Kyuranger merch


Getting a start on this to make it easier when everything is actually in (it’s taken me long enough that most of it is). To put it bluntly, my experience with getting all of this together in any decent amount of time has been Not Good and one of the first items I ordered took longer than a week to even get a shipping label, so to say I’m unhappy with my ability to get something workable before Halloween is an understatement.

But as for what’s arrived, in order…

A bunch of Kyutama

It’s not quite a curated batch, but more curated than completely random, so while there were duplicates, I got most of the cool ones and for the price, they were an easy, if embarrassing, impulse buy, which of course led me to purchasing a Seiza Blaster to go with them and a Hikari Kyutama because I figured I may as well at that point.

And they’re suprisingly cool! It’s subtle in the show, but these things aren’t actually just bubbles; there’s something in the middle of the inside that you normally don’t notice and a closer look inside these shows that there’s a reflective foil in there with a black image, which led me to wonder how someone would normally see that and realize that the setup is actually recessed a bit with what looks like a light pipe from the bottom. But really only in a select few of them, with most having opaque bottoms. On one hand, it’s intriguing, but on the other, I have to wonder if most of them will actually be visible unless there’s some sort of LED in the side somewhere strategically placed to shine in from the bottom. So once I finally get the Seiza Blaster, it will be nice to see what some of these have to show for it, because not all of them appeared in the show and the show didn’t have the same effect, using the constellation rather than something more descriptive. And it’s kind of apparent just knowing what I do about their effects in the show that some of these have pictures that don’t really match their show usage. Anyway, they’re nicely designed and they feel pleasantly solid. The "two halves of the picture coming together" gimmick works from either direction, so there’s no real fear of breaking them from normal use.

It will be nice *grumble grumble* to get the Seiza Blaster to actually use them with. They all seem to have an identifier in the bottom based on nubs that differ at least a little bit (though the source of manufacture seems to have differences between duplicates that might cause a toy to become confused) and a little wiki digging says that this controls certain things like whether there are morphing sounds associated with it. They seem to have collective space for 6 total nubs and without having exactly scoured each one, that gives 26 = 64 unique combinations, which is a slight problem considering there are actually more like 80 of them in total, and several seem to be duplicates of each other, even some being multiple in a row of it. And to be quite honest, the answer to that is going to largely determine whether I bother trying to collect the ones I don’t have, because the ones I don’t have comprise about ⅓ of the collection and some of them may be difficult to find in anything but another massive batch, which isn’t particularly appealing to me and my wallet right now.

Something I want to point out is that, disappointingly, the Pegasus Kyutama, which is apparently super rare, doesn’t actually come packed in with a Pega-san shield of some sort as far as I can tell from eBay or Googling. In a way, it would probably make it easier to get, but for the price they’re asking for it on eBay, I’m not going to rush out and get one if it’s not likely to have a voice line at the very least. I know I absolutely would NOT fit into any shield that might exist, but just owning it would have been pretty sweet since it’s just that cool of a design.

Otherwise, ignoring a couple Dark Kyutama I’m unlikely to get because prices on the Dark Seiza Blaster are sky high even for used units with cosmetic damage, there are actually only 71 of the 88 modern constellations represented in the show, and the toy line adds a handful more, but ultimately missing are the Southern Cross (which did at least appear in magazines, but never saw release), Musca (the fly), Toucana (the toucan), Equuelus (the small horse), Indus (the native person (probably for political reasons)), Mensa (the table (though it seems they intended it to be intelligent somehow by calling it "Table-san")), and 3 additional ones that would have just constituted a southern counterpart to existing fish, crown, and triangle constellations. That doesn’t mean I can’t as a writer think of potentially great effects for them. Indus as a constellation is in itself interesting because it was never actually clear what native people it was supposed to represent, so "the ones closest to the user" could have been an interesting storytelling tool for several characters, especially if it had limited uses. That might be worth a Rant of the Moment, but it’s out of scope here.

Something to note is that the standard issue Kyutama for each Ranger is distinct from the one that comes with the Zord, which is to say they’re functionally identical, but cosmetically unique, with the standard model having colors that at times are closer to the ones in the show rather than the ones in the Zord and having unique images inside. And also generally being non-metallic plastic.

UPDATE 1

Okay, so having gotten the Seiza Blaster… I’m probably going to pick up a sparing few of interest and call it good. I already ordered a new in box Pegasus Kyutama in hopes it will at least have its own nifty voice lines, but if I’d put more effort into checking the nubs on the bottom of these things, I would have realized the vast majority of them are generic. Which is to say between the Chinese and Filipino varieties, there are two code bases between them and that just means some of the variation I noted were just different ways of telling the Seiza Blaster that they were generic ones for whatever reason, unless the Filipino varieties have additional handling to disable some of the voice lines for Zords entirely, because I honestly didn’t check. So, despite there being up to 64 combinations for all of them, I’d hazard less than half of that is actually implemented. I may end up getting brave and coming up with a means to test all of the combinations out just to see what actually gets named.

The ones that have special handling seem to mostly be the lower numbered ones, which in turn seem to largely be the ones the show had early plans for, though there are some exceptions. Anything that’s special enough to have a metallic version of it seems to be special enough to warrant special voice lines and even the non-metallic counterparts to these share that same love, so on a shelf it’s not really easy to tell what does and doesn’t have anything programmed for it unless you have a metallic representative. And, well, while the ones that have special programming are nice, it’s unlikely any eBay listing is going to post an image of the underside to show off the pegs, so frankly it’s not worth it to me to pick anything up I know is going to just give generic sounds unless I like the look of it and the number of them likely to give custom sounds that aren’t already in my collection are few.

Of the ones that do seem desirable, prices are completely unreasonable. You can pay $30 easily for a single one and the ones considered rarest can go for $100 before shipping and handling, and it seems for all the world like the most desirable ones are completely unobtainable. I have a feeling that things are being snapped up these days because of the season not getting an adaptation and it will probably not be for quite a while that anyone starts getting rid of them. It really makes me wish I’d decided to pay up for this stuff like maybe a year or two ago when it would have all been less desirable, but probably getting freely available as people cleaned off their shelves.

If I do have to note one thing, it’s that it seems very much like some of them are intended to have an LED show through the bottom due to the clear inner plastic there, but the Seiza Blaster does not actually have an LED in it to do this with. Maybe that’s just because they decided against it since that would make it different from the show, which it’s otherwise quite accurate to, or maybe it was a cost-saving measure, but in the end, they have no actual means of being illuminated from the bottom in this manner, and it applies to so few of them it’s easy to assume that it probably wasn’t meant as a primary feature to begin with and therefore was safe to drop. Which doesn’t mean there aren’t examples of this in the show, but in the show, they probably had an alternate prop specifically for this when they ultimately needed it, as it’s not visible in early episodes. I don’t think it’s honestly a huge loss, but it could have been really cool if it had been done as a core feature for all of them.

UPDATE 2

Just to note which ones have sound, inasmuch as they exist, it looks like 1-45, 51, 77, 89, and 111 collectively have the sounds for the numbered ones; 86-88 don’t have custom sounds, but do have custom colors; and of the "good" block, 17 and 30 were never released. An additional 5 special releases also have custom sounds. Another 5 sounds were unused. Combined with some additional special editions that may or may not have sound, you’re probably approaching the 63 combinations actually allowed since "no pins" for silence is the 64th sound/color set. One can only imagine that some of them were planned and then discarded for certain special events, but without going at the pins with a chopstick rig, I can’t actually say what might have been programmed and then not used. Only that I am supremely disappointed that the Koto Kyutama was never released if only because it would have been nice for it to play the version of the ending theme it does in the show. Seriously, I have been Googling for that one specifically for over a week now since by all indications it was planned for release at some point, but that simply never happened.

