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SODO Sundays – July 26th, 2020

Hello, tokusatsu community! It’s Joshua Perry here to talk about SODO figures on my fortnightly series, SODO Sundays. Today, SHODO-O and some more 

SHODO-O 4

The next set of SHODO-O will be out in November and consist of a line up from four different Rider series. From Blade, we’ll have Kamen Rider Garren and Kamen Rider Chalice. From Kabuto, the set brings us Kamen Rider Dark Kabuto and a Worm and then finally the Riotroopers from Faiz and Kamen Rider G4 from Agito.

Kamen Rider Zero-One

The Another Riders return in AI-10 with Another Zero-One from the Reiwa: The First Generation movie! He’ll have the Attache Caliber.

There will be an accessories set with many little pieces to add to older figures such as the wings and stinger for Valkyrie’s Lightning Hornet form, a ready to fire version of the Attache Arrow and Progrise Key loaded Attache Shotgun, a Zero-One Driver and hands holding both a closed and open Progrise Key with option stickers to choose which Key they are holding.

You can watch the latest SODO Sundays video over on the Toku Toy Store Facebook page.

That’s it for this edition of SODO Sundays Season 3! Stay tuned for the next edition on both Toku Toy Store and the Toku Toy Store Facebook page.

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SODO Sundays – June 28th, 2020

Hello, tokusatsu community! It’s Joshua Perry here to talk about SODO figures on my fortnightly series, SODO Sundays. Today actual Zero-One news once again! Zi-O is over!

Kamen Rider Zero-One

AI-09 has revealed the rest of its figures! First up is the final form for Zero-One: Kamen Rider Zero-Two! This figure will come with the Progrise Hopper Blade that Metal Cluster Hopper but will also come with a special version of the Attache Caliber with a peg at the bottom for the hand to hold both swords and recreate the combined version from the show.

Next up is the final figure to finish the Kamen Rider Zi-O figures with Kamen Rider Tsukuyomi! After a nearly year wait she is going to be released in AI-09. She comes with her Faiz Phone X that she used throughout the show but never in her Rider form except for in a stageshow as well as a swappable hand to recreate her Luminous Fractor weapon she used to backstab Another Decade in the finale of Zi-O.

AI-09 isn’t done yet as the new villain for Zero-One will be here as well: Kamen Rider Arc-Zero. This figure will have painted eyes as most recent figures have had but will include the option for stickers for the eyes to have more detail on them.

In a surprise reveal the final figure for AI-09 will be a Dodo Magia. More information on him will be in the next update.

Kamen Rider Ikazuchi from AI-08 has also finally been shown off after a long wait.

SODO’s commitment to making every on screen form has been something they have been keeping up since Ex-Aid and this has always included the forms seen in Hyper Battle DVDs. Zero-One had one earlier this year but the form from the special seemed to be overlooked, until now. In the September issue of the TV-Kun magazine, a SODO figure for the Hopping Kangaroo Zero-One form will be released.

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Kiramager YUDO

A Japanese retailer put up pre-orders for the second set of YUDO figures for Kiramager and with them a list of contents. No pictures yet as the figures haven’t been revealed yet but the set will include: Kiramei Silver, Garza, the grunts of the season: the Bechats, and an accessory set. This set will be out in October.

UDO

You can watch the latest SODO Sundays video over on the Toku Toy Store Facebook page.

That’s it for this edition of SODO Sundays Season 3! Stay tuned for the next edition on both Toku Toy Store and the Toku Toy Store Facebook page.

 

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What makes a good Kamen Rider villain?

When tokusatsu fans talk about Kamen Rider, there is – and always has been – a certain need to categorise the characters into the strict roles they serve in the story. We hear the terms of ‘primary’ ‘secondary,’ and even ‘tertiary’ or ‘extra’ Riders to describe the formation of the heroes, the order in which they appear in the story and to some extent, an internal hierarchy of heroism. Discussions about what the heroes in Kamen Rider should be for a good Rider story often become a bit heated – after all, people develop very personal attachments to the Rider they fall in love with first, and this. However, there’s another character label that seems to have even more of a potential to set fan discussions alight, and that’s the ‘villain’ of any given Kamen Rider series.

