Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider Black RX

Kamen Rider Black RX

While Kamen Rider franchise has always had some sense of continuity, direct sequels in a franchise that introduces a new hero each year is a rarity. But the popularity of Kamen Rider Black was that strong that in 1988 Kotaro Minami returned in a brand new form – Kamen Rider Black RX. The 47-episode series is notable for a number of other reasons as well, being both the final series in the franchise to have original author Shotaro Ishinomori involved but also the final entry in the Showa era period. Though the majority of Black RX may have technically aired at the beginning of the Heisei era, due to lengthy hiatus before the franchise returned in 2000 with Kamen Rider Kuuga it, along with movies Shin, ZO and J, are considered a much cleaner break.

Monday, 23 May 2022

Toybox REVIEW: MAFEX Spider-Man (Ben Reilly)

MAFEX Spider-Man (Ben Reilly) 01

Release Date: November 2021
RRP: 7800 yen

The various Spider-Verse titles there have been in the past few years may have shown that there's much more to Spider-Man than just Peter Parker, but back in the 1990s when comic readers were introduced to a brand-new Spidey he wasn't that far detached from our original hero. Popularised during the infamous Clone Saga that ran between 1994 and 1995, Ben Reilly (combining Uncle Ben's forename and Aunt May's maiden name) is a clone of Peter Parker that originally fought as the Scarlet Spider before truly taking the mantle of Spider-Man in Peter's absence. His time as Spider-Man saw him bond with the Carnage symbiote as well as take part in the multiversal Marvel vs DC crossover, though Peter would eventually return when Ben took a fatal wound from the Green Goblin. Despite the Clone Saga's notoriety, the character's popularity makes him an obvious choice for Medicom's "miracle action figure" line. MAFEX Spider-Man (Ben Reilly) is the next in a long line of Spider-Man figures from the company, and it looks like they have no plans on stopping any time soon.

Sunday, 22 May 2022

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider: Beyond Generations

Kamen Rider: Beyond Generations

First came Heisei Generations, followed by Heisei Generations FINAL and Heisei Generations FOREVER. From there we moved into Reiwa: The First Generation, and now the Kamen Rider franchise is moving…beyond. After a year off, the winter Kamen Rider crossover movie returned at the end of 2021 in conjunction with the franchise's 50th anniversary celebrations. Kamen Rider: Beyond Generations sees the casts of Kamen Rider Revice and Kamen Rider Saber reunite once more (with the Saber gang having previously met Revi and Vice at the end of their own series) in a time-travelling adventure that looks at both the past and future of the Kamen Riders.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Top 5: The Return of Super Sentai S.H. Figuarts

Top 5: The Return of Super Sentai S.H. Figuarts

This weekend marks the official release of S.H. Figuarts Zenkaizer, and as such a day many fans thought would never come – the grand return of the S.H. Figuarts Super Sentai range. After a string of releases between 2011 and 2015, Bandai's line of high-end collector figures from Toei's other massive ongoing tokusatsu franchise seemed to die a rather unceremonious death. Since then Bandai's candy toy division has breathed new life into collector-focused Sentai toys with the Super SHODO and Shokugan Modeling Project (formerly Super Mini-Pla) lines, and following the show's 45th anniversary Tamashii Nations have found the perfect time to bring the Figuarts range back to life. But what should it do this time to stop the line dying a painful death once more? In this month's top 5 feature I'm looking at five things Bandai should be considering if they want Super Sentai S.H. Figuarts to thrive once more!

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Generations Selects Cyclonus & Nightstick

Transformers Generations Selects Cyclonus & Nightstick 01

Release Date:
May 2022
RRP: $38.99/£44.99

Even as the Transformers toyline transitions from the War for Cybertron trilogy into the new Legacy line, the Generations Selects range still continues on strong. This unique little line has presented collectors with some of the more interesting corners from the franchise, ranging from obscurer characters to nostalgic repaints. Last year saw the release of Kingdom leader class Galvatron in his original G1 toy colours, and where the new Decepticon leader goes his loyal second in command isn't too far behind! Transformers Generations Selects Cyclonus & Nightstick pays homage to Cyclonus original 1986 toy, combining him with his Targetmaster partner to create a truly special release.

