Fortunately, with its obvious sci-fi bent and the uniform designs, Power Rangers SPD(Space Patrol Delta, in case you were wondering) has been one of the coolest Power Rangers concepts in some years. Although I'll admit to not having watched the TV show all that much, the basic concept is explained on the packages for the toys: "In the not too distant future, there is an academy to train, educate, and house the next generation of Power Rangers. The Earth has opened its doors to allow alien beings from distant planets to co-habitate with humans. Peacefulness is short-lived as a planet-conquering alien force turns its destructive intention to Earth... To combat this evil, Power Rangers SPD are armed with the newest breed of high-tech weapons and gear."
I was especially impressed with the uniform design this year. It maintained the traditional "one color per Ranger" motif, using the colors of Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, and Pink, with a sixth and even a seventh Ranger having somewhat different appearances. But more than that, the uniform design bore a distinct number - 1 through 5 - for each of the basic Rangers, which was evident on the uniform. Of the two additional Rangers, the Omega Ranger had the Roman numeral for 6 - VI - as part of his costume, and the Shadow Ranger, who was even more divergent in his appearance, had the numer 100 on his costume.
As ever, though, the basic Rangers, best showcased in the Light Patrol series, did indeed look fairly basic. Now, however, we have the Sound Patrol Rangers.
Whereas the Light Patrol Rangers featured light up helmets, the Sound Patrol Rangers have sound effects. Each one has two different sounds, which alternate when you press the button, which is the belt buckle. The male Rangers -- Red, Blue, Green, Omega, and Shadow, have a vocal command and a futuristic sound effect. The female Rangers -- Pink and Yellow - have two sound effects.
But it's the costume designs that are especially worth noting. They're distinctly more advanced than the originals.
Although maintaining the color scheme -- a single color with a black left side and sleeve, with the number as part of the outfit -- there's a lot more detail here, thanks to what I would describe as a partial armored exo-skeleton. Each figure has a highly detailed armored vest, and armored leg pieces. They also all come with some serious firepower in their accessories.
It's worth noting that the apertures in the chestplates that allow the sound effects to -- sound off well, are rather cleverly designed. On the right side of the armor, which is pretty much identical for all seven figures, there are two apertures that are fairly obvious. But on the left side of the armor, Bandai has actually managed to work the apertures into the "number" of the figure. For example, on the Shadow Ranger, whose number is "100", the apertures are concealed in the centers of the two zeroes.
Of course the Omega Ranger is more advanced in his appearance, seeing as how his uniform, even in earlier editions, was mostly white with the blue and gold "VI" along the front, and one side of the uniform being dark blue.
Interestingly, the Shadow Ranger is actually a little LESS advanced looking than his original Light Patrol version, but then his original version was rather substantially more advanced than the "basic" Rangers, which even the Omega Ranger took some structural cues from. For the most part, except for the number on the amored vest and the shape of the helmet, and some color patterns on the Omega and Shadow Rangers, they all pretty much use the same set of molds, allowing of course for the fact of two female Rangers and five male Rangers.
The figures are all in the 6" scale, and retain the high level of articulation that one has come to expect from Power Rangers figures. They move at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, legs, upper-leg swivel (cleverly worked into the armor design), and knees. The two female Rangers come up a little short in the articulation department, in that their arms do not move outwards at the shoulders, only forwards and backwards. I'm not sure why this is. Although they do have more slender upper bodies, I can't quite figure that the sound-making equipment inside would've been a factor. The arms would've been attached the same way, and an outward moving articulation point would've been at the shoulder, not inside the upper body. It's a minor point, but a bit of a disappointment nonetheless. I just really can't see any reason why they couldn't've had the full range of arm movement.
The only other mild disappointment is the paint detail, especially when compared to the pictures on the back of the package, which are obviously of the Japanese versions of these figures. A few points on the armor vests have been left unpainted, as have the back sides of the leg armor, and the upper arms. Additionally, the Omega Ranger, whose uniform is mostly white with one entire side being dark blue, is lacking the blue paint on his back and on the back of his leg, and the Shadow Ranger, weirdly, who does have the metallic blue paint on his boots, is still lacking the silver armor trim on the back of his boots. This is very odd-looking.
There seems to be an attitude by Bandai these days that the American versions of their toys don't need to be as well detailed as the toys for the homefront, and I personally think that attitude stinks.
I do find myself wondering, somewhat cynically, if one of the reasons Bandai has shipped so much Power Rangers merchandise this year is because they shot themselves in the foot with Gundam by dumping so much "Battle-Scarred" stuff into the line that nobody wanted, and then shot themselves in the other foot by coming up with that ridiculous load of nonsense called DICE. Power Rangers is about all they have going these days (although I think they should give Gundam another chance). That's not to put down this particular edition of Power Rangers in the least, but it's worth considering.
As of this writing, the only place I've seen the Sound Patrol Rangers has been Target, and even then, I have yet to see the eighth figure pictured on the package, an "Evil Space Alien". Given that the figure's body has been molded in a rather disturbing magenta-pink-purple, and he has a silver and red head or helmet that frankly defies verbal description, I'd say "Tacky Space Alien" might be a better name for him, and I doubt that I'll be adding him to my collection.
However, I have no reason to believe that these figures are Target exclusives. I suspect that Wal-Mart and Toys "R" Us just have to catch up a bit. And really, these Sound Patrol Rangers are easily as cool as their Light Patrol predecessors, and it's possible to get the ENTIRE team, unlike some of the other divisions, such as the Cyber Arm assortment.
So for any Power Rangers fans out there, the POWER RANGERS SPD SOUND PATROL collection most definitely has my highest recommendation!