Wednesday 24 July 2024

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers 01

Release Date: May 2023
RRP: $124.99/£118.99

Full team sets don't really come along all that often in the Power Rangers Lightning Collection, so whenever one is announced it feels like a pretty big deal. But while Hasbro had previously tested the waters before the Psycho Rangers set with some individual releases, with the Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers it's all brand new! The first (and currently only) release of the Alien Rangers of Aquitar, this set features all five Rangers alongside the usual selection of accessories and effect parts.

Saturday 20 July 2024

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider 555 20th: Paradise Regained

Kamen Rider 555 20th: Paradise Regained

Milestone anniversaries are something that rarely go uncelebrated in the Kamen Rider franchise, and when it's a series as popular as Kamen Rider 555 of course something big was going to happen for its 20th birthday. Though a series that has continued to endure in parallel universe, crossover and/or spin-off material, there is one thing that it has constantly been denied - a proper resolution. All this could change however with the release of Kamen Rider 555 20th: Paradise Regained, a V-Cinext reunion film penned by original writer Toshiki Inoue (fresh off his work on Avataro Sentai Donbrothers) and directed by Ryuta Tasaki (who has worked on nearly every Kamen Rider series since Agito). The film's production was initially announced on the 5th May 2023, which was dubbed "Faiz Day" in celebration of the 20th anniversary.

Thursday 18 July 2024

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Red King

S.H. Figuarts Red King 01

Release Date: April 2024
RRP: 9900 yen

Despite having already released an impressive range of monsters and aliens from the original Ultraman series in the S.H. Figuarts range there are still a number of important gaps for Bandai Tamashii Nations to fill, which just goes to show how iconic many of these creatures have become. One such example is S.H. Figuarts Red King, who has taken a whole eight years to come to the line despite being one of the franchise's most enduring foes. First appearing in episode eight of the original series, the ferocious "skull monster" has gone on to appear in numerous instalments across the franchise, most recently in the opening scenes of currently airing series Ultraman Arc.

Monday 15 July 2024

Toybox REVIEW: Shokugan Modeling Project Tetra Boy

Shokugan Modeling Project Tetra Boy 01

Release Date: April 2024
RRP: 5500 yen

A sure sign that a toy line is doing well is if they revisit things previously covered years before in order to plug any gaps they might have missed first time around. This is definitely something Bandai have had in mind with the Shokugan Modeling Project line - first revisiting Ninja Sentai Kakuranger last year to give fans Ninjaman and now also returning to Chōjin Sentai Jetman to give us the last of its mecha as well. Shokugan Modeling Project Tetra Boy is a Premium Bandai exclusive release, finally giving Jet Icarus and Jet Garuda in the form of the AI-powered robot with kickboxing skills and the abilities to turn into the formidable Tetra Buster.

Tuesday 9 July 2024

First Impressions: Ultraman Arc

Ultraman Arc

2024 looks like it's going to be another big year for the Ultraman franchise! In the last few weeks Ultraman: Rising has dropped on Netflix to largely positive reception, in comics the Giant of Light will be facing off against Earth's Mightiest Heroes starting this August in Ultraman x Avengers and on the main series side of things a brand new instalment in the franchise has just begun! Ultraman Arc invites fans to unleash the power of imagination, once again being distributed worldwide via the ULTRAMAN OFFICIAL YouTube channel complete with a variety of different language subtitles as well as a simultaneously released English dub.

Friday 5 July 2024

Special REVIEW: Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger with Tombo Ohger

Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger with Tombo Ohger

The Toei Tokusatsu Fan Club April Fools' joke has become something of an annual tradition now, with them teasing some bizarre joke concept only for them to go and turn it into a viable special. For its 2024 rendition they announced its first ever romance drama in the form of "First Love Detective", to then later reveal the following day that the production was in fact Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger with Tombo Ohger. Coinciding with Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger's 20th anniversary movie Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger 20th: Fireball Booster, the one-off special reunites the "Girls in Trouble" Jasmine and Umeko in a crossover with Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger's Yanma Gast.

Wednesday 3 July 2024

Toybox REVIEW: Shokugan Modeling Project GaoGod

Shokugan Modeling Project GaoGod 01

Release Date: September 2022
RRP: 7000 yen

True to their word, Bandai went all out to complete the in-show line-up of Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger Power Animals in the SMP line. The final release in the range was something familiar but at the same time different – Shokugan Modeling Project GaoGod! This Premium Bandai exclusive release is a remould of GaoKing – its components the five God Power Animals, the ancestors of the Gaorangers' own totem Power Animals.

