Deluxe DriveMax Megazord
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
Two (2) LR44 (1.5V) watch-size batteries (included) are required to operate electronic light-&-sound feature, and should be replaced by a responsible adult.
The Power Rangers are a remarkable group of heroes. Young and old, fast and slow, these people have defended Earth and the Universe from invading armies from space, other dimensions, and even the future! They are responsible in the use of their power, and they never harm the innocent or escalate a fight. The first season, “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers”, which debuted in early spring 1993, was a resounding and hugely unexpected success for long-time children’s studio Saban Entertainment. Though the fighting footage, suits, transforming robots, and toys are based on the long-running Japanese tokusatsu sub-genre called Super Sentai [translated as “special taskforce”] and then new footage of English-speaking actors spliced into each half-hour episode, “PR” has taken on a life of its own separate from its eastern Asia origins. It has become part of the American culture, introducing words such as “Megazord”, “Zord”, “Battlizer”, and catch phrases such as the original transformation call the heroes used- “It’s Morphin Time!”- into the modern English vocabulary. 1995 saw the big-screen debut of “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers- The Movie”. Like the three-year running TV series, film critics were unable to grasp the compulsion of the film that was drawing kids to it- great action sequences, larger-than-life baddies, and brand new computer-generated Zords in a real city! Then two years later in 1997, the lower-budgeted “Turbo- A Power Rangers Adventure” was met with significantly less enthusiasm than the first and sealed the fate of any possible future film production by a major studio. The mini-series “Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers” (10 episodes) introduced the concept of other, non-human Rangers out in the Universe, but is debated whether-or-not it is a series unto itself or just a long story arc. “Power Rangers in Space” was the end of the continuity-following series started in the first season; starting with “Power Rangers Lost Galaxy”, each new series would now have a completely different story in a completely different universe of characters, locations, weapons, and Zords. In 2001, Saban Entertainment, which had been producing “PR” under Fox Television Network brand, was purchased by The Walt Disney Company (who also owns the ABC TV networks) and integrated into their Buena Vista Productions, with each successive series (starting with 2003’s “Power Rangers Ninja Storm”) being produced almost entirely in New Zealand, which continues to this day. Here are all of the “Power Rangers” series that have come before:
“Mighty Morphin Power Rangers”........ (1993-1995)
“Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers”........... (Feb. 1996)
“Power Rangers Zeo”................................ (1996)
“Power Rangers Turbo”............................. (1997)
“Power Rangers in Space”.......................... (1998)
“Power Rangers Lost Galaxy”..................... (1999)
“Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue”........... (2000)
“Power Rangers Time Force”...................... (2001)
“Power Rangers Wild Force”....................... (2002)
“Power Rangers Ninja Storm”..................... (2003*)
“Power Rangers Dino Thunder”.................... (2004)
“Power Rangers S.P.D.”.............................. (2005)
“Power Rangers Mystic Force”..................... (2006)
The 15-year anniversary series- “Power Rangers Operation Overdrive”- promises to continue the traditions that have pushed one of the longest-running action/adventure children’s saga into the future! For a more expanded explanation of “Power Rangers”, be sure to view this Wikipedia entry.
A wealthy adventurer named Andrew traveling through the deep forests of Africa finds the Corona Aurora- a powerful crown which can bestow unthinkable powers upon any who wears it. However, the seven jewels that typically adorn it are missing. A ghost of the ancient Knights Templar comes to the adventurer, and warns him that there are evil forces in the world that are seeking the Corona Aurora as well, and will do anything to get it. Realizing that the crown needs protection and the seven jewels recovered, Andrew returns home and uses his billions to create a top secret team of super-human heroes to scour the Earth. Using Overdrive Trackers- handheld devices which can scan artifacts to see if the jewels are inside them- and their unique genetic powers, a wide variety of tools, weapons, vehicles, and incredible giant battle machines called Driver Zords are available to the Power Rangers to execute their tasks for Operation Overdrive!
