Saturday 31 December 2022

Favourite Toys of 2022

Favourite Toys of 2022

As the world gradually begins to ring out the end of 2022, it's time again to count down some of my favourite toy releases of the year. Sadly the rather extensive back catalogue I started the year with hasn't gotten any smaller, but thankfully I've still made time for this bunch of fantastic figures which are all worthy of joining your collection. As usual I try to make these lists specifically for figures that were released in 2022, but given the sheer chaos that is Hasbro's release schedule these days there a couple from the beginning of the year that are perhaps a little debatable. Not that it really matters - I got all these figures in 2022 and that's all that counts. So without further ado read on to find out which figure made the top spot, and be sure to let me know what your favourites were in the comments!

Friday 30 December 2022

Toybox REVIEW: G.I. Joe Classified Series Baroness (Retro)

G.I. Joe Classified Series Baroness (Retro) 01

Release Date: July 2022
RRP: $24.99/£23.99

When the Classified Series was launched not even Hasbro probably imagined it would revive G.I. Joe the way it has, but it's clear collectors can't get enough of the "Real American Hero" rebooted in six-inch form. Now that the Classified Series sits comfortably with Hasbro's other tentpole collector lines, re-releases in retro packaging were inevitable. Among the first of these figures is the G.I. Joe Classified Series Baroness (Retro), reimagining the Cobra terrorist operative with a throwback colour scheme and classic card back packaging. While it might not have been all that long since Baroness first made her appearance in the Classified Series, given that was a store exclusive "Cobra Island" release with a chunky Cobra C.O.I.L. motorcycle there are probably a lot of buyers out there keen to pick her up in a more basic version.

Thursday 29 December 2022

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Jeanne Cobra Genome & Lovekov Kujaku Genome

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Jeanne 01

Release Date: August 2022
RRP: 6930 yen

The Kamen Rider Revice S.H. Figuarts range continues its string of Tamashii Web exclusives, and was naturally going to be the case most of the time for this series it's keeping it in the family. In just a few short years the Reiwa era of the franchise has become notable for raising the prominence and profile of female Kamen Riders, with Sakura Igarashi taking it to even further heights following her debut as Kamen Rider Jeanne. Given her popularity it's no surprise Bandai Tamashii Nations skipped over Kamen Rider Live (who debuted a few episodes earlier in the series) for the time being in order to release S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Jeanne Cobra Genome & Lovekov Kujaku Genome, further adding to the growing collection of female Riders that's amassed in the last few years.

Thursday 22 December 2022

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman (The Rise of Ultraman)

S.H. Figuarts Ultraman (The Rise of Ultraman) 01

Release Date: October 2022
RRP: $50

With Ultraman's current conquest of the West advancing at a rapid pace it was only a matter of time before the franchise broke through to the convention exclusive circuit. Alongside the usual array of Dragon Ball Z figures, for the 2022 New York Comic Con (and later, various other events across Asia) Bandai Tamashii Nations revealed S.H. Figuarts Ultraman (The Rise of Ultraman) – the first Ultraman Figuarts initially aimed at a Western market. As the name suggests this figure draws inspiration from The Rise of Ultraman – the first of several limited comic book series by Marvel Comics released in 2020.

Wednesday 14 December 2022

Top 5: Toys I'm Looking Forward to in 2023

Top 5: Toys I'm Looking Forward to in 2023

There's been a lot of fantastic toy releases this year (and as usual I'll be counting down my personal top ten at the end of the month), but as 2022 draws to a close many collectors will start looking forward to all the things they've got preordered for the coming year. So for my final top five feature of 2022 I'm looking forward to the five toys I'm looking forward to most next year. All the entries below have a confirmed release date so we're certain they're coming in 2023, and I'm pleased to say I've secured preorders on them all as well. Will any of them make the top ten toys of 2023 list? Only time will tell…

Monday 12 December 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Studio Series 86 Arcee

Transformers Studio Series 86 Arcee 01

Release Date: July 2022
RRP: $24.99/£25.99

The Studio Series 86 line is rapidly running out of characters that prominently appeared in Transformers: The Movie, particularly when you take the ones that have recently appeared in the War for Cybertron trilogy lines into account as well. However that clearly isn't going to stop Hasbro from celebrating this landmark piece of Transformers media, as Studio Series 86 Arcee has arrived while the Earthrise (also re-released as part of Kingdom) version is still in recent memory. However contrary to what you might think, this Studio Series version is not just a cartoon-accurate repaint of the Earthrise version – instead looking even further back in Arcee's toy history alongside some brand-new tooling.

