ZordBuilder System - Samurai Megazord
|Toy Design||Bandai America|
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
This toy appears here courtesy of BigBadToyStore.com!
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. But 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 has 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 addition to unique attacks on their own, the core team’s five FoldingZords, red Lion, blue Dragon, pink Turtle, green Bear, and yellow Ape, can combine with each other to form the humanoid-shaped Samurai Megazord. The Megazord can draw out an ornamental katana sword (which has simplified pictures of the five FoldingZords along the blade) and a Power Disc-shaped shield for melee combat. Special and finishing attacks are achieved through the use of Power Discs and/or Symbol Power using the Samuraizers.
Somewhere on each of their bodies, each FoldingZord features the symbol of the Shiba House.
Composed entirely of hard ABS plastic, only the jaw can be moved.
Composed primarily of ABS plastic, but the tail, which forms the Megazord’s sword is flexible PVC. Due to how it transforms it can be posed at the jaw, neck, and mid-body. It also stores the Samurai Megazord’s helmet within its body, and can be released via a button on top of the toy.
Composed of hard ABS and soft PVC plastic, only the two fins can be moved.
Composed entirely of hard ABS plastic, only the jaw can be moved.
Composed entirely of hard ABS plastic, only the shoulders can be moved, ratcheting every 45 degrees forward (and sideways as well, but only due to transformation).
The horns on the helmet of the Megazord and its sword are both made of soft PVC plastic. While the sword can fit into a slot on the top of either hip, it will not stay in place on its own. The shield seen in the series is not included in this set.
The shoulders ratchet every 45-degrees all the way around. Because of how it transforms, the right wrist can also ratchet around, allowing for minor posing with the sword. Due to being part of the ZordBuilder System, the knees can also spin around, though the Megazord will not be able to stand reliably on its own of you turn them.
As a gimmick started with the 2010 remake of the Dino Zords from “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” (Season 1), the Samurai Megazord is part of the ZordBuilder System. This allows it to swap arms and legs with other separately-sold “Power Rangers Samurai” toys beyond what is seen in the TV series, specifically the Disc Cycles, Sword Cycles, Samurai Transporter, and Tiger Tank.
(None of these other ZordBuilder-compatible toys are featured in this review.)
For those of you wondering what the differences are between the ZordBuilder System Samurai Megazord from “Power Rangers Samurai” (2011), and its original Japanese counterpart, the DX Samurai Gattai Shinken-Oh from “Samurai Sentai Shinkenger” (2009), the changes are broad and stark.
Simply put, the Samurai Megazord is a completely new toy. The Megazord is a few inches shorter than the DX Shinken-Oh, has reduced paint applications, and removes entirely the vacuum-plated gold plastic. Finally, and perhaps most dramatically, the triple-changer aspect of the original toy was eliminated completely, which allows them to compact down into their respective Badge Mode which prominently displays each Shinkenger’s kanji symbol (as seen in the black visor of each Ranger’s helmet). The Origami (a play-on-words, in this case “folding spirit” as opposed to the normal “folding paper”) mecha started out in Badge Mode, unfolded to form Animal Mode, and then when combining would change once more to form the body of the Shinken-Oh. While this also happens to the FoldingZords in the TV series, the ZordBuilder System Samurai Megazord removed the Badge Mode. As a result of this, several alterations were also made to the transformation process for the Samurai Megazord which do not match its on-screen appearance.
(Ironically, because of how it transforms, only the Turtle FoldingZord can genuinely change into Badge Mode, the other four coming nowhere near their own Badge Modes.)
It should be noted that later in 2011, Bandai America released a Deluxe ‘special edition’ version of the Samurai Megazord, which was just a direct import of the DX Shinekn-Oh with a new paper band wrapped around the Japanese box. Other than the paper band that was legally required for shipping, it is perfectly identical to the original DX Shinken-Oh, even down to the Japanese instructions! It is obviously not compatible with the ZordBuilder System, however, as reviewed here. This “Deluxe Samurai Megazord” was a limited Toys-R-Us online store-exclusive.
There are two reasons for the ZordBuild System to exist: A) expand interactivity between toys seen in the show and new toys created by Bandai America which are not seen on-screen; and B) reduce the retail price of transforming toys to better suit the English-speaking toy market during the World Financial Crisis (2008- ). The days of directly importing original Japanese toys unmodified have long since gone by. At retail (not including shipping and handling), the yen-to-dollar exchange rate meant that the DX Shinken-Oh was still USD $80.00 at the time of its release in 2009! Clearly, no American parent(s) in their right mind would shell out that much for a beginning-level transformable toy for their kid every single year! (Hell, even long-time toy collectors, such as myself, who could regularly afford those higher costs felt the economic pinch.) Much as collectors and parents balk at the reduction in quality compared to past Power Rangers lines, it is the reality we must face and Bandai America is doing the best that they can to rectify the problem, continuing to provide us with the classic franchise while making it affordable to continue importing the original TV footage and concepts from the Japanese series.
