One of the things that I always tend to say when reviewing any given year's crop of Power Rangers action figures is -- there's always a sixth Ranger. But there's something else that's always true as well...there's always a Red Ranger.
Whatever other colors the core group of Power Rangers may adopt for their uniforms, which have generally tended to be four of the following: Blue, Black, Green, White, Yellow, and Pink, there's always a Red Ranger. And he's also generally the team's leader.
Does it surprise anyone that we're commemorating the 15th Anniversary of the Power Rangers? It's not often that a pop culture concept manages to have this sort of endurance. Although often considered rather campy and silly compared to pop culture/toy concepts of similar longevity, such as G.I. Joe or Transformers, there is simply no denying the fact that the Power Rangers has found a place in pop culture, and doesn't look to be going anywhere anytime soon. It's also found a pretty steadfast place in the toy aisles.
One of the secrets, if it can even be called that, to the longevity of the Power Rangers, has been the fact that after the original concept, "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers", had run for several years, the producers of the show started overhauling the concept every year. Although the basic character premise -- five young people dressed in colorful costumes, each costume reflecting a predominant color with a pattern shared by the entire group -- remained the same, as did the martial-arts- ish stunt work, the background stories tended to change rather dramatically.
This allowed Bandai, the toymaker, to essentially create an entirely new line of toys every year, and yet that entirely new line of toys was nevertheless based, at its core, on a proven name and basic theme.
The main part, toywise, of this 15th Anniversary celebration of Power Rangers, has been the release of a special series of 15th Anniversary Red Rangers. Larger than the approximate 5" scale common to most Power Rangers lines over the years, although size has varied somewhat, these 15th Anniversary Red Rangers are over 6-1/2" in height. And there's one for every major Power Rangers concept that has ever existed, right up to 2007's "Operation Overdrive".
It is my intention, as I am able to acquire these excellent action figures, to review each one, as well as provide a background into the Power Rangers concept from which he is a part of. For this review, I'd like to review the Red Ranger from POWER RANGERS OPERATION OVERDRIVE!
This series not only celebrates the 15th Anniversary of Power Rangers, but it also celebrated, in Japan, the 30th Anniversary of the "Super Sentai" series from which Power Rangers sprang. And from what little I've seen of those first fifteen years -- we didn't miss all that much by jumping right in with "Mighty Morphin"...
One of the most hysterical things that I noticed about the Operation Overdrive series was the home city of the Rangers -- it's called San Angeles. Now, while this is a perfectly logical name, and it's not entirely implausible that at some future date the cities of San Diego and Los Angeles might one day merge, "San Angeles" also happens to be the name of the city in which the Sylvester Stallone future-cop shoot-em-up action movie "Demolition Man" took place. Granted, this is a fairly obscure reference, but given that Power Rangers has a target audience of fairly young kids, and "Demolition Man" had an "R" Rating -- let's just say I hope that they're different cities, since I don't think it would do the Power Rangers franchise any favors to have Stallone and Wesley Snipes barging through a scene with guns blazing and profanities flying.
You know, there was a short-lived Demolition Man action figure line. And I think it was just about to scale with the 5"-scale Power Rangers... Now where'd I put them...?
But I digress. In fairness, the 5" scale figures for Operation Overdrive are excellent. The three male Rangers even have a sort of game built in. Press the belt buckle and their chest symbol starts flashing red. When the light above their visor flashes green, press the belt buckle again QUICKLY. That stops the game and gets you a complimentary comment from the Ranger. It's not exactly an XBox 360, but what the heck. If you want a bit more of a challenge, try the game with two Rangers -- one in each hand. Can't hurt your hand-to-eye coordination development, anyway.
As far as San Angeles is concerned, the Operation Overdrive Rangers have gotten around a goot bit more than some of their predecessors. According to the story, the Rangers have been to Atlantis, unnamed islands in the Atlantic and Pacific, Saint Lucia, Istanbul, London, Portugal, Indonesia, Norway, Mexico, Egypt, Florida, Rotuma Island, Australia, Brazil, and Stonehenge. Either this Power Rangers series has one heck of a travel budget, or some impressive special effects and set decorators.
The concept for Operation Overdrive is as follows: Five brave, skilled, and adventurous young people are chosen to search for several magical jewels that were long ago taken from the Corona Aurora ("Crown of the Gods"), so as to prevent them from coming into the possession of the villainous Moltor and Flurious. They are brothers, banished long ago by the Corona's guardian for having attempted to steal it.
When the millionaire explorer Andrew Hartford discovered Corona Aurora, they escaped their exile and rallied their allies. In response, Andrew Hartford selected the talented youths and modified their DNA so as to grant them exceptional physical powers by which to combat the evil.
Although Moltor and Flurious initially attempted to work together, they soon became rivals. The Corona Aurora fell into Moltor's hands; yet without its jewels, it could not grant the owner universal power. Even more, the evil ninjas Kamdor and Miratrix joined the race for the jewels along with the Fearcats, Mig and Benglo.
