REVIEW: POWER RANGERS MEGA FORCE
I have long believed that one of the things that has kept POWER RANGERS successful for as long as it has been, is the fact that each year, approximately, sees a new incarnation of the Rangers. New individuals, a new storyline, new costumes, new Zords, but a similar premise – a group of young men and women, often teenagers, dressed in similar, color-coded costumes, fighting some sort of great evil that has come upon them.
How successful has this been? Power Rangers started out in Japan under a name which most closely translates as "Super Sentai", and it recently celebrated its 35th anniversary. Now, there was a lot of that programming that has never been seen outside of Japan, or at least certainly not in the United States. Here in the States, Power Rangers is celebrating its 20th anniversary.
Think about the number of toy-based pop culture concepts that have endured for twenty years, and it's a pretty short list. G.I. Joe, Transformers, Masters of the Universe, and not much else. Think about the number of concepts that have endured for that long uninterrupted, and it's an even shorter list.
Bandai, the toy company responsible for the Power Rangers, pretty well made its name in America off of this line, later going on to bring the late and very lamented Gundam to the United States, as well as currently being responsible for action figures based on the popular Ben 10 animated series. Sadly, an attempted revival of ThunderCats didn't fare as well.
The newest incarnation of the Power Rangers is known as POWER RANGERS MEGAFORCE, and is currently airing on Nickelodeon, the Rangers' home since Disney sold the Rangers back to Saban.
As one might expect, there are five Rangers, three male – Red, Blue, and Black; and two female – Yellow and Pink. There's a sixth prominent character known as the Robo Knight, but I don't have his action figure yet, so this review will be focusing on the basic figures of the five core Rangers.
Let's consider the premise of the current series, and something of a personality profile of the five lead characters. I had a little trouble tracking down any really extensive information this time around for some reason, but thanks to a "Wikia" site specifically devoted to the Rangers, I was able to get a decent amount of data.
Power Rangers Megaforce is the 20th season of Power Rangers coinciding with the series 20th anniversary. The series is primarily based on Tensou Sentai Goseiger. This is the Japanese series from which Megaforce is based, and it originally aired in 2010 in Japan.
Megaforce features Gosei, a supernatural being who has protected the earth for centuries with his robotic assistant, Tensou. But when the evil Warstar aliens begin their massive invasion, Gosei calls upon five teenagers with attitude to form the ultimate team...the Power Rangers Megaforce!
When the teens morph into Power Rangers, they gain superhuman strength, agility, and mastery over martial arts. In addition to defending earth against the Warstar aliens, other monstrous factions emerge to challenge the Megaforce Rangers. Under the leadership of a malevolent alien, toxic beasts rise from their slimy underground lair to attack the Earth and a ruthless robot army launches an offensive from their deep sea compound. In order to face these new threats, the Power Rangers Megaforce unlock powerful battle modes to fight their adversaries.
The main villain is named Vrak, and his rather generic minions are called, of all things, Loogies. You know, the original generic soldiers back in the days of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers were called Putties. From Putties to Loogies. Does this strike anyone else as a step backwards!?
Anyway, it should be noted that the individual Rangers are often referred to as "Megaforce" - followed by their respective color. Thus the Red Ranger would be known as "Megaforce Red", and so forth.
Now, let's consider the individual Rangers. No real surprise here, the greatest amount of available information relates to the Red Ranger.
RED RANGER – Real name: Troy Burrows
Before becoming a Power Ranger, Troy was a martial artist. During his teenage years, he receives visions about the Legend War - an armada of Power Rangers battling an unknown force, and among them, a mysterious new warrior. One day before school, he receives another dream of the Legend War. He then wakes up to find out he is late for his first day of school. Later that day, Gosei summons him. He notes how the rangers lining the walls resemble those from his dreams. Gosei gives him the power of the Red Ranger and soon he leads the new Power Rangers into battle. He succeeds in the battle and takes kindly to his role as defender of Earth.
During a middle of a battle with his team against Dragonflay, Creepox interfered to battle Troy. Though Creepox gained the upper hand at first, Troy managed to defeat him, forcing Creepox to retreat. As a result, Troy was too injured to fight, leaving it up to the rest of the Rangers to defeat Dragonflay. Troy later gained access to the Sky Brothers Zord and many other weapons.