Friday 9 December 2022

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultrawoman Grigio

S.H. Figuarts Ultrawoman Grigio 01

Release Date:
September 2022
RRP: 7150 yen

When a new S.H. Figuarts figure makes its debut at a Tamashii Nation event, it can be a long and painful wait until it finally makes it to release – and those are the lucky ones. Having originally made her debut all the way back in 2019, it's taken a whole three years for S.H. Figuarts Ultrawoman Grigio to become a reality and it's fair to say New Generation Ultraman fans couldn't be more excited. Asahi Minato, the third and youngest sibling of Ultraman R/B, comes as a Tamashii web exclusive and it’s the first female Ultra to be released in the S.H. Figuarts range. Coming hot on the heels of S.H. Figuarts Carmeara, it's been a good couple of months for Ultra Series women.

Wednesday 7 December 2022

Series REVIEW: Power Rangers Dino Fury

Power Rangers Dino Fury

If Power Rangers Beast Morphers was simply a taste of what the franchise would have to offer under Hasbro's leadership, then surely its follow-up should show what it can be like at its full potential. And when it comes to Power Rangers, dinosaurs have always proved to be a guaranteed hit. Power Rangers Dino Fury sees the franchise return to the theme that started it all for a fourth time, throwing Super Sentai fans in a spin once again by skipping forward ahead and adapting footage from 2019's Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger. Dino Fury is also notable for being the final series to air on Nickelodeon, which has been the home of the franchise since its return in 2011 with Power Rangers Samurai. While the first season aired on Nick as normal, the series found a new home on Netflix for its second – making the first Power Rangers instalment to air exclusively (in most territories) on an online streaming service.

Monday 5 December 2022

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Demons Spider Genome

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Demons 01

Release Date: July 2022
RRP: 7700 yen

While Kamen Rider Revice may have been a series that pushed the story of family first and foremost, it wasn't just the Igarashi family that captured fans' hearts. Fenix commander Hiromi Kadota quickly established himself as a firm fan-favourite in the series, fighting as the first Kamen Rider Demons using the Vail-possessed Demons Driver. After going missing and presumed dead, he would eventually return to the fight against Giff leading Weekend's Demons Army. His popularity pretty much ensured the quick release of S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Demons Spider Genome, who joins the line as the fourth release in the Revice range and its second Tamashii web exclusive.

Thursday 1 December 2022

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Evil Trigger

S.H. Figuarts Evil Trigger 01

Release Date: November 2022
RRP: 7150 yen

The Ultraman franchise has found a comfortable place in the annual Tamashii Nations event exclusives, although arguably the metallic repaints of the last couple of years have been nothing to write home about. For the 2022 event however Bandai Tamashii Nations have returned to the well of evil Ultras they originally started with back in 2018 with Ultraman Orb Dark, celebrating last year's Ultraman Trigger: Episode Z movie with the release of S.H. Figuarts Evil Trigger. Using the Ancient Sparklence, Zabil of the Ultra-Ancient Civilisation transforms into this shadowy figure, consumed by his desire to become a messianic figure for humanity.

Tuesday 29 November 2022

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Revice the Movie: Battle Familia

Kamen Rider Revice the Movie: Battle Familia

As the end of a Kamen Rider series approaches, the time of the summer movie is upon us. With more and more of these films featuring events that tie directly into the main series, the show becomes a careful balance of having to still be understood on its own terms whilst also making the movie feel like a vital part of the story. Double-billed with the Avataro Sentai Donbrothers movie, Kamen Rider Revice the Movie: Battle Familia takes the Igarashi siblings on a side story following the defeat of Giff and in the lead up to Karizaki's debut as Kamen Rider Juuga. The Toei Tokusatsu Fanclub special Birth of Chimera was also produced as an introduction to the film's story and characters.

