Don’t forget to play
Go Go Power Rangers! Go Go Power Rangers! As an 8 year old tomboy those words were so powerful. I was glued to the tv for an hour; fighting Rita Repulsa, Lord Zedd and many other villains. The Power rangers were the coolest 5 kids on the block. The original rangers were black, blue, red, yellow and pink. Most kids wanted to be the red ranger, but as a girl I had to be the pink ranger since she was a girl as well. She was just like me, sarcastic, never backed down from challenge and could keep up with the boys. Instead of asking for the new barbie doll I wanted the pink power ranger. If we fast forward 12 years, my 20 year old self walks into a thrift shop and sees the original pink power ranger action figure. How can a simple action figure bring back so many memories of childhood? The pink power ranger triggered many emotions, happiness yet sadness. The Pink Power ranger was very important into shaping who I am today.
In order to really understand why this particular action figure was such a big part of my life we must first know the history of it. An action figure is a poseable character figurine , made of plastic or other materials, and often based upon characters from a film, comic book, video game, or television program. These action figures are usually marketed toward boys. Barbies were first introduced in 1959 by Mattel, they are not, I repeat are not action figures. I have to point this out because it was been debated for years and I would not want one to get in trouble for saying that barbies are action figures because then we would have a long debate that will not be solved. After barbies came out boys got jealous and said “what about us?” For once in their life women’s had more representation then them and lord knows we cannot have that. So in 1964 Hasbro swooped in and released the “G.I. Joe.” It was inspired from the 1945 movie “The story of G.I. Joe.” It was coined the male barbie, but Hasbro decided to call it an action figure because boys would not to play with a doll since it is for girls.
There was 4 different figures for the different parts of the military; action soldier, action marine, action sailor and action pilot. G.I. Joe figures were more flexible then dolls and had various outfits that they could change in to. G.I. Joes started the revolution of action figures and it was a lucrative market that others wanted to tap into.
The next boom of action figures that came into play were “The Worlds Greatest Super Heroes.” Mego introduced the world to what we know as licensed action figures. Mego had the rights to produce characters from DC and Marvel comics. Imagine being able to have any of the super heroes you want at your finger tips. Sign me up!
Superman, Batman, Captain America, they had it all. Not only did they have heroes, they had villains. In the convenience of your own house you and your friends could beat up the enemies just like you saw in the comic books or on tv. Mego exploded they realized that with licensing they could make a lot of money and give people what they wanted. They later partnered with planet of the apes, tarzan and the wizard of oz. Mego put out a Cher doll in 1976 which went on to be the number one selling doll of the year. This wouldn’t be a great story if there was no downfall. Mego got arrogant and that would ultimately lead to their downfall. In 1976 at the height of their success Mego was offered the license to produce Star Wars action figures. They declined because they just didn’t want to be part of a fad, they did not think that it would be worth it. Spoiler alert: this was a huge mistake on their part. After Mego declined Kenner picked up the license to make the action figures. The original Star wars movie was released in 1972 and as we know today, there was a huge fan base that followed along and they wanted toys. Kenner did not anticipate for such a huge response to the movie and was not prepared for release in time for Christmas. They decided to give out early bird specials, that people could send in to Kenner and receive four Star Wars action figures when the time came.
By 1978 there was twelve different characters a long with different accessories such as vehicles and different weapons. Kenner had made 100 million off of the Star wars retail, do you hear that Mego? Kenner also changed the market of action figures, they usually stood from eight to 10 inches. But Kenner decided to make the Star Wars action figures 3.75 inches and this style was adopted quickly by other manufactures. Trying to bounce back from a missed business venture Mego licensed with other sci fi films such as Moonraker, the Black Hole and Star trek. Unfortunately the ship had sailed and Mego did not have any success with these action figures. While Kenner was making 100 million from star wars action figures alone Mego was struggling to make 100 million overall in the late 70's. Star wars continued to put out more movies and the empire got even bigger, Kenner released more products and made even more money. Mego invested in electronic toys but the return was minimal and eventually the company went into debt in 1982.
