August 28th is informally known as “Power Rangers Day”, the anniversary of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers first episode. This year’s anniversary is a big one, as the franchise turns 30! To celebrate this momentous moment in Millennial pop culture, we’re looking back at how the Power Rangers were tied to the X-Men – aside from their epic theme songs composed by Ron Wasserman.
Stan Lee Starts It All
Yep, Marvel’s legendary Generalissmo, co-creator of the X-Men, has direct ties to directPower Rangers. By the late 1970s, Stan had stepped away from creating comics to head Marvel Productions. His goal was to bring the universe he co-created to television and movie theaters. In the U.S., this led to a fruitful partnership with Universal Television, most notably producing the beloved Incredible Hulk TV series. In Japan, they partnered with The Toei Company. Marvel Productions assisted Toei in the creation of three entries in their Super Sentai franchise – Battle Fever J, Denjiman, and Sun Vulcan.With Marvel’s influence, the franchise went from the verge of cancellation to a major hit.
Lee and his team at Marvel Productions saw massive potential in the franchise and tried to bring it to the United States. One possibility was a simple dub, reminiscent of the U.S. version of Johnny Sokko & His Flying Robot. Another was a straight remake, reshooting the series stateside. And the middle option was to dub the costumed footage and cut it together with footage of American actors.
No method of bringing it over impressed networks and the project was dead by the mid-80s. After that fell through, Marvel Productions’ next big push was the X-Men. Uncanny X-Men was Marvel Comics’ best-selling title at the time, and it seemed like a shoo-in for Saturday morning success. TV execs did not agree, despite a few attempted pilots (both standalone and backdoor).
Margaret Loesch Creates Millennial Childhoods
In 1985, children’s television producer Haim Saban took a business trip to Japan. While where, he caught an episode of Choudenshi Bioman, the eighth Super Sentai series. Like Stan Lee before him, he saw something very unique and full of potential. He licensed the series and produced Bio-Man, a 1986 pilot for an Americanized version. Once again, no networks were interested.
Saban Entertainment went on to major successes in children’s animation. In 1992, they were hired by upstart children’s network Fox Kids to produce X-Men: The Animated Series.Saban had an in to pitch their Super Sentai adaptation once more, now called Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and based on the dinosaur themed Zyuranger. The series found the benefactor it needed in Fox Kids president Margaret Loesch. See, Loesch had been the president of Marvel Productions and Stan Lee’s right-hand in the 80s. She had worked on Marvel’s attempts to bring both the X-Men and Super Sentai to American TV. Now a network head, she happily gave both the Power Rangers and the X-Men the chance no one else had.
Both shows went on to be generation defining hits.
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Turns 30
As of August 28, 2023, the Power Rangers franchise is thirty years old. Fans who grew up with the earliest installments are of prime nostalgia age, creating a larger market than ever before for vintage Power Rangers stuff. If you’ve got mint-in-box 1993 Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers action figures, you could be sitting on a nice payday. Mint-in-box Dragonzord toys, for example, generally sell for a few hundred dollars.
Loose specimens sell for significantly less but can still have some value. That’s why it’s important to let collectibles experts like Back to the Past evaluate your collection before slapping that garage sale sticker on it. Unlike contemporary X-Men toys, mint Power Rangers toys are fairly rare. They didn’t initially appeal too much to adult speculators, meaning most toys sold were opened and played with. Which also means that loose specimens with play-wear aren’t overly hard to find. It’s a thin line to walk, but we can help you navigate it.
What childhood collection do you wish you still had mint-in-box? Let us know in the comments or hit us up on social media @b2pcollect!