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.