There's just some toy lines you don't expect to see limited edition collectibles from. Star Wars -- sure. Super-heroes? Yeah. Power Rangers? What!? I mean, come on -- Power Rangers is targeted to kids even more than most toy lines. You don't do collectibles in Power Rangers.
But Power Rangers? A kids line? Right -- a kids line that's been around for sixteen years, with the seventeenth on the horizon as I write this review, that's managed to successfully reinvent itself over a dozen times without losing its core premise, and which has consistently been on the shelves while the modern incarnations of other legendary toys have come, gone, come back again, and any number of less legendary toy lines have just plain come and gone. There's toy lines out there -- or have been -- that pray to do half as well.
And I think somebody at Bandai did the math, realized that Power Rangers HAS been around for over a decade and a half, and following the very impressive 15th Anniversary Red Ranger collection last year, wondered what they could do for an encore. Clearly there was a market for figure representations of the earlier Rangers. Not to mention improvements.
Don't get me wrong. I think Bandai makes some of the most impressive toys on the face of the planet. And between the United States and Japan, their two major markets, they're marketing to a fair amount of the planet. I wish we'd get Gundam back... But anyway, some of those early Power Rangers from the mid 1990's were -- politely -- a little on the nondescript side in some respects. I mean, when you use the same body molds for the males and females and more or less get away with it...!
So Bandai created the SUPER LEGENDS line. These figures would be produced in limited numbers, and packaged with the individually-carded figures of this year's Power Rangers incarnation -- JUNGLE FURY. About the only thing in common would be the card size. It's a completely different color and something of a different shape, not to mention the logos. But I'll get into that in a bit.
How limited are these numbers? I've heard 20,000. I know, that sounds like a lot, especially to anyone who ever got burned on that Star Trek "1,701" travesty years ago. But 20,000 in a line as voluminous as Power Rangers really isn't that big a number.
The first two figures were released with the initial assortments of carded Jungle Fury figures, and featured the Mighty Morphin Green Ranger from the first years of Power Rangers, as well as Lord Zedd, one of the nasty lead villains of the piece. The second two Super Legends figures, released with the new "Jungle Master" versions of the Jungle Fury Rangers, feature the White Ranger from Mighty Morphin (see separate reviews), and this guy -- the GOLD RANGER from POWER RANGERS ZEO.
Let's consider some background on the character. Power Rangers Zeo is the concept that followed Mighty Morphin, the original Power Rangers concept. Ultimately, after several seasons, I think the American producers were running out of footage. Unlike later years, they wanted to maintain as much of the cast of characters as possible, but still start using the Zeo footage, which in Japan was known as "Chouriki Sentai Ohranger".
According to the series, after recovering from the destruction of the Command Center, the Rangers discovered the Zeo Crystal intact in the rubble. The Zeo Crystal guided them to a portal, which took them deep underground, where Zordon and Alpha 5 had survived by hiding in the heretofore unmentioned Power Chamber.
At this time, a new set of villains called the Machine Empire decided to take control of the Earth. They chased Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd away from the moon, and Rito and Goldar were left on Earth, with no memories of their past.
The Rangers become the Zeo Rangers, empowered by the Zeo Crystal. Through their battles with the Machine Empire, they were sometimes aided by the mysterious Gold Ranger.
It turned out the Gold Zeo Ranger was an alien, Trey of Triforia. He was injured in battle, and was forced to pass on his powers to a worthy warrior while he healed. He first tried Billy, a former Mighty Morphin Ranger who was now the team's technical advisor, but it turned out that Billy had unintentionally gained negative proton energy from the destruction of the Command Center. The powers then went to Jason Lee Scott, the Red Power Ranger from the first generation. Jason was strong and had sufficient energy to hold the powers.
(It should be noted that Tommy, the Green-then-White Ranger from Mighty Morphin, was the new Red Ranger in Zeo -- all of this no doubt giving the wardrobe department fits. "What color is he supposed to be wearing now!??")
I'm sure you've figured out by now that the Gold Ranger was, for Zeo, the "sixth Ranger" that always seems to turn up in any given Power Rangers series. He's always a little different, a little more advanced, and something of a mystery for a while until they can work it out in the storyline.
Honestly, I always thought that "Gold Ranger" was a bit of a misnomer in this case. While the character design does have extensive gold trim on it, the costume is largely black, a color that was not used among the "standard" Rangers in Zeo, who were Red, Green, Blue, Pink, and Yellow. But "Black Ranger" sounds a little ordinary -- maybe even a little sinister. So we'll go with Gold Ranger.
