Sunday 31 January 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Thouser

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Thouser 01

Release Date: October 2020
RRP: 6600 yen

With multiple Riders right from the very beginning Kamen Rider Zero-One could hardly stick the standard mid-series secondary Rider introduction format. By that point not did it already have five Riders, but also three different transformation belts. So instead that shake-up came about with the introduction of ZAIA Enterprise Japan and its CEO Gai Amatsu, who immediately sought to takeover Hiden Intelligence and prove his ZAIA Spec to be superior to Hiden's HumaGears. This led to a competition between both Gai and Aruto Hiden, one which the former never planned to play fairly. In both his guise as ZAIA CEO and as Kamen Rider Thouser, Gai Amatsu caused chaos - not only furthering the conflict between humanity and HumaGears but also revealing himself to have manipulated the events that led to the Daybreak Town incident. As a key player in Zero-One's story it was only a matter of time before Bandai Tamashii Nations revealed S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Thouser, releasing him as a Tamashii web exclusive much like the majority of Zero-One's cast.

This review is presented by ZAIA©.

Monday 25 January 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Brothers' Mantle

S.H. Figuarts Brothers' Mantle 01

Release Date: November 2020
RRP: 2420 yen per Mantle

If you ever need any proof that capes immediately make something cooler, look no further than the Ultra Brothers. The collective name of the legendary Ultramen that have defended planet Earth, these brothers in arms are amongst the most skilled warriors from the Land of Light and now done flowing red mantles as a symbol of their status. With the original six Ultra Brothers now available in the S.H. Figuarts line, the time had finally come for Bandai Tamashii Nations to release the S.H. Figuarts Brothers’ Mantle. Released as a Tamashii web exclusive, this add-on set finally gave fans the opportunity to truly turn their Ultraman Figuarts into the legends they have become - boasting pliable, fabric capes as opposed to the jointed plastic ones of the old Ultra-Act line.

Friday 22 January 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Pumpkin Rapper

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Pumpkin Rapper 01

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

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers has a lot of memorable monsters, but of course many of them weren't actually a product of the show itself as they were originally created for Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger. However when the Power Rangers proved to be a smash hit and Saban commission Toei to fill new footage for the show (which has since been dubbed "Zyu2" by fans), it presented an opportunity for the show to truly have some monsters of its very own. Undoubtedly the most famous of these is the Pumpkin Rapper, who true to his name is a rapping pumpkin monster that appeared in episode 54 of the series, Trick or Treat. Pumpkin Rapper was among the handful of monsters to return in the show as well, resurrected by Lord Zedd as part of his Halloween Haunted Forest. With this popularity in mind, it makes perfect sense that he joins King Sphinx as the first releases in Hasbro's new range of deluxe price point Lightning Collection figures.

Wednesday 20 January 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Incinerator Trooper

Star Wars Black Series Incinerator Trooper 01

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

The Mandalorian is currently making huge waves in the Star Wars universe with its various connections to the various feature films, but one of its most exciting aspects to long-time fans is how its re-canonising elements from the old expanded universe of novels, video games, comics and more. These works were the lifeblood of the franchise at one point, but pushed aside once Disney went forward with plans for their own sequel trilogy. Incinerator Troopers were first seen in the 2008 game The Force Unleashed, notable for their red markings and flamethrower weapon. Considered one of the most devastating classes of Stormtrooper, they have since reappeared in chapter eight of The Mandalorian under the command of Moff Gideon. And with Hasbro recently unveiling a new trooper mould in their new phase of the Black Series, now was the perfect time to release the Black Series Incinerator Trooper.

Monday 18 January 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection King Sphinx

Power Rangers Lightning Collection King Sphinx 01

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

When Hasbro announced the Power Rangers Lightning Collection and revealed it would be drawing inspiration from across the whole of the franchise, there were two questions that immediately came to fans' minds. The first was whether the line would also be incorporating Megazords, and would the various monsters of the Power Rangers universe (the episodic ones, rather than the big bads) be getting in on the action too? While we're still really waiting for an answer on the Megazords, Hasbro will indeed be bringing on the bad guys with a range of deluxe Lightning Collection figures at a $30 price point (similar to that in their other collector lines). Given his overwhelming popularity even amongst the most memorable MMPR monsters, Lightning Collection King Sphinx was an obvious first release. Appearing in the fourth episode of the series, A Pressing Engagement, King Sphinx is sent to battle against the Rangers as Jason attempts to break a fitness record. King Sphinx also appears in the unaired pilot for the series (since released as the "Lost Episode"), which likely led to the monster appearing in so much of the merchandising at the time.