These are sometimes a solitary figure, sometimes a more organised, systemic threat, but always very much opposed to our protagonist (at least at first). Fans of Kamen Rider always seem to have strong opinions about what makes villainous characters compelling or not compelling, because the battle of good versus evil is what propels the story of Kamen Rider forwards and makes a series fun and engaging. Without a good villain, there would be no obvious target for our heroes to kick from the sky, and nobody to stylishly explode our heroes in retaliation.

Discussion surrounding what makes a ‘good’ Kamen Rider villain mostly boils down to personal preference of course, but I do think a sort of profile of characteristics of an interesting Kamen Rider villain can be drawn up, just by looking at what appears most commonly in the show and thinking about what makes certain Kamen Rider villains seem appealing on a thematic level.

Firstly, I think there has to be some level of personal connection with – and intimate understanding of – the protagonist Rider. Even when there isn’t the most direct connection, the most compelling Rider villains seem to be the ones that are able to hold a mirror up to the main Rider’s morality, taking swift cuts to the values that the heroes claim to hold dear or present as part of their heroic nature. A good Rider villain is able to use this to get inside the head of the hero in this way, whether that’s through a detailed knowledge of the Rider’s past or just keen observation, excellent Rider villains have an incredible ability to spot weaknesses.

Good Rider villains in this way can often be seen as two sides of the same coin, and this is usually expanded upon in the finer details of the lore of each series, where we often find their powers to mirror each-other in a literal sense. This is one of the principles of the original showa era Kamen Rider, who exists as a product of the villainous organisation Shocker, returning to enact divine retribution on his former torturers, whilst still bearing the marks of the horrors he went through. This is an essential duality that signifies the wider conflict, and one that maintains some degree of resonance in how Rider positions its heroes and villains to this day.

This idea of duality is something that comes up a lot when Riders are pitted against their villainous counterparts. If you were to watch a random selection of Heisei era shows, you’ll often find Riders having to battle evil versions of themselves, or alternatively harness some sort of darkness within them.

There are many iterations of this in Rider, but to cite a few examples recent shows, Evolto from Build acts as a parallel to main Rider Sento in a lot of interesting ways, representing the destructive capabilities of scientific evolution that Sento wishes to turn away from in favour of ‘love and peace’. This is shown visually and thematically in the way that Evolto is able to assimilate the aesthetics of certain characters by possessing them, and at a crucial point, possessing our hero sento and morphing the iconic colours.  As another similar example, Ex-Aid’s Dan Kuroto, whose Rider form takes on a dark palette swap of the iconic Ex-Aid suit, contrasts with the protagonist Emu through an ego-centric philosophy that directly opposes Emu’s desire to heal others. In both of these cases however, Rider presents some crossover in the viewpoint of the heroes and villains, choosing to acknowledge some form of nuance in this area. 

The idea of the fine line between heroism and villainy was also utilised in an interesting way in Zi-O, which turned the idea of villainy on its head, at least to begin with. For all of Zi-O’s supposed flaws, I think the idea of our hero being destined to become a great evil is at least compelling for a little while, even if this was a more compelling idea than what the show was ultimately able to achieve.

Furthermore, Kamen Rider villains seem to be particularly engaging when they force the hero to continually improve upon themselves through challenge – in essence, Kamen Rider villains have to be better than the hero, at least to begin with. This is more to do with story structure and pacing than anything else, but Rider villains can’t be engaging if they’re too easy to defeat. This is essentially what differentiates Rider villains from the kaijin that we see easily defeated in single or multi episode arcs. This is done excellently in Kuuga, which gives us N-Daguva-Zeba, a bizarre but highly engaging villain who appears obsessed with Kuuga’s own growing strength as much as his own. This created such a wonderful dynamic in Kuuga, which I think ultimately proved to be key to that show’s success, re-establishing an easily replicable dynamic for the early Heisei era.