Months later, Troy encountered two bullies in school. The bullies taunted him if he's going to cry, but Troy came up with a good come back saying "Take a good look, you see any tears". When he saw another kid get bullied, he stood up for them. After school, Troy fought Creepox again. Though Creepox was gaining the upper hand, Troy found that Creepox was being driven by rage, so he used his rage against him. Eventually Troy defeated Creepox with his Dragon Sword. When Creepox got revived by Vrak, Troy along with the other Rangers formed the Gosei Great Megazord. Seeing that wasn't enough, they formed the Hyper Gosei Great Megazord (the zord he just earned from Gosei) to defeat Creepox once and for all.
Troy Burrows is a born leader, though he may not know it yet. His tough upbringing made him responsible and focused, and it shows in his incredible martial arts skills. As the new kid in town, he's kind of a loner at the start, but makes fast friends when he joins up with the Megaforce. Troy is compassionate and loyal, and a true champion of the underdog. But mess with the Red Ranger's friends, and you're in for a fierce fight with his Dragon Zord!
Additionally, Troy has a strong faith in humanity and believes that if they work together, they can do anything. He also will not initiate a fight unless it's absolutely necessary, shown in his first encounter with Creepox of the Warstar Aliens.
The basic motif of his helmet is designed to represent a dragon. Each of the Rangers has some sort of animal basis, which I'll mention along the way.
BLACK RANGER – Real name: Jake Holling
Jake has a crush on Gia, the Yellow Ranger. One day after school, Jake went to Ernie's Brainfreeze to order 2 ice creams for Gia and himself. At the same time, Jake, along with four other teenagers, were chosen by Gosei to defend Earth from the Warstar Aliens.
One day after school, Jake decided to flirt with Gia. While flirting, they discovered that there are alien ships (who is actually Yuffo sent by Admiral Malkor and Vrak) capturing other humans. Then Jake and Gia followed those ships. Seeing the humans captured, Jake and Gia called the other Rangers to help free the humans that were captured by Yuffo. After the battle, Jake complimented Gia about how they fought as a team.
Jake Holling is outgoing, optimistic, fun-loving, proud, and fearless when it comes to both the battlefield and social situations. He loves being the Black Ranger and saving the world with the help of his Snake Zord, but sometimes he wishes he could make his superhero identity public. His one weak spot is his huge crush on the Yellow Ranger, but he's determined to make her fall for him one day.
Don't dismiss Jake Holling as just another class clown. He has a serious talent for bringing people together with a laugh, and he always has an eye on the bright side. He also is a great soccer player.
The motif of his helmet is designed to resemble a snake.
BLUE RANGER – Real name: Noah Carver
Before becoming a Ranger, Noah was a person interested in science. During his teenage years, Noah, along with four teenagers, were chosen by Gosei to protect the Earth from the Warstar Aliens. He first fought with his team against Scaraba, whom they eventually defeat.
One day in school when Jake asked Noah to fix his Snake Ax, Noah couldn't lift it, making him doubt his abilities. Then Jake told him that "If you believe in yourself, you can do anything". After school, when Virox (a monster sent by Vrak and Admiral Malkor) attacked the city, Noah and Jake decided to deal with him personally while the other Rangers quarantine the humans who got infected by Virox. Remembering what Jake told him about believing himself, Noah lifted the Snake Ax and defeated Virox. When Virox enlarged, the other Rangers helped Noah and Jake defeat him. As a result Noah gained the ability to summon the Sea Brothers Zord. The next day, Noah fixed the Snake Ax, making it 40% lighter, and gave it back to Jake. When Jake said he won't get used to the Snake Ax being lighter, Noah told him to believe in himself just like Jake told Noah.
Noah Carver may be a tech geek, but his wits make a fierce weapon against Earth's alien invaders. What he lacks in physical coordination he more than makes up for in brainpower, and with his more socially savvy best friend Jake at his side, these two make the perfect team. Sure, Noah may prefer studying up on the supernatural to engaging in battle, but the Blue Ranger's fearsome Shark Zord is no sci-fi fable.
Noah Carver doesn't care that he'll never be Prom King. He's much more interested in using his blockbuster brain to change the world. Fighting may not be his first choice of activities, but that doesn't mean Noah isn't REALLY good at it.
