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.