When reminiscing about the 90s, one fondly remembers neon colours, Windows 95, the Sony Walkman, N’Sync and of course, the Power Rangers. This was about the time when the combination of giant robots, alien monsters and a group of high school teenagers made for gripping kids’ entertainment that catapulted into pop culture fame and brought about a franchise that would not only span two decades, with multiple spin-offs and films, but also a popular line of action figures, comics, board games and other such merchandise.
August this year marked the 25th anniversary of the Power Rangers, a franchise that began on 28 August 1993 with the premiere of the Saban produced series, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Not only did Hasbro mark the 28th as ‘National Power Rangers Day’ to celebrate the momentous occasion, but it’s was also the air date of the highly anticipated Power Rangers 25th Anniversary episode, which took place as part of the Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel series.
Since its original release in 1993, the Power Rangers franchise has grown exponentially with over twenty spin-off titles and multiple films across the past 25 years. While each series and film are technically different and act as stand-alone titles, the premise remains the same. Each Power Rangers series essentially follows a group of teenagers who are recruited by a powerful force of good and trained to morph into the Power Rangers, powerful superheroes with the ability to summon and pilot fantastical assault machines, called Zords, to defeat enemies and protect the planet.
Though popular among children, the Power Rangers franchise also proved a fan favourite among adults, particularly hobbyists and cosplay artists. Each series brought with it new ranger costumes, a variety of villains and of course different Zords, which allowed fans the opportunity to be creative in their cosplay and collection of action figures, as well as other such merchandise from the series.
Not only do the colourful costumes and characters make for great merchandise but the franchise also did well to play on the value of nostalgia. Though multiple actors and characters donned the title of Power Ranger over the years, the franchise included special episodes that saw former rangers, especially from the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series, make cameo appearances. Jason David Frank, the actor who played Tommy Oliver, the original Green Ranger and later White Ranger in the original series, is notorious for making cameo appearances in several Power Rangers episodes in the past 25 years.
Cameo appearances in films and spin-off series were not all. The Power Rangers franchise also grew to include numerous fan made films (one of the most notable being a short film which saw the Green Ranger, played by Jason David Frank, fight the legendary Street Fighter character, Ryu). There is also a comic book series by Boom! Studios that consists of a modern take on the Mighty Morphin era.
To celebrate the momentous 25th anniversary of the franchise, several special events were organised including the official ‘National Power Rangers Day’. In conjunction with the 25th Anniversary and to commemorate 25 issues of the comic book series, Boom! Studios and Saban released a special crossover story event in the comic book series titled Shattered Grid, which was set to run from March to August this year. A special trailer for the event was released early this year, which saw Jason David Frank return as Lord Drakkon, an evil alternate version of Tommy Oliver.
The occasion was also commemorated with a special 25th Anniversary episode in the Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel series titled, “Dimensions in Danger”. The plot of the episode followed Lord Drayvon, who intended to destroy the multiverse by kidnapping Rangers throughout the multiverse and creating evil clones of them. To stop him, the Time Force Red Ranger travelled across dimensions to recruit Rangers to battle Drayvon. Like previous special episodes in the past, this particular episode saw various Rangers from throughout the franchise make cameo appearances, which of course delighted many adult fans who grew up with the Power Rangers, as well as children captivated by the current series.
The Power Rangers franchise is certainly vast and has only grown in the past 25 years, with no intentions of slowing down, with a sequel to Lionsgate’s 2017 blockbuster Power Rangers film already in the works. Here’s to another 25 years!