Based on a Japanese action drama called Super Sensei, the Power Rangers franchise began in 1992 and, throughout the 90s, the primary-coloured action heroes were every boy’s dream toy. The Power Rangers were a group of spirited teenagers trained by an expert martial arts tutor to become warriors, capable of defying the mightiest of foes. When going into battle, the Rangers transformed from ordinary teenagers into helmeted heroes dressed from top to toe in skin tight lycra and wielding a range of nasty-looking weapons.
Action figures have always been popular with boys, but with Power Rangers came the chance to ‘collect the set’ as well as all their enemies, and battle away for hours. Toy companies loved the huge range of accessories which accompanied the tv series and, on the run up to Christmas, stores were often known to sell out of the latest range. Woe betide the parent who had left their shopping too late to purchase the latest Red Ranger toy, complete with unique weaponry. There would be tears on Christmas morning!
The figures were taken from the hugely popular tv show. Throughout the 90s there existed many different Power Rangers series. The original was called Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and ran from 1992-1996. This was followed by Power Rangers Zeo, Turbo, Lost in Space and Lost Galaxy, and there was also a film made in 1997. What made the television series so unique was the fact that, rather than film each new episode from scratch, the tv company used footage from Super Sensei for the fighting sequences and intercut this with scenes of English-speaking teens (American, Australian or British depending on where the series was to be shown) for the sections when the teenagers were ‘normal’ and not transformed into the Rangers.
This was made easier by the fact that a lot of the dialogue spoken by the rangers was done so with their helmets on, so their mouths were not visible. The tv company had an easy job dubbing English over the top of the Japanese action sequences, which no doubt saved them money. Then there were only a handful of scenes left to refilm with English-speaking actors. It was the perfect recipe for a successful tv show which did not cost huge amounts to film and had the potential to keep running in various different guises for years to come.
The only downside? Often the transitions between scenes were less than smooth, and the acting was usually fairly wooden. The special effects were also far less impressive than they are today. But children of the 90s were easy to impress, and accepted the jerky style of the show as part of its unique charm. They grew up with the red and blue rangers, central to every Power Rangers series ever, and met a host of other coloured characters in between.
Every child had their favourite. Yellow and pink rangers were usually girls, as the franchise clearly wanted to appeal to children of both genders (whilst still sticking to stereotypical ‘female’ colours of course). Similarly, the female rangers usually had smaller, handheld weapons rather than the larger swords or hammers wielded by the male ranger figures. Ranger colours also indicated the character’s role within the group. The yellow ranger, for example, was usually the morale booster. Fun fact: in the Japanese series the yellow rangers were actually male, so in the US series the yellow female power ranger always looked flat chested in the action sequences.
When not morphed into their superhero selves, rangers often wore the same colour as their ranger costume in their day to day wear, presumably for ease of reference. Once those rangers were in their lycra it was impossible to tell who was who!
The popularity of the Power Rangers franchise still exists today, and many a father of young boys can be found on a Saturday morning, reliving his youth, experiencing the guilty pleasure of a new episode of Power Rangers under the guise of introducing it to his own child. The only problem: when will they run out of titles? One of the most recent series is called ‘Power Rangers Super Mega Force’. How long before we are provided with even lengthier titles?
Power Rangers Extra Mighty Speedy Force anyone?