REVIEW: POWER RANGERS RPM FULL THROTTLE PALEOZORD RANGERS
As I have often said, there are several truisms about any Power Rangers concept. One is – there's ALWAYS a Red Ranger. This is what allowed Bandai, a couple of years back, during the line's 15th Anniversary year, to issue a remarkable series of larger-scale, highly articulated Red Rangers from virtually every Power Rangers concept to date (they missed the Alien Ranger). Wouldn't mind seeing an updated version of this line return for Power Rangers' 20th in a few years.
The other truism is this – there's always additional Rangers, beyond the core group of five or whatever. Sometimes, there's only one additional Ranger. But in more recent years, there's been more than one. Last year's concept, Jungle Fury, gave us a total of eight Rangers, including the core group. This year, the number is seven.
A little background on the RPM concept, which I was unable to provide when the first RPM Rangers figures came out, since the toys preceded the series debut by several months, and such information was scarce. At the time, I based the details on the Japanese concept, which was called Engine Sentai Go-onger.
In Power Rangers RPM: Three years prior to the series' beginning, an AI computer virus called Venjix took over all of the Earth's computers, rendering all communication useless while creating an army of robot droids to destroy everything. Humanity's last safe haven became the domed city of Corinth. Surrounded by Venjix's forces and a force field, it is nearly impossible to enter without luck or firepower. When the force field is lowered to allow surviving humans into the sanctuary, the RPM Power Rangers fight Venjix's forces to protect Corinth from being destroyed.
This year's official additional Rangers, beyond the core group of five, are the Silver and Gold Rangers, which I have reviewed separately. But this year, for the first time ever, Bandai has done something that to the best of my knowledge, has never been done before. They have created an additional group of Rangers exclusively for the toy line! I am calling these the PALEOZORD RANGERS, for several reasons.
The RPM Rangers, just in general, are unusual in that they incorporate several thematic elements that we have seen in previous Power Rangers concepts, but never combined to the degree that they have been in Power Rangers.
We have seen Power Rangers with a vehicular-technological theme. Certainly the RPM Rangers, who use a wide range of vehicles and Zords, fit into this category. We have seen Power Rangers with animal-based themes. Each of the Rangers this year have some sort of animal theme. The Red Ranger has an Eagle motif, the Blue Ranger has a Lion motif, and so forth.
Additionally, each of the Rangers has a numbered uniform, something which was only emphasized strongly previously in Power Rangers SPD. For Power Rangers RPM, the Red Ranger is #1, the Blue Ranger is #2, the Yellow is #3, and so forth. The numbers on their uniforms are stylized to look like they're also based on animal images. Some of these work better than others.
But – here's where it gets interesting, and really explains where three additional Rangers could be concocted out of thin air. The numbers technically don't represent the Rangers – they represent the ZORDS. This is why, although the first five Rangers are numbered 1 through 5, the Gold and Silver Rangers are numbered 7 and 8. There isn't a #6 Ranger out there, but there is a #6 Zord, the Crocodile Carrier, which is a secondary Zord used by the Black and Green Rangers.
But there's a lot more Zords than that. The #9 Zord is the Whale Zord, which is used by the Silver and Gold Rangers as a secondary Zord.
Then we come to the #10-#12 Zords. These are called the PaleoZords, because each of them has a dinosaur-like theme. This, in essence, brings in yet another thematic element from previous Power Rangers concepts. Technically, yes, dinosaurs are animals, but they tend to be rather distinct animals, and we have had Rangers over the years that have been based on present-day animals, as well as prehistoric animals. It hasn't been often that both have been combined in the same concept at the same time, and yet here they are in RPM.
I really find myself wondering what was going through the minds of the original producers of the Japanese show, Engine Sentai Go-Onger. Whatever the Japanese translation of, "What the heck, let's throw everything we've got into it" is, that's clearly what happened here.
There are three PaleoZords – the Mammoth PaleoZord, the T-Rex PaleoZord, and the Tricera PaleoZord. All three of these Zords also have a vehicular capability, and can combine to form, interestingly enough, a train!
And officially, all three PaleoZords are secondary Zords for the Red Ranger. Fine and well, within the concept, but it does sort of throw an awful lot of vehicles the Red Ranger's way. And seeing as how there's already no shortage of Red Ranger based toys in the line, somebody at Bandai decided to do something very innovative – invent three entirely new Rangers, that weren't on the show, and turn them out as toys within the line.