UPDATE 3

Just some final thoughts on this: after finding a collector checklist and comparing it against my own spreadsheet, I can only reiterate my disappointment that the Koto Kyutama does not seem to exist as a toy and just to list off a few others that ended up being relevant to the plot or movies, I would have very much liked for even a sans-sound release of Eridanus, Gyosha, and Ro, which respectively reveal a reflection of someone’s true nature, turned Garu into a dirt bike, and can be used to summon a campfire, all of which are at least fun ideas, especially the piggy-back ride potential for a small child using Gyosha. It saddens me that things like a freaking triangle got produced when some of these much more interesting ones never did, or maybe were planned, but never released based on some of the marketing material. I know I will probably never get the behind-the-scenes of it and how some of them ended up becoming much more useful as the show wore on and the movies happened than maybe anyone had ever planned, but it’s obvious that things were in flux when the sounds were being programmed and I would at least like to someday know if the Koto Kyutama has a noise, but that will eventually come through via YouTube as others play with customizable 3D printed tools or just carefully rubber-banded chopsticks.

Ultimately, without realizing it, I managed to get a nearly complete set of all the ones that were released, and because of that, I feel comfortable taking my time on the last one outstanding. As I’ve kept looking, prices have fallen dramatically on some of them and while I’m currently regretting it, I’ve picked up all but the last outstanding one, which is still too stiff a price to in any way justify, but might still be possible to snap up in the foreseeable future for something that, frankly, I’m just going to ruin the value of by opening it and frankly just will probably be disappointed by because the hardest ones to get haven’t been forthcoming with any real "wow factor" to make them feel like they’ve justified their prices. At the same time, being accidentally so close to a full set does activate my completionist instincts.

Pegasus just whinnies, by the way. I searched high and low for a toy shield it might have come with and that doesn’t seem to be a thing that they made, as much as I would have liked one just to look at. I was really hoping for a voice line, but it’s not a thing that happened.

I think, ultimately, that the majority of these things were made without any foreknowledge of what would be in the show, and as episodes were written, some exceptions were made. Seeing this all as being from an earlier point in development is kind of illuminating in some ways because it’s clear they front-loaded all the ones they thought would be useful into the first half of the numbering and of those, not all of them were used. It’s clear that this stuff was still in flux when casting was being decided because the Ooguma Kyutama has special handling for earlier plans of an adult ranger and they still managed to change it at the last minute to properly handle Koguma and the phrasing used in the show, but without cleaning up Ooguma in the process. That sort of thing tells me it was done in a rush. At the same time, some of the ones that have sounds and were never used speak to bigger ideas in production that probably were dropped for cost and other reasons. Centaurus Kyutama sounds for all the world like a literal centaur runs up and throws a spear, which would have been pretty awesome, but to be brutally honest, horses are ridiculously hard to animate without adding a human body on top and probably cost-prohibitive for a one-time deal on a TV show budget. It did, however, come with a book that I just picked up, which might at least be a neat little read assuming I can OCR-translate it the way I have with other things.

As a programmer, I have to say that choosing 6 nubs for 64 sounds (technically returning to none pressed is the 64th) as a cost-saving measure easily cuts things to a manageable size for the ones you don’t already have ideas for, but a 7th pin would have allowed for 128 sounds and could have easily been placed in the center, top, or bottom depending on any plans to include an LED. I’m not saying what they did was wrong; just that if there had ever been a chance for a Lightning Collection release, that would have made it possible to cover all of them. We’re not getting one, but that’s just what would make it technically possible.

For what they are, they have excellent designs and I am happy to have them all lined up on my shelves. At the same time, what they are leaves me longing a bit. If they’d been made after the show wrapped rather than while it was in pre-production, I think there would have been an opportunity to do more with them, but ultimately, I would have also been happy if they’d just all been released, sounds or not. I feel like the fact any of them weren’t is probably just because money ran out on supplemental material with declining interest making it hard to justify releasing what hadn’t been already. They may all be standardized bits of plastic, but they still involve custom printing for all the symbols and at some point setting up the new lines doesn’t make you money anymore.

Hikari Kyutama

This one is a little special because it’s double-ended and each end has the button of the opposite end in the top in the opposite end’s color. So I can only assume that the Seiza Blaster has a hole the button fits into. This thing surprised me, pleasantly, by being a fully functional electronic device in its own right, where before this I had wondered what kind of light piping it could possibly have to make the sun and moon bits light up in their appropriate color without giving away the whole thing or bleeding into the wrong side. Well, it has a battery and LEDs and a speaker to take the guesswork out of it for you. And surprisingly enough, it has voice lines for all the Rangers except for Houou Soldier (Tsurugi (the second red guy)). More than that, it has them on both sides, so you get the typical energetic voice used by most everything else and then you get the "moody" voice unique to the Moon functionality of this Kyutama specifically, which is pretty cool. It is, by necessity, more or less fully functional on its own since you need to use a button to make it do most if its thing, though standard voice lines will still be handled by the Seiza Blaster. The voice lines here even have some sparing sound effects that seem to indicate more or different people might have been intended to be affected by it during an earlier stage of development. It otherwise has some sort of clip that probably helps compensate its weight so it doesn’t fall out and break, where standard Kyutama are smaller and lighter and thus far less likely to have to worry about it.

UPDATE 1

It’s not a clip! Getting this thing into the Seiza Blaster actually revealed these to be buttons that intentionally hit the inner edge of the Seiza Blaster, so combined with some special handling for it, the two actually work in tandem to render sounds! Which is SO COOL! The Seiza Blaster even has some lower volume sounds to let this thing do its thing and while my playing with it revealed plenty of sounds, it didn’t actually reveal its full intended functions, because some of this appears to be unlocked by having the opposite button depressed where I only had been pressing the "top" button and OMG this thing is a piece of tech! The fact I got it as cheaply as I did almost feels unfair compared to the costs of some of the other items, but I’m glad at least something came in at under the price I would have paid for it, if only because if it had been more expensive I probably wouldn’t have paid for it not knowing how fantastic it truly is. This thing is going to warrant some dedicated playing to fully figure out, but all things considered it 100% has my no-caveats endorsement.

Kyu the Weapon

The next item scheduled to arrive is the multitool shared by most of the Kyurangers and might maybe be illuminating with at least some of the Kyutama given it’s how they execute their personal finishers.

And having gotten it… not really. I do have to say the Kyu Sword configuration is rather satisfying, and the base Kyu Shot manages to fit my (relatively small) hand fairly well, but there’s nothing to read the Kyutama nubs, so any Kyutama, including the telescope one it comes with, makes the same finisher noises regardless of all else. And really, the Kyu Sword is supposed to be massive in the show. The Kyu Axe was always a little small for my preference, even in the show, but here it’s just plain tiny. The knife part of the blade feels mostly satisfying in terms of size, but the Kyu Sickle (which is a SCYTHE, thank you very much) makes it feel incredibly small and it’s frankly not surprising because when you actually look at the show, with very few exceptions, all the configurations are actually solid props because that’s just what’s going to stand up to being swung around for 50 episodes. And if you’re doing that anyway, you may as well size everything to look good. There’s zero reason the Kyu Rapier shouldn’t be as long as the Kyu Spear’s shaft, but there’s no real happy medium that would look good. And while I had been expecting it to telescope for that reason, it’s actually just a solid bit of silicone that flips down and is comically dinky. I had a good laugh about it, because that’s legitimately the only thing that might poke an eye out, but having less than 6 inches to do it with limits the damage quite effectively, even if it makes it utterly useless as a polearm handle. And that, really, is just the problem here. The Kyu Sword feels like something, but you could have doubled the size of all the melee weapon pieces and it would be more proportional to to show. This is not only made for children; it’s made to be largely safe for children, so your ability to have any real reach with it or cause accidental damage is quite limited. It is a gun for ten-year-olds with attachments for newborns.

