Naika’s Top Nine Favorite Power Ranger Suits from the Saban Era (1993 – 2001)

Before I go deeper into some of the Power Ranger seasons that I’ve either re-watched or have watched for the first time, I thought I would just touch base on one of the most important aspects of the series, and that’s the Ranger suits (or costumes).  Appearance is a big deal for any sort of tokusatsu show, and Power Rangers / Super Sentai is no exception to this rule.  Since I’ve only watched the first 9 seasons of the first Saban era, I will only focus on those particular outfits.  None of the costumes I list here are ones I hate, but there are many that I like more than others and I will do my best to list out the reasons why, so let’s start with #9.

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#9. POWER RANGERS TURBO (1997):  There’s things I love and don’t love about Turbo.  I love how expressive and fun the L.A. fight sequences were thanks to Koichi Sakamoto.  I love the theme song.  I even love T.J., Carlos, Cassie and Ashley.  Justin got some bad rap from me during that time, but all is forgiven since he does do a lot of butt-kicking.  Much of my hate for the show is leveled at two things: Divatox AND Elgar.  There.  ‘Nuff said.  Now, onto the suits.  Turbo’s suits are well colored and I think the body lines are great.  The colors of each ranger are very dominant, which I love.  My thing with them is that there’s just a lot going on with the helmets.  Lots of headlights, bumpers and the scalp windshields makes things a bit muddled for me and to top it off, we have the typical Ranger mouthpiece which I feel could have been simplified (such as the Space helmets).  Great suits, but there’s just way too much going on with the helmets.

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#8. MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS – SEASON 3 (1995):  Season 3 of MMPR was fun for a lot of reasons, but the biggest reason for me was seeing them don the Ninjetti suits.  They’re not official Ranger suits mind you, but the team always seemed a hell of a lot more POWERFUL as Ninjetti Rangers than they were as Power Rangers (with some glitter).  The colors stand out and they’re highly reminiscent of the Cannon film days where movies like American Ninja ruled the land.  I love the Power Coin emblems on their chest while the white sash and gold trims add a nice touch.  Not as cool as the Ninja Costumes that the Kakurangers had before they used their Doron Changers, but I respect the originality here.  And seriously, the team was so much more badass in terms of fighting skill and power as the Ninjetti.  Adam was able to change his size, Billy could hide in the ground, Rocky and Tommy were doing crazy kicks and I could go on and on.  The only big downside was that their faces were covered all the time, so unfortunately, everyone looked the same.  Other than that, Ninjetti is my number 8.

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#7. MIGHTY MORPHIN ALIEN RANGERS (1996):  I love the Kakuranger suits, especially with their choice for blue.  Generally, the hue of blue used for a Male Sentai Ranger is a lot darker, so I applaud that change in direction.  However, I’m talking about Sentai, and not MMPR.  As Ranger Suits for this season, I feel like it’s very under utilized.  The Alien Rangers were a neat idea but the ninja motif that’s very apparent in the Ranger suits is virtually lost in the Aquitar context, and frankly, that sucks.  I love the visor variation and the strong, slick use of color in these costumes.  The black armbands are an awesome touch, along with the neat “N” on the chest.  The gold plating (especially the ninja style skull protector) also adds flair to the proceedings.  However, for me, it just doesn’t work with the Alien Rangers.  The L.A. footage did its best to maintain the ninja motif fight-wise, but as I said previously, it’s lost when you juxtapose ‘aliens’ and ‘shinobi.’  That’s not the suits’ fault, but unfortunately, that’s what I felt when I watched the Alien Rangers all those years ago and that feeling remains to this day.

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#6. POWER RANGERS TIME FORCE (2001):  After finally watching Time Force last year, I can believe the hype.  It’s a great show for the Saban era and it has a LOT going for it.  This also includes the suits.  Everyone’s individual color stands out quite well, and I love how sleek, simple and balanced the Time Force helmets are compared to Turbo’s.  The awesome glowing circuit effects on the black areas of the helmets are a great touch which provide excellent contrast to the colored visors.  The silver arm bands and boot flaps are also nice, helping the helmets spell out Time Force’s futuristic themes with a capital “T.”  Each Ranger also has a different vector or clock hand on both the chest and helmet for the sake of differentiation, but I personally feel that it’s lacking.  Yes, Trip’s vector is diamond-shaped while Jen is heart-shaped, but the overall feeling is that despite those small distinctions, everyone looks very much the same to me, and I don’t see any purpose plot-wise for those distinctions (or they could ultimately be arbitrary, which is not a bad thing).  Also, Time Force is a PR season full of great action, a tight plot and wild fights, so those details in the suits didn’t sit in with me for very long (also not a bad thing, which might be a reason why this season is so beloved).  Long story short, the Time Force suits are great, but fall short with a lack of purposeful distinction between each Ranger.

