What is it and why should I care?

This is going to be a quick round-up of various toys that have been recently announced, recently put on pre-order or recently released.  That covers a lot of bases, but the Tamashii Nations event has just opened so a whole ton of stuff popped up from Bandai.  Anyway, let’s get on.


 

Insert Imperial March ThemeThat's no moon, it's an adorable accessory!

What is it?

Nendoroid Darth Vader and Stormtroopers from Good Smile and they’re out now!

Why should I care?

It’s Darth Vader in his most adorable form, and you can accompany him with a squad of adorable Stormtroopers (finances willing).  What’s not to like?  Not only that but Vader comes with a miniature Death Star.  Yes, I said Death Star!  Nendoroid aren’t just adorable cartoon statues, they’re action figures so you get to pose Vader with a number of hands.  ISN’T HE ADORABLE?

Nendoroid Darth Vader (¥4444, HobbyLink Japan); Stormtroopers (¥3611 per Trooper, HobbyLink Japan); Both just released;


 

That's definitely a low blowBrrrrrrrrnnnnn!Fwooooosh!

What is it?

Robot Spirits Char’s Zaku II and Amuro’s Gundam RX-78-2 from Bandai tagged as “ver A.N.I.M.E.” a horrifically mangled bacronym for Action New Imagination Memory Emotion.  Brrr;

Why should I care?

Robot Spirits has been running for 7 years and it hasn’t seen a release of Char’s Zaku II.  Hell, there have only been two Zakus released, the sniper Zaku I from Gundam Unicorn and the all-purpose configure-it-how-you-want-it Zaku II that was vaguely associated with 08th MS Team (mostly because the Gouf Custom was released around the same time).  For a Gundam action figure line that’s unheard of – Char’s Zaku II was pretty much first out of the gate in the old MSiA, EMSiA and HCM Pro lines, and even in the short-lived Gundam The Origin line.  On the flip-side the RX-78-2 has been released, and re-released, a few times in Robot Spirits and is generally the most rubbish version.  This one looks considerably better.  Not only that but both of these releases come with “effects parts”, basically clear plastic bits you stick on equipment to make them look like they’re in use.  The key one for the Gundam are bursts of fire from his Vulcan cannons.  Unfortunately you’re going to have to make the “brrrrrrnnnn” noises yourself.

Robot Spirits MS-06S Char’s Zaku ver A.N.I.M.E. (¥5940, HobbyLink Japan Pre-Order ¥4950); March 2016; Robot Spirits RX-78-2 Gundam ver A.N.I.M.E. (¥5400, HobbyLink Japan Pre-Order ¥4500); February 2016;


 

 Parp! Parp! Elementary my dear Wooftson

 What is it?

Figma Sherlock Hound from Good Smile;

Why should I care?

It’s an anthropomorphic dog dressed up as Sherlock Holmes.  If you don’t know Sherlock Hound it’s an infamous cartoon series where the first handful of episodes were directed by none other than Hayao Miyazaki.  Err, assuming you know who Hayao Miyazaki is (he’s the one that directed Porco Rosso, Princess Mononoke and Howl’s Moving Castle, and they are all great movies).  This is one of his earlier works and gained infamy among anime fans because shenanigans resulted in production halting and Miyazaki moving on to other things before it resumed.  Just think of it as Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds but with Sherlock Holmes.  And not set in 17th Century France.  Anyway, it’s a fun figure who comes with a little car and a pipe, what more could you ask for?

Figma Sherlock Hound (¥8,800, HobbyLink Japan pre-order); May 2016;


 

 SH Figuarts Freddie MercurySH Figuarts Freddie Mercury SH Figuarts Freddie MercurySH Figuarts Freddie Mercury

What is it?

SH Figuarts Freddie Mercuy from Bandai;

Why should I care?

You did notice that I wrote Freddie Mercury, right?

No, seriously, why should I care?

