And now, Scary-Crayon reviews... Power Rangers RPM: Throttle Max Ranger Gold

Figure Information Name: Throttle Max Ranger Gold
Line: Power Rangers RPM
Scale: 5 inch
Manufacturer: Bandai America
Year Released: 2009
Original Price: $6.99

Power Rangers! I've mentioned my relatively newfound love of Power Rangers figures on the Scary-Crayon blog before -- and even featured toys in a few haiku installments -- but this is the first time I'm actually reviewing one. Admittedly, part of my procrastination in doing so has stemmed from my uncertainty about how to go about it. I mean, even though each Power Rangers assortment typically has between five and seven figures -- and sometimes more -- they're generally the same figure with different colors, helmets, and weapons. Heck, even figures across different assortments can seem pretty similar.

I'd considered doing a more general roundup of the Power Rangers figures I've acquired, writing about a paragraph about each type of figure in a larger article, but that was before I started reviewing individual figures in this more ordered format... and when many of those figures were still readily available on the pegs. Now that time's passed, the Power Rangers Jungle Fury toys are more scarce at retail (though many are still readily available at online stores, and certain assortments and packs can still be found fairly easily at Toys 'R' Us), but the RPM figures are still out in abundance. And since the fall 2009 basic assortment -- the Throttle Max Rangers -- is now hitting the pegs for the holiday season, I figured I'd give Throttle Max Ranger Gold the full review treatment! That said, since all of the (male) Rangers share the same basic sculpt and articulation, you can apply most of what I write in this review to any of the Full Throttle or Throttle Max figures. So if you like what I say about Ranger Gold but prefer the look of Ranger Green, you can buy him with the confidence that, different accessories and minor details notwithstanding, he's pretty much the same figure!

Packaging

Score: 9.5 / 10

Throttle Max Ranger Gold, zoomin' your way from behind his wheel bubble!As a viewer of PRRPM, I can confidently state that this packaging faithfully emulates the style of the show. Whether we're talking about the cool blue starburst behind the figure and the road that swerves in from the background, the nifty wheel shape of the plastic bubble, or the trademark logo and insert derived from the Red Ranger's Zord design, everything about the packaging screams, "GET IN GEAR!" And then, on the back, the card effectively showcases all of the figures in the assortment and highlights how their weapons combine to form some sort of ED-209 walker thing. The layout of the card deserves special praise, too. Unlike some of the other PRRPM figure assortments, there aren't any distracting blank spaces -- there's an area that could have been problematic in this respect on the back, but Bandai's artfully chosen to fill that space with three Zords. No, the packaging isn't quite as delightful as that of some toys from yesteryear -- I'm gazing back upon you with love, Playmates TMNT line -- but this is about as good as it gets for children's toys today.

Of course, the packaging isn't collector friendly (though it does entirely lack twisty ties), but since this figure isn't aimed at collectors -- and doesn't cost very much at all -- I'm not docking it for that. The only reason I'm not scoring the packaging a 10 is because it prominently features the Red Ranger... yet this figure is the Gold Ranger. If Bandai had gone the extra mile and given the figures unique cardbacks that pictured the particular character in the package, I'd have had absolutely no reservations about giving the packaging a perfect score.

Visual Appeal

Score: 8.5 / 10

With all of the PRRPM figures, you get simple yet attractive sculpts of fit -- but not Herculean -- characters (the men, anyway; the women are on the skinny side) with tight-fitting spandex suits adorned with various other details. Whereas the other figures' details are more in line with the series' general racing theme, though, Ranger Gold's details are more evocative of astronauts and space travel: his "seatbelt" chest straps take the shape of an X rather than the core Rangers' V; his boots and glove cuffs are adorned with various buttons and control center-esque paneling; the outer edges of his gloves have large, shuttle-esque wings; and his helmet, with its X-shaped visor and crest, makes him look more like a futuristic space ranger than a superpowered NASCAR driver. He sports the same Batman-esque utility belt as the other figures, but, instead of an animal-themed number design on his chest, Gem (that's Ranger Gold's name) has a raised Go-On Wings emblem.

All in all, it looks pretty cool, though there are a few visual hiccups. For one, like the DC Infinite Heroes figures, all of the basic RPM Rangers (save the girls) sport fairly large hands. Gem is a touch smaller than his fellow Rangers, so it's not quite as noticeable with him, but you'd still feel fairly intimidated after shaking his hand! There's also the head, which is somewhat slim -- this is to accommodate the removable helmet, and there are also peg holes in the sides of the figure's head to this end. It doesn't look unnatural, and the peg holes aren't terribly jarring given that all of the Rangers sport black wheel designs there anyway, but it does look more like Ranger Gold is wearing a mask rather than a full helmet. It's also a bit inaccurate to the show, since the actual helmet has intakes on the sides that this figure lacks. At first I was really bothered by it, but the shiny gold paint on the head eventually overshadowed those flaws for me.

