Tag Archives: david yost

Hasbro Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Red, Black, and Blue Rangers

It’s morphin time!

If it wasn’t obvious after my White Ranger review, I have decided I need to assemble a team of Power Rangers on my shelf. Specifically, the Mighty Morphin era. I’ve already posted my thoughts on both the Green and White Rangers, devoting a write-up to each figure, but for today I’m going to do some combining. And that’s because I am basically going to just talk about three different versions of the same figure. The base Power Ranger male figure is the same for each one, at least for the Mighty Morphin figures. I assume the other teams are similar, but I don’t know that for sure because I don’t have any of them, nor do I intend to get any of them. These three though are the same, and they’re basically the same as the Green and White Rangers too, though those two had a few unique pieces due to the slight differences in costumes. Now I don’t intend for that revelation to be a knock on this line, toy companies reuse parts all of the time and when the characters are pretty similar there’s no need to re-sculpt everything just for the sake of doing so. The actors in the show who portrayed the “teenagers” who become Power Rangers were fairly distinct in terms of body shape, but the costumed Rangers really were not.

I like what Hasbro has been doing with their packaging. Simple, but elegant, window boxes.

The good news is, I generally liked what Hasbro did for the other Rangers I reviewed. If I didn’t then I probably wouldn’t have bought more. The molds aren’t cartoonishly bulky like the old Bandai ones and was more reflective of how these characters actually look on screen. You can still nitpick them here and there, but for the most part they look like what I recall seeing on television back in 93. The articulation is solid, the paint has been okay for a mass market retail figure, and each figure has come mostly with enough stuff. This time though we’re going into original five territory. These characters were even more uniform with really the only difference being the head and unique weapon. All of them, in the show, were also armed with what was called a Blade Blaster which was a little laser pistol that could turn into a bulky knife. These three should be pretty similar with some room for there to be a clear “best” and “worst,” but my expectation is if one is good then all three should be pretty good. And, of course, if one is bad then they will all probably be bad.

Though I wish they used actual product shots on the rear as opposed to renders. Good luck getting the Black Ranger into that exact pose.

All three Rangers come in the same attractive window box with some unique artwork on the front and side and product shot on the back. The box is also color themed to that specific Ranger and these would probably look just fine to a mint-in-box collector, and for you openers the packaging is fairly durable and can be resealed with minimal effort. Each figure stands a tick over 6″; we’ll call it six and a quarter. And each one is some combination of colored plastic and painted plastic. Since these figures are essentially just two-toned, Hasbro tries to get away with using as little paint as possible and it creates problems. The Black Ranger is the best of the three as black is pretty opaque and plastic painted black and molded black are going to look the same. The molded white and the painted white which shows up at the butterfly joint is a little off, but for the most part he looks good. There’s paint inconsistencies here and there, and one glove has an ugly smudge of black on it, but it’s something you kind of have to deal with as far as this line is concerned. Strangely, he doesn’t have a red ring on his morpher, something all four have, so this is clearly an error on Hasbro’s part. The helmet is at least clean and looks pretty sharp. It was always one of my favorite helmets in the show with the mastodon tusks curling under the visor and it’s recreated here pretty well.

I’m going to be humming the theme song as I drop images into this thing.

Unfortunately, the Red and Blue Rangers are not as good. On these two, the colored plastic and painted plastic is noticeably different. The torso on the Red Ranger in particular is way darker than his limbs to a distracting level. It’s readily apparent in box, and still when removed. When he’s posed on a shelf with his limbs in a more dynamic pose the effect is minimized a bit, but not removed. The same is true of Billy, our Blue Ranger, but it’s not as severe. Instead, he gets to introduce a separate issue and it’s with the white paint on his torso. It’s not nearly opaque enough and the blue plastic shows through it. It’s bizarre for this figure to have this problem when the black figure is fine. These figures were not all released at the same time so it would appear the factory just had a bad run when it came time to manufacture the Blue Ranger because he feels like the clear dud of this trio. He also has the worst helmet of the three too as there’s a paint chip on the center horn and the shape just looks a little off to me. It’s very round. There are some sculpted lines on it, but the plastic is so dark and glossy that they don’t show well. I wish Hasbro had added some paint to bring them out more like they did with the Black Ranger who has some added silver paint. He’s not awful, but this figure is definitely helped by the fact that I’ve always enjoyed the aesthetics of the Blue Ranger, but someone who doesn’t like blue as much as I do would probably have a harsher take here. The Red Ranger also would benefit from some more paint on his helmet to bring out the design.

