REVIEW: POWER RANGERS RPM SILVER AND GOLD FULL THROTTLE RANGERS
As I have often said, there are several truisms about any Power Rangers concept. One is – there's ALWAYS a Red Ranger. This is what allowed Bandai, a couple of years back, during the line's 15th Anniversary year, to issue a remarkable series of larger-scale, highly articulated Red Rangers from virtually every Power Rangers concept to date (they missed the Alien Ranger). Wouldn't mind seeing an updated version of this line return for Power Rangers' 20th in a few years.
The other truism is this – there's always additional Rangers, beyond the core group of five or whatever. Sometimes, there's only one additional Ranger. But in more recent years, there's been more than one. Last year's concept, Jungle Fury, gave us a total of eight Rangers, including the core group. This year, the number is seven.
A little background on the RPM concept, which I was unable to provide when the first RPM Rangers figures came out, since the toys preceded the series debut by several months, and such information was scarce. At the time, I based the details on the Japanese concept, which was called Engine Sentai Go-onger.
In Power Rangers RPM: Three years prior to the series' beginning, an AI computer virus called Venjix took over all of the Earth's computers, rendering all communication useless while creating an army of robot droids to destroy everything. Humanity's last safe haven became the domed city of Corinth. Surrounded by Venjix's forces and a force field, it is nearly impossible to enter without luck or firepower. When the force field is lowered to allow surviving humans into the sanctuary, Dr. K's RPM Power Rangers fight Venjix's forces to protect Corinth from being destroyed.
Dr. K, by the way, is the Rangers' mentor who created their technology, and also the Venjix technology. She is extremely sensitive about the Ranger suits, particularly if someone calls them spandex. She is a genius and also musically inclined, using the violin and keyboard when working and even using them in conjunction with some of her equipment. Although her identity was initially obscured by her speaking through a computer screen and distorting her voice (the Rangers referred to K as "he"), the Rangers later learned that she is actually a young woman. It is revealed throughout the series that she was the creator of the Venjix virus when she was abducted by a government think tank. As a result of her upbringing, she no longer knows her own name ("K" is her government code name), and rarely ever leaves her base of operations. While she is by no means a physical fighter, she can defend herself with her weapons and wits, as well as an enhanced violin. Dr. K is portrayed by actress Olivia Tennet.
The five initial Rangers included five of the usual colors – Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, and Black. Interestingly, and somewhat unusually, only one of these Rangers, the Yellow Ranger, was female. It's also worth noting that the five colors of the Rangers' costumes are also the colors of the Olympic Rings. This does have a certain significance pertaining to the additional two Rangers.
RPM was interesting to me in that it combined several common motifs from previous Rangers concepts. Rangers have been known to have technological-vehicular themes, which certainly applies here as the RPM Rangers all tend to drive vehicular Zords. And yet, the animal theme which has also been common to many Rangers concepts is also present here. The Red Ranger drives a racing vehicle, and yet he is also designated as the Eagle Ranger. Blue is the Lion Ranger, with a vehicle known as the Lion Hauler; Yellow is the Bear Ranger, with a vehicle called the Bear Crawler; Green is the Shark Ranger, with a vehicle known as the Tail Spinner; and Black is the Wolf Ranger, with a vehicle known as the Wolf Cruiser.
Even the practice of numbered uniforms, first seen distinctly in Power Rangers SPD, is present here, with the uniforms bearing animalistically-styled numbers on their uniforms, 1 through 5.
Which brings us to the sixth and seventh Rangers, which are Gold and Silver. Now, consider those colors, in relation to the Olympics. Makes me wonder if there was ever a plan to do a Bronze Ranger.
Interestingly one of these two Rangers, the Silver Ranger, is another female. The Gold Ranger is male. Here's what the WikiPedia entry on Power Rangers RPM has to say about these two:
Gem and Gemma are fraternal twins who complete each other's sentences. They have incredibly hyperactive, childlike personalities, to the annoyance of the Rangers. Colonel Truman, the Red Ranger's father and the leader of Corinth's defense forces, is also put off by their reckless and offensive approach to battle in contrast to his defensive tactics. They were raised to be test pilots of the Ranger Operator Suits in Alphabet Soup, the government think tank where they met Dr. K and eventually became her first friends. When the Alphabet Soup think tank attempted to assassinate Dr. K, they arrived to rescue her, then helped her escape. They stayed in the building, attempting to get the classified Ranger Gold and Ranger Silver morphers, where an explosion seemingly killed them in front of Dr. K, but they survived, with Gem becoming Ranger Operator Series Gold and Gemma becoming Ranger Operator Series Silver, and fought a guerilla war against Venjix. After helping the core Rangers out and taking them back to Corinth, the twins reveal themselves to Dr. K, to her delight. Gemma and Gem's operation numbers are seven and eight, respectively. Gem is portrayed by Mike Ginn and Gemma is portrayed by Li Ming Hu.
Now, the first thing one notices is that their operation numbers are seven and eight. So – what happened to six? Well, the uniform numbers are based on the Zords' numbers – and there's a lot more Zords than there are Rangers. Zord Six is known as the Crocodile Carrier, and it's a backup Zord for the Green and Black Rangers.
And it doesn't make a whole lot of difference on the figures, anyway, since their uniform numbers on the basic "Full Throttle" versions of the figures which I picked up don't have visible numbers anyway.
So, how are the figures? Very nicely done. The uniforms both have significant areas of black on them, far moreso than the rest of the RPM Rangers (except for the Black Ranger, obviously), but there's still a good abundance of silver and gold on them, respectively.
At this point, I want to review the two figures individually, since the two figures do have some structural differences, beyond the obvious gender-based ones.
