Monday 31 July 2023

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

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

Release Date: March 2023
RRP: 7700 yen

The 50th anniversary of the Kamen Rider franchise brought along plenty of new exciting projects, but arguably the biggest of them all was the announcement of the next instalment in Hideaki Anno's series of unrelated "Shin" films - Shin Kamen Rider. A retelling of the original 1971 series, the film has not only found success in Japan but also worldwide - receiving a number of limited screenings across the US before releasing worldwide on Amazon Prime earlier this month. But moving back to the film's initial Japanese cinema release in March, Bandai Tamashii Nations were on the ball with the release of S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider (Shin Kamen Rider) to coincide with it. Despite technically being a figure of Kamen Rider 1, with Takeshi Hongo as the main character of the film the figure simply been billed as "Kamen Rider" - the first hero to adopt that name.

Saturday 29 July 2023

Toybox REVIEW: Soul of Chogokin GX-37R King Joe (55th Anniversary Ver.)

Soul of Chogokin GX-37R King Joe (55th Anniversary Ver.) 01

Release Date: February 2023
RRP: 14850 yen

While Bandai Tamashii Nations might have defied expectation by not announcing a S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Ultraseven, they are however celebrating the 55th anniversary of Ultraseven in a different way. In addition to the metallic coloured variant of the original S.H. Figuarts release, the Soul of Chogokin line got in on the action with a long-awaited re-release of its take on one of the hero's most iconic enemies. The Soul of Chogokin GX-37R King Joe (55th Anniversary Ver.) is a fully transforming version of the alien robot, which first appeared in episodes 14-15 of Ultraseven ("The Ultra Guard Goes West) before continuing on into numerous instalments of the Ultra Series. The original version of this figure was released all the way back in 2007, which was then followed by a "King Joe Black" version (based on the robot's appearance in Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle) in 2008. 

Thursday 27 July 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Ultraman Dyna Flash Type

S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Ultraman Dyna Flash Type 01

Release Date: April 2023
RRP: 8250 yen

With 2022 marking the 25th anniversary of Ultraman Dyna, it was fair to assume that Bandai Tamashii Nations would celebrate the occasion in the same way they had for Ultraman Tiga's anniversary the year before. While it took a little while for them to confirm, Bandai did indeed pull through to expand the S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Ultraman range with S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Ultraman Dyna Flash Type. The third character to be released (and fourth overall), Dyna's 2023 release may mean he's coming a little later than his actual anniversary, but with last year providing a new version of the original Ultraman instead we have been getting at least one general retail Ultraman Seihou a year – and more Ultraman is never a bad thing no matter what pace it comes at.

Wednesday 26 July 2023

Special REVIEW: Yodonna 3: Yodonna's Valentine

Yodonna 3: Yodonna's Valentine

The Toei Tokusatsu Fanclub has provided some pretty strange specials over the past few years, but there are few quite as weird as Mashin Sentai Kiramager Spin-Off: Yodonna. Bringing back the fan-favourite villain from the 2020-2021 Super Sentai series is one thing, but place in this strange adult-orientated special full of violence, cosplay and very obvious titillation is another. However it was clearly a success with its target audience, because a few years later and she's back once again in Yodonna 3: Yodonna's Valentine. Once again the Yodonheim general brings with her some familiar tokusatsu alumni in a story that just has to be seen to be believed, written by Tete Inoue and directed by Koichi Sakamoto.

Sunday 23 July 2023

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Pink Ranger & Zeo Pink Ranger

Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Pink Ranger & Zeo Pink Ranger 01

Release Date: February 2022
RRP: $41.99/£45.99

With one team member from Power Rangers Zeo left to release, one would think that Hasbro would just get them out as part of an upcoming wave to complete another team on collectors shelves. Of course this isn't how Hasbro operate, and why give you one figure you want when they can bundle it up with one you probably don't? Though to its credit, the Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Pink Ranger & Zeo Pink Ranger set is a clever idea for a two-pack release - channelling the rise of the team's second Pink Ranger Katherine Hillard whilst also releasing yet ANOTHER version of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Pink Ranger into the wild. This set was initially released in the US as a GameStop exclusive, however was also made available via Hasbro Pulse in both the US and the rest of the world.

Friday 21 July 2023


ULTRAMAN Final is available in streaming form on Netflix

While the success of Ultraman's recent bid for global recognition is largely attributed towards the main series and Shin Ultraman, it would be remiss not to give some of the credit to Netflix's adaptation of Eiichi Shimuzu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi's ongoing manga series as well. It's a very different kind of Ultraman, but the accessibility of Netflix combined with the exposure its received through merchandising and other means have made it something of a surprise hit in the Ultraman arsenal. All good things must come to an end though, and while the manga is still going strong for now the same cannot be said for the anime version. After a strong first season and a good-yet-troubled sequel, Production I.G. and Sola Digital Arts return for the show's conclusion with the aptly titled ULTRAMAN Final.

