly amassing enough power to restart the capsule's hidden assembly line – with the aim of taking the colony and exterminating all life present.

Sunday, 3 October 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers War for Cybertron: Kingdom Galvatron

Transformers Kingdom Galvatron 01

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

The fact that the Transformers War for Cybertron: Kingdom and Studio Series 86 lines have been so interchangeable for the most part has led to the cast of Transformers: The Movie getting filled out at a record speed - the perfect way to celebrate its 35th anniversary. However as fantastic as most of these new releases have been it's fair to say that many of these characters have already had great classic-inspired figures in the past, which makes the ones that haven't stand out all the more. Transformers War for Cybertron: Kingdom Leader Class Galvatron is one such example, with the new Decepticon leader and herald of Unicron finally making it to a price point worthy of his status. As well of course being a prominent character in Transformers: The Movie, Galvatron is also one of the select characters in the Kingdom line to be a key player in the Netflix Kingdom series - travelling back in time in attempt to defy Unicron and change Megatron's fate.

Friday, 1 October 2021

Miniseries REVIEW: Mashin Sentai Kiramager Spin-Off: Yodonna

Mashin Sentai Kiramager Spin-Off: Yodonna

For the past few years the Toei Tokusatsu Fanclub has been home to some of the weirder spin-off titles in the world of Toei-brand tokusatsu, however other than a few notable exceptions it's fair to say that these exclusive specials have been mostly Kamen Rider driven. However 2021 saw Super Sentai get in on the action once again with Mashin Sentai Kiramager Spin-Off: Yodonna, the first exclusive Super Sentai special to appear on the service since Hero Mama League and Keisatsu Sentai Patranger feat. Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger ~ Another Patren 2gou all the way back in 2018. As the title suggests this sequel to Mashin Sentai Kiramager thrusts Yodonheim's villainous secretary Yodonna into the lead role, with the two part special written by Tete Inoue and directed by Koichi Sakamoto. Yodonna marks the first time in Super Sentai history that a special has focused on a villain, and it sure is something...

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Custom Figure: 'Real Time' Cyberman

Custom 'Real Time' Cyberman 01

It's been a few months since the last custom figure entry on this site and whilst projects still remain Doctor Who-related, this one is a little different from the usual Dalek repaints that frequent my workbench. The Cybermen have gone through many different designs over the years, but there are also several more that have never graced television screens. From comics to audio adventures, these are the Cybermen variants we'll probably never see as part of the Character Options action figure range. However, thanks to some incredibly talented designers in the Doctor Who figure community its becoming easier and easier to plug some of those gaps in your collection, with characters like the Real Time Cyberman being a particular treat to bring into plastic form...

Monday, 27 September 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Arc Trooper Echo

Black Series Arc Trooper Echo 01

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

As part of the Lucasfilm 50th anniversary celebrations Hasbro announced a selection of special Star Wars: The Clone Wars releases - not only providing fans with many variant characters they've been asking for for years, but in special packaging based on the original Clone Wars toy line no less. It wouldn't be a Clone Wars range without some clone troopers, and what better choice than the long awaited release of Black Series Arc Trooper Echo. Originally designated CT-1409, Echo was a clone trooper that served bravely alongside the 501st Legion as part of the Advanced Recon Commandos. He was thought to have met his end during a mission to rescue Jedi Master Even Piell, however it was later revealed that he survived - transformed into a cyborg by the Techo Union and used as a pawn by the Separatist Forces. Echo was eventually rescued, and after turning the tide of victory with his cybernetic capabilities became the newest member of Clone Force 99 - the Bad Batch.

Friday, 24 September 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman (Shin Ultraman)

S.H. Figuarts Ultraman (Shin Ultraman) 01

Release Date: June 2021
RRP: 5500 yen

While the cinema release of Hideaki Anno's Shin Ultraman may be postponed indefinitely due to the ongoing pandemic, the merchandise train still steams ahead! With the film celebrating the 55th anniversary of Ultraman originally due for release in Summer 2021, there are already several different options out there for collectors wanting to get a hold of the titular hero. One such example is the S.H. Figuarts Ultraman (Shin Ultraman) figure, with Bandai Tamashii Nations being one of the first to announce a highly poseable option for their ever-expanding flagship line. Between this and the kaiju figures Bandai have put out in their vinyl toy range, you might not be able to see the film any time soon but at least you can recreate how you imagine the scenes will play out in the comfort of your own home!