Tuesday 25 June 2024

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kyoryu Red

S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kyoryu Red 01

Release Date: May 2024
RRP: 9900 yen

As if releases from series of the past three years wasn't enough confirmation that Super Sentai S.H. Figuarts truly are back, there's now also the fact that S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Gokai Red wasn't just a one-off. While the idea of getting full teams from Bandai Tamashii Nations once again still feels like a pipedream, a second entry in this prestigious line is definitely something to be excited about. This time around Bandai are being a little timelier with their celebrations, marking the tenth anniversary of Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger with the (general retail) release of S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kyoryu Red!

Friday 21 June 2024

Toybox REVIEW: Shokugan Modeling Project GaoLion & GaoElephant

Shokugan Modeling Project GaoLion & GaoElephant 01

Release Date: July 2022
RRP: 6364 yen

If the Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger range is anything to go by, when Bandai properly hit the 2000s era of Super Sentai in the Shokugan Modeling Project they really will cover all the bases when it comes to core and auxiliary mecha. 2022 proved to be another glorious year for the 25th Sentai team with a number of retail and Premium Bandai exclusive releases from the series, including the Shokugan Modeling Project GaoLion & GaoElephant set. This Premium Bandai set contains no ordinary GaoLion however, but rather the enlarged version that can combine with GaoElephant, GaoShark, GaoTiger and GaoFalcon to form the mighty GaoKentaurus.

Wednesday 19 June 2024

Toybox REVIEW: Shokugan Modeling Project GaoIcarus

Shokugan Modeling Project GaoIcarus 01

Release Date: July 2022
RRP: 8800 yen

Bandai's overall commitment to adequately covering a Super Sentai series in the Shokugan Modeling Project line is something to be commended, especially when its a series as extensive as Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger. Even after covering impressive ground with their GaoKing, GaoMuscle, GaoKnight and GaoHunter releases, the line carried firmly on into 2022 with the third of its retail releases - Shokugan Modeling Project GaoIcarus! First debuting in episode 31 of the series, GaoIcarus is the combined form of GaoFalcon, GaoDeers, GaoGiraffe, GaoRhinos and GaoMadillo.

Friday 14 June 2024

Movie REVIEW: Ultraman: Rising

 Ultraman: Rising

Ultraman's worldwide expansion over the last few years has been a thing of marvel, with the likes of mass market Blu-ray releases, a Marvel comic book series, an anime adaptation of an ongoing manga sequel/spin-off, the cinematic release of Shin Ultraman and YouTube simulcasts of the current airing shows all working in tandem to turn the franchise into a household name across the globe. Now the next step in that bid for world domination comes in the form of Ultraman: Rising - a feature length animated film co-produced by Netflix Animation and Tsuburaya Productions with animation by Industrial Light & Magic. The film is the directorial debut of Shannon Tindle, so co-directed alongside John Aoshima. Tindle also co-wrote the story alongside Marc Haimes, both of whom also were behind the original story for Laika's 2016 film Kubo and the Two Strings. The film stars Christopher Sean (Star Wars Resistance) in the lead role as Ken Sato/Ultraman, with the Japanese voice being provided by Yuki Yamada (Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger's Joe Gibken/Gokai Blue).

Thursday 13 June 2024

Toybox REVIEW: Soul of Chogokin GX-37B King Joe Black (Revival Ver.)

Soul of Chogokin GX-37B King Joe Black <Revival Ver.> 01

Release Date: April 2024
RRP: 16500 yen

While a re-release of 2007's Soul of Chogokin King Joe in celebration of Ultraseven's 55th anniversary didn't necessarily come as a huge surprise, it's 2008 repaint from a series that isn't celebrating any notable anniversary getting similar treatment was. As was the case with GX-37R, the Tamashii Web exclusive Soul of Chogokin GX-37B King Joe Black (Revival Ver.) is a slight reworking of the figure from 16 years ago - updating it with a sharper colour scheme. King Joe Black first appeared onscreen in 2007's Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle, clashing against ZAP SPACY on several occasions, In addition to its bold new black and gold colour scheme, King Joe Black is also armed with the Pedanium Launcher - a powerful weapon capable of rapid-fire energy projectiles.

