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By Thomas Wheeler

The Disney Store might seem like an unusual place to find Power Rangers toys, let alone exclusive ones, until you recall that Power Rangers airs on ABC Family and Toon Disney, which is owned by Disney. In point of fact, the most recent Power Rangers series, as of this writing, OPERATION OVERDRIVE, is a co-production between Disney and Toei.

Disney stands behind its Power Rangers brand. I recall recently seeing a series of T-shirts that featured sketched images of popular Disney characters. There was one for Mickey Mouse, one for Donald Duck, one for Goofy, one for Mowgli and Baloo, ones for several other characters -- and sure enough, there was a Power Rangers one in there. Almost makes me wonder if one might expect to see costumed Power Rangers wandering around the Disney parks.

Although most of the Power Rangers products to be found at Disney Stores are only exclusive merchandise insofar as being repackagings are concerned -- two-packs of 5" scale figures are especially prominent -- there are exceptions. And one of them was the whopping big, and very reasonably priced, 12" Mercury Ranger that I discovered recently.

Most Power Rangers figures tend to be in the 5" range, give or take a bit. The recent 15th Anniversary Red Ranger series presented us with figures that were around 6-1/2" in height. So one can well imaging how large a 12" Ranger looks compared to that.

Fortunately, this is a really well-made Mercury Ranger.

So who, precisely, is the Mercury Ranger? He is the inevitable "sixth Ranger" of the Operation Overdrive concept, the one that shows up a little later and maybe doesn't quite fit the motif of the other five, although the Mercury Ranger comes decently close. According to the entry on Operation Overdrive on Wikipedia, the Mercury Ranger is named Tyzonn, and he is a Mercurian with the ability to transform his body into mercury. He followed the Fearcats to Earth to bring them to justice for causing the deaths of the intergalactic search and rescue team of which he was previously a member. He is portrayed by Dwayne Cameron.

The Fearcats, it should be mentioned are one of the forces of villains involved in the Operation Overdrive story, a faction of villains associated with alien cat-beasts who were turned into cyborgs.

The Mercury Ranger was dressed in a silver uniform, and unlike the white center stripe that most of the Operation Overdrive Rangers had on their uniforms, the Mercury Ranger's was black, with an orange outline.

The 12" Mercury Ranger has duplicated this superbly well. Although the body doesn't have any distinct sculpted detailing for the uniform details, leading me to believe that, not unlike the 15th Anniversary Rangers, it is a sort of "generic" body design that can be used for multiple figures, the painted detailing is very nicely done, with the orange-outlined black stripe running down the center of the front of the uniform from collar to boot tops, and down the inside of the sleeves.

And what's especially interesting is that the pattern is repeated on the back of the figure! Now, Bandai makes excellent action figures, and I do enjoy their Power Rangers. But they have had, over the past few years, the distinctly annoying habit of not applying much paint detailing to the backs of their Power Rangers figures, even where there are very clearly delineated sculpted lines for the application of paint.

The 5" scale Mercury Ranger very clearly has lines on his back that indicate where black and orange SHOULD have been painted, but wasn't. In contrast, while the 12" Mercury Ranger does not have sculpted lines, the paint detailing IS present, and very well done. There's only a few areas around the insignia on the chest where it looks like some sort of touch- up on the black and the orange might have taken place, and could have been a little neater. But this could have been caused, I don't know, even by the application of the insignia, which was probably stamped on. And it's nothing serious, and nothing I can't correct.

There are a few areas where some sculpted detailing would have been appreciated, although I accept that this is a generic body that I am sure Bandai expects to get a lot of use out of. The glove tops, boot tops, and some little gadgets at the shoulders SHOULD have been raised, and are on the 5" version of this figure. But this simply wasn't possible to do on the 12" figure. At least they are painted neatly, and I understand the practical side of this, so I really can't complain.

The Mercury Ranger is wearing a separate belt, which is nicely made, and to which the weapon that is included with the figure can be attached.

The Mercury Ranger's overall physique seems a little thin, especially in the arms, but let's face it, the smaller figures tend to be a little more built up muscle-wise than their real life counterparts, and I think I've gotten used to the 15th Anniversary Rangers, who are real powerhouses. So with all probability, the physique of the 12" Mercury Ranger is likely more plausible than some.

Although I should note one other possibility. There is a line of 12" Rangers that is available at other retailers -- I've seen them especially at Target -- where the figures are wearing cloth costumes. I've never purchased them, but the costumes aren't the greatest fits in the world. But I do find myself wondering if the body underneath the costume would be identical to the one used on this Mercury Ranger. It might explain the seemingly slender limbs. But I have no specific proof of this, so this is just speculation.

How's the articulation on this figure? Really excellent. He's not quite a Marvel Legends figure, but the 12" Mercury Ranger's articulation is certainly above average. He's poseable at the head, arms (outward and well as back and forth), an upper arm swivel, double-jointed elbows, wrists, waist, legs, an upper leg swivel, double-jointed knees,and ankles that not only move back and forth but also pivot side to side. I have little doubt that this Mercury Ranger can assume a wide range of martial arts poses, and keep a good stance in the process.

The articulation is mostly sound and tight, although mine seems a little loose in the left arm. However, and this is an interesting point for anyone who might be inclined to customize a figure like this -- he's almost entirely assembled with screws. The only place I see rivets, plastic or metal, are in the wrists and ankle pivots. It should otherwise be possible, if one so desired, to take a Phillips screwdriver and completely disassemble this figure down almost completely for either customizing or repair.

One other thing I would like to note. Ask any toy factory or manufacturer, and they'll tell you that any plastic with a metallic sheen to it, such as silver, is a nightmare to work with. If it is not injected into the mold properly, the end result is a figure with a LOT of lines in the metal pattern. I have a Mego Buck Rogers Twiki standing right here on my computer table, from 1979. He's about 2-1/2" tall. He's a cool figure and I'm glad to have him, but he's molded in silver plastic, and the domed top of his head looks like a cracked eggshell, and parts of his body look like some sort of silver woodgrain.

There is almost NO evidence of this on the 12" Mercury Ranger. I won't say he's 100% flawless. But he's a darn sight closer to flawless than one might expect to find these days. I don't know what procedures the factory Bandai used to make this figure used to minimize mold pattern problems, but it should be well studied by other toy companies just in general.

So what's my final word on this figure? How about spectacular? Seriously, this is one cool Power Ranger. He's a whopping big size, but I got him for a very reasonable price. He has an astounding range of articulation, and seems a lot more sturdily made than I initially expected. This 12" Mercury Ranger would delight anyone who enjoys the Power Rangers, whether child or adult collector.

But, you can only get him at the Disney Store, although it's possible he might also be available through their Web Site. In any case, the POWER RANGERS OPERATION OVERDRIVE 12" MERCURY RANGER definitely has my enthusiastic recommendation!