Monday, 16 May 2022

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts GUTS Wings 1 & GUTS Wings 2 Set

S.H. Figuarts GUTS Wings 1 & GUTS Wings 2 Set 01

Release Date: January 2022
RRP: 2200 yen

In addition to silver giants battling against giant monsters and aliens, there's one aspect to the Ultraman franchise that's remained relatively untouched by the S.H. Figuarts line until now. Most Ultraman instalments feature some sort of science or military team that utilise technologically advanced vehicles - inspired by the likes of Thunderbirds and the other works of Gerry Anderson. The overwhelming popularity of Ultraman Tiga has once again convinced Bandai Tamashii Nations to break new ground with the range - introducing the S.H. Figuarts GUTS Wings 1 & GUTS Wings 2 Set. This accessory set features the two primary vehicles of the Global Unlimited Task Squad, with the GUTS Wings 1 also making an appearance in Ultraman Trigger: New Generation Tiga.

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Golza

S.H. Figuarts Golza 01

Release Date: January 2022
RRP: 7150 yen

As if Ultraman finally breaking in the Shinkocchou Seihou range wasn't a big enough way to mark Ultraman Tiga's 25th anniversary, the landmark entry in the Ultra Series has now given collectors something else to cheer about – it's second S.H. MonsterArts-sized kaiju release! While Bandai Tamashii Nations previously dabbled in these larger figures back in 2017 with Gomora, subsequent kaiju releases have been on a much smaller scale – and these days few and far between. But what better way to continue the Tiga range than with S.H. Figuarts Golza – one of the first kaiju to appear in the series. Golza is also the first retail release kaiju to have been produced in some time – the previous having been Twin Tail all the way back in 2018.

Monday, 9 May 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Tech

Star Wars Black Series Tech 01

Release Date: October 2021
RRP: $22.99/£21.99

Even though we're still waiting for a release date for season two The Bad Batch still seem to be the main focus when it comes to Star Wars animation, so it's good to know that Hasbro aren't dragging their heels when it comes to completing the team in figure form. Following on from the initial release of Hunter and Crosshair as well as the deluxe release of Wrecker comes Black Series Tech, completing the initial line-up as they first appeared in their Star Wars: The Clone Wars debut. As the thinker of the team, Tech is rarely seen without his data pad but proves just as efficient in combat as his Clone Force 99 brethren.

Friday, 6 May 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers x Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Lightning Collection Morphed Shredder

Power Rangers x Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Lightning Collection Morphed Shredder 01

Release Date: December 2021
RRP: $31.99/£37.99

One of the biggest delights of the Power Rangers comics from Boom! Studios has been the opportunity for them to crossover with other heroes previously thought limited to the realms of fan fiction – including the likes of Godzilla and the Justice League. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles however they have some history with though, with Power Rangers in Space having previously crossed over with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation. This six-part comic series though saw the heroes in a half shell meet the original Mighty Morphin rangers, with the Turtles themselves even getting the opportunity to morph. To mark this fusion of childhood icons, Hasbro produced a series of Power Rangers x Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Lightning Collection figures – consisting of three two pack sets (featuring the four turtles, April O'Neill and a Foot Clan Tommy Oliver) and a deluxe Morphed Shredder figure. This figure is based on Shredder after he has harnessed the powers of the Dragon Coin to transform into his own twisted version of the Green Ranger.

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Aurra Sing

Black Series Aurra Sing 01

Release Date: October 2021
RRP: $22.99/£21.99 

One of the best things about the Star Wars universe is how a background character can not only become a fan favourite, but also develop into something far more than their original appearance. Palliduvan bounty hunter Aurra Sing originally had a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance in The Phantom Menace, but reappeared in various bits of expanded universe material before being fully characterised in Star Wars: The Clone Wars – mentoring the young Boba Fett as well as taking jobs from Cad Bane and teaming up with fellow bounty hunters Bossk and Dengar. Even in her limited appearances she's made quite the impact, and Hasbro have recognised her popularity with their Black Series Aurra Sing figure – a long overdue addition to their six inch collector range.

Sunday, 1 May 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Shokugan Modeling Project Gaoking

SMP Gaoking 01

Release Date: July 2021
RRP: 5445 yen

Super Mini-Pla is no more, but from the ashes a far more powerful candy toy model kit line has emerged - the Shokugan Modeling Project! As exciting as that sounds the reality of it all is far less dramatic, with Bandai simply having rebranded the line to this new name that cleverly keeps the SMP initials. Given how Super Sentai robots have been such a big part of the Super Mini-Pla line's identity, it makes sense that this relaunch kicks off with a new instalment from the long-running franchise. Following on from releases from 1984's Choudenshi Bioman we're jumping forward 17 years to Super Sentai's 25th anniversary series - Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger! This series was notable for featuring a huge number of Power Animals for fans to collect, and Bandai have taken note of this and pledged to release them all in SMP form. Here we start at the very beginning though with Shokugan Modeling Project Gaoking - the core robot from the series as well as the very first release in the Shokugan Modeling Project range.

