Thursday 30 April 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Lord Drakkon

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

While the show itself might be continuing on strongly, for many older fans one of the more exciting Power Rangers projects to have come out in recent years is the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comic book series from Boom! Studios, adding in brand new stories of the original team whilst bringing it into a more modern setting. The comic's first big event was Shattered Grid, which saw all Rangers across time, space and dimensions threatened by Lord Drakkon - an alternate universe version of Tommy Oliver that continued on the path of evil. Though the comics have created more of their own rangers since Drakkon has certainly had the most impact on the franchise as a whole, so naturally fans quickly clamoured for fans of the evil Green and White Ranger fusion. Bandai of America released a figure at the tail end of their Legacy line, but as a Power Morphicon exclusive it quickly became scarce and expensive on the aftermarket as well as being prone to significant QC problems. Not long after Hasbro step in as the new owners of the franchise, and immediately begin asserting their superiority over their predecessors with their own collector line. Lightning Collection Lord Drakkon joins the ever-expanding range as part of its third wave, not only making it far more accessible to collectors than Bandai's version but also showing Hasbro's dedication to the ongoing comics as well as the shows themselves in the line.

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Lightning Collection Lord Drakkon's packaging features another incredible piece from artist Tom Whalen, with his colour scheme working especially well against the standard white background the general retail figures all have. All of Tom's work has been especially good but there's just something even more vibrant about Drakkon's box. It's interesting that the packaging simply refers to the character as "Mighty Morphin Lord Drakkon" without any mention of the comic universe, and the standard Mighty Morphin Power Rangers logo is used on the spine. It shouldn't be all that surprising since it's not like Hasbro's other collector lines make a big point of differentiating between movies/cartoons/comics etc, but with the Lightning Collection marking all these boxes with their own unique logos it would have been nice to see Drakkon's comic exclusivity marked in some way. The back of the box features the usual stock (rendered) image of the figure showing off both it and the accessories, and then inside you'll find all the contents laid out on a moulded plastic tray.

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First phase Lord Drakkon is an extensive reworking of wave 1’s Mighty Morphin White Ranger, with remoulded parts as well as some pieces from other figures as well. The upper arms for example are from the previous Dragon Shield releases (Green, Red and Black), as evidenced by the thicker armbands. How much of the figure is recycled though is irrelevant, because the main thing is that Drakkon looks like the perfect fusion of the Green and White Rangers with an extra dash of evil thrown in for good measure. Tommy’s immense popularity helped this relatively new character make a big impact for sure, but it’s that great design that’s kept it reappearing in additional media since. Hasbro have done an incredible job of bringing the page to life with this figure, retaining that sharp angular look of the Drakkon Shield and the wrist/booth cuffs. On a live-action suit I’d argue that the mix between metallic gold paint, gold plastic and yellow would be off-putting but it seems to work well here even if it isn’t all that accurate. Technically it should all be gold, but since that gold often comes off as yellow on paper it’s actually quite cool to see that inadvertently represented here too. Of course the helmet is a big selling point too, immediately standing out with its red visor but the little extensions of the White Ranger design (the extended head crest, the added teeth on the mouth plate) really accentuate it as well. The belt has a newly moulded Morpher with Drakkon’s fused Dragon/Tiger coin, though flattened the way it is the details are a little obscured. This is one of the few areas where the Bandai Legacy figure comes out on top, as that has a raised Morpher with much clearer detailing. But on the other hand - Hasbro got the belt colour right whilst Bandai inexplicably went with black, so maybe they’re the winners after all. It’s a shame that the joints break up the sculpt so much in the arms though, not only resulting in some rather noticeable holes in the gloves but also some mismatched colouring on the inside of the arm. It’s a very minor complaint for a figure that looks this good though, especially when Hasbro have achieved so much compared to Bandai’s offering.

