DX Ninpuu Gattai Senpuujin
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
In 2002, the secret Hayate Way Ninja Academy which teaches the ancient Japanese martial arts of ninjutsu is attacked by the ruthless alien Uchuu Ningun Jakanja. Lead by the anthropomorphized insect Master Tao Zanto and his five Dark Spear generals, they capture all of the students and Academy’s buildings, and hide them inside their centipede-covered asteroid base. Only three less-than-average students from Hayate Way (who skipped their morning lessons that day) survive the initial attack. Transported to a secret underground chamber by the daughter of the academy’s masterful director (who transformed himself into a hamster to avoid capture!), the three students are given wrist-mounted Hurricane Gyros which will enable them to use the Shinobi Suits and weapons of the legendary Hurricanger. While each is trained in one of the three specialized techniques taught at the Academy- air, water, and land- they must hide in the local population to avoid detection, and work together to prevent the Jakanja from taking over Earth... as the Ninpuu Sentai Hurricanger! In Episode 2, Spear Four Wendinu used her bazooka to send a Copy Giant to revive the magnet ninja Jishakkumo as a monster many times its original size, Oboro- daughter of the Hayate Way’s transformed director, and technical expert for the team- informs the aghast Hurricanger that they have three Shinobi Machines which were used by the ancient stealth-wind taskforce that they can use- Hurricane Hawk, Hurricane Dolphin, and Hurricane Lion. Based on the themes of air, water, and land respectively, they are teleported directly from the hidden hangar bay under Shinobi Valley through hologram-like gates throughout the city. “Hurricane Hawk, Hurricane Dolphin, Hurricane Lion: standby! ...Hasshin!”
- Piloted by the Hayate Way Air Ninja, Hurricane Red (second-year Yousuke Shina, 507th term). Liveried in red and white, it soars through the air at high speeds. Some of its special attacks include lighting itself on fire and then circling opponents to set them ablaze. It appears as a wide-body jetliner on the runway when it is transported through its holographic portal. Hurricane Hawk forms the head of the Senpuujin.
Hurricane Dolphin (back)- Piloted by the Hayate Way Water Ninja, Hurricane Blue (second-year Nanami Nono, 507th term). Dressed in light blue and silver, it glides through the water with tunnel jet drives. Though it is primarily a water-based Shinobi Machine, it has the ability to jump up and hover just over the ground to fight with the others, and some of its attacks include projecting a hologram of a huge tidal wave behind it as it shoots water at its opponents. It appears as an ocean cruise liner passing beneath a cable suspension bridge when it is transported through its holographic portal. Hurricane Dolphin forms the right arm of the Senpuujin.
Hurricane Lion (back)- Piloted by the Hayate Way Land Ninja, Hurricane Yellow (second-year Kouta Bitou, 507th term). Covered in yellow and blue, it slowly moves its massive bulk with four large mechanical legs and paws. Its circular mane spins to blurring RPMs for some attacks in order to chew up the landscape and throw debris at its opponents. And if that isn’t enough, it has powerful thrusters on its backside to propel it through the windstorm and head-butt giant Jakanja. It appears as the combination of a roller coaster passing through a Ferris wheel at an amusement park when it is transported through its holographic portal. Hurricane Lion forms the left arm, torso, and legs of the Senpuujin.