Ranger Gold: Frontal ViewRanger Gold: Side ViewRanger Gold: Rear ViewRanger Gold: Closeup

Speaking of which, the paint definitely enhances the figure's appearance. The other RPM figures are cast in their respective colors and have minimal painted details -- which makes them look simpler and more toyish by comparison (not that that's a bad thing here, as these are toys) -- but Ranger Gold is mostly cast in black and gets striking gold and silver paint applications to help him look the part. There are instances of overspray and underspray at the sculpted details, and the paint lines are a touch fuzzy if you look really closely, but these flaws are hardly very jarring or noticeable. Speaking of things that aren't very noticeable, if only because I didn't realize it until taking the closeup photos, Gem's tampographed visor is somewhat off-center and doesn't quite match the sculpted lines (which I also didn't realize were there until seeing the closeup pics). If that kind of thing would bug the crap out of you, look very closely at the figure in the package -- it's difficult to spot, especially since he's wearing the helmet on the card. What is more noticeable, however, is that the boots and gloves aren't painted gold, but are cast in an amber-colored plastic instead. It looks okay, but it doesn't quite match the gold paint on Gem's suit.

There are also unpainted details. The boots and gloves have grey, red, and black details on the show but are plain gold/amber here, and the dotted gold line that extends from Ranger Gold's neck, over his shoulders, and down his arms is sculpted (which is odd, since it doesn't appear to be a raised element on the actual costume) but left unpainted. The big flaw with the paint, however -- and the main reason for the lower score -- is that Gem's back is completely unpainted. It's not even as if there are many details back there to paint! That also means that it's not a huge deal, and kids probably won't care either way, but Bandai could easily have put in a little more effort to paint the back half of the belt, the remaining parts of the chest straps (which end just behind the shoulders), and the latter parts of the gold on his sides.

Finally, since the Full Throttle Ranger Gold is also making the rounds right now, I'll point out the two visual differences between the figures. Whereas the Throttle Max Gold's silver chest emblem and golden belt are uniformly painted, the Full Throttle version gets a few red paint applications here (see the pics with Ranger Silver; she has red apps in the same places). The other difference is the head, as the Full Throttle Gold has the aforementioned side intakes and lacks the holes on either side of his head. Since his head is cast the in amber plastic of the gloves and boots instead of being painted, however, folks who aren't as concerned with show accuracy may prefer the golden noggin of the Throttle Max version.

Articulation

Score: 8.0 / 10

Rev up for posing action!

Gem's 17 points of articulation won't have him hanging with Spider-Man anytime soon, but they do offer him a fairly decent range of poses. Moreover, all of his joints are tight and worked perfectly right out of the package -- you won't have to worry about any breakage issues or entrust Ranger Gold to the freezer before putting him through the motions! And every joint has nearly a full range of motion, which makes posing him both delightful and simple. Only the hips are slightly limited in their forward/backward movement due to the sculpt of the thighs and pelvis, but that's not really an issue unless you want Gem to sit down in a vehicle... and since figures with the necessary sculpting changes and articulation for that sort of thing generally come with Power Rangers vehicles, it's almost a moot point. In any case, even with the slight hip limitations and single-hinged knees, the calf swivel makes it fairly easy to tweak any pose so that Gem can maintain his footing.

Of course, the figure would benefit from a few additional joints. This is a Power Ranger, after all -- and while the RPM heroes are a little more about shooting than wild kung-fu action, superarticulated Ranger figures would be able to hit their trademark poses in a way that Bandai's current assortment simply can't. That said, the only joints I really miss on Gem are swivel biceps, hinged ankles, and perhaps a waist swivel. What he's got is more than adequate, though, and the figure's ease of poseability and perfect working order of the joints raise the score of an articulation model that might otherwise only warrant a 7.5.

Accessories

Score: 9.5 / 10

Accessories! The PRRPM figures do fairly well in other categories, but here's where they really start kicking plastic tail. First, weapons. Gem comes with his trademark Sky Shift Morpher and Cloud Hatchet -- which I call the NASAblade, as it's a dagger that clearly resembles a space shuttle. Both of these are impressively detailed for such small accessories, as nearly all of the little buttons and switches and panels of the show props have been faithfully recreated. Heck, they even peg together to form the Sky Shift Blazer (or, in my terminology, the NASAgun)! Pretty impressive stuff there, and the morpher also pegs into Ranger Gold's belt for easy, show-accurate storage. I like to leave the gun combined and swivel the morpher behind Gem's back, stowing both weapons at once and leaving his hands free for...