Tuesday 11 June 2024

Toybox REVIEW: SV-Action Spider-Man Noir

SV-Action Spider-Man Noir 01

Release Date: February 2024
RRP: 13500 yen

Though at first it seemed either Hasbro or Medicom would beat them to the punch, it's actually Sentinel who've done the impossible and finally completed the core Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse cast (six years after the release of the film no less) in six-inch figure form. After successful releases with Miles, Peter B., Peni and Gwen/Spider-Ham over the last few years, 2024 sees them round things off with SV-Action Spider-Man Noir. Famously voiced by Nicholas Cage in the film, this version of Spider-Man hails from the Marvel Noir universe of Earth-90214 – a 1930s Great Depression-styled New York entirely in black and white.

Thursday 6 June 2024

Toybox REVIEW: Shokugan Modeling Project Won Tiger

Shokugan Modeling Project Won Tiger 01

Release Date: December 2023
RRP: 6500 yen

Bandai continue their dive into 1993 and Gosei Sentai Dairanger with the release of Shokugan Modeling Project Won Tiger! Perhaps better known in many parts of the world as the White Tigerzord from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, this feels like a particularly notable release for the line given the popularity of both Kiba Ranger and the White Ranger. Which perhaps makes it rather odd that it comes as a Premium Bandai exclusive release, but when have Bandai ever truly made sense? Created as the sixth Mythical Qi Beast using the powers of both the Great Cosmos and the Dairangers, it then became the personal Qi Beast of Kou as he joined the team as Kiba Ranger.

Wednesday 5 June 2024

Top 5: S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Remakes I'd Like To See

Top 5: S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Remakes I'd Like To See

Bandai Tamashii Nations' recent announcement of Kamen Rider 1 (The Next) being the 100th Kamen Rider release in the S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou line was just about the perfect choice for the coveted top spot – while there are plenty of unreleased characters deserving of figures, there's just something poetic about the very first S.H. Figuarts release finally getting an updated figure. In fact much of that Shinkocchou Seihou line-up is updates of characters previously released in the standard Figuarts line, which isn't all that surprising given how long it's been going for now. Which got me thinking – what Kamen Rider figures present in the main S.H. Figuarts line would I like to see redone for the Shinkocchou Seihou range? Read on to find out!

Monday 3 June 2024

Series REVIEW: Sentika F8ABA6 Jisariz

Sentika F8ABA6 Jisariz

Based on his numerous appearances as both Tsukasa Kayodoya/Kamen Rider Decade in Kamen Rider and Jinga in GARO, it's fair to assume that Masahiro Inoue is a man that loves tokusatsu. So much so that in 2023 following his appointment as representative director of AIC RIGHTS he started up the PINK no Tokusatsu project, the name of which of course refers to Decade's colour scheme. The first major work to come out of the project is Sentika F8ABA6 Jisariz – a 12-episode web series starring AKB48 member Manaka Taguchi alongside Inoue. Though the series was originally made freely available on the GGE YouTube Channel with English subtitles, it has since been put behind a paywall.

Friday 31 May 2024

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Gotchard Steamhopper

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Gotchard Steamhopper 01

Release Date: February 2024
RRP: 7700 yen

Just when Bandai Tamashii Nations have settled into a predictable pattern with their releases, they'll go ahead and throw a curveball into the mix. For nearly a decade now the titular heroes from the latest Kamen Rider series have been what collectors would consider an "entry point" release – one with a cheaper price point and minimal accessories, so they can encourage collectors to purchase further figures that come with additional accessories for this one. In recent years they've become a little more generous with the accessories, but the prices have remained low. The same can't be said for S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Gotchard thought, who arrives as what one would argue as a more conventional retail release. That said, you only have to take one look at the figure to see that there's a good reason for this.

Wednesday 29 May 2024

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Phase Variation Batta-Augs

S.H. Figuarts Phase Variation Batta-Augs 01

Release Date: March 2024
RRP: 8250 yen

When producing a remake of the original Kamen Rider series there are usually some essentials that have to be hit, and one of those is the concept of the Shocker Rider. These mass-produced versions of the titular hero are Shocker agents that successfully underwent brainwashing, originally appearing in episode 92 of the series as well as the original manga. The Shocker Riders were also featured in both the Kamen Rider Spirits manga and 2007's Kamen Rider: The Next. For 2023's Shin Kamen Rider they were slightly reimagined again as the Phase Variation Batta Augments, 11 mass-produced warriors created by Ichiro Midorikawa to take down the Double Riders. Bandai Tamashii Nations have continued to expand their Shin Kamen Rider range with the release of the Tamashii web exclusive S.H. Figuarts Phase Variation Batta-Augs, their seventh figure from the film.