Another essential component to a good Rider villain which we see throughout the series is the idea of both mystery and omnipresence. Having our villain be at first unknowable can really escalate the tension in a satisfying way, and this is often made more obvious through the conspiratorial nature of villainous organisations that we see within Kamen Rider. A shadowy omnipresence feels crucial to the Kamen Rider villain – at least up to a certain point. After all, we need to know who they are eventually!

One final quintessential theme with Rider villains is the idea of making a turn towards heroism. This typically happens during a crucial dramatic moment, and the list of villainous characters that have changed their ways in Kamen Rider is a pretty long one. I’m personally split on the use of this idea, as I think it’s led to some amazing results and some that aren’t quite as satisfying in the history of the show. I tend to appreciate this most when the change is permanent and can build towards an emotional character moment of self-sacrifice, but only if that sacrifice feels like it was earned (this is a complicated issue in and of itself).

Discussions of the villains of the currently-airing Rider series Zero-One have been so unique because there’s been a wide array of new interpretations of these classic ideas of villainy in both positive and negative ways. Both Metsouboujinrai & Gai ‘Thouser’ Amatsu have shown us antagonists willing to challenge Aruto on a fundamental level, questioning his unfailing belief in both Humagear and the idea that humanity can be learned, whilst also challenging him to become stronger. Similarly, both Metsobojinrai and Gai have been part of wider conspiracies to define the fate of the humagear, and both have indicated that they might be willing to ‘change sides’ to help eradicate a greater threat. With some unfortunate repetition of certain villainous tropes and odd switches in power dynamics aside, the stage in Zero-One is currently set for some interesting final conflicts. I think it’s all because we’ve gotten villains that are well-suited to challenge our heroes, by giving us a kind of ‘greatest hits’ of what we’ve enjoyed and also found irritating about Rider villains before, and using this as a platform to elevate its dynamic conflict. Whether this is something you’re into, or even something you agree with conceptually is a different matter of course, but I think even when Zero-One‘s villain’s are at their worst, they’re at least moving the show forward in a way that’s suitable for the context of the show.

Of course, Rider villains won’t always adopt these traits identified here, and certainly many of these ideas can be used badly when placed in the wrong context. This profile of a ‘good’ Rider villain will undoubtedly be different for everyone, and if even in fan discussions where there is overlap on what works, people will assign different values to certain traits that could tip certain villains into being their favourites. There are some valuable criticisms of all of Kamen Rider’s most popular villains, and I think it would be silly in any case to assume that there is one way of doing that could be universally successful. However, the style & pattern of Rider villains that I’ve tried to identify here is one that is clearly working in a lot of ways; the show has produced quite a number of iconic and beloved villains, and the fact that we can even try and dissect it here is perhaps the biggest testament to their continued importance. They’re a bit more than just a target for Rider Kicks!

What are your thoughts on Kamen Rider villains? Do you agree or disagree with my summation of them? Join the conversation with me @aruphexille on Twitter, on Toku Toy Store’s social media pages or leave a comment below!

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Toei Tokusatsu World Reviews: Kikaider

Android Kikaider (人造人間キカイダー), or simply Kikaider, is the 1972 series that was created by Ishinomori and is one of the quintessentially iconic tokusatsu shows, being one of the first to air in the West.

It sees the android Jiro fight for justice, and revenge for his creator, against the despicable DARK and their Dark Destruction Corps. It’s basically another Kamen Rider except this one looks really, really daft.

kikaider rhino

I know I’m supposed to give the show the benefit of the doubt because of it’s age but I’ve put up with a lot of Ishinomori’s nonsense over the course of these past two months and having to watch his best idea but worse isn’t exactly endearing to me.

kikaider entrance

I will say that Jiro, played by Daisuke “Battle Cossack” Ban, looks good in the role and I now have more of an appreciation for Rento Makina, the Rider homage to Kikaider in Kamen Rider Zi-O. They nailed that 70s denim and flairs aesthetic that looks really cool for some reason. I can’t really speak to the other cast members because they’re not given a lot of lines to work with.