Monday 28 November 2022

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Carmeara

S.H. Figuarts Carmeara 01

Release Date: August 2022
RRP: 7150 yen

With the number of alien and kaiju figures it has produced over the years the Ultraman S.H. Figuarts range certainly isn't short of villain material, however it's also particularly exciting when a main villain turns up in the line. In Ultraman Trigger: New Generation Tiga the Giants of Darkness were an ancient race of beings that destroyed everything in their path, eventually arriving on Earth 30 million years ago in search of the Eternity Core. Sealed away after one of their own turned to the light, they awoke in the present day to seek revenge against their former comrade – Ultraman Trigger. The leader of the group was Carmeara, driven by her love for Trigger Dark and hatred toward Kengo Manaka for taking him away from her. S.H. Figuarts Carmeara joins the line as a Tamashii Web exclusive, and is notable for being the first female character to appear in the whole Ultraman S.H. Figuarts line.

Friday 25 November 2022

Special REVIEW: Kamen Rider Saber Spin-Off: Kamen Rider Sabela & Kamen Rider Durendal

Kamen Rider Saber Spin-Off: Kamen Rider Sabela & Kamen Rider Durendal

With Kamen Rider Saber having as many Riders as it does it was perhaps a bit of a surprise when V-Cinext movie Trio of Deep Sin decided to focus on the core three Riders, but nevertheless it remains a series rife with Toei Tokusatsu Fanclub spin-off potential. As two of the last Riders to join Saber's line-up of legendary swordsmen, Reika and Ryoga Shindai are two characters that particularly felt like they had more to give. Toei obviously felt so too, given the surprise announcement of Kamen Rider Saber Spin-off: Kamen Rider Sabela & Kamen Rider Durendal as the latest entry on their streaming platform. This special marks the second time the Shindai siblings have broken away from the main Saber cast, having previously represented them in the Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger portion of the Saber/Zenkaiger crossover episodes.

Wednesday 23 November 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Pudgy Pig

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Pudgy Pig 01

Release Date: December 2021
RRP: $57.99/£58.99 (PulseCon Exclusive Edition), $33.99/£35.99 (Standard Edition)

The first wave of Power Rangers Lightning Collection deluxe figures with met with cheers from fans – finally we were getting larger, more articulated figures of classic Mighty Morphin Power Rangers monsters with (Hasbro's words) premium paintwork. Then their release came and we soon found that they were far from perfect, suffering from being a little TOO big and sporting not-so-premium paintwork. The fact poor old King Sphinx and Pumpkin Rapper (who is actually still a VERY good figure) ended up discounted everywhere speaks for itself. However Hasbro persevered, diversifying the deluxe range with ranger/vehicle sets as well as more familiar monsters. And as far as iconic Power Rangers monsters go, a Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Pudgy Pig was inevitable. This figure was initially available in a special Hasbro PulseCon set before being made available at general retail, the latter of which is what is reviewed below.

Monday 21 November 2022

Top 5: Tamashii Nation 2022 Reveals

Top 5: Tamashii Nation 2022 Reveals

This weekend saw the Bandai Tamashii Nations 2022 event take place in Tokyo, and as usual it was an exciting few days of brand-new reveals to look forward to over the coming years. 2022 saw big moments such as the grand return of One Piece S.H. Figuarts, the continuation of the Super Sentai range, Metal Heroes gain new life in the Chogokin line, a strong return for S.H. MonsterArts as well as the usual impressive displays from the likes of Kamen Rider, Gundam, Ultraman, Macross and more. So today I'm looking back on my five favourite reveals from the event, all of which I simply can't wait to preorder…providing these aren't more examples of figures that revealed and immediately end up in Bandai purgatory that is.

Saturday 19 November 2022

Toybox REVIEW: MAFEX Knightfall Batman

MAFEX Knightfall Batman 01

Release Date: July 2022
RRP: 8800 yen

The 1990s were a strange time for comics, particularly as it seemed like everyone's favourite superheroes were suddenly getting replaced with new versions. Over in Gotham City the Knightfall storyline saw Bruce Wayne crippled at the hands of Bane, with the antihero Azrael (real identity Jean-Paul Valley) taking the mantle in his absence. As Batman, Valley decided that Bruce's tactics were obsolete – donning enhanced battle armour and dealing with criminals in a far more merciless manner. As his Azrael conditioning continued to make him more and more erratic, Bruce is forced to engage him in battle to reclaim the mantle of the Bat. Now Medicom pay tribute to this pivotal Batman story with the release of MAFEX Knightfall Batman, showing off Valley's armour in all its 90s glory.