For the three lead mecha starting out a Super Sentai series, these Shinobi Machines are quite a change from what was seen in the past. The first and most-noticeable thing is the size differences between them. Typically, the lead mecha are similar sized, but here Hurricane Lion is much larger and heavier than the other two put together! This would be the first time in Super Sentai where one of the lead mecha would be significantly larger than any of the others. As this review was [re-]written in 2007, this pattern would be repeated:
- DX Bakuryuu Gattai Abaren-Oh from 2003’s "Bakuryuu Sentai AbaRanger"; (Deluxe Thundersaurus Megazord, 2004’s "PR Dino Thunder")
- DX Majin Gattai MagiKing, from 2005’s "Mahou Sentai MagiRanger"; (Deluxe Titan Megazord, 2006’s "PR Mystic Force")
- DX Gougou Gattai DaiBouken from the 2006/25th-Anniversary series "Gougou Sentai Boukenger"; (Deluxe Drive-Max Megazord, 15th-year Anniversary series/2007’s "PR Operation Overdrive")
- DX Juuken Gattai Geki Touja, from 2007’s "Juuken Sentai GekiRanger"; [to-be-announced]
Hurricane Lion’s surprising weight- supported carefully between its four legs- is due to the large amount of die-cat metal in its body! It’s not straight-forward why it’s there or even completely visible until the three components combine, but it is certainly a most welcome return! Hurricane Hawk and Hurricane Dolphin also have metal on them but each has only one part that is so. It is also this large amount of die-cast metal which earned it the honor of a spot in the long-running Chogokin™ line of heavy metal toys from Bandai, designated by the manufacturing number GD-42! Now, here’s the part that is odd about Hurricane Lion: it is covered mostly in both yellow and blue ABS plastic. This is a bit of confusing since this is Hurricane Yellow’s mecha, but it is undoubtedly his, and does help when the three mecha combine later on. Hurricane Hawk and Hurricane Dolphin are significantly less-feature oriented and have less flash to them compared to their larger sibling, but they are interesting in their own ways nonetheless. In the series, Hurricane Dolphin just glides above the ground. But rather than just attach wheels to the bottom of the toy, they created an original blocky, black ABS ‘surfboard’ which the mecha snaps onto with a pair of clips underneath it, and then it can roll along a flat surface easily. There is also a rotating cylindrical disc which rests just behind Hurricane Dolphin’s head- which gives it the appearance of a rubber tire that a real dolphin might play with in an aquarium, and ads a level of cuteness to it! In the show, this gear-like disc- like Hurricane Lion’s mane- spins when it is in battle. But here’s what gets me- why does it have that toothed rubber lining around the center of it? There really isn’t much to say for Hurricane Hawk unfortunately. It has pointed wings with two joints each and allows for a wide range of motion... even though the wings don’t flap in the series! (I will say that the white paint across mine started pealing kinda early on.) Of the three, Hurricane Hawk doesn’t balance well on its own unless the wings fold down or it tilts it sideways. This set actually has two gimmicks. The first- mentioned earlier- is Hurricane Lion’s mane. When its tail is removed, it can be inserted into) either side of the head behind the mane. Then, when the tail is pulled out in ripcord fashion, the mane spins! Because of how little of the ripcord actually goes through the head, you can’t really pull it out that far and get it spinning really hard. This is also hampered by the fact that the mane is all ABS- lacking the metal that a real gyroscope would use. So, in all, you get about 11 seconds of rotation even if you really rip it. That is... if you don’t [literally] rip the head off when you pull the tail out!
"What kind of freak is this!?" "Everyone, combine." "Combine? Can we do that?" "Mm!" "Turn into Whirlwind-God and fight!" "Okay! Guys, let’s do it!" "Okay!"
After a collective effort, the three Hurricanger in their new Shinobi Machines succeed in destroying Jishakkumo. But he just rebuilds himself with his magnetic space-ninja powers! Oboro comes over the comm and tell the frustrated Hurricanger to unite their separate mecha into one. The Senpuujin has two weapon systems available to it at any time, and both are unique to it. With the first, the Hurricanger can activate the Hurry-Up System- this retracts most of the bulky armor back into hidden compartments in the body, creating a slimmed-down form of the combined mecha called the Senpuujin Hurrier. In this mode, it can wield two crescent-shaped Double Hurrier Swords. Agility, flexibility, and speed are greatly increased at the cost of the thicker armor and brute strength. Unfortunately, the Senpuujin Hurrier mode has a maximum operational limit of 60 seconds before it must Hurry-Down and return to it normal form. The only other