Tuesday 30 November 2021

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who: Flux Chapter Five - Survivors of the Flux

Doctor Who: Flux Chapter 5 - Survivors of the Flux

After that shocking cliffhanger at the end of Village of the Angels I think it's time for some answers. With only two episodes of Doctor Who: Flux left, there's still an awful lot of ground to cover when it comes to all the various plot threads that have been running through the miniseries. Who is Swarm? What do the Division want with the Doctor? Why is Joseph Williamson running around time and space? And how is the Doctor going to save everyone from the cataclysmic event that's ravaging the universe? In the fifth chapter of Flux we see what little is left of it, in a story entitled Survivors of the Flux. With this chapter the story returns to being solely written by show runner Chris Chibnall, with both this and the final episode being directed by Azhur Saleem.

Sunday 28 November 2021

Series REVIEW: Dogengers: Nice Buddy

Dogengers: Nice Buddy

One of the most pleasant surprises in the tokusatsu world last year was a little show by the name of Dogengers, which showed off several of Japan's local heroes (and villains!) in a 12-episode love letter to both superheroes and tokusatsu as a whole. While it's popularity in its home country was perhaps to be expected, what its makers probably didn't expect was just how much of a hit it would prove with fans across the globe as well. Proof that you can't keep a good hero down, Rookie, Ohgaman, KitaQman, Yamashiron, El Brave and Fukuokalibur are all back for a second series of superhero shenanigans - this time going by the title of Dogengers: Nice Buddy. These further 12 episodes saw the return of director Fumie Arakawa (Super Sentai, Tokusatsu Gagaga), with Suzumuru Nobuhiro (who has also worked on a number of Super Sentai and Kamen Rider shows) joining her as co-director.

Thursday 25 November 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Tenga Warrior

Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Tenga Warrior 01

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

While Power Rangers naturally owes a lot to Super Sentai, arguably it's always at its most interesting when it's doing something original – especially when it comes to villains. And with the Putty Patrollers having run their course over the first two seasons of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, when it came to season three it was time for a new set of monsters to terrorise the Rangers on a weekly basis. After first making their debut on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (where they were named 'Tengu Warriors'), the Tenga Warriors were repurposed for the main show – arriving as a wedding present for Rita and Zedd from Rita's brother Rito Revolto. Referred to as "the fiercest warriors in the universe", the Tenga initially overwhelmed the Rangers but later proved no match for their new ninja powers. When Rita's father Master Vile arrived on the scene, the Tengas were powered up to become even more deadly – forcing the Rangers to transform further with their metallic armour. Now the list of monsters Hasbro has produced continues to grow, as the Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Tenga Warrior arrives as part of the line's ninth wave.

Wednesday 24 November 2021

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who: Flux Chapter Four - Village of the Angels

Doctor Who: Flux Chapter 4 - Village of the Angels

There have been many monsters that have come and gone since Doctor Who returned to television screens in 2005, but none of them have had quite the same impact that the Weeping Angels have had. For whatever reason the idea of statues that only move when no one is watching has really stuck in the public's consciousness, with "don't blink" becoming a series catchphrase as the Angels have endured to join the likes of the Daleks and Cybermen as the show's most iconic monsters. Now they're back again for the fourth chapter in Doctor Who: Flux, titled Village of the Angels. This episode stands out from the rest of series 13 as it's the only one that Chris Chibnall is joined by a co-writer - Maxine Alderton, who wrote last year's The Haunting of Villa Diodati.

Thursday 18 November 2021

Series REVIEW: Kaiketsu Zubat

Kaiketsu Zubat

While the legendary mangaka Shotaro Ishinomori is best known in the world of tokusatsu for the likes of Kamen Rider and Super Sentai, his creativity was stamped all over a number of shows produced by Toei in the 1970s and 80s. Among his more popular superhero entries is Kaiketsu Zubat ("The Magnificent Zubat"), a 1977 series that ran for a total of 32 episodes. The series stars Hiroshi Miayauchi in the lead role, a legend in the world of henshin heroes but arguably best known for his roles as Shiro Kazami/Kamen Rider V3 and Sokichi Banba/Big One in JAKQ Dengekitai. A rather unique series that rejects some of the more traditional henshin hero tropes in favour of modern Western/detective flavour, it initially received high audience ratings but poor toy sales led to the loss of its sponsor (and in turn, early termination at 32 episodes). Though the show has never been revived in any form, modern fans may be more familiar with the cameo he made in OOO, Den-O, All Riders: Let's Go Kamen Riders, where he appeared alongside fellow Ishinomori heroes Kikaider, Kikaider 01 and Inazuman to defeat General Shadow.

