Cheetah RangerHeight: 15cm
Articulation: 19 total points: Ball joint neck; 4 points each arm - universal joint shoulder, pre-elbow swivel, hinge elbow; 5 points each leg - universal joint hip, upper-thigh swivel, hinge knee, hinge ankle.
Colors: Molded yellow (figure), orange, grey (accessories only); Painted black, white, silver, orange (figure and accessories), green (accessory only)
Accessories: Jungle Javelin, "robot"
Release Data: Released in United States in November of 2007 at a suggested retail price of US$6.99
Gallery: 14 images.
It's been a while, hasn't it? We won't get into specifics of why I've been so long gone from the scene, but just say it involves the slow distancing from MSiA Bandai-Namco is undertaking, as well as a variety of personal life issues that have left me in odd states for almost half a year. Since my main interest - and naturally first stop for site material - has been in a steady decline for quite a while, I've taken part of my time away looking at my other interests. One result is today's review. I've never stopped having an interest in Power Rangers as a property. I did however largely slack off an interest in most of the toys for years, though. But 2008's Jungle Fury (based on the still in-progress as of this writing Beast-Fist Task Force Gekiranger) may change that, as well as a number of long-held conventions in Power Rangers action figures.
Cheetah Ranger (color Ranger designations seem to be largely dropped) is the only female Ranger in the series, and so is the only Ranger figure so far with a fully unique body sculpt. This offers some differences from the male Ranger figures, who all share a basic body tooling.
Cheetah Ranger's helmet is mounted on a ball joint, rather than a swivel. The shape of the helmet's neck opening restricts the movement significantly, but still allows a much greater range of posing and expression than a simple swivel. The helmet seems pretty well proportioned to the body, though I can't help but feel that if the helmet came off to show the human head underneath, the head would seem a little on the small side. On a totally secondary note, I do have to point out how I think the figure's helmet looks nicer than the show helmet.
The arms have a somewhat standard range of articulation, and actually a bit less. From the elbows up, all the jointing is the same as the other Rangers. But Cheetah ranger loses out on any kind of forearm or wrist swivel the others have. I find this to really limit the kinds of poses you can pull off with the weapons. Given the kung-fu theme, this kinda seems an important element to leave out, no? Sculpted - and painted - details are top notch, however. On each sadly immobile wrist is a Tiger Claw, the basic weapon of the Jungle Fury Rangers. These are sculpted with a high level of detail, and have nearly all the painted detailing they need to appear 100% accurate. The only issue is some of the orange stripe is not quite thick enough to prevent the black underneath from peeking through.
The torso is wholly immobile. But this isn't all bad. See, Gekiranger had the suit designs with no belts. Whether that's a first in 30+ years of Super Sentai, I don't have the time to research. I do know that it's a first in 15 years of Power Rangers. This seems to have inspired the toy designers to opt for a sculpt without waist joint, in favor of a much better, more natural appearance. To put it simply, Cheetah Ranger is very probably in terms of appearance the best female Ranger figure Bandai America has ever turned out. The proportions are realistic enough that I firmly believe if you took a good photo of this figure and airbrushed out the joints, a person would not be able to immediately tell it's not a real person. And for the first time in a long time, it's a female Ranger with a proper skirt. See, much of the time the skirt on female Ranger uniforms was either ignored for sake of ease, or bizarrely incorporated into the thighs as if they were wearing shorts instead of a skirt. Neither case is true here, as Cheetah Ranger is given a full, soft plastic mini-skirt. While there is a visible seam between the two plastics, the skirt otherwise blends into the upper body with no interruption. For extra realism, they even sculpted wrinkles into the skirt to give appearance of the "fabric" being slightly stretched.
It's not all fun and games, though. While the skirt is flexible plastic, it's not really flexible enough. The leg articulation is heavily restricted as a result. Cheetah Ranger has all the same joints the male Rangers have, but all the important ones are practically immobilized by the skirt. The legs can only move a few degress in any direction before being stopped. And most of the time moving one leg, and then trying to move the other forces the first leg back to its default position. The upper-thigh swivel is unaffected, but it doesn't help very much. While the knees could be served (in theory anyway) by being double jointed, they serve well enough as single joints with around a 90 degree range. The ankle hinges also move a fair bit - about what you'd think natural human range of movement should be. But it's all pretty much lost because the hips are made useless. How do you make a Power Ranger do a high kick when her skirt stops her moving her legs?
Sculpt and Deco
I figure I've already touched on the sculpt work of the figure about enough, so I'll add a bit about the painting. The most attention with the paint operations is paid on the front, naturally. But even so there are details missing. Part of the design on top of Cheetah Ranger's shoulders is supposed to extend to the front a bit, but is fully absent, only appearing as it should on her back. Otherwise all that's missing is white outlines on about half of the black spots and stripes. Mostly unimportant, except for the spots on the back that overlap the thick stripes running down the sides. The white outlines would distinguish between the two black fields. Instead it's just a couple black blobs coming out of the stripe.
The javelin is actually a pair of Jungle Batons pegged together. The two pieces are practically identical. It's worth noting that the instructions included with the figure show the Javelin being formed incorrectly. The peg is shaped such a way that it can only fit together correctly the opposite way shown. The plastic is slightly on the soft side, the only "benefit" of which is that my figure's batons came conveniently pre-warped. I don't think this is easily avoidable, given how it's packaged, so if you can check through multiples to find a good one, go for it. But if you don't feel like it, you're probably no better or worse off. The combined Javelin measures almost 20 cm long - taller than the figure itself. The lack of wrist jointing reduces poseability with this accessory, but you can still get some good poses in either the Javelin or Baton states.
In Gekiranger, this is called RoboTough, and is a fight training robot. Its name, if any, has not been revealed for Jungle Fury as of this writing. For the remainder of this section I'm going to call it RoboTough.
The RoboTough has two modes. First is the training robot. And yes, it is supposed to have a cat-like appearance. The arms, which are really just targets to punch and kick, have swivel joints at the base. That's the extent of the moving parts. The other mode is a large cannon. While it can be used by itself, it's more meant as the basis of a much larger combined weapon invented specifically for Jungle Fury.
There are two major issues with this as I see it. First is that they gave this large weapon to girl Ranger. The weapon is almost as heavy as the figure is as a result. Second issue is that the figure they gave the weapon to lacks articulation enough to be easily posed to balance the added massive weight while actually appearing to use this weapon. Should we call this one an "oops"?
We won't pretend this figure doesn't have shortcomings. On the other hand, it's also a marker of the beginning of a very new style in Power Rangers action figures. The changes shown in this figure I feel are a very positive move for Power Rangers toys, and with just a few minor tweaks would lead to an absolutely wonderful female Ranger figure to match the excellence of the male figures. I have to give Bandai America's designers a thumbs up for breaking out of the mold, so to speak, and going a very different way. I give Cheetah Ranger Very Good
All figures, toy lines, and the characters they represent are Copyright and Trademark their respective owners. All reviews and photographs contained herein are the property of ExVeeBrawn and RAC. The opinions expressed herein are those of ExVeeBrawn and RAC, and do not represent the opinions of any manufacturers, or copyright or trademark owners.