Sunday 31 December 2023

Favourite Toys of 2023

It's that time again! Before we all start to ring in 2024 let's look back on another great year of toy releases and ten of my personal favourites. As usual the rules are simple - I've only selected figures that were first released in 2023, rather than anything I happen to have picked up this year. I won't spoil the contents, but as per usual it's been a pretty big year for Bandai Tamashii Nations, who take up over half the spots. Given the focus of my collection that probably isn't all that surprising to hear, but hopefully there are a few surprise entries on here that you might not have expected.

So without further ado, onto the list!

Saturday 30 December 2023

Top 5: Toys I'm Looking Forward to in 2024

Top 5: Toys I'm Looking Forward to in 2024

It feels a bit strange to be writing a top five post about what toys I'm looking forward to in 2024 when I feel like I've hit a bit of a crossroads with toy collecting. While I can't see me giving up the hobby entirely any time soon, I'm definitely looking at curbing it a bit going forwards - Hasbro lines largely don't seem to hit the same for me any more, and overall I'm just beginning to get a bit overwhelmed by the quantity I've picked up in decade or so I've been into the hobby proper. But nevertheless there will always be new toy releases that excite me, and even though my preorder list feels much smaller than it did this time last year there's some really great stuff lined up for 2024!

Some honourable mentions:
- Haslab Deathsaurus - I know people across the world have already started to receive him so he's technically a 2023 release, but the UK's have been held back until February so I've got a little while longer to wait before I get my hands on him.
- S.H. Figuarts Luffy and Nami (Dawn of Adventure) - 2023 was the year I finally got hit by the One Piece bug, and while I did pick up the new Raid on Onigashima Luffy to tide me over in the meantime (a fun little figure!) I've got a long way to go before I'm up to date with the series (currently sitting on episode 240 at the time of writing). These however? I'll take them all please and thank you. The only reason they didn't make the actual list is because they don't have a release date yet, but with One Piece celebrating its 25th anniversary next year I'm fairly confident they aren't too far away.

So without further ado, onto the list!

Friday 29 December 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Eleking

S.H. Figuarts Eleking 01

Release Date: September 2023
RRP: 9350 yen

When the Ultraseven S.H. Figuarts range hit in 2017 around the time of its 50th anniversary, Bandai Tamashii Nations did a pretty great job of getting many of its most iconic enemies into the line as quickly as possible. Over the years fans received the likes of Alien Metron, King Joe, Alien Guts and Pandon, but amongst those who were not so lucky one candidate did seem like a very strange omission - particularly when they once won the Japanese "Best Monster Award". Now five years later as Ultraseven's 55th anniversary passes over us S.H. Figuarts Eleking finally arrives, and as a standard retail release no less.

Sunday 24 December 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Na-Go Beat Form

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Na-Go Beat Form 01

Release Date: August 2023
RRP: 7480 yen

One of the greatest success stories of Reiwa era Kamen Rider has been the increase in prominence of female Riders, with nearly all of the core women in each story going on to become Riders themselves and even often having their own significant character arcs. Kamen Rider Geats is no different in this regard, introducing Neon Kurama early on in the story and not only quickly making her a Kamen Rider Na-Go, but also one of the four core Riders of the show. Her importance is such that even Bandai Tamashii Nations can't drag their heels on producing a figure of her, quickly releasing S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Na-Go following Geats, Buffa and Tycoon.

Tuesday 19 December 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Tycoon Ninja Form

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Tycoon Ninja Form 01

Release Date: July 2023
RRP: 8250 yen

While there's certainly going to be a lot of Kamen Rider Geats characters and forms Bandai Tamashii Nations never get around to (and what they are doing they've been able to lump together in glorified accessory sets), but at the very least they've managed to get all the main players from the series into the S.H. Figuarts line in record time. At the beginning of the series we enter the Desire Grand Prix through the eyes of Keiwa Sakurai, who after initially getting caught in a Jyamato attack is invited to take part as a Kamen Rider. Now S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Tycoon Ninja Form can join the DGP going on in collectors' displays as well, joining Geats and Buffa as the next Tamashii We exclusive release from the series.