The character, as he appeared, had a mostly black uniform, with large gold shoulder pads and straps running from this wide collar around his torso. He also had a wide gold belt, and ornate gold cuffs around his gloves and boots. It was always the helmet visor that got me. The visors on the helmets for Zeo used geometric shapes, for the most part -- a circle, two wide lines, a triangle, a rectangle, a star. The Gold Ranger's visor was a complex piece of work that looked as much as anything like two letter "E"s placed back to back.
Sometimes I really wonder how the actors can see out of these things, and this was one such case. I sort of assume that the entire faceplate is somehow see-through from the inside. It'd have to be, especially with the stunts these people do in costume. You want to see some really strange helmet visors sometime, check out the Mystic Force Power Rangers...
A brief aside here. There was something rather interesting about Power Rangers Zeo. It was the only Power Rangers concept to have a comic book. According to this, Image Comics began publication of a Power Rangers Zeo comic in August 1996. It featured scripts by Tom and Mary Bierbaum, and art by Todd Nauck and Norm Rapmund. Four issues were drawn but only one was released before Image Comics lost the license.
That's too bad. Even as hokey as some of the TV shows have been, I've always been surprised that there haven't been tie-in comic books over the years. It seems to be the one pop culture realm that the Rangers haven't been able, for whatever reason, to get involved in, and that's a shame.
As to the Gold Ranger figure itself. First off, I'd like to say a few words about the packaging. Distinctly different from the yellow-orange-red of the Jungle Fury packaging, the Super Legends cards are mostly green and black, reflecting the colors of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers boxes. They even have the original logo -- which isn't entirely appropriate in the case of the Gold Ranger, but there's a little sticker on his plastic bubble that says "As seen on POWER RANGERS ZEO", using that show's proper logo.
The back of the card, while advertising the Jungle Master Jungle Fury Rangers, also features an entirely new logo, reading "POWER RANGERS SUPER LEGENDS". To be honest, I'm not sure who else Bandai might have in mind for this line. They've done the Green and White Rangers from Mighty Morphin, and the Gold Ranger from Zeo, as well as Lord Zedd. Start advancing too far into other Power Rangers lines and it almost gets redundant. But, here's hoping they have something in mind. I certainly wouldn't object.
The figure is very nicely made. The Gold Ranger stands about 6" in height. His highly detailed collar and straps are a separate snap-on piece that snap together over his front and back. The detailing on his arms, legs, and cuffs is sculpted -- which is certainly a step up from the original Gold Ranger figure which used little printed stickers (yes, I still have mine!).
The Gold Ranger is very nicely articulated at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, legs, upper leg swivel, and knees. Thankfully, these Super Legends figures have managed to avoid the problem that this year's Jungle Fury Rangers have been widely plagued with, that of being horrifically loose in that upper leg swivel. That's really been ridiculous, and I hope it's resolved before Power Rangers RPM hits the stores.
The Gold Ranger comes with an accessory. It's a staff, and a very ornate one. It's head looks a lot like the visor on the Gold Ranger's helmet. The rest of it is almost as ornate. Curiously, it's been molded in a sort of pewter-silver color, not gold. It is the Golden Power Staff, capable of firing a "Gold Rush" blast as a finisher. The Staff allowed the Gold Zeo Ranger to morph once he called out "Gold Ranger Power!"
This "Super Legends" line is clearly borne out of the fact that Bandai has realized that the Power Rangers have now been around long enough so that those who were little kids when it first came around, are now young adults who might be getting a bit nostalgic for certain aspects of their childhood. What the heck, it seems to be working to various degrees for G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Masters of the Universe, and they've been around longer than Power Rangers.
I've certainly seen other evidence of "Power Rangers nostalgia" around other than these Super Legends figures. There's a Super Legends videogame out there with Rangers from practically every incarnation. There's a DVD or two that features episodes from various Power Rangers series that were notable for their concept crossovers, including the 10th anniversary "Forever Red" episode that brought together every Red Ranger to date. I've even seen Mighty Morphin Power Rangers T-shirts in -- of all places -- Hot Topic, where they blend in about as well as a pair of sneakers in a tuxedo shop. Then again, it was only a few years ago when Hot Topic was selling T-shirts for -- G.I .Joe, Transformers, and Masters of the Universe, so...
Is Power Rangers ready to put some of itself into collectible nostalgia? Yes, I think it is. Next thing you know, we'll be seeing collectible busts, overpriced 12" figures from Sideshow, full-size weapon replicas, lithographs from Alex Ross... okay, maybe not.
For now, we'll have to content ourselves with these Super Legends figures.
But that's okay, because really, they're pretty cool. Come on -- you
know you watched the show when you were a kid. You got a kick out of
it. You know you want just a little bit of it back. Hellboy and Master
Chief won't mind. And really, this is a very nicely made action figure.
The POWER RANGERS SUPER LEGENDS ZEO GOLD RANGER definitely has my highest