The motif of his helmet is designed to resemble a shark.
YELLOW RANGER – Real name: Gia Morgan
Gia is one of the five teenagers chosen by Gosei to save the world from the Warstar Aliens. She first fights alongside his team against Scaraba.
One day, she and Jake flirted with each other. When they saw alien ships capturing humans, they decide to follow the ships in one location and call the other Rangers to help them. After the battle, Jake complimented Gia about how good they are as a team. A week or so later, Jake and Gia gained access to the Land Brothers Zord.
Later, Gia and Emma are turned into worse enemies by Queen Beezara. When the two were reminded by the Rangers they were friends, they broke free from the spell and defeated Beezara.
Gia Moran is labeled as "Miss Perfect", and it's hard to argue with that. Pretty, personable, strict, and a powerful martial arts fighter, Gia is as intelligent as she is confident. She's been best friends with Emma since they were little, and that's not going to stop just because they're in different social cliques now. The Yellow Ranger's constant success can be frustrating to her teammates, but she and her Tiger Zord are dependable to the end!
The motif of her helmet is designed to resemble a tiger.
PINK RANGER – Real name: Emma Goodall
Emma was taking photos of butterflies and insect life when she came upon Creepox at the edge of a forest. To her surprise (as if she hadn't had enough of one right there...!), she was teleported to meet Gosei and asked to become the new Pink Ranger.
Later Gia and Emma were turned into worse enemies by Beezara. Even at battle against Beezara, the two still fought each other. When Gia and Emma were reminded they were friends, they managed to break free from the spell. Then along with the other Rangers, they defeated Beezara. As a result, Emma gained access to the Sky Brothers Zord.
In the episode "Harmony and Dizchord", it is revealed that she has a beautiful singing voice that she gets from her mom that has passed away and when she sings, the song reminds her of her mom and then nature around her. With the help of Troy, she uses her singing to counteract Dizchord's attack.
Emma Goodall is totally in tune with nature, and always on the lookout to protect the environment. So when aliens start attacking her home planet, she takes it personally. She is very good friends with Gia. She enjoys BMX bike riding and photography. She also seems to love singing.
The motif of her helmet is designed to resemble a phoenix. I have to say that the animal selections for this particular group of Rangers is one of the more unusual I have encountered. While there's nothing especially unusual about a tiger, shark, or snake, throwing in two mythological creatures such as a dragon and a phoenix makes for interesting choices.
So, how are the figures? Very cool, very impressive, and honestly, a lot more distinctive and individual in appearance than one usually expects from Power Rangers. The figures are more or less a 4" scale. Honestly, I miss the days of larger Ranger figures, and I'm not really sure why Bandai shrunk them a couple of years back when Mighty Morphin made a return, but such is how things are these days.
The three male figures stand 4-1/4" in height. The two female figures are more like 4-1/8".
The basic pattern for their uniforms is fairly ornate. Each Ranger has a colored helmet, with a broad, somewhat angled black visor across the front, bordered in gold. There is an ornate gold emblem on the forehead of the helmet. Below the visor is a small silver region with a sculpted mouth. The sides of the helmets are black, bordered in white, and are designed to be profile representations of the heads of the animals specified to each Ranger.
How well this works depends a lot on the animal. The Red Ranger's dragon design is impressive, and the Black Ranger's snake and the Blue Ranger's Shark also look good. The Pink Ranger's phoenix design is a little on the plain side, looking more like a phoenix that got crossed with a parrot and a cockatoo along the way. Frankly, the Yellow Ranger's tiger design is pushing it. It's more than a little cartoonish, looking like the profile silhouette of some vaguely feline animal that might have been designed by Hanna-Barbera on an off day.
The uniforms continue with white necks, which seem to be something of a staple of Power Ranger uniforms, colored shirts with ornate gold patterning on the front – more on this in a paragraph or so – and the lower portion of each shirt is white, leading into a gold belt around the waist. The uniforms feature white leggings, with the addition of skirts for the Yellow and Pink Rangers, which have colored hem lines. The Rangers uniforms conclude with colored boots.
