Over the long history and multiple concepts of the Power Rangers, there have been a great many colors of Power Rangers. Uniform colors, that is.
There's been Red Rangers (every time out), Blue Rangers, Green Rangers, Black Rangers, Yellow Rangers, Pink Rangers, White Rangers, Silver Rangers -- there was even an Orange Ranger briefly, although I'm not sure how long he was around or how seriously he was taken. One Rangers concept, Ninja Storm, even fudged a bit one year, sort of giving us two Red and two Blue Rangers in the same year by calling them Crimson and Navy.
But there's never been a Purple Ranger...until now.
Technically, he's not officially called the Purple Ranger. The Jungle Fury concept has semi-dropped the color designations, although most of the Rangers still have uniforms of one main color. The Rangers in Jungle Fury are named after animals, whose attributes they have learned to emulate or some such. I believe part of the reason for this is because the Jungle Fury concept has a greater population of Rangers than any previous concept.
To some degree, this is due to the fact that three of the Rangers were developed for the American audience. The three that WEREN'T, from the initial group, included the (Red) Tiger Ranger, the (Blue) Jaguar Ranger, and the (Yellow) Cheetah Ranger, the lone female on the team. They were the core of the Japanese concept from which Jungle Fury was derived, which in Japan was called "Juken Sentai Gekiranger".
Now, what the American audiences are technically regarding as the seventh and eighth (there's your record number) Rangers, the Purple Wolf Ranger and the White Rhino Ranger, were actually the fourth and fifth Rangers in this Rangers concept's Japanese counterpart.
Filling in the crowd for the American audience are the Elephant Ranger, who wears a Green uniform, the Shark Ranger, who wears a sort of turquoise uniform, and the Bat Ranger, who wears a mostly black uniform, with a lot of silver trim on it, and who should consider himself fortunate that Batman Beyond hasn't found out about him yet.
Which brings us back around to the Wolf Ranger. Officially, he's not called the Purple Ranger. He's called the Wolf Ranger. But he's still dressed in a mostly purple uniform. It's a little hard to miss.
Interestingly, it's a somewhat different shade of purple than I expected. A toy device called the "Wolf Morpher" has been on the market for some time, and is a pretty straightforward purple. I also acquired a Purple Wolf Ranger figure from Japan, through somewhat roundabout means. That figure was also a very straightforward purple. But the Purple Wolf Ranger figure that's currently being offered as part of the "Jungle Master" series (the other six Rangers got uniform upgrades) is more of a blue-purple. Fortunately, he's not the same dark blue as the Jaguar Ranger, and he's nowhere near the turquoise of the Shark Ranger. But he's not the purple I really expected, either.
Anyway, here's a brief review of the Jungle Fury concept, and the Wolf Ranger as a character:
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 Zhua, 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 Zhua members, three of which charged with keeping the Dai Shi from being released.
Now, in the present day, Dai Shi has escaped and three new warriors have been selected by the Pai Zhua 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.
Jungle Fury is unique in the fact that for the first time in franchise history, there are fewer primary Rangers than "Other Rangers" to serve on a single team, obviously referring to the prominence of the Tiger, Jaguar, and Cheetah Rangers, while having to work in the rest of the team, no less than FIVE others, even if visually, the Bat, Elephant, and Shark Rangers work in better than the Wolf and Rhino Rangers, which makes sense, as much as anything does here.
As to the Wolf Ranger, his name is Robert James, or "R.J.", and is the aforementioned Rangers' boss and new master, and owner of the Jungle Karma Pizza restaurant, and master over the Wolf Spirit. He is the one that gives them their powers and provides them with jobs. He also creates the Rangers' arsenal of weapons, gear, and vehicles. It is later revealed that he is the son of Master Finn and that he rejected learning his father's Shark technique, instead mastering his own control over the Wolf Spirit. After his battle with Dai Shi, R.J. starts to lose control of his Wolf Spirit and starts developing transformations into a werewolf. After Fran manages to get R.J. to regain control, he becomes the Wolf Ranger. He is portrayed by David de Lautour.
