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REVIEW:
POWER RANGERS OPERATION OVERDRIVE SENTINEL RANGER AND VILLAINS
By Thomas Wheeler


I'm generally not one for picking up peripheral characters or bad guys from the various Power Rangers lines. I don't tend to watch the TV series all that much, for one thing, so I don't always have the best handle on the characters. Let's be honest here -- as impressive as Bandai's toy line(s) have been for Power Rangers over the years, the TV series have tended to turn out a level of camp that would make the Batman series from the 1960's come across like Masterpiece Theater in comparison. Some have been moreso than others, admittedly, but it's at least fair to say that the TV shows are intended for a distinctly younger crowd than the average adult toy collector.

A friend of mine who has a fair bit of knowledge about the Japanese versions of Power Rangers recently informed me that some of the shows had a far more serious tone in Japan. That honestly astounded me, but I suppose it's possible. If I thought I could get a decent direct translation into English, it might be interesting to watch.

At any rate, within any given Power Rangers concept, I tend to be in the habit of picking up the basic core Rangers, and that's about it. This has been a habit born of the fact that in the earlier years of Power Rangers, and somewhat today, the bad guys tended not to be as well-articulated as the heroes. Now, there are exceptions, of course, and the villains have gotten much more poseable over the years. But even so, I tend to stick to the Rangers. Any given year's Power Rangers collection is so massive, with Rangers, vehicles, Zords, villains, and who knows what else, that between the cost and the physical space requirements, it's just not possible.

I have, however, been known to make exceptions. In 2004, as part of the Dino Thunder series, the "army-builder" bad guys were called Triptoids. They had a good, basic look to them, and an interesting concentric pattern of shapes on their chest. The most common Triptoids were black. There was also a White Triptoid, and a while back, I learned that there had also been a Green Triptoid. So I have a fair supply of Triptoids.

At the tail end of 2007's OPERATION OVERDRIVE, three additional characters were added to the lineup, as part of the "Mission Response" series of figures and vehicles. These figures were named SENTINEL RANGER, MOLTOR, and KAMDOR. I ultimately decided to pick these figures up. Let's start with the SENTINEL RANGER.

Trying to find out anything about this character proved to be somewhat difficult. Operation Overdrive does not list a Sentinel Ranger. Instead, it lists a Sentinel Knight, described as follows: The original guardian of the Corona Aurora. When he felt the crown was in danger, he hid the five stones and the crown on the planet Earth, in Greece. His spirit returns to demand that Andrew and his team of Rangers protect the crown. He later reappears and helps Tyzonn assume his true form by revealing that two gems of the Corona Aurora have the power to cause either a catastophe or a miracle. After given the sword Excelsior by Mack, he became one with the sword and was more powerful than ever. After the Corona was completed and returned to him, he returned to his true form, separate from Excelsior, and then used the Crown to turn Mack into a human.

Now, the reason that I believe the Sentinel Knight and the Sentinel Ranger are the same character -- the markings on the Sentinel Ranger figure are very similar to those of the Red Sentinel Ranger, a modified version of Mackenzie Hartford, the Red Ranger in Operation Overdrive. There were both 5" and a Disney Store exclusive 12" version of this Red Sentinel Ranger.

As a series, Operation Overdrive actually had one of the more convoluted storylines. The five soon-to-be Rangers 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 extra-terrestrial '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 other words, you've got these Rangers on a quest, and this time around, MULTIPLE groups of villains are after their same objective. Makes you long for the days of Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd, doesn't it?

The Sentinel Ranger is an interesting figure. He appears to be rather robotic in design. He is predominantly orange in color, with a healthy amount of black, gold, and some silver. He stands about 5-3/4" in height, roughly the same height as a typical Power Rangers Operation Overdrive figure. His head design seems to include something that resembles a crown, which one might assume is related to his connection to the Corona Aurora. He has broad shoulder armr, and mechanical, robot- like details around his lower arms and hands, and his legs are easily the most robotic-looking part of him.

The upper arms and upper legs are black, as are the figure's hands. The main body, including the head and shoulders, are a deep oramge with metallic gold trim. The legs are predominantly orange, with gold and substantial silver trim on them.

I somewhat expected articulation on the figure to be somewhat limited, given the figure's somewhat bulky appearance, but it really isn't. The figure is poseable at the head, arms (outward as well as forward and backward), an upper arm swivel that is very well concealed, elbows, wrists, legs, and knees. There is a swivel in the knee that works quite well, although it can be hindered if the leg is bent because the armored/ robotic nature of the lower legs tends to get in the way.

