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By Thomas Wheeler

Although I have been a longtime fan of the Power Rangers, I've tended to restrict my collection of them to the basic Rangers figures. I've never really had the Zords, the fancy machines that the Rangers use in their various battles against whatever forces of evil any given group of Rangers may encounter.

This is largely due to limitations on finances and physical space. The Zords tend to be rather large, and fairly expensive.However, a new development has turned up in the Power Rangers world, specifically in the new Super Legends category.

As far as I can determine, the Power Rangers Super Legends line can offer toys from any Power Rangers concept that's ever hit the American shores. And one of their products is a series of Megazords from several different Rangers concepts.

What's a Megazord? A Megazord is a large, humanoid robot that is brought together from the smaller, individual Zords piloted by the individual specific Rangers within any given Power Rangers concept. It's generally used in the climatic scene of an episode to go up against some massive monstrous horror devised by the bad guys, the battle taking place in a cityscape set left over from Godzilla movies.

These Super Legends Retrofire Megazord figures are a much more agreeable size, slightly under six inches in height, and as such, a more affordable price, as well. Finally, I can have some Zords in my Power Rangers collection.

This review will take a look at the Retrofire Megazord for the newest Power Rangers concept as of 2009, POWER RANGERS RPM. It is called the HIGH OCTANE MEGAZORD.

While the Power Rangers RPM toys are out in force, the television series hasn't really gotten going, and there's just not that much information, especially on the Zords. So, I'm going to have to look back on the Japanese concept from which Power Rangers RPM is derived, and then throw in a little speculation as well.

One of the things I noticed about RPM right off was what I would call a mixture of themes. Generally speaking, previous Power Rangers concepts have had a specific theme to them. The Rangers and their Zords are animal based, or they're based on machines and technology, or they have a sci-fi theme, or some such. But RPM manages to mix machines, in a racing theme, with animals! This is quite unusual.

Power Rangers RPM is based on a Japanese concept called Engine Sentai Go-onger. The concept reads as follows: Machine World is one of the 11 Braneworlds other than our own, which is referred as the Human World and it is home to giant vehicular beings called Engines who wage a war against the Gaiark who desire to pollute their world. Losing, Gaiark's three Pollution Ministers' escape leaves them on Earth, seeing the Human World as an easier location to create their ideal paradise. The six Engines manage to pursue them, selecting five humans to become their partners, the Go-ongers. The team are joined by Go-on Wings and their Wing Engines, as well as the Ancient Engines, as they all together battle the Gaiark as well as other evil villains from other Braneworlds.

This seems to be fairly close to the RPM concept, which is explained on the inside front flap of the High Octane Megazord as follows: In Power Rangers RPM, in the shining city of Corinth, an elite force of Rangers must learn to drive and operate an arsenal of radically advanced biotech vehicles in order to battle the attacking Machine Army bent on world domination.

Interesting that the word "biotech" works its way in there, given both the machine and animal characteristics of these Rangers and their vehicles.

The concept has been hugely popular in Japan -- as most Super Sentai shows are, with a couple of movies tacked on, one in which they team up with their predecessors, whom we know as the Jungle Fury Power Rangers.

As to the Rangers themselves, here we come back around to that odd combo of racing machines and animal references again. The Rangers' helmets all have wheels for their earpieces and headlights for their animal symbols' eyes. The cuffs on their boots and gloves look like tire treads of one sort or another. And yet there's also the animal overtones, as the Red Ranger is defined as the Eagle Ranger, the Blue Ranger as the Lion Ranger, the Yellow Ranger as the Bear Ranger, the Green Ranger as the Shark Ranger, and the Black Ranger as the Wolf Ranger.

Their primary individual vehicles, what I have seen of pictures of them as of the time of this writing, border on the comical. They look like vehicles, but with animal faces as their hoods. Almost like the animal kingdom's answer to Disney/Pixar's "Cars". I found this a little unusual, since generally speaking, in Japan, the Power Rangers are presented in a more serious light than they are in the United States.

The Megazord for Power Rangers RPM is called the "High Octane Megazord", certainly a racing/machine type term. Nevertheless, the animal overtones are clearly apparent. So are the vehicular ones. It's a weird combo.

The High Octane Megazord looks as though it's comprised of the basic Zord vehicles for only three of the RPM Rangers -- Red, Yellow, and Blue. This actually makes sense. The Japanese concept specifically states that "the Go-onger team is composed of the core three and two back-up members who support the main team."

