Monday, February 10, 2014

Power Rangers Costume Commentary Part 1 (Mighty Morphin' - Zeo)

This weekend marks the premiere of Power Rangers Super Megaforce, the 20th anniversary season for the Power Rangers franchise. This latest installment, features a team of rangers with the ability to morph into previous members from the team's long history, taking on their predecessor’s unique powers, weapons and costumes.

During this season we can expect a lot of classic costumes back in action. In anticipation I am going to spend the next week looking at these spandex suits season by season, charting at the ups and downs in the appearances of this long running superhero franchise.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (1993-1995)

Here it is, the one that started at all (on this side of the globe anyway). Nostalgia aside, these are actually some pretty good costumes that help to establish some of the reoccurring elements that we’ll see throughout the series. The helmets are sharply sculpted to resemble each ranger’s unique animal, prehistoric creatures in this case. The diamond shapes on the chest, gloves and boots resemble sharp animal teeth. This pattern also serves to balance out the bright colors of the rest of the suit.

This installment also started the tradition of the Sixth Ranger, a character type who would be introduced a third to halfway through the season so as to add a new figure to the latest line of toys. This character will often carry the other five’s motif, but possess a unique attribute that distinguishes them from the rest of the group.

Starting out as an antagonist to the team, Tommy, the Green Ranger has a helmet design that is very similar to the Red Ranger, serving as a dark parallel to our lead hero. He also has a golden shield with a diamond center not to dissimilar in shape from the other’s chest crests. 

While the five rangers are very similar in size and build, this shield broadens his shoulders and breaks the silhouette of his figure, making his appearance more distinct and intimidating. His gloves and boots had a long talon-like triangle pattern as opposed the other ranger's diamond shapes, suggesting a fiercer, more lethal fighter. The gold armbands around his biceps boast of his superior strength. He parallels his peer’s design, but also taunts them with their own image by demonstrating that he is their deadly better.

White Ranger (1995)

Once they ran out of Japanese footage for the original Green Ranger, who was by now the series most popular character, the writers came up with the idea of having Tommy lose his Green Ranger powers, only to gain new ones as the White Ranger, whose suit and stunt footage was borrowed from another Sentai series. 

The costume itself is alright, with a strikingly limited color scheme that looks quite regal. In-universe its fitting the redeemed hero should wear so much bright white and the shoulder pads echo his previous iteration quite nicely. 

My only problem was that it wasn't designed to match with the other Ranger's patterns, so he always seemed to stick out like a sore thumb in the group shots, especially with the lack of sculpted lips and how his lack of colors made the rest seem "loud" by comparison.   

Mighty Morphin’ Alien Rangers (1996)

Yes, Alien, even though they are clearly ninjas. I guess the writers were just looking to come up with a reason why we didn’t see this team join forces with the Power Rangers every week when the going got tough so setting these spin-off rangers on another planet seemed as good as the next idea.

These suits are remarkably simple. In fact, they’re probably one of the most "uniform" costumes in the franchise. Even their visors are very similar at first glance. Its that thin bar shape to their vision holes that just screams “Ninja”. 

I will compliment the use of color in this lineup. For a ninja team I think primary colors plus black and white works well within that theme. Also, I think a female white ranger helps tie the black ranger into the rest of the group's brighter colors much better than a pink ranger.

The sparseness of the design makes them a unique pedigree. They’re distinct, but not necessarily memorable.

Power Rangers Zeo (1996)

After three years of the Mighty Morphin' suits, this new iteration began the trend of introducing new costumes every season. As far as the shift between the two, this was about as different from those original suits as you could get. With the white in a more confined part in the chest area, these uniforms feel like they're bursting at the seams with vibrant color.

The sculpted animal helmets were replaced with geometric shaped visors. The Red Ranger's star visor in particular looks great. Plus these helmets have a subtle countdown with how many sides each shape has (Star-5, Rectangle-4, Triangle-3, Bars-2, Oval-1). 

The gold and white accents strike as "heroic" and "majestic", but for the life of me I can’t tell you what the “theme” of this team is supposed to be, which is something of a drawback.

The "Gold Ranger" carries on the tradition of the Sixth Ranger with his big shoulderpads, though I'm curious why they went with the name "Gold Ranger", when everyone has gold in their costume and the lack of shine and shimmer makes his black suit all the more noticeable in this lineup. 

Mighty Morphin', Alien, Zeo
Turbo, In Space, Lost Galaxy, Lightspeed Rescue
Time Force, Wild Force, Ninja Storm, Dino Thunder
SPD, Mystic Force, Operation Overdrive, Jungle Fury
RPM, Samuari, Megaforce, Super Megaforce


  1. I am living for this like you don't even know what! I will have to read the second part later on as I am turning into a zombie, but I enjoyed reading this so much. The original Power Rangers (in terms of what we got in the states first) are probably my favorites. I just really loved those costumes and though I didn't really play with the toys that much, my brother did and I was very fond of them. I had some stuff, but not like him. I just really liked that original series and freaking out when the Green Ranger was introduced.

    I am not too familiar with the later versions, so I have been enjoying reading this. I remember them, but I never knew about the countdown with the helmets like with PR Zeo. That is so cool! I think this was a very nice look back on the Power Rangers as a series. I can't wait for more.

    1. Glad you like it! I can understand that zombie part all too well though.

      I've been wanting to talk about these costumes for a while know, as they actually seem more like comic book superhero costumes straight from page to screen than what we see in our recent string of big budget blockbuster features.

      These designs certainly came out of the gate strong, so theres was a great deal to talk about in this first post.

  2. Wow. I didn't know there were so many variations.


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