Although as of this writing, Operation Overdrive has given way to Jungle Fury in the Power Rangers universe, that doesn't mean that it's impossible to still find some Operation Overdrive items around. Among these are the Mission Response Rangers.
Power Rangers remains one of the most highly successful toy concepts in recent years. Bandai's annual refreshing of the storyline without losing the core concept of the Rangers -- five (or so) young people in colorful, color-coded superhero costumes -- has enabled Power Rangers to not only succeed where other toy lines have come and long since gone, but its overall success also allows Bandai to produce a huge level of merchandise within any given Power Rangers concept and get away with it -- actually have it sell well -- to a degree that other toy lines and toy companies can only dream of these days.
Operation Overdrive was certainly no exception to this. As a rule, I tend to buy the most straightforward, best articulated Rangers offered. I simply don't have the money or space for all of the additional items. Bandai got a little tricky with Overdrive, though. Some of the Rangers that came with vehicles -- and generally these Rangers are not quite as well articulated -- almost looked like additional characters. One had a mostly orange uniform, which would've been a near-first for Power Rangers as a whole, and another one seemed to be wearing mostly green. Until you checked their helmet colors and realized these were unusual versions of the Black and Red Rangers, respectively.
I suppose my one gripe, other than lesser articulation, with these, is that generally, whatever subset of toys that Rangers figures appear in, they don't feature the entire team. The female Rangers tend to get the short end of the stick in this. Okay, not a lot of boys are going to want a pink motorcycle toy. Still, it has kept me from overloading on the Rangers.
However, it's become increasingly common over the course of any given year for a second set of, for lack of a better term, more advanced- looking Rangers to come out, generally on single cards, and it pretty much includes everybody. It happened with SPD. It certainly looks to happen with Jungle Fury. And it happened with Operation Overdrive, and their Mission Response series.
Since when I first reviewed the original Operation Overdrive Power Rangers, there wasn't a lot of biographical data available on the characters, or on the story concept, I'd like to use this review to present that information:
Five brave, skilled, and adventurous young people are chosen to search for several magical jewels that were long ago taken from the Corona Aurora (literally "Crown of the Dawn"), so as to prevent them from coming into the possession of Moltor and Flurious, who are brothers banished long ago by the Corona's guardian for having attempted to steal it.
When the millionaire explorer Andrew Hartford discovered the Corona Aurora, they escaped their exile and rallied their allies. In response, Andrew Hartford selected the talented youths and modified their DNA so as to grant them exceptional physical powers by which to combat the evil.
Although Moltor and Flurious initially attempted to work together, they soon became rivals. The Corona Aurora fell into Moltor's hands; yet without its jewels, it could not grant the owner universal power.
Later, the evil warriors Kamdor and Miratrix began hunting for the jewels, as did the extraterrestrial 'Fearcats'. Now the Rangers, joined by a Mercurian named Tyzzon who joined their ranks as the Mercury Ranger, are forced to fight multiple villains and travel worldwide in the effort to capture the jewels before their enemies can.
In order to accomplish this purpose, the members of Operation Overdrive are equipped with futuristic technology similar to that featured in previous Power Ranger continuities, which improves in sophistication and power with successive episodes. The physical powers granted by genetic modification are seldom used, seen, or mentioned, except when one or more Rangers is rescued by their use.
One thing to note about Operation Overdrive is the large number of villains. There's no less than four distinct villains, or groups of villains, on the trail of these jewels, along with the Rangers. You've got Flurious, Moltor, Kamdor and Miratrix, and these Fearcats. I was honestly surprised that more of these villains weren't made as figures (we got Kamdor and Moltor late in the game), but at the same time -- talk about stacking the deck against the Rangers! Fortunately, alliances between these villainous forces were generally short lived and ineffective. They spent almost as much time fighting each other as they did the Rangers and trying to find the jewels.
As to the Rangers themselves, they include:
Mackenzie Hartford - The Red Ranger; a fan of adventure stories. His physical power is superhuman strength. He is the android 'son' of Andrew Hartford, who acts as the team's dispatcher. The revelation of Mack's true nature caused some conflict between himself and his creator, who had concealed this truth from him until revealing it became necessary. As an android, he has an unfailed memory that can be accessed via a computer. Mack was transformed into a human by the completed Corona Aurora on the final episode. He was portrayed by James MacLurcan. THAT was all a rather weird set-up, too. According to further information, Andrew wanted a son and, due to his work, was never able to meet the right woman. Mack has been programmed with memories of a childhood, so he could live as a normal teenager.