Tuesday 16 November 2021

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who: Flux Chapter Three - Once, Upon Time

Doctor Who: Flux Chapter 3 -  Once, Upon Time

If there's one thing that can be said about Doctor Who: Flux, it's that it's nice to have regular cliffhangers back isn't it? At the end of War of the Sontarans the Doctor faced a rather sticky situation as Swarm was seconds away from "unleashing the full force of time" through Yaz and Vinder. On a planet she doesn't recognise and against an enemy she can't even remember, things were not looking good. Of course, only being episode two of six (as well as seeing the next episode preview immediately after the end credits) does cut into the tension from an audience perspective a little bit. We're now at the halfway point of the series with Once, Upon Time - another episode solely penned by Chris Chibnall and this time directed by Azur Saleem.

Saturday 13 November 2021

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Final Form Cooler

S.H. Figuarts Final Form Cooler 01

Release Date: August 2021
RRP: 7700 yen

After purchasing Freeza -Resurrection Ver.- in 2018 I happily retired from the world of Dragon Ball S.H. Figuarts, having bought all the characters I wanted and feeling relatively confident that there wouldn't be any more I wanted. Since then the line has continued trucking on and remained one of Bandai Tamashii Nations' most popular ranges on both sides of the pond - with plenty of releases from Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Super. However outside of the most recent trilogy of releases, the Dragon Ball movies remain an area mostly untouched (classic Broly being an exception, but then his power is maximum). However the announcement of another fan favourite has finally brought me back - S.H. Figuarts Final Form Cooler. The older brother of Freeza, Cooler made his debut in Dragon Ball Z: Cooler's Revenge where he arrives on Earth seeking revenge against Goku for his brother's death. Though he is initially able to overwhelm Goku with his secret fifth form, he is ultimately no match for the power of a Super Saiyan. A bio-mechanical version of Cooler known as 'Meta-Cooler' appears in the subsequent film The Return of Cooler, and he has also made appearances in both Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans and Dragon Ball Heroes. S.H. Figuarts Cooler was released in Japan as a Tamashii web exclusive.

Wednesday 10 November 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Studio Series 86 Gnaw

Transformers Studio Series 86 Gnaw 01
Release Date: September 2021
RRP: $22.99/£21.99

Transformers: The Movie changed a lot of things in the Transformers Generation One landscape, but one key thing was that going forwards it wasn't just about the war between Autobots and Decepticons anymore. As well as introducing fans to the planet-sized chaos bringer Unicron, the movie also introduced the manpulative Quintessons – a race that went on to become key players in the show's third season. On their home planet, the Quintessons carry out mock trials where, innocent or guilty, the defendant will inevitably be fed to their army of Sharkticons. Though Hot Rod, Kup and the Dinobots were able to temporarily put a stop to this with a Sharkticon revolt, the Quintessons would return to fight the Transformers on multiple occasions. Though unnamed onscreen, ever since their original G1 toy the Sharkticon figure has gone by the name of 'Gnaw' – returning now for the film's 35th anniversary with the deluxe class Studio Series 86 Gnaw.

Monday 8 November 2021

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who: Flux Chapter Two - War of the Sontarans

Doctor Who: Flux Chapter 2 - War of the Sontarans

After The Halloween Apocalypse kicked off Doctor Who: Flux in spectacularly manic fashion, it's now time to truly get into what series 13's continuous storyline has to offer. Despite the series only running for a total of six episodes and having its work cut out for it introducing new villain Swarm, it wouldn't be Doctor Who without some classic monsters making a reappearance. War of the Sontarans marks the first title appearance of the cloned warrior race since 2008's The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky, with subsequent appearances either having been cameos or centred around the commander turned nurse turned Paternoster Gang butler Strax. This episode however firmly re-establishes them as an enemy of the Doctor though, along with giving them a whole new look – again their first redesign since 2008.

Monday 1 November 2021

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who: Flux Chapter One - The Halloween Apocalypse

Doctor Who: Flux - Chapter 1: The Halloween Apocalypse

Following the events of The Timeless Children (and to a lesser extent, Revolution of the Daleks), Doctor Who has found itself in a somewhat precarious position. As if the divisive response amongst the fandom to that episode wasn't enough, the immediate follow-up to that also had to deal with a real-life pandemic that swept the world. The BBC haven't really made it much easier for themselves either, not only bringing in a new companion to replace the recently departed Graham and Ryan but also announcing that Russell T Davies will be returning to the show to man its 60th anniversary and beyond. For those still invested in the show there's an awful lot to get through in a small amount of time, and for those soured by the previous series it's hard to care when potentially something better is round the corner. But nevertheless Doctor Who is back for its 13th series, and with strict filming rules in place due to COVID it's doing something a little different. Doctor Who: Flux will be a six-part continuous story (the show's first since 1986's Trial of a Timelord), taking the Doctor, Yaz and new companion Dan through numerous adventures across time and space connected by the same cataclysmic event. And it all starts here with chapter one: The Halloween Apocalypse, written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Jamie Magnus Stone.