The fight choreography is really stilted and that’s a massive drawback for me. I’ll forgive a lot of nonsense for cool action but Kikaider’s got nothing in a fight except a lacklustre chop. You’re a machine man, throw a punch! I did like the rhino monster and the stylised tease of the monsters we can expect as the show goes on but I wonder if Kikaider suffered from monster recycling like more modern toku does?

kikaider end

Kikaider is an iconic tokusatsu that you will no doubt recognise from look alone so while you’ve got access to a subbed version, I recommend checking it out so you can say you’ve watched it at least. You might as well, eh? Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for Kikaider 01, which was due to be reviewed by me but since it has no English subs (not even auto-generated), I skipped it in favour of this show.

You can now find Kikaider, as well as many other tokusatsu shows, on the TOEI Tokusatsu World Official YouTube channel to watch for free with English subtitles.

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SODO Sundays – May 17th, 2020

Hello, tokusatsu community! It’s Joshua Perry here to talk about SODO figures on my fortnightly series, SODO Sundays. Today nothing about Zero-One once again!

Kamen Rider W

To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Kamen Rider W a new Premium Bandai SODO Chronicle set has been revealed. The first part of it is a Premium special version of the CycloneJoker figure. This time they have added much more paint and molding to him as the only stickers are really the Gaia Memories in the Driver. He will also include a sticker that shows the Joker Gaia Memory in his Maximum Drive slot and a sticker that matches with the memory missing from the Driver.

To go along with this figure they are also making the first SODO Chronicle bike the HardBoilder. Also included with it are the attachments to make the HardTurbuler, the HardSplasher, and Start Dash Mode.

Kamen Rider Zero-One Zi-O

More figures for AI-08 have been revealed! Joining Kamen Rider Zamonas in this set from the Zi-O Over Quartzer movie is the final member of the trio Kamen Rider Barlckxs! Bandai went all out with this figure. He comes with everything that he would need to, like his sword that is modeled after Kamen Rider Black RX’s RevolCane which also has the alternate finisher “lightsaber” mode. The stickers also feature the designs of the Black RX, RoboRider, and BioRider Ridewatches he has on his holder.

At the end of the film he holds up a banner shield that says “Heisei” as he is defeated by the 20 Heisei Rider final form Rider Kicks, so that is included as well and featured engineering to try and make it as accurate to the CGI piece it is in the film.

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Now, they could’ve stopped there…

However, in the movie when he uses the BioRider Watch, he can summon Black RX’s power to liquify to attack and avoid attacks. This turns him all blue. So SODO is doing that too!!! Barlckxs will be in this set for a second time! This time cast in an all-blue translucent plastic to mimic this appearance.

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They mentioned that there eventually will be a Zero-One character in this set as it has been nothing but Zi-O for it so far.

You can watch the latest SODO Sundays video over on the Toku Toy Store Facebook page.

That’s it for this edition of SODO Sundays Season 3! Stay tuned for the next edition on both Toku Toy Store and the Toku Toy Store Facebook page.

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SODO Sundays – April 5, 2020

Hello, tokusatsu community! It’s Joshua Perry here to talk about SODO figures on my fortnightly series, SODO Sundays. Today nothing new but more information on AI-06 for Zero-One!

Kamen Rider Zero-One

The already announced final two figures for AI-06 the Trilobyte Magia and Kamen Rider 001 have now been shown off in more detail. The Trilobyte Magia is an all in one box figure. This was done with the intention of a potential army building. The only catch is that the stand and weapons for this figure will be bundled in the final box of the set with Kamen Rider Zonjis’ cape pieces and stand.

Kamen Rider 001 is using slightly remoulded leg pieces from the Blood Stark SODO figure from two years ago. This figure also features a PVC plastic head which means all of the details are fully painted on.

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AI-06 has been delayed to a May release due to ongoing shipping and manufacturing delays around the world.

Next time the first figure of AI-07 will be revealed!

You can watch the latest SODO Sundays video over on the Toku Toy Store Facebook page.