Saturday 16 December 2023

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

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

Release Date: September 2023
RRP: 9900 yen

With the anime adaptation of the ULTRAMAN manga now fully wrapped up (the manga itself is still ongoing), it's finally time for Bandai Tamashii Nations to do what they promised at last year's Tamashii Nation event and complete the Ultra Brother lineup. Now it's Jack's turn - a character who was perhaps a little more understated in the anime adaptation but still managed to leave a big impression. S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Suit Jack is another Tamashii web exclusive release, following on from the release of Ultraman Suit Taro at the end of last year. 

Wednesday 13 December 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. MonsterArts Gigan [1972]

S.H. MonsterArts Gigan [1972] 01

Release Date: July 2023
RRP: 12100 yen

2022 marked the 50th anniversary of Godzilla vs. Gigan, and as such the introduction of one of Godzilla's most popular adversaries. Although he only appeared in two films during the Showa era run and then wouldn't be seen again (albeit looking very differently) in 2004 in Godzilla: Final Wars, kaiju fans definitely can't get enough of Gigan. And considering he's a giant cyborg space chicken with hooks for hands and a circular saw in his chest, can you blame them? Gigan's 50th anniversary saw the release of a special Godzilla vs. Gigan Rex short as well as a wide selection of new merchandise - among them being S.H. MonsterArts Gigan [1972]. After largely ignoring the Showa era for so long, Bandai Tamashii Nations finally gave the public what it wants and ensured this would be an anniversary worth celebrating.

Monday 11 December 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Zetton (Shin Ultraman)

S.H. Figuarts Zetton (Shin Ultraman) 01

Release Date: September 2023
RRP: 16500 yen

Of all the changes made in Shin Ultraman, easily one of the most interesting ones was Zetton being a superweapon from the Planet of Light – summoned to Earth by Zōffy to eliminate humanity after their evolution is deemed a threat. While sharing the same visual cues as the original, this Zetton is wildly different in execution – a twisted convergence of shapes that utterly dwarves Ultraman. Looking at him you'd wonder how on Earth this thing could ever be a functional toy, but Bandai Tamashii Nations aren't ones to back down from a challenge. S.H. Figuarts Zetton (Shin Ultraman) is the final entry to their Shin Ultraman range in 2023, and it's definitely a case of saving the biggest to last. This Tamashii web exclusive is certainly not your average S.H. Figuarts release.

Sunday 10 December 2023

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Geats the Movie: 4 Aces and the Black Fox

Kamen Rider Geats the Movie: 4 Aces and the Black Fox

The annual Kamen Rider summer movie is always an opportunity to get one last burst of a current Rider (in addition to the main series) before the switchover to a new series happens a few months later, but how about a film that gives your four times the amount of said Kamen Rider? Kamen Rider Geats the Movie: 4 Aces and the Black Fox was released in Japanese cinemas on the 28th July 2023, double-billed with Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger the Movie: Adventure Heaven. The film was written by series head writer Yuya Takashashi, and directed by Shojiro Nakazawa.

Thursday 7 December 2023

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Rita Repulsa

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Rita Repulsa 01

Release Date: August 2023
RRP: $33.99/£33.99

Despite Hasbro having covered Mighty Morphin Power Rangers rather extensively in the Lightning Collection already, there was no way they were going to let the 30th anniversary of the series slip by without doing what Hasbro do best - releasing them all over again. To their credit though, at least they were brand new pin-less moulds sporting more accurate details, better head sculpts and a wider range of accessories. But among the six original Rangers in this "Remastered" line was arguably a far more desirable figure - a new Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Rita Repulsa release. Previously only available as part of a "silver wedding anniversary" two-pack release with Lord Zedd, this new deluxe Rita is an all-new mould that truly celebrates the legacy of the character and franchise.

Tuesday 5 December 2023

Movie REVIEW: Macross Delta the Movie: Zettai Live!!!!!!

Macross Delta the Movie: Zettai Live!!!!!!

Following the release of Macross Delta in 2016, the reign of Walküre truly began. Even in the absence of further fiction to go along with them, the franchise's first idol troupe continued to dominate through new album releases and live performances. While the compilation film Macross Delta the Movie: Passionate Walküre (recapping the series with some plot changes) was released in 2018, it wouldn't be until 2021 that Delta finally came to its conclusion. Macross Delta the Movie: Zetta Live!!!!!! is an all-new adventure that follows on from Passionate Walküre, featuring an all-new enemy as well as a rival idol group in the form of Yami_Q_Ray.

