Tuesday, 21 March 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Zero-Two (IS Ver.)

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Zero-Two (IS Ver.) 01

Release Date: December 2022
RRP: 7150 yen

While once a staple for pretty much any Kamen Rider series, it's fair to say that final forms aren't much of a priority for S.H. Figuarts anymore. While we still tend to get them eventually (unless you're Kamen Rider Ghost that is), the gap between the series ended and the final form getting released has been much longer for quite a few years now. Kamen Rider Zero-One is a particularly curious case, because while the end of 2022 saw the final form get Figuarts treatment (for the sake of this review let's ignore any debate around Realizing Hopper) it also wasn't actually Zero-One. The climax of REALxTIME sees Is join the fight alongside Aruto as Kamen Rider Zero-Two, with the Humagear assistant also returning as a fully-fledged Rider in Kamen Rider Jeanne & Kamen Rider Aguilera with Girls Remix. So instead the latest Tamashii web exclusive in the Zero-One range is S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Zero-Two (IS Ver.), marking her second figure in the line.

Sunday, 19 March 2023

Movie REVIEW: Ultraman Decker Finale: Journey to Beyond

Ultraman Decker Finale: Journey to Beyond

Ultraman Connection has been a godsend for Ultraman fans across the globe. While the series themselves (other than a few exceptions) have been simulcast worldwide for some time now (first on Crunchyroll and now via the Ultraman official YouTube channel), the cinematic release of their end cap subsequent movies meant fans outside Japan had to wait some time for them. But last year things changed as Ultraman Trigger: Episode Z was made available to rent upon release, and thankfully that continues with the release of Ultraman Decker Finale: Journey to Beyond! The final chapter in the Ultraman Decker story, Journey to Beyond is unique in that the story in that it does not feature a crossover with the previous series Ultraman - something that has been a staple of these films throughout the New Generation Hero era.

Friday, 17 March 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Don Momotaro

S.H. Figuarts Don Momotaro 01

Release Date: October 2022
RRP: 7150 yen

2022 was a pretty big year for the S.H. Figuarts line as Super Sentai made its long-awaited return with not just one, but THREE releases from currently airing shows. S.H. Figuarts Zenkaizer may have led the way, but with last year mainly belonging to Avataro Sentai Donbrothers it was wonderful to see the Figuarts revival carry on into the 46th Super Sentai series. The Tamashii Nations event got its easy exclusive with Zenkaizer Black, while the main line was also treated to an all-new S.H. Figuarts Don Momotaro. Leader of the Donbrothers and heir of the Don Clan, Don Momotaro is the perfect addition to the line's growing collection of red heroes.

Monday, 13 March 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Black Sun

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Black Sun 01

Release Date: November 2022
RRP: 6600 yen

Of all the Kamen Rider 50th anniversary projects that were announced, Kamen Rider Black Sun was possibly the one I was most looking forward to. A 10-episode series that was made available on Amazon Prime, it is a remake of 1987's Kamen Rider Black that reimagines the series in a contemporary political landscape. While it may anywhere near as toy-driven as a mainline Kamen Rider series, there's still plenty of potential when it comes to S.H. Figuarts releases. Kicking things off is the titular hero himself, S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Black Sun! As well as being the first Black Sun release, it is currently the only one that is a mass-release figure as opposed to a Tamashii web exclusive.

Saturday, 11 March 2023

First Impressions: Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger

Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger

Of all the motifs Super Sentai hasn't used so far in its 48-year run, insects has proven time and time again to be a particular popular one among fans. On the one hand it makes sense the franchise hasn't adopted it yet - Kamen Rider is the one that's always been more closely associated with insects (despite having branched into many other things over the years), and Metal Heroes entries like Juuko B-Fighter and B-Fighter Kabuto are considered similarly iconic. But at long last the insect-themed Sentai we've all dreamed of has finally arrived as its 47th series - Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger! The series will be written by Minato Takano - a newcomer for Super Sentai best known for working under Yuya Takahashi on his various Kamen Rider series. He is joined by Kazuya Kamihoriuchi, Jun Watanabe and Hiroshi Butsuda as the main, action and SFX directors respectively.

Friday, 10 March 2023

Series REVIEW: Avataro Sentai Donbrothers

Avataro Sentai Donbrothers

The words "Toshiki Inoue" are enough to strike fear into the hearts of any tokusatsu fan. As one of the most prolific tokusatsu writers still in his business, his works include the likes of Chojin Sentai Jetman, Choukou Senshi Changerion, Kamen Rider Agito, Kamen Rider 555, Kamen Rider Kiva and more. But while his resume contains many series that are widely considered classic, many fans will also tell you that you never know quite what you're going to get with one of his shows. So the news that he would be returning to Super Sentai to pen Avataro Sentai Donbrothers (his first head writer credit for the franchise since 1992), fans were more than a little curious. The 46th Super Sentai series is rather unique in that it features semi-sequel elements from previous series Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger, and is loosely based on the Japanese folktale of Momotaro.