Dual space blasters! I can't recall these ever appearing on the show, but extra weapons are always handy -- especially given that Gem's personality is kinda like "SHOOT FIRST AND MAKE THINGS GO BOOOOOM AND GIGGLE WITH GLEE -- who said anything about questions?!" I have no doubt that they play a more important role in the construction of the ED-209 thing, but if you're not planning to get all of the Throttle Max Rangers they make for fun extra accessories. One thing about the weapons, though -- Gem can have issues with holding them. He grips the space blasters quite well out of the package, but, because the Sky Shift Morpher and NASAblade were clearly sculpted for the daintier hands of Ranger Silver, the morpher is too small and the blade is quite loose in Gold's oven mitts. You can get him to grip the morpher fairly securely, but you really have to jam it in there... and it'll likely warp his hand so that it doesn't hold his blasters quite as well. Of course, any problems can be fixed easily with a hairdryer and some cold water (heat up the hand to make it flexible, wrap it around the desired weapon, and then douse it with cold water to set the position), but Gem will never be able to hold all of his weapons tightly in each hand at the same time.

Ranger Gold with Throttle Max Armor!Evildoers, beware the NASAgun!Maybe Ranger Gold should beware, with that villainous armor...Ranger Gold wouldn't joke if he'd been in the Library.

Also, the weapons are unpainted, but that doesn't bother me so much given the price point and intended audience. Sure, kids would probably be as thrilled to have painted weapons as I would (even if they'd lose them fairly quickly), but I don't think the lack of paint makes them any less fun for the youngsters. Besides, given the crazy amount of detailing on the minuscule Sky Shift Morpher and NASAblade, I can't see those accessories being given respectable paint jobs without the price going up at least a few dollars.

And then there are the extras that all Throttle Max figures share -- the removable helmet and chest armor. Admittedly, it's kind of silly to have removable helmets for characters who are already wearing helmets, and the flip-down feature of Gem's helmet is just goofy because, while it does give him a facemask that would ideally help to shield him from damage, it also covers his visor and would theoretically keep him from seeing. The helmet doesn't look terrible when worn upright, though its downward slant gives Ranger Gold a decidedly less heroic appearance. With the addition of the chest armor, our hero could just as easily be an alien bounty hunter with few scruples and a desire to finance his vet. Also, even though it has minimal gold and black paint applications, the overwhelming grey of the armor significantly mutes the striking gold and completely covers the silver of Ranger Gold's outfit. As such, I prefer his appearance without the armor, but it certainly increases his playability. And if someone wanted to use Gem in some other capacity -- for example, as a shady bounty hunter sent to apprehend the Doctor -- the armor (and extra guns) could be very effective for that purpose.

Finally -- since the Full Throttle Ranger Gold comes with different accessories -- I'll take a moment to note the specific differences. Both figures come with the Sky Shift Morpher and Cloud Hatchet, but the Full Throttle version comes with a sticker (maybe) and unpainted, miniature casts of the Falcon Copter, Whale Zord, and Water Pollution Minister Kegalesia -- who is actually one of the enemies from the Japanese "Engine Sentai Go-Onger"; apparently these were sculpted before Bandai got ahold of the RPM designs -- instead of the space blasters and removable armor. Hardcore PRRPM and Go-Onger fans will probably prefer the casts, but anyone else will likely prefer the extra weapons and armor to those dinky little things.

Fun Factor

Score: 9.5 / 10

There's no denying it -- PRRPM figures are fun. Given how prevalent quality control issues are with toys nowadays, it's incredibly satisfying to just be able to rip a figure out of its packaging and start posing it without having to test the joints or undertake any preliminary exercises to make sure nothing is stuck or twists off. When posing this guy, you don't get any paint dust or chipping, either. And since this isn't a collector figure and doesn't sport an especially detailed paint job, any minor snags in the paint are far less annoying and won't drive a collector to drastic measures. (For instance, I recently noticed a slight black mark on my beloved Chun-Li's face and sort of "ruined" her when I tried to scrape it off... which upset me greatly.) I can't imagine how much the off-center visor would bother me if Gem were a $13.99 NECA or Mezco offering, yet since he lands squarely in the "toy" category -- as opposed to the "collector figure" division -- I find that I'm far less anal about his appearance! I admittedly find collecting and owning certain toys to be fairly stressful (and perhaps that says more about me than the products themselves), but Ranger Gold is just a worry-free delight.