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Of course the main problem with the Legacy Drakkon wasn’t the way it looked though, it was the fact it turned out to be a floppy mess that at best couldn’t hold a pose and at worst completely fell apart. Thankfully such shoddy QC isn’t present on Hasbro’s version, and this Drakkon is fully poseable and ready for business. Altogether the figure features the following articulation:
- Swivel hinge neck, shoulders and ankles
- Butterfly joint pecs/shoulders
- Ball jointed waist and hips
- Double hinge elbows and knees
- Single hinge wrists
- Bicep, thigh and boot swivels
Naturally the shield does result in a little less shoulder/arm movement than your average Lightning Collection figure, but those wonderful butterfly joints ensure that the arms have a decent forward/backward motion to compensate for that. The extended cuffs of the gloves and boots do result in slightly less movement in the wrists and ankles too, but the loss is minuscule and not enough to have any real impact on overall poseability. Drakkon isn’t really adding anything new to the table here, but instead showing off the solid foundation the Lightning Collection has already built itself in under a year.

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Sadly though Drakkon’s accessories are pretty disappointing for the most part. Included with this release are two pairs of swappable hands (closed fists and weapon holding), the Dragon Dagger and a translucent blue spark/clashing effect part. Everything listed here is a repack of some sort - the hands are mostly universal, the Dragon Dagger was included with both the Green Ranger/Putty 2-pack and SDCC Jason 2-pack and the effect part originally came with the White Ranger (as well as being recoloured for the Psycho Blue release). The effect part isn’t really designed with work with the Dagger either, as not only does it look pretty ridiculous on such a small weapon but it doesn’t even connect to it very well either. The Dragon Dagger is certainly nice and fits into its holster nicely, but it’s a pretty measly piece to include as the figure’s sole weapon. Where’s Saba? Drakkon used Saba quite frequently in the comics so seems like a no-brainer to include here, especially since it’s another piece that’s already pre-made. A beheaded version would have been great for accuracy’s sake, but the standard one would have perfectly sufficed. For these pictures I have Drakkon both the Figuart’s Saba and the Green Ranger’s sword of Darkness just to show how great he can look fully kitted out, but really you shouldn’t have to take weapons from other figures for it. I know each figure has an individual budget and without knowing how expensive the mould changes are it’s impossible to tell why such things weren’t included, but it’s crazy that figures like Beast Morphers Gold or the forthcoming Time Force Red seem to come with multiple unique prices whilst poor old Drakkon is stuck with hand me downs.

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The real gem amongst the accessories is the alternate head, depicting the older, scarred Tommy Oliver we see in the Shattered Grid storyline. Rather surprisingly the head isn’t just a slight reworking of the Tommy heads included with the Green or White Ranger releases, and instead a brand new one not just based off the comics but also the live action trailer Jason David Frank did for the event. As with most of the other Lightning Collection heads the likeness isn’t 100% perfect, but for Drakkon it’s damn close. The head is the perfect bridge between the comic art and real life, and looks amazing on the Drakkon body. While I’ve enjoyed and appreciated the inclusion of all the civilian heads in the line so far none of the previous ones have ever struck me as being worth displaying over the helmets themselves, but Drakkon I could honestly go either way. Definitely the best head in the line yet.

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Lightning Collection Lord Drakkon was clearly intended to be another Hasbro dunk on Bandai of America, and in that regard it’s succeeded spectacularly. Not only is this a more stable and overall better figure, but it’s available at retail for a fraction of the price. However that said, Hasbro might have gotten a little too complacent because they clearly could have done more if they wanted to. Quibbles about the figure itself are minor at best, but the accessories leave a fair bit to be desired. Repacking pieces is perfectly fine, but if you’re going to do that at least give the figure everything it should have. Maybe future releases of Drakkon’s other forms will have Saba included, but they could be a long way off and honestly the line should have bigger priorities than alternate forms of comic characters. Still Drakkon was the obvious choice to kick off comic-original characters appearing in the line and if the quality here is anything to go by, then fans are going to be pleased with both the forthcoming Ranger Slayer and any other entries from the Boom! universe Hasbro might want to tease us with.

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