Now, each Ranger has a number on his uniform, stylized to look like his or her animal representation. The red Eagle Ranger is #1, the Blue Lion Ranger is #2, and the Yellow Bear Ranger is #3. Meanwhile, the Green Shark Ranger is #4, and the Black Wolf Ranger is #5, and their uniforms have somewhat different markings than the first three.

It's reasonable to assume that these are the two "back-up members", and that their vehicular Zords wouldn't necessarily comprise the main Megazord -- although it wouldn't surprise me a bit over the course of the series to see some advanced combined Megazord that does incorporate them. They tend to do that sometimes.

But, there's no sign of green or enough black on this Megazord to account for those two in this instance, so we'll assume they're not part of the High Octane Megazord.

This thing is rather odd-looking. It's as humanoid in appearance as any other Megazord has ever been, and yet the dual nature of the Rangers' theme in this series is staggeringly apparent. The upswept, race-car sides of the Red vehicle comprise massive shoulders for this Megazord, complete with wheels and tires, and yet the red upper torso of this Megazord looks like a mechanical bird, complete with beak, and directly beneath it is the clear and very distinctly animal-like head of the Yellow Bear Ranger's vehicle. Somewhat more difficult to discern, but not impossible, is the upper face of the Blue Lion directly beneath this.

And yet the arms and legs are clearly machine-oriented, and show no discernible animal-like tendencies. So is the head, for that matter, with what look like engine cylinders sticking out at an angle. It's an odd mix, overall.

The toy is superbly detailed, and painted. Keep in mind that these Megazords, as presented in any given Power Rangers series, are massive constructs, the combined robotic result of several fairly large vehicles, brought together to do battle with some massive monster brought forth by the bad guys. It's one thing to make a fairly large toy of something like that. It's another to make something that's not quite six inches in height, and still manage to work in a decent amount of sculpted detail, and then paint it neatly.

Bandai has done a superb job. Honestly, I would expect nothing less from the same people responsible for Gundam. The sculpted details are extensive, intricate, and where appropriate, very symmetrical. The painted detail is similarly well done, right down to the very small details on the humanoid robotic face on the figure's head, including the eyes.

Articulation is good, but strange. As with the Mighty Morphin Megazord, the articulation in the arms is -- inconsistent. The right arm swings outward at the shoulder, and turns at the wrist. There is no elbow joint. This, I think the general idea, was to have the Zord be able to hold its weapon more dramatically. Alternatively, the left arm is not able to swing outward, nor does the wrist move, but it does have an upper arm swivel, and can move at the elbow.

Frankly, I find this sort of variable articulation just a bit annoying. It'd kill Bandai to give both arms a full range of motion?

However, overall articulation is very agreeable. The head is mounted on a ball-and-socket joint, giving it a considerable range of motion. Both arms move forward and back at the shoulder, and the figure is also poseable at the waist, legs (including an upper leg swivel), knees, and ankles.

The Megazord comes with a weapon, an extremely long machine-like sword, that's five inches in length. Given that the Megazord itself is 5-1/2" in height, in real life, this sword would be several stories tall, easily. Maybe we should hire him out for building demolition.

The other accessory is an interesting one, and here is maybe where a fourth vehicle comes into play. It's a largely black shield, but it clearly also looks like a vehicle, even with wheels on the sides. That's what you get for being part of the back-up crew. Your vehicle doesn't get to be part of the Megazord, but we'll gladly protect the Megazord by using your vehicle as a shield and let the bad guys beat the heck out of it until they wear themselves out so we can blast them.

There's also a display base, which looks like the all-encompassing Power Rangers lightning bolt, with a post on it and a peg that can be inserted into the back of the Megazord for a more airborne-looking display.

So what's my final word here? For Power Rangers fans who are on something of a budget like me, or who just don't have the physical space to bring in all the toys from any given year of Power Rangers, these Retrofire Megazords are ideal. It gives you the most significant Zord in any given concept at a reasonable price and a manageable size, and it's a cool toy in and of itself.

To date, there's three of these Megazords available. I am personally hopeful of more. But in the meantime, any of the POWER RANGERS SUPER LEGENDS RETROFIRE MEGAZORDS definitely have my enthusiastic recommendation, and that certainly includes the RPM HIGH OCTANE MEGAZORD!