Sarah Jane does love boots!Classic Cybermen are not fans of gold.Wonder Twin powers, ACTIVATE!!!

Of course, the above paragraph has more to do with the quality control problems that often go hand in hand with collector figures -- and the myriad ways that they can distress finicky collectors -- than Ranger Gold's individual merits. So here goes: despite the somewhat simple appearance of the character, he's fun to look at; the articulation makes for fun and easy poseability; and the multiple weapons and removable armor give him even more potential in play scenarios and add additional posing options. And for fans of Doctor Who, the PRRPM figures are also nearly in perfect scale with that line, so those of you who aren't especially concerned about the figures' different styles might get additional mileage out of them. Really, the only thing keeping Gem from a perfect score is the fact that he doesn't hold his Sky Shift Morpher and Cloud Hatchet terribly well.

Value

Score: 9.0 / 10

Ranger Gold, ready for action!Jungle Fury figures are mean.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Power Rangers figures are among the best values in the toy aisle. Whereas most 6" action figures are going for $11 and up these days -- and whereas you'll pay between $6 and $10 for even a 3.75" figure -- for $7, you get a really fun, problem-free action figure and a whole bunch of accessories. Granted, that's a comparable value to a 6" figure that costs $10, since the PRRPM figures are an inch smaller and aren't quite as articulated as a DC Universe or Marvel Legends offering, but something about that $7 price makes them seem like an even better value. They do seem a little overpriced to me, but that's likely because the 2008 Jungle Fury figures -- which were 6" and sported additional articulation (swivel thighs and hinged ankles) -- went for the same price. At a dollar cheaper, with a bit more articulation, or with weapons that sported minor paint applications or were cast in colors that more closely matched the show versions, these figures would truly seem worth every penny from a technical standpoint. Also, even though the smaller size and additional details suggest that this is a new sculpt -- or at least a retooled one -- the overwhelming similarities to the other PRRPM figures lower the perception of value a bit.

Review Summary

Packaging
  • Faithfully emulates style of show
  • Cardback layout is impressive
  • Packaging features Red Ranger; unique character graphics for each figure would have made it perfect
SCORE: 9.5 / 10
Visual Appeal
  • Simple, attractive sculpt w/ neat details
  • Hands are oversized; head is a bit slim
  • Gold and silver paint are quite striking
  • Some details -- and the figure's back -- are left completely unpainted
SCORE: 8.5 / 10
Articulation
  • 17 POA offer decent range of poses
  • Absolutely no breakage concerns
  • Hips are slightly limited, but other joints have full range of motion
  • Would benefit from a few extra joints
SCORE: 8.0 / 10
Accessories
  • Show weapons are highly detailed (but unpainted); dual blasters add to fun
  • Morpher and blade don't fit hands well
  • Removable armor looks okay but unheroic; increases play scenarios
SCORE: 9.5 / 10
Fun Factor
  • Since Gold is a toy -- not a "collectible" -- imperfections are far less upsetting
  • Fun look, easy poseability, and useful accessories make figure enjoyable
  • Just needs tighter grip on weapons
SCORE: 9.5 / 10
Value
  • $7 for a fun 5" figure with lots of accessories is a competitive value
  • Slightly worse value than 2008 PR toys
  • Reused basic PRRPM figure sculpt lowers perception of value
SCORE: 9.0 / 10

Overall

Score: 9.0 / 10

Power Rangers RPM: GET IN GEAR!!!

If this score seems a little high -- and I was actually tempted to score Ranger Gold even higher -- keep in mind that I'm treating this as a toy rather than a collector figure. I completely understand if the PRRPM figures are too simplistic in terms of sculpt or lacking with respect to advanced paint techniques for many of y'all out there to get behind, but for those of you who truly enjoy action figures -- whether they've got McFarlane-esque detailing and washes and airbrushed highlights or not -- I seriously recommend grabbing at least one of these guys (or gals, though the females' leg articulation is limited by their skirts). Be careful, though! One figure might lead to another (especially following the holiday season; there are always quite a few Power Rangers figures on clearance), and then you might find yourself watching PRRPM episodes... and then before you know it you'll be spending hours on Linear Ranger's site and scouring eBay for figures from past assortments purely out of love for these colorful little warriors. These toys might make you a Power Rangers fan.

-- Wes --

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