Monday, 20 September 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Clone Pilot Hawk

Star Wars Black Series Clone Pilot Hawk 01

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

2021 marks the 50th anniversary of Lucasfilm and Hasbro are celebrating in it the only way they know how - an onslaught of new Star Wars action figure releases! In addition to the various figures based on the novels and comics that make up the "Legends" canon, a selection of Black Series figures based on the ever-popular Star Wars: The Clone Wars was revealed - exclusive to Target in the US (and via the fan channel elsewhere) and packaged in retro Clone Wars blister packaging. Among this special wave of figures is the Black Series Clone Pilot Hawk - the clone trooper pilot that often worked alongside the 501st Legion and was seen a number of Clone Wars episodes.

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Toybox REVIEW: MAFEX Spider-Man (Peter B. Parker)

MAFEX Spider-Man (Peter B Parker) 01

Release Date: January 2021
RRP: 8800 yen

Medicom continue their mission to produce as many Spider-Man figures as possible within their MAFEX Miracle Action Figure line as they continue to dive into 2018's award-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Hot on the heels of Miles Morales' release comes MAFEX Spider-Man (Peter B. Parker), the Spider-Man of another universe who becomes a mentor to Miles after falling on hard times in his own world. Though originally scheduled for a July 2020 release, repeated delays meant this figure not actually make it out until six months later in January 2021 - making it the perfect way to kick off a whole new year of figures. MAFEX have released plenty of Peter Parker Spider-Man figures over the years, but they've never done one quite like this before.

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Dino Thunder Blue Ranger

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Dino Thunder Blue Ranger 01

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

The Disney era as a whole might be feeling a little under-represented in Hasbro's Lightning Collection but at the very least two Power Rangers seasons from that time seem to be getting plenty of figures. While Power Rangers SPD rapidly approaches completion, preceding series Power Rangers Dino Thunder also gains another key member with the release of the Lightning Collection Dino Thunder Blue Ranger in the line's eighth wave. The third release from the fan-favourite season, Ethan James is a skilled hacker and computer expert, using the powers of the blue Dino Gem to not only morph into the Blue Ranger but also found it could make his skin impenetrable.

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider V3 (THE NEXT)

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider V3 (THE NEXT) 01

Release Date: February 2008
RRP: 2420 yen

In 2008 Bandai Tamashii Nations introduced a whole new line of Kamen Rider action figures - S.H. Figuarts, the spiritual successor to their previous Souchaku Henshin line. Originally the "S.H" in the name even stood for "Souchaku Henshin", but since then Bandai have also said it stands for "Simple style and Heroic Action - the motto which has accompanied the line since its very beginning. With S.H. Figuarts now having stretched far beyond Kamen Rider also all include a number of other tokusatsu, anime and Western properties, it's a little strange to think that it all began with figures from Kamen Rider: The Next. The 2007 sequel to Kamen Rider: The First had been released in Japanese cinemas just a few months prior, and so Figuarts launched onto the scene with a double bill of releases - S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider V3 (THE NEXT) and also the film's version of Kamen Rider 1. Either could feasibly be consider the very first release from the line, but there's just something fitting considering the next Rider to be the next step in Kamen Rider action figures.

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Doctor Strange (Battle on Titan Edition)

S.H. Figuarts Doctor Strange (Battle On Titan Edition) 01

Release Date: January 2021
RRP: 8800 yen

With the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Infinity Saga having finally come to an end, it seems that all of the toy companies that produce Marvel figures are having one last hurrah before moving onto the next phase - releasing the best versions of these beloved characters that they can. That can definitely be said for Bandai Tamashii Nations, whose S.H. Figuarts line moved into a number of "Final Battle" editions based on the climactic scene from Avengers: Endgame (it helps when you're releasing toys after the movie has been released, rather than just prior like they did initially). However with many key characters absent from Endgame for the most part there are plenty of iconic scenes to explore from Avengers: Infinity War as well, such as this S.H. Figuarts Doctor Strange (Battle on Titan Edition) figure. 

Monday, 6 September 2021

First Impressions: Kamen Rider Revice

Kamen Rider Revice

Well we've made it, 50 years of Kamen Rider. Such a momentous anniversary doesn't go uncelebrated, and while both both it and Super Sentai commemorated their respective milestones earlier in the year with crossover movie Super Hero Senki, now that Kamen Rider Saber has reached its conclusion it's time for the main anniversary series to begin its run. Kamen Rider Revice is the third Kamen Rider series to debut in the Reiwa era, and the 32nd in the franchise overall. Its head writer is Hanta Kinoshita, a novelist and manga writer making his tokusatsu debut with the series. Other key production staff members include producers Chihiro Inoue, Kei Mizutani and Taku Mochizuki, directors Takayuki Shibasaki, Jun Watanabe and Hiroshi Butsuda, with music by Kotaro Nakagawa.