Friday, 29 April 2022

Anime REVIEW: ULTRAMAN Season 2

ULTRAMAN season 2
Ultraman is available in streaming form on Netflix

It's been a long three year wait exacerbated by production delays and a global pandemic, but the second season of the ULTRAMAN anime has finally landed. The adaptation of the ongoing manga by Eiichi Shimuzu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi, the series continues to be produced by famed studios Production I.G. and Sola Digital Arts (who also collaborate on fellow Netflix series Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045). Despite its detachment from the main Ultraman universe, the ULTRAMAN manga/anime continues to be a key player in Tsuburaya Productions' bid for Ultraman global takeover – supported through a wealth of merchandising, videogame crossover appearances and the accessibility of the anime through a huge global platform like Netflix.

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

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

Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin 'Metallic' Red Ranger 01

Release Date: December 2021
RRP: $27.99/£24.99

We still have one ranger outstanding, but it seems that Hasbro may be done with metallic armour variants of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers for now. After initially releasing the Pink Ranger back at the end of 2019, Hasbro decided to drop the rest of the five core rangers as Hasbro Pulse exclusives the following year. Will we ever see the White Ranger join the team? Who knows, but for now we're looking at the Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin 'Metallic' Red Ranger, which marks the first time second Red Ranger Rocky DeSantos (as played by Steve Cardenas) has been released as part of the Mighty Morphin range.

Monday, 25 April 2022

Special REVIEW: Kamen Rider Genms -Smart Brain and the 1000% Crisis-

Kamen Rider Genms -Smart Brain and the 1000% Crisis-

April Fools' Day – a date where millions of people play pranks across the globe, and Toei use it to humorously reveal their latest Toei Tokusatsu Fanclub exclusive. This time their big announcement was Kamen Rider Lovelica: -LOVE IS ALL-, due for release April 1st 2066 to mark the 50th anniversary of Kamen Rider Ex-Aid. But the following day came the real announcement – Kamen Rider Genms -Smart Brain and the 1000% Crisis-, a sequel to last year's Kamen Rider Genms -The Presidents-. Tetsuya Iwanga and Nachi Sakuragi reprise their roles as Kuroto Dan/Kamen Rider Genm and Gai Amatsu/Kamen Rider Thouser once more, with Ex-Aid and Zero-One writer Yuya Takahashi also returning to pen the special.

Sunday, 24 April 2022

Movie REVIEW: Ultraman Ginga S the Movie: Showdown! The 10 Ultra Warriors!

Ultraman Ginga S the Movie: Showdown! The 10 Ultra Warriors!

With the era of the New Generations Heroes finally upon fans, Ultraman Ginga S didn't just stop at 16 episodes. Only a few months later in March 2015 Tsuburaya Productions followed it up with a full-length feature film, kicking off a trend of each of succeeding Ultraman receiving a film following completion of their series (with the exception of 2020's Ultraman Z). Ultraman Ginga S the Movie: Showdown! The 10 Ultra Warriors didn't just see Ginga and Victory team up with fan-favourite Ultraman Zero, but also the return of all eight preceding main Ultra heroes from the Heisei era - Tiga, Dyna, Gaia, Cosmos, Nexus, Max and Mebius.

Friday, 22 April 2022

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

Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin 'Metallic' Yellow Ranger 01

Release Date: December 2021
RRP: $27.99/£24.99

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers' (rather predictable) domination of Hasbro's Lightning Collection continues as the line goes glitter with the metallic armour! As divisive as this power up from the show's third season may be, it's impressive that Hasbro not only remembered it existed in the first place but also got the majority of the team out at a reasonable pace. The Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin 'Metallic' Yellow Ranger joins the red, black and blue Rangers as part of a Hasbro Pulse exclusive wave – leaving only the White Ranger outstanding as the Pink Ranger was released much earlier.

Thursday, 21 April 2022

Series REVIEW: Ultraman Ginga S

Ultraman Ginga S

Despite its obvious budgetary issues, 2013's Ultraman Ginga proved enough of a success for Tsuburaya Productions to push forward with another Ultraman series the following year. With lead actor Takuya Negishi eager to continue the story, Tsuburaya chose to produce a direct sequel to Ginga - a rare but financially sound decision given many aspects were already established. Bringing in renowned tokusatsu director Koichi Sakamoto to take the reigns, Ultraman Ginga returned to the New Ultraman Retsuden programming block as Ultraman Ginga S for a further 16 episodes. Though the second entry in the still-ongoing run of New Generation series, it is here that style and hallmarks of this era truly began to develop.

