Sunday 30 May 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Asajj Ventress

Star Wars Black Series Asajj Ventress 01

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

Given that the Star Wars Black Series has been running since 2013, it's amazing that there are so many key characters from Star Wars: The Clone Wars that still don't have figures. But with the raised interest in the franchise's television output thanks to The Mandalorian as well as Hasbro doing a little reshuffle of their main 6" collector line, it seems this is finally being rectified. As well as a whole wave of special exclusive Clone Wars releases in themed packaging recently, the main range is getting in on it too - the long awaited Black Series Asajj Ventress is finally here. After being saved from slavery and becoming a Jedi Padawan only to see her Master murdered right in front of her, Ventress eventually ended up in the employment of Count Dooku as his personal assassin. After being betrayed by him as well, Ventress returned to her home on Dathomir to join Mother Talzin's Nightsisters before eventually going it alone as a bounty hunter. Her path would eventually lead her back to the Jedi Order, fighting alongside Quinlan Vos on a mission to assassinate Dooku before eventually meeting her death at the hands of her former master.

Friday 28 May 2021

Special REVIEW: Kamen Rider Saber x Ghost

Kamen Rider Saber x Ghost

If you created two core entries in the Kamen Rider franchise and had the opportunity to bring them together in one crossover special, of course you'd take that chance. Following on from Yuya Takahashi colliding the worlds of Zero-One and Ex-Aid in Kamen Rider Genms -The Presidents-, Kamen Rider Saber head writer Takuro Fukuda now brings his works together in Kamen Rider Saber x Ghost. Released through the Toei Tokusatsu Fan Club, this (for now at the very least) one episode special also celebrates the fifth anniversary of Kamen Rider Ghost - with Shun Nishime returning to the role of Takeru Tenkuji for the first time since his guest appearance in 2018's Kamen Rider Zi-O.

Wednesday 26 May 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Dino Thunder Red Ranger

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Dino Thunder Red Ranger 01

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

With so many different teams and characters to choose from, one of the most exciting parts of new Power Rangers Lightning Collection reveals is when something from a previously untouched (by Hasbro at least) series is announced. The line began work on Power Rangers Dino Thunder with the exclusive White Ranger figure earlier in 2020, but it was with the announcement of the main line’s seventh way that work felt properly underway with the Lightning Collection Dino Thunder Red Ranger. Soccer player and student at Reefside High School, Connor McKnight bonded with the Red Dino Gem and leads the Dino Thunder Rangers - mentored by his teacher and Power Rangers alumni Dr. Tommy Oliver.

Monday 24 May 2021

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Saber: The Phoenix Swordsman and the Book of Ruin

Kamen Rider Saber: The Phoenix Swordsman and the Book of Ruin

It's usually around the winter time that Kamen Rider fans look forward to the latest crossover movie, but with the COVID-19 pandemic still raging things had to be done a little differently in 2020. With Kamen Rider Zero-One the Movie: REALxTIME postponed from its original summer release date, the typical movie scheduling Toei have kept for both Kamen Rider and Super Sentai was thrown into chaos. The Mashin Sentai Kiramager movie was pushed back to Spring 2021 to feature alongside other Super Sentai productions, with a short Kamen Rider Saber movie taking its place to create a Kamen Rider Splendid Double-Feature event at the end of December. At only 22 minutes long, Kamen Rider Saber: The Phoenix Swordsman and the Book of Ruin is the shortest Kamen Rider movie there has been in some time. As such, the film was properly labelled as a "short movie" ("Gekijō-tanpen") rather than given the usual movie-prefix ("Gekijō-ban").

Saturday 22 May 2021

Custom Figure: 'Dr Who & the Daleks' Movie Black Dalek

Custom Dr Who & the Daleks Black Dalek 01

Continuing what seems to be a big year for getting back into custom Dalek figures, I turn my attention away from The Curse of Fatal Death for a moment and back to something everyone has wanted to see in Character Options' toy line for some time now - movie Daleks. While it was obvious that Character's licensing didn't extend to the two Dalek movies (Dr Who & the Daleks and Daleks' Invasion Earth - 2150AD) of the 1960s, the wonderful loophole that was the props appearing in The Chase did lead to the Jungles of Mechanus collector set release last year. Of course you can't have Dalek drones without a proper chain of command, so having bought multiples of the set for exactly this in mind it was time to get to work on the black Dalek itself.