The Sentinel Ranger has two action features, only one of which works specifically with the figure. Press the area that might be regarded as a belt buckle, if he had a belt, and his head lights up. The light-up emphasis is clearly on the eyes and mouth area, as well as a transparent jewel in the top of the head, but there's a bright enough LED in there so that, in proper lighting, it pretty much looks like his entire head lights up.

I'd love to know where Bandai gets such bright LED's. They included some light-up shields with the Mystic Force Power Rangers a few years ago, that were implanted behind this grid-like pattern on the shields that looked like a bicycle reflector as much as anything.

The other special feature on the Sentinel Ranger doesn't work independently. It was part of the "Mission Response" series, which also included figures of all six Rangers in the line, and the two villains Moltor and Kamdor. Unfortunately, you needed to buy the Power Rangers' MISSION RESPONSE VEHICLE, an admittedly impressive-looking item that as much as anything looked like a futuristic fire engine, in order for the Mission Response feature on the figures to carry out their function.

Described on the package card as "I.D. Tech Chips", they worked in concert with the vehicle somehow to "unlock hidden sounds when scanned in the Mission Response Vehicle". Apparently what was required was to place the figure near or on activation sensors within the vehicle to unlock their individual sounds.

That aside, though, the SENTINEL RANGER is an impressive, nicely detailed, and well-articulated figure. Now, let's turn our attention to the villains, starting with MOLTOR.

In the words of my friend: Moltor is the brother of Flurious, one of the two aliens who tried to steal the Corona Aurora millenia ago (the Corona being the focal point of the Operation Overdrive storyline to a large degree). The Corona reacted to the attempted theft by banishing them both to far distant worlds where each was imprisoned, one in ice, one in fire. Flurious got ice, Moltor got fire.

It's not clear what they looked like before, but by the time we first see them millienia later, Moltor had become a red skinned lizard like humanoid. With his armies of humanoid Lava Lizards, and the occasional Lavadactyl as well as a slew of other monsters, he attempted to steal the Gems of the Corona, the Corona itself and outwit Flurious, who shared a mutual loathing. Flurious though, was both smarter and more patient than his brother, and waited until Moltor came crawling to him after a particularly vicious assault had gained him the Corona but cost him just about everything else.

Flurious welcomed his brother, promising to share power and took the Corona to which he added the Gem's he'd gathered. But the first thing he did was freeze Moltor into a block of solid ice and then, in a move quite unlike anything Power Rangers had done in years, Flurious calmly destroyed his brother, shattering Moltor into a thousand frozen little pieces, killing him outright (though the word "killed" is never used of course).

Moltor, like his brother Flurious, was also originally human, but was transformed into a red, fire-elemental dragon-like creature when he attempted to steal the Corona Aurora. He considers himself a warrior and is extremely strong, capable of taking on all five Rangers at once. He wields two swords in battle. He is also shown capable of wielding magic, such as turning Tyzonn into a reptilian servant and forcing him to work under him. He's every bit as strong as his brother, having fought him to draw when they first fought (they fight each other in later episodes, but these battles always end in a draw).

He is far more direct and aggressive than his brother; when they arrived on Earth, he attacked the Rangers directly and abducted Andrew Hartford to secure the Corona crown. He is responsible for far more attacks and schemes than Flurious and as a result has seen more success - he gained possession of the Corona and once stole the Compass relic right as the Rangers retrieved it. He is vicious and merciless; in his debut, he unleashed a volcanic eruption on San Angeles merely as a diversion, and in later instance killed some of his Lava Lizards just because he was angry.

His grudge with his brother has left them bitter enemies. He wishes for his brother to respect him, and tried to achieve this by taking control of the weather and flooding the planet. Moltor agrees to Flurious' suggestion that with Miratrix and Kamdor searching for the crown, the two brothers are better off working together. However, the Rangers used their own suspicions and hatred of each other to set them fighting again. Despite this failed alliance, he later joined forces with the Fearcats and had much more success with them than Flurious did: constructing a Cybernetic Rex capable of defeating the DriveMax Ultrazord, capturing one of the Rangers to use as a power source, and briefly turning the Sentinel Knight evil.

With his volcano lair falling apart due to Flurious's jewel, Moltor decided to lead his lava lizards in an all out attack on the rangers to gain the remaining jewels. Mack arrived to get the crown from Moltor and a vicious battle ensued, which ended when the other rangers came to get Mack out. Barely surviving the battle and the destruction of his lair, Moltor came to Flurious's den with Tyzonn's fiance, Vella, and the crown. In his weakened state, Flurious was easily able to destroy him and take the crown. He was voiced by Mark Ferguson.