That on its own is just so much of a denial that I legit had a good laugh about it and I really can’t fault it. I’m not disappointed; just having a good laugh at the joke. The thing I’m actually disappointed about is the lack of any kind of customized sounds that might somehow have read what weapon it was or even cycled through voice lines like the Hikari Kyutama. This thing literally has like 3 noises and as a piece of technology isn’t really worth leaving batteries in, though I do have to say the battery cover mechanism is fantastic! No screw! You use a stylus of some sort to press down a peg and then just slide the cover off. The cover itself has a ridge down the back of it (because it’s otherwise mostly hollow, of course) that holds the peg down as you slide it back on, no stylus required. I never thought I’d review a battery cover specifically, but it’s so novel and brilliant I had to mention it.

But yeah, I could have seen where this could have, say, use the same peg system and maybe some intelligent use of easy-slide buttons to get the positions of the Kyu Axe’s blades for the Kyu Claw and one that could’ve been just plain hidden in the turning part that the Kyu Sickle orientation might have pressed down to tell what configuration it was in, some kind of button for the Kyu Rapier/polearm handle. Look, nothing is perfect and honestly I was thinking more about things like RFID from the get-go for all this stuff, not pegs and buttons, but I can really just see where things could have been taken further. And before you question RFID, it’s not like that isn’t what’s in Amiibo for an easy example of mass production, or like it’s not super common in shipping, or like it’s some sort of magic. I don’t actually know how expensive it is and can easily imagine it pricing the Kyutama out of being vending machine prizes, but if I already have been thinking of button and peg solutions that probably would have only marginally increased the cost just my first time holding the thing, I feel like someone might have maybe had the idea in a meeting somewhere, but then maybe I’m also thinking these are much more premium toys than they actually were intended to be, because here I was thinking in terms of things like RFID storing the actual voice lines of the Kyutama themselves. I can understand why that wouldn’t actually work in this specific instance, but I can pretty easily think of how this could have been better without being impractical. Maybe not have the finisher voice lines (or maybe just have them recorded in the same voice since as one of the earliest toys this probably was all recorded before the cast was even finalized), but even just having it say the weapon name would have been nice. Or maybe they didn’t even know what weapons would be used out of the configuration. Regardless, as a noisemaker, it’s disappointing. And somehow I just kinda feel that maybe that’s just because I’m coming at it from the mindset of a programmer and not someone who needs to make a physical design that’s going to survive being bashed into tables, walls, siblings, and top shelves by angry parents punishing kids for bashing it against siblings. Or Heaven help the things, thrown into a backpack with all manner of textbooks, candy bars, and God knows what other junk.

Cerberus Voyager

Ironically, this is one of the later things I bought after a moment of weakness looking at my initial batch of purchases and it’s actually pretty interesting, if only because it is very much a retool of the Shishi (Lion) Voyager. I’m tempted to call it a redeco instead, but there are actual differences of note from what I expect to see in the actual Shishi voyager, which makes it impossible to do certain things with it, like attach the Washi (Eagle) Voyager to the back.

For one, while there appear to be lights in the knees to light up the Kyutama butt parts of whatever serves as the legs, they are notably absent from behind the 2 extra dog heads, which fit in using the same Kyutama locking system as everything else and are surprisingly removable. They do have some cosmetic bits that go over the outside edges where other items wouldn’t, but for all intents and purposes, they’re just custom Kyutama. That does render having lights behind them reduntant, though, so it makes sense to save those pennies, and the Shishi Voyager claws are turned around backwards like they normally would be for combining all the time, though there’s no limitation on the joint stopping you from doing anything you could with Shishi Voyager.

The biggest surprise was really how big and heavy it was. It’s not, like, made of lead or anything, but it is a good couple pounds even without batteries in. At least I assume there aren’t batteries in. There certainly aren’t working batteries in. The battery cover here sadly has a massive and deep screw, so I didn’t feel it was worth it to open before I had anything to actually combine it with, so I’ll probably need to update this section once more arrives. Assuming there aren’t exploded dead batteries in it that caused damage, it might be worth reviewing how it is as a noisemaker. And, for what it’s worth, as long as it didn’t corrode any electronics, I’m equipped to clean up after exploded dead batteries. It pays to be handy, even if you wouldn’t consider yourself a DIY enthusiast.

But overall, it has some nice detail, it feels sturdy enough, and while it’s very much a cash-in for the movie (which, frankly, didn’t otherwise need to exist), it’s at least a cash-in that feels like it had some real thought put into it. Probably more than the movie it’s from, to be brutally honest.

UPDATE 1

Okay, I jumped the gun a little bit and decided to try testing it with some of the Kyutama out of the collection and, well, okay, those "lights" I mentioned? Well, they may or may not actually be lights. The battery cover screw is too deep and narrow for any kind of standard screwdriver, but being dual-purpose slotted and Phillips Head, a sufficiently sturdy optical screwdriver worked and I got some batteries in it and this FINALLY revealed a bit more of how those pictures in the Kyutama work, which is to say the one in the chest showed the picture through because Mylar™ is both reflective and can transmit light much like one-way glass; it just depends which side the light is brighter on. Sadly, I was unable to test whether the "knee lights" were actually lights because, uh, I was kinda stupid and didn’t realize that the gashapon versions of the main character Kyutama have a black inner background instead of one with any image in them, so the ones I selected would be by necessity opaque. That said, I don’t think there are actually lights in there because a) that would be unfair to the arms, which have none, and b) the plastic windows are part of clear plastic snaps that hold the Kyutama in and thus cannot actually be removed, but there doesn’t seem to be any mechanism to detect when something is actually in there, and they don’t light up when the chest does, so there’s no reason to believe that getting a Kyutama with a picture in it will change that.

Strictly speaking, it’s surprisingly disappointing as a noisemaker. The LED in the chest is SUPER bright and is full RGB, but the thing only has 4 sounds: one calling the name when you flip the switch and 3 that it cycles through when you push a button on one shoulder. And there’s no change to the offering when you have it in as much of a robot mode as I’ve been able to assemble so far. I’ll see what if anything I can do differently with it once more Voyagers arrive tomorrow, but I’m not expecting much. Don’t get me wrong; it’s still nice to look at and revealed some really cool stuff, but I think the biggest issue with it is that they made a really cool design and came up with some really cool features and then, just, didn’t really have any material to work with from the show because it’s on screen for like 3 seconds at the very end and doesn’t actually have any special abilities that any of the others don’t. I’m not sure that’s something really fixable, but you can have all the tech in the world packed into a toy and it’s just not going to be all that impressive without ideas. Ideas feel like the piece that’s lacking here; it feels like someone came up with a lot to love about this thing from the physical design team and then it got handed off to someone else on the implementation team who just faceplanted the landing.

UPDATE 2

Having got some other Voyagers to plug into this thing, by which I mean the KyuRenOh box set arrived…

Taking a fit of inspiration I had with Shishi Voyager, it turns out this thing has even more sounds than expected, because some of them are hidden behind a cycle of long presses. I was correct in thinking that there were no additional LEDs in the knees, but it doesn’t actually feel like it needs them because of the RGB LED in the chest. So overall, while I can’t say I can reliably figure out how it works between long and short presses, it at least feels like if I were a little smarter or more tenacious I might actually figure it out, because the instructions are no help at all. Something to note otherwise is that you have to be a bit assertive when removing things from the custom Kyutama and pulling it off in one smooth motion is going to be your best friend, which seems to be true of the other Zord attachments as well. I will say the design has very much grown on me and in some ways I find it preferable to the Shishi Voyager if only because the colors give it a cleaner look. I’m finding very much that none of these things is actually truly symmetrical, which is far less apparent with them in motion, but in this case it’s really only in the mismatched dog heads and I can’t actually find fault in that. I really like the design of this thing and keep finding things to like about it, like how the three heads have eyes colored lime green, amber, and red like older LEDs despite not having LEDs in them at all, or the fact that the dobie head has a visor rather than individual eyes, and it really feels like it has strength in simplicity without sacrificing detail. That and unlike some of the others, it doesn’t feel battle damaged. I feel it’s worth keeping batteries in at this point if only because Shishi Voyager came with batteries in it.

Biting Transformation Gun Ryutsueder

A surprise early arrival, this is Shou’s weapon and transformation device. Half decoative cane, half rifle, and packaged with the Ryu (Dragon) Kyutama, given how little it does in the show and my only marginal interest in it other than for the Kyutama to complete my collection, I didn’t actually buy it with particularly high expectations.

In terms of the show, it’s actually got a pretty fascinating backstory, because it was always his transformation device, and is specifically designed to allow for a "skill Kyutama" to be usable for transformation purposes. As in, the Ryu Kyutama was not actually a real Kyuranger Kyutama. Its apparent original function was actually to grant wishes, so his initial transformation into Ryu Violet had the call "Wish upon a star!" This allowed him to become a fake Kyuranger, which was powerful enough, but came with an aggressive time limit. Using this specialized technology, technically anyone would be able to become an approximation of a Kyuranger, if only for a few minutes and without any access to a Zord. However, there are significant differences in appearance. First, the "gem" with the subject of the constellation in it embedded in the chest plate is simple white marble. Second, the gloves and boots are white (interestingly enough, because it was the recycled Purple Ranger outfit from ToQGer and there was just so little to the design on those that the chest emblem was easily covered by the chest plate). However, after the Kyurangers (the real ones) were assembled, in-show events allowed it to be a perfectly serviceable device for an actual Kyuranger transformation. So, strictly speaking, it can use any Kyutama for a transformation, some just better than others. On the other hand, because of that, it’s never actually shown being used as anything but a transformation device and weapon, probably because any Kyutama you put into it is going to transform you into something rather than activate its intended effect.

Bearing that in mind for the sake of the toy, I came in with the understanding it was probably going to have like 3 sounds and that’s it. Nothing I was all that excited about, to be quite honest, and I debated whether to get it at all, but I figured for the sake of completion, and one that didn’t hurt my wallet too badly, it wouldn’t be the worst to have.

Getting it in my hands exceeded expectations, with one rather notable quibble: getting a Kyutama in it is easy, but getting it out again is much harder, because the button that’s supposed to act as the release only releases one side of a two-sided locking snap device, and the Kyutama itself fits snugly in a plastic rim inside, so you really do have to hold in the release and then jiggle it around for a few minutes and hope for the best. This is apparently a big enough problem where the instructions come with an extra slip that seems to suggest an alternate means of removing it, but all of the instructions for these things are very heavy on text and very light on context for the pictures, so it only makes sense if you already have it figured out. I have yet to figure out a reliable means of easily removing the Kyutama from this mounting and trying the proscribed motions (or what I can make of them) in either instruction set has me questioning whether they just sort of expect you to rip it out, because this is not happening if so. On the other hand, there’s really not an alternative other than jiggling it around and setting and re-setting it until physics feels sorry for you and you suddenly have them apart again.

As a noisemaker, though, it’s actually pretty nice. The sounds include music straight from the show and not even a truncated version of it and there are more sounds than I even anticipated, though I hadn’t actually anticipated that many, as previously noted. Notably, it uses some means of detecting the position of the "bite" of the dragon head motif that would have been really nice for the Kyu the Weapon and as a toy, while I feel like it might not be as solid as it could be, it’s solid enough. If I had to lobby any other complaint about it, it would be the lack of detail on the screw side, because it’s lacking in any kind of paint and the tip has a support lattice on that side when I really would have preferred to see it be hollow on the inside, but look solid. This is a toy designed around the box shots, but since it’s probably going to be wielded right-handed, it’s really only lefties who are going to suffer seeing anything but its good side while playing with it. It also, like the Kyu the Weapon, manages to somehow fit my admittedly relatively small hands. Like, okay, I don’t exactly have baby hands, but I can squeeze into a women’s size large glove, which I know because that’s basically the only option I have for rubber cleaning gloves locally because sexism is very much alive. Chances are you’re not going to look at my hands and think they’re small compared to the rest of me, but this isn’t exactly something you’re going to be able to play with comfortably if you could thumb war a gorilla. As far as size goes, it has the same "handle focus" as Kyu the Weapon, where the business end is a lot smaller to make it safer for kids swinging it around, but it’s actually the same size in cane mode as the Kyu Sword (I know because both just exactly happen to fit on the shelf section I happened to have empty on a 3-column unit) and of a satisfying weight, so it feels bigger, and it is bigger by a couple inches maybe without measuring in gun mode. Between that and the larger box and the better sound tech, I didn’t expect to like this nearly as much as I do, but it’s just the nicer product of the two for a collector between it and the Kyu the Weapon. I feel like this is something potentially intended for a slightly older child who can be trusted with something slightly more dangerous and also slightly more fragile and there’s just more to it for someone who’s maybe a couple years older and can be trusted with a button-locking mechanism. I could see giving the Kyu the Weapon to a child as young as 3, but I honestly can’t see giving this to a child any younger than 8. It is shockingly nice overall.

Garu plush

Let me just say he was marked as "used" and there weren’t any obvious stains on the one picture of him in a plastic bag, but seeing as the same picture was used for another listing, I was prepared for him to come in pre-loved and with a little character.

He was a sleeper surprise arrival the same day as the gun-cane above and ended up in my mailbox. Surprisingly enough, he’s actually new in bag, and appears to be the sort who’d be found hanging on a wire hook rather than in a jumble in a machine. In terms of being a chibi likeness, he’s everything he needs to be and a bit more, with a Seiza Blaster on his arm as a bit of stiff felt that’s printed with perfect accuracy, and otherwise has the broad strokes of the character’s details and a highly detailed embroidered head. If you like what you see in a listing, you’ll like what you see in person.

KyuRenOh

The primary Megazord of the show, its numerous combinations are what gives the toy line a workout. Capable of being made of up to 6 Zords (with Washi Voyager on the back), it’s a testament to the power of modularity. The box set ships with Shishi (Lion) Voyager as the body and head, and Ookami (Wolf) Voyager, Oushi (Bull) Voyager, Kajiki (Swordfish) Voyager, and Chameleon Voyager as interchangeable limbs. They are respectively a starship, cyborg wolf (mostly just an organic head), tank, submarine of some sort, and, apparently, a hovercraft, which is to say it doesn’t look like it could actually BE anything other than a chameleon-shaped brick, so you may as well call it a hovercraft, because it has to get around somehow.

Somehow the box set was yet another surprise early arrival when I’d expected it to come in what was otherwise a big dump within a few days mid-month, but with it arriving the day after the previous two and with the Hebitsukai Voyager arriving a couple days later, I think it’s worth reviewing them together.