readily-available weapon is the large fan-like feature in its left arm. Taking the tail from Hurricane Lion, the Senpuujin can insert it into its shoulder and then spin the fan to create the blizzard-like Maned Hurricane attack. When combined, the three Hurricanger remain in the individual cockpits of their Shinobi Machines rather than coming together into a single control center. [The Hurry-Up System is not possible with this toy even though it works that way in the series! Because of the way Senpuujin transforms in the series (and in toy form) is inconsistent with the appearance, functions, and transformation of the Senpuujin Hurrier, the latter was created as a separate set with its own light-&-sound feature, and is of roughly-equal height. The Puradera Action series DX Senpuujin Hurrier will not be reviewed here.] Ninpuu Gattai Senpuujin (back) has several features in and on it that have never been seen before. The most noticeable is the arrangement of the three Shinobi Machines. Having a single mecha forming just the head is nothing new [previously just the Goshin Gattai Kakure Dai Shogun ("Ninja Sentai KakuRanger", 1994) and Denji Gattai Galaxy Mega ("Denji Sentai MegaRanger", 1996)], nor is having an arm composed of one component. (Just look at the Power Animals line from the previous year’s “Hyakujuu Sentai GaoRanger” as proof of that!) But to have the entire torso, legs, and an entire arm made from just one component mecha? Uh-uh! Hurricane Lion is the dominant force behind this combination. To insure that the combination wasn’t overtaken by yellow because of this, PLEX changed large armor sections to blue. But- in my mind- this lopsided combination is acceptable because of the reward within! Each upper leg, each foot, and the forward skirt armor are all die-cast metal! This easily makes it as heavy as the GD-11 DX Seijuu Gattai Gingaioh from “Seijuu Sentai Gingaman” (1998), but heavier than the lead GD-21 DX Hyakujuu Gattai Gao King from the 25th-Anniversary series “GaoRanger”. (Though the Deluxe Galaxy Megazord from “PR Lost Galaxy” lost all of its original die-cast metal parts, the Deluxe Wild Force Megazord from the 10-year Anniversary series “PR Wild Force” [surprisingly] retained all of its metal and so was significantly more appreciated in this regard by knowledgeable PR fans...) Though severely more limited than some of the Power Animals from the previous year’s line, the right arm (Hurricane Dolphin) has a retractable elbow joint [and- I note- the last one we will see, all the way into 2007]! Though it is barely noticeable, it does allow the lower arm/wrist to twist all the way around when extended, as well as tilt up or backwards slightly. In a way, you could use this to twist Hurricane Dolphin around a little when it’s separated. To add to the fun, the Senpuujin has a waist joint which allows it to snap-twist all the way through 360 degrees! (This is used for future transformations...) Although, when’s the last time a Super Sentai mecha had a functioning waist joint? Try “never before or since”! And finally, the Maned Hurricane attack can be recreated by simply inserting the yellow PVC tail/ripcord into the front or back of the left arm; add to this the torso twisting feature, and you can get slightly closer to what is seen in the show even though you can’t twist the head. The hands are actually an important part of the appeal of the Shinobi Machine line- which [so far] is a unique feature in the Super Sentai saga. (Not to give away any spoilers or anything, but yes- there is more than just the Senpuujin in the series... ^_^ )
“Everyone, use the Karakuri Ball.” “Okay, let’s go!”
"Shinobi Metal, set. Karakuri Ball- cast off!”
Karakuri Balls (back) are the signature special feature of the Shinobi Machine line, like the multiple weapon/limb-swapping of the Power Animals from the previous year. However, rather than replacing limbs, each 3” Karakuri Ball (also called KBs in fan communities) contains a specialized weapon which fits the Hurricanger as they progress and hone their skills over time. Each KB is designated to a specific Hurricanger with a unique Shinobi Metal to fit it; however Karakuri Ball #01 seems to require all three regular Shinobi Metals from the Hurricane Gyros to activate. Karakuri Balls are deployed from the round hidden compartment in the Senpuujin’s upper torso. [The word karakuri means ‘trick’ or ‘to surprise’ according to this Wikipedia entry, and comes from early mechanical dolls from the 18th century C.E. in Japan, called karakuri ningyo. In modern times, karakuri can also refer to a puzzle or intricate toy of similar nature. So in this case, Karakuri Balls (more specifically the weapons inside) are magical devices- which fit the lore and style of a karakuri.] Karakuri Ball #01 contains the Sword Slasher. A red and silver bird-inspired sword which- like all KB weapons- collapses down to fit inside its Ball, the