Now, I know a lot of us know who the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers are, but back in the early 90’s, we were brand new to it! Saban Entertainment had already had success with the show overseas and with some clever dubbing and only a few filmed scenes here in North America, they could get kids hype! Oh, and the toys they’d sell…
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers kicked off in 1993 thanks to Haim Saban and Shuki Levy getting the show aired, taking the least desirable spot on Fox during their least desirable after-school timeslot. They figured a soft launch of the show would give them a good idea of if it would take off in North American territories, since it was very much a specific type of series. Live-action series like this didn’t exist for younger kids when it came to the high fantasy concept. Haim Saban and Shuki Levy had started Saban Entertainment in 1988, with a focus on buying properties from other countries with the express purpose of dubbing and changing them about to make them viable in English-speaking territories.
Little did they know that the series would only be in that strange little timeslot briefly. Representatives from FOX channel distributors from all over the United States would be calling up the corporate offices to tell them they were needing that timeslot changed to appeal to the younger audience that was falling in love with the show. When I say ‘briefly’ — I mean three weeks. No kidding. Three weeks was all it took and from that moment, Saban Entertainment knew they had a hit on their hands and started pushing production for the toyline to get them on the shelves within a month of the show first taking off.
What made these toys incredibly easy to get out onto the shelves had a lot to do with how easy the imaging was to mass produce. With each character having a basic colored suit and no faces that distinguished them separately (at first) — the most complex figures were usually the villain figures. The simplicity of the figurines actually became a problematic aspect to them at first because this meant that people who produced and sold fake and inauthentic figurines were able to get away with quite a bit. This would be when we’d start seeing more complicated designs in the toys and special cards and included promotional items in the packaging. At this point, toy bootlegging and black market toys were pretty intense as the Tickle Me Elmo boom saw it hit its zenith. You started seeing companies combat this with ‘Special Edition’ video tapes, special sales only at certain locations such as fast food restaurants and specific big box stores. Thankfully, Saban Entertainment wasn’t kidding around and started making far more intensely intricate toys for Power Rangers and these faux-toy manufacturers didn’t stand a chance.
Sure, we talked about the toys and it goes without saying that they made video games featuring the show. At a point where video games were being quickly made and pushed out featuring beloved cartoons of the time, it was obvious the Power Rangers were going to be taking to a console near you. Overseas, they had already made video games of the original series, but they were now outdated as the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis were popular by the time Power Ranger fever had approached kids in the early to mid 90’s. This meant that they couldn’t really get away with utilizing the same systems easily and would have to make something newer, more colorful and more action-packed to market for the re-brand.
Now, there are 23 video games based on the Power Rangers with the latest one being as recent as 2018 and the hype never actually died. You can thank the gaming community that are still kids at heart and want to see more from the shows they loved as kids, as well as a resurgence of popularity due to the updated shows and feature film. It just goes to show you, the good stuff always comes from a weird place and it never truly dies.
Well, thankfully we did lose one bit of nostalgia. I’ll, uh, I’ll just include this commercial and you can thank heavens that we got to leave the worst parts behind but keep all the best reminders of how super-saturated we were in our favorite shows.
Let’s just stick the toys and video games, right?