The PoP! Stars give their take on the latest and greatest in Action Figures and Toy Lines in eight (succinct) parts.
I honestly don’t know how it happened, but one night I ended up watching YouTube videos about the Power Rangers Samurai Zords and before I knew it, I was watching the show on Netflix. That’s how cool the Zords are. The acting on the show is terrible and the plot is paper thin. But it looks really neat. The monsters, the Samurai Rangers’ uniforms, the weapons and the Zords all look really awesome (the HD doesn’t hurt). It’s come a long way since I was a kid. These Zords are all about sharp edges and lots of “take this piece and put it over here.” It’s a stark contrast from the smooth “stick these together” approach I remember. Sure, there have always been parts that moved around during transformation, but nothing like this. But even in 2012 we can’t get a Megazord with hip articulation. That’s happened only once I’m aware of: the OG Deluxe Megazord.
The Samurai Folding Zords
The core Zords look really weird, but in a good way. They’re modeled after origami figures and in the show, they collapse into handheld sigils. The Japanese version of the toy does that, too. For the remolded American release, only the Turtle Zord can be folded into the emblem seen on the show, and that’s only because it’s essential to the Megazord transformation. With the Megazord alone, it’s not an issue, but it does present problems later. The Dragon Zord is missing some articulation that would make him more show-accurate and it, the Bear and the Lion Zord are all missing paint apps on the molded origami symbols on the sides. Despite these flaws, they still look really neat.
The Folding Zords’ emblems are basic shapes that fold out into the origami forms. As such, the Smaurai Megazord is made of simple geometric shapes bent and broken to give form to the humanoid warrior robot. It’s a cool design. Like any good Megazord, it’s got a big-@$$ sword and, of course, the legs don’t move. It’s missing the shield from the Japanese release, though, which is strange.
The Beetle Zord, Tiger Zord, Swordfish Zord and Octo Zord (which is clearly a squid, not an octopus) each offer up a weapon upgrade and a new helmet for the Samurai Megazord. The results are a mixed bag. The Tiger Zord is the most show accurate with its cool cannon backpack, but the Swordfish Zord is completely inaccurate to the show. Sure, there’s a helmet, but the bulk of the swordfish becomes a new ill-fitting arm for the Megazord… That’s stupid. The Beetle Zord and Octo Zord are a little better, but there are still some pretty serious differences between what the toy looks like and the show. Each is sold separately, of course, and they offer a wide range of display options, despite their show inaccuracies.
The Samurai Battlewing
The Beetle, Tiger and Swordfish Zords combine into the Samurai Battlewing, a plane made of robotic animals cobbled together in a perfect display of the line’s mix-and-match style. Take a bit from here and slap it over here and boom: crazy-looking plane. Slap it on the back of the Megazord (with a new helmet, of course) and you’ve got a flying Megazord that looks pretty rad. Just so he doesn’t feel left out, the Octo Zord can combine with the Battlewing to make a standing canon, though it sits far too low to actually look right in front of the much larger Megazord.
The Claw Zord
Have you ever wanted a big robot lobster? Me, neither, but now I’ve got one. It’s totally a lobster, by the way, so I don’t know why they called it the “claw zord.” Sure, it’s got claws, but it’s a lobster. At any rate, mix and match some parts around and the Claw Megazord is born. Just like the show, all four of his battle modes are present thanks to the disc in its chest (though you’ll need the Octo Zord for the “North” version). Like the Samurai Megazord, he’s limited to only arm articulation, but there’s a little give to the legs thanks to the transformation. It’s big and gaudy, but in some weird way, it works.
Claw Armor Megazord
Granted, I’ve been out of the game for awhile, but this is a pretty unique transformation compared to the type of zord combinations I’m used to. The main torso of the Claw Megazord remains mostly intact, planted on top of the Samurai Megazord’s waist. The claw Megazord’s legs become armor and the lobster legs become an awesome battle helmet. The resulting Claw Armor Megazord is all kinds of pointy. It looks equal parts ridiculous and awesome.
The proportions are a little off in this mode because the legs gain about an inch in length thanks to the armor pieces, but the arms don’t get any longer. In some poses, it can look a little weird, more so when he’s holding his swords. It’s also in this combination that the lack of emblem modes on the folding zords becomes an issue. In the show (and the Japanese toy), the Samurai Megazord’s arms fold into their emblem forms when the chest tilts back. The result is the three emblems (the lion zord’s featured prominently in the center) on a backback/belt thing that works in the overall design. Since these toys don’t do that, the alternative here is an extra set of arms hanging off the back. That the turtle zord can achieve emblem form makes the sting even worse. It would look a lot better if the ape could fold, too, but alas.
Presumably, it was a cost-cutting measure that eliminated the emblem forms. Less moving pieces means less cost in production. That makes sense, if those moving pieces are never essential to the toys’ designs, and for the arms, it’s very essential. Despite that pretty significant design flaw, the Claw Armor Megazord looks really cool. This thing is starting to get some heft to it now.
On its own, the Bull Megazord sucks big time, especially when compared to its Japanese counterpart. It’s too small. It’s supposed to be a cart and bull that the Megazord can ride. This… doesn’t look like that. Sure, the functionality is there for the Megazord to ride it, but imagine yourself riding a platform pulled by a two-foot tall miniature bull, and you’re halfway to understanding why the design for this thing sucks. The Megazord form is fine, but the bull form literally means moving the arms from one set of pegs to another and laying it on its chest. It’s like G1 Hot Rod. It’s pretty awful as a two-mode toy. So why bother?
You need the less than awesome Bull Megazord to get the insanely awesome Samurai Gigazord, this year’s Ultrazord combination. This thing is an absolute mess of parts slapped together to create a hulking monstrosity of win. There are a whopping eleven component Zords used to make the Gigazord. It’s enormous. It’s a pain to get everything together, but when it’s all combined, it’s really something. It stands nearly two feet tall and weighs more than a newborn baby. But again, the lack of emblem forms comes into play. The turtle and ape Zords are meant to peg into the wheels of the Gigazord in emblem mode. Instead, the Gigazord has an extra set of arms on its ankles. This thing doesn’t need any help looking like a complete and utter clusterf*ck, so the extra arms aren’t exactly a welcome addition compared to the original Japanese toy. For as huge and tacky as it is, I like it.
It’s been a while since a Megazord of any kind has truly been on my radar. Whether next year’s models will make any kind of impact remains to be seen. The Samurai Zords, despite one prominent design flaw, are pretty neat toys. One thing I have noticed is a complete lack of monsters of any kind for them to fight, which seems a little weird, especially considering how great the monsters look this season. Regardless, if you’ve ever been a Ranger fan, these new Zords are worth looking at.