The Toys That Made Us (2017) s03e02 Episode Script

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

1 [narrator Donald Black.]
At a time when ink and paint heroics ruled the airwaves, one team of color-coded superheroes dared put the "action" in "live-action.
" Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
[DB.]
But long before these helmeted heroes were gridlocking American highways - Mobs of people.
- [DB.]
and toy aisles It was flowing out of the stores.
[DB.]
they were crushing it [Power Ranger shouts in Japanese.]
[DB.]
in Japan.
It's been going for a long time.
[DB.]
This is the story of a decade-spanning dynasty It has to have the giant robot.
[DB.]
and the brave visionaries who saw brilliance I believe it's groundbreaking.
- [DB.]
where others saw blunder.
- It was kinda silly.
- [DB.]
Risks were taken - If this don't work, it's your job.
- Oh.
- [DB.]
and empires were built Bandai America was very small at the time.
[DB.]
through the hits and misses, the Rangers have morphed with the times, as fans around the world sing its praise.
Go Go Power Rangers Da-da-da Don't make me sing, it's bad.
[DB.]
Prime up your putties and motor up your Megazord, because these are the toys that made us.
A continuing series About the toys that we all know Plastic creations That last for generations And we still cannot let go Little molded figures That gave us big dreams We'll go back in time And behind the scenes It's the toys that made us, toys that made us The toys that made us is here [DB.]
Blue black pink yellow red, and even dubious green.
[Power Ranger laughs.]
[DB.]
Whatever your favorite color, toy maker Bandai USA had you covered.
This best selling line Wait, hang on! Are we talking about Power Rangers? Our biggest seller was a line of sidewalk chalk.
[DB.]
Well, after they made a delightful assortment - of sidewalk chalk - It was great sidewalk chalk.
[DB.]
they went on to make Power Rangers.
And to find out exactly how this tiny toy maker We had fewer than 30 employees.
[DB.]
chalked up billions and created the biggest action figure line of the '90s Awesome! [DB.]
we need to somersault backwards through time until we get to Japan in the '70s! [explosion.]
It was a time before Power Rangers.
[grunting.]
But in Japan, there were already movies, TV shows and toy lines captivating the imagination of Japanese children.
[clattering.]
While American kids enjoyed dreary old Speak & Spells and Slinkys, Japan had unleashed a monster.
After Godzilla was released in 1954, that special-effect-laden genre of filmmaking became very popular in Japan and became known as tokusatsu.
[DB.]
Which means "special filming.
" And in Japan, the filming didn't get any more special than at the famed Toei Studios, where work was underway on an all-new superhero tokusatsu, created by the man who wrote the book on superheroes.
Literally.
He wrote heaps of them.
Ishinomori was the Stan Lee of Japan.
[DB.]
And soon Ishinomori's talents jumped from the page to the screen.
[John Sepulveda.]
He created a character named Kamen Rider, which was the first henshin hero.
- [DB.]
And if you're wondering - "Henshin" means "transform.
" Kamen Rider would go, "Henshin!" And he would just - transform.
- [DB.]
Oh, that sounds familiar.
No, these aren't robots.
They're transforming superheroes.
A totally different thing.
[DB.]
Well, this "totally different thing" was a huge hit.
And soon Toei Studios was looking to - [voice-over.]
Henshin! - [DB.]
that success into profit.
So Toei rode out in search of a toy-producing partner.
We did talk to a lot of companies, - for sure.
- And many companies disappeared along the way.
[laughing.]
[DB.]
But one Japanese company was here to stay.
Bandai Japan had been making toys since the '50s.
All the great super robots at the time were made by this one company.
[DB.]
These super robots, known as "mechas" [Trish Stewart.]
They are very war-like, they look like samurai warriors, they're very weaponized.
[DB.]
these awesome toys rolled off the Bandai assembly line to the highest standards.
They were die-cast metal, they were really intricate.
[DB.]
These toys were in great shape.
As were the Bandai employees.
[commentator.]
At 7:30 in the morning, Bandai's 300 workers begin their compulsory exercise session.
[DB.]
Bandai and Toei were the perfect fit.
So they partner with Bandai, and the first thing they released was the Kamen Rider henshin belt.
[Scott Zillner.]
It lit up and it spun.
It was a smash hit.
[DB.]
With more and more Kamen Rider toys to buy, parents around Japan tightened their belts.
But for Kamen Rider, being a solitary hero not only makes fighting large groups of villains hard, it also limits toy sales.
Toei producers wanted a show with a team of Kamen Riders.