One thing I find interesting. The other villain figure made, Kamdor, whom I shall review shortly, was the only other villain figure made during this close-to-the-end as far as I have been able to determine. There is no Flurious figure. This surprises the heck out of me, given that Flurious and Moltor were brothers, Flurious had at least as interesting a visual as Moltor, the two offset each other nicely (fire/ice, heat/cold, whatever). Kamdor, as cool a figure as he is, isn't related to either Kamdor or Moltor.

However, there may be an explanation. Although any given Power Rangers concept has tended to originate in Japan one year before being brought over to the States, certain changes are often made between the two. In the case of Operation Overdrive, one of the changes is that Flurious did not exist in the Japanese version. He was created for the American audience -- which must've resulted in some interesting reworking given his relationship to Moltor, a character who DID exist in Japan. I'm not entirely sure precisely why this resulted in a lack of a figure for Flurious, since often the toys are different in some respects between the two countries as well, but it is a possible theory.

For now. let's consider Moltor. As is typical with most Power Rangers villains, Moltor appears to be rather heavily armored. Since he was trapped in fire and has since become something of a fire-like being, it's hardly surprising that the main color of his outfit is a rather deep reddish orange.

Moltor's helmet is highly ornate, with two massive curved horns emerging from the sides, with gold metallic ridging on the underside. His red face (which lights up when you push the button on the figure) is surrounded by ridged silver which, to me, looks a bit like a row of teeth. There is a third, smaller horn on the back of his helmet, pointing upwards and forwards, that really, you can't even see all that well from within the package. Moltor's face, more visible whtn lit, looks rather scaly, and certainly unpleasant.

Moltor's costume has a high collar, and large shoulder armor segments -- also not uncommon for many Rangers villains. Probably makes them look more impressive. There is a silver region on Moltor's chestplate that looks very much like jagged teeth. The center area is a variation from how the figure appears on the show, as it's designed to accommodate the Mission Response gimmick that some Power Rangers came with. Apparently it's a computer chip of some sort that interacts with a large vehicle called the Mission Response vehicle.

Moltor's arms and legs have distinct ridges on them. The only significant color on Moltor other than the silver trim here and there is that the insides of his legs are painted white. There's a certain amount of black trim, some striping on the legs, part of the wristbands, the front of the collar (and it wouldn't surprise me if the back of the collar was supposed to be painted and wasn't -- Bandai tends to be guilty of not "back painting" a fair number of their Power Rangers figures, unfortunately), and a bit of gold trim around the wrists and on the helmet.

Articulation, while not quite to the level of the Rangers themselves, is nevertheless very good. The head turns, which almost surprised me given the high collar. The figure also is poseable at the arms, elbows, legs, and knees. While a few swivels here and there might have been appreciated, this is certainly better than a lot of the Power Rangers villains from over the years, which in many cases were lumps of plastic.

Moltor comes with two fairly ornate swords, identical to each other, that can be attached to a -- I wouldn't exactly call it a backpack, but it's a small separate piece that attaches to Moltor's back. The swords can be attached to either side of this via small pegs on the swords. They're rather strategically placed and would be within the relatively easy reach of the character.

Moltor stands just under 6 inches in height, making him pretty much the same height as the Rangers. The button that lights up his face is reasonably well concealed on the front of his armor near his stomach. The battery case in the back can be opened with a small Phillips screwdriver for replacement. Interestingly, if you push the button VERY gradually, you can make Moltor's face light up rather gradually, as well. Sort of as if he's getting increasingly upset or something...

This really is a very cool figure, if you can find one at this point. Finally, let's consider KAMDOR, the other villain.

Based on the background of the character, Kamdor seemed to have it in especially for the Black Ranger of the team along the way, whose real name was Will Aston.

Kamdor is Miratrix's (another Overdrive villain) master. He was trapped inside a jewel that Miratrix wore around her neck after he saved her on a distant planet, and was eventually released by a device Will stole for Miratrix (while undercover). He wields two swords that can combine to form a double-bladed naginata, and he can create monsters and enlarge them using sutras. He has no footsoldiers, but once brainwashed ninja-garbed stuntmen at a movie set into serving him.

He battles both the Rangers and other villains in his search for the jewels; he has clashed with Moltor and the Fearcats several times. He has briefly worked with Flurious and was part of Thrax's army (teaming up with Mig to attack Stonehenge), but his alliances are brief and don't last. He has clashed with Will several times, first when the Ranger was pretending to defect to evil (Kamdor never trusted him), again to steal the third jewel, and finally he accuses Will of constantly failing in the last episode, showing a specific contempt of him, and was quite surprised to find how strong Will really was in their final clash.

