Friday, 20 November 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Zeo Red Ranger

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Release Date: August 2020
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

The Lightning Collection may have provided fans with a reasonably varied selection of characters so far, but even Hasbro have fallen to the same fate as most Power Rangers figures - Tommy Oliver. As the longest-serving ranger running across multiple series, it doesn’t take long for multiple Tommys to show up in a toy line and in just over a year the Lightning Collection is already up to six. Among those released so far is the Lightning Collection Zeo Red Ranger, our red ranger of the line’s sixth wave and third entry from Power Rangers Zeo. Following the destruction of the Command Centre, the Power Rangers are infused with new powers from the gathered Zeo Crystal - becoming stronger than before to battle the new threat of the Machine Empire.

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Zeo Red is the third Zeo Ranger to be released in the line, following on from both Gold (released both in the SDCC two-pack and individually) and Blue. All three have been general retail releases with the standard white packaging, giving them some nice consistency if you display the boxes as well. The character artwork is on point as always, with the more minimal design of the Zeo Rangers allows the details that are there to stand out all the more. We’re all getting into a good trend of the CG render on the back being a correct representation of the figure inside as well, with no additional paint apps or alterations in sight here. Inside the figure, as well as its fairly impressive range of accessories, are neatly laid out on a moulded plastic tray. 

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On first glance Zeo Red is an extremely impressive figure looks-wise. The huge areas of solid red on the costume allow the concentrated detailing in the collar, belt and boot/glove bands to be all the more impressive, with Hasbro pulling out all the stops to get the sculpted gold detail as deep and vibrant as possible. One improvement they’ve made since the Blue Ranger release is that the lining of the helmet shape is now the correct colour - it should be white like it is here, but on Blue they did it silver for some strange reason. Unfortunately it’s one step forward and one back in regards to paint apps though, as while the helmet may not have the correct outline Red is sadly missing the additional gold bands on the gloves (the ones just before the hands) - a detail that was actually present on blue. While it’s disappointing that it’s missing personally I’d be a lot more understanding if this was the case across the board - these figures are produced and sold to a specific budget, so some paint apps are understandably lost along the way. However the fact that these paint apps are present on Blue is a problem because it means whatever happens now, the team is going to be inconsistent. It really is a minor detail and doesn’t detract from the figure as a whole, but it kinda sucks that the team isn’t going to be completely uniform without painting those gloves yourself. That aside it really is a great looking figure though, and it’s those gold parts that really sell it. That said, the helmet is definitely another winner too - simple, but so effective.

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Articulation for these figures is the same across the board so there’s always a lot of repetition when taking about them, especially since Power Rangers tend not to be armoured for the most part so there’s not usually much to mention in regards to restrictions/limitations either. Nevertheless you’ll find the following on the Zeo Red Ranger;
- Ball jointed head, torso and hips 
- Single hinge neck and ab crunch
- Swivel hinge shoulders, wrists and ankles
- Butterfly joint shoulders/pecs
- Double hinge elbows and knees
- Bicep and thigh swivels 
As you’ll have probably seen on previous figures the male Lightning Collection body displays some fantastic articulation, with the double hinge joints offering near 180-degree bends to both the elbows and knees. The ankle tilt ensures the feet can get that perfect coverage for more extravagant poses, and finally the combination of butterfly and swivel hinge joints for the shoulders give the arms plenty of mobility. There’s nothing holding these joints back apart from the rather prominent buttplate all these figures have, and the gold paintwork on the shoulders is maintained whilst moving the arms to keep the sculpt clean throughout. The detailing being concentrated to certain areas on the Zeo suit goes hand in hand with the articulation on these figures, easily making them some of the best looking ones Hasbro have put out so far.

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Accessories have become a bit of contentious issue with the Zeo Rangers for a number of the reasons, the main one being that the Blue Ranger didn’t come with his tonfas despite Hasbro initially teasing to fans (it was on the figure blueprints, but they were shared publicly by Hasbro themselves) that they would. The other is the inclusion of the extended Power Pod sword over the collapsed version, which makes sense from a posing point of view but looks utterly ridiculous when holstered. Thankfully Zeo Red fixes at least one of these issues, coming with a total of two pairs of swappable hands (closed fists and item holding), the extended Zeo Power Pod sword, Zeo Laser Pistol, a blast effect for the pistol AND his personal Zeo V Power Sword. The inclusion of the sword is fantastic news for those who feel all Rangers should come with their personal weapons, but it does raise the questions of whether we’ll ever get Blue’s tonfas and what will happen with the other three Rangers. Some coming with their weapons and some not isn’t really ideal, and further lends to the idea that “better” versions of these figures will be released someday (be it in a full team set or otherwise). The sword itself looks fantastic, though typically like a lot of the Lightning Collection weapons that black paint rubs off far too easily in the figure’s hands. The extended Power Pod looks just as ridiculous as ever when holstered, but as a general weapon is nicely painted so no complaints there. That same sentiment goes for the Laser Pistol too, and the specific effect part included for it makes a nice companion piece to the Power Pod one that came with blue. Overall it’s a pretty sizeable array of accessories for one figure, and I hope the remaining Zeo Rangers are just as lucky when they’re eventually released.

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Hasbro have done a fair few Tommy Oliver heads now to varying quality, with this one sitting somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. It’s definitely a bit chubbier than it should be, but overall the likeness close enough that someone would recognise it as Jason David Frank. While it would be so easy for Hasbro to just make slight alterations to the head each time I appreciate that each Tommy is getting one properly representative to his time as that ranger, mainly recognisable through the various hairstyles he’s cycled through. The Zeo entry is free-flowing long hair, but with a central ponytail at the back. While it’s not the best head they’ve produced in the line nor is it even the best Tommy Oliver head (personally I feel that award goes to Lord Drakkon), it’s passable enough that if all the heads were produced to this standard I’d be happy.

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Power Rangers Zeo is my favourite Power Rangers series and Tommy is my favourite character from that series, so I had pretty high expectations for the Lightning Collection Zeo Red Ranger. After the disappointment that was the Zeo Blue Ranger I feared the worst, but Hasbro have managed to pull it back to release another great entry to the line. The inconsistency of the paint apps between the team and continued use of the extended Power Pod sidearm are irritating, but this is offset by the inclusion of the Zeo V Power Sword. With one more Tommy scratched off the checklist and half of the Zeo cast now accounted for, I look forward to seeing what they have in store for the rest of the team.

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