So Shôtarô Ishinomori took the concept of Kamen Rider and he made a team.
[superhero shouts in Japanese.]
It's a group of heroes, five of them.
At first glance they're designed the same, but different in color.
[DB.]
Known as Sentai.
Sentai means "squadron" or "task force.
" [DB.]
But from looking at them it could mean "mighty" or "morphing.
" - They had multicolored suits - [DB.]
That sounds about right.
- and vehicles.
- [DB.]
And probably giant robots, too.
- They didn't have giant robots.
- [DB.]
They didn't? - Not yet.
- [DB.]
But rest assured, - there will be giant robots.
- Not yet.
[laughs.]
[DB.]
In the coming years, Toei and Bandai entertained Japan with more Sentai series and more toys.
But the future of Power Rangers was about to shift, from the Japanese Stan Lee to the real one.
[John.]
In the late '70s, the opportunity came about for Marvel to produce a Spider-Man for Japanese television with Toei.
It had its own flavor.
[John.]
His powers were granted to him by an injection [screams.]
from a gentleman from the planet Spider.
And when he would come across his enemies he would say, "I am the emissary of hell.
" Spiderman! [John laughs.]
Yeah, it was weird.
[DB.]
Oh, don't worry.
Spidey was still a good guy fighting baddies.
But, much like the solitary Kamen Rider, when it came to Bandai selling toys, Spidey's web didn't shoot far.
There was only Spider-Man in the Spider-Man series.
Then toy companies had nothing else to sell other than Spider-Man.
So then Bandai worked with them.
[DB.]
So Bandai and Toei came up with a big idea.
- Well? - A giant robot.
[DB.]
Finally.
[noise of gunfire.]
Spider-Man would be in trouble, and he would summon the rocket ship.
And the ship would transform into a giant robot to fight.
And then you would see Spider-Man inside the robot.
[sound of weapons firing.]
That's great.
[DB.]
Well, the kids thought so, too.
Spider-Man's giant robot gave Bandai and Toei a super idea.
They took what they figured out from Spider-Man, guy, robot, monster, fight that monster, step and repeat.
And they decided to bring back their Sentai series in this new formula.
And that's what we call Super Sentai.
[DB.]
And with that, the Sentai finally had all the ingredients they needed to be a super toy-producing machine.
Thanks, Spider-Man.
By '85, Marvel Toy and Bandai had partnered on three Super Sentai shows, which sent Stan Lee's Sentai senses tingling.
[karate noises.]
[John.]
Taiyou Sentai Sun Vulcan was a show that Stan Lee was very interested in adapting for an American audience.
[DB.]
But American audiences, I.
e.
, "kids," were used to cheerful animated stuff and certainly not ugly Japanese ball monsters.
If Stan was serious about cracking the US market, he'd need help from someone with big ones.
Oh, ideas, not ball monsters.
But Stan didn't need to look far to find the right man for the job.
My name is Margaret Loesch, and when I was with Marvel, I was Stan Lee's boss.
[laughs.]
[DB.]
And as CEO of Marvel's TV division, Margaret was everyone else's boss as well.
I first got into children's programs in 1975.
[DB.]
And she's been pleasing American audiences, I.
e.
, "kids," ever since.
[Margaret.]
I've done Muppet Babies, The Smurfs, and G.
I.
Joe [DB.]
All heavy hitters.
[Margaret.]
X-Men, Batman, Animaniacs.
[DB.]
Not a stinker in the bunch.
A version of Scooby-Doo.
- [DB.]
Which version? - It was with Scrappy.
- [DB.]
Oof! - Big mistake.
[DB.]
Scrappy-Doo aside, Margaret was a visionary.
If anyone could see the potential in Super Sentai, it would be her.
Stan came into my office one day with a three-quarter-inch video cassette, and he said, "Maggie, you've gotta look at this.
" [theme music plays.]
[Margaret.]
And Stan said, "Isn't it great?" And I said, "As a matter of fact, it is.
It's so funny.
It reminds me of those Godzilla movies, but with humor.
Let's try to sell it.
" [DB.]
Great idea.
Just one problem.
It's all in Japanese.
[talking in Japanese.]
So I authorized Stan to spend $25,000 to make a little pilot out of the existing footage with a voice-over.
We went to the networks with a two or three-minute clip, and they basically laughed us out of the room.
[laughs.]
[ML.]
The reaction went from, "How could you bring me something this stupid?" to "This is horrible.
It's too violent and it's so cheap.
" They hated it.
[DB.]
Stan and Margaret gave up on their dream of morphing these blue, red and yellow characters into American TV gold.
