Wednesday 31 January 2024

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Absolute Diavolo

Release Date: November 2023
RRP: 9350 yen

Although the epic conclusion to the fight between The Kingdom and the Land of Light is still yet to be told, Tsuburaya Productions aren't going to let Ultraman fans forget about the story they're weaving in Ultra Galaxy Fight any time soon. The same can also be said for Bandai Tamashii Nations, who quickly followed up the release of S.H. Figuarts Absolute Tartarus with a second Absolutian to join the fight against the Ultras. S.H. Figuarts Absolute Diavolo is a Tamashii web exclusive release and key player in the Ultra Galaxy Fight story - having a historic rivalry with Ultraman Regulos and as well as battling Ultraman Trigger in a bid to obtain the Eternity Core.

Monday 29 January 2024

Series REVIEW: Ultraman Blazar

Ultraman Blazar

After 25th anniversary celebrations of both Ultraman Tiga and Ultraman Dyna in the form of Ultraman Trigger: New Generation Tiga and Ultraman Decker, it was fair to assume that Ultraman Gaia would receive similar treatment for the Ultraman series in 2023. However Tsuburaya Productions aren't always that predictable, and after director Kiyotaka Taguchi (Ultraman X, Ultraman Orb, Ultraman Z) decided that replicating a show as good as Gaia was a near-impossible task, he instead sought to create a brand new series from the ground up. That series was Ultraman Blazar, the 35th entry in the Ultra Series and fifth to be produced in the Reiwa era. As has been the case for the last few years Blazar was simulcast worldwide via the official Ultraman YouTube channel, but this time TsuPro went one step further. In addition to simulcast subtitles in a variety of languages, English (starring Power Rangers alumni Johnny Yong Bosch in the lead role), Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Taiwanese Mandarin, Thai, Indonesian, Malay and Hindi were also produced and released at the same time. When Tsuburaya said they wanted to bring Ultraman to the world more than ever before, they really meant it.

Wednesday 24 January 2024

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Pre Vizsla

Star Wars Black Series Pre Vizsla 01

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

If there's one thing that can be guaranteed about this era of Star Wars it's that Mandalorians won't be going away any time soon, and when it comes to action figures the more Mandalorian variants the better as far as Hasbro are concerned. Thankfully they've got plenty of instalments across the Star Wars galaxy to pull from, with certain characters long overdue immortalisation in the current collector lines. Black Series Pre Vizsla is one such example, being a key player in Star Wars: The Clone Wars whose involvement set so much in motion that's still in play today. Death Watch, Bo-Katan, Darth Maul's rule of Mandalore, the all started here.

Monday 22 January 2024

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Blazar

S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Blazar 01

Release Date: November 2023
RRP: 7150 yen

For the last few years both Ultraman and Kamen Rider fans have been able to enjoy the newest (titular) S.H. Figuarts releases at a lower price than what Bandai Tamashii Nations usually demand, meant to act as a sort of "gateway" entry to a new range and entice collectors to pick up more. Sure said releases are usually missing key accessories that end up getting packed in with other releases, but if you were planning to pick up more than one character anyway it's not a bad money saving opportunity. However those days might just be coming to an end though, with both the latest entries from both franchises bucking that trend. With the forthcoming Kamen Rider Gotchard it's likely due to that chrome finish, but with S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Blazar it's a little less obvious. One of the last Ultraman releases for 2023, this retail release is more along the lines of your average S.H. Figuarts purchase. Is there enough here to justify that? Let's find out!

Sunday 21 January 2024

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider No. 0

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider No. 0 01

Release Date: October 2023
RRP: 8250 yen

Although Shin Kamen Rider stayed fairly true to the original 1971 series in a lot of ways, there were also some key areas where it diverged quite significantly - the main one being the portrayal of SHOCKER. Rather than a secret terrorist organisation bent on world domination, the Sustainable Happiness Organization with Computational Knowledge Embedded Remodeling (or SHOCKER for short) is a cult-like organisation that has vowed to "lead all mankind to happiness". Another major difference was the  identity of the film's main villain - Ichiro Midorikawa, the son of Doctor Midorikawa (and brother to Ruriko), who was transformed into Chou Augment-01 by SHOCKER. Planning to exact his version of SHOCKER's goal through the Habitat Project, at the end of the film he assumes the identity of Kamen Rider No.0 to battle against the Double Riders. S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider No.0 is the fourth release in the Shin Kamen Rider range - following on from Kamen Rider 1 and Kamen Rider 2 as well as the Cyclone motorcycle. As per everything else in the range past Rider 1, the figure is a Tamashii web exclusive.

