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By Thomas Wheeler

A couple of years ago, the Power Rangers inexplicably shrunk. I suspect the reasons this happened were mostly economic, and not having anything to do with any of the various villains that they fought, but with the second go-round of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the basic figure line, which prior to this had been around 6" in height for any given group of Rangers, give or take, was abruptly reduced to around 4", and there it has stayed, through Mighty Morphin, Samurai, and now Megaforce. And I don't really expect that to change anytime in the foreseeable future.

I'm not crazy about it, although the figures are perfectly fine for their size, but if I want to add the various basic Rangers teams to my collection, then I have to accept it. Nevertheless, that doesn't mean that there aren't at least some larger Rangers out there if you want them.

In 2013 with the introduction of the new POWER RANGERS MEGAFORCE concept, it's also the 20th Anniversary of the Power Rangers, at least in the United States. Their original Japanese counterpart, Super Sentai, celebrated its 35th Anniversary a while back.

With that 20th Anniversary, comes some impressive additional product. Now, to be honest, I was hoping for an extension of the 15th Anniversary Red Ranger line. Five years ago, Bandai produced a series of thirteen larger-scale figures, very nearly 7 inches in height, representing the Red Ranger from every Power Rangers concept from Mighty Morphin through Operation Overdrive, which was then the current Rangers series. Somehow the Alien Rangers slipped off the radar, but everybody else made it into the mix. Every other Red Ranger, anyway, and however else the color schemes of any given Ranger team has worked out, there's ALWAYS been a Red Ranger.

The figures were impressive in that, not surprisingly, they all used the same body mold, which was a superb design, with distinctive helmets and appropriate uniform markings. It was the first time that the Red Rangers from all of the established Power Rangers concepts had appeared in a fully compatible-with-each-other form.

I suppose it was too much to hope that we would see an update of that line, that would give us the Red Rangers from Jungle Fury, RPM, Samurai, and Megaforce, and maybe slip in the Red Alien Ranger this time around (when I contacted Bandai about it at the time, they could hardly believe that anyone remembered the Alien Rangers...!), all in the same body format as before, but -- it would've been nice.

However, we have something -- close. Bandai has produced a small group of Rangers, two from Megaforce -- Red and Blue -- and the Red Ranger from Mighty Morphin, as special edition larger figures with a generous supply of accessories. I decided to at least pick up the Red Megaforce Ranger from this assortment, and it is known as the ARMORED ULTRA MODE RED RANGER.

Let's consider briefly the concept behind the newest Power Rangers concept, Megaforce, and then have a look at the character of the Red Megaforce Ranger, and then we'll study this action figure. Information on the new Megaforce series has been a little hard to come by, but I was actually able to find a Power Rangers "Wikia" site that had what I needed to know.

Power Rangers Megaforce is the 20th season of Power Rangers, coinciding with the series' 20th anniversary. The series is primarily based on Tensou Sentai Goseiger. This is the Japanese series from which Megaforce is based, and it originally aired in 2010 in Japan.

Customarily, the American production of Power Rangers has been one year behind whatever the Japanese concept is, but after the rerun of Mighty Morphin, and an extended showing for Samurai, during which time the concept also was returned to Saban after years under Disney's ownership -- we've fallen a little more behind. I think it's only going to get more complicated, as Megaforce will eventually be using footage from the series that followed Goseiger, which was technically the 35th Anniversary in Japan, and was a series that featured Rangers that could call upon the powers of every previous Ranger team -- including the ones that never appeared in the United States.

Anybody else getting a headache yet? I mean besides the writers and editors at Saban...

The Megaforce concept features Gosei, a supernatural being who has protected the earth for centuries with his robotic assistant, Tensou. But when the evil Warstar aliens begin their massive invasion, Gosei calls upon five teenagers with attitude to form the ultimate team -- the Power Rangers Megaforce!

When the teens morph into Power Rangers, they gain superhuman strength, agility, and mastery over martial arts. In addition to defending Earth against the Warstar aliens, other monstrous factions emerge to challenge the Megaforce Rangers. Under the leadership of a malevolent alien, toxic beasts rise from their slimy underground lair to attack the Earth and a ruthless robot army launches an offensive from their deep sea compound. Never a dull moment, apparently. In order to face these new threats, the Power Rangers Megaforce unlock powerful battle modes to fight their adversaries.

