DX Hyakujuu Gattai Gao King
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
Over 1000 years ago, the demonic Orgu- soulless creatures created from the despair and hatred of humanity- fought a terrible war against humans. Side-by-side with the mighty Power Animals, the ancient Gao warriors were just able to defeat the Orgu generals, and drive them back into the deepest places on Earth. By 2001, the Orgu had slowly gathered their strength once more, thanks to humanity’s mistreatment of the world. One by one, an Orgu left their domain known as the Matrix, and ascended to the surface to conquer and destroy, gaining power all the more in the name of their grand stone-encased Orgu Master. They usually took on the form of inanimate, non-living objects, such as streetlights, magnets, barbed wire, etc, and were recognizable by the long horn on their heads. On the mystical, turtle-shaped Sky-Island Animalium- "the highest paradise for animals"- the virginal Gao shrine priestess Tetomu and the surviving Power Animals have been searching for new modern warriors to counter the Orgu threat. Over the course of one year, five special people were plucked from their daily lives and chosen to secretly defend humanity from the darkness of its own heart- as the Hundred-Beast Taskforce GaoRanger!
“Hyakujuu Sentai GaoRanger” celebrated the 25th-series Anniversary of Super Sentai in 2001!
Power Animals are no different from those found in the wild today. They have only lived far longer, and can regenerate themselves much faster thanks to the power of the Earth which has been absorbed into them over the centuries. This has increased their defense, intelligence, and size as well. They are also capable of merging their bodies together to form incredible humanoid-shaped warriors which stand several stories tall, and have weapons & special powers granted to each. The totem Power Animals (to whom the GaoRanger are gifted their own powers and superhuman strength) are Gao Lion, Gao Eagle, Gao Shark, Gao Bison, and Gao Tiger, and they have survived alone on the Animalium since the Orgu were defeated 1000 years ago. When a fallen Orgu swallows Orgu Seeds (typically planted by the magical Duchess Orgu Tsuetsue), they are reborn as monsters of tremendous size and power. The GaoRanger then summon the Power Animals (PAs) - each with its own controlling Gao Jewel - through their individual Jūōken daggers down from the Animalium. Though each is strong on its own with claw, tooth & horn, together then can launch a combined energy attack.
- Gao Lion (back) - The totem Power Animal of Gao Red (veterinarian Kakeru Shishi), he exhibits the most courage, and prowls with pride around the Animalium. He has long claws and teeth with which to cut and slash opponents. According to Tetomu, Gao Lion will select the leader of the GaoRanger (much to Gao Yellow's chagrin). Kakeru- the last GaoRanger to be chosen, months after the Orgu began their assaults- has an unusual, possibly unique, empathic power with the hearts of all creatures (though not with Orgu since they have no hearts), so he is able to understand Gao Lion’s spirit when he has suggestions for how to win the battle, or when he sounds warning. Gao Lion is an upper body component PA, and so forms the chest & upper torso of Gao King.
- Gao Eagle (back) -The totem Power Animal of Gao Yellow (former Japanese Self-Defense Force fighter pilot Gaku Washio), he found his human partner first while the Air Force pilot was in the air near the Animalium nearly a year before the Orgu struck in 2001. In addition to having great agility in the air, Gao Eagle can fire Feather Bombs from his wings, and has sharp silver claws. Gao Eagle is a chest/head component PA, and together with Gao Lion he forms the upper body and head of Gao King.
- Gao Shark (back) - The totem Power Animal of Gao Blue (high school graduate/part-time employee Kai Samezu), he is the only one of the five which can swim underwater (a trait which Gao Blue shares). The thresher shark PA's sharp teeth and speed at swimming give him similar traits to his human companion in his feistiness and give him a random playfulness. Over short distances, he can float through the air alongside Gao Eagle. Gao Shark is a right arm component PA, and forms the right arm of Gao King. His tail separates to become the Fin Blade when it is combined, and it can perform the formation attack Shark Shot opposite Gao Tiger’s equivalent physical attack.
- Gao Bison (back) - The totem Power Animal of Gao Black (young retired sumo wrestler Soutarou Ushigomo), he is the largest and physically strongest of the five. Frequently found grazing through the wide grassy pasture of the Animalium, he is a little more curious and inquisitive [than his current human companion] with the two great golden horns on his head swaying back & forth. Gao Bison is a lower torso/leg component PA, and forms the lower torso and legs of Gao King. Its formation attack is called the Bison Kick.
- Gao Tiger (back)- The totem Power Animal of Gao White (aspiring martial arts student Sae Taiga), her quick, graceful movements and beautiful appearance [as a pearl-white Bengal tiger] are compliments that also can easily be passed on to the only female GaoRanger in the team. She also has the same sharp claws and personality that Sae has, since she is the daughter of a martial arts instructor. Gao Tiger is a left arm component PA, and forms the left arm of Gao King. Its formation attack is the Tiger Punch, and is frequently used opposite Gao Shark's equivalent energy attack.