Thursday 30 November 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Mebius

S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Mebius 01

Release Date: July 2023
RRP: 7480 yen

In less than a decade Bandai Tamashii Nations have turned Ultraman into one of the heavy hitters of the S.H. Figuarts line, with a wide variety of series from across the franchise's 57-year history represented and more being added each year. With them now having caught up on the New Generation era and exploring the early Heisei era over in the Shinkocchou Seihou range, Bandai have now travelled back to 2006 with the release of S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Mebius. As a show that celebrated the early history of the franchise (from Ultra Q all the way to Ultraman 80), this retail release figure is a perfect companion piece to the extensive range of Showa Ultras the line also has to offer.

Tuesday 28 November 2023

Miniseries REVIEW: Kamen Rider Gotchard VS Kamen Rider Legend

Kamen Rider Gotchard vs. Kamen Rider Legend

Even though it feels like we've barely scratched the surface of Kamen Rider Gotchard's storyline, Toei certainly don't waste any time when it comes to launching supplementary material. The first of Gotchard's web spin-offs is a rather special case though, as rather than expanding on the main series' story it instead welcomes a new Kamen Rider to the Reiwa era. Kamen Rider Gotchard VS Kamen Rider Legend is a two-part web special released via Toei's official (region-locked) YouTube channel, marking the debut of Kamen Rider Legend – a Ride Chemy Card-powered Rider with more than a few similarities to Kamen Rider Decade.

Friday 24 November 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraseven (The Mystery of Ultraseven)

S.H. Figuarts Ultraseven (The Mystery of Ultraseven) 01

Release Date: October 2023
RRP: $62

After Bandai Tamashii Nations surprised everyone last year with the first US-focused S.H. Figuarts Ultraman exclusive, they were quickly at it again for the 2023 New York Comic Con. Inspired by the new Ultraman comics from Marvel once more, this time it's Ultraseven's turn with S.H. Figuarts Ultraseven (The Mystery of Ultraseven). This version of the character is based on the third miniseries in Marvel's run of comics, released in 2022-2023 across five issues. Though the exclusive was initially released via NYCC, it has since also been made available at the Tamashii Nations Pop-Up Spot in Hong Kong.

Wednesday 22 November 2023

Toybox REVIEW: Shokugan Modeling Project GaoHunter

Shokugan Modeling Project GaoHunter 01

Release Date: January 2022
RRP: 5610 yen

While the line moves on to Gosei Sentai Dairanger and filling some of the other gaps it missed over the years, I'm slowly clearing my model kit backlog but continuing on with the Shokugan Modeling Project Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger releases. After impressing in 2021 with GaoKing and GaoMuscle releases, Bandai's premium mecha candy toy line continued to celebrate the 25th Super Sentai series in 2022 – releasing all of the mecha that appeared onscreen. The year kicked off with Shokugan Modeling Project GaoHunter – the line's second retail release for Gaoranger and the personal mecha of its sixth ranger, GaoSilver.

Monday 20 November 2023

Top 5: Tamashii Nation 2023 Reveals

That time of year where the wallets of toy collectors all over the world cry out in pain has rolled around again, with Bandai Tamashii Nations holding their annual Tamashii Nation showcase event in Tokyo. The event saw the usual array of reveals and announcements for their various toy lines, with a wide selection of anime, tokusatsu, video game and Western media products. While my personal hopes/predictions for the event were a bit off this year, that didn't stop Bandai from revealing a whole host of great items that'll tide me over into 2024. As usual here are my five favourite reveals from the event, as well as hopes and prayers that none of these will end up in Bandai purgatory. Though truth be told, they've gotten much better at "announce less, release more" in recent years.

Wednesday 15 November 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Buffa Zombie Form

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Buffa Zombie Form 01

Release Date: June 2023
RRP: 8250 yen

With easily the most Riders in the entire franchise, if you're looking to have a complete Kamen Rider Geats S.H. Figuarts collection you'd better start saving now because Bandai Tamashii Nations will not be kind to your wallets. And with the initial Kamen Rider Geats releases also showing off a form change gimmick, Bandai have added even more incentive not to stop at just the titular Rider. But of course the important thing is to get all the core characters from the series released first, and after Geats himself what better place to go next than his main rival in the Desire Grand Prix? S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Buffa Zombie Form is the first Tamashii web exclusive release for Kamen Rider Geats - a trend which will almost certainly remain for all the characters going forwards.