Thursday 20 May 2021

Series REVIEW: Toei's Spider-Man

Toei's Spider-Man

In the late 1970s the Toei Company made a three year licensing deal with Marvel Comics that allowed them to take their characters and reimagine them for a Japanese audience. This collaboration was key to the creation of the Super Sentai franchise as we know it today, with many of its tropes introduced through both Battle Fever J and subsequent instalments Denshi Sentai Denjiman and Taiyo Sentai Sun Vulcan. But prior to these came the most infamous result of the partnership - Toei’s Spider-Man. Released in 1978 and running for a total of 41 episodes (plus one 25-minute movie), Toei’s Spider-Man took the iconography of Marvel’s legendary hero and transformed him into in a true henshin hero. In recent years the character has gone though something of a renaissance - prominently appearing in the various Spider-Verse crossover comic series, receiving a dedicated documentary on Disney+ and slated to appear in the 2022 sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Tuesday 18 May 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Z Putty

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Z Putty 01

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

The original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is always going to be the big seller when it comes to the Lightning Collection and Hasbro’s control of the franchise in general, but with the whole of original team now available in the flagship collector line they’re going to come up with a few new ideas to continue hitting that MMPR sweet spot. Naturally re-releases are obviously on the cards (such as the forthcoming “Metallic Armour” versions), but it’s also a chance to get some other interesting figures out as well. One such example is wave seven’s Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Z-Putty, based on Lord Zedd’s legion of clay soldiers from season two. Although faster, stronger and more resilient than the old Putty Patrollers, Zedd’s versions had one fatal weakness - one punch to the Z emblem on their chest would instantly cause them to explode.

Monday 17 May 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Studio Series 86 Hot Rod

Transformers Studio Series 86 Hot Rod 01

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

The price of Transformers toys have been going up steadily for years now, but another tactic Hasbro have recently started to introduce is releasing smaller figures at higher price points and then making up for it with better engineering and/or accessories. Take War for Cybertron: Siege Shockwave for example - a voyager class-sized figure at best, but comes with armoured parts to justify a leader class price point. On the one hand it does unfortunately make some figures more expensive than they perhaps should be, but on the other it can lead to some pretty interesting releases and help maintain proper scale between figures. An excellent example of this release method is Studio Series 86 Hot Rod, a deluxe class figure that's been released at the voyager class price point. Arguably he's the perfect character to get this sort of treatment in a Transformers: The Movie-centric line - he's the star of the movie and if any Autobot deserves to get the perfect toy in a line celebrating it's 35th anniversary, it's him.

Friday 14 May 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Black

S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black 01

Release Date: April 2021
RRP: 7700 yen

The S.H. Figuarts line has been running long enough now that we're seeing plenty of Kamen Riders previously released be redone as part of the "true bone carving" S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou range, but it's only now that we are seeing a Rider that had previously been remade be done for a third time. And outside of the original Kamen Rider himself, if that was going to happen to any Rider it was going to be Kamen Rider Black. Bandai Tamashii Nations released the first Kamen Rider S.H. Figuarts figure all the way back in 2009, with a renewal version with updated proportions and accuracy following in 2013. Fast-forward nearly nine years and the renegade Century King has returned once more, almost perfectly timed with the announcement of the Kamen Rider Black Sun reboot due next year. S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Black was a retail release, pushing the envelope for the line even further as it uses rubber shoulder covers to create an even more seamless sculpt. 

Wednesday 12 May 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Crosshair

Star Wars Black Series Crosshair 01

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

Star Wars: The Bad Batch is fully underway on Disney+ and it's nice that there are actually toys from the series available to coincide with the release for once. That said, it probably helps that Clone Force 99 aka "The Bad Batch" had already debuted on The Clone Wars last year. While Hasbro sadly couldn't get the whole team ready for the series premiere two out of five certainly isn't bad, as Black Series Crosshair joins Hunter in the latest wave of the six inch action figures. The team's sniper, Crosshair was augmented with sharper vision to make him the perfect shot on the battlefield. His superiority complex and uncaring attitude has often caused him to butt heads with the "regs", as well as making him more susceptible to the Kaminoans' programming and Order 66.