The Power Animals series from “Hyakujuu Sentai GaoRanger” was, in many ways, a breakthrough in DX Super Sentai mecha & toy design, which would remain a high standard for PLEX and Bandai to beat for many years. The five lead totem Power Animals, instead of being limited, brick-like animals like those that came from previous series-
Choujuu Sentai Liveman (1988, 10th Anniversary series)
Choujin Sentai Jetman (1991, 15th Anniversary series)
Kyoryu Sentai ZyuRanger (1992)
Gousei Sentai DaiRanger (1993)
Ninja Sentai KakuRanger (1994)
Chouriki Sentai OhRanger (1995)
Seijuu Sentai Gingaman (1998)
-and those following-
Ninpuu Sentai Hurricanger (2002)
Bakuryuu Sentai AbaRanger (2003)
Mahou Sentai MagiRanger (2005)
- are shaped and configured to move like real animals in their toy forms! Gao Lion and Gao Tiger’s legs are jointed at the shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, and all four die-cast paws in addition to the typical mouth and PVC tail. And since most of the joints are tight or snap, both can be put into a fair range of crouched stances & poses. It’s not perfect recreation of movement, but still-! Some of Gao Tiger’s joints are a little loose, and she tends to slip and fall on her belly sometimes. Her head can also spin through 360°, but this is more for transformation purposes. Gao Eagle has a generous shoulder design for his wings, in addition to movable talons, beak, head, and (to a lesser extent, and for transformation purposes) his tail. The wings can pitch, rotate & swing in just about any direction. This is also useful because Gao Eagle can also be put into a pose with his wings retracted backwards, just like a real bird’s! Gao Shark is a little more limited, but doesn’t really need that extra flexibility. He can bend side-to-side (opposite swing) a little at mid-body, his jaw can open (more on that later), and the pectoral fins swing up and down a little. There is also an optional retractable die-cast wheel which swings down if needed to roll on a hard flat surface. The wheel blocks the mouth from opening, but sitting on the ground like this there’s little room for it anyways. Gao Bison, unfortunately, had his animal movement sacrificed for transformation purposes (hey- one of them had to, right...?), but his mouth can open a ways, and his head can tilt up and down too. But, it’s easy to understand why this is... (More on that later.)
If the Orgu proves too powerful, the five Power Animals can combine into the Hyakujuu Gattai Gao King! Gao King has several weapons at its disposal: the long dagger-like Fin Blade from Gao Shark’s tail, its inherent strength & speed, and its energized finishing blast, the Animal Heart. When the GaoRanger hatch a very rare Soul Bird egg early in the series, when it grows up it not only increases Gao King’s healing abilities, but serves as a new cockpit for the GaoRanger, and increases the Animal Heart finisher into the more powerful Super Animal Heart blast.
[While I do not have PA-8 Soul Bird (and I never will, people!), it is not included in this set and is not necessary for any of the changes.]
Gao King (back) is definitely a Super Sentai combo mecha, with a twist. Its chest is formed by Gao Lion’s head, surrounded by Gao Eagle’s own head and wings- increasing the size of Gao Lion’s golden mane. Gao Eagle’s tail actually forms Gao King’s head, with a golden five-point crown, and its green-eyed face is encompassed within a red lion’s head and mouth! And since the ‘rocket engines’ mounted on Gao Lion’s back are actually Gao King’s shoulder joints, this makes Gao Lion and Gao Eagle integral and required components for the Gao King formation.
Gao Bison goes through a lot of flipping and snapping to become Gao King’s legs and lower torso. (The way Gao Bison’s head protrudes from Gao King’s waist is very similar to the way the Grand Taurus’s head does from the DX Chouriki Gattai OhRanger Robo in “Chouriki Sentai OhRanger”/ aka Zeo Zord-4 from the Deluxe Zeo Megazord, in “Power Rangers Zeo”.) Something else that became a regular feature after “GaoRanger” for Super Sentai DX mecha was naturally spaced legs. On Gao King, the hips have light springs in them, and make them spread apart a little. Since this review was written in early autumn 2006, this particular feature would be repeated several times:
DX Ninpuu Gattai Senpuujin (“Ninpuu Sentai Hurricanger”, 2002)
DX Ikazuchi Gattai Gouraijin (“Ninpuu Sentai Hurricanger”, 2002)
DX Hishou Henkei Tenkujin (“Ninpuu Sentai Hurricanger”, 2002)
DX Bakuryuu Gattai KillerOh (“Bakuryuu Sentai AbaRanger”, 2003)
DX Gougou Gattai DaiBouken (“Gougou Sentai Boukenger”, 2006, 30th Anniversary series)
(Most of the other mecha not mentioned here did not specifically have a spring-related stance, even though they had separate legs that were spread apart a bit.) Yet another feature not frequently seen in Super Sentai mecha is poseable elbows. While the right arm (Gao Shark) can tilt up and down about 45°, and side-to-side around 180°, the left arm (Gao Tiger) can only bend up-and-down at the elbow 45°, but not side-to-side. Add to this how the shoulder joints pivot on Gao Lion when changing it, and you can cheat a little with both arms swinging outwards at the shoulder about 45°. And finally, the Power Animal series would change how the toys were decorated. Now significantly less dependant on decals, a higher amount of paint apps would become commonplace. There are still a few decals provided (for Gao King’s shoulders and legs), but this is way down from even the previous year’s lead combo mecha DX Time Robo Alpha (aka Deluxe Time Force Megazord).