Thursday 18 January 2024

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kuwagata Ohger

S.H. Figuarts Kuwagata Ohger 01

Release Date: October 2023
RRP: 7150 yen

While it's questionable whether we'll ever get full teams again, it's nice to know that the return of Super Sentai S.H. Figuarts wasn't a one-and-done thing. Since the franchise made its long-awaited return to Bandai Tamashii Nations' flagship toyline back in 2022 with Zenkaizer, we've gotten at least two figures from each succeeding series whilst the Shinkocchou Seihou range goes back and revisits some old favourites. With Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger taking over from Donbrothers in 2023, Bandai were quick off the mark to see that S.H. Figuarts Kuwagata Ohger was released before the series was over. Likely to be the only retail release from the series, Gira Husty will soon be joined by a Tamashii web exclusive Ohkuwagata Ohger release, however the rest of the main team seem much less likely.

Wednesday 17 January 2024

First Impressions: GARO: Heir to Steel Armor

GARO: Heir to Steel Armor

Between the numerous live-action series, movies, anime adaptations, action figures and more, it doesn't feel like all that long ago we were in a golden age of GARO. But truth be told the franchise has actually been relatively dormant for the last few years - the last series GARO Versus Road having come out back in 2020. However it's been ten years since the franchise's second Golden Knight Ryuga Dougai was first introduced back in GARO: The One Who Shines in the Darkness, and to mark the occasion he's back for a brand new series. GARO: Heir to Steel Armor (GARO: Hagane o Tsugu Mono) is the third series to feature Dougai in the titular role, and also marks a big first for the franchise. Much like what Tsuburaya Productions have been doing with Ultraman for the past few years, episodes will be released weekly on the official GARO YouTube channel alongside their Japanese airing - available worldwide complete with English subtitles.

Monday 15 January 2024

Movie REVIEW: Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger the Movie: Adventure Heaven

Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger the Movie: Adventure Heaven

Truth be told, Super Sentai Summer movies are rarely full of surprises. That isn't to say that the content itself can't be a lot of fun, but rarely could they be described as unpredictable. However the last few years has proven quite interesting for the near-50-year-old franchise as it's slightly diverged from the usual Super Sentai tropes and set-up, and Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger is certainly no exception. Released as a double-bill alongside Kamen Rider Geats the Movie: 4 Aces and the Black Fox, Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger the Movie: Adventure Heaven is the first big-screen outing for the 47th Super Sentai series, written by series head-write Minato Takano and directed by Kazuya Kamihoriuchi.

Wednesday 10 January 2024

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Monkey D. Luffy -The Raid on Onigashima-

S.H. Figuarts Monkey D. Luffy -The Raid on Onigashima- 01

Release Date: August 2023
RRP: 4400 yen

While 2022 marked the return of Super Sentai to the S.H. Figuarts line, 2023 heralded the return of a much bigger Toei property. After 13 years absence, One Piece finally came back to the fold. Although 2010 only saw a handful of releases from the series, this time around Bandai Tamashii Nations seemed to have much bigger plans in mind – kicking things off in a manner very similar to many of their other popular ranges. This new range of modern One Piece releases begins with S.H. Figuarts Monkey D. Luffy -The Raid on Onigashima- – based on the character's appearance in the recent Wano arc and a cheaper-than-usual retail release to entice collectors back into the fold.

Friday 5 January 2024

Toybox REVIEW: BUZZmod Kamina

BUZZmod Kamina 01

Release Date: July 2023
RRP: 11000 yen

2022 marked the 15th anniversary of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, and as one of the most popular mecha series to have been released in the past few decades there was no way figure companies weren't going to mark the occasion. But while there was the predictable onslaught of high-end versions of the titular mecha, Aniplex's still relatively new BUZZmod line went in a different direction and did something fans have been waiting years for. Articulated figures of the mecha are commonplace, but the cast themselves? That's much rarer. After 15 years, one of the show's most unforgettable characters has finally received an articulated action figure in the form of BUZZmod Kamina. As an Aniplex exclusive release, the figure could only be ordered through their official webstore (in both Japan and the US) – and of course any middleman service supplying it through them.