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Boba Fett (The Mandalorian)

S.H. Figuarts Boba Fett (The Mandalorian) 01

Release Date: February 2022
RRP: 8250 yen

Star Wars: The Mandalorian season two was a series full of big surprises, but among the biggest of them all was the grand return of Boba Fett. Having survived his supposed death in Return of the Jedi and escaped the Sarlacc pit, Fett returned to reclaim his armour from the Mandalorian Din Djarin before assisting him in rescuing Grogu from Moff Gideon and returning to Tatooine to take Jabba the Hutt's (now in the hands of Bib Fortuna) empire. Meanwhile Bandai Tamashii Nations might have taken their sweet time to add the original trilogy Boba Fett to their S.H. Figuarts lineup, but following his return on The Mandalorian they were one of the quickest off the mark. S.H. Figuarts Boba Fett (The Mandalorian) joins a new version of Din Djarin as the line's first Mandalorian season two figures - a retail release originally intended for January 2022 but delayed until the following month.

Monday, 18 April 2022

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 2022 Easter Special - Legend of the Sea Devils

Doctor Who 2022 Easter Special - Legend of the Sea Devils

It's another one of those strange years with no full Doctor Who series, but at least this time fans aren't going completely without. The Easter weekend saw the show return with the second of its 2022 specials (following on from Eve of the Daleks on New Year's Day), featuring the long-awaited return of a popular monster from the classic era. Legend of the Sea Devils marks the third appearance of the Silurians' water-dwelling cousins, following on from their debut in 1972's The Sea Devils and then subsequent appearance in 1984's Warriors of the Deep. The episode was written by Ella Road and show runner Chris Chibnall, and directed by Haolu Wang. It is also the penultimate story for the Thirteenth Doctor, with her prophesied end drawing ever closer.

Thursday, 14 April 2022

Top 5: Most Wanted Ultraman S.H. Figuarts (Kaiju Edition)

Top 5: Most Wanted Ultraman S.H. Figuarts (Kaiju Edition)

For this month's top five feature we're returning to the S.H. Figuarts line and what's easily my favourite range they have on offer – the Ultraman franchise. Ever since Bandai ended the Ultra-Act line and moved all things Ultra into S.H. Figuarts range, they've been pumping out some fantastic figures across all eras of the franchise. When it first kicked off in 2016 there seemed to almost as much focus on the various creatures of the Ultra Series as there was the Ultraman themselves, but sadly this seemed to have slowed down quite a bit in recent years. But because there are simply so many characters I'd like to see in this range I couldn't narrow it down to just five, which is why I'm presenting a kaiju-specific version of my Top 5 Most Wanted Ultraman S.H. Figuarts to kick things off. This look specifically looks at the giant monsters of the Ultraman multiverse, with separate lists dedicated to both aliens and Ultraman (as well as any Ultra-adjacent heroes) coming later in the year.

Saturday, 9 April 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Boba Fett (Star Wars: Droids)

Black Series Boba Fett (Star Wars: Droids) 01

Release Date: April 2022
RRP: $26.49/£28.99

Although some Star Wars collectors are understandably irked by the sheer amount of repaints and/or minor retools Hasbro are putting out at the moment, it's hard to be too annoyed when it means that they're finally showing the Legends era the respect it deserves. These video games, novels, comics and more kept the franchise alive during the quiet times, and for many is just as much the Star Wars they grew up with as the films themselves. While celebrating Lucasfilm's 50th anniversary the Black Series has been paying homage to many of these now-forgotten parts of Star Wars media, including the short-lived 1985 animated series Star Wars: Droids: The Adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO. The Black Series Boba Fett (Star Wars: Droids) figure reimagines the legendary bounty hunter in his colour scheme from episode four of the cartoon, which in turn is similar to his debut appearance in the animated segment of the Star Wars Holiday Special.

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Anime REVIEW: Shinkansen Robo Henkei Shinkalion Z

Shinkansen Robo Henkei Shinkalion Z

Japan likes trains, and Japan also likes giant robots. So really it comes as no surprise that they certainly liked Shinkansen Robo Henkei Shinkalion - the 2018-2019 series that brought the two together in an explosion of train facts, wonderfully gimmicky toys and fond memories of the Brave Series. So much so that TakaraTomy, the Japan Railways Group and OLM, Inc. have teamed up once again to produce a sequel series, this time going by the name of Shinkansen Robo Henkei Shinkalion Z. Taking place after the original series with an all-new cast and story, this 2021-2022 sequel ran for a total of 41 episodes.

Sunday, 3 April 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Buzzworthy Bumblebee Studio Series 86 Cliffjumper

Transformers Buzzworthy Bumblebee Studio Series 86 Cliffjumper 01

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

If there's one thing that the Transformers franchise has tried to ensure since the release of the first live-action movie back in 2007, it's that everyone should love Bumblebee. The character has been a core part of nearly every Transformers production since then, and now even has his own dedicated toy line in the form of Buzzworthy Bumblebee. Despite the name Buzzworthy Bumblebee is actually a pretty diverse subline - producing a number of interesting releases around the current Transformers toy lines that are often only tangentially related to Bumblebee himself. The ever-popular Studio Series line has also branched out into it as well - with one such example being the Buzzworthy Bumblebee Studio Series 86 Cliffjumper figure. Though not a key player in Transformers: The Movie, Cliffjumper was stationed aboard Moonbase One alongside Jazz as the Autobot planned to take their home planet back from the Decepticons

Friday, 1 April 2022

Series REVIEW: Ultraman Ginga

Ultraman Ginga

With Ultraman now spreading its light on a worldwide scale, it's easy to forget that it wasn't all that long ago that the franchise was in a pretty precarious place. Tsuburaya Productions were taking hit after hit financially, whilst still embroiled in their long legal battle with Chaiyo Productions over the rights to the Ultraman franchise outside of Japan. Nevertheless the company persevered, and in 2013 celebrated their 50th anniversary with the 25th instalment in the Ultra Series, and the birth of the New Generation series that continue on to this day. Ultraman Ginga aired as part of the New Ultraman Retsuden programming block, running for a total of 11 episodes with two theatrical movies (the first of which was abridged into an additional episode for the show's eventual US release). Though one of the shortest Ultraman series, Ultraman Ginga would eventually return for a further 16 episodes the following year as the show became Ultraman Ginga S.

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

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

Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin 'Metallic' Blue Ranger 01

Release Date: December 2021
RRP: $27.99/£24.99

With Hasbro mixing Power Rangers Lightning Collection waves up to ensure most (but certainly not all) teams get some representation, fans might be in for a bit of wait when it comes to completing their favourite teams. Unless their favourite team is Mighty Morphin that is, which is now approaching completion of a SECOND version. Following the release of the Metallic Armour Mighty Morphin Pink Ranger at the end of 2020, the rest of team (sans the White Ranger) all followed as Hasbro Pulse exclusives at the end of 2021. Among these is of course the Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin 'Metallic' Blue Ranger, who at this point in the series was now the longest serving member of the team.

Sunday, 27 March 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who 'The Five Doctors (1983)' Figure Set

Doctor Who 'The Five Doctors' Figure Set 01

Release Date: December 2021
RRP: £19.99

With how long Character Options have been producing Doctor Who action figures now, it's amazing that it took them until the end of 2021 to produce a set based on The Five Doctors. Marking the 20th anniversary of the franchise, the story saw the then-five incarnations of the Doctor pulled into the Death Zone - a dimension on Gallifrey where combatants are pitted against each other in "The Game of Rassilon". The Five Doctors (1983) Collector Figure Set was released as part of the second assortment of B&M Store exclusive sets for 2021, and is notable for being the first to include a paint variant figure. While all of the sets included both the Third Doctor and a Raston Warrior Robot, the Cyberman was available in both standard soldier and Cyberleader variants.

Friday, 25 March 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who History of the Daleks #6 Set

History of the Daleks #6 01

Release Date: December 2021 
RRP: £19.99 

Character Options have been slowly moving along with their History of the Daleks range over the past few years, charting the evolution of Doctor Who's most popular villains with a chronological release pattern. However the chronology was shifted somewhat in 2021, when History of the Daleks #6 (based on the 1967 serial The Evil of the Daleks) was held back to be released alongside set #8, rather than together with set #5. This is due to the variants included in both The Evil of the Daleks and The Power of the Daleks being so similar, which is some smart thinking on Character's part. The Evil of the Daleks is notable for featuring the "final end" of the Daleks – their last appearance on the show until 1973 while creator Terry Nation attempted to start up his own Dalek-centric spin-off. The story's final scenes, the Daleks are seemingly destroyed for good when a civil war breaks out between two sets of Daleks (one injected with the human factor, leading them questioning orders) in the Emperor Dalek's chambers on Skaro.

