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 LOST GALAXY!
Lost Galaxy was the Power Rangers series for 1999. Although increasing breaks with the main continuty established by Mighty Morphin and Zeo had continued with Turbo and Power Rangers in Space, Lost Galaxy still carried over a few elements. There were allusions to Zordon being the source of the Galaxy Power Rangers' powers. Also, the Space Power Rangers and the Psycho Rangers returned. In addition, Paul Schrier and Jack Banning reprised their roles as Bulk and Professor Phenomenus, respectively. Alpha 6 and D.E.C.A., as well as the Astro Megaship (all from the previous season), were also used again, and Melody Perkins reprised her role as Karone midway through the series.
The Lost Galaxy season serves as something of a transitional series and also a unique one in Power Rangers history: it is neither completely self-contained nor a direct continuation; it's a bit of both. The seasons would not begin to have completely independent stories until the following series, Lightspeed Rescue.
As to the Lost Galaxy storyline: five teens from the space colony Terra Venture are seeking a new world like Earth. They later meet a jungle girl named Maya, who leads them to the five mystical swords known as the Quasar Sabers, on her home planet of Mirinoi. After pulling the sabers out of a stone, one of the teens, Mike Corbett, falls into a crevasse, but not before passing his saber onto his younger brother Leo Corbett. With the Quasar Sabers, the teens transform into the Galaxy Power Rangers, and use them to battle space villains from two different parts of the galaxy. These villains include Scorpius, Trakeena, Deviot, and Captain Mutiny. Along the way, they discover several zords known as Galactabeasts, and make an ally in the form of the mysterious Magna Defender, a galactic warrior who later dies, but not before revealing his host body is Mike Corbett, and passes the Magna Defender powers to him. When Deviot revives the evil Psycho Rangers, the Rangers of Power Rangers in Space show up to aid the Galaxy Rangers in destroying them. During this saga, Kendrix Morgan, The Pink Ranger, sacrifices herself to protect the Pink Space Ranger and Terra Venture from Psycho Pink. Karone, sister of the Red Space Ranger and former evil princess Astronema, is given the powers of the Pink Galaxy Ranger from Kendrix, who appears as a spirit, and joins the remaining 5 rangers in the battle to protect Terra Venture.
I've got to wonder about that last name "Corbett" there. There was a series of stories called "Tom Corbett - Space Cadet" that were depicted in television, radio, books, comic books, comic strips, coloring books, punch-out books and View-Master reels in the 1950s. Sort of an early version of a multi-media blitz. These days, Corbett would get a TV show, a movie, a video game, maybe a comic book, and probably downloadable ring tones.
Personally I prefer the View-Master reels. But if this Corbett connection to a clearly space-based incarnation of the Power Rangers is a coincidence, then I'M the next Red Ranger. And trust me, I don't have the martial arts abilities for it.
As to the Red Ranger, his name was, as stated, Leo Corbett. As the Red Galaxy Ranger he was also the leader of the Galaxy Rangers. He was given the Quasar Saber by his brother Mike. He controlled the element of fire. He was portrayed by Danny Slavin.
The figure is, for the most part, 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.
As to the costume design. Well, if you've seen the picture accompanying this article, you'll know why I always called this series of Power Rangers the "Charlie Brown Shirt Rangers". And they ALL had this pattern. Frankly, I always thought it was a little ridiculous. The Ranger is, of course, predominently red, but the entire upper torso is white with this straight-out-of-Schulz black zig-zag pattern across it. This was also duplicated on the glove and boot tops, which might have evened it out a little bit from a design standpoint, but it was still pretty strange.
It is, however, to Bandai's distinct credit that they pulled it off as effectively as they did on a figure who has a curved mid-torso articulation point RIGHT where the zig-zag line is supposed to be. They managed to paint or imprint it on the figure in such a way that it lines up between the two torso sections perfectly, and has enough room for the torso to utilize its articulation without really adversely affecting the look of it. Personally, I can't imagine that this was too easy, and might have given some Bandai personnel a few headaches before they got it just right. Okay, it's a weird design. But they pulled it off beautifully on a figure that wasn't specifically, exclusively designed for it.
The helmet is incredibly ornate, and seems to have very little to do with the rest of the uniform. Resembling the high tech image of some sort of animal, there are fine lines engraved and outlined in black across the front and sides of the helmet. Two green eyes represent the eyes of the animal image. Technically, the visor for the eyes is the mouth of the animal, but it's a pretty straightforward rectangle shape, unlike some of the other animal-based helmets over the years, where the eye visor has looked more -- mouth-like. There is also a silver mouth on the front of the helmet.
The Lost Galaxy Rangers, despite an obvious space-based theme, did use animal-based Zords. The Red Ranger had a Lion Galactabeast Zord, so presumably this helmet image is supposed to look like a lion. It's a bit of a stretch as such.
I'll admit, the Lost Galaxy Rangers were never my favorite concept, visually. I could never quite get around that Charlie Brown image. But they were either a personal favorite of a lot of other Power Rangers fans who have been collecting this 15th Anniversary line, or the Lost Galaxy Red Ranger was seriously short-packed. Of the thirteen figures available in this line, I found him LAST.
Overall, this is really an excellent figure, even with the somewhat strange costume design, 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.
Meanwhile, the 15th Anniversary POWER RANGERS LOST GALAXY RED RANGER, as well as all of his counterparts, definitely has my enthusiastic recommendation!