The fun really begins in 1983 when federal regulations lifted the ban prohibiting the creation of children’s programming based off of toys. You are probably thinking well how is there a toy and no tv show? In the old days there was this thing called comics that people would read. Out of comics the action figures would be made and you could then read and act out the scenes with your figures. The Mattel Company was one of the first companies to take an action figure and make a tv show. They decided to go with
He-Man and the masters of the universe, it already had a huge following with their action figures so it made sense to use it for a tv show. He-man ran from 1983–1985 and was one of the most popular animated children shows in the 1980's. While the show may have stopped, action figures continued to sell through 1990 creating over one billion in revenue. Transformers was the next in line to take over the world in 1984. They were the first of its kind in the sense of shaping. They could be a action figure, and then transform into a plane, car, truck etc. Transformers was another action figure that was turned into a television show and now we even have movies based off the them. I could continue this and go through all the different waves of action figures how some die out and new ones emerge becoming the next big thing. One thing stays the same, there is a a connection between cartoons and toys.
This leads to 1993 when the greatest show known to mankind was brought to America, Power Rangers. Ciara Andrews (me) was born in 1994 so I was born into this culture. I was the second born and since my parents already had my older sister I was the boy of the family. I was your typical tom boy, I resented dresses and loved sneakers more then church shoes. At recess I was playing football with the guys instead of jumping rope with the girls. I traded Pokemon cards and played Yu Gi Oh. It was only right that I was an avid Power Rangers fan, but this was different. I was represented on the show, there was a girl kicking some serious butt and it was cool. I was the Pink Power Ranger among all the boys I was the token girl in a group of boys and I embraced it. Whenever my cousin Matthew and I would watch the Power Rangers movie he was the red one and I was the pink one. Once we got our action figures it was game over, we spent countless hours playing with them buying accessories to go along with them. Action figures were meant to played by boys since they did not want to play with dolls. But I would like to thank the creators of Power Rangers for realizing that there were girls like me who enjoyed action figures. This black and white thought on girls play with dolls and boys play with action figures was no more. People will like that they will like and it is important to try and cater to all these people. Over time more characters were introduced but the pink one would forever stay my favorite. I know you are probably thinking “how cute a girl likes the pink ranger how original.” Trust me it gets better.
In a day in age where technology is just taking over, why in the world are action figures still selling? When I was growing up game consoles were really getting big. We had Nintendo 64s, Playstation’s, game boys, XBOX’s and with all this at my fingertips why in world why was I playing with an action figure. I love video games it’s great to live in a virtual world and play as someone else. But once I turn that game off I am CC again, it is back to reality. Action figures are are tangible I can feel them I can see it all the time. I could have that pink action figure with me all the time it never left my side. The simplicity of action figures cannot be reckoned with, action figures are timeless. He-man action figures can be sold for up to a hundred bucks, we are talking about a figure that can move its arms and legs. People are willing to pay for them because it is a memory of when they were young, He man was a comic book so it may remind them of a time when comic books were the big thing. As adults we sometimes look for outlets from the real world and action figures can serve that purpose. The same way a 50 year old man in a mid life crisis may buy a motorcycle to feel young again, people buy action figures to feel that same rush. As much as we love all this technology, our iPhones, flatscreen tv’s we always long for when times were simple. I look at my little cousins who range from ages 2–10 and I see them playing together. They are playing with their dolls or with race cars and they couldn’t be happier. My baby cousin has a ring of keys and that could keep her entertained for hours. I sit back and watch and it really is a site to see how they can have so much fun with so little, it puts a smile on my own face. So when my 20 year old self walks into the thrift store and see’s the original pink power ranger it is no surprise I cant but help to feel good inside. In that moment I am my 8 year old self playing with my cousins running around the house care free. Whether it was legos, power rangers or hot wheels it was always a good time. I was sad because I am not my 8 year old self anymore, I have responsibilities; school, basketball, relationships. We grow up and are taught not to have fun and act like an adult. Toys are for kids, video games are juvenile. I sit on my laptop and phone for countless hours letting time slip away. I have forgotten how to have fun, I have forgotten how to play. But as sit in my room with the best 25 dollars I have ever spent the pink power ranger washes everything away and all I can do is smile.