It's been more than 20 years since Mighty Morphin Power Rangers hit television sets across the United States and became an after-school sensation. Back then, kids cheered for Jason, Zack, Billy, Trini and Kimberly. Right now, the elementary school crowd is following the adventures of Troy, Noah, Emma, Gia, Jake and Orion on Nickeldeon. The characters changed over the years - as did the costumes and sets - but a lot of things remain the same. There is still the repurposed footage from Japanese Super Sentai series. There is still an air of campiness to it. More importantly, though, there are those wholesome teenage characters who learn about friendship and working for some greater good.
Liz Ohanesian Rita Replusa cosplay at Power Morphicon
Every couple years, Power Rangers fans descend upon Pasadena, California for Power Morphicon, a biannual convention that brings together the multiple generations of cast members under one roof. I last attended Power Morphicon in 2010 and it's grown a lot since then. The crowd was big enough to sustain a few long lines, mostly for the official Saban event and a panel with the original Rangers, and create a few cases of gridlock in the exhibit hall. A renewed interest in the series, thanks to 20th anniversary celebrations and a recent movie announcement, is certainly underfoot. The event is exciting enough to even capture the attention of those of us who casually watched the show way back when...and informative enough to teach the non-hardcore a thing or two about the franchise. Here are a few things I learned at Power Morphicon 2014.
1. For Collectors, 2015 Is the Year of the White Ranger.
Bandai has a line for older toy collectors, i.e. people willing to shell out big bucks to nerd out over a character they loved back in 1995. In 2015, those collectibles will be centered around the White Ranger.
Liz Ohanesian White Ranger collectibles from Bandai
If you watched Mighty Morphin Power Rangers back in its original 1990s heyday, you might recall the White Ranger. In fact, you might be a super huge White Ranger fan. If that's the case, then you'll want to check out some of Bandai's offerings for next year.
The toy company revealed its White Ranger collectibles at San Diego Comic-Con, so the hardcore who were in attendance probably already know what's in store. For those who missed out, the items were on display in the exhibit hall at Power Morphicon. They include the $99 "Saba legacy sword." It's a talking sword, with a tiger who will say lines from the TV show upon pressing a button. There's also a fancy belt buckle and coin set which our Bandai contact, Gregory Mitchell, says can be used for "high-end cosplay." It's $59 and based on the morpher that the White Ranger had in the 1995 movie. Also in the works are the Tigerzord, which is a souped up version of a toy that came out in the 1990s. "It's more posable and more detailed than the original version, says Mitchell. There's also a Titanus figure in the works that will be on the market for $200.
2. The Dino Charge Is Coming.
On Saturday afternoon, the schedule noted a "special event" from Saban, which, naturally, encouraged a long line of fans to pack into the panel hall. The main event was a Q&A with the stars of Super Megaforce, the current Power Rangers series which returns for another season on Nickelodeon next week.
Liz Ohanesian Dino Charge toys from Bandai to be released in 2015
At the end of the session there was a noteworthy announcement, although it wasn't about the movie. Instead, we saw a trailer for the next Power Rangers series, Dino Charge. The basic premise is that dinosaurs were supposed to protect some great, universal power, but they died. Now the Power Rangers have to save the world from the bad guys who are trying to get a hold of that power. This time around the Rangers wear bodysuits with a design that looks like dinosaur teeth and scales. Plus, they ride motorcycles that look like dinosaurs. Fans got an introduction to the new cast: James Davies (Black Ranger), Michael Taber (Green Ranger), Brennan Mejia (Red Ranger), Camille Hyde (Pink Ranger) and Yoshi Sudarso (Blue Ranger).
Over at the Bandai booth, Dino Charge toys were on display. They're set for a Spring 2015 release, but Gregory Mitchell from Bandai said that we might see them as early as January. There are the 5" scale action figures of this series' Rangers - Red, Blue, Green, Black and Pink - plus two villains. One is named Vivix and has green hair and wears a paisley (or "amoeba," as Mitchell says) body suit. The other is Fury, who Mitchell describes as "a bounty hunter with a mysterious past that will be revealed throughout the show. " This character has a lion-like look. The new toy line will also feature Dinozords and dino chargers, the latter functioning like the Ranger Key pieces in the Megaforce toy series. The dino chargers will work with a few different pieces in the collection, like the Dino Charge Power Morpher, a yellow gun, and the Dino Sword. There's also a Mighty Dino Charge Megazord, which is made up of three different Dinozords that combine to form a giant robot.
3. Power Rangers Super Megaforce Have the Best Costumes Ever.
Super Megaforce is the most recent series in the Power Rangers franchise. In it, the heroes have to defeat an "alien armada" invasion. There are multiple styles of costumes in this arc (and more than one Super Sentai show serving as source material), but the fighting outfits that stand out are the ones made for the high seas. There's a pirate theme going on here, with our high school heroes seen jumping off a big boat in buccaneer finery. The Super Megaforce costumes are quite a bit different from other Power Rangers ensembles - from the skull and crossswords on the shirts to the swashbuckling boots, everything about these form-fitting outfits screams "Yar, matey!" They look like Adam and the Ants in outer space. I love it. I would wear them, and not as a costume either.
Liz Ohanesian Super Megaforce cosplayers.
4. There Are a Lot of Power Rangers Episodes.
Right now, there's a massive marathon of The Simpsons airing on FXX. The "Every. Simpsons. Ever." campaign has earned a lot of buzz for the fact that the network will spend 12 days playing 552 episodes of the series. That's a feat. However, there are more Power Rangers episodes. Shout! Factory recently released a DVD set of the first 20 seasons, totaling 767 episodes. The difference, of course, is that Power Rangers "seasons" aren't traditional for television. They are packaged, more or less, as distinct series with different titles, different characters and different missions.
The box set is massive. There are 98 DVDs, six of which feature bonus material, housed in a Power Ranger helmet. Brian Ward, the director of Blu-Ray and DVD production for Shout! Factory, told me that he spent two years working on Power Rangers project, during which time he did watch all 20 seasons. I have to wonder, though, how long would it take for someone to get through this beast of a collection when watching it isn't work? Can you marathon Power Rangers, or do you spend years gradually working through the episodes?