Mack's status as an android was revealed very gradually over the course of the series. Halfway through the series, hints were dropped that something was abnormal about Mack. In the episode "Out Of Luck", Mack was briefly infected with abnormally bad luck; both Spencer (the family butler, who knew the truth about Mack) and Andrew Hartford commented in private that this should have been impossible. "One Fine Day" revealed Mack's memories of a happy childhood ten years ago don't match with reality, with Andrew mentioning Mack first appeared only two years ago; additionally, he was unable to pass through the Fearcats' forcefield in the same episode, despite maintaining continuous physical contact with Tyzonn and Rose who had already successfully passed through. In the final scene of "Ronny on Empty II", Andrew was initially startled to see Mack's choice of Halloween costume, that of a robot.
Mack was finally revealed to be an android when he was affected by the same computer virus created by Kamdor's monster that infected the BattleFleet Zords and the base's computers. The other Rangers showed support when they found out - as Tyzonn stated, they'd accepted him and he was an alien - but Mack seemed unwilling to forgive his father for keeping it a secret, refusing to talk with him. In "Red Ranger Unplugged" he had a brief identity crisis, unsure if his hobbies were really his or just programmed into him, though he soon got past this. He was still resentful of his father for lying to him, and by "Home and Away Part 2" he had started referring to him simply as "Mr. Hartford" and saying he can't be angry because "androids don't have emotions".
In the final episode "Crown and Punishment", Mack realized his father cared for him when Flurious threatened to destroy Mack for the jewels, causing Andrew to trade the jewels for Mack. After this Mack began calling him "Dad" again. Mack used up all his power in the final battle with Flurious to destroy the villain, but unfortunately, depleting his own power and causing severe internal damage. The other Overdrive Rangers rushed him back to Andrew, who sadly informed the Rangers that the damage to Mack's systems was too severe to be repaired. Moments later, the Sentinel Knight arrived to offer his congratulations, and used the power of the Corona Aurora to not only revive Mack, but to turn him into an actual human being. With Operation Overdrive succeeding in its mission to find the Jewels of the Corona Aurora, and the other Rangers leaving to return to their pre-Ranger lives, Mack is living his fondest wish, and is currently traveling on adventures with his father overseas.
This is a level, a depth, of storytelling that one would not normally expect from Power Rangers, which still has an image among those only peripherally familiar with it of being barely-tolerable camp put together from combined Japanese and American footage to sell toys. Just something to consider for those who see the Power Rangers as nothing more than silly fluff. As to the other Rangers...
Will Aston - The Black Ranger; a spy-for-hire with the physical powers of enhanced hearing and sight. Before being recruited, Will was carrying out a mission in Brazil. He was portrayed by Samuell Benta. He is often shown expressing disbelief in supermundane phenomena, such as the existence of dragons or the oracular powers of a chalice.
Dax Lo - The Blue Ranger; an under-appreciated stunt actor and practical joker with the power to leap immense distances. Prior to becoming a Ranger, Dax was working in Hollywood. He was portrayed by Gareth Yuen. Dax is often the source of comic relief in the series..
Veronica "Ronny" Robinson - The Yellow Ranger; a confident and sometimes overly competitive stock car racer. Her physical power is superhuman speed, which exceeds even the capacity of the eye to note. Before becoming a Ranger, Ronny was competing in an Italian race. She was portrayed by Caitlin Murphy.
Rose Ortiz - The Pink Ranger; a Mensa-level genius archaeologist who enjoys poetry and mythology. The latter interest makes Rose an invaluable source of information regarding the (often fictional) legends which she and her companions must use as the bases for their treasure-hunts. She apparently lacks a robust sense of humor, though she has been made a figure of fun on some occasions. Her power is invisibility. Before she became a Power Ranger, Rose was studying in London. She was portrayed by Rhoda Montemayor.
I'm deliberately not mentioning Tyzonn, the Mercury Ranger, here, for two reasons, even though the figure for him didn't come along until the Mission Response assortment. For one thing, his toy doesn't quite match the others in basic design details. For another, I've had the figure for some months, and reviewed him separately some time ago. Right now, I want to focus on the five core Rangers and their Mission Response figures.
I'm going to have to divide this between the three male Rangers -- Red, Blue, and Black -- and the two female Rangers -- Yellow and Pink. This isn't me being sexist. It's just that there are some considerable differences between the two -- beyond the obvious, that is.