Sunday, 5 September 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Zeo Cogs

Lightning Collection Zeo Cogs 01

Release Date: August 2021
RRP: $41.99/£49.99

Every new Lightning Collection announcement is exciting to some degree, but it's always the villain reveals that prove to be the most exciting - after all, heroes always need some bad guys to fight right? With the trio of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers foot soldiers suitably covered, Hasbro are now moving on to Power Rangers Zeo and getting a little bit robotic with the release of the Lightning Collection Zeo Cogs! Following in the same vein as the Putty Patrollers two-pack release from last year, the Cogs come as part of a Hasbro Pulse exclusive two-pack featuring both the standard silver and red variants of the Machine Empire foot soldiers. Despite the set initially being billed for a November release, Hasbro have uncharacteristically decided to show UK Power Rangers fans some love with the set making a surprise release on the UK version of Pulse two months ahead of the US market.

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Zeo Green Ranger

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Zeo Green Ranger 01

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

The Power Rangers Lightning Collection draws one step closer to completing another team as the eighth wave in the main line of releases brings us the Lightning Collection Zeo Green Ranger. Following the destruction of both his power coin and the Command Centre, Adam Park calls on the power of the Zeo Crystal to become "stronger than before" and defend the planet from the new threat of the Machine Empire. Although Adam first debuted in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers season two and stayed all the way through until the cast changeover in Power Rangers Turbo, Hasbro have chosen his appearance in Power Rangers Zeo for their first release of this fan favourite character.

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider Saber

Kamen Rider Saber

Ending your series at the height of a global pandemic is difficult enough, but successfully starting a new one at the same time is another obstacle entirely. But it seems the show must go on, and this is the challenge Toei faced as the Kamen Rider franchise marched on into its second Reiwa era series (and 31st overall) - Kamen Rider Saber. As well as featuring a sizeable cast of Riders, the production staff saw a few familiar faces return to the franchise. The series was written by Takuro Fukuda and produced by Kazuhiro Takahashi, both notable for being the chief writer and producer team behind Kamen Rider Ghost. Kamen Rider Saber ran for a total of 49 episodes, a count which not only included an epilogue previewing succeeding series Kamen Rider Revice but also a special crossover with Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger.

Monday, 30 August 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin 'Metallic' Pink Ranger

Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin 'Metallic' Pink Ranger 01

Release Date: December 2020
RRP: $24.99

Hasbro may have gotten the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers team out of the door in the Lightning Collection pretty quickly, but if there's one thing Power Rangers fans know it's that it doesn't take very long for them to show up again. With numerous different versions from both the screen and comics to tap into, the original Power Rangers team will remain a staple part of the toy line for some time.  In fact Hasbro showed their hand last year with the announcement of the Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin 'Metallic' Pink Ranger figure, kicking off a new variation of the team based on the metallic armour the rangers don in season three to battle against Master Vile's enhanced Tenga Warriors. This Hasbro Pulse exclusive release also the marks the first release of a Katherine 'Kat' Hillard version of the Pink Ranger, with her having taken over from Kimberly Hart at this point in the series.

Saturday, 28 August 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Blades Lion Senki

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Blades Lion Senki 01

Release Date: March 2021
RRP: 5500 yen

The titular hero of a new Kamen Rider series being released at a cheaper price point is standard practice for the S.H. Figuarts line now, and for big multi-Rider shows like Kamen Rider Saber a good tactic to get collectors interested in completing the whole set. Phase two of the plan is to immediately follow it up with another retail release Rider at the more usual cost, in this case S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Blades Lion Senki. The second Rider to appear in the series, Rintaro Shindo was born into the Sword of Logos – fighting to uphold the organisation's values as the Water Swordsman. When the manipulations of the current Master Logos were finally revealed, Rintaro regained his resolve to fight and joined Touma against the real enemy.

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts SC-1 Sevenger

S.H. Figuarts SC-1 Sevenger 01

Release Date: June 2021
RRP: 7700 yen

Ultraman Z was a great series that brought us a brilliant new hero with plenty of cool alternate forms, as well as bringing back fan favourites like Zero, Geed and even Ace. But despite the amount of cool Ultraman action going on in the series arguably the real hero of Z wasn't a giant from the Land of Light, but rather a rather determined robot that was always doing its best. Right from the very first episode Sevenger melted the hearts of Ultraman fans across the world, and even though he was eventually phased out in favour of other robots its grand return in the finale was nothing short of glorious. Such was his popularity that S.H. Figuarts SC-1 Sevenger was pretty much inevitable, but what perhaps wasn't was this Tamashii web exclusive release completely selling out of preorders in a matter of days. And this was just one in many Ultraman Z web exclusives selling out, making the Ultraman Figuarts line more lucrative and desirable than ever.

