2006's Power Rangers concept was known as Mystic Force. As usual, it included the retinue of five young heroes, all decked out in similarly designed uniforms, but each one representing a different main color. There was, of course, a Red Ranger, as well as a Green Ranger, Yellow Ranger, Blue Ranger, and Pink Ranger. The only really unusual thing about Mystic Force was that the Yellow Ranger was male, and the Blue Ranger was female. Usually it's the other way around.
But there's one truism about any Power Rangers concept. *Ahem* (clears throat). There is ALWAYS a Sixth Ranger. And more often than not, he's a bit of a sidestep from the other five in appearance, and generally name.
Mystic Force threw a bit of a red herring at the fans. For a time, I was under the impression that a character known as Knight Wolf was the sixth Ranger -- which in his initial form, given the primary colors of the uniform, would've resulted in the first-ever Purple Power Ranger. Try saying it five times fast without spraining your tongue. But, despite the fact that this one-time enemy of the Power Rangers did reform and get a whole new (and non-purple) costume, while he was at that point a Rangers' ally, he wasn't really the sixth Ranger. If nothing else, he didn't have "Ranger" anywhere in his name.
That distinction ultimately went to a character whose name was the SOLARIS RANGER. This impressive individual in a dark blue uniform with a generous helping of gold armor on his costume was the real sixth Ranger, and there was certainly no shortage of assorted toys available for him throughout the 2006 run of Power Rangers.
With one -- notable -- and for me -- really annoying -- exception.
I don't collect ALL of the Power Rangers toys in any given year. So I tend to stick to the basic 5" scale action figures of the Rangers themselves, and in that, the best articulated versions available. Usually, these are basic carded figures, that come with a couple of accessories.
I saw plenty of various versions of the Solaris Ranger. Transforming ones, 12" ones, Battlized ones, ones that were the right size but came with a vehicle and were distinctly limited in articulation. But I couldn't find a good, basic, well-articulated 5" Solaris Ranger. I couldn't believe that one didn't exist. Bandai couldn't possibly have been THAT careless. Could they...?
I ultimately ended up doing some research, as it got pretty late into
2006, and as word of the next Power Rangers concept, Operation Overdrive,
started to surface. One thing to remember about Power Rangers
So I turned online. And sure enough, there had been. It had never gotten out of Japan, but there it was, a 5" Solaris Ranger, really nicely articulated, sold with a -- well -- a vehicle of sorts. I'll explain that over the course of the review. Unfortunately, the handful of them that were available online were in rather extreme price ranges, with equally extreme shipping to the United States. Given the bids, I obviously wasn't the only person who wanted a good 5" Solaris Ranger.
Thankfully, another option was open to me. This project officially took on global proportions, as I contacted a friend of mine in England, who has a friend in Japan, to see if there was any way that this particular item was available at retail, and could be sent to me for something less than the stratospheric prices I was seeing online.
Technically, the toy's official name isn't Power Rangers Mystic Force. It's MagiRanger. And that's about all I can tell you about the original name of this product, because everything else on the package except for the Bandai logo is in Japanese. And I don't read Japanese. Although between my interest in Gundam and Microman, and now this little situation, if I had any significant capability for learning other languages, I'd probably choose Japanese. Let's face it, they have some seriously cool toys. But I don't even remember the Spanish I had to take in high school.
So, as far as I'm concerned, this is the Power Rangers Mystic Force Solaris Ranger that we SHOULD'VE gotten here in the States, but for whatever reason simply didn't. And that's a shame, because this is one cool figure.
While any given Power Rangers concept's "Sixth Ranger" is going to look more advanced than the other five, the Solaris Ranger leaves absolutely no question about this whatsoever. The basic Power Rangers in Mystic Force had as part of their uniforms a sort of shoulder-and-chest pad, vertical stripes on their uniforms that ran from the chest to the boots, and short capes. There wasn't anything that I'd really be inclined to call armor on the basic figures.
The Solaris Ranger, in comparison, has a MUCH larger shoulder and chest piece, armor all over his costume, an ornate pattern of jagged stripes across the armor, and a huge cape.
One other thing. Power Rangers that are manufactured for the United States tend to get a little skimped in the paint. While I haven't noticed it as much on Operation Overdrive, it was pretty obvious with certain areas of Mystic Force and the Power Rangers concept before that, S.P.D. On the Mystic Force Rangers, for example, their knee areas show sculpted lines for painted striping, but the knees are not actually painted.
