SABAN’S MASKED RIDER (BANDAI)
The success of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers was somewhat of a shock to most. Like just about any unexpected success, it spawned a legion of knock-offs, all dedicated to aping the formula and capturing as much of that success as possible. Saban, the producers of Power Rangers, got in on the game themselves. They licensed the popular Japanese series Kamen Rider (specifically Kamen Rider Black RX) and, using pretty much the same formula they’d used with Power Rangers, created the somewhat blandly-named Masked Rider. It was not the breakaway-hit that Power Rangers had been, but it did get one 40-episode season, which isn’t so bad. It also got a line of toys from Bandai America, one of which is the subject of today’s review.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Masked Rider was released in 1996 as part of Bandai’s Saban’s Masked Rider line (Man, I wish I could get a few more possessives in there…) He was part of the smaller, 5-inch scale line, and is just the basic Masked Rider figure; no fancy gimmick or adjectives for this guy. The figure stands 5 ½ inches tall and has 12 points of articulation. While it might look like he’s got a neck joint, he actually doesn’t; the head is forever stuck staring straight-ahead. Now, why they gave his neck what looks like a super obvious joint where there in fact isn’t one is anyone’s guess. My personal guess is that it’s Bandai America, and they’ve never been particularly concerned with making particularly good action figures, but I could be wrong. The rest of the sculpt seems to support my theory there; it’s not that it’s a bad sculpt, but it doesn’t really look all that much like Masked Rider’s on-screen look, especially not in terms of proportions. His head, shoulders, and hands are way oversized, and the rest of his body quite undersized. His torso is also too squat and his legs too long. Overall, he looks like no human being ever should. In addition, none of the joints are particularly well worked-in, meaning the sculpt has a lot of stop and start going on, and he as a whole looks as if he’s been assembled from several different people. At the very least, the figure’s paint isn’t terrible. All the colors match his show-appearance, and everything is mostly pretty clean. There are a few spots with slop, but they’re mostly minor. Masked Rider’s only accessory was his sword.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
When I was younger, I watched pretty much the entirety of the “Fox Kids” lineup, which included the original run of Masked Rider. I enjoyed the show at the time (since I was rather into Power Rangers as well, and this show wasn’t all that different), so I got this guy while on a mall trip with my Grandmother. Neither the show nor this figure has held up very well. Still, he’s sort of a neat artifact of a time when I was a bit less discerning in my collecting habits, and if nothing else, the figure still amuses me.