Hopefully you can tell how dark Jason’s torso is vs his limbs and how thin the white paint on Billy’s diamonds are.

The paint on these guys is definitely a mixed bag, but at least they’re all the same when it comes to articulation. To run it down again, these guys have a ball peg at the head that gives them an acceptable range of motion. Up and down articulation is limited, but it’s fine. We’ve got a ball hinge at the shoulder with a butterfly joint behind it. The combination of molded white and painted white plastic with this joint is a little unsightly, but the range created by the joint is, for the most part, worth it. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with butterfly joints. There’s a biceps swivel, double-jointed elbow, and the hands rotate and have horizontal hinges, which are bad for these figures. There’s a ball-joint in the diaphragm that provides some tilt forward and back as well as side-to-side. There is an ab crunch that’s mostly useless, and no waist swivel. I wish Hasbro would ditch the ab crunch and just go with a waist swivel. The legs are ball pegs and can kick forward, but not back. They also can’t do a true split, which kind of sucks for acrobatic characters. There’s a thigh swivel, double-jointed knees, a boot cut, and ankle hinges with rockers. The ankles are terrific and will be your best friend when it comes to posing these boys. It’s fine articulation on the whole with obvious room for improvement. Unfortunately, any improvement to it though will be a benefit to other iterations of the Power Rangers as I suspect Hasbro is not going to re-sculpt the Mighty Morphin figures anytime soon. Maybe when they do guys like Rocky and Adam they’ll retool some things, but it’s not something I’d count on. It also should be noted some are more stiff than others, though I can say no joints are loose. My Red Ranger’s elbows were also curved slightly which made working them a bit difficult. I ran them under hot water to try to bend the bow out and was mostly successful. His shoulder hinges are real tight though and he’s a bit more awkward to work with as a result.

The weapons turned out pretty well, at least.
This is the only blast effect among the five Rangers so if you want the combined blaster to fire this is your only option.

The accessories present the most obvious opportunity for these figures to separate themselves from each other as each Ranger had their own unique weapon. For Jason the Red Ranger, it’s the Power Sword. Zach the Black Ranger has the Power Axe, and Billy has the Power Lance. Very creative names, I know. Jason’s sword is just that, a sword. It’s fine, but the lack of vertical hinged hands makes wielding it properly more difficult than it needs to be. Hasbro also painted the handle black, so now I have black smudges on the inside of the hands. Definitely just heat those hands to make them soft when inserting this thing unless you want your figure to have dirty hands too. Zach’s axe suffers from the same hinge fate when wielded as an axe, but it also functions as a gun which the wrist hinges don’t impact much. And it’s pretty cool! It even has a sliding action on it so he can pump it like a shotgun. It’s probably my favorite weapon so far. Billy’s lance is fine, though it’s a bit flimsy so it will often have a slight curve to it. It’s blue plastic, so there’s less fear of rub with this one as the only paint is reserved for the silver trident tips and some minor details. Hasbro packed in separate handheld daggers for Billy as his lance could break in half. This was mostly for when they combine their weapons (which is something the figures can do if you buy all five Rangers), but he can wield these like sais if you wanted. It’s probably the smarter play than just having the lance separate as they would have had to have a separate middle piece that did nothing in order for the lance to be long enough. These weapons are good though, so no real complaints there. Each one also comes with an effects piece for their respective weapon. Jason and Billy have a lighting effect that is blue for both of them. Zach has a blasting effect for when his weapon is used in gun form. It’s a translucent red with sparkles and works pretty well, though it kind of looks like a pumpkin. It does add a lot of weight to the front of the axe so posing him can get challenging when it’s inserted, but not impossible.

Ready for a shoot out.
Zach is the only one who got the memo it was actually a knife fight they were supposed to show up for.