Now, I'd be hard-pressed to figure out where Bandai could leave any paint off the more ornate Solaris Ranger, and of course, this figure was made for the Japanese market. And yet -- maybe this isn't specifically directed to the American crowd. Because there's a little area on the back that looks like some black striping from the front should've continued, and it doesn't. The cape covers most of it. And honestly, it's not that big a deal. I'll admit I'm a nit-picker on this sort of thing, and I'm not in any way trying to say that this Solaris Ranger is not an impressive figure, because he certainly is.
He's even a little better articulated than his same-size counterparts. Now, articulation in the average Power Ranger figure is generally excellent. The basic Mystic Force figures were articulated at the head, arms, elbows, glove tops, legs, upper leg swivel near the knee, and knees. The Solaris Ranger has all of this, but instead of being articulated at the glove top -- which would've been a little tricky -- he's articulated at the wrist. Additionally, there's a swivel arm feature just above the elbow, and the figure's knees are double-jointed!
Now, this figure was not sold on a card. He was sold in a boxed set with a vehicle. Granted, "vehicle" may be stretching the point a bit, but I'm honestly not sure what else you could call a plastic flying carpet on wheels! Okay, so it doesn't actually fly. But I have to admit, a wheeled flying carpet -- THAT'S pretty different. The thing even has an action feature built into it. Roll it along the floor and the back section of it flaps up and down. The carpet is molded in dark blue plastic, with gold "tassels" at its four corners, and ornate metallic labels down its center to provide the pattern. There's printed stitching on the back section of the carpet, as if the carpet was at some point "torn" and hastily repaired. I'm sure there's an "in-story" explanation for this, that I missed from not watching the show, but apart from that, all I can really say is -- somebody should've told him not to fly too close to those big commercial jets...!
The carpet is molded in a curved configuration so that the Solaris Ranger can sit on it, and use two handles on the sides to hang on while the carpet is propelled across the floor. Additionally, the Solaris Ranger's cape is articulated (one more point over the other Mystic Force Rangers), and can be positioned up and back, so it looks like it's flapping right along with the carpet itself. This seriously is one of the most interesting "vehicles" I've seen out of a toy line in some time.
But that's not the only additional item to come with this set. There's the weapon. This set has a weapon that has to be a contender for the most hysterical weapon-accessory of all time. It's unmistakably a genie's lamp, like something right out of Disney's "Aladdin" or any other similar legends, but the thing has a gun barrel sticking out of the front, and a gun handle emerging from the back. The sheer number of jokes this makes for is staggering. Imagine if the Genie from Aladdin had been voiced by Clint Eastwood instead of Robin Williams. "I got your three wishes right here, punk!" or perhaps, "You wanna make a wish on this? You wanna rub this lamp, punk? Come on and try it!"
This -- lamp-gun (what else am I supposed to call it!?) is molded in dark blue, and while the Solaris Ranger doesn't have a holster for it, it's clearly intended for his use.
And I ALMOST wonder, at the risk of getting political, if this is the reason this toy wasn't sent to the United States. Between the carpet and the lamp, and current tensions between Americans and some people of Arabian origin, even though Power Rangers is Japanese in origin -- well, I remember that certain groups pitched a fit over certain lyrics in the opening theme to Disney's "Aladdin". I suspect those same people probably wouldn't appreciate a genie-lamp-gun too much, and they might not be all that crazy about the flying carpet, either.
Whatever the reasons, though, it's truly unfortunate that this very cool toy didn't make it into the American collection of Power Rangers Mystic Force. The Solaris Ranger figure is entirely designed to work alongside the other 5" scale Power Rangers from this series, and there were no other Solaris Ranger figures that came all that close -- not that were decently articulated, anyway. And frankly, I like the carpet. I think kids would have a blast with this toy. And while I can see that some might find the genie-lamp-gun a bit of an eyebrow-raiser, I think it's hysterical.
So I recommend this toy? Absolutely. Unfortunately in this case, I can't just tell you to head down to a store and get one. Even in Japan, I doubt this toy is that readily available anymore. But it does turn up online every so often, and perhaps there are some other sources that I am not aware of.
So for those of you that lamented the absence of a Solaris Ranger in
the Power Rangers Mystic Force line, one that worked well in the basic
5" size, take heart -- it DOES exist. It might not be easy to track
down, but if you can, it's definitely worth it. The SOLARIS RANGER is
one very impressive figure, with a cool vehicle and a hysterical weapon,
and it all certainly has my enthusiastic recommendation!