Knowing that the Overdrive Rangers would need to operate alone in the world, and how dangerous adventures could be, Andrew ordered the construction of large vehicles specialized in exploration, excavation, recovery, and- if need be- defense. The first five Driver Zords do just that:
|Dump Driver Zord (back)- a large red and silver haul truck, piloted by the Red Overdrive Ranger, “Mack”. In addition to the large truck bed which can haul tons of excavated dirt and rock, it also has the ability to deploy two large utility arms which can lift monsters right off their feet! The Dump Driver forms the back half of the Mega Truck; and it also forms the body and legs of the DriveMax Megazord.|
|Speed Driver Zord (back)- a black and silver formula-1 race car, piloted by the Black Overdrive Ranger, Will. It has six wheels which grip the ground very well for tight turns and fast acceleration. It can also raise up the front half to reveal a weapon turret to fire on monsters! The Speed Driver forms the lower front half of the Mega Truck; and it also forms the chest of the DriveMax Megazord.|
|Gyro Driver Zord (back)- a blue and white gyrocopter piloted by the Blue Overdrive Ranger, Dax. Powered by three jet turbo fans in its fuselage and stubby wings, it is the only one of the five that can fly through the air, and features some strong laser cannons. The Gyro Driver forms the upper front half of the Mega Truck; and it also forms the helmet and back armor of the DriveMax Megazord.|
|Dozer Driver Zord (back)- a yellow and silver bulldozer piloted by the Yellow Overdrive Ranger, Ronny. Though slower than the Speed Driver, it has a bucket scoop which can lift monsters off its feet, or a small laser cannon turret up top. The Dozer Driver forms part of the back half of the Mega Truck; and it also forms the right arm of the DriveMax Megazord.|
|Sub Driver Zord (back)- a white and pink submarine piloted by the Pink Overdrive Ranger, Rose. The only Driver Zord that can travel underwater, it has a pair of utility claws which can lift up rocks or remove artifacts from the seafloor. The Sub Driver forms part of the back half of the Mega Truck; and it also forms the left arm of the DriveMax Megazord.|
“Huh???” That is the first word- the very first word- that came to mind when I saw them. Even compared against the lead Deluxe Titan Megazord from last year’s “PR Mystic Force”, there is a very dramatic change in design style to the five Driver Zords. The most noticeable thing is that they are much bigger. This is good since we’ve been getting really small lead Zords since, well, the deluxe toys from “PR Lost Galaxy” in 1999! The plastic they used, however, is really odd. There seems to be little-or-no real ABS on it; instead, it’s some kind of hard PVC. Oddly, only the wheels on the various Driver Zords are ABS. The claws on the Sub Driver are molded with really thin PVC and flex way too easily- but are difficult to rotate around! The other thing I noticed is how bland the paint applications are. Each is limited to just about three colors each. This is most obvious when compared to the prototypes seen on the box cover; the Sub Driver and Gyro Driver have been affected the most by this. And you almost can’t see the white paint (the “PROO” logo and a #4) against the yellow plastic on the Dozer Driver (trust me, they’re there). However, the bucket on the Dozer Driver can pitch up and down on two joints a bit... but the large arms used by the Dump Driver in the series don’t have the same claws on the toy. (I must say, though, that I like the piston details on the Dump Driver.)
The third-mode Mega Truck (back) is a bit more of a mystery compared to the awesome detail of the Dragon Mode of the Titan Megazord. I think it’s trying to recreate a large semi-trailer like the ones seen on the freeways today, but I don’t think they got it right. Like the Green Delta Runner from the Deluxe Delta Squad Megazord from 2004’s “PR S.P.D.”, the Mega Truck has a very limited rotation joint (opposite side). The small tabbed joint which connects the front and back halves looks like it could tear at the slightest twist. Even though there are small tabs for them inside the Dump Driver’s truck bed, the Dozer Driver and Sub Driver really don’t fit all that well- the submarine’s back-half just hangs off the end there awkwardly. It’s almost like the larger back half is driving the smaller front half, not the other way around! The one good thing is the Power Sword can attach to a peg on the left side, which keeps all the parts together and makes sure there isn’t anything lying around to be stepped on. The Dozer Driver fits oddly into the bed of the trailer section- it faces forward in the instructions and box art, but it’s backwards in the show! Again, the Mega Truck doesn’t look all that similar or compact to the one seen in the show...
The DriveMax Megazord (back) is really a let down... If I was confused about the separate Driver Zords and the Mega Truck, I am shocked at how low quality the Megazord is. Like always, it’s a little out of proportion to the one seen on the show, but this is actually a little closer to normal human proportions! That is nice. The exception would be the size of the head [as usual] and the shoulders are a bit wide. Actually, the head reminds me of the head of the Deluxe Lightspeed Megazord from “PR Lightspeed Rescue” (2000) with the small rotating cannons on either side. The shoulder joints snap at every 45°. And I when mean “snap”, I mean you really have to torque these things! I like joints that don’t wear out, but this!? Well, if I use it long enough, maybe they’ll go back down to something a little easier...
One of the things I’ve been moaning and groaning about for many years is the lack of poseable legs on the deluxe toys. Oh, sure- they can twist and bend and do other things, but you couldn’t really do anything with them when the changes are complete. In the past we’ve had-
- Deluxe Dragonzord from “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” season-1 (1993) was the first to have joints at the hips and knees, but it was limited to transformations only.