SILVER RANGER – Very similar to the construction design of the RPM Yellow Ranger, as one might expect. There is one key difference, however, that is a distinct improvement. The Yellow Ranger was wearing high heels, which frankly did nothing to improve her sense of balance. The Silver Ranger has relatively flat feet, and she stands far more readily than the Yellow Ranger.
There is a considerable articulation hindrance with the skirt. This is a problem that has plagued female Power Rangers figures since the Yellow Ranger from Jungle Fury, last year's concept. For some reason, rather than work the skirt into the design of the leg articulation, Bandai has chosen to mold the skirt as a separate piece, from only slightly flexible plastic, and it renders the legs nearly immobile at the hip. The legs, technically, ARE designed to be movable. There's just not much way to pose them.
The rest of the figure's articulation, however, is excellent. The head is actually mounted on a ball and socket joint, which gives it greater flexibility than the side-to-side movement of most Power Rangers' heads. The figure is also articulated at the arms, upper arm swivel (which is a substitute for the glove swivel on the male figures), knees, and boot tops.
Detail is excellent. The Silver Ranger has a highly sculpted emblem on her chest, that looks something like a stylized "G", which is in keeping with the "Go-Onger" name of the Japanese concept from which these Power Rangers came. The Silver Ranger's uniform features a silver helmet, gloves, and boots, and a black and silver uniform, with most of the silver being on the sides of the uniform.
There is a fair amount of intricate sculpting on the belt, boots, and gloves, including flares on the gloves that, honestly, look more than a little like space shuttle wings!
As for an animal attribute for this Ranger, it's not readily apparent, unlike the others. When I bought these figures, I was a little surprised to see the Silver and Gold Rangers ring up on the receipt as "Chicken Ranger" and "Tiger Ranger".
Sure enough, the Silver Ranger's Zord is a chicken-like device that transforms into a helicopter. The American Rangers managed to get around this a bit by downplaying the Chicken references and officially referring to the Zord as the Falcon Copter, which sounds a lot more impressive than "Chicken Zord"… And there's nothing all that chicken-like in the look of the figure, fortunately.
GOLD RANGER – As one would expect, this figure is very similar in design to the "Full Throttle" male RPM Rangers th at we've already seen, although like the Silver Ranger, his uniform is more ornate.
The Gold Ranger has excellent overall articulation, and is fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows, glove tops, legs, knees, and boot tops. He stands best with his legs slightly apart in an "action" pose, as this allows his feet to rest on the floor evenly.
The head, gloves, and boots are molded in a metallic gold plastic, while the gold on his uniform is painted gold. It's a good match, if not an exact one. Metallic gold seems to be a difficult color for toy companies to produce for some reason. Sometimes, they get it too dark. I've seen this be the case on a couple of DC Universe Classics figures, as well as some trim on a number of G.I. Joe action figures over the years. And right there, you've got Mattel and Hasbro, the "big two" of the toy world.
Bandai seems to be able to come up with a good basic gold color, that works well in both plastic and paint, although I'll be honest, it looks a little better in the paint. Still, it's overall very impressive.
Like the Silver Ranger, the Gold Ranger has a "G" like emblem sculpted to his chest, which sets him apart from the other RPM Rangers. There are significant sculpted details on his boots, belt, and gloves, which in the case of the gloves, once again includes the space shuttle-like wings. Much of his uniform looks to be black, with most of the metallic gold being around the emblem, straps holding the emblem in place, as well as trim down the sides of the uniform.
Both the Silver and Gold Rangers suffer from a mildly annoying problem that has plagued the Power Rangers for a number of years – Bandai, for what ever reason, tends to neglect to paint the trim on the backs of the figures. Technically, there should be a bit more silver and gold on both of them, both in uniform trim and sculpted detail. However, I'm not going to try to match these colors.
With the Silver Ranger's "Chicken Ranger" identity dealt with, this left the Gold Ranger's "Tiger Ranger" identity to confirm. No great surprise, the Gold Ranger's Zord is called the Tiger Jet. Interesting that these two Rangers have these wings on their gloves, and both of their Zords are flight-oriented.
Accessorywise, the figures both include an assortment of swords and futuristic firearms, but they also come with small representations of their vehicles. And, sure enough, there's a rather bird-like-looking helicopter among them!
A brief note about the future, as of when I write this. I've learned that next year's Rangers will in fact be the return of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Speculation is rampant as to why the next-in-line Japanese Super Sentai concept is not being adapted for American audiences. The two leading explanations are that, since Disney has rebranded their "Jetix" programming as Disney XD", and removed the Power Rangers from the lineup, that they don't intend to support the Rangers like they used to. While possible, I would think that unfortunate. The other explanation is that the following Super Sentai concept, called Samurai Sentai Shinkenger in Japan, is by far the most Japanese-culturally-centric series ever developed within the overall concept, and would be extremely difficult to adapt for American audiences.
For myself, while I don't object to a brief return of the original Rangers, and certainly enough time has elapsed since they were last seen on the air for a new audience to enjoy them, I would also hope that we have not seen the last of NEW Rangers concepts that will be adapted from forthcoming Super Sentai series. And indeed, a new Super Sentai series is in the works. I've seen costume designs for it.
So, what's my final word on the Silver and Gold Rangers? They're cool. They're an excellent complement to the five established RPM Rangers, and round out the team very nicely. I'm not sure how long they'll be around, since Thanksgiving tends to be "overhaul" time for the Power Rangers, so if you happen to see them, grab them quickly!
But definitely, the POWER RANGERS RPM "Full Throttle" figures of the GOLD and SILVER RANGERS definitely have my highest recommendation!