While it may seem unusual to some to find Power Rangers in the Disney Store, it must be remembered that for some years now, Disney has had a considerable interest in the Power Rangers, since they air on the Disney-owned television networks. Indeed, you can find a wide range of Disney merchandise in the Disney Store, not just toys, but apparel, school supplies, and other items.
So it really shouldn't be that surprising that the Disney Store not only offers Power Rangers merchandise, but a fair amount of exclusive Power Rangers merchandise, as well.
The Disney Store, like most other retailers, started offering merchandise based on the newest Power Rangers concept, named JUNGLE FURY, in early 2008. A brief synopsis of the series, which started airing in February, is as follows:
Many centuries ago, an evil spirit, Dai Shi, roamed freely across the Earth, waging a "Beast War" against the humans. Fortunately, through valiant fighting, the Order of the Claw, a group of kung fu martial artists, part of the Pai Zhuq, were able to conquer the evil spirit and have since been able to keep him locked away. The secret of their prisoner and their duty to keep him under control was passed along from generation to generation of Pai Zhuq members, three of which charged with keeping the the Dai Shi escaped from being released.
Now, in the present day, Dai Shi has escaped and three new warriors have been selected by the Pai Zhuq to find and destroy the evil Dai Shi. The three teen warriors must go to where Dai Shi's ancient palace is located, a land once uninhabited, now known as Ocean Bluff. In their new home, the teen warriors must assume normal lives working at a pizza parlor under the guidance of their boss and new kung fu master, R.J., who gives them the power to morph into the Power Rangers.
This Power Rangers series looks to be a little more complicated than some. The core concept in Japan had three main Power Rangers, with two more added later on, for a total of five. The American version has no less than six main Rangers, with two more to be added. Most of these are currently available in the stores.
The Disney Store has, for several years, offered exclusive 12" Power Rangers figures. I picked up a couple of them from Operation Overdrive, the last concept (see separate reviews), and now there are two available for Jungle Fury, the Red Tiger Ranger, and the Blue Jaguar Ranger. Now, there's ALWAYS a Red Ranger so just for fun, let's give one of the other colors a little priority, and start this review with the Blue Jaguar Ranger.
Interestingly, and a little surprisingly, I think the Blue Jaguar Ranger is just about as prominent in the series as the Red Tiger Ranger. Both the Red and Blue Rangers are featured as part of the main packaging design of the basic figure assortments that can be found at most retailers. And they are the two male Rangers that are the core of this particular Rangers concept in both the United States and Japan. It makes sense that the Blue Ranger would get a certain measure of emphasis as such.
The Blue Ranger is named Theo. No last name has been provided as yet. It's still pretty early in the concept. Theo is described as smart, strong, and a good fighter. Theo is fearless and commanding. He must learn the importance of working as a team. He is portrayed by Aljin Abella.
So, let's have a look at the 12" Blue Jaguar Ranger. The body molds used are the same ones used for the previous 12" Power Ranger figures offered by the Disney Store. The bottom of the foot bears a 2005 copyright date. Obviously there isn't a lot of sculpted detail on the body form, apart from creating a basic male superhero-type body. Sometimes this could be a detriment. In all honesty, as cool as they are, there should've been some more sculpted detail on the Operation Overdrive figures that ended up simply painted on. They're still cool figures, though. No complaints.
However, this is NOT as much of a detriment in the case of the Blue Jaguar Ranger. These Rangers wear basic body suits and fancy helmets. They do have devices on their wrists which, if we were to be truly accurate, would've been sculpted, and not just painted on, but the painted detailing around the figure's wrists is still very neatly done, and it's not something I can really complain about.
The Blue Jaguar Ranger is extremely well articulated. The figure is poseable at the head, arms, upper-arm swivel, double-jointed elbows, wrists, waist, legs, upper leg swivel near the knees, double-jointed knees, and ankles that move back and forth as well as pivot.
The overall proportions of the figure are good, although I think the legs are a LITTLE long. It's not quite anime, but it does strike me as a very slight exaggeration.
Let's discuss the paint job. And here it is best to compare the figure to his more widely available 5" scale counterpart. Both figures are molded in a dark blue plastic. Both have ornate helmets, nicely painted. Both have white necks. A quick observation. I don't know what it is about this, and I didn't really notice it until I started collecting the 15th Anniversary Red Rangers last year, but it seems that almost all members of almost all of the basic Rangers teams over the years have white necks to their uniforms. Whether this is representative of some Japanese tradition or some such I really couldn't say, but it's happened too often to be coincidence.
Anyway -- both figures have the Jungle Fury claw mark insignia on their chests, black with a white outline. But it is after this point that we get an interesting variation.