Wednesday 16 November 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Dark Trooper

Star Wars Black Series Dark Trooper 01

Release Date: July 2022
RRP: £33.99/£36.99

While the old Legends canon may have been thrown out with Disney's acquisition of the Star Wars franchise, slowly but surely some of its more popular elements are slowly creeping back into continuity. As well as bringing several animated characters to live action, season two of The Mandalorian also saw the return of the Dark Troopers – third generation battle droids utilised by Moff Gideon in his capture of Grogu. Able to withstand blaster fire, flamethrowers and other projectiles, these Imperial Troopers proved a difficult opponent to the Mandalorian Din Djarin. The Black Series Dark Trooper is one of the latest deluxe releases from Hasbro's six-inch figure line – initially slated for a 2023 release but arriving considerably earlier whilst Hasbro's shipping projections continue to be in disarray.

Friday 11 November 2022

Top 5: Tamashii Nations Reveals That Never Happened

Top 5: Tamashii Nations Reveals That Never Happened

We're only a few weeks away from the annual Tamashii Nations event, where Bandai Tamashii Nations reveal a whole bunch of forthcoming releases from their various toy lines. But while these events are always a big source of excitement for collectors as they see all the newest figures to add to their wish lists, they can also be a time of frustration as many of the figures on display never make it past the prototype stage. So in the lead up to the event I've decided to put together my top five reveals that have happened at Tamashii Nations events over the years, which have then never come to fruition. Reader beware – this list contains a whole lot of "what could have been", and if you've been following these events for some time are likely to drum up some painful memories of Bandai prototype hell. 

Wednesday 9 November 2022

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Ultraman

S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Ultraman 01

Release Date: July 2022
RRP: 7700 yen

The 50th anniversary of Ultraman was a pretty significant time as far as toys were concerned, as Bandai Tamashii Nations finally said goodbye to the old Ultra-Act line and integrated the franchise into S.H. Figuarts. To commemorate the occasion, Bandai released a lavish 50th anniversary set which included a number of unique accessories as well as an exclusive Option-Act Building Set. Five years and multiple variants and re-releases later, the franchise is celebrating his 55th anniversary and it's time for Ultraman to level up once again. This time, the original giant of light joins Bandai's premium Figuarts range with the release of S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Ultraman – the second Ultra to have this honour after Ultraman Tiga. But with Tiga turning out a somewhat troubled release, would this Ultraman show off the same high quality the Kamen Rider releases have been enjoying for years?

Saturday 5 November 2022

Toybox REVIEW: SV-Action Peni Parker & SP//dr

SV-Action Peni Parker & SP//dr 01

Release Date: June 2022
RRP: 13750 yen

While it seems that MAFEX have given up halfway through the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse cast, thankfully Sentinel arrived to pick up the slack and see the main Spider crew through right to the end with their aptly-titled SV-Action line. Starting things off simply with figures of both Miles Morales and Peter B. Parker, Sentinel then threw a bit off a curveball - not going the predictable route by doing Gwen next but instead surprising everyone with SV-Action Peni Parker & SP//dr. Given that even Hasbro haven't touched this pair with the Marvel Legends range, it certainly shows their dedication to the critically-acclaimed film.

Friday 28 October 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Death Watch Mandalorian

Black Series Death Watch Mandalorian 01

Release Date: April 2022
RRP: $24.99/£23.99

If you ever want confirmation that Mandalorians are a sure seller right now, look no further than the Black Series Death Watch Mandalorian figure. While this splinter group of Mandalorian extremists played a massive role in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, their role in The Mandalorian has been far more limited – appearing in a flashback that revealed how foundling Din Djarin was rescued from a Super Battle Droid attack. However this all too brief appearance debuted a new live-action look for the Death Watch armour, which Hasbro have now added to their collector figure lines that'll surely entice the army builders among us.

Tuesday 25 October 2022

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 2022 Centenary Special - The Power of the Doctor

Doctor Who 2022 Centenary Special - The Power of the Doctor

"It's the end, but the moment has been prepared for." After four years and 31 episodes, the time of Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker and showrunner Chris Chibnall has come to an end. Combined with the celebration of the BBC's centenary, such an exit deserves an extra-special episode of Doctor Who. The Doctor's greatest enemies converge on her in The Power of the Doctor – a feature length special clocking in at an incredible 90 minutes. As teased following the credits of Legend of the Sea Devils, the episode brings back classic companies Tegan Jovanka (Janet Fielding) and Ace (Sophie Aldred) – along with several other familiar faces that were kept top secret ahead of the episode airing.