Monday 13 November 2023

Special REVIEW: Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger with Donbrothers

Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger with Donbrothers

If you need proof that everyone loves Avataro Sentai Donbrothers, then just look no further than the number of crossovers the team are getting. As well as meeting up with predecessors Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger and then (presumably) successors Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger in the near future, Momoi Taro and his band of companions have also crossed paths with a few other veteran Super Sentai teams as well. Much in the way Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger with Donbrothers was produced as a fun little prelude to Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger Degozaru! Shushuuto 20th Anniversary, the team also getting to show off their dino guts in Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger with Donbrothers – a Toei Tokusatsu Fanclub prequel to Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger 20th: The Unforgivable Abare.

Sunday 12 November 2023

SPECIAL Review: Avataro Sentai Donbrothers vs. Avataro Sentai Donburis

Avataro Sentai Donbrothers vs. Avataro Sentai Donburis

While Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger may be in full swing, you can never keep a good Super Sentai series down - and if any series isn't going to stay down, it's Avataro Sentai Donbrothers. The success of the Toei Tokusatsu Fanclub streaming service has allowed shows to stick around longer than ever before, and given its penchant for comedy arguably there isn't a better place for the 36th Super Sentai series. Taro, Haruka, Shinichi, Tsubasa, Tsuyoshi, Jiro and the gang return once more in Avataro Sentai Donbrothers vs. Avataro Sentai Donburis - a one-off special originally coined as a hoax during the press conference for the main series. Series head writer Toshiki Inoue did not return to pen the special, with it instead written by Ayumi Shimo (Hero Mama League) and directed by Hirofumi Fukuzawa.

Thursday 9 November 2023

Anime REVIEW: Gamera -Rebirth-

Gamera -Rebirth-

2023 has been a pretty fantastic year for kaiju fans, and that's not just because of all the Godzilla content we've been getting. This year also saw the big return of another powerhouse in the giant monster genre, one that's been absent from the screen since 2006. Gamera -Rebirth- is the first entry in the franchise since Gamera the Brave, as well as the first animated installment for the fire-breathing turtle that's friends to all children. Produced by Kadokawa and animated by ENGI, the six-episode series was released worldwide on Netflix.

Tuesday 7 November 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Mefilas (Shin Ultraman)

S.H. Figuarts Mefilas (Shin Ultraman) 01

Release Date: June 2023
RRP: 8250 yen

2023 has been a fantastic year for Ultraman S.H. Figuarts releases, particularly in when it comes to last year's box office hit Shin Ultraman. Now that the film is out and there's no obligation to keep spoilers at bay, Bandai Tamashii Nations have hit the series hard and covering as much of the main cast as they can. Mefilas is the second alien threat to appear in the film, orchestrating all of the planet's kaiju-related events and attempting to take over by offering the world governments Beta Box technology. S.H. Figuarts Mefilas (Shin Ultraman) is the third Tamashii web exclusive figure from the film, and fifth released overall.

Sunday 5 November 2023

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

S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Faiz 01

Release Date: August 2023
RRP: 8800 yen

2023 marks the 20th anniversary of Kamen Rider 555, and given the immense popularity of the series in Japan there was no way Toei and Bandai weren't going to make it a big occasion. On the live-action side of things next year will see the release of Kamen Rider 555 20th: Paradise Regained, a sequel film which will also debut a brand new form for its titular Rider - Next Faiz. Bandai Tamashii Nations are so on the ball with this that they've already announced an S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou release for next year, but before then they've also delivered a base form S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Faiz for fans to enjoy in the meantime. Another main Rider for the "true bone carving" series of figures, and one step closer to completing the first phase Heisei series lineup in the line too - with just Ryuki and Blade left to go.

Friday 3 November 2023

Movie REVIEW: Gridman Universe

Gridman Universe

In addition to the worldwide exposure they've given the Ultraman franchise, one of the best things Tsuburaya Productions have done in the past few years is taken Gridman the Hyper Agent and turned it from a fondly-remembered (but still fairly niche) 90s tokusatsu series and turned it into a fully-fledged franchise. Together with renowned animation studio Trigger they produced both SSSS.Gridman in 2019 and SSSS.Dynazenon in 2021 - each one expanding upon concepts from the original series. After both series were met with resounding praise, the only logical next step was to bring the two together - and what better name for it than the very thing these shows have helped to create? Gridman Universe was released in Japanese cinemas in March 2023, following the release of two recap films to give viewers a refresher (or alternatively bring new ones up to speed) prior to the crossover.