Thursday 23 May 2024

Movie REVIEW: Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger vs Kyoryuger

Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger vs Kyoryuger

In 2013 Super Sentai revisited dinosaurs for a third time, and the result remains one of the most popular instalments in the franchise to this day. Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger was a massive hit, to the point where South Korea even produced its own non-canon spin-off/sequel (which was in turn dubbed in Japan). As such there was no way its tenth anniversary was going to go uncelebrated, and in true Kyoryuger style a reunion movie simply wasn't going to be enough. Instead Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger hosted a two-part crossover, where the stories of the two series were intertwined in a way rarely seen in Super Sentai. Again that wasn't enough though, and so their story continues into Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger vs Kyoryuger. The film was released in early 2024 as a special King-Ohger VS Series double-bill alongside Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger vs Donbrothers.

Monday 20 May 2024

Movie REVIEW: Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger vs Donbrothers

Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger vs Donbrothers

Just after Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger threw out all expectations of what to expect from a Super Sentai series, it seems to be doing similar things with its epilogue content as well. Not just content with having one entry added into the long running VS Series of films, 2024 saw a King-Ohger double bill spectacular as they crossover over with TWO previous teams of heroes. Given their previous in-series crossover, the close story links made between the two series and Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger's 10th anniversary celebrations a proper King-Ohger vs Kyoryuger film felt inevitable, but it just wouldn't be the same without some mayhem from King-Ohger's predecessor as well. So to that end we also have Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger vs Donbrothers - bringing together the casts of both King-Ohger and Avataro Sentai Donbrothers for an adventure that will surely be anything but conventional.

Friday 17 May 2024

Toybox REVIEW: Shokugan Modeling Project Dairenoh

Shokugan Modeling Project Dairenoh 01

Release Date: August 2023
RRP: 7920 yen

After a rather expansive run with their Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger assortment, Bandai move back to the 90s for another fan-favourite Super Sentai series in the Shokugan Modeling Project line. This time we're journeying back to 1993 with Gosei Sentai Dairanger - the 17th entry in the franchise and the basis for the mecha (as well as the White Ranger) in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers' second season. Though a much smaller selection of mecha compared to Gaoranger, Dairanger's Mythical Qi Beasts continue to be among one of the most popular mecha designs in Super Sentai and a highlight of the amazing streak the franchise had in the 90s. Naturally the first release in the assortment is Shokugan Modeling Project Dairenoh, the core robot from the series. In Power Rangers this appeared as the Thunder Megazord following the destruction of the original dino Megazord.

Wednesday 15 May 2024

Series REVIEW: Dogengers Metropolis

Dogengers Metropolis

If there was every any proof on just how much Japan loves its superheroes, you don't need to look much further than just how much the Dogengers series has grown since it began back in 2020. What started out as a fun little series about the local heroes (and villains) of Fukuoka has continued to expand across multiple seasons, each showcasing brand new heroes alongside its roster of established favourites. It certainly shows no signs of stopping any time soon as well, returning for a further 12 episodes of hijinks in 2023 with its fourth series Dogengers Metropolis. Continuing to spice up the format a little from previous entries, this entry pays tribute to Japan's long-standing love of police-themed heroes as it follows the newest member of the team - Special Duty Police Hyakutoban!

Thursday 9 May 2024

Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider Super-1

Kamen Rider Super-1

When the viewing figures for Kamen Rider 1979 weren't as high as hoped, a number of options to retool the series were considered. Among them was the introduction of "Kamen Rider V9", a space-themed hero that could either support Skyrider or even take over from him entirely. But Manichi Broadcasting seemed hesitant to the idea, and as ratings steadily improved these plans were shelved - but not forgotten about entirely. Instead Kamen Rider V9 was reimagined as Kamen Rider Super-1, the next instalment in the franchise which ran for a total of 48 episodes between 1980 and 1981. Unlike previous entries, Super-1 would only meet the veteran Riders in the accompanying Kamen Rider Super-1: The Movie.