That’s it for this edition of SODO Sundays Season 3! Stay tuned for the next edition on both Toku Toy Store and the Toku Toy Store Facebook page.

 

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SODO Sundays – February 23, 2020

Hello, tokusatsu community! It’s Joshua Perry here to talk about SODO figures on my fortnightly series, SODO Sundays. Today, more Zero-One, and finally an update on the missing Zi-O figures!

Kamen Rider Zero-One

Joining Metal Cluster Hopper in AI-06 is the first of the Zi-O Movie Trio Riders, Kamen Rider Zonjis!

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He will also be able to recreate his capeless form and rocket chest seen in the post-credits scene of the movie.

Kamen Rider Amazons

The next SHODO Set X Vol 9 will include Kamen Rider Amazon Omega and Kamen Rider Amazon Alpha!

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Amazon Alpha will also come with an alternate head for his blinded eyed Season 2 version.

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They will be joined in the set by the original Kamen Rider Amazon and his bike the Jungler.

You can watch SODO Sundays Season 3, Episode 11 here:

That’s it for this edition of SODO Sundays Season 3! Stay tuned for the next edition on both Toku Toy Store and the Toku Toy Store Facebook page.

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Gallery: Rider Kicks Figure Series – Kamen Rider Lazer Turbo

The Rider Kicks Figure series is latest in a long line of budget gimmick figures. This year’s line of Legendary Riders takes back to the long-lost past of 2016 with Kamen Rider Lazer Turbo.

Kiriya Kujo (九条 貴利矢), a medical examiner who transformed into a motorcycle, died at the hands of Kuroto Dan. He was later reborn with a new form and went on to join the CR as Kamen Rider Lazer Turbo (仮面ライダーレーザーターボ).

RKF_Kamen Rider Lazer Turbo_Ex-Aid_Toku Toy Store (2)RKF_Kamen Rider Lazer Turbo_Ex-Aid_Toku Toy Store (5)RKF_Kamen Rider Lazer Turbo_Ex-Aid_Toku Toy Store (3)RKF_Kamen Rider Lazer Turbo_Ex-Aid_Toku Toy Store (4)RKF_Kamen Rider Lazer Turbo_Ex-Aid_Toku Toy Store (1)

A full review of the RKF Series: Kamen Rider Lazer Turbo by Mint in Box Reviews can be viewed here:

This figure, as well as other Rider Kicks Figures, are available from Toku Toy Store! Stay tuned for further Rider Kicks Figure reviews and galleries!</em

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Gallery: Rider Kicks Figure Series – Kamen Rider Cross-Z Charge

The Rider Kicks Figure series is latest in a long line of budget gimmick figures. This year’s line of Legendary Riders takes us back to the long-lost past of 2017 with Kamen Rider Cross-Z Charge!

The second form of Ryuga Banjou, Cross-Z Charge (クローズチャージ) utilises the Sclash Driver to keep pace with Kamen Rider Grease in the proxy wars of the mid-point of Kamen Rider Build.

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A full review of the RKF Series: Kamen Rider Cross-Z Charge by Mint in Box Reviews can be viewed here:

This figure, as well as other Rider Kicks Figures, are available from Toku Toy Store. Stay tuned for further Rider Kicks Figure reviews and galleries!

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Gallery: Rider Kicks Figure Series – Kamen Rider Snipe

The Rider Kicks Figure series is latest in a long line of budget gimmick figures. This year’s line of Legendary Riders takes back to the long-lost past of 2016 with Kamen Rider Snipe.

The first of the CR’s Kamen Riders and a disgraced doctor, Taiga Hanaya (花家 大我) continues his one-man war against the Bugsters. Whether fighting to save a patient’s life or fighting for revenge, people will remember him as the crackshot doctor; Kamen Rider Snipe (仮面ライダースナイプ).

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A full review of the RKF Series: Kamen Rider Snipe by Mint in Box Reviews can be viewed here:

This figure, as well as other Rider Kicks Figures, are available from Toku Toy Store! Stay tuned for further Rider Kicks Figure reviews and galleries!