The male Rangers could best be described as fairly significantly armored versions of their original editions. The uniform colors and patterns are the same, but there have been a lot of enhancements. The Rangers have these wide armored shoulder pads, which actually have articulation points that allow them to flip up so the Rangers can move their arms. These armor pieces, molded in the proper color for the Ranger in question, have silver and white trim, and long center sections of metallic blue. Frankly, they look a bit like siren lights on a cop car. There are wide armored bands across the tops of the gloves and boots, painted in silver, and armored bands, not painted (although the pictures of the prototypes on the package back indicates they should've been) around the wrists and ankles. There is also a silver painted (at least on the front) harness across the chest and back of the figure.
There is also visible sculpted padding on the upper arms and upper legs. Really, the overall detailing on these Rangers is superb.
The figures look great, but unfortunately the one nasty habit that Bandai tends to carry forth -- saving a few cents by not painting ALL of the details -- does show through here a bit, especially with the missing paint on the back.
Articulation is excellent. These figures pose at the head, arms, elbows, lower arm swivel (glove tops), legs, and knees.
There is a little device on the center of the chest, within the raised sculpted detail of the Operation Overdrive insignia. This is an "I.D. Tech Chip". This device works in concert with the Power Rangers Mission Response Vehicle, to "unlock hidden sounds". I can't say specifically how this works, since I don't own the Mission Response Vehicle. If I can find and afford it before supplies run out, though, I may have to consider it. I'm generally not in the habit of buying Power Rangers vehicles, but as of now, I have all five standard Rangers in the Mission Response format, the Mercury Ranger, the Sentinel Knight, as well as the villains Kamdor and Moltor. Might be nice to see how the technology works...
The male Rangers also speak, when you press their belt buckles. Fairly ordinary phrases, mostly calls to action, although it's worth noting that the Blue Ranger addresses a specific villain with the comment, "Take that, Flurious!" The irony should not be lost here, in light of the fact that there is no figure of Flurious available.
As to the female figures, here we have an interesting contrast compared to the males, and for that matter, compared to the "standard" Operation Overdrive female Rangers.
The Yellow and Pink Mission Response Rangers are, shall we say, more lightly armored. They are wearing harnesses that are a bit more extensive in percentage of space covered, but also somewhat less detailed. There are smaller shoulder pads, half-painted silver (once again the backs are left unpainted) that are not independently articulated, but are small enough to not restrict arm articulation too much.
There's no enhanced detailing on the arms or legs. Honestly, I made a comparison between these and the "basic" Yellow and Pink Overdrive Rangers, and it's not inconceivable that they used the same molds. I don't want to say that for certain, because the molded copyright information on the bottoms of their feet is differently positioned, but apart from that, I see no significant differences.
The figures have excellent articulation, and are poseable at the head, arms, elbows, a glove swivel, legs, an upper leg swivel (something that interestingly the male Rangers in this series DON'T have), and knees. The upper leg swivel is at the point of the "skirt" -- so maybe it's just as well the male Rangers don't have this point, if that's what it would take, but it is worth noting that the "basic" male Rangers from Overdrive DO have an upper leg swivel -- designed somewhat differently, of course.
The Yellow and Pink Mission Response Rangers do not speak. Female figures tend to get shafted a bit on internal electronics, possibly because their bodies are too slender to accommodate the needed electronics AND the internal batteries. However, they do have the I.D. Tech Chips. However these things work, it's clearly the Mission Response Vehicle that does most of the work. The Tech Chips, for lack of a better term, would seem to be the "cue cards" for whatever additional sounds they can make the MRV produce.
So what's my final take on these figures? Really, they're very impressive. The differences between the male and female Rangers, as far as armor accoutrements are concerned, is surprisingly noticeable, but on the whole, this is a cool set of Power Rangers, and I really have to say -- again, not meaning to sound sexist, just stating facts of design and construction -- that the three male Rangers in this assortment are very cool and very impressive figures, outfitted in their fancy armored uniforms.
Although these figures are doubtless getting to be in short supply,
it's NOT impossible to find them. And, of course, there's always the
secondary market, which hopefully wouldn't be too bad for Power Rangers.
With all of that in mind, the POWER RANGERS OPERATION OVERDRIVE MISSION
RESPONSE RANGERS certainly have my enthusiastic recommendation!