GaoRanger combination - Hyakujuu Gattai Gao Icarus
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
Over 1000 years ago, the demonic Orgu- soulless creatures created from the despair and hatred of humanity- fought a terrible war against humans. Side-by-side with the mighty Power Animals, the ancient Gao warriors were just able to defeat the Orgu generals, and drive them back into the deepest places on Earth. By 2001, the Orgu had slowly gathered their strength once more, thanks to humanity’s mistreatment of the world. One by one, an Orgu left their domain known as the Matrix, and ascended to the surface to conquer and destroy, gaining power all the more in the name of their grand stone-encased Orgu Master. They usually took on the form of inanimate, non-living objects, such as streetlights, magnets, barbed wire, etc, and were recognizable by the long horn on their heads. On the mystical, turtle-shaped Sky-Island Animalium- the “highest paradise for animals”- the virginal Gao shrine priestess Tetomu and the surviving Power Animals have been searching for new modern warriors to counter the Orgu threat. Over the course of one year, five special people were plucked from their daily lives and chosen to secretly defend humanity from the darkness of its own heart. With the return of one of the original Gao warriors, Shirogane, and his own three Power Animals, together the six heroes fight against the new threat of the Orgu... as the Hundred-Beast Taskforce GaoRanger!
“Hyakujuu Sentai GaoRanger” celebrated the 25th-series Anniversary of Super Sentai in 2001!
Power Animals are no different from those found in the wild today. They have only lived far longer, and can regenerate themselves much faster thanks to the power of the Earth which has been absorbed into them over the centuries. This has increased their defense, intelligence, and size as well. They are also capable of merging their bodies together to form incredible humanoid-shaped warriors which stand several stories tall, and have weapons & special powers granted to each.
- PA-2 Gao Giraffe (sold separately)
- PA-5 Gao Rhino and Gao Armadillo (sold separately)
- PA-6 Gao Dias (sold separately)
- PA-7 Gao Falcon (sold separately)
After taking Highness Duke Orgu Ura by complete surprise with the arrival of the huge Gao Falcon, Gao Red falls to the ground uncontrollably when his four dead comrades are suddenly revived before his eyes. Transforming into their armor, the five reunited GaoRanger put their Jūōken together, and call for the newcomer Gao Falcon to merge with Gao Armadillo, Gao Dias, Gao Giraffe, & Gao Rhino to form a new combination- Hyakujuu Gattai Gao Icarus! Using its large wings, it flips high into the air, and the GaoRanger board it with the Soul Bird.
Gao Icarus (back) is an explosion of style, details, and features- it’s difficult to decide where to start reviewing it! (Here is another shot from behind, with the right wing removed to see things a bit better.) Well, perhaps I should start with its weight, which is agreeably heavy. While die-cast metal only exists in Gao Rhino and Gao Giraffe, the expanded wings on its back contribute a good deal. And though it is a tad back heavy, the weight and sufficiently-tight joints of Gao Rhino keep it upright; and just in case, the tail is also long enough to keep it upright on carpet. Gao Icarus also throws away some other human features, such as hands. Instead the spear-like Gao Giraffe forms the right arm, and Gao Dias forms a large pair claws on the left arm. Because Gao Falcon shares the same kind of joint transformation for the shoulders that Gao Lion does from the DX Hyakujuu Gattai Gao King, you can ‘cheat’ here as well, and rotate the shoulder back a little, increasing the range of motion a bit. The complex-transforming Gao Rhino takes his place (along with his friend Gao Armadillo) as the legs of Gao Icarus. The feet look a little big for the combination with the smaller upper legs, but… what are ya gonna do, huh? From his transformation process, Gao Falcon’s eight-talon feet have come up on either side of his head to form the chest/upper torso, insuring that his well-sculpted head remains in view. Now, Gao Icarus’ head reminds me much of anthropomorphized masks worn at big street parties like Marti Gras, or a headdress worn by a primitive medicine man who worshiped animals as icons of nature and power. While an animal’s head does not encompass the entire mecha head like it does Gao King’s, Gao Hunter Justice’s (Majuu Gattai Gao Hunter Evil’s head is a wolf’s head), or Gao Muscle ’s, there is a small gold beak and eyes above the mecha’s face, as well as Gao Falcon’s single golden head feather. But there is a definite feathered-wing appearance to Gao Icarus’ face and simplified talons on either side of his silver mouth.