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#5. POWER RANGERS LIGHTSPEED RESCUE (2000):  Novelty is the name of the game here and the GoGo V / Lightspeed Rescue suits do not disappoint  They’re the most original suits among the 9 showcased on this article with some nifty features.  First of all, the individual Ranger colors are vibrant and prominent.  The white stripes resembling the flash of an emergency signal is creative and provides a great contrast to whatever color the Ranger is.  The gold trims featured on the belts, gloves and boots provide an awesome accent without sticking out horribly, but the most novel feature is the visor.  Each Ranger has a distinctive shape for their visor (which comes from their respective team member badges) and throughout the show, it slides up to reveal each Ranger’s face with some sort of awesome looking respirator device which does away with the traditional mouthpiece.  It’s these novel details that make the Lightspeed Rescue suit such a stand-out in the franchise.

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#4. POWER RANGERS IN SPACE (1998):  As great as the Lightspeed Rescue suits are, my only qualm is that, frankly, my nostalgia for convention got in the way.  The broad allure of the Ranger suits rely on uniformity acting as the framework to highlight specific distinctions.  For Toei, the challenge for creating novel costumes is to find creative ways to highlight those distinctions without breaking out of that said framework.  Since Power Rangers follows Sentai or ‘task force’ conventions, it’s important to note that we can view Ranger suits like uniforms, with each member’s individual color as a bookmark for the personality behind the suit.  Whereas the Lightspeed suits’ distinctions between individual Rangers stood out pretty clearly (visors mainly), the Space suits are a bit more nuanced.  Each Ranger’s visor has a different shape at the edge of the eyes, while the overall look of the helmet is sleek and simple.  The smoothed-over mouthpiece fits in really well and has good contrast to the rest of the helmet, which is very balanced color-wise.  The suits feature that five-panel color stamp and I have no issue with it.  It’s a nice detail that breaks conventions, though the yellow v-neck design is a bit distracting.  It’s also worth to note that the v-neck is hardly visible with the Yellow Ranger while the Silver Ranger has an outline for it instead.  The stand out feature for this suit however is the helmet’s light up icon hidden in the black forehead partition.  It would light up so that a particular Ranger could utilize it for a special ability, but was seldom used among the male Rangers.  Only Ashley and Cassie utilized this feature and despite it not translating super well to Power Rangers, it worked when the script asked for it, and I find it to be an awesome feature.  Overall, the Space suits are awesome.  They’re sleek, balanced and have meaningful distinctions without drifting too far from convention.  This nostalgia for convention will play another role for the next 3 picks.

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#3. POWER RANGERS LOST GALAXY (1999):  I love these suits for a lot of reasons, but I’ll be upfront with what hinders it slightly, and that’s the black patterns on the white vest, boots and gloves.  It invokes a tribal or wild motif, which also resembles teeth (like Zyuranger in that sense) which is great, but it occasionally feels too prevalent in some cases, and can really stick out like in the photo above.  However, the uniformity is there, and I think it helps a lot.  The white vest is a change of pace which I find to be nice.  This suit also features a cool, sleek V belt that helps to hold the awesome Quasar Sabers.  The stand out feature however is the creativity found in the helmets, where the uniformity found from the neck down helps to allow these headpieces to stand out.  The Galactabeasts themselves are a great concept and to simmer it down to a representative helmet so creatively is just out of this world.  The use of silver to illustrate a beak, a mouth, or a simian face is excellent, providing more variety in visor shape (yes, I can see through your mouth!).  The use of yellows and reds is also fantastic, particularly in the Red Galaxy Ranger’s helmet where it provides the look of a lion’s mane, while the mouthpieces feels strangely fitting without being cluttered like the Turbo helmets. Simply put, this is an awesome suit for an awesome season of Power Rangers.