That was the good stuff. Now here’s the not-so good stuff:
- I didn’t highlight it in the main review simply because it isn’t very useful, but the DX Gao King has an unnamed third mode of operation (back). The reason Gao Bison has wheels all over him is because he forms the base of this tank mode; looking like an extended version of the legs for Gao King, but still snapped together. Gao Tiger and Gao Shark huddle together on a semi-transparent platform with the GaoRanger emblem on it. The platform, Gao Lion, and Gao Eagle just sit on top of Gao Bison with no anchoring whatsoever. Though it’s nice to have the third mode return, it wasn’t done very well. In my opinion, they might as well have skipped it altogether... since they didn’t even use it in the show!
- The only way to grip the Shark Fin sword with the right arm is to pinch the hilt into a fragile-looking tube which hides inside Gao Shark’s mouth. However, it only grips the tip, and it barely hangs on. Why not design the blade so that the mouth could grip it directly!? No- I do not care if the tube can rotate or not...!
- Gao Lion doesn’t really change; he just kinda repositions his legs a bit, and his head extends out about 1/8th of an inch to accommodate Gao Eagle’s wings. A bit boring.
- The two die-cast plates on Gao Tiger, which split apart so that her tail can swing around, don’t stay together very well. Perhaps another set-up could have been used. Like, say, if the plates were set-up to cover the connection joint on the side...? Nice idea, but not the best for a toy this size.
- Oh, yeah- that reminds me... The Power Animals line was responsible for a Bandai/PLEX marketing gimmick which would frustrate collectors for years to come. While the DX Kyuukyuu Gattai Victory Robo from “Kyuukyuu Sentai GoGo-V” (1999) (aka the Deluxe Lightspeed Megazord, from “Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue”, 2000) needed to be small in order to fit inside the larger DX Grand Liner/Deluxe Supertrain Megazord, the Power Animals are small for no good reason. Gao King stands at less than 10”, compared to some of the previous lead combo mecha which stood at 11”+ on average. This was done so that in future sets, compatibility with the shoulder joints would allow mecha from different shows (even some non Super Sentai ones) to swap arms. Swapping arms, interesting idea. Small robot size, bad idea. (As of 2006, we are still waiting for a solution to this problem.)
For those of you wondering what the differences are between the DX Hyakujuu Gattai Gao King from “Hyakujuu Sentai GaoRanger”, and its English-speaking counterpart, the Deluxe Wild Force Megazord from “Power Rangers Wild Force” they are subtle, except when you put them side-by side, well - like this:
- Paint apps have been reduced on the Megazord in all kinds of places. Fewer black stripes on the White Tiger Wild Zord, less silver on the Yellow Eagle’s legs, less silver paint on the Blue Shark, and no silver paint for the four teeth on the Red Lion. The mouth of both Gao Lion and Gao Shark got both silver and black paint on the inside, but the black was removed. The very light pink pearl coat of paint which was added to Gao Tiger is missing on the White Tiger, and is just left as plain white plastic. All of the claws on the White Tiger were also left their natural die-cast silver, rather than being painted gold.
- On the other hand, the decals that were applied to Gao Shark, Gao Bison, and Gao Tiger were not added to the Megazord set, and the associated areas were instead painted with red and gold. [The inside areas of the Megazord’s leg on the Black Bison Wild Zord received no paint at all.]
- Some materials were changed. The gold parts from Gao Shark and Gao Bison were replaced with gold-painted equivalents. The compartment that Gao Bison’s legs retract into, originally silver, were replaced with silver-painted parts for the Megazord set.
Surprisingly, all of the original die-cast parts were left intact during the import process. (Finally-! Way to go, Bandai America!) And, all of the original molds are the same as well. (Here is a back view of both toys together.)
The DX Hyakujuu Gattai Gao King made some interesting steps, and was the start of a series which would go through ups and downs, and whose design would influence future Super Sentai combo mecha for years. If you don’t mind all of the tiny paint & part color changes, a Deluxe Wild Force Megazord is an appropriate fill in. But, if you can get a DX Gao King, I recommend you go for it!
[Author’s note: On a quick personal note, I want to thank CollectionDX webmaster Joshua Bernard again for gifting me with his own [battle-torn] Deluxe Wild Force Megazord, which allowed me to begin catching up on the Power Animals line, and served as a stop-gap until I got a new Gao King. Now, I’ll be able to display both Gao King and Gao Muscle at the same time by salvaging the Black Bison and Yellow Eagle from the Megazord. Thanks again, Josh!]
|Posted 16 May, 2010 - 01:00 by EVA_Unit_4A|