Wednesday 12 June 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Lord Zedd

Release Date: April 2019
RRP: £20/$20

The scarcity of villain figures has always been a problem for Power Rangers toy collectors, and arguably tokusatsu fans in general. Credit where its due Bandai of America's offerings have always been considerably more vast than what's on offer across the pond in Japan, but for a franchise with such a rich history of villain designs to choose from there was always the sense more could have been done. Now that Hasbro have taken control of Power Rangers and have kicked off both their Beast Morphers and collector-orientated Lightning Collection ranges, it's time to show they mean business. And what better way to show that than to kick off their first wave of figures with the most iconic exclusively Power Rangers villain - the Emperor of Evil himself, Lord Zedd. While far from Zedd's first toy, Bandai's previous offerings have always left much to be desired. Can the Lightning Collection Lord Zedd right these wrongs and finally give the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers villain the figure he truly deserves?

While I've never been one for "Mint in Box" collecting it isn't hard to see the appeal of it when it comes to the Lightning Collection packaging. Lord Zedd comes in a primarily white rectangular box, brought to life Tom Whalen's incredible artwork. This art is printed on both the front and spines of the box, leaving plenty of room to show off the figure through a nice big transparent window. The front of the packaging also features the character name and general Power Rangers Lightning Collection logo, with the series-specific Mighty Morphin Power Rangers logo also printed on the spine. The back of the box features a single promo image of the figure wielding all of his accessories, and inside you'll find said parts stored on a single moulded plastic tray.

Lord Zedd has received a fair few figures over the years (probably more than any other lead Power Rangers villain) but only in recent years did they begin to actually resemble the on-screen suit. So while the Lightning Collection figure may not be the first to achieve this, it's undoubtedly done the best job of it so far. Lord Zedd is a hulking mass of fleshy muscle, complimented by skeletal metal armour, tubes running from his torso to limbs and head sculpt sporting a grilled mouth, piercing visor and exposed brain. It's no wonder parents apparently complained that the character was too scary in his initial appearances, because elements of this design could be considered pure nightmare fuel. Hasbro have done an incredible job bringing such a distinct and iconic suit to life as an action figure, using all that practice they've had with Marvel Legends to sculpt an incredibly detailed muscular body. The tubes running down the body are made of a soft plastic that can be easily bent into specific place without too much pressure, and the blue tint of the translucent plastic is a nice echo of the strange fluids you see pumping around Zedd's body in some of his earliest appearances. The head sculpt manages to capture all of Zedd's distinct features, though the visor colour doesn't quite have the reflective properties it needs to be properly effective and the mouth grill could have done with a black wash to correctly look the part. These do feel like minor complaints on what's otherwise a truly fantastic figure though, and even the missing paint apps are minimal. The only obvious missing areas are the silver sections on the hands, but unlike the Shadow Ranger these aren't on the box image either so at least buyers know what they're getting. A Power Rangers toy line is ultimately going to primarily be about the rangers themselves, but even early on Zedd is looking like the true winner of wave one.

Articulation is another area where Zedd just beats out all of the competition. Altogether he features a ball jointed head, swivel hinge neck, swivel hinge shoulders complimented by butterfly joints in the torso, bicep swivels, double hinge elbows, swivel hinge wrists, ball jointed upper torso, hinged ab crunch, ball joint hips, thigh swivels, double jointed knees and swivel hinge ankles. Unfortunately those ankles are quite limited by the surrounding armour, and the elbows and knees can only really achieve a 90 degree bend because of the sheer bulk of the parts surrounding them. However every other bit of articulation remains mostly unimpeded even with those plastic tubes trying to keep everything in place. The combination of the shoulders and the backward moving butterfly joints in the torso are just sublime. Zedd might not have been much of a fighter on the show itself but there's more than enough packed into the figure here to show off what he would be capable of, along with all the posing and grandstanding you'd expect from someone who introduces themselves as the "Emperor of Evil".

Unlike the ranger figures Lord Zedd doesn't have an alternate head they can easily throw in to the set, but that doesn't mean Hasbro have skimped out on the accessories either. Included with Zedd are two additional hands (a closed right fist and a "clawed" gripping left hand that matches the right one connected in package), his signature Z-Staff, a growth bomb and a red lightning effect part that wraps around the top of the staff. While it's a bit of a shame that the staff is moulded in grey plastic rather than painted silver to match Zedd's skeletal armour, it still looks the part brilliantly and fits snugly into its designated hand. Like the effect parts included with the other wave one figures it's made of a soft translucent plastic, and is similar in design (though not identical) to the blue lightning included with the Dino Charge Red Ranger figure. With no clear instructions there's no correct way to hook the part onto the staff and can be a little finicky at first, but with plenty of clear places to latch it on it isn't too hard to get in on there and looking good. Not most companies could have stopped there and fans would be happy, but throwing in a growth bomb as well just shows Hasbro mean business. The bomb a perfectly scaled version of the ones Zedd uses in the show, fitting comfortably into his hands to recreate even more fantastic poses. 

Between the quality and character variety shown in their Marvel Legends and Star Wars Black Series lines many hoped that Hasbro would finally give Power Rangers the love and attention it deserves. If Lightning Collection Lord Zedd is anything to go by, then the franchise is in safe hands. It was an excellent move on Hasbro's part to kick off with one of its most iconic villains, as it not only showed their dedication to producing toys outside of the rangers themselves but also just how they plan to get the job done. This figure puts all previous Lord Zedd figures to shame, and right now is probably up there as one of the best Power Rangers action figures released to date. As the short-packed figure in wave one this is likely going to become even more sought after in time, so be sure not to miss out.

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