(This review contains major spoilers, make sure you've seen the episode first!)

Monday 24 October 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who History of the Daleks #10 Set

History of the Daleks #10 01

Release Date: October 2022
RRP: £24.99

After an extended stop-off at Planet of the Daleks, Character Options continues its journey through the History of the Daleks! We move forward in the Doctor Who timeline to 1974 with History of the Daleks #10 - a set based on Death to the Daleks. This story saw the Daleks arrive on the planet Exxilon, where they initially needed to ally themselves with the Doctor when the energy drain from the Exxilon city rendered their weaponry useless. Following secret development of physical projectile weapons, the Daleks were then able to reassume their exterminating ways before their eventual defeat.

Sunday 23 October 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who History of the Daleks #9 Set

History of the Daleks #9 01

Release Date: October 2022
RRP: £24.99

When Character Options first announced their plans for History of the Daleks #8 (based on Planet of the Daleks), Doctor Who fans were surprised that they had opted to include two standard grey Daleks rather than some of the more notable variants that appeared in the story. The reveal that the Daleks featured a brand-new mutant reveal gimmick alleviated the pain somewhat, but it was still disappointing that the Supreme Dalek was nowhere to be found. Fast-forward a year and the 2022 range of B&M Store exclusive figures are finally hitting shelves, and Character Options have thrown out another surprise - History of the Daleks #9 is another Planet of the Daleks set! That's right, the 1973 serial is back for round two - this time including both the aforementioned Supreme Dalek and a new take on an "invisible" Dalek.

Friday 21 October 2022

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Trigger Dark

S.H. Figuarts Trigger Dark 01

Release Date: June 2022
RRP: 7480 yen

Mirroring the story that was originally told 25 years ago in Ultraman Tiga, in Ultraman Trigger: New Generation Tiga it is revealed that Ultraman Trigger was originally a Giant of Darkness – working together with Carmeara, Darrgon and Hudram on their path of destruction before turning to the light and becoming the titular hero. After being brought to the present and subsequently defeated, Trigger Dark's essence was absorbed into a Hyper Key – with his powers being wielded by the treasure hunter Ignis against the Giants of Darkness to avenge his home planet. Though initially unable to control Trigger Dark's powers, Ignis eventually become a key ally to Trigger in his fight. Now Bandai Tamashii Nations present S.H. Figuarts Trigger Dark – their latest Tamashii web exclusive addition to the Ultraman Trigger range.

Thursday 20 October 2022

Top 5: Most Wanted Shokugan Modeling Project (SMP) Releases

Top 5: Most Wanted Shokugan Modeling Project (SMP) Releases

Whether you've accepted Shokugan Modeling Project into your hearts or still go about calling it by its original Super Mini-Pla name, there's no denying that Bandai's premium super robot model kit line has been doing some incredible things over the past few years. From its various Super Sentai and tokusatsu releases to a plethora of anime bots, SMP has become a key place for collectors to get their robot fix. But even with everything they've covered so far that's just a fraction of what Japan has to offer, and that's without counting the 30+ years of Super Sentai still untouched by them. So for this month's top five I'm looking at the things I'd most like to see join the Shokugan Modeling Project line, most of which would probably be released as overpriced Premium Bandai exclusives but I'd happily buy regardless.

Wednesday 19 October 2022

Anime REVIEW: Fuuto PI

Fuuto PI
Fuuto PI is available in streaming form via Crunchyroll

When Kamen Rider W made a surprising return in 2017 in the form of the Fuuto Tantei manga series, many fans automatically assumed it would probably never get an anime adaptation despite being perfect for it. After all, Kamen Rider Spirits is right there and Toei still haven't done anything with it. But Kamen Rider's 50th anniversary celebrations brought along some big announcements, one of which revealing that the two-in-one detectives would be returning to television screens in the Fuuto PI anime series. Animated by relatively new anime studio Studio Kai, the 12-episode has been adapted for screen by Tatsuto Higuchi – with the manga's story having been penned by original Kamen Rider W writer Riko Sanjo.

