United States toy collectors will recall the success of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers line in 1991 where we had a Prehistoric collection of animals. Power Rangers was the first effort in the Saban television saga and this, Gao Rangers, will be the last TV series produced by Saban; Disney will be taking over. Pterodactyls, Saber toothed tigers, Mammoths, and Triceratops have been replaced by modern animals, a.k.a. the "Hundred Beast Task Force." Bandai took evolution to the next level to produce the Highly successful toy line Gao Rangers and our feature-- Icarus. The evolution of power rangers toys is now light years ahead of the humble Power Rangers beginnings.
Gao Rangers superceded Power Rangers and we feature more modern creatures. Icarus' land and air trekking denizens include the Gao Giraffe PA 2, Gao Deer PA 6, Gao Rhino and Majiro (Gao Armadillo) PA 5, and Gao Falcon PA 7. Each Zord (toy animal) has a solid, smooth and refined feel, and transformations are exacting versus times past.
The purported "real life" dimensions for Icarus are 70 meters by 80 meters by 4780 tons. That's a heck of a hunk of animal. Icarus features wings for both flight and shielding against evil.
Gao Rangers plot line (the beginnings):
- 1,000 years ago, six ancient Gao warriors fight Highness Duke Orgu with GaoGod; Shirogane dons Loki mask to defeat combined Orgu generals using GaoHunter.
- Gao warriors regretfully seal possessed friend in crypt.
- in modern day, modern Power Animals have been selecting Gaorangers one by one over the course of a year; granddaughter of ancient Murasaki, Tetomu, mentors team from Gao's Rock.
- Dr. Kakeru, empathic veterinarian, chosen by GaoLion as fifth Gaoranger after rescuing panicked elephant during Orgu attack.
- Highness Duke Shuten born.
- Orgu seek magical stone and scroll from temple, Rangers recover them and discover the stone is the orb for Gao Elephant.
- Blue dreams of new weapon, Gao Giraffe soon emerges from giant crane.
-(episodes elapse) Four Rangers die, solve puzzle in afterlife to give Falcon Summoner and Gao Falcon to Red before returning to life thanks to Gao God. Gao Icarus is formed
Impressive. Wide. Heavy. Stiff. All were my initial reactions to the GaoRangers and then, alas, FUN. Bandai has continued in its bomb proof toy construction philosophy. All movements are refined and elements to the toys, sturdy. I emphasizes this because a toy after all should be played with. Gao Icarus invites play time and is refined.
Gao Armadillo and Gao Rhinoceros are my favorites. The Rhino transforms into legs and is simply a brute tour de metal. Chogokin fans rejoice as this guy is heavy! The solid asymmetrical legs open up via metal pins and metal joints to provide a Chogokin anchor for Icarus (it can be used for the other Gao toy lines, say Gao King's legs). The Gao Armadillo can neatly tuck into a ball and then be flicked out of the foot. The Armadillo launched in ball form (from the right foot) is know as the Rhinos Kick.
Next on my list is the Gao Giraffe. It's smooth elegant lines remind me of Art Deco and are mimalist. Thick chrome plating is used all four legs. My version featured a metal neck that shoots out by pressing a button on the throat. Note the attitude in the face sculpt.
Gao Deer captivated me the least, probably because of the rubber antlers. Don't get me wrong, it is a great design, it is just lighter and has less features than the other toys. See "Design by Formula." The mouth opens; legs rotate; and the antlers can pivot, rotate, and pinch. The neck can ratchet up and down. To the toy's credit it has a classic vintage beauty that evokes memories of a sparkling aqua 1956 Thunderbird; new stock, classy old lines.
Last but certainly not least is the gigantic Gao Falcon. In the anime show the bird of prey is called with the "Falcon Summoner" to form Icarus. The wing span when fully extended covers a mind boggling 26 inches. This measurement was taken with the tape pressed against the leading edge. -Astonishing and WIDE. Wing tips can rotate up to reveal prism eye stickers. Viewed from one angle they look human then the other-catlike. The talons can rotate at the hip, ankles, and elbow joints.
The combined Icarus speaks for itself in its uniqueness (Have you EVER seen a design like this) and beauty. It took a large amount of intestinal fortitude to pair a giraffe arm with a reindeer mate. It works and with a quirky whimsical Japanese style. Who would have thought a shooting armadillo foot would be the rage? Bandai dared to be different, designed, delighted, and conquered. We have a neo classic sporting animals with attitudes. My hats off to Bandai.
P.S. This is the Japanese toy. In the U.S. we know this toy as Power Rangers Wild Force (the show) Deluxe Isis Megazord.