If we study the 5" scale Blue Jaguar Ranger, we can see distinct white lines and even double lines at various points on his uniform, outlining and highlighting certain sections of the black trim. Frankly, these markings should probably carry over to the back of the figure, but in recent years, Bandai has cut back on the amount of painted trim on the back of a lot of their Power Rangers figures, even if it's something the character is supposed to have.
However, the 12" Blue Ranger has no such white outlines. One can still see the black detailing, but the white is missing. Moreover, the black detailing that is on the back of the 5" Blue Ranger, including a row of spots, is completely absent on the 12" Blue Ranger.
Does this bother me? Well, yes, it does, a bit. Granted, I have seen worse fiascos in the action figure world in recent years than this. I'll take a little missing paint if the rest of the figure is neatly painted, which is more than I can say about some action figures I've come across at times. It's a shame, it has to be entirely money related, I find myself wondering just how much a bit of black or white paint actually costs even on a mass production level -- but I'll live with it. Bandai still makes extremely impressive action figures.
One other comparative note. The musculature is much more defined on the 12" Jaguar Ranger. This is due in part to the use of an established body mold, but also due largely to the fact that this year's basic 5" Ranger figures have somewhat minimized body musculature, especially on the torso. This was somewhat surprising to me, and I am not sure of the rationale, unless it is to make the figures look more real-to-life, since the sort of superheroic proportions common to action figures (and technically, the Power Rangers do qualify as super-heroes) don't generally take place in the real world, and even if they did, wouldn't retain their definition through a uniform.
How sturdy is the 12" Blue Jaguar Ranger? More than one might think. He feels a little lightweight, and the price of the figure is abundantly reasonable for a 12" figure from just about anything these days, let alone a Disney Store exclusive. But the figure seems very durable and well made.
An interesting note for those of you inclined towards customization, or thinking your figure needs a little repair, or even just curious as to how an action figure like this is put together. These 12" Disney Store Power Rangers are held together almost completely be a series of screws. The only rivets are in the wrists, and there's a peg in the ankles that allows them to pivot. Other than that, there's a series of twenty-five small Phillips-style screws holding this figure together. Worth noting, however, is the fact that the head does not have any screws in it. This is actually a change from last year's Operation Overdrive 12" figures, which did. What this may mean insofar as being able to disassemble the figure is concerned I really don't know -- and I don't intend to find out the hard way, either.
The Blue Jaguar Ranger's balance is excellent. I think this is due to a large degree to the fact that he's relatively lightweight. But his articulation allows him to manage a wide range of assorted martial arts poses, especially the double-jointed elbows and knees, and the pivoting ankles. I even got him to stand on one foot! I do not, however, recommend trying to get him to do so on a carpeted surface, and I do suggest making sure that whatever level surface you do attempt this on will not result in a significant drop should he tumble over.
Now, let's consider the Red Tiger Ranger. The Red Ranger's real name is Casey. Casey is a neophyte member of the Pai Zhuq, but is brave and instinctively protective of others. Initially, he is reluctant to accept his responsibilities due to his lack of experience, but he quickly learns to harness his inner power. He controls the Tiger spirit. He is portrayed by Jason Smith.
Much of what I said regarding the Blue Ranger figure here is also true of the Red Ranger, regarding the use of body molds, balance, and other aspects. The Red Ranger has a distinctive helmet, different from the Blue Ranger, of course, but apart from that, the two have a similar assembly.
I would also have to say that the same comparative statements I made regarding the Blue Ranger to his smaller counterpart are also valid. The Red Ranger is also lacking in the white outline around the black striping that the 5" version has. However, it's not quite as problematic as it is on the Blue Ranger. On the Blue Ranger, the dark blue color of the plastic is a little too close to the black, and as such the markings don't really stand out as well as they should. On the Red Ranger, while there may be a certain inaccuracy because of the lack of the white outline, the markings are nevertheless very apparent and very striking.
One curious note -- for whatever reason, the elbow and knee joints are a slightly darker red than the rest of the figure. It's not by much, and I remember one time someone who had reason to know telling me that red is a notoriously hard color to match. Perhaps they are a different type of plastic. I really am not certain.
So what's my final word on these figures? Excellent. Granted, we're talking about something of a specialty figure here. Not everyone can accommodate 12" figures into their collections. Also, the entire Power Rangers Jungle Fury cast is not available. Just the Blue Jaguar and Red Tiger Rangers. However, these are nevertheless very impressive, well-made figures, very affordable in my opinion, and certainly a cool addition to any Power Rangers collection.
I honestly don't know what the status of Power Rangers merchandise within ANY Disney Store might be at this time. It might be plentiful. It might be gone. You'll have to check. However, if you want these figures, I wouldn't wait too long. Granted, there's always the secondary market, but if you can get them directly, that's always preferable.
With that in mind, the 12" Disney Store Exclusive Power Rangers
Jungle Fury BLUE JAGUAR RANGER and RED TIGER RANGER definitely have
my enthusiastic recommendation!