I thought it would work.
It's worked for years in Japan.
[DB.]
But things in Japan were changing, too.
And troubles were brewing at Bandai.
This past quarter, business has slipped badly.
To survive this harsh environment, we have to develop new markets.
[DB.]
So that's exactly what they did.
Bandai Japan made Bandai America to bring their toys over to America.
[DB.]
In 1982, Bandai America released the Godaikin line.
Kind of a greatest hits of Japanese robots, all brought into one toy line.
Godaikins are actually all the robots from the '80s Sentai series.
The toys were released as they were in Japan.
Exact molds, exact weapons and accessories and exact colors.
[DB.]
But there was a problem.
If you think about what the American idea of a robot was at that time, you think about Robby the Robot, or The Jetsons.
It's very different from the look of the Japanese robot.
[DB.]
And as a result They did not fare well because there was no TV show to back them up.
[DB.]
unlike these Japanese robots.
Folks, these robots are hot.
- [DB.]
Just one year later - Prepare for battle! Our issue was the price point.
[DB.]
At 70 dollars? Who can afford that? [DB.]
The Godaikins were a flop.
So, as Bandai America found other ways to connect to kids, they were now on the map, ready to make their mark, at least for now, on the sidewalk.
It was great sidewalk chalk, but it was not Power Rangers, [DB.]
Oh.
But it will be.
Channel surfing through the years [speaking in Japanese.]
[DB.]
flipping to 1984 [TV.]
The '84 Olympics [DB.]
Power Rangers' tune was about to change.
And if anyone could do it, it would be this man.
I'm Haim Saban, and it's pronounced "Hi-am," if you can do it.
[DB.]
As bass player for a short-lived Israeli band, Haim Saban soon began cutting tunes with his partner, Shuki Levy, - for an American audience, I.
e.
- Kids.
[DB.]
They did all those catchy '80s cartoon theme songs.
[Haim.]
We did everything from Inspector Gadget to Masters of the Universe.
You name it.
[DB.]
Okay, then.
How about Mysterious Cities of Gold? - Yes.
- [DB.]
Rainbow Brite? The answer is yes.
- [DB.]
She-Ra.
- Yes.
- [DB.]
Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo? - No.
[TV.]
Puppy power! Daba-daba-dum [DB.]
But when the minstrel of infectious, incurable theme songs made his way to Japan in 1984, his life and the toy world would change forever.
I was watching television in my hotel room in Tokyo.
I bumped into this very colorful show, five kids in spandex, kicking monster butt.
And I thought, "This looks like fun.
" [DB.]
But to Haim Saban, it also looked like an opportunity.
[Haim.]
And then I realized, in all the action sequences, there were no faces shown.
And it kind of dawned on me I could shoot an American segment Oh, man.
I'm late for karate practice.
[Haim.]
and incorporate it with the action sequences which is always the more expensive part of a show [Haim.]
and create an American show, overdubbing voices when they are wearing masks.
I believe it's groundbreaking.
- [DB.]
Saban had henshin-ed - Henshin! [DB.]
from music composer to television producer overnight.
But before he could fulfill his dream of a Sentai sensation overseas, he'd have to win over the Toei executives.
- In the beginning, I thought he was crazy.
- Oh.
And then it changed into passion.
He's got the intense look, - and he's really loud, too.
- Thank you.
And then I finally thought, "Oh.
He loves it.
" - I loved it.
- "He loves Sentai.
" And I still do, by the way.
[DB.]
Saban and Toei inked a deal allowing him to acquire rights Worldwide, outside of Asia.
[DB.]
to Toei's now eighth Sentai show, Chodenshi Bioman, and of course, the toy rights to said property.
We shot a pilot.
It was a 16-minute presentation type.
And it was really pretty bad.
I would go and knock on doors every single network, every single producer and they would tell me I should stick to my day job.
I should not be doing television and I definitely should not be doing Bioman.
That went on for the better part of eight years.
- [DB.]
Eight years? - Eight years.
[DB.]
There had been like two Olympics since then.
Chances of Bioman limping to victory at this point weren't looking good.
But then In the eighth year, in 1992, I met with Margaret Loesch.
[DB.]
Wait a minute.
As in former Marvel production CEO, - Margaret Loesh? - Yes.
[DB.]
But now in charge of children's programming - at Fox, Margaret Loesch? - Yes.
[TV.]
Excellent.
What a small world.
[DB.]
Saban pressed play on a well-worn video cassette.
[karate sounds.]
I said, "I know this property.
" He said, "You do?" "I love this property.
