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White Ranger

Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers
by yo go re

As you can probably tell by the copious amounts of He-Man, Transformers and GI Joe that gets reviewed around here, most of the OAFEs are children of the '80s. I'm no exception, so much like Poe, I was just slightly too old to really get into the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers when they came out. I admit I watched the show (or at least had it on while doing other things), but I never got any of the toys - and considering the depth of my plastic obsession, that's really saying something! But Power Rangers is the best-selling action figure brand of all time, so I'd be remiss if I never gave one a shot, to see what all the fuss is about.

Drained of his powers as the Green Ranger, Tommy Oliver thought his days as a Power Ranger were over. Teleporting him to the Cmmand Center, Zordon and Alpha revealed their plans to create a new Ranger, one created from the White Light of Good so the darkness could never control him. The White Ranger became the new leader of the team, pilot of the mighty Tigerzord.

This figure, released in 2008 alongside the Jungle Fury toys, is part of the "Super Legends" subline, seemingly unrelated to the videogame of the same name. Basically, it's an excuse to release updated versions of some of the most popular characters from the franchise's history - a pretty admirable goal, no matter what your property is. It's also a really nifty way to celebrate Power Rangers' 15th anniversary. He and fellow chase figure Gold Zeo Ranger are limited to 20,000 pieces each.

The White Ranger's sculpt is quite plain, but that's a good thing - these toys are designed to look like their live-action counterparts, and in the real world, it doesn't matter how tight your clothes are, your muscles don't stand out like a comicbook character's. There are small wrinkles on his ankles and around his shoulders, but that's really about it for the bodysuit. The details in his armor are all sculpted in, so you don't have to worry about whether or not the paint apps are straight. There should be a darker gold around the raised symbol on his chest, but at least the sculpt makes the piece stand out.

Tommy's chest armor is removable: it's packaged next to the figure in the blister, and splits into to pieces to fit onto the figure. Underneath, his costume has the standard MMPR diamond pattern across the chest, even though it was never seen in the show. It makes logical sense that the design would be there, but Bandai could have gone without it and none of the fans would have complained.

From the very beginning, the Power Rangers' helmets had an animal motif that related to their assigned Zord, though it was much less obvious in Mighty Morphin' than in Jungle Fury. Thus, the White Ranger's helmet has a golden tiger look to it - the ears and eyes are on the helmet's forehead, above the opaque black visor. There's a silver panel over the wearer's mouth, and golden "whiskers" sweeping up the cheeks. The head seems a bit too wide, judging by the promotional pictures of the actual costume, but that footage may have been slightly squashed for effect.

The figure's articulation is far better than the previous Mighty Morphin' toys, but it's still lacking some key joints. He has a plain swivel neck, balljointed shoulders, hinged elbows, swivel wrists, balljointed hips and hinged knees. There's no waist, no ankles or shin swivels, and no kind of biceps - it rather limits the kind of karate poses you cen get the figure in. Still, it's better than the alternative.

Other than the armor, Tommy's only accessory is Saba, the talking saber that sometimes seemed to function as a joystick - seriously, there was a slot in the console the blade fit into, and then the Tigerzord would switch to Warrior Mode. It would also follow the White Ranger's movements, like the mobile trace system in G Gundam. From what I've seen, the Power Rangers' accessories are typically unpainted, just left in whatever color they were molded from, and Saba is no exception: on the show, the sword was white, gold, black and silver, just like its owner: here, it's just silver. That's disappointing, no question. The figure can hold it in either hand, or hang it on his hip.

The Green Ranger, Tommy, was originally meant to die when he initially lost his powers. But the character proved so popular, he was kept around, and re-assigned as the White Ranger. He's also been the Red Zeo Ranger, the Red Turbo Ranger, and the Black Dino Ranger. Along the way, he also found time to complete his doctorate in paleontology, but that's beside the point. Whatever color he was, Tommy's always been popular - and this is the first action figure that's come close to living up to his legacy. There are definite improvements to be made, but still, even if you've never been a huge Power Rangers fan, the Super Legends White Ranger is a nice toy.

-- 02/26/09

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