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider OOO 10th: Core Medal of Resurrection

Kamen Rider OOO 10th: Core Medal of Resurrection

Tenth anniversary movies have become a big thing for Toei in the past few years, with multiple casts on the Super Sentai side of things returning for their milestone reunion. While it hasn't been quite as regular for Kamen Rider, some series still have plenty of story to be told should the opportunity arise. With Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger receiving a tenth anniversary movie last year, it seems only fitting that this year should be the turn of its Super Hero Time block partner. Kamen Rider OOO 10th: Core Medal of Resurrection brings fans the long awaited conclusion to Kamen Rider OOO's story - with nearly all of the cast returning to witness Eiji Hino's reunion with Ankh. Its release was accompanied by two net movie prequels (The Creation of Birth X and The Resurrected Core Medal), while the film itself was written by Nobuhiro Mouri and directed by Ryuta Tasaka - both of whom recently worked together on Saber + Zenkaiger: Super Hero Senki.

(While I usually try to keep these reviews light on direct spoilers, there's just so much to unpack in this film that spoilers will be abound. You have been warned!)

Monday, 21 March 2022

Movie REVIEW: Ultraman Trigger: Episode Z

Ultraman Trigger: Episode Z

If there was ever any doubt that Tsuburaya Productions weren't sincere in their efforts to bring fans Ultraman on a global scale, there certainly isn't anymore. Not just content with releasing Ultraman Trigger: New Generation Tiga weekly (with subtitles in various languages) via their official YouTube channel, they're now also ensuring everyone outside Japan doesn't have to wait too long for the movies either. Ultraman Trigger: Episode Z was released in both Japanese cinemas and via the Tsuburaya Imagination streaming service on March 18th 2022, but on the same day it was made available to rent internationally on the Ultraman Connection website. As well as continuing the story of Ultraman Trigger, the film also sees the return of Ultraman Z - who despite previously crossing over with Trigger did not receive a movie of his own last year.

Friday, 18 March 2022

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Jango Fett

S.H. Figuarts Jango Fett 01

Release Date: September 2016
RRP: 6380 yen

With the Star Wars S.H. Figuarts range now encompassing nearly all of the franchise's live-action productions (though strangely not The Empire Strikes Back, but that's a discussion for another time), it's funny to believe that in the earlier days of the line they had a surprising amount of love for the prequel era. While there were still plenty of notable releases from the original and sequel trilogies at that time as well, you can't deny that getting an S.H. Figuarts Jango Fett long before the far more iconic Boba is out of the ordinary. But that's clearly how Bandai Tamashii Nations wanted to play it, with the father of the notorious bounty hunter and genetic template for the clone troopers releasing all the way back in 2016.

Wednesday, 16 March 2022

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Leo

S.H Figuarts Ultraman Leo 01

Release Date: November 2021
RRP: 6050 yen

Although the Ultraman S.H. Figuarts range seems to have largely switched focus towards the newer side of the franchise, Bandai Tamashii Nations have still been slowly chipping away at the Showa era. And with the release of S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Leo, the brand have finally reached the milestone of releasing all the "core" Ultra Brothers from the first seven series. Trained by Ultraseven before going on to train Seven's own son Ultraman Zero, the space martial artist Ultraman Leo hails from the 1974 series and is a long-awaited addition to the S.H. Figuarts Ultraman collection.

Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Top 5: Most Wanted Star Wars Black Series Figures

Top 5 Most Wanted Star Wars Black Series Figures

This month's top five list is blasting off to a galaxy far, far away and looking at Hasbro's Star Wars Black Series toy line. Though I've only really been collecting these figures for a few years, it's quickly become one of my favourite and most collected toy lines – even though my primary focus has always been on Star Wars television series and video games rather than the movies themselves. As such there are still PLENTY of characters I'd like to see brought into the line, and it was very difficult to narrow it down to just five. So without further ado here are the five figures I'd like most from the Black Series line, and for the sake of ease I've chosen to not include anything from the recent Book of Boba Fett – simply because everything I do want from that series I think I can safely assume Hasbro will be releasing in a year or so.

Sunday, 13 March 2022

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

Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin 'Metallic' Black Ranger 01

Release Date: December 2021
RRP: $27.99/£24.99

The release of the Metallic Armour Mighty Morphin Pink Ranger at the end of 2020 came as quite the surprise to Lightning Collection fans, but there was definitely some frustration at how and when the rest of the team would see similar treatment. Fast forward a few months however and Hasbro simply decided to offload them on collectors all at once, with the rest of the team (sans the currently announced White Ranger) all dropping at the same time. The Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin 'Metallic' Black Ranger is a particularly notable release among them, marking the first time second Black Ranger Adam Park has been made available in his Mighty Morphin Power Rangers form. Like the Pink Ranger before them, this wave of metallic releases are exclusive to Hasbro Pulse.