The base package I got was "new," and I throw that in quotes because 1) the tape on top of the box was cut, 2) Shishi Voyager already had batteries in it, and 3) Oushi Voyager already had paint damage in line with a ground contact point. So it’s at best "in box with all the original parts and bags and stood on a shelf for a few shining moments." Which isn’t terrible, mind you, because they were all largely put together with their Kyutama, which saved me some of the hassle of trying to figure it out based on the pictures, of which there are many in contrast to some of the others, but which are only marginally more helpful.

I will say this: getting them in your hands really reveals the details and literally all of them have asymmetrical details, all, ironically, on the left side when they’re apart. This comes in the form of paint details, and some of the share a sort of logo pattern on them, specifically Oushi and Ookami Voyager. And it kind of makes me wonder if the show is going to go into who made these things, because it seems like certain shared details tie some of them together.

First things first, it’s clear that if you want the thing to look like it’s going to stay standing, Oushi and Ookami Voyager are the legs, no questions asked. Chameleon Voyager makes a rather skinny leg and Kajiki Voyager makes one I don’t entirely trust to hold the weight somehow, even though I’m sure it would. Meanwhile, the "normal" legs make for unreasonably bulky arms.

What I will say is the sculpts on these are fantastic. Ookami Voyager especially surprised me with the facial fur pattern. The paint job on them is an A, but maybe not an A+ because of some weight issues on certain details and the feeling that the stamps are ever so slightly in danger of being off, but generally speaking they’re fantastic. Much better than I anticipated. And they’re not lacking in detail, either. Okay, so the one (1) quibble I have is that Ookami Voyager’s back legs are connected by a bar when that wouldn’t have been necessary even as a toy, but otherwise Oushi Voyager has some plastic wheels in its treads so you can actually roll it along and Chameleon Voyager even has a (short) length of tongue you can carefully pull out and while it’s not much, it’s an attention to detail they wouldn’t have had to put in. Otherwise, generally speaking, they all look fresh and clean and the only "battle damage" visible is some "paint damage" in the stripes down one side of Kajiki Voyager’s dorsal fin and a bit of Shishi Voyager where it looks like a vent and the surrounding area may have gotten rusted or otherwise replaced with bronze. And even on the toy, that feels subtle, or at least more subtle than the strip down the outside of the opposite leg that’s painted a lightish red over the silver.

As a noisemaker, it’s pretty satisfying and makes great use of its lights, which, interestingly enough, backlight some figures of the Rangers. And I say this with utmost respect, while three of the five I have are more or less simple stencils, it makes me unreasonably impressed that not only is Champ done in proper black with enough detail to look good, but Garu is actually somehow done in a way that makes the blue of his suit a darker blue than the rest of the cockpit and the color matching to the show is unreasonably good! Like, okay, his Zord version of his Kyutama is already a very different blue from the standard issue one and that’s actually totally in line with the show, but I don’t know if they used dithering or what to get this darkening effect and I almost don’t want to find out and ruin the magic. This probably explains some of the images in the others, as though it was maybe intended at some point for more of them to take up places in formation somehow or else maybe it was just done because they figured kids were going to try it anyway and they may as well do something interesting.

Hebitsukai Voyager

The lone straggler, and representative of Ophiuchus, the Hebitsukai (Snake-Bearer) Voyager is a bit of an oddball because of its dual forms, which is to say in the context of its forms, it’s a bit of a flex by the showrunners because it’s a snake head until the Kyutama cockpit attaches, and then it turns into a little (by Zord standards) person, and can curl up into a foot, and becomes a snake hand, and turns into a gun for the Happy Splash team finisher with Tenbin Voyager just because, which isn’t to say any of the others individually have zero offensive potential, but it’s clear that there were just a few of them specifically designed to be sweet auxiliary Zords and this is one of them. I do have to say the show doesn’t make this quite as apparent because you don’t get a very good look at it standing still, but there are some very bizarre and obvious asymmetrical red details here unlike any of the others. Tenbin Voyager has a couple more subtle ones, but this thing is silver, black, gold, and red, and I’m not entirely sure what they were thinking with it other than maybe that they would try and kinda fail in giving it a pharoh headdress that just got turned into a gold detail rather than a proper snake and not really succeeding in giving it more than a bit of a helmet, but I will say being metallic in the show does a lot of work to make the red details feel more subtle, where here, well, okay, metallic plastic if done wrong will literally crumble to dust. The Transformers fandom knows this well for anything in gold or frankly metallic colors in general and while it gives me a heart attack every time, there’s a video I won’t subject you to of a guy just outright disintegrating a Randy figure with an effortless squeeze of his hand. I would rather not experience that with something like this, so I will happily take gray plastic in exchange. Aside from that, if it were really going to be like the show, it would have to be chrome, which, I have some chrome figures and accessories from back in the day and 1) that stuff WILL rub and/or chisel off eventually, and 2) it requires hard plastic that is probably unwise for a figure this small and articulated. I say this to set expectations for this figure, there is a good reason it is the way it is!

Side note, for anyone who thinks "Ophiuchus" looks totally bizarre, but strangely familiar, it’s because a bit of a kerfluffle a while back when an astronomer decided to stir the astrology pot and point out that the stars in the zodiac constellations had moved quite a bit since antiquity and now were out of line with their traditional divisions. This is, to be blunt, not how astrology works around here, so no, your sign didn’t change. Other constellations that fall either on or a few degrees short of the ecliptic include Cetus (which may very briefly have the sun in it) and Orion (which falls a bit shy and, notably, is made entirely of stars so far away from us that it’s probably going to more or less hold its shape for longer than we’re going to be around as a species unless we manage to get off this rock in a big way). I may be a little biased toward this series just because the stars were something my family always shared when I was young, but enough about me; this is a review. Anyway, Ophiuchus is The Snake Bearer, which is an important distinction from being "The Snake" as one might assume from Naga being named after snake people, having a snake on his helmet and Kyutama (because a dude fighting the air is kind of overly complex and not worth it), and the fact that Serpens (Caput) and Serpens (Cauda) are collectively "The Snake" he’s fighting and are the only "single" constellation that’s not actually contiguous. Which is pretty cool, to be honest, and the "snake turning into a man" thing here is kind of a cool reference to that in a way. Which kind of makes Tenbin Voyager doing the same thing feel like it cheapens it a bit.

By the way, as scary as "Ophiuchus" looks, it’s actually super easy to pronounce: "oh-FEW-cuss."

Anyway, all this and not a word yet about the thing in the hand!

And, uh, wellllllll…

It’s alright. I was honestly expecting more articulation, but since I got it new in box, I had to outright attach the arms, which were packaged separately, and the toy itself doesn’t feel very sturdy or really hold together solidly in its humanoid form. The design seems to have a few oversights in it, particularly as a foot, which it becomes with only the hard plastic central support structure (probably) actually coming in contact with the ground, but it could be worse on that front from a wear perspective. The real issue is the arms fold back into the upper half of the snake head and stick out for days. I get that this is intentional because of the fangs being used as a heel weapon, but it kinda just looks awful.

The "gray" plastic I noted is actually much more silvery in person, but being a hard rubber material, it is very opaque, so unlike cases of hard plastic, the mica effect is a bit more subtle and really needs a point light source to come through. Having it up close reveals that the golden head ornament is definitely a stylized plume. There are things in the design that compensate some of the weakness of the structure. The legs peg in for the snake head form, which is the arm position and pre-Kyutama form to give it a bit more stability on the bottom where it might be in contact with the shelf/ground. The figure also stands with a subtle lean forward to counterbalance the weight of the back parts. But that in itself is not the problem so much as all the kibble. It always seems like there’s not enough covering up all the various parts here to properly hide them. And at the same time, there’s so much of it barely holding the figure together that there’s probably a reason this was marketed as a "deluxe" single pack, because this in no way is going to survive being bashed around by a child. It will break. Badly. Even just me being careful with it, it very much is for display only and as a display piece I don’t think it’s a very impressive one.

