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REVIEW:
POWER RANGERS JUNGLE FURY JUNGLE MASTER WHITE RHINO RANGER
By Thomas Wheeler


It can be fairly said, I believe, that the Jungle Fury Power Rangers concept is the most populated Power Rangers concept of all. Most Power Rangers teams have tended to have five core Rangers, and then a sixth Ranger comes along later in the series. Power Rangers SPD managed seven. Jungle Fury has eight.

Now, technically, that's a bit of a stretch, and it's where the Jungle Fury concept, based on the Japanese series "Juken Sentai Gekiranger", gets a little complicated. Technically, in Japan, there were only FIVE Rangers -- three core members and two additionals. That was unusual on both counts. To expand the team to levels usually associated with the Rangers for American audiences (and doubtless to sell more toys), three more Rangers were added, with designs that helped them fit in more with the core team than as being additional Rangers, although how well this played out in the TV series is debatable.

The three core Rangers from the initial group as featured in Japan, included the (Red) Tiger Ranger, the (Blue) Jaguar Ranger, and the (Yellow) Cheetah Ranger, the lone female on the team. It's worth noting that, even in the United States, the characters are named after their animal representatives, and not their uniform colors, although for the most part, the colors are still a valid distinction.

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 around to the figure I want to review at this time, technically the eighth Ranger, the WHITE RHINO RANGER. (White as in White Ranger, not White Rhino.)

First, though, some background on the Jungle Fury series: 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 Rhino Ranger himself, he is named Dominic, and is a mischievous former Pai Zhua student sent by Master Mao to find his path in life. After six years of wandering, he finds himself at Jungle Karma Pizza with the Rangers. After initially rejecting him, the Rangers accept him into the team when he saves Fran, a friend of the Rangers, from a falling sign. He controls the Rhinoceros spirit. He is portrayed by Nikolai Nikolaeff.

Heck, why bother with Dominic. The actor's real name is interesting enough. And yeah, let's entrust someone with a habit of wandering and being mischievous with the spirit of a massive armored animal with a habit of occasional rampages that have been known to disable safari jeeps. Master Mao, by the way, is the Rangers' previous master at the Pai Zhua academy; his physical body was destroyed by Dai Shi while protecting the Rangers, but he continues to help the Rangers in spirit form.

So, how's the figure? Pretty cool. He's been somewhat hard to find, though. Curiously, it seems as though the Jungle Master Rangers have been split, shipment-wise, to a degree. I found the Red Tiger, Yellow Cheetah, Blue Jaguar, and Purple Wolf Rangers, but none of the others. All eight Rangers, including the aforementioned four, plus the Elephant, Shark, and Bat Rangers, as well as the Rhino Ranger, have turned up and sold out in short order. Anyone doubting the continued popularity of Power Rangers after all these years should've seen that supply dwindle the way it did.

The Rhino 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. It has a very distinct horn in the center, above the visor. The costume is perhaps the most distinct of any of the Jungle Fury Rangers, as it is almost entirely white. The "claw mark" Jungle Fury logo that the other seven Rangers have on their costumes is present here, but it is not centered the way it is on the other figures, and it is bisected by a graphic of a rhino horn. The Rhino Ranger is also wearing a belt around his waist that the other Rangers lack.

Interestingly, the limited amount of color trim, although mostly black, also includes some ORANGE. Much as with the Wolf Ranger being the first Purple Power Ranger, this orange trim is really the first time that orange has been used to a significant degree on a major Ranger. He has orange around his visor, collar, belt, and striping down the front and sides of his costume.

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. The Wolf Ranger isn't quite as bad. 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.

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!? However, I have to say that in the case of the Rhino Ranger, it's not a big deal at all. I have to assume that this figure was intended to be mostly white. About all that appears to be missing is a little bit of black and orange trim that, in this case at least, is relatively inconsequential. I wish I could say the same about some of this guy's peers.

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 white in color, and has the gold sculpted image of a rhinoceros on it, very nicely done, I might add. Now, I was curious as to what this would sound like. I don't get the National Geographic Channel, so I really don't know, but I was not of the opinion that rhinos made a lot of vocalizations. I believed that they tended to prefer to let their actions speak for them. If you've just overturned a Range Rover and treed a pack of hunters, what needs to be said, really?

Press the button, and the device makes a fairly brief noise that sounds something like a roar-snort. 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. This noise is pretty much totally devoid of any animal sounds, and sounds a lot like swords clashing a couple of times combined with sci-fi noises. It is not a bad sound, and seems appropriately Japanese sci-fi-ish.

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? The loose legs of this figure bother me a bit, but at least he does stand up on his own. Each year, it seems, the design structure of the Power Rangers changes a little bit. Here's hoping that when the next Power Rangers concept gets going, which is tentatively called Power Rangers RPM, this loose leg glitch won't be a factor.

Apart from that, however, this is really a very cool figure. He accomplishes the goal of the "additional Ranger" by at once blending in reasonably well with the group, and yet having enough distinctive, unique features to also stand apart. And that's what he should do. The white uniform is impressive, and, perhaps especially since this line also includes a Purple Ranger, I like the addition of the orange trim -- two colors that have seen virtually no previous use in the Rangers universe.

The POWER RANGERS JUNGLE FURY JUNGLE MASTER RHINO RANGER definitely has my enthusiastic recommendation!