For the blasters, Hasbro continues to confuse. Each Ranger comes with a Blade Blaster in blaster form. It would have been pretty awesome if they could have made a transforming blaster (since the transformation was very simple), but that might have resulted in too fragile a piece so instead there are just regular blasters. The paint on them isn’t great, but the sculpt work at least looks nice. Zach also comes with a Blade Blaster in blade form. This is cool since it was something each Ranger had, though as a weapon it looked really stupid even to an eight year old, but it was in the show so I want the toy to have it. The blade though is permanently extended so it has basically one function. This sucks because in the show the Rangers would holster these weapons in blade form, but with the blade retracted (it was essentially an ugly switchblade). That means each Ranger can’t holster this weapon in a screen-accurate manner. I’m tempted to just snip off the blade, but that won’t solve the issue of the Red and Blue Rangers only having the pistol version. The pistol fits in the holster, but again, it’s not screen accurate and it bothers me. You can brush this aside by saying “Well, this is a line meant to appeal to kids too,” but kids care about that stuff! I was arguably more obsessed with things being screen accurate as a kid than I am now. At the very least, each figure should have come with this bladed version in addition to the gun, but Hasbro got cheap on us. It’s like they put it in with the Black Ranger just to wave it in our face that they could have done this the whole time, but chose not to.

Spare heads, if you want them. Though I can’t imagine anyone wants that Zach.
Yeah, I’m not going to use these.

Lastly, each figure comes with some optional parts. All have two sets of hands: gripping and fists. I appreciate the extras, but fists aren’t very exciting as optional hands. I’d have preferred maybe some chop hands or more style pose hands since these characters did a lot of that in the show. The other optional part is the unmasked head that comes with each. This is a good thing if that’s something that interests you, though I personally won’t ever use them. The likeness for each is based on their original actor so we have Austin St. John as Jason, Walter Jones as Zach, and David Yost as Billy. Of the three, Jason looks the best. It more or less looks like St. John. Billy’s head is okay. It’s a bit goofy and glasses are always hard to get right, but it’s okay. Zach though looks terrible. I don’t know what Hasbro was trying to do with this one. He had dreadlocks in Season Two and I guess that’s what they were going for with this one, but his hair just looks terrible and the face looks nothing like Jones to me. It’s bad. It’s probably a bummer for diehard collectors of Power Rangers who want to assemble a team of every actor who played these characters, at least for a casual fan like me it’s just an ugly lump of plastic that will stay in the box.

All right, it’s face-off time!
“Don’t worry, Tommy! I’ll save you by smashing in your face with my Power Sword!”

This collection of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is okay. I definitely do not like these figures as much as I did the White and Green Rangers, but I’m not feeling any buyer’s remorse or anything. They get the job done when put on a shelf, it’s when placed under greater scrutiny that some things start to fall apart. I think the Black Ranger is fine, ignoring his ugly unmasked head, and I’m mostly happy with how he turned out. The paint issues on the Red and Blue Rangers are my biggest complaints. I can handwave the inaccurate Blade Blaster and lack of vertical hinges for the hands, but the paint is a bummer because that affects the aesthetics of the figure just as much as the sculpt. The Red Ranger’s elbows, in particular, are ugly because they’re basically a candy apple red and the Blue Ranger has those poorly painted white diamonds on his chest. The thing I keep coming back to is that these are mass market retail figures priced at 20 bucks or less, in most cases. I shouldn’t even expect NECA quality with these things, let alone high end collectibles. Even with that caveat, I still think they’re a little disappointing because this is Hasbro and we know what Hasbro is capable of. Whether it’s Ghostbusters, GI Joe, or Marvel we’ve seen them do much better with paint and certainly matching colored plastic to painted plastic. I can’t recall ever having that be as big an issue with another line as it is here.

Hasbro is able to get a lot of important stuff right with these guys like the overall sculpt and articulation. They also realize that Billy should have a separate set of weapons for when his lance is separated. Then they go and mess up the paint and fail to include holstered Blade Blasters and just do some weird stuff that keeps these from being great. It’s frustrating.

Ultimately, you are free to like or dislike these figures. I suspect most will have mixed feelings, as I do, but I also bet there are some extreme reactions too. For me, I like the aesthetics of these sculpts more than I have any other Power Rangers products, so they work well enough. I always hated the over-muscled look of some of the Bandai figures because these guys aren’t Jim Lee drawings, they were just actors who were probably gymnasts first. If I thought Hasbro was going to do better I might have held off, but I don’t think that will happen unless they do some running changes when they get to the other actors, assuming they do. And if they do, I hope they just cast everything in colored plastic save for the hands and I suppose the boots. And they can also keep the white butterfly joint, I guess, though I think they can do better in color-matching that too. And if that happens, maybe I’ll sell these and upgrade (the Red and Blue, anyways), but maybe I won’t? These get the job done for me, I just think Hasbro can do better and I don’t blame Power Rangers fans if they want to hold Hasbro to a higher standard by ignoring these.


Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie

In 1995 the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers were at the height of their powers. The show had premiered on Fox Kids in the summer of 1993 and was basically an instant hit. Saban Entertainment churned out 60 episodes for that first season followed by a 52 episode second season which finished airing in early 1995. When it comes to successful children’s properties, most executives want to strike while the property is burning bright so a movie was fast-tracked for summer 1995. It would be a whole different kind of production as the television show was a mash-up of three separate shows. The Power Rangers as teens was all shot in California, while the majority of the action was taken from Super Sentai, a long-running Japanese action-adventure television series. To make things more complicated, the White Ranger was introduced in Season Two even though he was featured in an entirely different season of Sentai which is how you end up with three distinct source productions.

For the movie, 20th Century Fox stepped in and took over for the notoriously cheap Saban Entertainment. Saban was so cheap that by the time the second season ended three actors had been replaced with new ones. Austin St. John, Walter Emanuel Jones, and Thuy Tran had been replaced as the red, black, and yellow rangers when the three tried forming a union to request better wages. The actors reportedly were making $600 per week and we’re being asked to do their own stunts as well. For a hugely successful show, one would think they were justified in requesting a raise. Saban though is run by Haim Saban, the same executive who reasoned that the writers for the wildly successful X-Men cartoon should take a pay cut for the second season because now that the show was a hit, writers should be banging down on his door to write for it. The three original Rangers were replaced by Steve Cardenas, Johnny Yong Bosch, and Karan Ashley while the other three who declined not to unionize (Jason David Frank, Amy Jo Johnson, and David Yost) remained.

The Power Rangers leap onto the big screen with new, armored, costumes.

It’s for that reason that it feels like Fox was just a few months late with the movie. Had the more memorable, and frankly better, characters made it to the big screen it probably would have had more of an impact. Then again, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers isn’t really a film that asks much of its heroes, save for them to mostly look cool and jump around. There’s one memorable line from the Rangers in the entire film, so basically anyone could have played these parts.

With Fox on board it meant someone else got to foot the bill other than Saban. It’s not uncommon for a movie based on a television property to look much better than its small screen counterpart, but for this film it was clear that Fox really wanted to make that point. The Power Rangers have their recognizable costumes, but they’re now padded with armor plating. The villainous Lord Zedd’s (Mark Ginther) exposed brain now throbs with every line of dialogue and his right hand monster, Goldar (Kerry Casey), gets to sport glowing red eyes and re-worked face. The end result is a bit of a mixed bag for the characters we’re familiar with. Zedd looks quite menacing, while the Power Rangers look more like motocross participants and Goldar is actually less menacing than he was on television.

Ivan Ooze is the true star of this one.

What does work is the film’s new lead villain. The basic story is a strange artifact shows up at a dig site that contains the ancient evil Ivan Ooze (Paul Freeman). He apparently caused some trouble many years ago and an older version of the Power Rangers, together with their leader Zordon (Nicholas Bell), defeated him and sealed him away. Zedd is aware of the discovery and sees an opportunity to enlist Ooze’s help to defeat the Power Rangers and take over the world, but Ooze has other ideas. He traps Zedd and his bride, Rita Repulsa (Julia Cortez), in a snowglobe and takes over his operations with his own goal for global domination. He attacks Zordon and lays waste to the command center of the Power Rangers sapping them of their powers. The Rangers are then forced to use the last of their powers to warp to a distant planet to find a greater power in the hope that it will allow them to save Zordon and defeat Ivan Ooze for good.

The film marks the theatrical debut for director Bryan Spicer who worked with John Kamps and Arne Olsen to craft the story and script for the film. It’s a very basic story of a bad guy stripping a hero of their power and forcing them to find a new source to train, power-up, and return. It’s actually very similar to the plot of the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film in which the heroes lose their surrogate father and have to leave for a period only to come back and save the day. The film is only an hour and thirty-five minutes, but it’s a long hour and thirty-five minutes as there’s a lot of padding to be found. The film begins with a lengthy, and pointless, sky-diving sequence which gives way to an extended roller-blading outing for the Rangers. I guess the idea was to make the heroes look cool while also hitting that magic 90 minute running-time, but there’s a lot of pointless stuff going on.

