REVIEW: POWER RANGERS SAMURAI PINK & YELLOW SAMURAI RANGERS
There are certain things that you can usually count on in any given action figure line based on any given iteration of the popular Power Rangers concept.
For one thing, there will always be a Red Ranger. Regardless of what other colors of Rangers may come along, there is always a Red Ranger, and he's usually the team leader.
Secondly, there will always be additional Rangers along the way beyond the core group. Generally speaking, this is a sixth Ranger that the others don't even know about, and he usually shows up just when the core team is in the worst trouble of their careers, and saves them from whatever giant monster or horrific deathtrap the bad guys have set up, pretty much leaving everybody wondering what the heck just happened.
And thirdly, somewhere along the way, the Rangers will get new uniforms, generally more advanced than the previous ones, and there will be a complete new set of figures for them.
Such has sort of been the case with the latest incarnation of Power Rangers, known as Power Rangers Samurai. However, there have been a few differences this time around. Most notably, the first assortment of basic figures released into the line, called Mega Rangers, are actually the more complex in design, than the ones more recently released. Secondly, the second-uniform team, known simply as Samurai Rangers, were split across several assortments.
Hence this review. I've already written reviews for the Red, Green, Blue, and later Gold Samurai Rangers. And I do rather feel like a cad, having disobeyed the traditional custom of "Ladies first", waiting until now to review the Pink and Yellow Rangers, but they didn't show up until quite some time later.
Just something to think about for those of you who collect often hard to find lines like G.I. Joe or DC Universe and think that it's all easy fun everywhere else.
I'm honestly not sure why the more complex-in-appearance Mega Rangers were released first. I have a theory, but I've got nothing to base it on. Up until Power Rangers Samurai, the rights to the Power Rangers and the distribution thereof, etc., had been in the hands of Disney. However, the Power Rangers had not been performing up to expectations in recent times, which is likely why we got a rerun of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and then Disney acquired Marvel Comics. Now having the rights to one of the largest and most popular domestic stables of super-heroes, I suspect Disney really didn't feel they needed to do much with the Rangers anymore.
Enter a company called Saban. A very capable producer of entertainment, Saban was no Disney. And they had been the original producers and distributors of the Americanized Power Rangers, before Disney acquired them. Saban got the Power Rangers back, and is giving them the attention that they deserve.
The first thing they did was to announce that there would be a new Power Rangers concept, based on the Japanese concept that had followed what was called Power Rangers RPM in the United States. This would resume the practice of updating the American Power Rangers concept only slightly later than the latest Japanese incarnation of the Power Rangers, known as Super Sentai in Japan, with only one year lost as a result of the Mighty Morphin re-run.
All of this happened late enough in the year -- or at least was made public -- that, given the amount of time it routinely takes to produce an entirely new line of action figures, and as a rule, the Japanese toys tend to be quite different from their American counterparts (with an emphasis on vinyl statues), that I honestly didn't think there was a chance in the world that we'd see figures based on Power Rangers Samurai all that quickly.
I was wrong. Much to my shock, the Power Rangers Samurai action figure line hit the shelves in a very timely fashion. But it did start with the rather armored-looking, and far more complex in design than one usually expected from "initial" figures, Mega Rangers. Only now are we getting the more basically-garbed Samurai Rangers.
My guess, and that's all it is, is that the Mega Ranger molds were, despite their greater complexity, simply ready to go first.
But the Samurai Rangers have arrived, and I have finally been able to complete this assortment with the acquisition of the Pink and Yellow Rangers. Let's have a brief look at the Power Rangers Samurai concept, and the characters of the Pink and Yellow Rangers.
Power Rangers Samurai is the nineteenth season of the American Power Ranger television series. With Saban Brands buying back the franchise (and being proud enough of their reacquisition to put their name as part of the logo), the show is produced by SCG Power Rangers and began airing on Nickelodeon and Nicktoons on February 7, 2011. As with all Power Rangers programs, Power Rangers Samurai is based on one of the entries of the Super Sentai Series; in the case of Samurai, the source series is Samurai Sentai Shinkenger.
The basic storyline is as follows: Centuries ago in Japan, a dark force threatened our universe, bringing a civilization to its knees, until a clan of brave warriors were called upon to destroy this ancient evil – Samurai warriors defeated them with power symbols passed down from parent to child. But now this darkness has returned and plans to flood the Earth, and the future of mankind rest in the hands of five ordinary teens with one extraordinary destiny — They are the Samurai Rangers. Led by the fearless Red Ranger, this team was summoned to train as Samurai's under the teachings of Mentor Ji, armed with high-powered weapons and mighty Megazords. They have one mission – to defeat the sinister Master Xandred and his army of Nighloks and make our universe safe from evil once and for all.
The team consists of Red Ranger Jayden, the stoic leader; Blue Ranger Kevin, the devoted second-in-command; Pink Ranger Mia, the big sister; Green Ranger Mike, the creative rebel; Yellow Ranger Emily, the youngest and most innocent; and Gold Ranger Antonio, the expressive fisherman/tech wiz.