Tuesday 31 October 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 2 (Shin Kamen Rider)

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 2 (Shin Kamen Rider) 01

Release Date: August 2023
RRP: 8250 yen

As an abridged retelling of the original series, there was no way that Shin Kamen Rider was going to limit itself to just one Rider. As well as depicting Takeshi Hongo's transformation in to the masked hero, the film also introduces Hayato Ichimonji – who fans will know took the mantle following Hongo's departure and became Kamen Rider 2. Shin Kamen Rider plays things a little differently to the original series (and is far more in line with the manga version of the story), but nevertheless Ichimonji remains a vital component in the story. So while his status as a Tamashii web exclusive feels a little undeserved, nevertheless S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 2 (Shin Kamen Rider) is an important addition to the line – completing yet another rendition of the legendary Double Riders.

Friday 27 October 2023

Toybox REVIEW: Masters of the Universe Masterverse 'He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2021)' Skeletor

MOTU Masterverse CGI Skeletor 01

Release Date: August 2022
RRP: $23.99/£23.00

There were two new Masters of the Universe projects released on Netflix in 2021 - and the best one isn't the one that got all the publicity. Despite seeming like a radical departure from the He-Man we all know and love on first glance, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2021) is a wonderful reimagining of the franchise with a great spin on the characters and lore. Its Skeletor, voiced by Benjamin Diskin, is a particular highlight - the perfect blend of comedy and menace that makes for a truly memorable villain. So when Mattel announced the series would be joining the Masterverse line-up I jumped at the chance to add him to my collection. Thanks to the line's woeful distribution in the UK Masters of the Universe Masterverse He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2021) Skeletor took some time to get here, but better late than never.

Wednesday 25 October 2023

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Legacy Evolution Armada Universe Megatron

Transformers Legacy Armada Megatron 01

Release Date: June 2023
RRP: $54.99/£55.99

The Transformers Legacy line made quite the impact when it was revealed it would be featuring characters from across the franchise's 37-year history, and that doesn't look to be changing any time soon as the range moves into its second year with the Legacy Evolution line. After dipping its toes into Transformers: Armada with Starscream and Hot Shot, Hasbro are now moving onto to the big guns as both the Autobot and Decepticon leaders make their appearance. Transformers Legacy Evolution Armada Universe Megatron is an all-new mould and the first show-accurate remake the character has ever officially had, though he did receive a remoulded figure in 2015 as part of the Combiner Wars line.

Monday 23 October 2023

Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider

Kamen Rider

In the midst of 1970 Toei TV were asked to create a brand new television series a brand new television series, with the popularity of wrestling manga-turned anime Tiger Mask as well as 1950s superhero Moonlight Mask cited in the creative process. Among those helping to bring this new work to life was writer Shotaro Ishinomori, who at the time was continuing to find success with his ongoing Cyborg 009 manga series. Among Ishinomori's proposals was the idea of a masked hero fighting against an evil organisation, and after several revisions Kamen Rider burst onto television screens on April 3rd 1971. Running for an incredible 98 episodes over the next two years, the show's immense popularity would not only lead to sequels but a franchise that continues on to this day. Not only is it a cornerstone of the 'Henshin Hero' genre, but also of the tokusatsu medium as it is known worldwide.

Friday 13 October 2023

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Dok-Ondar

Star Wars Black Series Dok-Ondar 01

Release Date: July 2023
RRP: $44.99/£44.99

Galaxy's Edge is more than just a part of the Disney Parks, it's become a legitimate part of the Star Wars universe. In addition to the immersive experience of visiting Black Spire Outpost itself there has now been novels, comics and a whole lot of other back story as well. But part of what makes Galaxy's Edge so special are the characters that inhabit it, which is something Hasbro clearly recognised with their range of Black Series figures based on the park. Following favourites like Hondo Onaka and DJ R-3X, a perhaps lesser known but equally important character has now joined the line as a Disney Parks/Shop Disney exclusive. Dok-Ondar is the proprietor of Dok-Ondar's Den of Antiquities - a unique store that deals in various trinkets from across the galaxy. As a newly created character (as opposed to repurposed) for Galaxy's Edge, Black Series Dok-Ondar is perhaps the most interesting release from the range yet.

