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 War for Cybertron: 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.