High Octane Megazord
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
This toy appears here courtesy of Bandai America.
. . .
Three years ago, a dangerous artificial intelligence known as the Venjix virus assaulted Earth’s computers, and shut down all forms of electronic communication, radio & TV broadcasts. Then Venjix proceeded to build an army of human-like robots with which to corral and enslave humanity. Regretfully we lost the war, and Venjix conquered the world. But on the central-eastern edge of Africa, the domed city of Corinth was created and serves as the last safe-haven for any human who can make it within its protective shield. Venjix, however, is ever-watchful of Corinth, and has built strong barriers around the city to prevent more humans from making it safely there… assuming that anyone can find the city to begin with! Whenever a survivor comes to the city, the shield must be lowered and then recharged, and during these times, Venjix sends infiltration units to cause havoc and destroy the city. But fortunately, a new team has been developed by the mysterious-yet-influential Dr. K which can successfully defend the city- the Power Rangers! Armed with powerful Engine Cells, the Rangers can summon both a unique arsenal of weapons & armored suits, and giant Zord Attack Vehicles which stand many stories tall and can create a giant humanoid robot form called a Megazord! Will they be enough to defend Corinth from the terror of Venjix?
In Episode 1- “The Road to Corinth”, just after Dillion and Ziggy successfully make their way into Corinth after narrowly getting past Venjix’s barrier, the artificial intelligence sends a robot and a swarm of large insect-like Venjix Drones to sneak in and attack the city. To combat the Drones, Ranger Operators Red, Blue, and Yellow summon their Zord Attack Vehicles from the emblems on their armored chests, and infuse each with Engine Cells to make them become physical and grow to giant size. Though vastly outnumbered, the Zord Attack Vehicles plow through and shoot them all down. But when Venjix’s smoke-spewing monster grows to giant size, Dr. K instructs the three Rangers to combine their Zords into the powerful humanoid High Octane Megazord!
- Eagle Racer (back) - piloted by Ranger Operator Series Red (Scott Truman), this red and black hot rod has both speed on the ground, and can deploy wings to allow it to jet through the air with large clawed arms. The Eagle Racer forms the Head, upper torso, and arms of the High Octane Megazord.
- Lion Hauler (back) - piloted by Ranger Operator Series Blue (Flynn McAllistair), this blue, silver, and black bus has thick armor, and can push through any obstacle. The Lion Hauler forms the lower torso and legs of the High Octane Megazord, and carries the Super Saber within itself.
- Bear Crawler (back) - piloted by Ranger Operator Series Yellow (Summer Landsdown), this yellow and black all-terrain vehicle is small and nimble, allowing it to evade incoming firepower easily, as well as perform high jumps. The Bear Crawler forms the center torso of the High Octane Megazord, and carries a hand-held shield which is stored on its back
In a first for Power Rangers, the Zord Attack Vehicles resemble modern-day vehicles (not too sure what the Bear Crawler is supposed to be) that have animal features- more like just the heads- on them rather than having completely-animal-shaped zords. While in both “Power Rangers Turbo” (1997) and “Power Rangers Operation Overdrive” (2007) we had zords that resembled real-life vehicles, neither of them had an inkling of animal-like designations. Perhaps the oddest part of these animal features is that they have unusually-expressive eyes on each. While you can see them actually blinking in the series (things like Eagle Racer’s beak and Lion Hauler’s face also move), all three toys do not move in such fashion, and the decals for their eyes seem to be expressing odd emotions (if machines have emotions) of being unconcerned, tired, disconnected... or just generally being stoned!
The Eagle Racer has this huge engine block which completely obscures the view from the wide green-painted cockpit, triangular spoilers on each side that also act as cowlings for the back wheels, and- in case you missed ‘em the first time on the engine- another paired set of exhaust tubes sticking out the back. All four wheels have silver-painted hub caps, and a stylized “1” decal is on each spoiler. (It’s odd that the 1 should be a decal, when the “2” and “3” have been printed on.) While the curves on the front half of the Zord seem okay, there is not as smooth a transition to the back half which is more straightened out.
The Lion Hauler… I don’t know. I certainly can tell that this is a six-wheeled passenger bus (the light-board decal on the front says in tiny lettering “02 Power Ranger”), but is it really a lion? There’s a poor imitation of blue ears on top, a kinda-sorta gold-painted mane, and a pair of blue ‘teeth’ under the front bumper. I suppose since the front bumper is curved you could think of this big, um- cat as hissing, but I’m not sure… No whiskers or indication of paws doesn’t help either; at least then we’d know for certain that it was feline. But there’s nothing special about the Lion Hauler in this mode- it’s just a block of blue ABS plastic somehow awkwardly cobbled together. (Even when not transforming it, the face/front bumper likes to fall off… a lot.) Oh, and those red panels on the top really clash with this nice blue theme we have going here.
I don’t know what the deal is with the Bear Crawler. I mean, what kind of vehicle is it supposed to be? It’s definitely lacking in paint, and I know this just by watching the show. Coloring is really needed on the cockpit on its forehead, the ears, the paneling on its back, and the hubcaps. Besides, this thing probably weighs less than a PopTart! In the series, the yellow half can lift up like a mouth or something. While you can still do this, you find that the lower half (and the ‘fuel tanks’) is hollow, and it’s like looking at Terrance & Phillip or some weird yellow alien pod-on-a-stick, or somethin’.
The High Octane Megazord (back), in some odd way, resembles its on-screen appearance a bit more than most past megazords have. And by that, I mean that it matches the curved edges of the stunt suit seen in the show- even though the toy may not be correctly proportioned to fit a human, it is blocky like [a] stunt suit is. Weird, huh? The head is a little bigger proportionately than we’ve seen in the past (hat was always one of my frequent complaints), but the Bear Crawler feels like an afterthought because it’s so small wedged in there between the two larger zords. The arms seem a little on the short side, but it’s nothing that we haven’t seen before. What’s nice about them, though, is that you can pitch them out from the shoulder and the elbow. Even though they don’t ratchet into any other position, it’s nice to have it. Hey- twisting elbows and wrists would have been prime here if they had included them! The legs, however, are spaced apart nicely, but mostly because you have no choice in the matter! The feet have been designed to rest flat against the ground, but the hips ratchets softly too far apart for my taste. (Judging by the unused clips on the bottom of the feet, perhaps having them spaced far apart will be needed later…?)
. . .
The Megazord has two accessories…
The first is the Super Saber, which is stored folded-up in the right leg of the Megazord. The Super Saber can easily fit into either hand, though it’s usually shown in the right. (Oddly, when folded-up, the Super Saber resembles an Engine Cell; I wonder why…?)
The other is the unnamed shield which is made up of the Bear Crawler’s lower half, and is stored up against the Megazord’s back when not in use. Rather than holding the shield, it attaches to two pegs on the left arm via friction. The black extension which connects the shield to the Bear Crawler can separate either at the yellow half, or along the black bar of the shield itself; you are supposed to disconnect it from the yellow section. The two light gray fuel tanks can pop-off if too much pressure is applied. (Personally, I think they are a bit too eager to pop even when there isn’t “too much pressure” being applied…) And because of the flexibility in the elbows, the shield can actually be swung forward to cover part of the upper body!
Almost all “Power Rangers RPM” role-playing and transforming-Zord sets include a unique thin Engine Cell chip. They are very simple ABS accessories that have a decal on one side which has a unique number and coloring to help identify each one. Some Engine Cells are used just for morphing, some for weapons, and others to power the Zords. In the footage of the series, though, the Engine Cell(s) seem much thicker… The one provided with the High Octane Megazord is specifically the Eagle Racer’s Engine Cell.
While this red Engine Cell is specifically meant to be fitted into the Eagle Racer through a covered slot between its arms in back, it can also fit into only the left leg compartment of the Lion Hauler, and into the lower part of the Bear Crawler (i.e. the hollow shield).
(It’s odd that, in the series, Ranger Yellow inserts the Bear Crawler’s Engine Cell into the back of it rather than under it as the toy does here.)
For those of you wondering what the differences are between the High Octane Megazord from “Power Rangers RPM”, and it’s original Japanese counterpart- the DX Engine Gattai Engine-Oh from the Super Sentai series “Engine Sentai Go-Onger” (2008)- well… there’s a very big difference:
In short, they are two completely different toys. The Engine-Oh (“Flame-god King”) is about 2” taller, features chrome & gold-plated parts, and the Engine Souls (aka Engine Cells) are actually individual light-and-sound cartridges with unique identifying phrases which can be triggered when the Engine Soul is placed into just about any “Go-Onger” weapon, henshin device (aka a morpher), or the Engines (aka the Zord Attack Vehicles) themselves. Indeed, the mecha Engines have unique personalities- thus explaining the large expressive eyes- and each Engine Soul has unique lines performed by the same voice actors from the series! With an Engine Soul placed within an Engine, a button somewhere on the character toy can be pressed to activate the sounds. The Engine Soul cartridges were the primary gimmick of the “Go-Onger” toy line, but in order to cut down on costs for American releases, the Engine Cell chip toys are not electronic. How and where the Engine Cells were placed into the Zords was also changed. Articulation is the same between the two sets- being limited to just the arms in the combined form- and the weapons are the same. Whereas the Engine-Oh had hands which could open and close to accept the Go-On Sword and V-Shield, they often could not hold their weight, and were somewhat flimsy; by having closed fists and alternate tabs, the Megazord avoids this problem.