Monday 3 October 2022

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Ribut

S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Ribut 01

Release Date: April 2022
RRP: 6050 yen

The Ultra Galaxy Fight series has brought back a number of obscure Ultraman heroes back into the fold, but undoubtedly one of its greatest achievements is making a star out of Ultraman Ribut. Originally created as a joint collaboration between Tsuburaya Productions and Malaysian company Les' Copaque Production for their animated series Upin and Ipin, Ultraman Ribut has gone on to appear in all three recent Ultra Galaxy Fight instalments (New Generation Heroes, The Absolute Conspiracy and The Destined Crossroad) as well as make a guest appearance in Ultraman Trigger and star in his own Galaxy Rescue Force voice drama. Bandai Tamashii Nations have recognised this prominence with the release of S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Ribut – the first of their Ultra Galaxy Fight figures to be released at general retail.

Friday 30 September 2022

Series REVIEW: Dogengers High School

Dogengers High School

Not just content with being among the heroes to make a cameo appearance in the Ms. Kuroitsu from the Monster Development Department anime adaptation, Fukuoka's finest returned once more in 2022 for a further 12 episodes of local hero shenanigans. Dogengers High School is the third entry in what could now be comfortably called the Dogengers franchise – taking things back to school with a brand-new hero and slightly shifted focus. It seems as though the team behind the series are also beginning to notice the popularity has garnered on a worldwide scale too, with the episodes having been made available complete with English subtitles for a very limited time on their official YouTube channel. Sadly though that tight window has now past, with only the first episode remaining on the channel (and without the subtitles no less).

Wednesday 28 September 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Zeo Yellow Ranger

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Zeo Yellow Ranger 01

Release Date: February 2022
RRP: $22.99/£23.99

As the Power Rangers Lightning Collection continues to chug along comfortably, another fan-favourite team draws to completion. Following on directly from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers it isn't any surprise that Power Rangers Zeo is another series that Hasbro were quick to complete, with the Lightning Collection Zeo Yellow Ranger being the fifth member of the team to be released as part of the general retail waves. The only one outstanding was the Pink Ranger, who was released alongside yet another version of MMPR Pink in special two-pack set. Whether she'll join the others as a single release any time soon is anyone's guess, but it's nice to know the whole Zeo team is out there for those looking to grab them.

Monday 26 September 2022

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Zenkaizer

S.H. Figuarts Zenkaizer 01

Release Date: May 2022
RRP: 6600 yen

It's been seven years since the release of the last Super Sentai S.H. Figuarts figure, and in that time fans and collectors alike refused to give up hope that they were gone forever. That hope was clearly not misplaced, because in celebration of the franchise's 45th anniversary Bandai Tamashii Nations surprised as all with the announcement that they weren't done yet. From 45th Super Sentai series Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger comes S.H. Figuarts Zenkaizer – whose Himitsu Sentai Gorenger-inspired multi-colour design feels particularly appropriate for such a special release marking not only a landmark milestone for the franchise, but the grand return of Super Sentai S.H. Figuarts.

Friday 23 September 2022

Top 5: Most Wanted Kamen Rider S.H. Figuarts

Top 5: Most Wanted Kamen Rider S.H. Figuarts

We can all agree that while the Kamen Rider franchise is still a major part of the S.H. Figuarts brand, things aren't quite the same now as they were in the old days. With so many other anime, tokusatsu and movie titles incorporated into the line we perhaps don't see as many – or at least as many varied – releases as we used to. Nowadays even getting the final form of a titular Rider can be a struggle (poor old Kamen Rider Ghost Mugen Damashii). Nevertheless the wish lists for Kamen Rider S.H. Figuarts remain as strong as ever, so for this month's top five feature I'm counting down the things I'd like to see most from Bandai Tamashii Nations. For the sake of ease I've decided to skip over anything that's had a prototype shown off but never released, since arguably those are the things that deserve to be released the most. We'll get that Kamen Rider Saga one day…

Wednesday 21 September 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Obi-Wan Kenobi & Darth Vader Concept Art Edition

Star Wars Black Series Obi-Wan Kenobi & Darth Vader Concept Art Edition 01

Release Date: August 2022
RRP: $55.99

Star Wars just wouldn't be Star Wars without the work of Ralph McQuarrie. Throughout the creation of the original trilogy and beyond, the artist designed the look and feel of the Star Wars galaxy that we are all familiar with. There might have been some changes as it leapt from paper to screen, but the influence is undoubtedly there. While Hasbro have paid homage to McQuarrie's original designs for these iconic characters in the past, the Black Series Obi-Wan Kenobi & Darth Vader Concept Art Edition set is the first time they are doing it in their premier six-inch collector figure line. Originally revealed at Star Wars Celebration 2022, the set releases as a ShopDisney online exclusive also available at Galaxy's Edge.