Tuesday 7 May 2024

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who "Ruins of Skaro" Collector Figure Set

Doctor Who "Ruins of Skaro" Collector Figure Set 01

Release Date: April 2024
RRP: £39.99

Although the B&M stores exclusive range has been doing a lot of the legwork for the Doctor Who figure range for some time now, in the last couple of years Character Options have also been making a big impression with their online exclusive releases as well. Released in more limited fashion with a (very slightly) higher price tag, these releases are an opportunity to get new figures with significantly new parts and tooling - something the B&M range for the most part lack. Character already kicked off the year with a bang by releasing the Fugitive Doctor and her TARDIS in this manner, but for their second online exclusive they're heading back to the classic era with the Ruins of Skaro Collector Figure set. This three-figure set based on Destiny of the Daleks reissues a much sought-after figure in the form of the bomb/suicide Dalek, complimenting it with two brand new ones of one of the greatest threats to the Dalek Empire - the Movellans.

Friday 3 May 2024

Special REVIEW: Mashin Sentai Kiramager Spin-Off: Yodonna THE FINAL

If there's any concrete proof that literally anything is on the table when comes to Toei Tokusatsu Fan Club specials, it's the fact that for some unbeknownst reason there's been not just one but FOUR Yodonna spin-off episodes. What it is about the Mashin Sentai Kiramager villainess that warrants such bizarre adult-aimed specials isn't exactly clear (though it doesn't take much to guess), but whatever it is it clearly proved popular enough for them to continue into 2024. That said, as its name suggests Mashin Sentai Kiramager Spin-Off: Yodonna THE FINAL is set to be the last in the series – rounding off her new life on Earth having now learned about human emotions.

Thursday 2 May 2024

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider The Winter Movie: Gotchard & Geats Strongest Chemy★Great Gotcha Operation

Kamen Rider The Winter Movie: Gotchard & Geats Strongest Chemy★Great Gotcha Operation

The annual Winter crossover movie has been such a staple of the Kamen Rider franchise over the last decade or so that it's now moving well beyond the usual Movie War tagline and incorporating it directly into the film's branding. The casts of Kamen Rider Geats and Kamen Rider Gotchard come together in the rather lengthily titled Kamen Rider The Winter Movie: Gotchard & Geats Strongest Chemy★Great Gotcha Operation - the 14th entry in this series of team-up films. Though written by Gotchard co-head writer Hiroki Uchida, this was with supervision from Geats head writer Yuya Takahashi so that the film would feel true to both series. Directed by Kyohei Yamaguchi (who has worked on nearly every Kamen Rider series since Gaim), it also features guest voice appearances from voice actress/singer Rie Takahashi as well as VTuber Shirakami Fubuki.

Tuesday 30 April 2024

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

S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla [1972] 01

Release Date: February 2024
RRP: 11000 yen

With the Showa era of Godzilla films all reaching their 50th anniversaries over the last few years it's been a particularly good time for the S.H. MonsterArts line. After years of mostly ignoring it, Bandai Tamashii Nations have been marking these milestones with long-awaited releases of classic characters, starting with Godzilla vs Hedorah before moving forward into both Godzilla vs Gigan and Godzilla vs Megalon. 2023 was particularly special as it saw the release of S.H. MonsterArts Gigan, but what good is one of Godzilla's most iconic foes if we don't have the proper Godzilla to go along with him? Hence the release of S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla [1972], the third version of Godzilla to be released from the Showa era (following on from 1954 and 1964) and the first from Godzilla's fully established time as a heroic kaiju.

Thursday 25 April 2024

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Missing Link C-01 Convoy

 Transformers Missing Link C-01 Convoy 01

Release Date: February 2024
RRP: 15800 yen

2024 marks the 40th anniversary of the Transformers franchise, and a milestone like that certainly isn't going to uncelebrated. And part of that celebration is naturally looking back to where it all began with the original 1984 Optimus Prime toy. While there have been countless renditions and reissues of the Autobot leader over the years, none of them have been quite like what TakaraTomy have delivered here. Transformers Missing Link C-01 Convoy is an all-new rendition of the original Optimus ("Convoy" in Japan) toy, not only improving the deco and engineering but also giving it the one thing it lacks when stacked against modern toys - proper articulation. This properly poseable version really is a toy for the ages, exciting fans with a concept that's been dreamt of for decades. In addition to the C-01 toy deco edition, a slightly cheaper (9800 yen) C-02 Anime Edition was also released which more closely resembles Optimus' look from the original Generation One cartoon.