Don’t get me wrong, for what it is, the humanoid form was designed well to stand on a shelf and the snake head form was designed well to lie on a shelf and as a foot it protects all the softer bits from being scraped along a shelf and suffering wear. It’s just very much designed with standing on a shelf in mind and any number of essential parts could be very easily broken in the hands of a child. It wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance thrown in a backpack. And with this and how it was handled, I’m starting to understand why Ookami Voyager has a bar supporting its back legs acutely. There could maybe be a deluxe version without it, but at the end of the day, the model that exists could be reasonably expected to survive some light abuse. This thing couldn’t survive a stiff breeze. I currently have it standing on the edge of my TV and it looks nice doing it, but I don’t know that I’m going to do much else with it. It was definitely designed human form first and everything else is auxiliary to that, but standing in humanoid form, it’s excellent.

It just really needs to stay safely on a shelf.

RyuTeiOh

The second primary Megazord, it’s made of at most 3 Zords, which is to say it can equip up to 2 arms. It comes as a box set with Ryu (Dragon) Voyager as the head, body, and legs, and Kuma (Bear) Voyager and Sasori (Scorpion) Voyager as interchangeable arms. Kuma Voyager can be split into Koguma (Little Bear) and Ooguma (Big Bear) Voyager, which basically just means the former pops out of the latter as a mostly static piece with a unicycle wheel on the bottom. They are respectively otherwise a highly articulated, but somehow totally robotic Chinese dragon, a vaguely scorpion-shaped tank walker, and a robotic (not cyborg) bear with wheels.

And somehow this thing came in 2 weeks early along with Hebitsukai Voyager, so I may as well review this under the same section.

Ryu (Dragon) Voyager makes up the lion’s share of this thing and while the show finds ways of minimizing the gigantic silver block on its back, it becomes acutely apparent on the toy. This was not new in box, so it came with some assembly required, but in dragon form it’s basically a static dragon on wheels, not that that’s a problem because any kind of articulation at all would otherwise make it immediately flop like a wet sock. No, the complaint I DO have is that the legs would have been served just as well or better by just making them twist instead of forcing you to tear them off and slap them back on in a different orientation. And, unforutnately, they didn’t have the creativity required to put lights and sound in this one, which would have been nice, even if there would have been a potential point of failure in whatever wires would have to traverse the joints that bring the two halves together. Even brush contacts would eventually wear down, but even if they did, it would be easy enough to repair, you know? Or heck, there’s only a requirement to cross one bridge between the 3 lights anyway; put some contacts in the middle and call it a day. There were viable solutions, is what I’m saying. I can’t say I’m utterly heartbroken over it since all of it works just fine if you slap them onto KyuRenOh instead, but there could have been more here and there wasn’t and I find it very hard to believe they couldn’t have very easily crammed a board into one half of this thing, especially if they did it diagonally. Or if you were truly desperate you could’ve put the batteries in the legs and had a button on the back that was a half button with a hood that would push another half button and only when both were depressed would you get everything lighting up in sync. Maybe I’m spoiled, but there was potential.

And I guess that’s sort of my feeling on this thing as a whole. Cosmetically, it looks great, but functionally, it could have been better. The whole split design was done well, but the legs could have been better and there could have been lights and sound like the others and while I don’t necessarily feel "cheated" or even really "disappointed," maybe "longing" is an appropriate word. You can have something good and long for it to be better.

Otherwise, it’s beautifully detailed and has as much articulation as the others (which is to say very little, but it’s at least designed well with that in mind) and as shelf candy it does its job just as well.

The Kuma (Bear) Voyager and Sasori (Scorpion) Voyager also get the job done. Sasori Voyager has quite a bit of articulation in its stinger and while its legs simply fold together, I wouldn’t have expected more there, where I most certainly would have expected less for its stinger. Kuma Voyager really only has a weak snap to hold Koguma Voyager inside Ooguma Voyager and as soon as I managed to set them on the TV in my game room, something happened to knock that snap loose somehow, but I didn’t actually lose the little guy in the junk pile my brother left that I was trying to reach over, so at least there’s that. Otherwise, all the wheels turn on both of them (rugged tires on Ooguma Voyager and a single unicycle wheel on Koguma Voyager) and the detailing is nice and overall I really don’t have any major complaints other than the security of the baby bear. The two are perfectly interchangeable with any of the others and they’re perfectly fine where they are for now.

Seiza Blaster

The utility weapon of most of the Kyurangers, it’s a projectile weapon, occasional shield, and all-around "stick a Kyutama in it and see what happens" device.

Technically coming in between KyuRenOh and Hebitsukai Voyager, along with the Saiko (Best) Kyutama, this is more or less the thing I ordered to justify my purchase of the big box of Kyutama. My expectations of it were immediately high, and there was quite a bit of intrigue after seeing the Kyutama themselves. It’s basically the thing that’s going to determine whether I bother trying to complete the collection or if I maybe see if I can pick up a couple of them if that and call myself happy.

And the answer to that is… I’m probably going to pick up the few I want and call it good, honestly. But if I’d been more curious, I might have answered that for myself even before this thing showed up on my doorstep.

The Seiza Blaster in itself is a wonderful piece of tech, using that pin-based technology to its fullest using corresponding pins (which are unnervingly thin) in its construction to complete the codes used by the Kyutama themselves. And something to note about this is there actually seem to be a couple different code variants between Kyutama that were manufactured in China vs. The Phillipines. This is most apparent in that most of the Kyutama don’t actually have a special function, so the Seiza Blaster keeps track of 2 "nothing" codes for some baffling reason. More on this in the Kyutama section update, though. The really cool thing, though, is that it has special interactions with the Hikari Kyutama, and no interactions with the Saiko Kyutama, which means it needs at least 1 pin pushed down to do anything at all. Thinking back a bit more, this same pin setup has been in use since at least ”Abaranger” because I have that morpher from ”Power Rangers Dino Thunder” and it uses the same tech, though the pins there are much sturdier.

In terms of how it fits my hand, uh, well, it really kinda doesn’t. At all. It’s the only one of these toys where my fingers can technically all fit if they’re totally smashed in there, but leaving my pinky out gives some comfortable breathing room. It’s hilariously small on my arm, though, and the band falls more or less where my watchband does, so I have to take it off to put this on.

There’s a trigger and a button like in the show and they seem to be mostly if not entirely interchangeable. I’ll need to experiment a bit more to tell, but either way, it’s not really a problem since the only thing the trigger is used for in the show is the morph anyway.

The thing reveals a lot of its seams in that while I fully expected there to be stock sounds because the show very obviously combined voice lines, I didn’t quite expect the number of combinations present. Any individual Kyutama that’s recognized gets its name combined with the "Voyager" voice line if you press in the right direction and while there are specific exceptions for the Koguma and Ooguma Kyutama because of earlier plans that never got taken out of the toy data, for the most part by all indications you can morph with essentially any Kyutama of particular note.

The toy has an RGB LED setup that recognizes some key colors, mostly related to the Rangers themselves, but many shared between them because of being "good enough" approximations betwen the Gold and Yellow Ranger powers when if they’d been feeling fancier they might have added a bit more green to Yellow to make it stand apart as actually yellow instead of a bit more amber, and while it’s acceptable for Oushi to use purple, I’m pretty, though not entirely, sure it’s the same purple as is used for the Ryu Kyutama, which may or may not have been specifically intended to be used this way at some earlier point in development. I’m inclined to say they’re the same, but just thinking about it, I kind of also want to say that Ryu uses a richer purple for some reason and I might end up editing this after testing when my brain can work better.