Sunday 17 January 2021

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Den-O: Kamen Rider Pretty Den-O Appears!

Kamen Rider Den-O: Pretty Den-O Appears!

If there's always one thing you can rely on in the Kamen Rider franchise, it's that there's never too long to wait until another Kamen Rider Den-O special. When the series first landed all the way back in 2007 the cast immediately captured fans hearts and even though lead actor Takeru Satoh has gone on to bigger things, the Imagin and supporting cast have made numerous appearances in the years since. From crossovers with Kamen Riders Decade, OOO and Zi-O to the various New Den-O spin-off films, the climax has never stopped. Even a global pandemic can't stop the climax, with 2020 seeing them return once again in Kamen Rider Den-O: Pretty Den-O Appears! Released as part of the Toei Manga Matsuri omnibus film series, this half hour film introduces a new kind of Kamen Rider heroine.

Friday 15 January 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series 'Gaming Greats' Scout Trooper

Star Wars Black Series Gaming Greats Scout Trooper 01

Release Date: October 2020
RRP: $24.99/£24.99

Ever since first watching Return of the Jedi Scout Troopers have been my favourite variant of trooper in the ever-growing Galactic Empire army, but as someone who tends to mostly avoid buying vehicles (for space sake) it can be quite difficult getting a good figure of them these days. While admittedly there was an individual Archive Series release of the trooper back in 2019, the fact they are synonymous with Speeder Bikes usually means more often than not they’re bundled together as part of a larger set. But there’s been quite a bit of Scout Trooper love in the Star Wars universe recently, with them making prominent appearances in both The Mandalorian and Jedi: Fallen Order. That latter appearance is particularly notable as it’s a rare time we see them sans Speeders, with Hasbro capitalising on that to produce the Black Series Gaming Greats Scout Trooper. Released as a GameStop exclusive in the US and via the usual fan channel in the rest of the world, this version of the Scout Trooper is armed with a deadly electro-baton and quite adept in melee combat.

Wednesday 13 January 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Momotaros Imagin

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Momotaros Imagin 01

Release Date: October 2020
RRP: 7150 yen

If there’s one Kamen Rider series you should never discount the popularity of, it’s Kamen Rider Den-O. Even though Bandai Tamashii Nations have released nearly every S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou figure that isn’t of the titular character as a Tamashii web exclusive since 2017, Den-O was always going to be the one that got a few extra coming to retail. And that’s because these days it isn’t really Ryotaro Nogami who’s considered the star of the show, it’s the Imagin. So while we still patiently wait to see what Bandai have in store for Kamen Rider Zeronos, S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Momotaros Imagin has arrived in the meantime to tide us over. The third release in the Den-O range, Ryutaro’s first and most prominent Imagin partner was a no-brainer for the Shinkocchou Seihou line. With the original S.H. Figuarts figure having been released all the way back in 2009, Momotaros was long overdue the kind of high quality up date this line has repeatedly delivered.

Monday 11 January 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Soul of Chogokin GX-33R Leopardon & Marveller Summoning Set

Soul of Chogokin GX-33R Leopardon 01

Release Date: September 2020
RRP: 22,000 yen

The 1978 Toei Spider-Man series is a tentpole piece of tokusatsu - not only extremely popular but also notable for introducing elements that would eventually become staple of the Super Sentai franchise. That said it’s a series that’s pretty short on merchandise, particularly toys that were produced after the series had finished airing. But with the world currently undergoing something of a Japanese Spider-Man renaissance, 2020 was the year merchandising for the Emissary of Hell made a comeback. Bandai’s most notable offerings included both an S.H. Figuarts Spider-Man and Super Mini-Pla Leopardon, but no assortment would be complete without a reissue of another high end figure. Previously released all the way back in 2006, the Soul of Chogokin Leopardon makes a grand return in the Soul of Chogokin GX-33R Leopardon & Marveller Summoning Set - combining Tamashii Nations’ transformable die-cast robot with the first-ever commercial reproduction of Spider-Man’s Spider Bracelet.