Thursday 18 April 2024

Toybox REVIEW: SJHU Project Shin Universe Robo

SJHU Project Shin Universe Robo 01

Release Date: January 2024
RRP: 21,000 yen

"There was an idea...The idea was to bring together a group of of remarkable people to see if they could become something more. To see if they could work together when we needed them to, to fight the battles that we never could." 
- Nick Fury, The Avengers

The Shin Japan Heroes Universe is a collaborative project between Toho, Studio Khara, Tsuburaya Productions and Toei that brings together the works of Hideaki Anno for all manner of merchandising and special events. During and following the production of his Rebuild of Evangelion film series, Anno went on to reimagine the tokusatsu juggernauts from his childhood in three critically acclaimed films - Shin Godzilla, Shin Ultraman and Shin Kamen Rider. As part of the project, Bandai unveiled one of most ambitious and bizarrest pieces of crossover merchandise you'll ever find. SJHU Project Shin Universe Robo - a Premium Bandai exclusive figure which takes Evangelion Unit 01, Godzilla, Ultraman and Kamen Rider and combines them in a classic style giant robot. As if the sheer insanity of the toy wasn't enough, further hype was built around the project with the production of a special web commercial directed by renowned special effects director Hiroshi Butsuda - showing off a full CG transformation sequence before showing off the robot in all its glory with a practical suit. Toys rarely get much stranger than this.

Tuesday 16 April 2024

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Geats: Jyamato Awaking

Kamen Rider Geats: Jyamato Awaking

If there's one important thing for a modern Kamen Rider fan to learn, it's that a series ending is never "the end". As finite as an ending may seem, between subsequent Winter crossover movie, V-Cinext releases and any other spin-off Toei might want to throw out in the not-too-distant future you can guarantee that all your favourite Riders will be back a good few times long after the final episode has aired. Kamen Rider Geats is no exception to this of course, with the stars of the Desire Grand Prix back once more for their first V-Cinext/epilogue outing in Kamen Rider Geats: Jyamato Awaking. Keeping things in-line with the show's continuity series head writer Yuya Takahashi returns once more to provide the story, with the film directed by tokusatsu veteran Koichi Sakamoto.

Sunday 14 April 2024

First Impressions: Shinkalion: Change the World

Shinkalion: Change the World

Proving that trains and giant robots continue to be a winning combination, the Shinkansen Robo Henkei Shinkalion franchise has returned for a third instalment in 2024 - but this time mixing things up a little bit. Not only does Shinkalion: Change the World appear to be starting afresh with a brand new continuity (ignoring the 2018-19 original series and its 2021-22 sequel Shinkalion Z), but it's also working with a slightly older cast. From a production standpoint things have slightly changed too, with Production I.G. and Signal.MD taking over animation duties from OLM. The first episode has also been made available worldwide via the official Shinkalion YouTube channel, albeit without subtitles.

Saturday 13 April 2024

Toybox REVIEW: MAFEX Endoskeleton (Terminator 2 Ver.)

MAFEX Endoskeleton (Terminator 2 Ver.) 01

Release Date: January 2024
RRP: 14080 yen

While the quality of the Terminator franchise certainly declined in later years, no one can deny the strength and impact those first two films had. The general consensus may lean toward Terminator 2: Judgment Day being the better of the pair (I personally prefer the first one), but both are very close to what should be considered 'perfect' films. Along with the strength of the cast, story and dialogue of the films, one aspect that's really stood the test of time is the robot designs and visual effects - with the T-800 Endoskeleton definitely earning a place among science-fiction's greatest. And now to go along with their various Arnie T-800 figures Medicom have released a fully skinless version in the form of the MAFEX Endoskeleton (Terminator 2 Ver.).