Friday, 11 March 2022

Custom Figure: 'Death Zone' Dalek (The Five Doctors)

Custom 'Death Zone' Dalek 01

With new classic Dalek releases mainly coming through the History of the Daleks sets there is plenty of ground to cover, but chances are some of the odder variants that didn't appear in Dalek-specific stories may be forgotten. One such example is the 'Death Zone' Dalek, which briefly appeared in the 20th anniversary special The Five Doctors. Despite some rather interesting differences that would make this particular Dalek perfect for a figure release, it has gone unlooked at by Character Options thus far. Luckily it's not a particularly difficult one to recreate, and with the advent of 3D printed parts being produced by talented customisers it's now easier than ever to simply make one at home.

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Miniseries REVIEW: Kamen Rider Revice: The Mystery

Kamen Rider Revice: The Mystery

As the series that marks the 50th anniversary of the Kamen Rider franchise, it was almost a certainty that Kamen Rider Revice was going to have plenty of supplementary material. Long gone are the days where everything you'd ever need to know about a tokusatsu series is solely contained in the main show itself, with numerous movies, blu-ray specials and streaming service miniseries utilised to fill in the gaps. Kamen Rider Revice: The Mystery is a five-episode miniseries produced for Japan's TELASA streaming service, which has been the home to a number of Kamen Rider specials since 2017. Written by Hiroki Uchida and directed by Koichiro Hayama, it notably features the return of Ryu Terui/Kamen Rider Accel from Kamen Rider W as well as a few other surprises from across the franchise.

Monday, 7 March 2022

First Impressions: Avataro Sentai Donbrothers

Avataro Sentai Donbrothers

With 45th anniversary series Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger able to successfully shake up that tried and tested Super Sentai formula without losing its core values, Toei have clearly latched onto the fact that a bit of change is exactly what the franchise needs. And if you want something that's a little bit different (for better or for worse), what better person to call than legendary tokusatsu writer Toshiki Inoue to head up his first Sentai series since 1991's Chōjin Sentai Jetman? Avataro Sentai Donbrothers is the 46th entry in the long-running franchise, and as the name suggests the theme of the show is based on Japanese folklore hero Momotarō (of course it's already crossed over with Kamen Rider Den-O). What makes things more interesting however is that this Super Sentai series isn't starting with a completely clean slate - not only incorporating a legacy Sentai element like Zenkaiger but also porting over certain elements from that series as well.

Saturday, 5 March 2022

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Deadpool

S.H. Figuarts Deadpool 01

Release Date: February 2022
RRP: 7700 yen

Marvel has been a big seller for Bandai Tamashii Nations' S.H. Figuarts line for some time now, but in focusing purely on characters as they appear specifically in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has definitely limited their scope somewhat. However with Disney's buyout of Fox as well as the consolidation of the Marvel Cinematic MULTIverse being carried out in both Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, those days might finally be over. There's been one big name missing from the line this entire time, and that gap has finally been filled with the long-awaited arrival of the Merc with a Mouth himself – S.H. Figuarts Deadpool.

Thursday, 3 March 2022

Series REVIEW: Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger

Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger

In 2011 the Super Sentai franchise celebrated its 35th anniversary with Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger - a high profile series that not only heavily paid tribute to all 34 of its previous entries, but also featured numerous guest appearances from its alumni. Now ten years later and the franchise is celebrating an even bigger milestone, but how do you even attempt to follow on from something like that? The answer is with Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger - the 45th entry in the long-running superhero franchise. Written by Junko Kōmura (Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger, Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger) and directed by Shojiro Nakazawa (Juken Sentai Gekiranger, Samurai Sentai Shinkenger), Zenkaiger is another series that once again brings together the whole Super Sentai universe - but does so in a fresh way and with a look that on face value seems quite unlike anything the franchise has done before.

Monday, 28 February 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who 'Robot' Collector Figure Set

Doctor Who 'Robot' Collector Figure Set 01

Release Date: February 2022
RRP: £19.99

As wonderful as it is to be getting new figures again, it's fair to say that the B&M exclusive Doctor Who range has gotten into a fairly predictable pattern when it comes to releases. History of the Daleks, three-packs, the odd Doctor/TARDIS two-packs…though the contents of the sets might still be a surprise the format usually isn't. Which is why it’s especially nice that Character Options have launched their 2022 range with something a little different from the norm – the Robot Collector Figure Set. Paying tribute to Fourth Doctor Tom Baker's debut story from 1974, this limited edition set features both the Doctor himself and the K1 Robot – a figure that's been long overdue a reissue.