- Deluxe Serpentera, from “MMPR” season-2 (1994) had some nice poseability in the shoulders, elbows, clawed hands, hips, knees and even ankles, but it was limited in its upright form because of balance issues.
- Deluxe Ninja Megazord, from “MMPR” season-3/”MMPR-The Movie” (both 1995) also had joints similar to the Dragonzord, but, again they were just for transformation purposes and it didn’t balance very well when you did it.
- Deluxe Thundersaurus Megazord and Deluxe Blizzard Force Megazord, from “PR Dino Thunder” (2004) were close, but somewhere in the design phases the tiny arms and the thigh armor plating of the Dino Zords just got in the way. (That was a real disappointment that year.)
- Deluxe Titan Megazord, from last year’s “PR Mystic Force” (2006) had, again, hip and knee joints, but they only worked in the transformation and in the Dragon Mode. (Actually, in that set, the Mystic Phoenix Titanzord had the really flexible poseable hips, knees, and shoulders!)
But this year, my wish has come true at last! The legs can do the splits up to 45° apart from each other, for starters. The hips can spread side-to-side almost 90° when the legs are rotated forwards, and the knees can each bend 45°. This- coupled with the snapping panels from the transformation of the Dump Driver- allows for a good range of poses! Alas- if they could have introduced equally-flexible ankle joints... (Creepy thing is, it can bend those wonderfully flexible legs backwards too. Eww...) The Power Sword (bottom) is made of that same unusual soft plastic so it won’t break immediately if stepped on, but at least the Megazord can grip the entire handle this time, unlike the Titan Megazord’s sword!
Another nice thing is the Light-and-Sound feature in the head. When the tabbed button on the forehead is pressed, a red light inside flashes on-and-off really fast while there is a sound of motors turning and metal clanking. Nice and loud sound too! (Perhaps a bit too loud...?) It’s kinda disappointing, though, that there isn’t a wider variety of sounds, or that they couldn’t be accessed when the Gyro Driver is alone. The Deluxe Delta Squad Megazord had six sounds in it across its various modes and a bump-motion sensor! Actually, I’m surprised that they didn’t put the Light-and-Sound function into the larger Dump Driver or the Speed Driver like they usually did in the past, but I can understand putting the light into the head like that.
To view and hear the special Light-and-Sound feature, watch this short video (special thanks to JoshB, webmaster/owner of CDX for the video footage!):
But there are a whole bunch of things either missing or wrong with it. The most noticeable thing is the lack of paint applications- which is rather not glaring on the front of the lower legs, the blue back armor, and the left wrist/engine housing. The last time I saw bad paint loss was on the various Wild Zords from 2002’s “PR Wild Force”; but they had die-cast metal, intricate transformations, and detailed molds to make up for it. I also feel that, if the arms are poseable only at the shoulders, then they should have added a snapping joint of some kind to the Dozer Driver. Also, the Dozer Driver’s bucket and Sub Driver’s claws just don’t really look all that, um- powerful the way they are now.
I typically don’t bring special attention to it in my reviews, but I want to mention the transformations a bit. Because of the materials they used, the Speed Driver and Gyro Driver have to be wiggled- as opposed to snapped- onto pegs. The head and Gyro Driver both also have to separately contend with paired tabs on the neck of the Megazord and top of the Speed Driver, respectively. You really have to fight them to get them in place, but once you do they don’t pop off easily. Getting the Dozer Driver and Sub Driver onto and off of the shoulders is a very difficult thing to do. I’m 24 at the time that I’m writing this, and even I have to put a bit of effort into getting them on; not very often in the past have I needed to do that.
Ugh- that’s it! I can’t wait anymore...!
For those of you wondering what the differences are between the Deluxe DriveMax Megazord from 15-year anniversary “Power Rangers Operation Overdrive”, and its Japanese-speaking counterpart- the DX Gougou Gattai DaiBouken from the 2006 Super Sentai 30th Anniversary series “Gougou Sentai Boukenger”- well... I fully and wholeheartedly believe that a great injustice has occurred:
The images of these two toys (back) have not been modified by a computer or kit-bashed or added to in any way. What you see is the real deal. Standing at an even 9½” (24.4cm) is the original DX DaiBouken on the right, and standing at 11½” (28.8cm) is the Deluxe DriveMax Megazord on the left. As you can see, the reason I cannot simply tick off the modifications like I usually do is because the changes are so numerous. These are two completely different toys. Not once single piece from the DaiBouken- save, perhaps, for some similar-sized screws- was used in the construction of the DriveMax Megazord. This explains the lack of sharp detail. This explains the lack of significant paint applications. This explains the difficulties in transformation.
(To see more detailed images of the differences between the Gougou Vehicles and the Driver Zords, view the complete gallery for this review.)