Wednesday 10 April 2024

Special REVIEW: Geats Extra: Kamen Rider Gazer

Geats Extra: Kamen Rider Gazer

With quite easily the most Kamen Riders introduced in a single series ever, Kamen Rider Geats certainly isn't going to run out of fodder for spin-off fodder any time soon. The Toei Tokusatsu Fan Club already got a good head start on ancillary material during the show's run, and it looks to be continuing on following its conclusion with the release of Geats Extra: Kamen Rider Gazer. This one-off special is the third major instalment in the Geats Extra series (following on from Kamen Rider PunkJack and Kamen Rider Tycoon meets Kamen Rider Shinobi), chronicling the origins of Niramu/Kamen Rider Gazer as well as acting as a prequel of sorts to the Kamen Rider Geats: Jyamato Awaking V-Cinext release.

Monday 8 April 2024

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Studio Series 86 Dinobot Snarl

Transformers Studio Series 86 Dinobot Snarl 01

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

Transformers: The Movie offered some of the greatest mysteries to the Transformers fandom. Which of the damaged Decepticons specifically turned into Scourge and Cyclonus? Whatever happened to Cyclonus' Armada? And perhaps the greatest of all - just where the hell was Snarl during the events of the film? Despite being seen alongside his fellow Dinobots for a handful of scenes, he's bizarrely absent for almost the entirety of the runtime despite the Dinobots being main characters in the story. While that mystery may never truly be solved, at the very least Hasbro haven't forgotten about him - with Studio Series 86 Dint Snarl being the next Leader Class release in the popular range of new toys based on the film.

Thursday 4 April 2024

Series REVIEW: GARO: Heir to Steel Armor

GARO: Heir to Steel Armor

In 2013 the GARO franchise took a surprising turn with the release of GARO: The One Who Shines in the Darkness – a series featuring a brand-new protagonist in the golden armour completely removed from previous entries. From there the story of Ryuga Dougai continued to grow, expanding into multiple series and films to truly become its own separate continuity. Ten years on from Ryuga's debut and GARO has marked the occasion with the next chapter in his story – GARO: Heir to Steel Armor (GARO: Hagane o Tsugu Mono). Heir to Steel Armor also marks the first time a live-action GARO series has been simulcast to worldwide audiences, releasing on the official GARO Youtube channel with English subtitles shortly after their Japanese broadcast.

Wednesday 3 April 2024

Anime REVIEW: Brave Bang Bravern!

Brave Bang Bravern!

Masami Ōbari is a name synonymous with mecha anime. TransformersDancougaGravionGundam - these are just some of the shows/franchises that the legendary artist and director has leant his talents too. So when it was announced that he would be working on a brand new show in 2024, excitement was naturally high. Combine that with a name like Brave Bang Bravern!, and minds will already be cast back to the super robot shows of old. Outside of Ōbari's name this 12-episode series seems to come from quite humble roots - animated by the relatively new CygamesPictures (Blade Runner Black Out 2022), a subsidiary of video game company Cygames.

Wednesday 27 March 2024

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series R5-D4

Star Wars Black Series R5-D4 01

Release Date: December 2023
RRP: $24.99/£24.99

Of all of the things to happen on The Mandalorian purely in the name of fan service, the droid that Luke Skywalker almost bought instead of R2-D2 becoming Din Djarin's personal astromech has to be one of the wildest. But that's exactly what happened in the show's third season, with R5-D4 finally leaving Tatooine after so many years (and several previous cameos on the show) to join the Mandalorian and Grogu on their adventures. His prominence on the show has naturally also resulted in a flurry of new figures, among them of course being a brand new Black Series R5-D4 release.

Wednesday 20 March 2024

Toybox REVIEW: MAFEX The Mandalorian Ver. 2.0

MAFEX The Mandalorian Ver. 2.0 01

Release Date: February 2024
RRP: 10780 yen

The six-inch Star Wars action figure market has become rather competitive in recent years, particularly when it comes to the most popular characters. While Hasbro will always rule to roost in terms of range with the Black Series, both Bandai's S.H. Figuarts and Medicom's MAFEX lines have become quite the rivals in regards to higher-end alternatives. Multiple seasons also mean multiple renditions of characters, and now Medicom are back with their MAFEX The Mandalorian Ver 2.0 figure. After their initial Mandalorian release back in 2021, this new version of Din Djarin takes inspiration from the second season of The Mandalorian with modifications, improvements and a tonne of new accessories.