The main villain is named Vrak, and his rather generic minions are called, of all things, Loogies. You know, the original generic soldiers back in the days of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers were called Putties. From Putties to Loogies. Does this strike anyone else as a step backwards!?

Anyway, it should be noted that the individual Rangers are often referred to as "Megaforce" - followed by their respective color. Thus the Red Ranger would be known as "Megaforce Red". Let's see what he's like.

His real name is Troy Burrows, and before becoming a Power Ranger, Troy was a martial artist. During his teenage years, he receives visions about the Legend War - an armada of Power Rangers battling an unknown force, and among them, a mysterious new warrior. One day before school, he receives another dream of the Legend War. He then wakes up to find out he is late for his first day of school.

Later that day, Gosei summons him. He notes how the Rangers lining the walls resemble those from his dreams. Gosei gives him the power of the Red Ranger and soon he leads the new Power Rangers into battle. He succeeds in the battle and takes kindly to his role as defender of Earth.

During a middle of a battle with his team against Dragonflay, Creepox interfered to battle Troy. Though Creepox gained the upper hand at first, Troy managed to defeat him, forcing Creepox to retreat. As a result, Troy was too injured to fight, leaving it up to the rest of the Rangers to defeat Dragonflay. Troy later gained access to the Sky Brothers Zord and many other weapons.

Months later, Troy encountered two bullies in school. The bullies taunted him if he's going to cry but Troy came up with a good come back saying "Take a good look, you see any tears". When he saw another kid get bullied, he stood up for them. After school, Troy fought Creepox again. Though Creepox was gaining the upper hand, Troy found that Creepox was being driven by rage, so he used his rage against him. Eventually Troy defeated Creepox with his Dragon Sword. When Creepox got revived by Vrak, Troy along with the other Rangers formed the Gosei Great Megazord. Seeing that wasn't enough, they formed the Hyper Gosei Great Megazord (the zord he just earned from Gosei) to defeat Creepox once and for all.

Troy Burrows is a born leader, though he may not know it yet. His tough upbringing made him responsible and focused, and it shows in his incredible martial arts skills. As the new kid in town, he's kind of a loner at the start, but makes fast friends when he joins up with the Megaforce. Troy is compassionate and loyal, and a true champion of the underdog. But mess with the Red Ranger's friends, and you're in for a fierce fight with his Dragon Zord!

Additionally, Troy has a strong faith in humanity and believes that if they work together, they can do anything. He also will not initiate a fight unless it's absolutely necessary, shown in his first encounter with Creepox of the Warstar Aliens.

The basic motif of his helmet is designed to represent a dragon. Each of the Rangers has some sort of animal basis. See my review of all five of the basic 4" Rangers figures to learn more about the others.

So, how's the figure? Extremely impressive. The costumes for the Megaforce Rangers are a little more complex and ornate in their basic design than average (although that's certainly a relative statement), and I believe this Ultra Mode larger-scale Ranger has a structure that is well-designed to take advantage of the costume design.

The basic design of the Megaforce Rangers costume features a colored helmet -- red in this case, of course -- with a mostly red shirt that becomes white around the abdomen, a gold belt, white leggings, and colored boots, again red in this instance. There's also a certain amount of black and gold trim.

Let's start with the helmet. It is mostly red, of course, with a wide black visor across the front. The sides of the helmet have a stylized silhouette intended to look like the head and neck of a dragon, which they do very effectively. The visor has a gold border around it, while the dragon has a white border around it. Underneath the visor is a silver area with a sculpted mouth, not atypical for many Power Ranger helmet designs over the years.

And since it doesn't move, it saves the people at Saban from having to try to line up English speech with Japanese mouth movements. Anybody remember the Godzilla movies? Caught a break there.

There is an ornate gold emblem on the forehead of the helmet. I'm not entirely sure what this is supposed to represent, but the pattern looks like a combined version of the patterns that the Megaforce Rangers have on their shirts, which do differ from one Ranger to another.

The costume has a white neck -- also not uncommon for Power Rangers -- with a narrow gold collar. The gold emblem on the shirt is not that easy to describe. It looks vaguely birdlike, but in a high-tech sort of way. There are wing-like extensions out to the sides, angled upwards, but the center of the design is a hollow circle with an upwards point inside of it. A gold vertical stripe runs from the collar to the abdomen, and there is a gold stripe around the base of the red portion of the shirt.

Honestly, the emblem looks like something I'd expect to see used by some sort of high-tech airline. I know that sounds like I'm kidding, but really, take a look at the figure. Tell me you can't see that emblem on the tail of a Boeing 737...