Tuesday 10 October 2023

Toybox REVIEW: MAFEX Scarlet Spider (Comic Ver.)

MAFEX Scarlet Spider (Comic Ver.) 01

Release Date: June 2023
RRP: 9680 yen

One has to admire Medicom's dedication to releasing as many different Spider-Man variants in the MAFEX line as possible. While on the one hand it is just them getting their money's worth out of the moulding/tooling, on the other it's delivered some fantastic versions of the wall-crawler so far. As such a MAFEX Scarlet Spider must have been on many fans' wish lists for some time and after the release of the Ben Reilly Spider-Man figure seemed inevitable, yet it still took another year and a half to become a reality. The 1990s are back once again with the star of the infamous Clone Saga, as the clone Peter Parker (renaming himself Ben Reilly) takes on this mantle after donning this makeshift costume.

Sunday 8 October 2023

Toybox REVIEW: ACT MODE Maria Cadenzavna Eve

ACT MODE Maria Cadenzavna Eve 01

Release Date: May 2023
RRP: 9500 yen

It may only be a fraction of the size and popularity, but when it comes to the Symphogear franchise the ACT MODE line has Figma beat hands down. Not only did Good Smile Company deliver on all three of the original girls, but then they went the extra mile and released the later three heroines as well - starting with ACT MODE Maria Cadenzavna Eve. Initially an antagonist in Symphogear G alongside Kirika Akatsuki and Shirabe Tsukuyomi before becoming a protagonist for the rest of the series, Maria wields the Airgetlám relic and is a top ranking music idol - often collaborating with fellow Symphogear wielder Tsubasa Kazanari.

Friday 6 October 2023

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

S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Birth 01

Release Date: June 2023
RRP: 8800 yen

Since the S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou line first ventured into the world of Kamen Rider OOO back in 2019 with Kamen Rider OOO TaToBa ComboBandai Tamashii Nations have done a great job at getting through the myriad of (interchangeable) forms the titular Rider has. That said one key figure from the series has been notably absent from the range for the past four years, and with the release of S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Birth we can finally welcome OOO's secondary Rider into the fold. Used by a number of people over the course of the series but primarily Akira Date and later Shintaro Goto, the Birth System was designed by Dr Maki as part of the Kougami Foundation's Medal System. Following the fate of most secondary Riders these days, Birth was released as a Tamashii web exclusive item.

Tuesday 3 October 2023

Series REVIEW: Power Rangers Cosmic Fury

Power Rangers Cosmic Fury

The Power Rangers franchise has been in an odd state of fluctuation a while now, what with its purchase by Hasbro in 2018 and more recently the move to Netflix and streaming-exclusive status. A reboot has been teased for years, but in the meantime the show as we know it has continue chugging along steadily – with both Beast Morphers and Dino Fury airing under Hasbro's leadership. Now the franchise marks its 30th anniversary with Power Rangers Cosmic Fury – a ten-episode miniseries and direct sequel to Dino Fury. Though it adapts Zord footage from Uchu Sentai Kyuranger, it features newly created suits and thus almost entirely comprised of originally filmed footage. It's also however possibly the end of Power Rangers as we know it, not only bringing the Dino Fury story to a close but potentially three decades of continuity as well.

(Due to this nature, please note that this Cosmic Fury review may contain more spoilers than usual!)

Sunday 1 October 2023

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Inquisitor (Fourth Sister)

Star Wars Black Series Inquisitor (Fourth Sister) 01

Release Date: July 2023
RRP: $24.99/£25.99

Inquisitors have been a big part of the Star Wars universe in recent years, particularly with the spotlight being thrust upon the "Dark Times" - the rule of the Galactic Empire between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. As well as bringing a number of characters from animation into live-action, the Obi-Wan Kenobi series also introduced some new Inquisitors into the mix - such as the Fourth Sister. Though a minor character at best, the Fourth Sister appeared in several scenes alongside Reva, the Fifth Brother and the Grand Inquisitor. She was at least considered important enough for Hasbro to produce an action figure of her, even if Black Series Inquisitor (Fourth Sister) makes it sound like her title is much more important than her name - none of the other Inquisitor figures were labelled like this.