Wednesday 19 July 2023

Special REVIEW: Ultraman Regulos: First Mission

Ultraman Regulos: First Mission

Following on from his appearances in Ultra Galaxy Fight: The Destined Crossroad and the Ultraman Regulos miniseries, the story of the latest Ultra hero continues in Ultraman Regulos: First Mission! Releasing on both the Tsuburaya Productions YouTube channel and Ultraman Connection only a few weeks after his titular miniseries, this two-part special brings Regulos' story up into the current timeline - charting his trajectory following his release from the Absolutians' capture. As with many of the recent Ultraman projects, it has been released worldwide with an English dub as well as in its original Japanese with multi-language subtitles.

Monday 17 July 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts SC-2 Windom

S.H. Figuarts SC-2 Windom 01

Release Date: March 2023
RRP: 8800 yen

If you ever needed further proof of just how popular Ultraman Z is, look no further than the amount of S.H. Figuarts releases Bandai Tamashii Nations have done for the series. Despite long past the days of them release both the Ultras and multiple kaiju/aliens for each series they cover, years after airing we're still getting new Z figures. And not just of the titular Ultraman either - following the release of both SC-1 Sevenger and SC-3 King Joe there was one huge gap in the collection that needed to be filled. S.H. Figuarts SC-2 Windom is the last of S.T.O.R.A.G.E.'s Special Airbourne Armour robots to be released in the line, once again as a Tamashii web exclusive. The second robot to join their arsenal in the series, despite being built on Earth it shares a striking similarity to the Windoms that once assisted Ultraseven and Ultraman Mebius many years ago.

Wednesday 12 July 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Shadowmoon

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Shadowmoon 01

Release Date: April 2023
RRP: 8250 yen

With S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Black Sun releasing to coincide with the series debut on Amazon Prime back in November last year, the big question was how long it would take him to be joined by the other Century King. Shadow Moon received quite the overhaul for Kamen Rider Black Sun, most notably of all finally being recognised with the title of "Kamen Rider". Five lengthy months later, and S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Shadowmoon was released as a Tamashii web exclusive to usher in a new age for Gorgom and kaijin alike.

Monday 10 July 2023

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Twokaizer

S.H. Figuarts Twokaizer 01

Release Date: January 2023
RRP: 7700 yen

"Yo-ho-hoy- yo-ho-hoy- yo-ho-hoy-hoy! Hey! I am a World Pirate. In pursuit of treasure, I go from sea to sea! I am a pirate. In pursuit of freedom, I travel from world to world! I'll get my hands on it no matter what! And now I'm an S.H. Figuarts! Yo-ho-hoy!" The Super Sentai franchise returns its grand return to the S.H. Figuarts line with its second release from Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger - S.H. Figuarts Twokaizer! In the absence of the rest of the core team World Pirate Zocks Goldtsuiker joins Zenkaizer as a Tamashii web exclusive release, the first for Super Sentai Figuarts in some time.

Saturday 8 July 2023

First Impressions: Ultraman Blazar

Ultraman Blazar

While the "New Generation Series" era of Ultraman has been pivotal in helping Tsuburaya Productions re-establish the franchise as a major player in both Japan and the rest of the world, there's no denying that it's lost the lustre it once had. While the overall quality of the shows remain high, the look and feel of the shows have become formulaic. Even shows like Ultraman Trigger and Ultraman Decker, both of which were supposed to harken back to Ultraman's return in the 1990s, didn't feel all that removed from their recent predecessors. Clearly TsuPro have recognised this themselves as well, which is why for the 2023 instalment of the franchise they seem to be going back to basics. Ultraman Blazar has arrived, with fans worldwide once again able to watch the series legally via TsuPro's official YouTube channel or the Ultraman Connection website. Additionally for the very first time, the series will be available with an English dub released simultaneously with the original Japanese audio.

Wednesday 5 July 2023

Special REVIEW: Geats Extra: Kamen Rider Tycoon Meets Kamen Rider Shinobi

Geats Extra: Kamen Rider Tycoon Meets Kamen Rider Shinobi

He may be a year and half late, but finally the real Kamen Rider of 2022 has returned. In a parallel universe somewhere, Rider fans have been enjoying the adventures of Kamen Rider Shinobi for some time now and his series is reaching its endgame. Over in this universe however, we've been left in the lurch after first meeting him in Kamen Rider Zi-O and then an all too brief introduction to his story in Rider Time: Kamen Rider Shinobi. It's been a long wait, but now he finally returns in Geats Extra: Kamen Rider Tycoon Meets Kamen Rider Shinobi! The second of the Toei Tokusatsu Fanclub's Kamen Rider Geats spin-offs unites our current ninja-themed Rider meet the alternate world hero, along with other ninja Riders from across the franchise.