Additional details include gold shoulder boards, white gloves with black cuffs, bordered in gold, and broad black stripes around the tops of the boots, also bordered in gold, thus matching the gloves' wrists. The backs of the gloves have sculpted ridges in them, and the belt buckles are just as ornate in their sculpted designs as the imprinted designs on the foreheads of the helmets. Each Ranger also has a couple of accessories secured to his or her belt, on the sides.
Now, here's where the detail gets interesting. Each Ranger has a fancy gold pattern on his or her chest. But – the patterns are NOT the same from Ranger to Ranger, and they're not just painted or imprinted on – they're sculpted!
To what degree this was necessary, that is, for them to be sculpted, I really don't know, but it's certainly impressive. Consider the fact that creating the actual molds for any given action figure from any line from any company is the single most expensive part of toy production. Now consider the fact that one of the cost-saving moves in most years of Power Rangers is the ability to get multiple uses out of the body molds, except, naturally, for the distinctive helmets.
That's NOT the case here. These Rangers not only have to have distinctive helmets, but all five of them must have their own torsos! That's a good bit more effort than one usually expects.
Some of the designs repeat, but not so the mold can be reused. For example, the male Red Ranger and the female Pink Ranger have similar patterns on their uniforms. And the male Black Ranger and the female Yellow Ranger have similar patterns. But obviously, they're not going to use the same torso mold.
Describing these patterns verbally is not easy, and they don't seem to coordinate to the animal representations of the Rangers. The pattern on the Red and Pink Rangers looks rather phoenix-like, in that it has something that looks like outstretched wings, a beak, and a circular section. But there's an element to the logo design that – well, for lack of a better description, looks like a business logo. It's the sort of logo I'd expect to see if someone was starting up an airline and decided to call it Phoenix Airlines. It's not a bad pattern, this is just the terms I'm using to describe it.
The pattern on the Black and Yellow Rangers has a definite floral look to it. There is a tulip-like bloom in the center at the top, and four large leaves, stretched out two on each side on a stem tapering down the front of the torso.
The pattern on the Blue Ranger is unique to him, and, allowing for the shark motif on his helmet, could arguably be described as stylized waves. Three waves on each side of a center line, stretching out and curling back. It's quite ornate, and it wouldn't be entirely inaccurate to compare it to the type of patterning one might expect to find on a Persian rug.
Interestingly, the three different patterns, to one degree or another, all appear on the helmet emblems.
The only real common points on all five shirts is a narrow gold collar, a narrow gold hem separating the colored and white areas, and a thick center line down the front. The design does not repeat on the backs of the figures, so it's likely that, at least between the male and female figures, they were able to use the same back molds, with only the fronts of the torsos needing to be unique to each figure.
Paint work is excellent, and very precise, as well it needs to be in order for the paint to match up with the sculpted details on the emblems, as well as on the intricate helmets. However, as is not uncommon for Bandai, they missed a few spots on the backs of the figures. Specifically, the lower gold shirt hem and the backs of the belts are unpainted. Really, is this THAT much of a cost-saving move? They've done this sort of thing for years, and it's just a bit annoying.
Articulation is excellent. These Power Rangers are fully poseable at the heads, arms, elbows, glove tops, legs, knees, and boot tops. The skirts worn by the Yellow and Pink Rangers are, unfortunately, something of a hindrance to their leg movement.
One thing definitely in favor of these Megaforce Rangers – I had a problem with some of their predecessors, the Samurai Rangers, with loose parts, especially legs. That, thankfully, is not the case with the Megaforce Rangers.
Each Ranger comes with several accessories, which tend to look a little outsized, but they're nicely made.
It's worth mentioning that these Rangers are available individually, but I have also seen a boxed set that includes these five, identical to their individual counterparts, plus the Robo Knight.
So, what's my final word? My congratulations to the Power Rangers for their longevity in the United States. Twenty years is an extremely impressive track record for any pop culture concept such as this. Most don't get anywhere near this mark.
And my congratulations to Bandai for maintaining their presence in the toy stores. This latest incarnation continues to showcase Bandai's excellent level of quality with their action figures. I like these designs, I like the somewhat more individualized look of them, and I'm overall very impressed with them. If you've ever been a Power Rangers fan, or if your kids are at this point, then you'll definitely want to bring this newest team of Rangers into your collection.
The five Rangers from POWER RANGERS MEGAFORCE definitely have my highest recommendation!