Friday 8 January 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Evol Black Hole Form (Phase 4)

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Evol Black Hole Form (Phase 4) 01

Release Date: November 2020
RRP: 7700 yen

Kamen Rider Build has proven itself to be a particularly popular series, especially since Bandai Tamashii Nations are still steadily releasing S.H. Figuarts over two years after its completion. After the release of the extremely popular Kamen Rider Evol (Phase 1,2,3 Set) in 2019 a retool of the evil alien Evolto’s ultimate form seemed inevitable, and sure enough in 2020 S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Evol Black Hole Form (Phase 4) arrived as a Tamashii web exclusive. After upgrading his standard Cobra Form with the power of the Evol Trigger, Evolto becomes complete once more an no longer requires a human host. True to its name, Evol now commands the power of miniature black holes - able to create and manipulate to leave not a single trace of his destruction.

Tuesday 5 January 2021

Series REVIEW: Ultraman Z

Ultraman Z

Tsuburaya Productions have been leading the way when it comes to releasing tokusatsu worldwide for some time now, but their release of Ultraman Z in 2020 made Ultraman more accessible than it’s ever been before. Whereas previous series had been simulcast via Crunchyroll, the 32nd entry in the Ultra Series was released directly to Tsuburaya’s own YouTube channel - with each episode appearing moments after airing in Japan and remaining available for a period of two weeks. Okay so the time limit might not be ideal, but at the rate Mill Creek have been pumping out the Blu-Ray releases that can’t be far away either. Ultraman Z is the eighth entry into the New Generation Hero lineup, as well as celebrating the 10th anniversary of Ultraman Zero.

Sunday 3 January 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series 332nd Ahsoka's Clone Trooper

Star Wars Black Series 332nd Ahsoka's Clone Trooper 01

Release Date: October 2020
RRP: $24.99/£24.99

Although it was only a tiny part of the series overall, the moment when Ahsoka Tano is greeted with a legion of clone troopers with repainted helmets that match her own face markings is synonymous with Star Wars: The Clone Wars season seven. Not only is it a key scene where the former Jedi Padawan reunites with her former comrades, but it was a huge part of the season's promotional iconography - making it a sort of "welcome home" for viewers as well. So even though these may have just been nameless clones that eventually fell victim to Order 66, they were a strong contender for action figures - appearing in both Hasbro's Galaxy of Adventures line and of course the Black Series. The latter release, fully labelled as the Black Series 332nd Ahsoka's Clone Trooper, arrived as part of WalMart's exclusive (fan channel exclusive outside of the US) wave of Clone Wars figures alongside Ahsoka, the Mandalorian Loyalist and the Mandalorian Super Commando.

Saturday 2 January 2021

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 2021 New Year's Day Special - Revolution of the Daleks

Revolution of the Daleks

After the Doctor's origins (as well as the series canon in general) were blown apart at the end of the last series, nobody quite knows where Doctor Who is headed next. One thing is for sure though - ending on such a divisive note means the next episode ideally needs to follow up with something familiar. And that's exactly what showrunner Chris Chibnall did for the 2020/2021 New Years Special, as the Doctor's greatest foes returned once more in Revolution of the Daleks. Written by Chibnall and directed by Lee Haven Jones, this episode sees the exit of companions Graham O'Brien (Bradley Walsh) and Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole), as well as the proper return of Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) - something that was teased all the way back in Fugitive of the Judoon.

Friday 1 January 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Ahsoka Tano

Star Wars Black Series Ahsoka Tano (Clone Wars) 01

Release Date: October 2020
RRP: $24.99/£24.99

Despite her not appearing until live-action until 2020 in season two of The Mandalorian, the popularity of Ahsoka Tano cannot be understated. Despite her rocky introduction as Anakin Skywalker's Padawan in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Ahsoka developed throughout the series to become one of (if not the) its most engaging characters - eventually reappearing in Star Wars Rebels and now in The Mandalorian. But prior to her live-action debut Ahsoka also had another big revival in 2020, as the newly produced season seven of The Clone Wars showed the path she took after leaving the Jedi Order before teaming up with Bo-Katan's Mandalorian loyalists and the clone troopers once more to fight against Maul during the Siege of Mandalore. Now this version of Ahsoka Tano arrives as part of Hasbro's Black Series line in a wave of Walmart exclusive (fan channel exclusive outside of the US) figures dedicated to this closing arc of The Clone Wars.