Okay, so at the moment Bandai are putting out some of the best action figures in the world right now and they’re mostly in the SH Figuarts line.  The SH from the line comes from Souchaku Henshin, a line that Bandai introduced for the multitude of Kamen Rider series (henshin means transform by the way), but the SH Figuarts line has evolved waaaaay beyond Kamen Rider and even other Tokusatsu (Japanese live action special effects series, so Power Rangers and that) and now features a multitude of series including Pokémon, Dragon Ball and more recently Avengers and Star Wars.  Over the past couple of years they’ve also dabbled with real people, starting with Daft Punk who genuinely look like Tokusatsu characters with their funky disco-helmets, and have started showing off their toy-making technology by introducing a facial mapping system to paint accurate depictions of real people.  This started with Michael Jackson in his Smooth Criminal/Moonwalker white suit & fedora, and has continued with Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker from Return of the Jedi, and upcoming figures of Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan in Phantom Menace and Bruce Lee.  So that’s what is happening with Freddie, he’s getting the full face mapping treatment, they’re recreating him with his awesome yellow jacket, and giving him their trademark high-end articulation;

That was a long explanation

Yes, yes it was, but it’s a Freddie Mercury action figure and things like that don’t come around often, so I will throw words at you until you cave;

SH Figuarts Freddie Mercury (¥6480, HobbyLink Japan Pre-Order ¥5700); March 2016;


 

 Hot Rod(imus) Cybersushi Chef Extraordinaire "Look at the size of that thing" *cough* To be fair that's a sweet looking vehicle

What is it?

Transformers Masterpiece Hot Rodimus from Takara Tomy;

Why should I care?

This all depends on how old you are.  If you were 11 in 1986, like I was, chances are you had a ton of Transformers and watched Transformers: The Movie agog as your favourite characters died and a new bunch took over the screen.  Okay, that probably sounded more bitter than I meant it to.  Hot Rod (his English moniker) was introduced in the mid 80s (aka G1) alongisde Kup and Blurr as Cybertronian vehicles, but more importantly for Hot Rod he was centre stage for the movie as the young hot-headed Autobot, and that’s exactly what Takara’s new Masterpiece maestro, Hironori Kobayashi, seems to want to capture, which is why this Transformers action figure comes with a fishing rod.  I kid you not;

A fishing rod?

Yes, a fishing rod, it’s what Hot Rod is holding when we first see him in Transformers: The Movie.  This toy seems packed with features, like the visor he uses once when the Decepticons first turn up on Earth, and the circular saws he deploys when he fights a cybernetic squid;

Cybernetic squid?

Transformers: The Movie goes a bit off the rails at times, no more so than when Hot Rod and Kup find themselves on the planet Quintesson and fight the Sharkticons… I guess you had to be there;

MP-28 Masterpiece Hot Rodimus (¥8000, HobbyLink Japan Pre-Order ¥6400, TFSource Pre-Order $74.99, Kapow Toys Pre-Order £1.50 deposit/£44.99); Feb 2016;


 

 Brutal Deluxe! Arms dealers have never looked so good Something new!

What is it?

Combiner Wars Combaticons from Hasbro;

Why should I care?

This is the last of the G1 combiner special teams to be remade in the Combiner Wars line.  5 robots, all well articulated, that transform into 5 decent vehicles, and combine into a decent giant robot, why wouldn’t you?

The jet, helicopter and big vehicle look familiar?

There are some repaints & remoulds of previous releases from the line.  Blast Off is a repaint of the Aerialbot Quickslinger (itself a repaint of the Aerialbot Firefly but with a different head), Vortex is just a repaint of new guy Alpha Bravo, Onslaught is a slight remould of the Protectobot Hotspot and Swindle a heavy remould of new Protectobot Rook, but Brawl is new.  Okay, so only Brawl is new, but at least with Swindle they’ve gone bonkers on reformatting Rook’s armoured car into an off-road buggy, and the redecorations look fantastic.  And, more than anything else, the combined form of Bruticus looks superb;

Anything else?

Did I mention Swindle is based on Rook?  Rook is easily the best toy released in Combiner Wars so far.

Transformers Combiner Wars Voyager Onslaught (£29.99, Kapow Toys Pre-Order £24.99); Transformers Combiner Wars Deluxe Blast Off, Vortex, Brawl & Swindle (£16.99 each, Kapow Toys Pre-Order £15.97 each); TFSource has Onslaught in a Voyager 2-pack with Technobot Scattershot for $49.99 and all 4 Deluxes in a single pack for $65.99;