As to some specific details on the Pink and Yellow Rangers:
Emily is the Yellow Samurai Ranger, also known as the Samurai of Earth. She is a country girl who becomes a Ranger by chance. She replaces her sick sister, Serena who was destined for the position. Emily used an old saying "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" to help her get through her childhood, and also thinks she isn't fit to be a Ranger, saying she is a disaster. She idolizes Mia, the Pink Ranger. Emily wields the Earth Slicer and pilots the Ape Foldingzord given to her by her sick sister Serena. She can also be seen playing a flute, due to her sister playing a flute to make her feel better every time someone picked on her.
Mia is the Pink Samurai Ranger, also known as the Samurai of Sky. She acts as the big sister to the team. She believes that she is a great cook, though the others would disagree. Mia's maturity and optimism brings the team together and comforts any one of them that's feeling down. She also acts as an idol to Emily, who wants to be more like her. Mia wields the Sky Fan and pilots the Turtle Foldingzord. She formerly piloted the Beetle Zord, which is passed on to Mike in the same episode.
By the way, the same assortment that finally included the Pink and Yellow Samurai Rangers also included a figure of Xandred -- and boy, is he ugly. I don't usually buy the villains, but I may just have to get and review him at some point.
So, how are the figures? Very nicely done, really. As one might expect, the two figures use identical body molds, except for their distinctive helmets, and are then colored appropriately. This is no big deal, of course. It gives the line a certain consistency, and the male Rangers do the same thing.
And it's certainly a step up from the earliest days of Power Rangers figures when they were ALL stamped out of the same body molds regardless of gender -- which made the Pink Rangers look pretty silly.
Fortunately, the Pink and Yellow Samurai Rangers have unquestionably feminine bodies. The uniform design is a good one, and consists of a colored helmet with a black visor, outlined in white. I'll have more to say about those visors in a few paragraphs. The Pink and Yellow Rangers are wearing colored tunics, that hang down as skirts, unlike the male Rangers where the colored shirt ends at the belt. The two female Rangers are wearing gold belts, though, which have two pieces of equipment attached to them. There is a black band, outlined in white, that runs from the right side of the waist, up and around the neck in a sort of "V" collar. There is a gold emblem on the upper left chest, right about where Star Trek starship crewmembers keep their comm badges.
The Pink and Yellow Rangers have white gloves, with black bands near the tops, black leggings, and colored boots, with black bands near the top, and black lines around the soles of their boots -- which can't have been an easy bit of paintwork on these figures.
It's worth mentioning that as of the Mighty Morphin redux, Power Rangers figures took a decided size downturn. Although with the exception of the 15th Anniversary Red Rangers series, no single Power Rangers action figure line was really size-or-design compatible with any other (amazing when you consider they were all made by the same company), they did tend to be more or less in the six-inch size range, give or take a bit. However, ever since Mighty Morphin II, and including the Samurai Rangers, the size has been close to 4 inches, or about 4-1/4". Not really sure why, although I would imagine the reasons are mostly economic.
The figures are very nicely and consistently detailed, and superbly well-painted. This is the sort of thing that Bandai seems to specialize in. I'm also pleased that, at least with these Power Rangers, they've gotten over their rather nasty habit of a few years back of not entirely painting the backs of their figures. These Rangers are fully painted.
Articulation is excellent. The Pink and Yellow Rangers are fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows, glove tops, legs, knees, and boot tops. Now, the legs are something of an issue. The skirts of their costumes are not particularly flexible, and this does considerably hinder leg movement. You're not going to get the Pink and Yellow Rangers into seated positions. But, there's still a decent range of action poses they can manage.
One thing did please me in particular -- all of the articulation was decently tight. For some reason, the male Mega Rangers all had very loose legs. I tend to wonder if they might have been rushed into production. The female Mega Rangers had properly tight leg articulation. When the Samurai Rangers came out, the male Rangers all had properly tight leg articulation. I was honestly a little concerned about a reversal from the Megas, but fortunately, that didn't happen. All of the Samurai Rangers have excellent articulation tightness. Don't have to worry about any of them falling off a shelf because they can't stand up well.
Now, I want to discuss the helmet visors. They're quite interesting for the Samurai Rangers. As each Ranger represents a different elemental force, their helmet visors are based on what I assume are the actual Japanese symbols for those particular forces. Now one might think this could cause some potential trouble. You can't really just make up elements off the top of your head, and if the symbols for the particular elements weren't ones that could be easily converted into helmet visors -- and still allow the actors to see where they're going, something I'm sometimes surprised they can manage anyway, you're going to have a problem.
Fortunately for the concept, they managed to get away with it for all six Rangers, although I'll admit in a couple of cases they had to stretch it a bit. The visors were still a reasonable match for their respective symbols.
How did they do with the Pink and Yellow Rangers? Let's see.
They got really lucky with the Yellow Ranger, who represents "earth". The symbol for this looks like an upside-down "T" with a second, shorter crossbar about halfway up. Another way to describe it would be if you took two of the letter "F", turned one around and leaned them up against each other back to back, and then inverted them.
This worked very readily into a helmet visor, and the Yellow Ranger has a helmet visor with a fairly wide vertical center, a very narrow bar across the bottom, and an extremely wide crossbar in the center. Essentially, the crossbar of the symbol becomes the area through which the helmet-wearer can see. The lower crossbar might be a little narrower than it really needed to be, but the overall design certainly works, and is certainly respectful to the symbol.
The Pink Ranger, representing "sky", was a little trickier. The symbol for this looks like a "T" perched on top of an inverted "V", with a crossbar through the center at the base of the "T".
As with the Yellow Ranger, the crossbar of the symbol is the widest point, and comprises the bulk of the visor through which the wearer sees. As for the rest of the symbol, they took a few liberties with the design, shortening the vertical part of the "T" and curving the top of it upwards on both sides, while the inverted "V" has been made far narrower. Somewhat oddly in my opinion, the white trim around the inverted "V" is extended to wrap all the way around the back of the helmet.
It's -- more or less recognizable to its Japanese symbol counterpart, but it's more of a stretch than some of the others, and certainly more of one than the Yellow Ranger.
Of course, both figures come with accessories. They each come with an impressive high-tech sword, identical for both, that has a fancy gold handle and a silver blade. They also have distinctive weapons of their own. The Pink Ranger comes with what looks something like a bladed fan, with a pink handle and silver blades. The Yellow Ranger comes with what looks like a large bladed boomerang, mostly yellow with silver blades.
Now, at this point, I pretty much consider my Power Rangers Samurai collection complete -- unless I decide to get Xandred. I have the two basic teams of Rangers, complete -- the Mega Rangers and the Samurai Rangers, each with the additional "sixth" Ranger, the Gold Ranger. I'm not really one for collecting the vehicles with their generally more limited-articulation figures, and I just don't have room or money for Zords, although they are cool toys.
As such, I would like to take a moment to discuss some hopeful theories on the future of the Power Rangers. Saban has already indicated that they would like to get two years out of the Samurai Rangers, instead of the traditional one, before the next concept overhaul. In fact, when I went to my usual research spot to call up a plot synopsis for the series, something new had been added. It read: Samurai is split into two 20-episode seasons; the second set of 20 episodes will air in 2012 and will be called "Super Samurai".
And there are already Super Samurai figures out! The same assortment that features the Yellow and Pink Samurai Rangers, has the Red, Green, and Blue Super Samurai Rangers. To be honest, I'm not sure I'll be collecting them. I'd want to know first of all whether the Gold Ranger, and more importantly the Pink and Yellow Rangers will be included. Female action figures tend to get the short end of the stick regardless of what concept they're in, and unfortunately the Power Rangers are no exception.
But I also have to say that the Super Samurai's are just a little -- odd-looking. They're wearing these high-collared long white overcoats.
However, in another size range of Rangers, I've seen a couple of figures that had a sort of transformable armor. They could switch back and forth between armored and unarmored -- and the armor was NOT like that of the Mega Rangers. If we get 4" scale figures of those -- which I suspect is possible if Saban and Bandai really want to get two years out of the Samurai Rangers, I might be more inclined towards those.
But the question must be asked -- what then? The Super Sentai series do continue in Japan, and a new concept is being prepared for 2012. As it stands, that will put America and other regions that follow the Power Rangers at least three years behind the Japanese concepts, which include the following since their version of Samurai:
Tensou Sentai Goseiger, which aired in 2010. The motif of this series is based on "angels" combined with collectible card games -- which ought to make it pretty marketable in the United States as such time as we get it; Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger - the current series as of this writing. The motif of this series is based on pirates. As the 35th anniversary series, the protagonists have access to the powers of the previous 34 Super Sentai teams. Gokaiger features prominent guest appearances by actors of the previous 34 series reprising their roles in the television series and films; and planned for 2012, a new series called Tokumei Sentai Gobasutazu -- and who knows what its plotline will be.
All of these should be cool, but consider the difficulty in bringing Gokaiger to the United States. I've seen some footage, and the "Rangers" from this show are able to access the powers of any of the "Rangers" from the previous 34 series -- and that includes a whole bunch that the United States HAS NEVER SEEN. Good luck explaining that one within the show -- although I'd love to see a really extensive action figure line of it.
Still, the earliest we'll see any of these is 2013, and even if Saban and Bandai go back to one-year turnarounds, that still puts us three years behind. Moderately frustrating, I have to admit, but hopefully well worth the wait.
So, what's my final word? Okay, Power Rangers is not really considered as "collectible" as G.I. Joe, or Transformers, or Masters of the Universe. It's still managed to endure a very long time, and the action figures have always been impressive. I've made it a point to round up the basic complete teams from each concept, and I've been glad to add them to my collection. And I know there are other Power Rangers fans out there who gladly do the same.
I'm pleased that the Samurai Power Rangers from Power Rangers Samurai are finally complete with the addition of the Pink and Yellow Rangers, and I look forward to seeing what Saban and Bandai do with the Power Rangers -- Samurai and beyond -- in the future.
The PINK and YELLOW SAMURAI RANGERS from POWER RANGERS SAMURAUI definitely have my most enthusiastic recommendation!