Friday 29 September 2023

Toybox REVIEW: MAFEX Huntress (Batman: Hush Ver.)

MAFEX Huntress (Batman: Hush Ver.) 01

Release Date: March 2023
RRP: 9680 yen

When it comes to high-end comic inspired action figures, Medicom are truly leading the way at the moment with the MAFEX line. Not only have they produced an expansive range of both Marvel and DC Comics figures over the past few years, but they're also taking some surprisingly deep dives into specific stories as well. Among these has been 2002's Batman: Hush, which has now found its cast further expanded with the release of MAFEX Huntress (Batman: Hush Ver.). The story marks the debut of this version of Huntress' costume, and while it would continue to evolve over the years this is the one that future variants have repeatedly drawn inspiration from.

Thursday 28 September 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts The Amazing Spider-Man

S.H. Figuarts The Amazing Spider-Man 01

Release Date: June 2023
RRP: 7700 yen

They say good things often come in threes, and when it comes to Spider-Man you can't really beat getting all three modern movie Spideys together in Spider-Man: No Way Home. So of course Bandai Tamashii Nations (along with several other toy companies) are going to capitalise on that for the S.H. Figuarts line, and the trifecta is now complete with the release of S.H. Figuarts The Amazing Spider-Man! Despite being the last of the three to be released, Andrew Garfield's version of the web-slinger was actually meant to was actually meant to come a few months earlier - with a rare case of production problems not only leading to delays but also last minute changes. Like both the Friendly Neighborhood and Integrated Suit -Final Battle Edition- figures, the Amazing Spider-Man was released as a Tamashii web exclusive.

Wednesday 27 September 2023

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

S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Riderman 01

Release Date: June 2023
RRP: 8800 yen

Bandai Tamashii Nations draws one step closer to reimagining the original seven Kamen Riders in "true bone carving" style with the release of S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Riderman! Following swiftly on from Kamen Rider V3 at the end of last year, Riderman is the fifth of the seven to be released in the line – with X and Stronger unveiled at previous events but yet to be solicited. Once a Destron scientist, Joji Yuki donned the mantle of Riderman and vowed revenge on the evil organisation after they turned against him. Curiously Riderman comes as a Tamashii web exclusive which seems a little odd for such a popular/iconic character, but given that the same happened to V3 it's likely that this might just be the fate of all Showa era Riders going forward.

Monday 25 September 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Spider-Man (Integrated Suit) -Final Battle Edition-

S.H. Figuarts Spider-Man (Integrated Suit) -Final Battle Edition- 01

Release Date: May 2023
RRP: 9350 yen

Even though S.H. Figuarts is a collector-orientated line first and foremost, Bandai Tamashii Nations certainly aren't opposed to getting things out in the name of timeliness either. This is particularly true for the Marvel Cinematic Universe in recent years, with figures often being released to coincide with the films rather than some months later. The unfortunate result of working off of concept art (rather than the finished product) however is that sometimes these figures will get details wrong, which means Bandai end up releasing a better version those few months later anyway. This is true of the lengthily titled S.H. Figuarts Spider-Man (Integrated Suit) -Final Battle Edition-, the second of Spider-Man: No Way Home's three Spideys to be released as a Tamashii web exclusive. Following some technical issues with the Amazing Spider-Man, Peter 1 was pushed back from his original March release date to May – which is a pretty appropriate month to release a Spider-Man figure when you think about it.

Tuesday 12 September 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Terraphaser

S.H. Figuarts Terraphaser 01

Release Date: June 2023
RRP: 9900 yen

While modern Ultraman series tend not to see an extensive amount of releases in the S.H. Figuarts line, one thing that can be said about Bandai Tamashii Nations is that they do make sure the essentials are all covered. This doesn't just mean alternate forms either, because Ultraman always needs at least one other character to partner with or face up against. And in the S.H. Figuarts Terraphaser, Ultraman Decker rather conveniently has both. The second Figuarts release from Ultraman Decker and its first Tamashii web exclusive, the Terraphaser is a giant robot created by the TPU to assist GUTS-Select in battle against both rampaging kaiju and the Sphere. However in reality it's true purpose was to be a super weapon created by Agams - an alien who had travelled back in time to enact his revenge against humanity for bringing their conflict against the Sphere to his planet. 

