Friday 31 March 2023

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Reva (Third Sister)

Star Wars Black Series Reva (Third Sister) 01

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

A new Star Wars project is always exciting news, but when it's something as long-awaited as Obi-Wan Kenobi then the very least you expect is for all the merchandising companies to be prepared. Hasbro haven't been too quick off the mark with a lot of series recently (just look how few Book of Boba Fett figures there are), but when it came to this one they were ready. The release of Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+ was shortly followed by a release of a number of figures from the series, including Black Series Reva (Third Sister). One of the Sith Inquisitors commanded by Darth Vader to hunt down the remaining Jedi, Reva is the primary antagonist of the series and fights Kenobi with her own secret score to settle.

Thursday 30 March 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider V3

S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider V3 01

Release Date: December 2022
RRP: 8250 yen

Bandai Tamashii Nations are renowned for announcing new S.H. Figuarts at their events and then taking forever to release them (if at all), but the wait for the original line-up of Showa era Kamen Riders in the S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou line has been particularly painful. After seeing V3, Riderman, X and Stronger joining the previously released Ichigou, Nigou and Amazon on that amazing mountain diorama the desire has been great. We may have got Kamen Rider Black in the interim as some Showa representation, but the want still remained. However Bandai ended 2022 with a bang, finally releasing S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider V3 into the wild. That said, why they decided to make such a popular (not to mention iconic) character a Tamashii Web exclusive is anyone's guess. Naturally the initial December run for the figure sold out almost immediately, prompting a swift second run the following month.

Tuesday 28 March 2023

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Live Boxer

Super Mini-Pla Live Boxer 01

Release Date: March 2018, November 2022 (Reissue)
RRP: 4500 yen

The Super Mini-Pla (now known as Shokugan Modelling Project) has been an amazing opportunity for Super Sentai fans to get high quality (and more importantly articulated) model kits of classic mecha from across the franchise, but the line does come with one pretty big drawback – availability. If you don't jump on a kit as soon as its announced, there's every chance that it'll sell out and the aftermarket price will immediately skyrocket. This rings particularly true for the Premium Bandai exclusive releases. That said, Bandai made the rather surprising move to reissue some of their back catalogue last year, presumably to tie in with recent Super SHODO releases. This gave me the opportunity to grab the one kit I'd missed out on and have been regretting ever since – Super Mini-Pla Live Boxer. At long last, my Choujuu Sentai Liveman mecha collection is complete!

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.