I am not going to hold back- as an adult collector, I am disgusted. BA has certainly done this before- changing an original toy from a Super Sentai series to conform it to US toy regulations- such as removing spring-loaded missiles, external rotating features, or a Light-and-Sound feature. (Do I believe that’s the only reason why they do it? No!) Most take it in stride, and leave them alone, opting instead to buy the originals from Japan the year before. But also, it helps the American company to reduce the cost of importing the toys when they come over so that parents can afford to buy them for their kids. For example, the DX DaiBouken does cost $45.00 in Japan (¥5500) off the shelf, but it’s the direct shipping and handling costs to the US which increase it to around $70-75 off-the-shelf. Most collectors and older “PR” fans who know about Super Sentai may not be entirely happy about this, but they just buy the originals one year ahead and not bother with the imported ones. More recently, it has been the standard firearms that the Rangers carry around with them that get completely redesigned; they are replaced with soft Styrofoam alternatives, with all the ABS, electronics, and transforming abilities removed. Or the various morpher devices which are simplified; the Electronic Delta Morpher from “PR S.P.D.” is a perfect example of this as well- one of the original modes was removed from the Electronic SP License and condensed down into just two flip-down modes instead of three. Again, the Delta Morpher is a completely original design separate from the original Super Sentai version. (A comparison of the two side-by-side can be found in this review, also on CDX!) But, on rare occasion, BA imports over the toys exactly as they were from Japan, such as last year’s Deluxe Solar Streak Megazord and Deluxe Steedergon Fury Megazord.
(For those of us who import Super Sentai originals, this is very frustrating to find that we could get the originals for cheaper in the US than shipping them overseas. The problem is, by the time we find out what the modifications to the “PR” versions will be, the original Japanese lines have ended production and are shifting over to the new series in the next year!)
When images appeared online for the first time around November ’06 of the new Deluxe DriveMax Megazord, just about every single fan site, discussion board, and blog online dedicated to “Power Rangers” rose in one voice, and directed absolute outrage at Bandai America. And that’s not even including all of the Super Sentai sites out there! Also, fan sites are not the only ones complaining... Good shares of parents across America are also questioning the design as well. In the process of preparing for and writing this review, I handed the Megazord off to three kids ages 4-7 [which is the target audience of “Power Rangers”] and three adults. And I did it without showing them the DaiBouken or telling them that there was an original version first. While the Megazord took a good beating from the youngest (no noticeable damage was inflicted), all the other noted that it was “okay” or implied that something was lacking from previous years. Comments were passed around that it was bigger, made of a softer material, and was less likely to break or be choked on.
(By the way, appearance- and function-wise, the yellow & silver Dozer Driver Zord perhaps best matches its original Japanese counterpart, the smallish Gougou Vehicle #4- Gougou Dozer from the DX DaiBouken.)
Without putting them side-by-side, and being a [former] long-time fan of “PR” fan myself, I am shocked, confused, and angered. The parts have too-rounded edges, joints are either too hard or too easy to turn, the transformation is a little on the simplistic side, things are difficult to attach or fall-off easily, and there is a lot of paint missing. ...and most of this is based just on watching the footage from “Boukenger” and promotional commercials for “PR Operation Overdrive”!
To me, the Deluxe DriveMax Megazord is more like a miniaturized Jumbo figure - which are designed to be simple, non-transforming display figures for the older collector. I think the Light-&-Sound is a nice idea; the large size is a nice bit of a relief from the last, oh- eight years; and for the far-younger children, those rounded edges and simplified transformations may be just what is needed. Oh, and I like that the Megazord can grasp the handle of the Power Sword completely versus the multi-functional Gougou Sword from the DaiBouken. If that’s a better option for you, go for. But if you prefer the transforming interactive abilities and better paint apps, I completely and wholeheartedly endorse going for the original DX Gougou Gattai DaiBouken (which, BTW, means “Thundering Combination Great-Adventure” in Japanese).
The one thing that I cannot answer nor comprehend is why Bandai America made this decision? Why didn't they go with the original toy, as they have done for the last 15 years? Why go through all the trouble to create brand new molds for a brand new toy when the original was just fine? Of all things, this is the overriding question I would like to have answered regarding this toy.
Ah- how far we have come in 15 years...
Be advised: There are spoilers regarding the future of the series in this next section. Consider yourself warned...!
Here’s my question: By enlarging the Deluxe DriveMax Megazord’s size, they also changed how it will work with other future Driver Zords later on in the line. I can tell you that it certainly cannot fit any of the Gougou Vehicles from the “Boukenger” series; the shoulder joints on the Megazord were made too big. So, if they don’t modify and enlarge all of the other future Deluxe Megazords, will they release them at all in the US?
|Posted 25 January, 2007 - 23:26 by EVA_Unit_4A|