" He says, "You do?" I almost passed out.
I said to him, "We'll do 52 episodes if we can make a deal.
" I said, "Okay.
" [DB.]
Eager to gloat about the surefire hit, - Margaret went to her boss.
- Who said, "You did what?" Oh, my God.
He said, "This is horrible.
" What's going on? "It's violent.
It's stupid.
" I'm shrinking! "It looks cheesy.
" And he said, "Why would you buy this show?" When I told him all the reasons I thought it would work he said, "I'll tell you what, I'll give you the money for a pilot.
And if it works, then I'll let you commit to the show.
" And then he said to me, "You know, if this doesn't work, it's your job.
" [DB.]
Putting it all on the line, Loesch and Saban went to work on the pilot.
Guys, we've got work to do.
It was at such a rapid pace that the shooting started as soon as he signed the contracts.
It was that quick.
[DB.]
First, acquiring the rights to Toei's most recent Sentai series.
Zyuranger.
How's that for a coincidence? "Jew Ranger.
" There you have it.
[DB.]
The plan was simple, if not entirely orthodox.
Take existing footage and story elements from Zyuranger [DB.]
and marry it to freshly-shot American actors Great move, Zack.
[DB.]
thus creating something completely original.
- It's really as simple as that.
- [DB.]
Or was it? I showed up on the first day and they were like, "We're fighting monsters, but they're not there - and they'll be cut in after the fact.
" - Look! And we were like, "Oh, okay.
" [laughs.]
We didn't really know how to gauge it.
Oh, man, this is too weird.
[DB.]
And it wasn't just the cast who were a little lost.
Half my staff ridiculed me.
The Fox sales team was aghast.
It was kind of silly.
You know, the show itself was a little over the top.
[yells.]
They didn't want me to show it to advertisers.
So I said to Margaret, "There's only one way we can convince them.
" [DB.]
It was time for a test to see how the show would fare with the world's toughest critics, I.
e.
, kids.
We had a test with kids.
A dial test.
When you turn it to the right, you like it.
When you turn it to the left, you don't like it.
[DB.]
Loesch and Saban anxiously cued up the tape.
[Haim Saban.]
The show starts Ah! After 10,000 years, I'm free! [Haim.]
The dial went to the right.
And it stayed there for 22 minutes.
This is a hit.
What do we do now? [DB.]
Toys, of course.
That's where a lot of the money is made.
[DB.]
And for Saban, there is potential for a lot of money.
Outside of Japan, he got the toy rights around the world.
[DB.]
Well, let's see how that works out for him.
But for now, the easy part: Making the toys.
So when Haim Saban hooked up with Toei, Bandai came in as a default.
[DB.]
Just like in Japan, Toei would shoot the footage in conjunction with Bandai, and Bandai would make the toys.
[Trish.]
Development of the television show and the toy from Japan went hand in hand.
Bandai had such a strong relationship with the show in Japan, it became like a half an hour commercial for the toy line.
Because they would help work in the actual props.
[DB.]
Which, incidentally, were designed by this man.
Tsuyoshi Nonaka.
There are no designers in Toei for these.
So all the designs are made in Bandai.
I'm the crazy person who imagines stuff like that.
We couldn't do it anywhere else but with Bandai.
[DB.]
But Bandai Japan couldn't be expected to Americanize the toy line.
So Bandai America, you're up.
This was their shot at the big time, magically rinsing away with water - their old reputation.
- It was very stressful.
There was a lot of pressure on us to make it work.
[DB.]
No need to worry, Trish.
Please remember, in 1991, Zyuranger was aired in Japan.
So the same robots appeared in Power Rangers.
[DB.]
Hm.
Go on.
If they used those parts in America, all they need is the running costs.
[DB.]
Too easy.
They can use the toys from Japan.
And what toys they were.
[Trish.]
I was really impressed with the great quality of these toys.
They were just beautiful.
The figures were larger than action figures at the time.
And they were fully articulated and beautifully made.
And I fell in love with the figures.
And then we saw the robots that were part of the line, too.
And those were astonishing.
[DB.]
Those robots, like this one, called Shenga getai er, Zynga getai er, oh! - What are we gonna call these things? - [DB.]
To Americanize the toy line, the team at Bandai would have to rename everything, starting with the series itself.
- We can't call it - Zyuranger.
It doesn't mean anything here.
We need a name.
It needed to be strong, bigger than life.
And then someone said, "Power Rangers.
" We need more than Power Rangers.
We need something that indicates that they transform.
Henshin! [Trish.]
"Metamorphosis," that's a great word.
So let's use "morph.