The Power Rangers also have new, ninja, outfits to show off which means Bandai has more toys it can sell.

The acting presented here is about what you would expect. The Rangers themselves are rather wooden, but they’re also given some of the worst lines to work with. Tommy, played by Jason David Frank, is perhaps miscast as the leader of the bunch since he struggles with basically every line except for “It’s morphin’ time!” I say “perhaps miscast” because I am not sure any of the others really demonstrate anything better. Amy Jo Johnson, who plays Kimberly the Pink Ranger, is probably the best of the bunch, but even she isn’t given a whole lot. Worse is that she and Aisha, the Yellow Ranger, seem to constantly find themselves in peril calling out for help from the male Rangers in virtually every conflict. This is a departure from the show where the girls are freely allowed to kick some ass and even bail out their male comrades. There’s also a romance angle shoe-horned into the relationship of Tommy and Kimberly, but there’s absolutely no chemistry to be found between the two actors.

As is the case with the television show, the real stars of the film are the villains. Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa are a fun odd-couple pairing, for the brief time they’re around. They make me smile when they’re on screen, and I would have been very disappointed with how they’re written out if not for the presence of Paul Freeman’s Ivan Ooze. Ooze is a ridiculous looking villain, which is perfect for a film like this one that has a bit of a B-movie vibe going for it. He’s funny, flamboyant, and the pile of prosthetics Freeman is forced to wear do not cover-up his face so he’s free to emote and use his facial expressions to further enhance the character. He’s easily the best part of the film and it’s almost a shame he had to endure so many hours in a makeup chair for such a picture.

My children found movie Zordon frightening.

Where the film really takes a turn for the worse is in its desire to elevate the product above the television show. The show is formulaic and repetetive, but it’s not without its charm. The cheap effects are endearing, and the bad rock music soundtrack has a way of worming its way into your ear. Note that I don’t consider the main theme song, “Go, Go, Power Rangers!” as among the bad. That song is perfect for what it is. For the film, licensed music is brought in as is often the case for summer blockbusters. There are songs from The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Van Halen to go along with the techno-rock score that just isn’t nearly as fun as the television soundtrack. It causes the property to have a sense of being in over its head, like it doesn’t belong, when in reality the soundtrack was aiming to do the opposite.

“Mega” is not the way I would describe this Megazord.

Worse than the soundtrack though, are the effects. There are a great many instances of practical effects in this film, which is what is appropriate for the franchise. Some of them get a little silly, like the White Ranger doing a comical amount of flips through the air. His deployment of his sentient sword, Saba, is also awesomely bad. What can’t be forgiven though is the CG finale. The film only had a budget of roughly $20 million so no one would expect Jurassic Park CG, but where the films errs is in its attempt to make the zords, giant robots piloted by the Power Rangers, entirely CG. Same with the evolved form of Ooze which features a frozen face completely removing the character’s strength. The zords are just brutal to look at and it’s a real shame that the studio didn’t just pour money into making awesome costumes for the stunt performers. The Rangers even get new, more powerful, zords, but kids were likely left underwhelmed at the end result. They do show up in the TV show in a manner fans were accustomed to, and they look light years ahead of what’s presented here.

You would probably believe me if I said this was from a PlayStation game, not a major Hollywood blockbuster.

I decided to watch Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie largely because my kids have been watching the original show and it’s been a fun trip down memory lane for me. I honestly can’t remember if I had ever sat down and watched this movie beforehand, but if I did I can see why it wasn’t very memorable. I was hoping for more camp and plenty of humor, some intentional and some unintentional, but the film really doesn’t deliver. The only redeeming part of it for me was Ivan Ooze, and when he’s not on screen I’m just not entertained, save for one line by Johnny Yong Bosch when he finds out he’s receiving the powers of a frog. The film was a hit as it reportedly made over $60 million at the box office plus it probably made a bunch more in merchandising. Despite that though, there was no Mighty Morphin sequel. Instead, we got Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie in 1997 which bombed at the box office. The franchise was also rebooted in 2017 as simply Power Rangers, but it didn’t perform well enough to warrant a sequel and rumor has it the film franchise is destined for another reboot. The show is still going though and it seems like the type of series that will last forever at this point. It’s just a shame that its best era received such a dismal feature.


%d bloggers like this: