ZordBuilder System - Swordfish Zord with Mega Ranger
|Toy Design||Bandai America|
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
For hundreds of years, the demonic Nighloks have tried to rise up from the Netherworld and flood the surface with the waters of the mythological Sanzu River under what is known today as Japan. They do this by collecting human tears and screams. In the past in Japan, specially-trained Samurai Rangers used their powers to hold back the Nighloks. Over the generations, the ways of the Samurai Rangers have passed from father-to-son, mother-to-daughter, and this has continued all the way into the year 2011 where the newest generation of Rangers must take up the responsibility. Four samurai from different families, Kevin, Mia, Mike, and Emily, must put aside their normal lives to answer the summons from Jayden, leader of the ancient Shiba clan, and come together under the tutelage of Mentor Ji to learn to use the special Symbol Power and semi-sentient robot-like creatures called FoldingZords. With these tools and the support of each other and their confidence, the five will unite against the Nighloks as the Power Rangers Samurai!
Embedded within every Nighlok is the ability to change into Mega Mode once they are destroyed the first time. Mega Mode allows them to grow to giant size and smash tall buildings in a single blow! To counter this, the Samurai Rangers use semi-sentient mecha called FoldingZords, which are based on the ancient Japanese art of origami (“folding paper”) and were created hundreds of years ago through the use of Symbol Power. Ordinarily able to fit in the palm of a human’s hand, FoldingZords can be given simple commands, or initiate basic attacks and defensive tactics on their own. When a Nighlok grows to giant size, however, a Ranger can use Symbol Power to initiate their own conversion to Mega Mode (spawning new armor on their Ranger suits and increasing durability and strength), and causes their FoldingZord to grow to giant size as well! Once aboard, the Ranger can then take direct control for more advanced combat tactics.
In one of the previous wars with the Nighloks, the Swordfish Zord was lost. Not destroyed or injured, but simply… lost. For whatever reason it got away from the Samurai Rangers’, taking to the wild ocean like its smaller living brethren. While it made appearances over the years, it has never been recaptured. Once again in 2011, the Swordfish Zord was sighted off the coast. Blue Ranger Kevin was dispatched to capture and re-tame it, using Symbol Power as a lure at the end of a deep-sea fishing rod. Though the experience was a heavy drain on Kevin’ personal Symbol Power supply (which in turn makes him physically weaker with each use), with determination and focus he was able to re-capture the Swordfish Zord and use its power to purify the other Samurai Rangers who were ailing from a Nighlok infection.
In addition to its latent healing abilities for many types of poisons and sicknesses, the Swordfish Zord is a useful ally in battle with its agility and speed, spear-like nose, and twin torpedo launchers.
The Swordfish Zord’s Power Disc remains in the care of the Blue Ranger.
The majority of the toy is hard ABS plastic, while the nose, mouth, dorsal fin, pectoral fins, and tailfins are softer PVC plastic.
Due to how it transforms, the Swordfish Zord’s pectoral fins can slide forward and backwards for posing.
When the Swordfish Zord rolls on a hard flat surface, the tail will flick back and forth!
This set comes with a fixed-pose Mega Mode Ranger. The helmet can be removed to reveal the Blue Ranger hero beneath, Kevin! (Oddly, Kevin never got a last name in the show.) The neck and right wrist can spin freely, but only due to how the figure was assembled.
This Mega Mode Ranger figure can then be pegged into the top of the Swordfish Zord!
Included in the box is a cardboard cutout of the Swordfish Zord. By removing the separate pieces and folding them correctly, you can assemble an origami-like card-stock representation of the Swordfish Zord.
Swordfish Fencer Megazord
Sets required for this combination:
- ZordBuilder System – Samurai Megazord
- ZordBuilder System – Swordfish Zord with Mega Ranger
When commanded to, the Swordfish Zord will form a Samurai Armament formation, combining itself with the Samurai Megazord to form the Swordfish Fencer Megazord. While this combo still has access to the Megazord’s katana, on command it will change to Naginata Mode (a blade on either side of the grip) for double-slashing attacks. Finally, the Swordfish Fencer Megazord can use its finishing attack, the Swordfish Slash- which places the Megazord’s sword inside the Zord’s mouth on top of the helmet, and is then swung hands-free at the mega monster.
Because of the modifications Bandai America made to the function of the Swordfish Zord, it does not entirely resemble its onscreen appearance. Though it does keep the new helmet that the Samurai Armament gives it, the toy instead replaces the Ape FoldingZord as a new left arm to which the Megazord’s sword is attached. The Naginata Mode is not represented here either, as it is a ‘magical’ mode change for the Megazord’s sword.
The Swordfish Slash attack can be imitated here, though not in the same way it appears in the show. The nose of the Swordfish Zord is extendable when it becomes part of the helmet for the Swordfish Fencer Megazord. It can be slightly extended again to be even longer to imitate the sword from the TV series, even though it looks nothing like it.
For those of you wondering what the differences are between the ZordBuilder System Swordfish Zord with Mega Ranger from “Power Rangers Samurai” (2011), and its original Japanese counterpart, the Samurai Gattai Series 02- Kajiki Origami from “Samurai Sentai Shinkenger” (2009), the changes are broad and stark.
Simply put, the Swordfish Zord is a completely new toy, and significantly smaller by several inches. While the Kajiki Origami was the second of the Samurai Gattai Series to utilize a rotating Hiden Disc to power its gimmick, the Swordfish Zord eliminated the Disc feature altogether, but swapped it out so that rolling the toy on the floor would flick the tail about instead.
Additionally, the transformation process for the body has completely changed as well, becoming a new left arm rather than a backpack as in the original Japanese version (and as it appears in “Power Rangers Samurai”). The helmet for the combination, however, remains identical. Ironically, the Naginata Mode also did not appear in the Japanese version of the toy. Beyond sharing the swinging ventral fins for articulation in its animal form, the Swordfish Zord integrates platforms to hold Bandai America-exclusive Mega Ranger figures.
(This is a conclusion where I will have to pay close attention to the Japanese version to explain what I think of the Bandai America version…)
Of the five accessory Samurai Gattai Series sets made, I thought the Kajiki Origami was by far the worst at utilizing its appearance and gimmicks. It feels really strange for me, now two years later, to say that I have had the exact opposite reaction to this redesigned BA toy… Despite being significantly smaller, by itself it is actually quite efficient and pleasing in appearance and function!
I did not like how static in appearance the Kajiki Origami was. While intended to resemble origami as its name implied, it only partially succeed in showing this. Basically, from the Hiden Disc-on-down was a disaster both in function and appearance, and missed the marker by a wide margin on what the character of the mecha represented. Yes, it needed the wheels to roll about on, but that was it. It looked like a blue fish with a big Mohawk laying atop a white metal cart while being wheeled into the processing factory. It was mortifying, tasteless really. This new BA toy keeps the appearance of the lower half of the Origami, but deemphasizes it significantly so that it now has a more-streamlined body shape overall as opposed to looking like a fish lying atop something. This was a good change, Bandai America.
I hated the torpedo gimmick on the Kajiki Origami. In addition to being super weak in their range and launching speed (no springs were involved, it was push-to-fire), they did not look good at all, and came with a third projectile which could not be stored anywhere on the toy! (A spare projectile for toys is fine, but find some way to store it somewhere inside the toy rather than stuffed back inside the box!) Also, in the combined Kajiki Shinken-Oh form, the toy’s torpedoes were rendered useless because they did not have the power to escape their now-vertical orientation. In their pursuit to reduce manufacturing costs, BA outright removed the torpedo gimmick. This was a good change, Bandai America.
The primary Hiden Disc gimmick of the Kajiki Origami was when the Hiden Disc was spun, the nose would bounce up and down slightly. While in the show this was used to give the mecha some form of expressing itself beyond simply swimming about (why did the Kajiki sound like an elephant??), on the toy it barely nudged a quarter of an inch. And then, in Kajiki Shinken-Oh, the entire Hiden Disc feature was neutered when the head was physically disconnected from the tab that moved it! (I cannot tell you how frustrated and irritated I was with that toy’s gimmick.) For this new toy, BA literally kills two birds with one stone. A new animal-like motion in the tail was added, which is now powered by rolling the toy on the floor when the Hiden Disc feature was removed. And also, the nose of the swordfish (which I thought was way too stubby on the Kajiki Origami) is now longer, and has the surprising ability to extend when in either animal or combined forms. (I did not see that extending nose feature coming, and it surprised the hell out of me when I first found it!) They even went so far as to add a non-poseable jaw to replace the awkwardly-movable one on the Kajiki Origami. This was a good change, Bandai America.
Now, here’s where it gets bizarre. I like this toy individually, but hated the Kajiki Origami individually. When combined, however, it becomes the exact opposite situation.
As much as I hate the Kajiki Origami‘s failure to keep the Hiden Disc gimmick intact when it combines into Kajiki Shinken-Oh, I thought that the combined form looked quite appropriate. The helmet was stylish and conveyed the streamlined-yet-folded paper-look of the Kajiki Origami alone, and the body did the same as a backpack (…with a really awkward asymmetrical combiner wing sticking brazenly out its right side). By stark contrast, the combined form of the Megazord gains a stumpy thing on it left side with a huge katana sticking awkwardly out of it. By the way, that looks nothing like it does in [either of] the series. The helmet is the only part that remains screen-accurate.
Speaking of the helmet(s), I liked the idea of attaching the DaiShinken sword to the top of the Kajiki Shinken-Oh so that the combined mecha would have to fight the same way its animal counterpart did. Again, while I dislike how the Hiden Disc was removed from the equation, I thought that was a good visual cue. Jump ahead two years, and while BA’s interpretation forgoes having the Zord swallow a sword to initiate an attack, they at least acknowledge the special attack- indeed, the entire purpose of using a marlin for the mecha- by having the nose of the Zord extend automatically during the transformation, and then extending an additional length by you to represent the Swordfish Slash attack. (Needless to say, I was both stunned and highly pleased BA did this.)
The third thing I must mention about the combination is also a similar problem I also had to the Japanese release. In both TV series [because Power Rangers always imports mecha battle footage, almost never making new footage of its own], the Megazord sword/DaiShinken magically morphs from a katana into its double-sided Naginata Mode (even though that is not what a real Japanese naginata looks like). In Japan, an accessory weapon representing this was never made, indicating this weapon was only to be seen in the TV series. (In my review of the Kajiki Origami, I spoke of a method they could have used to get past the handicap of the Shinken-Oh’s right fist.) Two years later, and the ZBS Samurai Megazord has the exact same design for its right hand. Fair enough, though ironically the value of preserving the symbol in Badge Mode had been reduced because Badge Mode was not incorporated into the BA release. And so, despite being cheaper to produce, BA failed to provide a Naginata Mode for this combination, and instead we got a stump limb with a sword sticking out of it. I am not pleased with that, since it would not have been that difficult to engineer- nor manufacture- a second blade included with this set that could attach to the katana provided with the Megazord.
The animal mode is quite satisfying in what it fixed from the original Japanese release. However, the combined form is where it stumbles the most. And despite the fact that Bandai America wasted the budget for this accessory toy with an exclusive fixed-pose action figure which many may not have wanted, I have to say that overall the Swordfish Zord with Mega Ranger is a surprise hit with me.
|Posted 28 May, 2013 - 19:57 by EVA_Unit_4A|