As expected, Gao Falcon’s large wings play an important part in the function(s) of the toy. First, when transforming it into Gao Icarus’ upper torso and head, the smaller structures beneath his wings rotate upwards and reveal a pair of holographic decals (which need to be added after Gao Falcon has first been removed from the box). As I raved about in Gao Falcon’s review earlier, the level of excellent detailing extends to cover the back of these ‘sub wings’ as well, though they are not highlighted with painted this time. The holographic eyes display two images when angled correctly:
Now, simply looking at Gao Icarus from perpendicular to the standing body (90º) and level with the wings, the yellow animal eyes appear. (Very slight manufacturing errors may lead to the different images appearing on opposing wings at the same time, but this is unavoidable and I’ve learned that this is also rather rare.) To look at Gao Icarus head on with the wings fully extended is very cool [and even a bit intimidating the first time I saw them, I’ll admit]! And they should be- one of his attacks, known as the Icarus Bind, has the wings emit yellow energy which binds (scares perhaps?) giant Orgu in place and then allows Gao Icarus to use a finishing attack on them.
(Though it was easier to photograph- and see- with the wing covers closed, they were always open in the series when Gao Icarus was formed.)
This is an interesting footnote in Super Sentai- using a passive technique to freeze an opponent so that a different attack may be used on the helpless opponent; that doesn’t happen very much throughout the saga… The most recent regularly-used example of this would be the handheld, multi-functioning Bouken Weapon Dual Crusher cannon from the 30th-Anniversary series, “Gougou Sentai Boukenger” (2006): using the green-themed Mixer Head to completely encase various Negative Syndicate creatures with a small shot of Hyper Concrete, and then destroying them with the opposing orange-themed Drill Head finisher.
The other major function of the wings is a fairly-unique feature, and explains why Gao Falcon’s wings are fixed in one position. Gao Icarus’ Ultimate Defense form (back view) has the two large, detailed wings swinging over the shoulders (right side view) and near-completely covering the front of his body from head to foot preventing even strong Orgu attacks from hurting the hyakijuu gattai. (Moving the wings forwards also allows for a closer look at the detail on Gao Icarus/Gao Falcon’s back.) Only a small window in the winged shield allows Gao Icarus’ head to look through. Now, this significantly interferes with the left and right arms rotating forwards (basically you can’t), but if you ‘cheat’ with the shoulders like I explained earlier, you can get the arms to point outwards a bit from behind the half cloak.
(It’s actually easier to carry Gao Icarus around in this form, without having to worry about the outstretched wings bumping into everything.)
Click here to see a small QuickTime movie showing how Gao Icarus’ wings rotate downwards to form Ultimate Defense!
For those of you wondering what the differences are between the Hyakujuu Gattai Gao Icarus from “Hyakujuu Sentai GaoRanger”, and it’s English-speaking counterpart, the Deluxe Isis Megazord from “Power Rangers Wild Force”, it’s a mixed bag of tricks:
- With the major exception of the Falcon Wild Zord, the other four Wild Zords received much less of the gold paint highlights, as well as loss of the special light brown coloring on the Giraffe. The Armadillo Wild Zord also traded-in some of its silver for plain purple plastic.
- All decals on the Rhino are absent from the sides of the feet and the upper legs. However, the identical holographic decals remained on the Falcon Zord’s wings.
- A brand new electronic sound feature with three effects was designed for the Falcon Zord’s tail- which was absent from the original Gao Falcon Power Animal.
- A special accessory attachment part used for the Gao Muscle Striker combination(s) was included with either PA-5 Gao Rhino and Gao Armadillo, or the special DX Hyakujuu Gattai Gao Icarus set which featured those two PAs. However, this accessory never made it into the packaging of the Isis Megazord. Thus, “PR” fans were unable to properly form any of the Kongazord Striker Mode-combinations.
