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By Thomas Wheeler

It's amazing to consider that 2007 was the 15th Anniversary, in the United States, of the Power Rangers concept (it's been going for 30 in Japan). A lot of people deride the concept, some find it excessively violent, others too campy, but hey -- you can't argue with its success.

Admittedly, though, it was pretty much the last action figure line in which I ever expected to find limited edition collectibles. However, mixed in with the basic Jungle Fury figures, this year's Power Rangers concept, are a number of collectible, limited edition (if 20,000 apiece can be regarded as a limited edition) figures of popular characters from the earliest days of Power Rangers.

One of the Power Rangers concept's greatest strengths, and perhaps one of the greatest reasons for its longevity, has been its practice of reinventing itself every year, without losing the core concept. That core concept is a team of young heroes, with martial arts skills, outfitted in similar-looking costumes, each with a distinct color. Whatever the surrounding storyline, whatever their mechanical Zords look like, whomever they are under the helmets, whatever sort of evil they may face, this has remained true throughout the entirety of the Power Rangers, and it has been quite an entirety to date -- Jungle Fury, SPD, Operation Overdrive, Dino Thunder, Ninja Storm...

But all started out with the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and it is largely there that these collectible figures, dubbed "SUPER LEGENDS" come from. The first two figures in this special series -- the Green Ranger and Lord Zedd, were available within the initial assortments of single-carded "basic" Jungle Fury Rangers. Now that the Jungle Fury Rangers have graduated into "Jungle Master" costumes (which frankly are something of an improvement), two more Super Legends figures are being worked in. And one of them is the MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS -- WHITE RANGER!

Now, technically, the White Ranger is the same individual as the Green Ranger.

Generally speaking, there's at least one "additional" Ranger in any given Power Rangers concept beyond the core group of about five, an additional character that comes along later in the adventures. In the case of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, it was Tommy, the Green Ranger, later the White Ranger. But he didn't start out as one of the good guys. And therein lies a tale to tell:

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers begins with five teenagers combating Rita Repulsa and her seemingly endless array of monsters. However, consecutive failures lead Rita to adopt a new method for conquering Earth and destroying the Power Rangers: by attacking them with one of their own. In possession of a special Green Ranger power, Rita kidnaps and brainwashes a local teen whose fighting skills prove to equal that of Jason's (the Red Ranger) in a martial arts contest held in Angel Grove.

The new teen, Tommy Oliver, passes Rita's tests, becoming the Green Ranger during the five-part story arc "Green with Evil." Eventually, the Green Ranger is overcome, and the Sword of Darkness, the new source for the continuance of the evil spell he has fallen victim to, is destroyed by Jason. As a result, Tommy will use the Powers he's left with to defeat the evil that gave them to him in the first place. His Zord, the Dragonzord, retains the power to join with the other Ranger's Dinozords to form more powerful Zord combinations, including the Mega Dragonzord.

As time goes on, discontent with regularly being defeated with the aide of the Green Ranger powers she believes are hers, Rita focuses her plans on eliminating Tommy and regaining the powers. Utilizing a special wax touched by Tommy when he was evil, Rita uses a green candle (in a story arc under the same title) to sever Tommy's link to the Morphing Grid and slowly remove his powers, returning them to her.

Because Tommy's proximity to the candle accelerates its melting process, Jason enters the Dark Dimension where the candle is guarded by Goldar to retrieve it. Unfortunately, Rita unleashes a monster attack in Angel Grove that keeps Jason and his friends from retrieving the candle. In the end, Tommy loses his powers. However, he is able to prevent Rita from reclaiming it by transferring the remains to another Ranger who can operate them based on their own link to the Morphing Grid. Tommy chooses Jason who, feeling guilty for failing to protect Tommy's powers, accepts them.

The five Rangers continue to protect Earth from the ongoing threat of Rita Repulsa, with Jason wielding the Green Ranger powers in conjunction with his own Red Ranger powers. In a story arc seeing the kidnap of the parents of all the students at Angel Grove High School, including that of the five Ranger teens, the Rangers are forced to give up their five Power Coins in trade for their parents' safety. In an act of subterfuge, Goldar accepts the coins and keeps the captive parents. To make matters worse, Rita brainwashes Billy into stealing the Dragon Dagger and giving it to Goldar who unleashes the Dragonzord upon a town that no longer has the protection of the Power Rangers.

With no powers of their own to use, Jason reveals that he is still in possession of the Dragon Coin. Tommy returns, agreeing to take part in a dangerous process in which Zordon transfers energy from himself into the Dragon Coin, allowing it to temporarily enable Tommy to morph into the Green Ranger once more. He steals back the coins and dagger, seemingly at the cost of his own life, having been electrocuted by a force-field protecting both sets of items. The Rangers regain their powers and fight for the safety of their parents, to no avail. In a turn of events, Tommy is revived; it is revealed that he'd been energized by the power of the force-field that seemingly electrocuted him. He once again uses his powers to save the day, but they are only temporary and can be re-generated only for a short time by Zordon, who continues to use his own energy to supplement Tommy's failing ones, making no attempts to hide the fact that the Green Ranger's powers will ultimately fail. With every battle that occurs from here on, Tommy is left to decide whether or not he will get involved and waste away the last of his powers.