Now the Rangers, joined by a Mercurian named Tyzonn who joined their ranks as the Mercury Ranger, have to beat multiple villainous groups to save the jewels, and voyage across the world in search of their objective.
The Rangers in this concept are a pretty strange bunch, too, including an android, a spy-for-hire, a professional stuntman with a tendency to be a practical joker, a stock car racer, a genius archaeologist, and the aforementioned alien Mercurian.
The series hasn't been short on guest-stars from previous series, either. During a point when the Operation Overdrive Rangers' were rendered powerless, the Sentinel Knight, the original guardian of the Corona Aurora, recruited four Power Rangers from the past, and one allegedly from the future, including the Black Mighty Morphin Ranger, the Blue Wind Ranger, the Yellow Dino Thunder Ranger, the Red SPD Ranger, and the Green Mystic Ranger. He even brought back the annoying robot Alpha-6. Meanwhile, local counseling agencies were overwhelmed by continuity freaks slowly going insane, while the actors playing these Rangers tried to overcome the smell of mothballs, I'm sure...
As to the Red Operation Overdrive Ranger, his name is Mackenzie "Mack" Hartford. He is a fan of adventure stories. His physical power is enhanced strength. He is the android son of Andrew Hartford, who acts as the team's dispatcher.He is portrayed by actor James MacLurcan.
Wait a minute -- ANDROID SON?! Sure, let's just throw an Astro Boy reference into the whole mix while we're at it, okay?
The figure is excellent. What Bandai has done for this special series of 15th Anniversary Red Rangers is they have created a basic body type, and an excellent one, that can reasonably accommodate any of the intricate uniform decoration patterns of any of the Power Rangers concept. Of course, a unique head -- or perhaps the correct term should be helmet -- sculpt is created for each Red Ranger.
The articulation is excellent. The Power Ranger is poseable at the head, arms, glove tops, wrists, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, boot tops, and ankles. Additionally, there is a mid-torso articulation point that is so well designed you almost don't see it until you have the figure out of its package. This can be a particularly tricky articulation point to add to an action figure. Sometimes it can be worked very well into the basic design of the figure. The best example I can think of here is Star Wars Clone Troopers, where it can blend with the armor. It works fairly well on figures like Marvel Legends, where there is no great effort to conceal the articulation points. But I've seen it on some figures where it doesn't look very good at all.
On the Red Ranger here, it works and looks a lot better than it has any business, really, and kudos to Bandai for the design work.
There is one articulation aspect that should have been included, but wasn't. That would have been an upper-arm swivel. This does have the unfortunate effect of rather considerably curtailing the poseability of the arms on an otherwise supremely well-articulated action figure.
The costume designs for all five of the Rangers from this concept are basically identical, except for the primary color, of course, and it's really an excellent design. In the case of the Red Ranger, obviously the primary color is red. There is a broad white stripe running down the center of the front of the uniform, that extends all the way down the legs to the boot tops. There are also white stripes on the inner sides of the sleeves, that run to the glove tops. The boots and gloves are both red, with silver "cuffs". The Red Ranger is also wearing a silver belt, and has two silver areas at his shoulders that are similar in appearance to the detailing around the boots and cuffs.
The helmet is fairly nondescript, but it's a good design. The most prominent part is the almost wraparound, angled black visor. Above this is a small area of silver, and beneath it is a narrow area near the mouth that has ridges sculpted into it. This actually also matches the pattern of detail on the shoulders and cuffs. It's really an excellent design that presents a good level of consistency.
The insignia on the chest is a silver oval with thin breaks at the top, bottom, and sides. The oval is intersected by two narrow triangles placed at "two o'clock" and "eight o'clock" on the oval. The upper triangle is red, the lower one is black.
On the whole, it's an excellent design. It manages to be fairly futuristic, certainly modern, neat-looking, not too garish or outlandish, appropriate to the concept, and also captures that necessary blend of being part super-hero costume and part uniform-to-the-team.
Overall, this is really a spectacular figure, and part of a truly fascinating series. Despite a relatively common scale over the years, not all Power Rangers figures are really compatible across different concepts. This 15th Anniversary Red Ranger series is truly the first time that the main characters from all of the different Power Rangers concepts have been produced in a compatible format.
Honestly, I hope that Bandai finds some way to continue this particular series, as the Power Rangers concepts continue in the years ahead. Doubtless there will be more Red Rangers. As I write this, the newest Power Rangers concept, JUNGLE FURY, has arrived. And I'd like to think we wouldn't have to wait until the 20th Anniversary to get the Red Ranger from that, and future concepts, in this format.
Meanwhile, the 15th Anniversary OPERATION OVERDRIVE RED RANGER, as well as all of his counterparts, definitely has my enthusiastic recommendation!