Surprisingly, all of the original die-cast parts (only in Gao Rhino and Gao Giraffe anyways) were left intact during the import process. (Finally-! Way to go, Bandai America!) And, all of the original molds are the same as well. The Falcon, Giraffe, Deer, Rhino, and Armadillo Wild Zords were never released individually, but grouped as five components in the Deluxe Isis Megazord set. I should mention that the Deluxe Isis Megazord never saw wide release across the United States, and was actually pretty limited in number of units sold there. However, it was sold in the UK with no problems. (Heh heh- no surprise there! Grr…) The Gao Falcon, Gao Giraffe, Gao Dias, Gao Armadillo, and Gao Rhino Power Animals, also, were released as part of a special release DX Hyakujuu Gattai Gao Icarus set, but could alternately be obtained individually (which is how I got and displayed them), which they weren’t for the “PR” release. The torso adaptor for the Kongazord Striker Mode combos was, however, included in the very-rare Deluxe Ultimus Megazord set (which, itself, was loosely based on the limited-release DX Hyakujuu Gattai Gao Knight set from “Hyakujuu Sentai GaoRanger The Movie: Fire Mountain Howls”). The US adaptor lacked the red belt-buckle decal that the Japanese version did. (No surprise there either...)
A very impressive and successful end to the primary mecha line from the 25th-Anniversary Super Sentai series. The amazing thing was not just that each Power Animal had its own unique feature that could be used independently, but that each component of the combination had an attack or special feature of some kind, making for a very interactive toy! The fold-over wings with the holographic decals were very well executed. And it stayed consistent with both itself and all of the other Power Animals by including things like realistic movement & proportion in each creature, and details like the gold highlights and die-cast metal (which was a welcome comeback). It wasn’t a sacrifice of design style just to give us a big finish (as some later series would). It showed us creativity and ingenuity on the part of Bandai and PLEX, and would remain a high point in the Super Sentai saga for many years to come. And even though “Hyakujuu Sentai GaoRanger” is regarded as a less-favored series for its dependence on its strongest point (the highly-populated Power Animals line), less character development than before, and the focus on environmental themes, this one can standout as a successful equal among other Super Sentai mecha. My only regret? They didn’t make a special black-&-gold repaint. (Hee hee hee...) The Hyakujuu Gattai Gao Icarus is a keeper!
(Hard to believe I used to hate it, huh...?)
Well, barring a stroke which would compel me to continue on-
-this is the last of my regular reviews from “Hyakujuu Sentai GaoRanger”. It’s been a blast... considering I’ve never seen a single, complete episode of the series! Other special sets- like the PA-8 Soul Bird, PA-9 DX Gao Lion, and DX Hyakujuu Gattai Gao God- I shall leave to others to complete reviews for on CollectionDX since I have no desire to go beyond what I have. (Well, except for maybe an electronic Falcon Summoner and Jūōken. And perhaps a DX Hyakujuu Gattai Gao Hunter Blue Moon if I come across one...)
But do not think I intend to leave it just at that--!
The Power Animals series introduced limb-swapping to the Super Sentai saga, which would continue to be used later in “Bakuryuu Sentai AbaRanger” (2003), and the 30th-Anniversary series “Gougou Sentai Boukenger” (2006). Plus, one of the mecha from “Ninpuu Sentai Hurricanger” (2002), three from “Tokusou Sentai DekaRanger” (2004), and two from “Mahou Sentai MagiRanger” (2005) all had removable shoulders which could swap limbs (though only arms after “GaoRanger”) with each other, leading to even more interactiveness between the series, which had never been done before in Super Sentai. (I should point out that the shoulder joints on the mecha from “Boukenger” were not backward-compatible with the previous five lines since their joints were too big. Why? Well, the Gougou Vehicle line, in general, had quite a few flaws in it, so this might not come as any big surprise…)
With special thanks to a well-known member of the Power Rangers online fan-based communities- John “GrnRngr” Green, from GrnRngr.com- I will be providing a [near-]complete list of all the officially-known combinations from the series “Hyakujuu Sentai Gao Ranger”! These are all of the combinations seen only in the series, in order of appearance, and describe the more complex & exotic combinations where two-or-more toy sets were put together beyond initial release, such as Gao Hunter Spear, Gao King Another Arm, Gao Muscle Striker Cross Horn, Gao Icarus Another Arm and Foot, and the official-but-never-seen Gao Cracker.
Please proceed to my final Power Animals review: Hyakujuu Gattai- The Power Animals Assembled!
|Posted 8 June, 2010 - 11:16 by EVA_Unit_4A|