Friday 15 March 2024

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Krrsantan

Black Series Krrsantan 01

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

While the recent string of Star Wars television series has seen a number of popular characters from Clone Wars and Rebels make the jump from animation to live-action (and in the case of Fennec Shand, the reverse), this isn't the only place they've been drawing inspiration from. The Book of Boba Fett also saw a popular Marvel Comics character make his live-action debut, namely the Wookie bounty hunter Black Krrsantan. After working alongside the likes of Jabba the Hutt, Darth Vader and Doctor Aphra during the time of the Empire, in Book of Boba Fett Krrsantan is hired the Twins to reclaim Jabba's territory. After a failed assassination attempt on the new Daimyo, Krrsantan joins Boba in his fight against the Pyke Syndicate. A much-anticipated release for the line, Black Series Krrsantan joins the range as a deluxe-sized release.

Wednesday 13 March 2024

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Emperor's Royal Guard

Black Series Emperor's Royal Guard 01

Release Date: June 2017 (Original), August 2023 (Reissue)
RRP: $24.99/£24.99

While the Star Wars universe is constantly growing with new characters to be made into action figures every day, the old favourites will always return one way or another. This rings especially true for anything that can be considered an army builder, so the Galactic Empire will rarely be short of new recruits. In celebration of Return of the Jedi's 40th anniversary in 2023 Hasbro reissued a number of Black Series figures in new packaging, and among them was the Black Series Emperor's Royal Guard. Reputedly the most skilled soldiers in the Empire, they acted as the personal bodyguard to Emperor Palpatine himself.

Friday 8 March 2024

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Type 23 Special Tactical Armored Kaiju Earth Garon

S.H. Figuarts Earth Garon 01

Release Date: December 2023
RRP: 9900 yen

Ultraman Blazar took something of a "back to basics" approach when it came to its titular hero, and one aspect of that was a heavy reduction in the number of alternate forms he has. While from a show perspective this was definitely a breath of fresh air, it does of course leave Bandai with a lot less options when it comes to toys. Luckily to balance this Blazar also featured a companion mecha - something that has become a staple in the past few years of Ultraman. So this means instead of multiple Blazar we instead have a much quicker release for S.H. Figuarts Earth Garon, the second Figuarts release from the series and the first support mecha to be a retail release.

Wednesday 6 March 2024

First Impressions: Bakuage Sentai Boonboomger

Bakuage Sentai Boonboomger

Having proved to be a guaranteed hit in the past, there are some themes that Super Sentai will always revisit every few years. Dinosaurs and ninjas are two of the most obvious ones, along with the subject of 2024's entry into the franchise - vehicles. After trying some new things last year with Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger, Super Sentai looks to be moving back into its comfort zone with its 48th series Bakuage Sentai Boonboomger. Newcomer to the franchise Atsuhiro Tomioka joins as its head writer, with Shojiro Nakazawa (who has worked on a number of Super Sentai series since Timeranger) as director. Following their work on King-Ohger, Jun Watanabe and Hiroshi Butsuda also return as action director and SFX director respectively. 

Tuesday 5 March 2024

Series REVIEW: Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger

Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger

Over the last few years the Super Sentai franchise seems to have entered a period of experimentation in the run up to its 50th anniversary - discarding some of the usual tropes it's maintained for decades in favour of fresh ideas that still don't feel too far removed from what the franchise is known for. This experimentation continued on into its 47th entry Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger, with the series not only mixing things up in terms of visuals and story-telling but also adopting an insect motif - something fans have wanted to see Super Sentai tackle for some time. The series was written by Minato Takano in his debut for the franchise (having previously written supplementary material for both Kamen Rider Ex-Aid and Kamen Rider Zero-One), with Kazuya KamihoriuchiJun Watanabe (who has worked as a suit actor on a number of Super Sentai productions) and Hiroshi Butsuda acting as director, action director and SFX director respectively.

Thursday 29 February 2024

Toybox REVIEW: Shokugan Modeling Project Ninjaman

Shokugan Modeling Project Ninjaman 01

Release Date: May 2023
RRP: 5400 yen

The Shokugan Modeling Project (formerly Super Mini-Pla) line has been reasonably good at covering everything when it tackles a Super Sentai series, but that isn't to say there aren't a few gaps here and there. Luckily Bandai are proving to be quite good at covering said gaps at a later date, as evidenced by the release of Shokugan Modeling Project Ninjaman! A Premium Bandai exclusive, this release comes a whole five years after the release of the Muteki Shogun and Kakure Daishogun & Tsubasamaru sets – although nicely timed with releases from the Super SHODO line for the full Ninja Sentai Kakuranger experience.