Friday 16 September 2022

Miniseries REVIEW: Kamen Rider Jeanne & Kamen Rider Aguilera with Girls Remix

Kamen Rider Jeanne & Kamen Rider Aguilera with Girls Remix

If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that the Kamen Rider franchise shouldn't just be considered the "boys' toys franchise" that it once was. Over the years the writers behind each series have made an increasing effort to bring the women of the franchise to the forefront, with lead female Kamen Riders particularly becoming more prominent in the last few years as things moved into the Reiwa era. With this fact being particularly true in Kamen Rider Revice and its focus on Sakura Igarashi/Kamen Rider Jeannne and Hana/Kamen Rider Aguilera, the Toei Tokusatsu Fan Club has brought together (nearly) all of the heroines of the past few years in its latest three-part miniseries - Kamen Rider Jeanne & Kamen Rider Aguilera with Girls Remix.

Wednesday 14 September 2022

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Den-O Rod Form & Ax Form

S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Den-O Rod Form & Ax Form 01

Release Date: February 2022
RRP: 9350 yen

When Bandai Tamashii Nations revealed that their first S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Den-O release would be a combination of both Sword and Gun Forms, it was immediately clear that a Rod and Ax Form figure would eventually follow. But Bandai being Bandai they certainly took their sweet time on this, and nearly two years and multiple other Den-O releases later S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Den-O Rod Form & Ax Form finally made its long-awaited debut. Unlike the other half of Den-O's core forms this was a Tamashii web exclusive release and coincided with a second release of Kamen Rider Den-O Plat Form figure – reworked to be compatible with the Rod/Ax parts much like the original was with the Sword/Gun parts.

Monday 12 September 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers x GI Joe Megatron H.I.S.S. Tank & Baroness

Transformers x GI Joe Megatron H.I.S.S. Tank & Baroness 01

Release Date: July 2022
RRP: $89.99/£89.99

Hasbro have been doing a lot of interesting Transformers Collaborative releases over the past few years – from the X-Men franchise to movies like Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, Jurassic Park and even Top Gun. However there's one collaborative effort that they had never delved into properly before, which is strange given that it's one that's right at home for them. Given the overwhelming popularity of both franchises as well as the number of crossovers they've had in comics and other expanded media, the combination of GI Joe and Transformers should be obvious. While there have been various event exclusives and odd releases that have crossed over the two, for some reason a fully functioning GI Joe or Cobra Transformers figure has never been a reality – until now. At long last, these two titans of Hasbro toys meet in the Transformers x GI Joe Megatron H.I.S.S. Tank and Baroness set – combining a new spin on the Deception leader with Cobra's first lady of terrorism.

Friday 9 September 2022

Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider Stronger

Kamen Rider Stronger

Following on from Kamen Rider Amazon, Shoraro Ishinomori and Toei producer Tohru Hirayama were unsure where to go next with the Kamen Rider franchise. While initially he presented the idea of a "Five Riders" series, production studio Mainichi Broadcasting were firm in the stance that "there should be only one hero" (this concept instead became the foundation of Himitsu Sentai Gorenger, and in turn the Super Sentai franchise). So instead they looked toward a more back to basics approach, and in April 1975 Kamen Rider Stronger burst onto Japanese television screens. However while the origins of Stronger were certainly more in line with the traditional Kamen Rider template, there was one fundamental difference – the addition of female sidekick, conceived after Hirayama and Ishinomori received fan letters from young girls who wanted a hero they could pretend to be when playing Kamen Rider with other boys. Though originally proposed to run for a full 52 episodes, low audience ratings resulted in it being cut short at 39 and at the time Stronger was considered to be the end of the Kamen Rider series.

Wednesday 7 September 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin 'Metallic' White Ranger

Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin 'Metallic' White Ranger 01

Release Date: July 2022
RRP: $27.99/£26.99

Another team in the Power Rangers Lightning Collection comes to completion, although admittedly it is one that has already been completed a few times over already. Fans of the divisive Mighty Morphin Power Rangers season three power up rejoice as the Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin 'Metallic' White Ranger arrives to complete the original team of Power Rangers in metallic armour form. Like the rest of the team, leader Tommy Oliver is an exclusive release to Hasbro Pulse (where available).

