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.

Thursday 11 February 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Generations Selects G2 Megatron

Transformers Generations Selects G2 Megatron 01

Release Date: December 2020
RRP: $29.99

The Generations Selects line has become the perfect place to provide Transformers fans with all those obscure characters and old-school homages that the main lines can't accommodate, and when it comes to wacky colour schemes nothing beats the Generation 2 days. From 1992-1995 Transformers was home to the most outlandish colours you could see on a toy, and some of the catchiest adverts the franchise has ever had. While a lot of big name characters in the range were slight remoulds of their Generation 1 versions, the line still had plenty of interesting new releases too - with Megatron being one of the most notable. Gone was the silver Walther P-38 pistol, replaced with a giant gaudy green and purple tank that cried out "MEGATRON ATTACK" at the touch of a button. It was a thing of beauty, and began the trend of tank Megatrons that continues today. Now Hasbro celebrate his legacy with the Generations Select G2 Megatron, bringing those iconic colours back and slapping them on a mould fit for 2020.

Tuesday 9 February 2021

Custom Figure: TV21 Comics Black Dalek (Second Version)

Custom TV21 Black Dalek (Version 2) 01

As the Dalek drones of the TV21 comics slightly changed colours so did the Black Dalek, and with my "Guard" Dalek drones now under the command of a Red Dalek Leader, I felt it was important to also add a new Black Dalek to the mix to complete the chain of command. This second version of the Black Dalek is another custom I've been looking forward to doing for some time now, and the increased availability of the Guard Dalek mould following the release of History of the Daleks sets finally made it an affordable possibility.

Monday 8 February 2021

Custom Figure: TV21 Comics Red Dalek Leader

Custom TV21 Red Dalek Leader 01

With the classic Dalek figure back on the market again thanks to the History of the Daleks sets being released at B&M Stores, it's been great to get back into producing custom Dalek figures on a regular basis. As you might be aware by now the 1960s Dalek comics published in TV Century 21 are one of my all-time favourite pieces of Doctor Who media, so building up a collection of figures to properly represent them has been a dream of mine for some time. The comics finally getting republished in 2020 also rekindled my love for them all over again. After creating a comfortable little display of a black Dalek, red Dalek and two Dalek drones in the colour schemes of the early strips, my next plan was to do the same for when the designs and colours of the Daleks began to mirror that of their movie counterparts. For example the standard silver and blue Dalek drones became the blue-domed versions seen in Dr. Who & the Daleks.  This time around getting the drones done didn't require any paintwork, but they did need leaders - and this is where the Red Dalek Leader of Skaro Control Sky Seven comes in.

Saturday 6 February 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Z Alpha Edge

S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Z Alpha Edge 01

Release Date: December 2020
RRP: 3850 yen

Thanks to its worldwide release via Youtube, Ultraman Z was the most accessible Ultraman ever on release and that certainly did good things for merchandise sales as well. Not only could fans across the globe see these pieces in action on the show freely and legally, but Tsuburaya's uploads also included actual toy adverts just to help seal the deal. Once Bandai Tamashii Nations had announced the S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Z Alpha Edge they were also able to get in on this, with multiple episodes featuring onscreen ads for this latest New Generation Hero release. Like his predecessor Ultraman Taiga, Ultraman Z Alpha Edge was intended to act as a sort of "gateway" release for fans of the show/new collectors by sporting a much lower price tag than a typical figure from the line - something the line has been doing with the Kamen Rider series for a good few years now. 

Thursday 4 February 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Cara Dune

Star Wars Black Series Cara Dune 01

Release Date: December 2019
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

If there's one thing that The Mandalorian has received near-universal praise for, it's the number of kickass women it's added to the Star Wars universe. Season two especially earned high marks with the live-action debuts of Ahsoka Tano and Bo-Katan Kryze, as well as expanding the role of Fennic Shand and introducing Koska Reeves. But before it gave us any of those, it gave us Cara Dune. A survivor of Alderaan, the former Rebel Alliance shock trooper quickly become one of Mando's most trusted allies - assisting him in his fight against Moff Gideon and the remnants of the Empire on multiple occasions. As one of the major recurring characters in the Disney+ series, she was one of the first to arrive in Hasbro's Black Series toy line.

Tuesday 2 February 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series 'Gaming Greats' Electrostaff Purge Trooper

Star Wars Black Series Gaming Greats Electrostaff Purge Trooper 01

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

Jedi: Fallen Order felt like the gateway into a largely unexplored chapter in the Star Wars universe, and with it the game brought plenty of memorable new characters and new nuggets of lore. One such aspect was the use of Purge Troopers - previously introduced in the Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith comic but used most prominently here. Highly specialised troopers that worked alongside the Inquisitors to hunt down the remaining Jedi, the Purge Troopers are incredibly skilled fighters adept in a number of combat types. Hasbro released a standard rifle variant as part of the Black Series in 2019 as a GameStop exclusive, and a whole year later a second Black Series Electrostaff Purge Trooper followed as part of the growing Gaming Greats sub-line. This figure was also released as a GameStop exclusive in the USA, however was made a bit more accessible to rest of the world via Hasbro's fan channel.