Thursday, 2 March 2023

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Axe Woves

Star Wars Black Series Axe Woves 01

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

Back in the day, the Star Wars toy line was known for giving an action figure to pretty much every character or alien no matter how long they appeared on screen. That isn't quite as true anymore, but if Hasbro can get an easy figure out of existing mould they will. Calling Axe Woves a background character as such might be a little much, but compared to fellow Mandalorians Bo-Katan Kryze and Koska Reeves he didn't really stand out from the crowd as much. Nevertheless, the arrival of Black Series Axe Woves completes the Nite Owl trio from season two of The Mandalorian.

Wednesday, 1 March 2023

Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider Black Sun

Kamen Rider Black Sun
Kamen Rider Black Sun is available to stream on Amazon Prime

The celebration of Kamen Rider's 50th anniversary came in several different forms – there was Kamen Rider Revice, the forthcoming Shin Kamen Rider movie as well as the franchise's first proper foray into animation with Fuuto P.I.. But arguably one of the most interesting projects that came out of this milestone was the announcement of Kamen Rider Black Sun – a darker, more adult-orientated reinterpretation of 1987's Kamen Rider Black. Releasing exclusively on Amazon Prime, the 10-episode series follows in the footsteps of Kamen Rider Amazons in not only being another reimagining of a classic Showa era series, but also one of the few pieces of Kamen Rider media readily available worldwide.

Tuesday, 21 February 2023

FEATURE: Damiensaber Lightsaber Review - Be one with the Force!

Damiensaber Lightsaber Review 01

These days Star Wars fans are pretty spoilt for choice when it comes high-end lightsaber replicas. Jedi or Sith, no force wielder is complete without arguably one of the most iconic weapons in science-fiction history. In this special review we'll be looking at one of the models from Damiensaber, a lightsaber company specialising in both replica and custom RGB lightsabers suitable for display and duelling. 

Wednesday, 15 February 2023

Toybox REVIEW: ACT MODE Chris Yukine

ACT MODE Chris Yukine 01

Release Date:
June 2022
RRP: 8900 yen

News that the girls of Symphogear would be returning to the world of articulated action figures with Good Smile Company's ACT MODE line was exciting enough, but for fans of one particular girl from the franchise it felt like a second coming. After being the one girl from the original trio denied a Figma release following season one, the wielder of the Ichaival relic's time has finally come with the release of ACT MODE Chris Yukine. The second Symphogear release in the line, if there was any that GSC needed to get right in order to please the fans – it's this one.

Friday, 10 February 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Decker Flash Type

S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Decker Flash Type 01

Release Date: November 2022
RRP: 3960 yen

Another new Ultraman series, another wonderfully cheap S.H. Figuarts release from Bandai Tamashii Nations to kick off a whole new range of collecting. 2022 saw the release of Ultraman Decker - a direct sequel to Ultraman Trigger and a series that commemorated the 25th anniversary of Ultraman Dyna. Anyone who watched those episodes via the official YouTube channel would have seen numerous adverts for S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Decker Flash Type - the base form of its titular hero and thus the obvious choice for the first figure in the Decker range.

Monday, 6 February 2023

Toybox REVIEW: G.I. Joe Classified Series Storm Shadow

G.I. Joe Classified Series Storm Shadow 01

Release Date: June 2022
RRP: $22.99/£21.99

While I'm admittedly not the biggest G.I. Joe fan out there, the bits of media from the franchise I've consumed I've always had a good time with and there's just something I love about the designs of the various Cobra members. The Joes themselves are great, but I'm a villain guy first and foremost and the ruthless terrorist organisation has some brilliant characters that are right up there with the very best of 80s bad guys. As such the G.I. Joe Classified Series line has given me the chance to finally pick up some of my favourites in six-inch form, and near the top of my list has always been Storm Shadow. This white-clad ninja and rival to Snake Eyes might not always be on Cobra's payroll, but he's pretty synonymous with them nevertheless. Despite being the one that best represents his most iconic look G.I. Joe Classified Series Storm Shadow is actually the third version of the character to be released in the line – following on from the "Arctic Mission" and Snake Eyes movie versions.