Following multiple defeats, Rita's fortress is invaded by her superior, Lord Zedd. Disgusted with her failure, he takes over, discarding Rita back into space within another Space Dumpster, then launches his own campaign against the Power Rangers, this time focusing on turning living things into monsters in order to waver the Ranger's ability to destroy them. As Zedd focuses his attacks on the Green Ranger powers that continue to waste away with every battle he engages in, the other Rangers see an upgrade to their Zords; they are transformed into mythical beasts known as the Thunderzords, also able to form a brand new, more powerful Zord combination; the Thunder Megazord.

Eventually, Tommy loses his Green Ranger powers for good, and leaves the group for a time. Soon after however, Zordon and Alpha choose Tommy to become the new White Ranger.

If nothing else, this certainly led to a while new batch of toys, not the least of which were a superb 8" White Ranger figure, that came with one of the most sought-after Power Rangers items after the Dragonzord itself, the White Tiger Zord.

Now, while most of the larger, 8" scale Rangers figures from those early days were very decent (even if the female Yellow and Pink Rangers used the same body molds as the males, which was a little -- strange), while the smaller-scale figures were -- capable enough, they weren't exactly the most highly-detailed or articulated pieces of plastic ever created. The bad guys, especially, were barely articulated lumps, while the Rangers, while decently articulated, were somewhat lacking in detail. It wasn't until a fair number of years later that Bandai really hit a decent stride in this area, and by that time, the Mighty Morphin concept was well in the past.

So to some degree, these Super Legends figures are a nice compensator for those early figures -- not to mention a decent chance to get figures of a number of characters that, if you were trying to track down the original versions, would require you paying through the nose and a few other orifices, assuming you could find them in the first place.

The White Ranger figure uses a body design that is similar to, but not precisely like, this year's Jungle Fury Rangers. And overall, it's an excellent design. The figure is certainly well articulated, fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, legs, upper leg swivel, and knees.

The White Ranger stands about 6" in height, and is a superb likeness of the classic Power Rangers character. The black and gold protective body armor is a separate piece that readily snaps into place, and is very well detailed. The helmet is intricate and very well designed. Gold is not always an easy color to apply to action figures, but the color chosen by Bandai for this figure is really excellent.

As far as accessories, the White Ranger comes with a very ornate sword. Molded in greyish-silver plastic, the sword is very intricately designed, and is about 2-1/2" in length. It fits into a holster on the White Ranger's belt.

The card design is impressive, and makes it easy to spot these collectible figures in any display. Where the Jungle Fury package cards use a red and orange color combination, the cards for these Super Legends figures are dark green. The card has the Mighty Morphin logo across the top, and a special Power Rangers Super Legends logo on the back. The card back shows the Jungle Fury Jungle Master Rangers, but it also shows the White Ranger at the top, as well as the Gold Ranger from Power Rangers Zeo. As of this writing, I'm still trying to track him down.

While it's scant evidence, I'm sort of hoping that this distinctive Power Rangers Super Legends logo is indicative that this line might continue within the next new Power Rangers concept in 2009, which at this time has the tentative name of "Power Rangers RPM", and is reportedly a racing-based concept. If nothing else, it's bound to do better in the toy stores that Speed Racer...

So what's my final word here? At first, I considered it unusual that there would be collectible figures within a line like Power Rangers. Most of the toy collectible magazines don't give it a lot of coverage. It's generally seen as the most "kid-like" of the current crop of action figures, whereas other lines such as G.I. Joe, Star Wars, and various super-heroes, are considered to have broader appeal, maybe even more appeal among adult collectors than they do for kids. Don't even get me started on the higher-end collectibles. Sideshow may be making fantastically-detailed (and expensive) figures from Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and G.I. Joe, but you don't see a Red Ranger in the mix anywhere. Power Rangers tends to get dismissed as kid stuff.

Granted the TV show tends to promote that. Any given Power Rangers program is going to be pretty over the top in a lot of respects. And yet I wonder just a bit if that perception is changing, at least in the toy world. We recently had the release of the 15th Anniversary Red Rangers, a series of superb action figures, distinct unto itself, that featured almost every Red Ranger from every Power Rangers concept to date. Now this year, we have these Super Legends. And there's a degree to which it makes perfect sense. After 15 years, those people who were little kids when Power Rangers first aired are now young adults. And there's always something to be said for a certain nostalgia.

There's also something to be said for a very impressive and well-made action figure, too, and this one certainly qualifies. Brings back some memories, and brings them into the modern day of action figures. How can you go wrong with that? The MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS SUPER LEGENDS WHITE RANGER most definitely has my highest recommendation!