Tuesday 24 September 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Psycho Blue Ranger

Release Date: September 2019
RRP: $20/£20

If you were to ask Power Rangers fans what the most notable thing Bandai of America did with their ultimately short-lived Legacy Collection line was, the answer would probably be finally producing action figures of the Psycho Rangers. But ultimately even that didn’t go according to plan, as by the time Hasbro took over the Power Rangers brand only three of the core Psycho Rangers had actually been made – with Yellow and Pink passed on in favour of the “comic original” Psycho Green and “not actually real” Psycho Silver convention exclusives. But now Hasbro are here and to show they aren’t messing around, they’re tackling the popular Power Rangers in Space villains within their first year of releasing product. The first to arrive is Lightning Collection Psycho Blue Ranger, available exclusively via GameStop in the US and as a shared exclusive in other parts of the world. Created by Astronema through harnessing the power of Dark Specter, the Psycho Rangers were designed to be unbeatable opponents to their heroic counterparts.

Another store exclusive means another box which slightly breaks the standard of the main waves, which Psycho Blue coming in a blue box that matches the character’s main colouring. Tom Whalen (@strongstufftom)’s artwork continues to impress, especially when he can bring out all that menacing detail you only get with villain characters. The back of the box features a nice big image of the figure in a weapon-ready action pose, with the spine also including the series-specific Power Rangers in Space logo. The colour-coordinated packaging for these exclusives continues to really stand out against the more basic (but still great-looking nonetheless) white boxes of the main line, so much so that I almost wish all the boxes were done like this. Inside the figure, along with all it’s accessories, are stored on a single moulded tray.

Bandai’s Legacy figure is still quite fresh in people’s minds and while there was nothing especially wrong with their effort, comparisons are still obviously going to be drawn here. But right of the bat the Lightning Collection Psycho Blue has more uniqueness going for it then simply a scale change, and most of that is down to the detail. So far Hasbro have done an excellent job mouldings folds and billows onto the Rangers bodies to help convey them as fabric suits, but ultimately you can only do so much with a tight spandex suit. Psycho Blue is a whole other animal, with that black body covered in different types of detailing to suggest the different materials that make up the suit. The chest piece has a leathery quality to it, carried on into the arms and legs with their own tight creases. Then on top of that all the blue and white sections have that smooth, glossy feel to them reminiscent of lightweight body armour. The Legacy figure looks like a toy, this on the other hand looks like a suit. The head sculpt perfectly captures that eerie, bug-eyed look the Psycho Ranger helmets have and the body in general has a nice weight to it. It's no Goldar or even Lord Zedd in terms of bulk, but definitely feels a bit more heavy duty than your standard ranger. Goldar is still undoubtedly the gold standard (pun intended as always) when it comes to what this line can do with sculpting, but that figure has a fair few problems in its execution. Psycho Blue on the other hand is just perfect.

As is the case with any good action figure, it's not just about how good it looks though - it's also how well it moves. Psycho Blue sports a similar skeleton to the other Lightning Collection figures, with the body featuring a ball and socket head with swivel hinge neck, swivel hinge/butterfly joint combo shoulders, bicep swivels, double hinge elbows, swivel hinge wrists, a ball jointed upper torso, ball jointed hips, thigh swivels, double jointed knees, boot swivels and swivel hinge ankles. The amount of swivel joints Hasbro have loaded into this figure really makes for a really expressive release - perfect for both action poses and just standing there looking ominous. Though the body lacks the single hinge abdomen section most other Lightning Collection figures have, the ball jointed upper section more than makes up with it with seamless fluidity. The only real knock against the figure is that the knees can't make full use of both joints at once without the boots getting in the way, but even acting as single joints you can get plenty out of them when used alongside the rest of the body.

Psycho Blue’s accessories include four swappable hands (a pair of weapon holding hands, closed left fist and outstretched right hand with lightning blast effect), his personal Psycho Axe weapon and a translucent yellow “clashing” effect part. The piece is a recolour of the one previously included with the Mighty Morphin White Ranger figure, and slots on comfortably to the blade of the axe. It looks rather odd on its own and not really suitable for individual display, but is absolutely perfect when set up against another figure or their weapon. Posing two figures with their weapons clashing and pulling it off well is a lot harder than it looks, so an effect like this really helps sell the scene and make it look extra dynamic. It’s also a pretty great replica of the onscreen spark effect when the Rangers are struck in battle, so even if you don’t want to pose Psycho Blue locking blades with someone you can pose him beating the crap out of them instead. The axe itself is relatively simple but nicely moulded, with all the details present on the onscreen prop but lacking a few of the more intricate paint apps. Perfectly serviceable for a $20 figure though, and easily fixable if you are someone who likes to paint in those extra details. The last of the notable accessories is the lightning blast hand, similar to the ones recently included with Black Series Emperor Palpatine but with shorter, sturdier lightning parts. The lightning has been moulded in a translucent emerald green, giving it a really striking presence against the figure’s own colour scheme. The Psycho Axe was the obvious inclusion but it’s this hand that really helps set this release apart from Bandai’s effort – continuing Hasbro’s devotion to effect parts that help create really dynamic figure displays.

While the real reason for the Psycho Rangers’ release may simply be to coincide with Boom! Studios’ forthcoming The Psycho Path graphic novel, most Power Rangers fans are just going to call it as it is – Hasbro immediately flexing at Bandai’s legacy. But when the results are as good as this, Hasbro should be free to flex as much as they want. Lightning Collection Psycho Blue Ranger (and in turn, the male Psycho Ranger mould in general) is one of, if not the best figure the line has to offer so far – giving these fan favourite villains the collector series treatment they deserve. Coming incredible moulding and detail with flexible articulation and great accessories, Psycho Blue is the whole package. Forget the Mighty Morphin Rangers – if any team deserves to be completed first in the Lightning Collection it’s this one.

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