He and Miratrix have had greater success than most of their rival villains in searching for the jewels. They were able to steal the Parchment left behind by the Ho-Oh bird, the third jewel of the Corona Aurora, and located and gained the fourth jewel, although they later lost it.

He had a strong partnership with Miratrix. Aside from being imprisoned saving her life, he had shown an amiable working relationship with her. When she was knocked flying by the Fearcats, he sounded genuinely concerned. However, he still didn't view her as an equal and left her out of the details of some of his plans - he organized an alliance with Flurious without her, and he was shown not informing her of the plan in advance and sending her against the Rangers while he searched for the jewel, even though she technically wasn't needed. The relationship had collapsed, and he told her that he was wrong 'to think she could be more than she is', dismissing her as a "worthless greedy underling".

He was shown to be increasingly irate about losing to the Rangers, and angrily beat the Mercury Ranger into unconsciousness; at the end of the 2-parter epsiode in which this took place, he declared to Miratrix he was tired of the failures and "it's time to make our final move".

Later he made his final move in waiting for the Rangers to do the hard work and then attacking with sudden force, successfully stealing the Golden Plate that led to the fifth jewel. He also imprisoned Miratrix in the jewel that had once held him. He used the third jewel to summon a meteor to Earth as a diversionary tactic, and Will had to face Kamdor in a solo duel while the other Rangers handled the meteor. During this time Kamdor switched to his Duel Mode where his mask parts gave way to reveal his true, gray monstrous face. Kamdor, deliberately taking this battle "to the end", was eventually destroyed by the Black Ranger, and the Plate was retrieved.

Kamdor is outfitted in what appears to be blue armor. He is wearing a helmet that conceals most of his face. There's an interesting little feature in his head, whereby you can press a button on the back of the head, and press back on a silver ridge at the top of the helmet, not only opening the helmet panels somewhat to expose his face, but also light it up in red.

Kamdor has a white furry collar around his head. Unusual accoutrement, but nobody ever said that most villains have much fashion sense.

The rest of Kamdos'a outfit is fairly straightforward, mostly resembling a suit of blue armor, with some dark blue sections, a bit of red, gold, and silver trim here and there, black gloves, a bit of black trim around the knees and shoulder blades. The shoulders have a rather prominent area of armor around them that is on its own articulation point.

Articulation of the figure is excellent, if not quite up to Ranger level. His head not not appear to turn. He is, however, articulated at the arms, elbows, legs, and knees, with a good range of motion at all points. Somewhat oddly, the articulation on the Kamdor I purchased is a little loose. Not severely, but noticeably. Not sure why this is.

One structural comment. The lower left leg has a foot that is pivoted inward just slightly more than the right leg, and the lower leg is a fraction shorter. Again, this may have been something odd just about the figure I purchased, but something like this, I tend to think not. And if does surprise me, since Bandai tends to be a lot more cautious in the area of "structural precision" than this. Kamdor still stands well enough, so I don't want to complain too much, and for all I know, it was just a glitch of the Kamdor I purchased. But it is still surprising.

The painted detailing on Kamdor is excellent, but -- as is often the case with Power Rangers toys, if Bandai wants to save a few pennies here and there, they tend to eliminate a couple of paint steps. I suppose there's worse things they could do. But I'll admit it's just a little demoralizing to see the fully painted prototype photographed on the back of the package and realize that they left a few things out in production. In Kamdor's case, it's likely some dark blue trim on the back of the figure (eliminating paint on the back being Bandai's most common strategy), and some silver, gold, and black trim on the boots, especially the feet.

Kamdor's accessories include a pair of swords, nicely made and well detailed, and a small blue object, purpose uncertain, that snaps into the back of the figure.

I realize it sounds like I've been a little harsh with certain aspects of this figure, and I don't want to leave anyone with the impression that I dislike Kamdor. In fact, he's really an excellent figure. Nicely made, well-detailed, and I am especially pleased to note that Bandai gives the villains almost as much articulation as they do the Rangers these days. Such has not always been the case. The glitches that I have mentioned are relatively minimal. Worth pointing out, certainly, not not worth fretting over too much.

On the whole, Kamdor is an impressive figure.

If you were among those who enjoyed Power Rangers Operation Overdrive, you're definitely going to want to add the SENTINEL RANGER, MOLTOR, and KAMDOR to your figure collection, even if they're a little hard to find at this point. They all definitely have my enthusiastic recommendation!