Friday, 20 August 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Carnor Jax

Star Wars Black Series Carnor Jax 01

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

Star Wars fans around during the years between films who had to rely on expanded media such as novels, films and video games for new content have potentially had it rough since Disney took over control of the franchise, especially with the stories they love being deemed non-canon and being categorised as "Legends", but in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Lucasfilm at least Hasbro are giving them some acknowledgement. This four small range of special edition figures looks at all things Legends, with one release paying homage to Star Wars: Crimson Empire – the 1997 comic book series from Dark Horse that spanned a total of 20 issues as well as a full cast audio drama. Carnor Jax, the Imperial Sovereign Protector who made a bid for the throne following Palpatine's death has arrived in the Black Series. However the big question is, is this release even Carnor Jax in the first place?

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Balzion

Super Mini-Pla Balzion 01

Release Date: April 2021
RRP: 5500 yen

For the most part the Super Mini-Pla range has done a good job of covering the various mecha from each Super Sentai series, but when it comes to some of the older series there are a lot less options to choose from. In some cases (such as Taiyo Sentai Sun Vulcan for example) you might even only get the main mecha and its giant carrier vehicle. However for the Choudenshi Bioman range Bandai really went the extra mile, and on top of those releases also produced something that was LONG overdue a new toy. The mecha of the Anti-Bio Union piloted by their robotic assassin Bio Hunter Silva, Balzion is a villainous counterpart to Bio Robo that appears in the final three episodes of the series. Having received no toys when Bioman was airing back in 1984 and since then only a giant vinyl figure in 2017, the Premium Bandai exclusive Super Mini-Pla Balzion is a truly exceptional release.

Sunday, 15 August 2021

Movie REVIEW: Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger the Movie: Red Battle! All Sentai Rally!!

Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger the Movie: Red Battle! All Sentai Rally!!

Once upon a time a brand new Super Sentai team would be introduced in the preceding team's Versus Series movie, but as that slowly phased out the Mashin Sentai Kiramager introduced a new way to be welcomed by audiences - their own debut mini-movie. For the 44th Super Sentai this took the form of a prequel Episode ZERO to set up the main series, but to celebrate the franchise's 45th anniversary something a little more lavish was in order. Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger the Movie: Red Battle! All Sentai Rally!! didn't just unleash the newest Super Sentai team upon the world - it also sees them face off against classic villains and team up with all 45 of the previous Red rangers. The 26-minute film was released as part of the Super Sentai Movie 2021 triple-bill - joining both Mashin Sentai Kiramager the Movie: Bebop Dream and Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger Special Chapter: Memory of Soulmates.

Saturday, 14 August 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who 'The Keys of Marinus (1964)' Set

Doctor Who 'The Keys of Marinus' Figure Set 01

Release Date: August 2021
RRP: £19.99

After years of treading water Character Options really kicked into high gear with their B&M Stores exclusive range of Doctor Who figures in 2019 - not only beginning to bring highly sought-after characters back to the market but also brand new figures combining both new and existing tooling. Things are only looking to get even better in 2021, with another selection of sets inspired by the franchise's classic era announced for release. Among these is The Keys of Marinus (1964) Collector Figure Set, one of two three-figure sets based on the First Doctor's era. This a particularly special on, not only bringing new monsters to the fold in the form of the Voord but also another companion. Schoolteacher Ian Chesterton didn't know what he expected to find when he followed student Susan Foreman to a seemingly ordinary Police Box, but it certainly wasn't an unforgettable adventure through time and space with a man simply known as the Doctor...

(A big thank you to Character Options and Evolution PR for the opportunity to review this set ahead of its release this month. This set, along with the other three that make up this latest range, are due to release in B&M stores mid-August.)

Thursday, 12 August 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Shocker Rider (THE NEXT)

S.H. Figuarts Shocker Rider (THE NEXT) 01

Release Date: June 2008
RRP: 2420 yen

With fewer and fewer Kamen Riders left to bring out in the S.H. Figuarts line, a lot of collectors are turning their attention towards who will be the next character Bandai Tamashii Nations REmake – be it as part of the regular line or the Shinkocchou Seihou range. But while it's fair to say most titular series Riders have a pretty good chance of getting a new figure, not all of the really old releases are likely to be on the cards – the S.H. Figuarts Shocker Rider (THE NEXT) being one such example. The mass-produced foot soldiers of the evil organisation in 2007's Kamen Rider: The Next, the Shocker Rider was the fourth release in the S.H. Figuarts line all the way back in 2008 – following on of course from Kamen Rider V3 as well as The Next versions of Riders 1 and 2.