With that said…
After owning the DX Samurai Gattai Shinken-Oh for almost five years now, it is quite difficult for me to look at this toy and judge it on its own merits. The removal of the third Badge Mode is such a huge thing since it was featured in the Americanized TV show as well, and triple-changing Zords is a fairly rare gimmick in Power Rangers dating all the way back to 1997 (in “Power Rangers Turbo”). I will do the best that I can…
Having a two year lead time, it’s clear that Bandai America tried to solve some of the flaws and oddities of the original Japanese toy as they were scaling things down. Did they succeed? Mmmm… kind of. It’s one of those tit-for-tat things- trading one flaw for another. Ugh.
Plastic quality is fine, but at times the increase in hollow bits just gets on my nerves and reminds me this toy may be some creeping level of crap.
It’s ironic that the horns on the DX Shinken-Oh’s helmet were bound together by plastic between the tips (despite what was seen on-screen), yet on this toy it has a flexible plastic that could have done with some sturdier construction but allowed for the screen-accurate gap.
One of the problems in the past was that the helmet was often left lying around due to later combinations with other toys in the line having nowhere to store it. You could shove it back into the Ryuu [Dragon] Origami, but it rattled around and was never a tight fit when it was in leg mode. Because of the simplified transformation, particularly on the Dragon and Lion, the helmet now has a comfortable secure niche to hang out in when not being worn. Nice!
One of the common complaints was that the thighs on the Shinken-Oh were really short, and that this version makes them a bit more reasonable proportionately. I agree with the original complaint and that this one fixes that. (The problem is, to compensate, the head now looks too small!)
I know the shield doesn’t do much toy-wise and wasn’t stored anywhere except the back of the Shinken-Oh, but it would have been nice to have it included, even if it couldn’t separate to form its own Power Disc like the original’s did. Oh well, I guess that’s fair enough even if it is missed.
I know simplified transformations are part of the deal to make this more affordable (and I said as much above), but c’mon, that Dragon FoldingZord looks barely anything like it does in the show! Oh it folds alright, but it looks so half-assed in Animal Mode. Sticking the sword up its ass as a convenient storage space could have been done differently as well. (The original DaiShinken sword couldn’t attach to anything either when the Origami were separated.) Again, this is BA trying to fix an original flaw, and then coming up with something even worse than the original. What the hell.
One of the big complaints which I also share is the highly awkward alignment of the ratcheting joints on the arms. The arms do not snap perpendicular or parallel properly to the toy’s body. In other words, the arms are always slightly raised or too low depending on how you want them position. Was it a quality control issue, a joint assembled incorrectly at the factory perhaps? No, this was a deliberate design choice. I sincerely cannot understand WHY this was done! Aside from removing the third mode from each FoldingZord, this shoulder misalignment is among my biggest gripes with this toy.
I have so much prejudice from owning the original Japanese toy that it is very difficult for me to not look at this thing and immediately think “bootleg”. Now, does this thing serve as a good toy for its target audience- children? Begrudgingly, I must say “yes it does”, because kids won’t really notice the difference. (I’m not certain- I haven’t seen any kids comment on it.) Although if you were to put the Japanese version in their hands so they could compare it, I’m certain the original would be better received as more screen accurate. Putting this thing side-by-side with its Japanese predecessor leaves a bad taste in your mouth, hands down.
Will it break? The helmet’s horns will probably go first, but not much else beyond that. That sword will get chewed to bits though.
I can see the differences because of my 20+ years experience with this franchise and many other transforming toys, and I would not have gotten this for myself had it not been included in a trade along with something else. This thing just makes me cringe. It’s like a foreign company got their hands on the original, cut some corners as they shrank it down, slapped it on a cardboard backing, gave it some crap Engrish names on the package, and called it good. To my adult eye, that’s how I see the ZordBuilder System Samurai Megazord, a near bootleg. I’m sad to see Bandai America sink to this level, an increasing joke in its own nation of business.
Something tells me the rest of the ZordBuilder System FoldingZords aren’t gonna be much better, considering that the Shinken-Oh design was the best of them all in Japan that year, in my opinion.
|Posted 24 April, 2013 - 15:31 by EVA_Unit_4A|