At any rate, they did at least make exceptions to get a pastel pink color going as well as a very nice orange, so while maybe they thought that people wouldn’t notice between a more and less golden yellow, I did, and while there’s absolutely programming involved, if there wasn’t a technical reason for its absence, I kinda would have liked it. That’s really my only complaint, though, and the amber is as such that along with the orange, I’m inclined to say that it’s probably acutally an RGBA setup in there, if not RGBAW given the beautiful pastel pink it manages, even if it’s a bit lavender. Which is frankly far more than I would have expected in a toy. But having a dedicated Amber might explain why it would have been chosen for all yellow colors over differentiating betwen it and a Red-Green yellow, which would look sickly in comparison and require them to pick one for all of the (admittedly numerous) gold and yellow Kyutama, which are legitimately split about 50/50 between the 15½ of them if you count the ultimately never released Crux Kyutama, which is to say as many as there are blue ones to parcel up between blue and cyan if half of the yellow ones weren’t generics. Otherwise, with everything I managed to test, it looks very much like the setup uses all LEDs involved at full brightness. That’s not necessarily a problem; costs have to be saved somehow. Not all devices need anything more than that and to be quite honest, not all LEDs are capable of more than that. If this thing needed to have binary instead of 7-level LEDs, then so be it.

IN-LINE UPDATE: Actually, no, surprisingly enough, this is not in fact RGBAW, they really did do this all with pure RGB, and I’m kind of actually just equally impressed by that, especially given that means they specifically either programmed the levels or otherwise chose precision strengths of the LEDs to favor the red tones to offer those nice amber colors. As for how I know this, well, I happened to look at a yellow through the side of my glasses and my glasses for years have been able to diffract light into a spectrum at the outer edges, which means I saw the individual red and green values of the LEDs as point light sources offset from each other. LEDs only emitting light in one wavelength is particularly useful for those kinds of operations.

I suppose I should probably talk a bit more about the sound and the quality is sufficient. Look, they’re toys with tiny speakers and they’re going to be tinny, but the sound was more or less intentionally designed around that. As far as the sounds go, this thing does everything it does in the show and that’s a good thing. The fact it has lights at all is more than in the show, my petty quibble over the amber/yellow divide aside. The fact the colors are so incredibly nice is a testament to the designers. And as far as the voice lines, they’re mostly clear and only one of them so far is difficult to make out. Having as many as there are, while there aren’t as many as I had hoped by a long shot, is worth something.

Saiko Kyutama

This is, well, one of many Battlizers in this show, but for reasons too spoileriffic to recount here, it’s specific to Shishi Red and represents his unique one as the leader of the team, though he’s also not the only one who gets a specific personal one. It’s hard not to peg it as the most powerful, though, despite some stiff competition.

As for the toy, it’s a standalone electonic device much like the Hikari Kyutama and even the show prop seems to be pretty heavy, so I really didn’t expect different here. It’s not quite as heavy as I expected, but overall, much like the show, it lacks interaction with the Seiza Blaster and I think this has more to do with the pins needing at least 1 down to work being abusable more than planning quite that far ahead.

What it does do is pretty great, because being its own standalone device means it does everything it needs to on its own, even if that happens to be more limited. I didn’t actually think the thing would have a spinning ring feature, but it not only does, it’s essential to the operation where I had assumed they’d just make one of the "gems" a button. The button on top is a button and the button in the bottom is used specifically for the one voice line you get when you slam it into the Seiza Blaster and the ring is essential for following through on all the actions set up by the accessible button. It doesn’t spin forever like in the show, but the fact it spins at all is totally awesome, and it at least spins easily on what feels like bearings.

Otherwise, I mean, what could you ask for? It has lights, sounds, a little image it projects onto the inside surface of its own plastic globe; it’s enough.

Transformation Rotating Sword Houou Blade & Houou Shield

Yes, that mouthful, which is somehow even longer than the movie titles, is one transformation device, and is surprisingly descriptive as a sword that slots into a shield and also has a rotating platform to house a Kyutama just for funsies.

I had fully expected this thing to have some sort of motor in it, but what it actually has is somehow more ingenious. There’s a small plastic tab that somehow has enough spring power to it to send the Kyutama in several revolutions when the blade is pulled from the shield and a single red LED in the sword behind it provides illumination. The shield is just plastic with a locking tab and release button, so once they’re together, they aren’t in danger of coming apart in a toybox, while the sword has all the electronics for the light and sound, plus the spinning mechanism. As for how it is as a noisemaker, sounds are limited because sounds in the show are limited, so while I’d give the whole thing a B for overall entertainment value, the physical design is an A+. Maybe if I liked the character more I’d be a little more enthused, but as a noisemaker it really only does 3 things. It does them well, but the novelty wears off quickly, so if you aren’t already pumped to play as Houou Soldier, this isn’t going to invent new reasons for it. The detail is excellent, though, and I feel it mashes my fingers less than the Seiza Blaster, even if they are a little cramped.

Just a final note on the turning mechanism, but I can’t overstate how good it is, because it doesn’t just spin out randomly, either. The mechanism is precise enough to always spin out into proper positions. That alone makes me more impressed with it than if it were motorized. If this thing made as many noises as the dragon gun, I’d probably like it more than even that, and that in itself was a pleasant surprise. This thing is a marvel of engineering; it just doesn’t have enough implemented to keep my interest.

Kyu Buckle

This is one I didn’t actually intend to get until I found that it was easily the most afforable way to get the Futago (Gemini) Kyutama, which is one I wanted and found to be otherwise pretty desirable. The belt itself was easy to put together, but when I went to see how far around my waist it would fit for a laugh, the answer was "halfway," which was less than I was expecting. It does, however, fit around my leg as a leg holster, because this thing legitimately goes small enough to fit a baby and my legs have the lion-punting power of an ostrich. So laugh I did!

For what it is, it’s quite nice. No lights or sound, but there’s none in the show, either. I unfortunately got it full of greasy fingerprints I’ll have to clean off properly, but it looks nice, has many glossy surfaces, and the mechanism to have it flip open has a shockingly strong spring that’s activated by a nicely designed lever on the top. I never expected to like it quite as much as I do. For what it is, it works nicely. It’s nothing I intend to do much with, but all things considered I’m happy with the result. If I were really serious about it as a cosplay item, there are probably extender segments since those exist for Kamen Rider toys.

Washi Voyager

This and Tenbin Voyager were set to come within a few business days of each other with a weekend in between, but Tenbin Voyager ended up in "PAID" status limbo even after this arrived and honestly I could have kicked myself for not getting a better deal on a used trio of them with a Hebitsukai Voyager, but someone smarter than me snapped it up. In the end I didn’t actually pay that much more (shipping on the used trio was atrocious or else it would have been much worse, and is why I passed on it in the first place), but I would have maybe liked to get them all at the same time, but hey, that basically made them the start of my Advent Calendar and all 3 of them ended up being new, so it maybe wasn’t my absolute worst mistake. Absolutely a regret based on the condition of what I missed out on, but I missed out on it in part because of the fantastic prices for everything but the Washi Voyager, which unfortunately was the last I checked before the trio vanished and was selling for nothing short of highway robbery and what ultimately made it more expensive, so you win some, you lose some. Never in my life did I expect the pink one to be considered the most desirable.