Friday 8 September 2023

Toybox REVIEW: Shokugan Modeling Project Daidenjin

SMP Daidenjin 01

Release Date: December 2022
RRP: 6600 yen

One of the great joys about the Shokugan Modeling Project (the line formerly known as Super Mini-Pla) is that it's producing it's fair share of classic Super Sentai mecha in addition to just the post-Zyuranger ones that most of the world is more familiar with. For example, immediately after going all-out with Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger it jumped a further 21 years back in time to visit a different landmark Sentai series - 1980's Denshi Sentai Denjiman. The fourth instalment in the franchise, this was the second to be co-produced with Marvel Comics and the only series to receive a direct sequel in the form of the succeeding show Taiyo Sentai Sun Vulcan. Shokugan Modeling Project Daidenjin is the first of two SMP releases from Denjiman, the second Super Sentai series its covered since its rebranding.

Wednesday 6 September 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Regulos

S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Regulos 01

Release Date: May 2023
RRP: 7150 yen

Although we get a new Ultraman every year simply through the mainline series, it didn't make one being introduced through the ongoing Ultra Galaxy Fight web series any less exciting. After being teased at the end of The Absolute Conspiracy, Ultraman Regulos made his full debut in The Destined Crossroad – a space martial artist with a history with Ultraman Leo and Astra, as well as a rivalry with the Absolutian Absolute Diavolo. This year's Ultraman Regulos prequel expanded on his origins further, revealing him as an amnesiac Ultra who trained in the Cosmo Beast Style martial arts. It seems as though Tsuburaya Productions have some big plans for him, which is all the more reason why S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Regulos has joined the Ultraman range as one of its latest Tamashii web exclusive releases.

Monday 4 September 2023

First Impressions: Kamen Rider Gotchard

Kamen Rider Gotchard

If there's one way to make a franchise surrounded by collectible toy lines somehow even more collectible, it's to add trading cards. Between randomly assorted booster packs, rarities and art variants, Kamen Rider collectors are in for an expensive year because this is the direction franchise has gone in with its fifth Reiwa era series (and 34th overall) Kamen Rider Gotchard. Replacing Kamen Rider Geats alongside Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger in the current Super Hero Time line-up, the series will be co-written by Keiichi Hasagawa and Hiroki Uchida – both of whom have served as regular writers for both Kamen Rider and Ultraman.

Saturday 2 September 2023

Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider Geats

Kamen Rider Geats

As the Kamen Rider franchise continues to confidently move forward into the Reiwa era, there are certain commonalities between the most recent shows that could now be considered as franchise staples. As well as the more obvious prominence of one or more female Rider, the number of Kamen Riders in general per show seems to have increased exponentially - with the most recently completed series boasting the largest number of all. Kamen Rider Geats is the 37th show in the overall franchise, following on from Kamen Rider Revice as the fourth entry in the Reiwa era. Written by Kamen Rider veteran Yuya Takahashi (of Ex-Aid and Zero-One fame), Geats draws inspiration from the current popularity of survival games - from the likes of Fortnite and Apex Legends to Kaiji and even Squid Game, to create an all-new spin on the "Kamen Rider Battle Royale" - a concept first introduced in Kamen Rider Ryuki all the way back in 2002.

Thursday 31 August 2023

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection In Space Blue Ranger Vs. Psycho Silver Ranger

Power Rangers Lightning Collection In Space Blue Ranger & Psycho Silver Ranger 01

Release Date: October 2021
RRP: $41.99/£45.99

While Power Rangers in Space might be the series with the most figures in the Lightning Collection outside of Mighty Morphin, collecting them all is certainly no easy task. Between the single box releases, deluxe figures, double packs and even multi-figure sets the price can add up quite quickly – and that even applies when only picking up the core team itself. The Power Rangers Lightning Collection In Space Blue Ranger Vs. Psycho Silver Ranger set was initially the only way to get T.J. (however he has since been also made available in a deluxe set with his Galaxy Glider), as well as the second In Space Ranger to be part of a double-pack. The set pays homage to episode 34 of Power Rangers in Space, where Silver Ranger Zhane disguises himself as a sixth Psycho Ranger to confuse and defeat the evil ranger team.