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Special REVIEW: Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger Special Chapter: Memory of Soulmates

Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger Special Chapter: Memory of Soulmates

With the COVID-19 pandemic throwing everything into disarray the usually predictable format of tokusatsu movie releases went out the window, and after a few months of uncertainty Super Sentai broke free from its usual double-billing with Kamen Rider to headline its own Super Sentai Movie Ranger 2021 triple-bill in February 2021. As well as featuring both the delayed arrival of the Kiramager summer movie Bebop Dream and the onscreen debut of the Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger, the lineup also featured the return of the 38th Super Sentai team in Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger Special Chapter: Memory of Soulmates - a brand new short film dedicated to the memory of Ui Tatsu's actress Mana Kinjo.

Sunday, 8 August 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series R5-P8 (Galaxy's Edge)

Star Wars Black Series R5-P8 01

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

When Galaxy's Edge was first announced to be coming to Disneyland (and later Disneyworld), one of the more frustrating things for Star Wars toy collectors was the subsequent announcement of Black Series figures that would not only be available exclusively in the parks but also that they would all be part of three-packs with older, far more common figures. However it seems Hasbro weren't completely heartless when it came to these characters, since a few years later these exclusive figures (Hondo Ohnaka, DJ-R3X and Commander Pyre) were made more widely available through a Star Wars Galaxy's Edge Trading Outpost promotion at Target stores (and standard Fan Channel exclusives in the rest of the world). They weren't the only ones either, as the range also included a couple of new characters that populate the world of Batuu. Hondo Ohnaka might not still have the pirate crew he had back in the days of the Clone Wars, but at least he still has his trusted Astromech droid R5-P8. R5 appears in the pre-show scenes of the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run attraction, helping Hondo prepare guests to pilot in Falcon in the latest of Hondo's business ventures.

Thursday, 5 August 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection In Space Red Ranger vs Astronema

Power Rangers Lightning Collection In Space Red Ranger vs Astronema 01

Release Date: November 2020
RRP: $39.99/£39.99

If there's one thing that can be said about Hasbro and their treatment of the Power Rangers brand, once they got the ball rolling with the Lightning Collection it just never stopped rolling. Between all the mainline releases, two-packs, exclusives and monster releases it can be incredibly hard to keep track of everything that's come out so far, let alone buy it all. At the end of last year Hasbro released a further two sets in their growing range of "versus" two-packs, one of which was a match many fans/collectors were extremely excited to see - Lightning Collection In Space Red Ranger vs Astronema. After passing over Andros in favour of Leo in the Lost Galaxy Red Ranger/Psycho Red set, it's great to see the leader of the Power Rangers in Space debut in an even more fitting two-pack against his sister Karone's evil alter ego – the Princess of Evil Astronema.

Monday, 2 August 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Hero Action Figure Iron King

Hero Action Figure Iron King 01

Release Date: November 2019
RRP: 8800 yen

Bandai Tamashii Nations' S.H. Figuarts line may rule the roost when it comes to collector-orientated tokusatsu action figures, but if you're looking for characters outside the Kamen Rider and Ultraman franchises then Evolution Toy are offering some serious competition with their Hero Action Figure line. For several years now HAF have been delivering some of the lesser known names in Showa era tokusatsu – from Tsuburaya properties like Fireman, Jumborg and Mirrorman to Toei names like Inazuman and Kaiketsu Zubat. However the range stretches even further than the big name companies too, with one such example being Hero Action Figure Iron King – the titular hero from the 1973 kyodai hero series by Nippon Gendai and Senkosha. Though he may resemble an Ultra hero, Iron King is an entirely separate hero – the hydro-powered alter ego of bumbling Goro Kirishima, sidekick to the suave National Security agent Gentaro Shizuka.

Friday, 30 July 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers War for Cybertron: Kingdom Ultra Magnus

Transformers Kingdom Ultra Magnus 01

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

The combination of both the War for Cybertron trilogy and Studio Series 86 lines has proven quite effective in getting fans old and new back into Transformers toys, especially those (like myself) who have always dreamed of completing a relatively screen-accurate cast of Transformers: The Movie in modern form. Although it’s the Studio Series 86 line that's leading the charge in that respect, there are still plenty of incredible releases coming out of War for Cybertron too – such as the War for Cybertron: Kingdom leader class Ultra Magnus figure. After previously appearing in the beginning of the trilogy as part of the Siege line, Ultra Magnus returns to not be able to deal with it all over again in Earth mode as part of the Kingdom range.

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.