Friday, 25 February 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who 'Warriors of the Deep' Collector Figure Set

Doctor Who 'Warriors of the Deep' Set 01

Release Date: February 2022
RRP: £29.99

While the various B&M store exclusive figures released by Character Options continue to excite Doctor Who fans, it's whenever they announce their next website exclusive that things get really exciting. Though there's only usually one a year (the 'Jungles of Mechanus' Dalek set in 2020 and then the Abominable Snowman Second Doctor/TARDIS set in 2021), it's a release slot reserved for some of the line's more remarkable releases. And in 2022 Character have produced the most remarkable one so far, with the Warriors of the Deep Collector Figure Set. Based on the 1984 story from the Fifth Doctor's tenure, this three-figure set includes the three Silurians featured in the story – Ichtar, Scibus and Tarpok. Not only was it released exclusively through the Character Online website, but the set is also limited to only 3000 pieces.

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Saber: Trio of Deep Sin

Kamen Rider Saber: Trio of Deep Sin

When it comes to Kamen Rider, there's no such thing as a happy ending. No matter how cleanly the series itself may have ended, you can almost guarantee that the battle isn't over yet – and in some cases, the threat the Riders face in their V-cinema/V-Cinext film might just be the worst of them all. Now the story of Kamen Rider Saber continues in Kamen Rider Saber: Trio of Deep Sin, with head writer Takuro Fukuda returning to pen the film after largely leaving the latter half of the series to other writers. In what's one of many departures this V-Cinext release takes, the story focus on protagonist Touma Kamiyama as well as supporting Riders Rintaro Shindo and Kento Fukamiya.

Monday, 21 February 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who History of the Daleks #8 Set

History of the Daleks #8 01

Release Date: December 2021
RRP: £19.99

Now that we're few years into the B&M exclusive History of the Daleks sets, it's time to fully jump into 1970s era of Doctor Who with the second set from the Third Doctor's era – History of the Daleks #8. Based around the 1973 serial Planet of the Daleks, the story saw the Doctor and Jo chase the Daleks to the planet Spirdon. Teaming up with a group of Thals, they help defeat the Daleks and bury the 10,000-strong army they have lying dormant in the planet's icy caverns. This latest Dalek set from Character Options was released as part of their December 2021 assortment.

Sunday, 20 February 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Cobb Vanth

Star Wars Black Series Cobb Vanth 01

Release Date: February 2022
RRP: $31.99/£33.99

Although The Mandalorian has done a fantastic job of taking characters from the animated chapters of the Star Wars universe and bringing them into live-action, that isn't the only place the writers are drawing from. They're also drawing from the various comics, novels and video games that make up the current Star Wars canon - with perhaps the primary example being Cobb Vanth. Originally hailing from the Star Wars: Aftermath novels that lead into the sequel trilogy, Cobb Vanth was brought into season two of The Mandalorian as the marshal of Mos Pelgo, helping to keep the peace with the salvaged armour of feared bounty hunter Boba Fett. Not only did the arrival of a man in Fett's armour kickstart the lead up of Boba's return from the dead, but Cobb Vanth remained as a beloved character whose story carried through into The Book of Boba Fett and beyond. 

Friday, 18 February 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Koska Reeves

Star Wars Black Series Koska Reeves 01

Release Date: October 2021
RRP: $22.99/£21.99

If there's one thing that Hasbro can count on being big sellers in their various Star Wars toy lines at the moment, it's Mandalorians. The success of The Mandalorian on Disney+ has propelled the warrior creed to the very forefront of the Star Wars universe, and every new addition is able to turn heads. Even bit-part characters such as Bo-Katan Kryze loyalist Koska Reeves can make a big impression when played by the likes of WWE superstar Sasha Banks (real name Mercedes Varnado). Now another Mandalorian is added to the collection with the release of the Black Series Koska Reeves, joining the previously released Bo-Katan in her fight against Moff Gideon and the remainder of the Empire.

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

TOP 5: S.H. MonsterArts I'd Like to See

Top 5 S.H. MonsterArts I'd Like to See

It's time for another My Shiny Toy Robots top five list and this time we're getting kaiju-sized and entering the world of S.H. MonsterArts! Since the line debuted back in 2011 Bandai Tamashii Nations have arguably led the way when it comes to high-end articulated Godzilla (and a few other franchises, but mainly Godzilla) figures, but it hasn't always been smooth-sailing for the line. Expensive figures that only get more expensive on the aftermarket, endless repaints and a focus seemingly only on Godzilla suit variants, there's so much potential Bandai have left untapped. So without further ado, here are the five characters I want most to join my (admittedly rather small) collection of S.H. MonsterArts figures!