This brings the TOY Ranger count, at least, for Power Rangers RPM, to TEN distinct Ranger character. That's a new record, breaking last year's Jungle Fury record of eight. If we weren't getting Mighty Morphin in reruns next year (more on that towards the end of the review), I'd expect a baker's dozen in 2010.
Now, these new Rangers don't have a lot of background. Unlike the Rangers in the show, I can't just go on WikiPedia and look up character backgrounds. They don't have any. And Bandai has never put a whole lot of character background on the packages, either. So, these three new Rangers are essentially ciphers. There's no detail as to who they might really be. Those of you owning these Rangers will just have to make something up.
I'll review the Rangers individually, but there are a few common points to make note of. All three of these Rangers are male. Their uniform design, while reasonably consistent between the three, is somewhat different than the rest of the RPM Rangers. Most of the other RPM Rangers have a solid color uniform, with belt and shoulder straps, and white gloves and boots. The PaleoZord Rangers all appear to be wearing color-coded jackets over black uniforms, as their trousers are black. The jackets have high collars with wide bands of trim running around the perimeter of the collar and down one side of the front. They do have white gloves and boots.
Now, let's consider the individual Rangers:
MAMMOTH RANGER – The #10 Ranger, and he has a stylized #10 on his jacket, looking rather elephantine in design as one might expect. The "1" forms the trunk, and the "0" forms the head, with evidence of an eye and tusk. The Mammoth Ranger's helmet and jacket is a dark red, almost a burgundy, in color. The helmet design is interesting, as it has a trunk design, in black, running from the top of the visor and over the top of the head on the front, as if the mammoth it was based on has his trunk raised for trumpeting.
The "G" symbol that all of the Rangers have, representing the Japanese "Go-Onger", is present on the underside of the trunk. Even though these are "made-up" Rangers, they maintain certain consistencies with the "established" RPM Rangers. There are two blue "headlight" eyes to the side of the trunk. The helmet also has two earpieces that look like train wheels, much as the standard RPM helmets have earpieces that look like regular vehicular wheels. The Mammoth Ranger also has two distinct tusks coming out of these earpieces, protruding beyond the front of the helmet.
The collar trim color for this particular Ranger is silver. The belt is black, as are the trousers. The boots and gloves are white. The trim on the gloves is black, and gold on the boots. I'll discuss the nature of the trim for all three of these Rangers in a few paragraphs.
T-REX RANGER – The #11 Ranger. As one would expect, he has a stylized #11 on his jacket. This one is a bit more of a stretch than some. The first "1" has fangs on it, and an eye, and is designed to look like the face of a T-Rex. The second "1" is designed to look like it has a tail. It's not bad, but it's more than a bit peculiar, especially relative to some of the other numerical designs.
The T-Rex Ranger's helmet and jacket are a pale grey in color, almost silver. It is essentially the same color as the Silver Ranger. I'm a little surprised that Bandai didn't pick a different color, but to be honest, I haven't seen the color of the T-Rex PaleoZord, and perhaps it was based on that. The collar trim color is a bright red, which could be seen as some acknowledgment that these are technically the Red Ranger's Zords, although the Mammoth Ranger doesn't have this trim color. The Triceratops Ranger does.
The helmet has a distinct T-Rex look to it, with an angled brow, rather fierce, angled eye-headlights, and the large black facial visor is given a distinctly fanged mouth design to it. All of the helmets are very effective designs, in some respects superior to the "actual" RPM Rangers from the show, and yet none of them would have been implausible had they actually appeared on the show.
The Go-Onger "G" symbol is present on the "snout" of the helmet, and as with the others, the belt is black, as are the trousers. The boots and gloves are white. The trim on the gloves is black, and gold on the boots.
TRICERATOPS RANGER – The #12 Ranger. His animal number design is a bit of a stretch, but probably not as much as the T-Red Ranger. The "1" of the #12 on his jacket has been designed to look like the face and mouth of a triceratops, with the upper part of the "1" also forming the front horn. The "2" forms a profile of the rear horn(s), and then sweeps back in a curve, while the base of the "2" forms a tail.
The helmet and jacket of the Triceratops Ranger are a bright blue. It's a very good shade of blue, and distinctly different from the darker blue of the Blue Ranger from RPM, or for that matter most Blue Rangers over the years. As with the T-Rex Ranger, the trim color on the collar and front of the jacket is a bright red, identical in color to the Red Ranger.
The helmet is easily the fanciest of the three. It has two high ridges running over the top of the head, and three metallic gold horns protruding from these ridges and from the center above the large black facial visor. Fortunately, they're somewhat flexible on the toy. But if this Ranger existed in real life, the helmet alone could likely be a formidable weapon. One head-butt from this guy and you'd consider yourself lucky to wake up.
As with the other two, The Go-Onger "G" symbol is present, in this case fairly highly placed on the helmet behind the center spike, and as with the others, the belt is black, as are the trousers. The boots and gloves are white. The trim on the gloves is black, and gold on the boots.
Now, I want to discuss the nature of some of that trim. The "train" vehicular motif of t he PaleoZords has not been forgotten on these Rangers. Whereas most of the other RPM Rangers have tire tread-like trim on their boots and gloves, the PaleoZord Rangers have trim on their gloves and boots that look like train wheels! It's a little bizarre-looking, but also rather cool. These wheels are black on the gloves, and metallic gold on the boots. There's enough additional painted area on the gloves to make one believe that there might be some sort of handy gadgetry hidden underneath the wheels.
The PaleoZord Rangers also have black belts, with "G" insignia buckles, and little devices attached to the left side of the belt. And here's a friendly advisory. These little gadgets don't stay put as well as you'd like. My Mammoth Ranger in particular has a habit of dropping his. I personally recommend a couple of drops of a good brand of glue.
Articulation on these figures is excellent, as good as for any of the other RPM Rangers. They are fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows, glove tops, legs, knees, and boot tops The stand well, but they also stand best in a slight "action" pose, with legs spread slightly.
One curious note. These figures do not use the same mold sets as some of the other RPM Rangers. In fact, except for the distinctive helmets, their body molds are common strictly unto themselves. And they're a bit shorter than the rest of the RPM Rangers. I'm assuming this wasn't necessarily intentional on Bandai's part, but it's worth noting that the RPM Rangers in general are shorter than any of the Power Rangers basic figures have been for several years. Granted also, there's never been that much consistency from one concept to another (which is another reason I appreciated that 15th Anniversary line so much).
The average height of a "Full Throttle" (which is the designation for the basic Rangers from RPM) Ranger is slightly over 5-1/2". The PaleoZord Rangers are slightly under 5-1/2". It's a small difference, far less noticeable than height variances have been at times in other lines, such as Star Wars or G.I. Joe, but it is there. Curiously, the height difference seems to have its source in very slightly shorter legs. Everything else seems equal.
This is a decidedly minor point, however, in a trio of otherwise very interesting figures. And I also think it's worth noting that Bandai was more thorough with the paint applications. Granted, the paint applications were fairly minimal on the uniforms – helmets notwithstanding. But Bandai has had an unfortunate habit in recent years of neglecting to paint the backs of the Ranger figures. I fully expected the backs of the very prominent collars on these PaleoZord Rangers to be unpainted – but in fact they WERE painted.
Accesorywise, their assorted weaponry is also highly train-centric. Along with the usual retinue of futuristic firearms and fancy martial arts equipment is some weaponry that looks like it was detached from an actual train, and the figures also come with miniature representations of their respective Zords.
One other note. The past couple of years, a lot of the Ranger figures have been designed in such a way that their heads tend to look slightly downward for some reason. Not sure why this is. However, the PaleoZord Rangers do not have this construction quirk nearly to the same degree. Just felt this was worth mentioning.
So, what's my final word here? Okay, we have a trio of very unusual Rangers here. They never appeared in the show – either in Japan or the United States. They're entirely the creation of Bandai specifically for the toy line. But – so what? They're still extremely cool figures. They have a cool look to them, and they fit well with the concept.
I'm not sure how long they'll be around. The annual overhaul of Power Rangers to the next concept tends to take place every Thanksgiving. Speculation is rampant as to why the next-in-line Japanese Super Sentai concept is not being adapted for American audiences. The two leading explanations are that, since Disney has rebranded their "Jetix" programming as "Disney XD", and removed the Power Rangers from the lineup, that they don't intend to support the Rangers like they used to. While possible, I would think that unfortunate. The other explanation is that the following Super Sentai concept, called Samurai Sentai Shinkenger in Japan, is by far the most Japanese-culturally-centric series ever developed within the overall concept, and would be extremely difficult to adapt for American audiences.
Meanwhile, there's still a little time – as of this writing – for RPM to play out in the stores, until the return of Mighty Morphin. And that includes these three very cool new Rangers. If you're reluctant to get them because they weren't in the show, set that aside. They're very impressive, and very worthwhile additions to the Power Rangers RPM lineup!
The POWER RANGERS RPM "Full Throttle" PALEOZORD RANGERS definitely all have my highest recommendation!