Sword Slasher (bottom) is the Senpuujin’s most frequently used/standard-issue weapon. With it the Sword Slasher, the Senpuujin can momentarily create two duplicates of itself in order to use the secret, triple-cutting Sword Slash Strike finisher. The Senpuujin’s hands- which are the first in Super Sentai to have hands that can open and close- firmly grip the Sword Slasher. Though it is a fully transforming version of the weapon seen on-screen (except for the toothed jaw), the toy version is actually quite flimsy and rather weak looking. And over time, the joints will wear down and it will sag and droop with enough use, unable to fully hold its own weight anymore. (Fortunately, mine has not quite reached this stage yet…) Perhaps the best place to display it is hidden inside its red KB! But honestly, I don’t see how they could have done it differently unless they had used alternate [and thus more expensive?] materials; it’s all made of ABS anyways! I will say that it is certainly a big departure from all previous bladed weapons wielded by Super Sentai mecha! (Um, by the way, when have birds had, like, teeth in the last, oh- 65 million years...?) For those of you wondering the differences are between the DX Ninpuu Gattai Senpuujin from “Ninpuu Sentai Hurricanger”, and its English-speaking counterpart- the Deluxe Storm Power Megazord from “Power Rangers Ninja Storm”- well, let’s just say that 2002 was a very good year to be importing:
- The first and most disappointing change was the loss of all that heavy die-cast metal! Every single piece was replaced with ABS equivalents. Bandai America was so faithful when they brought over the Power Animals to become Wild Zords that it was a serious let-down when the Wind Zords lost theirs- and yet, a sad return to the status quo. The coloring of that front skirt armor, BTW, was changed from gold to light gray somewhere in that transition…
- Almost all of the shiny plastic was replaced with painted equivalents; the exception was the dome-like hatch on the Storm Megazord’s chest. And somewhere in that transition, the two buttons on the front of the lower legs that release the locks on the thighs were changed from ‘gray’ to red.
- Many areas that were subtly painted gold or silver over plain ABS plastic to enhance the appearance were neglected- such as the Lion Wind Zord’s entire mane, and most of the areas under the Dolphin Wind Zord.
- The Hawk Wind Zord lost a lot of paint. Only its head and the wingtips got anything, as well as the Megazord’s face. The neck, originally covered in black paint, was left as the plain red ABS.
- To conform with US toy safety standards, small holes were punched just off-center in both halves of the Power Sphere to prevent a choking hazard to younger kids in case they decided to swallow it.
(Honestly, BA- you really need to market these toys to the slightly-older audience of 6yrs+ so that some toddler doesn’t die, and you get sued. Well, actually you need to revamp your entire “PR” marketing strategy altogether... ^_^ And parents- you really need to be careful who you give these toys to!) [Five years] after I got it, the only thing that I am still scratching my head about is that black panel on the top of Hurricane Lion. While the tab on it is used for later combinations, and the small trapezoidal button helps push out a KB if it’s stuck inside, when they’re all separated it serves no purpose! Why was it hinged? Well, there are some other things that have become apparent over time. Senpuujin’s lower legs are still hard to telescope up and down; Hurricane Dolphin’s head is still difficult to remove or replace [for later transformations]; and the connection between Hurricane Hawk and Senpuujin’s upper torso has slowly weakened over time. But these are not really complaints- just things I’ve notice over time. What could they have done differently? Maybe put a little more weight into Hurricane Lion’s mane so that I spun a bit more! It’s still a great design. Hurricane Lion (it’s getting way too much press this time around, I know) is a little striking at first with its huge size, but you get used to it quickly. I thought the whole spinning cog/x-ray transformation-thing was a pretty cool visual feature in the show even if it wasn't in the toy. Also, Hurricane Dolphin’s light blue is the first in Super Sentai to be lighter than the standard blue seen before. (A later addition will make that even more unique to the show…) The combined form is just as good as what we’ve seen before. The waist joint and pop-out elbow are great features too; the die-cast metal is perhaps its most striking element and is most welcome! The operation of the hands makes for a very intriguing special feature and encourages you to participate in future purchases of the separate Karakuri Ball Sets. I highly recommend getting the Chogokin GD-42 DX Ninpuu Gattai Senpuujin!
|Posted 3 May, 2007 - 01:55 by EVA_Unit_4A|