You know, I've never really been in the habit of picking up Power Rangers vehicles. I am generally content with the basic Power Rangers figures in any given year. The lone exception to this was when Wild Force came out, and the basic figures were sold with vehicles.
Granted, I'm not much of a vehicle collector in any toy line. This is due to both space and monetary considerations. The only action figure line where I've really made an exception to this is, of course, G.I. Joe. Although Star Wars can be awfully tempting at times. And granted, Transformers are action figures that turn into vehicles.
But Power Rangers -- not really. I like the basic figures, but I just don't have the space or money for all of the vehicular stuff, and there's plenty of it, that accompanies the Rangers in any given year.
Then again -- some time ago, I reviewed the Operation Overdrive Mercury Ranger. He was the "sixth Ranger" on the year, and was part of an assortment called "Mission Response". The figure could talk, but there was a little gadget in its chest that worked in concert with something called the "Mission Response Vehicle" to create even more sounds. Still, I was content with the figure as it was.
Then I picked up (and reviewed) the Sentinel Knight, and then the villains Moltor and Kamdor. They were all part of the Mission Response series, too. Finally, I picked up the five Mission Response Rangers. These were more heavily-armored versions of the Operation Overdrive Rangers.
I'd certainly seen the Mission Response Vehicle. Even getting into Jungle Fury as the main Power Rangers concept, stores still had a number of the MRV (which is what I'm going to be calling it here and there to save a bit of space and typing). I weighed the pros and cons of acquiring it. On the plus side, I'd finally be able to figure out how the figures interacted with it. And, it came with a distinctive Red Ranger figure of its own, that looked to be fully articulated -- unlike some of the other Ranger figures that come with other vehicles that sometimes come up short in this department, which is why I don't collect them.
Now, I honestly didn't know what to expect when I opened the box. My experience with Power Rangers vehicles, especially in this size range, is virtually nil. The box, with an extremely colorful and nicely done photo illustration on the front, measured a fairly considerable 18" x 14" x 6". How big was this thing? What level of assembly would be required?
Fortunately, the vehicle, although fairly large, isn't nearly as large as the box, and assembly was relatively simple. This was not like a G.I. Joe vehicle of old, where you sometimes got something that was only a few steps removed from a model kit. Granted, putting together a G.I. Joe vehicle was often half the fun (and sometimes half the battle). The only real assembly the MRV required was having its back quarter snapped into place, and a couple of extendable arms snapped into the top of the vehicle. Everything else was already taken care of and ready to go.
The resulting vehicle is fairly large, but it's more long than bulky. It honestly doesn't require a lot of physical space to park it. It's slightly longer than the box it came in, measuring just short of 20" in length, but it's only 7" wide at its widest point, and 5" high, not counting the extendable arms -- which admittedly do add a fair bit of additional height to it.
The MRV seems very sturdy. As much as anything, it looks like a futuristic cross between a fire engine and a bullet train -- perhaps not surprising for a vehicle based on a Japanese concept. It is a dark red in color, for the most part, with a driver's area up front, followed by a weapons area where three more Rangers can stand, an area for the two extendable arms, and an open area in the back where one additional Ranger can sit.
Let me say this. I am not the most attentive viewer of the Power Rangers programs. I mostly just collect the figures. However, I suspect that if this Mission Response Vehicle appeared in the Operation Overdrive series, then the scale of the vehicle relative to the Rangers is considerably different than the toy. The driving cabin looks to be clearly intended for multiple occupants, even though the toy only holds one Ranger. The overall impression of the MRV, standing alone and unoccupied, and possible excepting the two arms, is one of considerable size. And yet the vehicle's total length is not quite 20" -- this for an action figure line whose figures are almost 6" in height.
Granted, I know enough about the Power Rangers line as a whole to be able to say that, with the exception of certain smaller vehicles such as motorcycles and the like, the various vehicular items, Zords and such, are not intended to be to scale with the figures as they are portrayed in the TV series. They can still be used by the figures, of course, but if most of the vehicular hardware in any given Power Rangers concept were made to scale, it would be impossibly large and expensive. Even if you could convince a store to carry it, they'd have a hard time selling it. As I've already indicated -- this isn't G.I. Joe or Star Wars, where you can get closer to the actual scale because the figures are smaller and, frankly, the vehicles are a little more plausible.
That's NOT to malign Power Rangers, or the MRV. This is pretty much how Power Rangers has ALWAYS operated, and what the heck, you can't deny the success of an action figure line that has managed to maintain a prominent presence in the toy stores for over a decade and a half. It's just simply a statement of how the vehicles are created for the toy line relative to their televised counterparts.
The MRV rolls on a set of eight fairly small wheels. The vehicle itself rides pretty low to the ground, and as such, the MRV rolls best on a smooth surface. It rolled quite effectively on the linoleum of my kitchen floor. The carpeted living room floor -- not so much.
Painted detailing of the vehicle is relatively minimal, but extremely well done. The front cabin has two stripes, that I believe are intended to represent headlights, that start in silver up front, merge to gold, and then turn to white on the sides. The alignment of the painting of these stripes is superb. The white stripe picks up again after a brief break, and continues to the midpoint of the vehicle where the bases for the extendable arms appear. On the right side of the vehicle, the stripe resumes again towards the rear.
On the left side of the vehicle, towards the rear, there is a very neatly printed, really superbly well made POWER RANGERS label, about 3-1/2" x 2", in place. Its dark red background matches the color of the vehicle perfectly, and the Power Rangers logo is emblazoned in silver, yellow, and white. Interestingly, it doesn't specifically say "Operation Overdrive" on it. Since despite some structural differences, most Power Rangers figures over the past several years have been more or less the same height, I suppose any group that wanted to could use this vehicle -- SPD, Mystic Force, Jungle Fury, whomever...
The fenders over the wheels are painted in silver, and there's a few areas of silver and yellow paint detailing on the vehicle, all very neatly done.
The two most notable features on the MRV are the extendable arms. These were separate assemblies, snapped into place quite easily. They remind me a lot of the robotic arm that is often used on the Space Shuttle. The two arms can pivot on their respective bases, and have two large rotation points, one at the top of the base and one at a midpoint, that allow the arms to rise up and stretch forward. At the top of these arms are two seating areas, which can accommodate one Ranger each. At the front of these are small missile launchers with spring-loaded missiles.
I don't like to say anything negative in my reviews if I can help it, and this is a relatively minor point, but it needs to be stated. The seating areas include handlebars for the Rangers to grasp, and one of the sets of handlebars was seriously warped. This was due to no other reason than bad packaging. The arms were tightly stuffed into plastic bags in the box, and far too tightly wrapped. Now, I believe that Bandai makes some of the most impressive toys around, and if there is one word with which I tend to associate them, it is "PRECISION". Their toys are, as a rule, very precisely designed, and generally very precisely painted. I would say this about Power Rangers, Gundam, most of what they produce. There's a very high level of precision to them.
The missiles aren't the only spring-action feature in the MRV. Remember that back area I mentioned? You can lower the back hatch of the vehicle, seat a Power Ranger in there, and press the button on the top of the vehicle and spring him out of the back of the vehicle. To be perfectly honest, I wasn't all that impressed with the spring action features. I realize there's safety standards that have to be complied with, but the missiles on the extendable arms barely cleared the front of the vehicle (granted, I had the arms in their lowered positions at the time), and the rear figure launcher barely served to dump the figure out of the back rather unceremoniously.
Now, of course, the thing I was most curious about was the "Mission Response" feature. Of course, this required batteries -- 3 "AA"'s -- not included. So I tried it out. There's an "Off/On" switch on the bottom of the vehicle, and you get a couple of beeps when you turn it on.
One thing I wanted to test out before I tried the Mission Response feature was a device in the top of the vehicle. This is the spring-activation for the rear launcher, but it was also attached to a large, transparent red device with silver trim that looked very much like a siren, further lending to the "fire engine" image of the vehicle. The box indicated that this was a functional device, and indeed, it was. Press the button in the top, and it flashes red back and forth, and makes an amazingly annoying siren sound that's like nothing I've ever heard an actual fire engine make. It's exactly the sort of noise that a kid will likely get a huge kick out of, and that his parents will start to wonder why they bought him the vehicle...
As to the specific Mission Response device. There are two "Activation Sensors", as they are called. One is in the cockpit, the other in the weapon device directly behind the cockpit. There are two little metal nodes. These need to come in contact with the silvery-grey area on the chestplate of any Mission Response-capable Ranger figure.
A few examples: The Red Ranger that comes with the vehicle causes the vehicle to say, "Red Ranger, full power!" followed by several blasts and the siren lights up. The Mercury Ranger says, "Mercury Ranger, full power!" Okay, so that wasn't too imaginative. These were both based on the contact points on the weapons device. So I put the Mercury Ranger in the cockpit. It said, "Overdrive, Mercury Ranger, accelerate!"
I decided to try one of the female Rangers. Traditionally, female Ranger figures haven't been all that talkative. But when I tried her on the weapons console, the vehicle spoke, "Yellow Ranger, full power!" -- just in a slightly higher pitch that frankly wasn't a very good impression of a female voice.
The bad guys, Moltor and Kamdor, have the amusing but not inappropriate effect of setting off an "Intruder Alert" sound in both the cockpit and weapons console, followed by the siren lighting up with a buzzing noise even more annoying than its basic sound.
Based on the instruction sheet that comes with the Mission Response Vehicle, it's intended to be used with other vehicles. Its arms, or "ladders", as they're called in the instruction sheet (there's that fire engine comparison again) can be attached to the DriveMax MegaZord as its arms. Several types of motorcycles, including the Hovertek Cycle and Zordtek Cycle, can be launched out of the back -- I suspect either of these would be more effective than just trying to launch a Ranger trying to hold onto the launch mechanism.
The MRV comes with a Ranger of its own. It's a repainting of the Mission Response Red Ranger. The silver armor on that figure has been traded in for gold, the blue trim on the shoulder armor has been exchanged for green, and the white portions of the uniform are now black. There's a few other differences, but those are the basics. Interestingly enough, this color scheme was largely replicated on the Disney Store exclusive 12" Red Ranger, which was listed as a "Sentinel Red Ranger" on the package.
Whatever one wishes to call it, it's a superb Ranger figure, and with a full range of articulation. If I have one other complaint against Bandai, it's that when they release figures with vehicles, especially motorcycles, they're generally not fully articulated. They might have a dynamic new costume design, but more often than not, their elbows don't move, and they're pre-posed for riding the motorcycle. Granted this is a step up from the days when the figure with a vehicle might not be poseable AT ALL, but still, I don't like it when articulation gets cut. Not when the main figures are as well articulated as they are.
But as I said, this is not the case with the Red Ranger who comes with the MRV. He's perfectly fine, and a very cool Ranger figure in his own right.
So what's my final word on the MRV? Well, I'm not going to make a habit of bringing in Zords and Cycles and other Ranger Vehicles. I just don't have the money or the room. But I'm glad I got this one. It's an impressive looking vehicle, with an interesting effect. And at the very least, I now know what the Mission Response device actually does.
If you can still find one at this point, and if you have any of the
Mission Response Power Ranger figures, then you should really consider
getting this. The POWER RANGERS OPERATION OVERDRIVE MISSION RESPONSE
VEHICLE definitely has my recommendation!