Saturday, 4 February 2023

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Omega (Kamino)

Star Wars Black Series Omega (Kamino) 01

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

With all five specially-enhanced clone troopers that make up (or formerly made up) Clone Force 99 now available in the Star Wars Black Series, that just leaves one main character from The Bad Batch left. Hasbro certainly didn't leave fans waiting too long, with Black Series Omega (Kamino) releasing in the same wave as Echo to round things off. Unique among the clones for being the only one born female, the naturally-aging Omega escaped Kamino alongside the Bad Batch following their defection from the Empire. Though smaller and weaker than her clone brothers, Omega possesses a sharp tactical mind as well as a compassionate and empathetic personality that has caused trouble for the team on numerous occasions.

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Echo

Star Wars Black Series Echo 01

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

It just goes to show that having a currently-airing show really helps when it comes to toy releases, as it only took Hasbro just over a year to release the main cast of Star Wars: The Bad Batch in the Black Series. Black Series Echo is the last of the (fully grown) clones who make up Clone Force 99 to be released, which is rather fitting given that the former Arc Trooper is also its latest member. Having been captured by Separatist Forces during the Clone Wars, Echo was turned into a cyborg and used against his brothers - feeding strategies to the droid army. After being freed by Anakin Skywalker, Captain Rex and the Bad Batch, Echo joined the latter and was able to escape the effects of Order 66.

Sunday, 29 January 2023

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers War for Cybertron: Kingdom Blaster & Eject

Transformers Kingdom Blaster & Eject 01

Release Date: January 2022
RRP: $29.99/£24.99

Transformers has moved out of the War for Cybertron trilogy and now entered the Legacy era, but one of the last releases as part of the Kingdom line is a particularly interesting one as it straddles them both. Transformers War for Cybertron: Kingdom Blaster & Eject were announced as a very late entry to the final part of the WFC trilogy, but by the time they were released in Kingdom packaging it had already leaked that they would be part of the initial range of Legacy figures as well. Unlike fellow carryover Galvatron (who lacked the battle damage paintwork in Legacy) there are no differences between the two versions, so collectors can simply choose from which version is more readily available (or perhaps more importantly, cheaper).

Friday, 27 January 2023

Series REVIEW: Ultraman Decker

Ultraman Decker

It's a testament to Ultraman's revival in the 1990s that not only were Tsuburaya Productions able to create a legacy with Ultraman Tiga that still stands 25 years later, but they were also able to follow it up with a series that's proved to be equally beloved. With 2022 celebrating the 25th anniversary of Ultraman Dyna, the latest instalment in the Ultra Series followed in the footsteps of predecessor Ultraman Trigger: New Generation Tiga to reimagine its iconic hero for a new generation. The result was Ultraman Decker - a direct sequel to Trigger that continues its story the same way Dyna did with Tiga two and a half decades prior. True to their pledge to expand the Ultraman fandom across the globe, the series is available outside of Japan via the official Ultraman YouTube channel in a variety of languages. Only this time the episodes haven't just (initially) been made available for a limited time - the whole series is readily available for fans at their leisure.

Wednesday, 25 January 2023

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who History of the Daleks #12 Set

Doctor Who History of the Daleks #12 01

Release Date: December 2022 
RRP: £24.99

Although Genesis of the Daleks definitely took centre stage in the Winter 2022 Doctor Who B&M exclusive range, it wasn't the only Dalek story to be featured. In addition to the two Genesis-themed sets Character Options also released History of the Daleks #12 - based on 1979's Destiny of the Daleks. The opening story to the show's 17th series, it saw the Fourth Doctor and the newly-regenerated Romana arrive on Skaro, where the Daleks have returned to search for their long-forgotten creator Davros - who they hope will be able to turn the tide in their long war against the Movellans.

Friday, 20 January 2023

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who History of the Daleks #11 Set

Doctor Who History of the Daleks #11 01

Release Date: December 2022
RRP: £24.99

For many Doctor Who fans, Genesis of the Daleks is one of (if not the) greatest stories of all time. The origin of the Doctor's greatest adversary set against a war-torn Skaro, the story introduced the Daleks' creator Davros and subsequent Dalek encounters arguably struggled to live up to this level of quality. Its place in Doctor Who history has clearly been recognised by Character Options, who released not one, but TWO Genesis of the Daleks-themed sets as part of their final wave of B&M exclusive figures in 2022. Complimenting the Creation of the Daleks set is the eleventh entry in the History of the Daleks assortment, adding a further two standard gunmetal grey Daleks to the line.

Friday, 13 January 2023

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who 'Creation of the Daleks' Collector Figure Set

Doctor Who 'Creation of the Daleks' Set 01

Release Date: December 2022
RRP: £24.99

After radio silence for much of 2022 Character Options' Doctor Who toy line bounced back at the very end of the year with two waves of B&M exclusive figures hitting immediately after one another in the Autumn and Winter. While History of the Daleks has become a staple of these waves every so often an additional special Dalek-themed set joins them, and in the Winter selection it was the turn of the 'Creation of the Daleks' Collector Figure Set. This Genesis of the Daleks themed set takes us back to the seminal 1975 story, featuring one of the original Dalek drones featured as well as their maniacal creator – the Kaleds' chief scientist Davros.