The High Octane Megazord set was specifically designed to be both smaller and cheaper than its Japanese counterpart.
It is that last line which I want to delve into a little more…
Years from now, it may be forgotten that in 2009 the world was suffering from a significant financial crisis. In short, parents and collectors had little extra cash to put into extraneous material beyond buying food or paying the bills. Bandai America saw this in 2007, when “Power Rangers Operation Overdrive” was in production. Deluxe-sized megazords have always been one of the more expensive items, and BA tried to counter this in 2007 by making their own version of the Deluxe Drive-Max Megazord. It was met with great hostility from both fans and parents for its low-quality appearance, materials, and functionality. BA didn’t even provide all of the other to-scale Zords from that line to go with it!
For the “Power Rangers Jungle Fury" line in 2008, BA did again release several (though not all) of the original Japanese-designed Deluxe-sized megazords as they always had up until 2007. But, they also built from an alternate, smaller-sized line of Transforming Megazords which had the same functionality, design, and features as their larger Deluxe-sized brethren, but eliminated electronics and other- shall I say- ‘discreet features’ from the toys to keep them cheap. This way, parents & collectors would have a choice between higher-quality and cost, and this was more-widely accepted by consumers.
For 2009, Bandai America seems to be continuing this trend... As I write this, I have heard rumor that, in addition to the set being reviewed here, a full-sized version of the Deluxe High Octane Megazord might be released in the “PR-RPM” line. (I must stress that this is a rumor only, and should be treated as such!) However, like 2008, for certain we will not be getting all of the Deluxe-sized Zord sets. Instead, we will be getting a complete line of the smaller fully-transforming sets (starting with the High Octane Megazord here) which have many-if-not-all of the same features, but have the electronics eliminated, are smaller in size, and often use different materials.
. . .
All of that being said… I declare “shenanigans” on this set! While not as despicable as the Deluxe Drive-Max Megazord-
(*shudders in revulsion*)
-it has a lot to make up for. The smaller-sized Transforming series of Zords from 2008 (even thought we didn’t get a smaller version of the Deluxe Jungle Master Megazord, grrr...) were epic in their conversion from their original larger Japanese counterparts, right down to the same faults, and then added a gimmick which did not interfere with any of that. While this set corrects just a few things from the DX Engine-Oh (like the hands and how the weapons are dealt with), it actually introduces new faults and lower tolerances in the name of cheaper production. Example “A” would be how the three Zord Attack Vehicles combine with each other: the Engine-Oh had sliding bars that would lock-up when put in place and would have to be manually released so that nothing would slip apart, but here the locking mechanism was not included and so the parts just slip around whenever they like! (You’re telling me that they couldn’t have added some little passive-use tabs to keep it together???) Example “B” would be how they treated the shield: I know it needed to be hollow to save on costs, but not at the cost of a weakened joint (even if it does separate to prevent from breaking) and smaller size which forced the shield to be actually smaller. I mean, the Bear Crawler is so damned tiny that if it weren’t for the fact that it was the connection between the other two Zords, it could be eliminated entirely and no one might have been the wiser! It was too small, and it missed out on some significant paint apps. I can also understand downgrading and simplifying the Engine Cells may have been needed to make the set(s) more affordable; I really do get that, and I don’t see how they could have gotten around that, so I won’t fight too hard. (Yes- I, too, can pick-and-choose my battles when need-be…) However, Perhaps they are a little too cheap- all being made of black plastic and then having a colored decal applied. I don’t think it would have killed BA if they added another limb to the plastic trees during manufacturing to allow colored plastic Engine Cells in addition to the designating decals. And finally, like the ‘Gag-Max’ Megazord, the joints are of poor quality- either too tight or not tight enough for where/how they’re being used- about the only thing they got right in this category was the tightness on the Eagle Racer’s wings/spoilers! The 2008 conversions were very successful in my opinion, but this High Octane Megazord is not. It was cheaply designed & built for a good reason, but I would easily have spent another $10 to bump the quality up a little. I don’t use star-ratings very often [in my reviews], but I give this set 2 out of 5 stars.
Oh, one last thing-
While- like 2008- this will be the only sized sets in which we get the fully-transformable line of Zord Attack Vehicles, these toys are not being referred specifically to as “Deluxe”-class sets. I wonder why…?
|Posted 30 April, 2009 - 10:52 by EVA_Unit_4A|