So, how's the figure? Pretty cool. The Wolf Ranger stands a little over 6" in height. The helmet is nicely sculpted and well detailed, although for whatever reason the head points down a bit. It's not on a ball-and- socket, although it does turn side to side, but as such cannot be raised up. The costume, with about an equal measure of purple and black bordered in white, actually fits the original uniform design of the Jungle Fury Rangers a little better than it fits the Jungle Master designs, which use a lot more white than black for trim.
However, the Wolf Ranger costume is clearly intended to be something somewhat different entirely. The figure has silver gauntlets and silver boots -- except for the feet -- as well as silver knee pads... something that the other Jungle Fury Rangers do not have. He's still part of the team, though. Has the Jungle Fury emblem on his chest.
One thing that might be surprising to Power Rangers fans is the relatively limited level of sculpted musculature. Power Rangers figures in recent years have become increasingly super-heroic in their bodily appearance, even if it's not entirely in keeping with the look of the characters on the live-action TV show. That's been toned down for the Jungle Fury line, and while perhaps taking a little getting used to, is actually more accurate in its way.
The figure is well-articulated, poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, and ankles. If I have one complaint about the assembly of the figure, it's that the upper leg swivel is quite loose. It also seems to be a trend. The White Rhino Ranger is so loose in this point that I almost wonder if it was deliberate for some reason. I haven't had a chance to check the other Jungle Master Rangers as yet.
It's not TOO big of a deal. The figures still stand well. But -- I tend to prefer tighter articulation. I have an idea in my head as to how this could be corrected, but I don't want to outline the details right now. For one thing, I'm not sure it'll work. For another, it's fairly intricate and requires partial disassembly of the leg. I'm not sure that's possible.
One thing worth mentioning is the footwear, something all of the Rangers have. Now, I'm used to seeing Power Rangers wearing boots. But this year's Jungle Fury Rangers look more like they're wearing fancy sneakers. It's certainly reflected in the sculpts for these figures. Did Bandai make a deal with Nike or something? I tend to be of the opinion that the Japanese love their sneakers (like we don't!?). I recall a while back, a couple of Japanese Transformers were produced. Special editions of Optimus Prime and Megatron. They didn't transform into vehicles or weapons. They transformed into half-scale versions of licensed sneakers. As if that wasn't hysterical enough, in their robot modes, they were wearing sneakers. Maybe these shoes are the Rangers' version of that. At least on the Rangers, it doesn't look nearly as silly. In the case of the Wolf Ranger, the shoes appear below the silver boot tops.
My only other complaint about this figure is one that I've had about Power Rangers for several years -- would it kill Bandai to paint the BACKS of these things!? I know from the Japanese Wolf Ranger figure I have that this guy is supposed to have a lot of purple color on his back as well as his front. He's NOT supposed to be a solid black! Come on, Bandai, is purple spray paint that expensive!?
Each of the eight Rangers in this Jungle Master series has a little gimmick with it. Called a "Jungle Tag", for reasons of which I am not entirely certain, this is a small handheld device that makes sound effects. It's about three inches long by an inch or so wide, is purple in color, and has a gold painted sculpted image of a wolf on it. Press the button on its own and it howls. Now, if you plug it into the back of the Ranger figure, it makes a second sound, which I suspect is some sort of battle sound effect for the Ranger himself. It sounds like a bell, followed by a brief howl (which is actually more effective sounding than the first one), and what sounds like swords clashing.
Not a bad little device really, and the socket in the back of the Ranger figure isn't too big.
So, what's my final word here? Okay, Bandai's habit of not painting the backs of their Power Rangers figures is annoying, but it's something you sort of have to get used to if you're going to enjoy Power Rangers. I would've liked to have seen a more -- purple shade of purple on this figure, but he's still definitely purple. And really, it's pretty cool to have the first ever Purple Power Ranger.
The POWER RANGERS JUNGLE FURY JUNGLE MASTER WOLF RANGER definitely has my enthusiastic recommendation!