Sunday 5 September 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Power Rangers Lightning Collection Zeo Cogs

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Release Date: August 2021
RRP: $41.99/£49.99

Every new Lightning Collection announcement is exciting to some degree, but it's always the villain reveals that prove to be the most exciting - after all, heroes always need some bad guys to fight right? With the trio of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers foot soldiers suitably covered, Hasbro are now moving on to Power Rangers Zeo and getting a little bit robotic with the release of the Lightning Collection Zeo Cogs! Following in the same vein as the Putty Patrollers two-pack release from last year, the Cogs come as part of a Hasbro Pulse exclusive two-pack featuring both the standard silver and red variants of the Machine Empire foot soldiers. Despite the set initially being billed for a November release, Hasbro have uncharacteristically decided to show UK Power Rangers fans some love with the set making a surprise release on the UK version of Pulse two months ahead of the US market.

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Following on from the Putty Patroller two-pack, the Cogs come packaged in a closed windowless box that's a little smaller than your average retail two-pack release. Whereas Hasbro didn't feel the need to put the Mighty Morphin prefix next to their name on the Putty Patroller box, "Cogs" is a little more generic so naturally they've been labelled as Zeo Cogs. The front of the packaging sports some of Tom Whalen's best artwork yet, featuring both the silver Cog (complete with a glittery effect on the bodysuit) and the red Cog with an open faceplate to reveal all of the inner detailing. Each of these bits of artwork are repeated separately on the spines of the box, and then on the back you'll find the usual render of the figures showing them off both in action poses and including all of their accessories. Open it up and you'll find the two figures, along with that veritable bounty of accessories spread across a moulded plastic tray.

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The first figure in this two-pack is the standard silver-bodied Cog which appeared throughout Power Rangers Zeo. Onscreen these jumpsuits were made of a reflective material, the kind which would probably be quite difficult to replicate on a figure whilst keeping costs down. The attempt to replicate the effect, a series of faint blue, red and green dots have been printed onto the torso and arms extremely close together, which from a distance are supposed to trick the eye to look like the plastic is shimmering. Up close it doesn't work quite as well, but nevertheless it gives the body some depth and detailing that the solid plastic would have otherwise lacked. Though the legs don't have any of this detail, the plastic is fairly shiny on its own anyway. The main detailing on the Cogs comes from the head, belt, gloves and boots - all of which have been nicely replicated on this Lightning Collection figure. The paint apps go nicely with the plastic colour, giving the figure two shades of silver as well a a vibrant gold and a splash of black to break it all up a bit. The crowning glory though is of course the head sculpt - that mechanical golden skull with deep black eyes and mouth grille just below it. It looks relatively simple face on, but the deep grooves around the top half of the head and raised ear cylinders give it some nice depth. 

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The second figure in the set is the red-bodied Cog, a variant which was unique to Power Rangers Zeo and did not appear in Chouriki Sentai Ohranger. Other than the silver body being changed to a burgundy red nothing else has been changed between the two figures - the head sculpt, belt, glove and boot detailing all remain exactly the same. But that doesn't matter, because it's fantastic to see both varieties of Cogs covered in this set. As well as the difference being much more apparent here than it was with the Putty Patroller set, it's just great to have representations of this design from both the source Super Sentai series and the US adaptation. Hasbro neatly covered all bases, which is exactly what you want to see from a supposed army builder pack like this. 

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Articulation is identical on both figures, and as expected it's pretty much just a standard Lightning Collection male body which consists of;
- 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, thigh and boot swivels
Like the Putties the Cogs are unarmoured and the costumes are pretty figure-hugging, so when translated to an action figure with plenty of unimpeded movement. What really continues to stand out on these figures is just how much additional movement those butterfly shoulders provide, and without any additional paint apps printed on those parts using them to their full potential doesn't have any impact on the sculpt or look of the figure either. Either with that sculpted butt restrict backward leg movement a bit those ball jointed hips still provide plenty of movement, and combined with the thigh swivel, hinged knees and swivel hinge ankles these Cog figures can comfortably pull off both action poses and their weird little robotic marching.

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The Cog set comes absolutely loaded with accessories, not only because of the variety included but also because every piece in the box has been duplicated to sure each Cog has one of everything. Altogether there are two alternate open heads, two right closed fists, two open left hands (each Cog has a pair of weapon holding hands attached as default), two shortened spears, two extended spears, two translucent light blue damage effect pieces and two translucent purple punch effect pieces. The damage effect parts are a recolour of the ones included with both the Putty Patroller two-pack and Z-Putty (where they were yellow and dark blue respectively), but the punch effect seems to be a brand new piece. It's similar to the one included with the Z-Putty, but is slightly longer and has alternate moulding to look more like energy rather than flames. It's a nice piece that definitely adds a little more pizzaz to action/punch shots, though it is a little fiddly to get over the hands properly. The damage effect is still one of the best effect pieces the Lightning Collection has put out and perfectly suited to foot soldier figures like the Putties and Cogs, so I hope Hasbro continue to keep recolouring it for these releases going forwards.

Next up you have the Cogs spear weapons, included both in their shortened and extended forms here. Although the extended ones are missing the black colouring on the central grip section, based on previous experience with the line if it were there it would have inevitably been done in black paint which rubs off really easily, so missing it out entirely isn't actually a bad decision. They're fairly basic weapons, but look just like they do on the show and are well-proportioned with both the figures and each other. The best accessories of all with the Cogs though are of course the alternate head sculpts, which have the top half of the faceplate opened up to fire their deadly eye beam attacks. This also reveals all the head's inner-workings, done here with some sublime moulding as well as additional silver paintwork and of course piercing red eyes. While it would have been great to see how Hasbro would have managed it as an actual gimmick, an alternate head allows the proportions and detailing to be far more on point. Finally that leaves the alternate hands, which are decent but admittedly a little perplexing. Once again the Lightning Collection seems adverse to giving collectors matching pairs of hands, because a pair of closed fists and a pair of open hands would have been far better here than just two right fists and two left open hands. Even if they'd only included one of every accessory there'd be a lot going on here, but doubling that count again makes this an extremely packed set.

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Needless to say the Lightning Collection Zeo Cogs are another fantastic release in the line. The Cogs don't only come from a popular series, but their a fan-favourite foot soldier themselves so for Hasbro Pulse to release an all-inclusive set that covers both variants in one release is the perfect gift for fans. The sculpts look great, and those head sculpts (especially the open one) are some of my favourite in the entire line. That said, the rising prices of the Lightning Collection (as well as action figures in general) really hit this release hard - ESPECIALLY if you're buying it in the UK where the price isn't even a straight number conversion (for reference, £49.99 is nearly $70). Compare that to the Putty Patroller set, which was £30 for two figures. In a year, the price has risen by the price of a whole single figure. Admittedly there are fewer differences between the two Putties, perhaps a little less moulding and fewer accessories, but £30 a set is an ideal army-building price. As much as I appreciate the amount of things the Cogs come with, it didn't necessarily need to come with two of everything if it would have kept costs down a little. The heads, hands and weapons sure, but definitely not the effect parts. If Hasbro can do budget releases of army build characters for Marvel Legends, why can't they do the same for the Lightning Collection. Power Rangers fans are going to LOVE the Cogs, but you'd better have pretty deep pockets if you plan to pick up multiples of these on top of everything else Hasbro have got planned.

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