Thursday, 12 January 2023

Special REVIEW: Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger with Donbrothers

Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger with Donbrothers

With Super Sentai having been continuously on the air since 1975, every year is an anniversary of some sort. But when it comes to teams that celebrate their anniversaries in style, none do it quite like Ninpuu Sentai Hurricanger. After celebrating their 10th anniversary in 2013 with Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger: 10 YEARS AFTER, they'll be back again later this year to celebrate 20 years with Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger Degozaru! Shushuuto 20th Anniversary. The cast's return has also heralded Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger with Donbrothers, a short 15-minute special for the Toei Tokusatsu Fanclub which sees the 26th Super Sentai team crossover with the latest instalment.

Wednesday, 11 January 2023

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Ninja Blue Ranger

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Ninja Blue Ranger 01

Release Date: January 2022
RRP: $26.99/£32.99

No matter what anyone says, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is always going to be Hasbro's priority when it comes to the Lightning Collection – especially with the show's 30th anniversary right around the corner. However when it involves also getting throwbacks to season three and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, the repeated release of the original Power Rangers team(s) might not be such a bad thing. Continuing on with Hasbro's journey through the Rangers' ninja powers is the Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Ninja Blue Ranger, where original Blue Ranger Billy Cranston took on the powers of the wolf – cunning and swift.

Monday, 9 January 2023

Movie REVIEW: Avataro Sentai Donbrothers the Movie: New First Love Hero

Avataro Sentai Donbrothers the Movie: First Love Hero

While the Kamen Rider Summer movie may take top billing with its feature length, that doesn't necessarily make the Super Sentai Summer movie any less exciting. Despite their comparatively short running time it's a chance for the series to show off what it can do with a higher budget and movie-style visuals, and when it comes to a series like Avataro Sentai Donbrothers that's sure to be an experience. Avataro Sentai Donbrothers the Movie: New First Love Hero is the first big screen outing for the 46th Super Sentai team, paired up with Kamen Rider Revice the Movie: Battle Familia to make up the 2022 Summer theatrical lineup.

Thursday, 5 January 2023

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Ninja Pink Ranger (Kimberly Hart)

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Ninja Pink Ranger 01

Release Date: January 2022
RRP: $26.99/£32.99

While Hasbro have for the most part made a point of stretching out completing teams in the Lightning Collection for as long as possible to ensure its longevity, sometimes they do throw Power Rangers fans a bone and finish them up in one fell swoop. One such example are the Ninja (or for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie fans, Ninjetti) Rangers of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers season three, who all came as single pack releases within a few months of each other. In fact, Hasbro were so keen that they even released two versions of the Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Ninja Pink Ranger! While this review looks at the initial Kimberly Hart variant, a second based on second Pink Ranger Katherine Hillard was released shortly afterward on Hasbro Pulse.

Tuesday, 3 January 2023

Custom Figure: "Big Finish" Dalek

Custom 'Big Finish' Dalek 01

Despite there being some great History of the Daleks sets released in 2022, all of which have PLENTY of potential for custom fodder, I didn't quite get as many customs produced as I had hoped. Blame the scarcity of seeing them in B&M Stores (I rarely saw enough sets on shelves to buy spares for customs) or just a lack of time and funds, but productivity was definitely at a low. That said, at the end of the year I started on a pretty simple project that would hopefully kickstart a more productive 2023. So without further ado I present my first Doctor Who custom figure for the year, hailing from a place which (second only to the TV21 Dalek comics) has always been one of my favourite places to scour for inspiration - the ever-growing audio adventures of Big Finish.

Sunday, 1 January 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Taro Suit -The Animation-

S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Taro Suit -The Animation- 01

Release Date: September 2022
RRP: 7150 yen

The second season of the ULTRAMAN anime series by Production I.G. and Sola Digital Arts finally landed on Netflix in 2022, and to coincide with its release Bandai Tamashii Nations revealed that they also would finally be returning to series! Even though an animation remould of the Ace Suit is yet to be seen in the line, given the focus of season two it made sense for Bandai to push forward with the release of S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Taro Suit -The Animation-. Debatably the main character of this season, Kotaro Higashi is the latest human to become Ultraman when is he mutated during a run-in with agents of the Black Star. S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Taro Suit -The Animation- is a Tamashii web exclusive release, and the first figure from the ULTRAMAN manga/anime since Bemular -The Animation- back in February 2020.