Monday 5 September 2022

First Impressions: Kamen Rider Geats

Kamen Rider Geats

With the 50th anniversary series over and done with its time to look to the future of Kamen Rider once again, as the franchise launches its fourth entry in the Reiwa era and 33rd series overall. Its name – Kamen Rider Geats. Returning once again to pen the series is Yuya Takahashi, who previously worked as the head-writer on both Kamen Rider Ex-Aid and Kamen Rider Zero-One. So without further ado, let's dive into the first episode and see just what this much-anticipated instalment in the long-running franchise has to offer.

"This game – The winner in the end is me!"

Thursday 1 September 2022

Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider Revice

Kamen Rider Revice

On April 3rd 1971 Toei launched a brand new tokusatsu superhero series from manga artist Shotaro Ishinomori, and a legend was born. Fast forward 50 years later and the Kamen Rider franchise is still running strong, celebrating this momentous anniversary with the third instalment in its Reiwa Era run (and 32nd series overall) – Kamen Rider Revice. Introducing a two-Rider duo that together make up the titular hero, the series was written by franchise newcomer Hanta Kinoshita. Though the series commemorates 50 years of Kamen Rider, Revice is very much its own show and not an "anniversary special" in the same vein as Decade or Zi-O.

Monday 29 August 2022

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kyrieloid

S.H. Figuarts Kyrieloid 01

Release Date: May 2022
RRP: 6600 yen

If anyone needed further proof of Ultraman Tiga's popularity, the fact it's managed to get so many S.H. Figuarts releases that aren't the titular character in such a short space of time is a fairly good indicator as far as merchandise is concerned. Hot on the heels of Golza and the GUTS Wings set earlier in the year, Bandai Tamashii Nations continue to expand the range with the series' first Tamashii Web exclusive item - S.H. Figuarts Kyrieloid! Demon-like aliens who believed themselves to be the architects for both humanity and the planet Earth's future, the Kyrieloids battled against Ultraman Tiga before returning again on a parallel Earth to also face off against Ultraman Trigger - an event where Tiga and Trigger fought side by side.

Friday 26 August 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Finster

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Finster 01

Release Date: January 2022 
RRP: $27.99/£31.99 

While the Lightning Collection does have a rather unfortunate focus on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers for the most part, at the very least Hasbro have shown fans that they are prepared to do some interesting things within the confines of that original series. Rather than just getting the rangers themselves ad nauseum (although that isn't to say that isn’t a problem as well), we've also had our fair share of villains – from core characters to episodic monsters. But those episodic monsters are nothing without their creator, which the arrival of the Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Finster was such a pleasant surprise. Rita's chief monster maker comes as a somewhat special release exclusive to both Amazon and Hasbro Pulse.

Wednesday 24 August 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Shokugan Modeling Project GaoMuscle

Shokugan Modeling Project GaoMuscle 01

Release Date: September 2021 
RRP: 8250 yen 

When Bandai announced that they would be rebranding their Super Mini-Pla line as Shokugan Modeling Project, they also revealed that this new chapter in the line would be kicking off with Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger – easily the most ambitious Super Sentai series the line has tackled yet. With multiple combinations spread across numerous Power Animals, there was no way collectors were going to accept half measures with this – and Bandai didn't take long to show their dedication. Hot on the heels of SMP Gaoking's release came the range's first Premium Bandai exclusive release – Shokugan Modeling Project GaoMuscle, the second of Gaoranger's long line of mecha. In addition to GaoGorilla, GaoBear and GaoPolar, this set also includes GaoRhinos and GaoMadillo – also giving fans the option to build the GaoMuscle Striker combination.

Monday 22 August 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Studio Series 86 Perceptor

Transformers Studio Series 86 Perceptor 01

Release Date: January 2022
RRP: $22.99/£22.99

While the majority of the principal cast of Transformers: The Movie were brand new characters, there were some previously established Autobots that were able to receive a significant role without dying in the process. The most obvious of these is of course the Dinobots, but in addition to them there was also Perceptor – who tended to Optimus Prime in his final moments before evacuating Autobot City alongside Ultra Magnus' team. Which is exactly why Studio Series 86 Perceptor is the perfect addition as the line (in tandem with releases from the War For Cybertron trilogy and Legacy ranges) draws ever closer to completing that principal cast.