Despite having other lines to show, this year for Bandai it was all about two things – Power Rangers and SpruKits.
The new season of Power Rangers apparently promises to be thoroughly batshit crazy (I’ve never been all that interested in the franchise, but I might be sold on it now, actually) and the corresponding toy line is freaking intense, not just boasting an insane number of figures that would make most other companies panic, but also pushing the role-play toys in very cool directions (even, in some cases, tying the vehicles to the role-play). This is the 20th season of the franchise, and the rebranding this time is Power Rangers Super Mega Force. The hook is that the new Rangers can call on the powers of and morph into any previous Ranger, and Bandai is taking advantage of this by releasing new figures of characters from just about every season. Regarding the show’s hook and Bandai capitalizing on it, the role-play is extensive. Power Rangers weapons and costume toys have always been a constant presence and they’re certainly not going anywhere soon. Look for the company to release a variety of guns, swords, masks and morphers that play just fine own but have added features that can be unlocked with “Ranger Keys” Ranger Keys are little figurines that switch into keys and plug into the swords and guns and what have you, like they do on the show. There are 60 keys (each representing a different Ranger to morph into) available with role-play toys, vehicles, Zords and in carded 3-packs themed to seasons. There’s a free smartphone app (both iPhone and Android) that you scan the keys with and morph yourself and then unlock a game. I’ve tried it, it’s pretty fun actually. The action figures come in a few different scales, at a few different prices, for a few different markets. There’s a less-articulated kids’ line, a more detailed collector line, a line with action features, a lower-priced basic 12″ figure. And, again, they span the entire history of the franchise, though if you want old-school Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, you have to go to Toys R Us. They’re exclusive (and they come in sweet retro packaging).
The big deal Power Rangers stuff was the high-end Legacy collector’s line, with cast metal parts (in some cases gold plated). These are also TRU exclusive and are gorgeous. The other thing Bandai was pushing hard was their new SpruKit model-figure line. These things are amazing. They’re a bit like Gundam models in quite a few ways, and I have a feeling I’m going to be spending way too much money on these. They’ve got the licences for Halo, DC Comics and some anime about tiny robots. These are some of the best Batman toys I have ever seen. There was some new Ben 10 stuff, but it was off in a corner and I had to ask to get any information about it and even then didn’t get much. All I found out is the new rebranding of the series is “Galactic Monsters” and the art on the packaging focused heavily on Ben’s classic monster-influenced forms. New Power Rangers that I’m probably going to watch (and hopefully not buy), figure models that’re going to make me very broke and a new Ben 10 arc that has me curious, I’m liking what I saw at Bandai. If only they’d have let us see Godzilla.