Monday 10 May 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger Change Heroes Twokaizer

Release Date: April 2021
RRP: 2200 yen

Super Sentai has it pretty rough these days when it comes to action figures of its heroes. Over in the West we may have numerous Power Rangers figure lines, but over in Japan it's clear that the mecha are the things that make the money - especially with the tragic demise of the Super Sentai S.H. Figuarts range. There have been varying gimmick ranges over the last decade or so, but never really anything consistent or seemingly at the same scale - it's only really with the introduction of Bandai's SHODO candy toy line is Super Sentai getting anything relatively consistent. However 45th anniversary series Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger is also bringing along its own gimmick line - "Change Heroes", derived from the fact that its four robotic members are able to switch between both humanoid and animal/vehicle modes. The line has also included a figure of Zenkaizer himself, and now its sixth release comes in the form of Change Heroes Twokaiser! The sixth ranger of the Zenakigers, Zox Goldtsuiker is a "World Pirate" that travels between parallel dimensions. His main form is heavily based on the Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, with additional forms based on both the Chouriki Sentai Ohranger and Samurai Sentai Shinkenger

Sunday 9 May 2021

Toybox REVIEW: G.I. Joe Classified Series Zartan

G.I. Joe Classified Series Zartan 01

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

The G.I. Joe Classified Series is a line I've only showed a passing interest in so far (and even then I'm only really interested in the Cobra characters), but the quality Hasbro have shown on these figures so far has been exception. If only the same could be said of the distribution, with many collectors in the US (the place the franchise has always been most prominent) often struggling to get a hold of them. Nevertheless the line has continued on relatively stronger, with mercenary and Cobra affiliate Zartan among its latest releases. Leader of the militarised biker gang the Dreadnoks and a master of disguise, Zartan is often found working alongside Cobra and is arguably one of its most prominent and well-known agents.

Thursday 6 May 2021

Movie REVIEW: Zero-One Others: Kamen Rider MetsubouJinrai

Zero-One Others: Kamen Rider MetsuboJinrai

Both the series itself and its epilogue "summer" movie might have now passed, but it isn't quite the end for Kamen Rider Zero-One just yet. Now it's time for the true epilogue in the form of its direct to Blu-Ray V-Cinema releases, which in typical fashion focus on the various other Kamen Riders of the series. The first of these films is Zero-One Others: Kamen Rider MetsubouJinrai - thrusting the formerly villainous members of Humagear terrorist group into the spotlight. The film was written by Zero-One head writer Yuya Takahashi, and directed by the show's secondary writer Masaya Kakehi.

Tuesday 4 May 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Hunter

Star Wars Black Series Hunter 01

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

As always May 4th marks the annual Star Wars Day: May the 4th Be With You celebrations, and this year Disney are marking the occasion with the premiere of brand new animated series Star Wars: The Bad Batch on Disney+. After making their debut on the final season of The Clone Wars, the series follows Clone Force 99 (aka “The Bad Batch”) - an elite team of clone troopers created with “desirable mutations, during the time after Order 66 and the rise of the Empire. Meanwhile Hasbro have been quick off the mark this time around, with the first Bad Batch figures now available as part of the Black Series collectors’ line. Included in this first selection of releases is Hunter, clone commando sergeant and the team’s leader.

Sunday 2 May 2021

Custom Figure: 'The Curse of Fatal Death' Grey Dalek (Variant)

Custom Curse of Fatal Death Grey Dalek (Variant) 01

Completing the full lineup of Dalek variants from the 1999 Doctor Who Comic Relief special The Curse of Fatal Death has now become a personal goal of mine, and thanks to the improved availability of Character Options classic Daleks these days (thanks B&M store exclusives!) it's a goal I've gotten very close to completing in a short space of time. My third custom in this particular set of figures is the Curse of Fatal Death Grey Dalek (Variant), named as such by me due to being a little different to the other Daleks that appear in the story.