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#2. MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS – SEASONS 1 – 3 (1993 – 1995):  You simply cannot go wrong with the original MMPR suit.  The diamonds resembling the teeth of prehistoric beasts are a great motif that’s also very easy on the eyes.  Every Ranger’s individual color stands out well, while the amount of white found in the suit balances out their look .  Having the Power Morphers as belt buckles is also a righteous touch , really giving off this awesome sense of “power” to the team. This is especially the case when we consider the Green Ranger costume, where the Golden shield-vest and arm bands stand-out to let us know that Tommy / Burai is a Warrior of Power.  The helmets however are once again the stand-out feature, and they are amazing .  Every Ranger stands out perfectly with each of their prehistoric beast themes on hand in succinct fashion.  You won’t find too much flair, or varied colors like the Lost Galaxy helmets, but there’s just enough sculpted detail to differentiate everyone without much clutter like the Turbo helmets.  This results in a simple yet profound helmet that simply screams out Prehistoric Power.  In addition, the silver details are used just right to highlight horns, teeth, tusks and fangs. Rounded off with the molded mouthpiece, the MMRP helmet combo is simply amazing.  Utilizing minimalism in all the right places without taking away the bestial nature of our heroes, the MMPR suit earns my spot for #2.

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#1. POWER RANGERS ZEO (1996):  Full of triumph and glory, Power Rangers Zeo was a landmark for the franchise.  It set the precedence for the yearly suit change.  It helped to further evolve Tommy Oliver’s character into a full on leader, in both name and in color.  It helped to flesh out other worlds in the PR universe that fought against the forces of evil.  It gave us Tanya Sloan, one of the strongest female characters of the Power Rangers franchise, and it was the last time we ever saw Billy Cranston before he left Earth for good.  Zeo embodies so much of what makes the Power Rangers mythos worth watching, and nothing could represent that more than the Ranger suits on display.  Introduced as an object of power in Season 3, the Zeo Crystal would soon split into five shards with distinct shapes, giving birth to the Rangers’ new found powers.  Kat was Zeo Ranger 1, represented by a Pink Circle.  Tanya was Zeo Ranger 2, represented by Twin Yellow Rectangles.  Rocky was Zeo Ranger 3, represented by a Blue Triangle.  Adam was Zeo Ranger 4, represented by a Green Square.  Lastly, Tommy was Zeo Ranger 5, represented by a Red Star.  The suits are amazing yet simple in scope.  Each individual Ranger color stands out well, and there’s a surprising lack of white to balance things compared to the previous suits that were showcased.  However, I feel like it’s just right.  The gold over-tech circuitry that lines the gloves, boots and shoulder portions are great as they add a crisp touch to the suits without overtaking the overall look of the Rangers like the Galaxy suits did.  The gloves do seem a bit shorter than other seasons, but that’s a minor complaint from me.  My favorite part of the design however lies in the Zeo helmets, which are my all-time favorite from the Saban Era.  Each visor showcases each Ranger’s representative Zeo Crystal shape with some amazing sculpting around the forehead area above it.  It was so neat and novel at that time to see Ranger helmets like this and it still gives me a sense of awe to this day.  No splotches of white, black or silver here folks; the helmet is simple and only features one Ranger color.  The second neat feature for the Zeo helmets are the mouthpieces.  They appear to be much simpler in lip detail compared to the other suits but I love how it’s matching with the helmet color without any frame or body lines.  With simple uses of color, novel ideas for helmets and a creative approach for using the costumes to highlight the powers associated with the Zeo Crystal, the Zeo Ranger suits without any doubt get the Number 1 spot here.

So there you have it folks, my Top Nine Favorite Ranger Suits of the Saban era.  Looking back at all this was quite a blast and if you have any comments or want to let me know what your favorite Ranger Suits are, please let me know.  It’s a bit sad that despite all the praise we happen to heap on our nostalgia for afternoon cartoons and TV shows, Power Rangers unfortunately continues to get little to no respect from the vast majority of us despite the huge amount of creativity that’s on display to make it happen (both in Japan and in the U.S. / New Zealand).  Until the next article folks, keep the PR nostalgia alive, and may the Power protect you.

 

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