The bottoms of the sleeves end in black cuffs, bordered on the top and bottom with narrow gold lines, and the gloves are white. The abdomen and leggings are also white, and the boots are red, topped with the same gold-bordered black cuffs as the base of the sleeves. The Red Ranger is wearing a gold belt around his waist, with a very ornate buckle.

Paint detailing is superb, but for the most part fairly straightforward. The figure is largely molded in the color necessary, either red or white. The cuffs and trim are neatly done. When they're paying attention, nobody is better at precision painting than Bandai. The most complex paint elements are the design on the chest, and of course the detailing on the helmet. These have also been done very effectively.

The figure's articulation is superb. The Red Ranger is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, lower arm swivels, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivels, knees, boot tops, and ankles. The arms are notable because I don't think I've ever seen lower arm swivels before, about midway down the arms. It can take a little turning to make sure the lower arm sections are properly aligned. Also the wrists have substantial articulation, with back and forth as well as rotational movement.

I see a lot in this design that reminds me of the Classic ThunderCats figures that Bandai produced quite recently. The wrist design, the placement of the upper leg swivel, including the way the musculature works, and the mid-torso and waist articulation, are all very reminiscent of the ThunderCats design. That's not a complaint. It's an excellent design. My only complaint is that Bandai's Classic ThunderCats didn't continue long enough to get the entire team out.

Bandai did drop the double-jointed knees that the ThunderCats figures had. No big loss there. But even the screws in the back seem to be placed similarly.

Now, this figure is called ARMORED Ultra Mode Red Ranger, and he does indeed come with some attachable armor. The armor is all metallic gold in color, and includes flared shoulder armor, that looks something like an extension of the chest emblem, a chestplate and backplate, the former of which has this huge, protruding dragon head on it, angled wristbands, and bands that can be wrapped around the tops of the boots.

The armor is impressive, and nicely made, but honestly, the chestplate is a little silly. It looks like something that, if it breathed fire, you might see Gene Simmons of KISS wear out on stage -- but only briefly, because he certainly wouldn't be able to play a musical instrument wearing this thing, and I don't know how a Ranger is expected to fight wearing it. Then again, given how over-armored the Shogun Rangers were in the Samurai series, we might be looking at some sort of odd trend here.

The Red Megaforce Ranger also comes with two spare hands, that are slightly more open than the ones he's wearing in the package. The hands are very nicely made and the fingers are molded so that each one is separate from the others.

Assorted weaponry includes a gold, futuristic-looking pistol, some sort of gold-colored device that as much as anything looks like a small Hawaiian tiki (how that got in here I'll never know), and a couple of huge, sword-like weapons, one mostly red with a silver blade, the other mostly white with a red and gold blade, that if -- well, let's just say that if the Red Megaforce Ranger happened to drop in on Eternia and showed these off, He-Man would be looking to trade up after a bad case of sword envy.

One question that I think is fair to ask -- how does this figure compare to the 15th Anniversary Red Ranger series? Well -- close. But not quite. Although this Megaforce Ranger is more articulated, and I think the musculature is a little more realistic, he's very slightly taller than the 15th Anniversary Rangers, and a bit more slender. He's very close, and if you're not too picky, then you can probably work him in. But for me -- I'm very glad to have this figure, but I don't think I can quite view him as part of that collection, and I still wish it had gotten a 20th Anniversary update of the missing Red Rangers that have come along since then -- plus the Alien Ranger.

There are two other figures in this line at this time, the Blue Megaforce Ranger, and a Mighty Morphin Red Ranger, this being the acknowledgment of the 20th Anniversary. And I have to say that I'm impressed enough with this Red Megaforce Ranger that I might well consider the other two at some point. Keep checking back for possible reviews of them.

So, what's my final word? In a time when most Power Rangers are in the 4" scale, and there's nothing wrong with that, I'm nevertheless pleased that there are larger Rangers around. This Red Megaforce Ranger stands a proud 7-1/4" in height, and is superbly well designed and certainly well-articulated. The sculpting is excellent, and the paintwork is superb. The armor is a nice bonus, even if some of it is a bit odd, but I think he looks perfectly fine without it. If you're any sort of Power Rangers fan, you'll definitely want to consider this very impressive figure.

The ARMORED ULTRA MODE RED RANGER from POWER RANGERS MEGAFORCE definitely has my highest recommendation!