Washi (Eagle) Voyager is one of the more "organic" ones and as such its in-show design moves in a way that’s basically impossible for machines and therefore plastic toys. In terms of what makes it special, though, it can attach to the back of KyuRenOh to give it flight capability by way of a pair of angel wings. And I’m going to hazard a guess that, because KyuRenOh already ships with a base package that accounts for all the limbs, that this is probably the reason for the much higher price of Washi Voyager on eBay compared to Tenbin or Hebitsukai Voyager, the latter of which I found to be quite affordable for some reason and the former of which I got for a pittance of just over $20 with free shipping new in box. Like, the twins are nice to have standing around knee high to an elephant, but they’re not something that necessarily makes the box set look cooler. Ironically, I find Washi Voyager to actually be kind of ugly and definitely not something I’d associate with the very cute Raptor 283. It wouldn’t be atrocious for a male ranger in maybe red, blue, or even white if they made it a bald eagle, but it kind of comes off as a scavenger and is less "pink" and more "black with pink details" and I kind of just feel like maybe at some point it had been intended for someone or even something else, because it’s in direct contrast to Raptor’s bright color palette and perky behavior. It’s also kind of an interesting contrast that it’s basically the most "organic" of any of the Zords.

Washi Voyager ended up coming a bit early (which is seeming to be the rule rather than the exception at this point) and as its own thing, it has a couple surprises. First off, the wing feathers are actually rubber on the outer pink set, probably to make it less dangerous/painful to be stabbed with, and mine, while new in box, was maybe a little less "new in box" than indicated. No damage, but the box had seen better days and had extra tape around it probably to keep it together after being kicked around in a back room, with some prominent stickers that look for all the world like it had done time in the discount bin. As such, it’s not surprising that the rubber on one side is bent a little, though it’s bent pleasantly upwards in a way I actually would have liked for the other side as well, because darn if that doesn’t look graceful for a mid-flight pose! It also, unlike most of the ones that are used exclusively as arms in the show, makes an awesome foot that it’s a real shame the show didn’t actually use, though given its power as an arm, I understand why. After transforming it a couple different ways, I ultimately did the predictable thing and stuck it on the back of KyuRenOh, which it of course looks fantastic on, especially with the bright colors of Kajiki and Chameleon Voyagers right next to it. Hot pink, lime green, and bright yellow; it’s like the ’90s never left. XD

Overall, it’s easy to see why it might be seen as a bit more desirable than the other "deluxe" single-packs, but at the same time, it feels more solid and even less articulated and a little weird to have attach to the rest backwards with its feet sticking out the back and leaving me no real idea what to do with the head because it wasn’t covered in the instructions. I have to wonder if that particular explanatory image is under a sticker on the box, but I honestly don’t think the box will survive having the extra tape removed to have any hope of checking.

Tenbin Voyager

Tenbin (Balance) Voyager is, naturally, Libra, the scales, and prior to the Tenbin Kyutama plugging into it as the cockpit flies around as a fairly reasonable approximation of hanging scales of the bowl variety, though far from a functional one unless you assumed it had automatic stabilization. Strictly speaking, unless Spada ends up at some point needing to compare the weights of a buttload of rice, I don’t think functionality is all that important and in terms of appearance, it’s pretty cool and kind of a shame it has no practical purpose whatsoever, since it immediately turns into a humanoid with a stylized standing plate balance on its head. This form isn’t terrible and I understand they did it because, you know, Balance and Naga are a pair, so it makes sense to give them both more or less the same thing, but as I said before, I think it cheapens the Ophiuchus theme a bit. It’s not badly designed, but it feels like they went a little half-hearted with the details in comparison to its counterpart, with less striking asymmetrical details that kind of make it look in some cases like it suffered some damage and repairs more than intentional design weirdness, with a random bronze patch on one forearm and a white band on the leg on the same side that almost looks like a panel got ripped off and replaced with plastic, despite more obviously intentional white detailing on the other side. I feel like maybe contrasting the gold with blue instead of white might have made some of the details feel more intentional and offset the warm colors with a cool one to contrast the relatively cool silver of its twin having the red against it. And also, just, like, more of it, because its twin has a LOT, where here there’s just not. The design feels a bit LEGO-ish in comparison. Libra, interestingly enough, is the only constellation of any of the heroes that is not some sort of animal. Which is kind of odd, if you think about it, because Balance is unique in being an inorganic, yet living being, as opposed to the two robots on the team.

Being more or less exactly like Hebitsukai Voyager, I didn’t have particularly high expectations for this one. Given the price, I should have maybe been a bit more wary of what it would actually take to get one in my hands, as, like I said in the section above, it fell into "PAID" limbo on eBay and I have been burned before in that regard where someone simply never sent the item and strung me along until it was too late to leave negative feedback back in the earlier days when that was easier to do. So believe me, I ended up watching this thing for any sign of activity, because with economy shipping and the shipping date placed the week after Washi Voyager, my confidence was Not Good™. Turns out I was right, because my order was canceled with the reason of "damaged or out of stock," which I’m pretty sure is code for "I forgot to add shipping and handling," so I bought another one from someone else who had actually delivered for a bit more and that one also had a reasonable shipping estimate.

Actually getting it in my hands…

It’s predictably similar to Hebitsukai Voyager, though ironically since they share so much of a base, the leftover pegs that held the snake head together more solidly have absolutely no purpose here. I do have to say the head fits better over the nubbin at the top of the Kyutama and makes it feel less like bumping it will make it fall apart, and ironically it does feel both significantly sturdier and better articulated in part because the arms sort of slot into the shape of the base when they’re squeezed. I won’t say it can be safely bashed around, but it at least feels a little more pose stable? The plastic is similarly yellow with a bit of glittery material mixed in that doesn’t feel like it penetrates much, but it also feels like the two have significant differences in their design work that makes them more than copies of each other, almost like two independent teams were sharing notes in the best way possible. I will say the paint on the visor is the only example of anything being at all misaligned, but not badly; just like it may have been line sprayed and the pressure was just a hair off, leading to a tiny bit of bleed and a tiny bit of miss that I can’t really call a deal-breaker. It’s overall an excellent representation and the design feels much more intentional, like everything is exactly where it needs to be unlike its twin that always seems to have not quite enough protecting it from too much sticking out. The design is absolutely weird in some ways, with its foot mode having sort of spurs and its hand mode being "abstract" at best with something people sort of shug and call a "yo-yo" attack in the show because it frankly looks like nothing else, but at the same time, sometimes "abstract" isn’t the worst thing. If there’s any complaint at all about the thing, it’s that the plates don’t spin and in fact peg into either side of the arm as they swivel, but a little imagination goes a long way for something like that.

And that more or less completes the set.

Caesar

And a Happy New Year to me with this guy! Somehow shipping on him ended up being scheduled for the new year, but Caesar, properly known as Kojishi (Small Lion) Voyager, representing Leo Minor, is an interesting little guy because a) he’s literally the only Voyager with an A.I. and b) the toy is actually more or less a 1:1 scale of him in the show before he, y’know, grows. It’s also a bit neat because "Caesar" as pronounced in Japanese is kind of a slant from "shisa," or the Japanese guardian lion, which he takes visual inspiration from. I could go into more depth about the origins of shisa and Chinese fu dogs/fu lions, but suffice to say if you saw Caesar on a store shelf without context, he would very much look like a Chinese knock-off in the best way possible. Seriously, Chinese transforming robot toys are actually pretty baller. They’ve come a LONG way since Millenials were young and while they very much have their own design aesthetic, the designs and features they have these days are definitely worth a look. But this is about Japanese toys.

So I guess expect to see what I think of him in the new year!


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