" Morphin was created by Peter Dang.
[DB.]
Dang, the VP of Marketing, wanted to capitalize on the popularity of Transformers, along with another martial arts mouthful Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
You wanted the same amount of syllables in the name.
So then we have Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
Yes, that works.
And that was the name.
[DB.]
And with that, a small team of sidewalk chalk specialists came up with a combination of words that arguably defined a decade.
But their work was far from over.
[Trish.]
We had to come up with the way the logo was going to look, the colors that we would use, that lightning flash in the middle of it.
The toys I made were all translated in English.
It was so new and refreshing to me.
[DB.]
With the new name and, well, old toy line [Buoni.]
They used the Japanese molds.
And it even has the Japanese writing and it has the 1991 year, but they were manufactured in 1993.
[DB.]
Bandai and Saban had an American toy line to go with their all-American show.
It's not brain surgery, you know.
At the end of the day, it's really not.
[DB.]
Maybe not brain surgery, but now they had to figure out how to keep kids from performing surgery on each other with the toys.
There are different toy safety standards in America than Japan.
Maybe a sharp piece of metal.
This is the American version.
They require more safety.
[DB.]
At this point, selling the toys wasn't even a safe bet.
They just had to wait until the show aired.
Which would be when, exactly? The affiliates basically said, "We're not gonna air this.
" Uh-oh.
Many of them were these small, independent stations, many of them struggled in little markets, but we at Fox really wanted them to participate.
So we ultimately made a deal structured in a way that the affiliates could participate in the revenue from the toys.
[DB.]
Wait.
So if the affiliates agreed to carry Power Rangers, - they would get a cut of the toys? - Correct.
- [DB.]
Had that ever happened before? - No.
This was an unprecedented deal for the company and it was an unprecedented deal in the industry.
And I knew that if the toys were successful, we would get enough money to be able to give them something.
[DB.]
What did they have to lose? However, for Margaret and Saban, there was plenty to lose.
[thinks.]
"If this doesn't work, it's your job.
" [DB.]
At 7:30 a.
m.
, Saturday morning, August 28th, 1993, children woke up to this.
[theme music playing.]
So what did they think of this mutated mash-up of dubbed Japanese footage Yes, I like it.
[DB.]
and American kids doing normal high school stuff? It was an instant hit.
[cheering.]
From the moment that show aired, we essentially shot to number one.
It is America's number one kids' show.
Haim and I were stunned.
We cleaned up.
It was scorched earth for everybody else.
[Meadows.]
I loved it.
I was like, "I don't know what this is, but I love everything about it.
" Once you saw the giant robot battling in a city, that is cool.
[DB.]
And as for the toy sales, they were [voice-over.]
Too hot to handle.
[DB.]
The first year's release included You had the Power Ranger figure, all the roleplay items, whether they're guns or swords.
Then you could get the buckle, so you look like you had your own morpher.
- Triceratops.
- It's morphin' time.
And you always need your villains to fight your Rangers.
[voice-over.]
No one can stop us.
Just let them try.
Okay.
[DB.]
Now it feels like we're forgetting something.
- Giant robots.
- [DB.]
Of course.
[voice-over.]
It's Megazord.
Part of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers' ultimate battle system.
[DB.]
And finally, Bandai had found a way to sell giant robots in the U.
S.
, - repackaged under the name - Zords.
[DB.]
Trish and the team had fun naming that one, too.
We looked at the accessories that they had and, you know, the sword.
"Oh, a sword.
How about 'Zord'?" It sounds like "dinosaur," Dinozord.
Perfect.
[DB.]
They surely were.
Zords were marvels of toy engineering, starting with a simple idea.
It's a robot of an animal form.
They're also vehicles.
We can jump in them and ride wherever we gotta go.
Mine was the triceratops.
[DB.]
These amazing toys could grow into something much more.
When one Zord wasn't enough to do the job, then you brought all the Zords together.
To combine and become a Megazord.
- [DB.]
Combining with - The Dragonzord.
- [DB.]
to make - Make a Dragonzord.
- [DB.]
then toss in a - Titanus.
- [DB.]
which will give you - Ultramega Now I'm confused.
Very confusing.
[laughs.]
[DB.]
These toys really were [voice-over.]
Too hot to handle.
[DB.]
So hot, in fact, that the toy stores They ran out of product.
Nobody has them.
[man shouts.]
Everybody, form a line.
It was just blowing out of the stores.
- People were fighting in the aisles.
- [sound of sword fighting.]
We were getting over 450 calls a day.
- [phone rings.]
- "Why can't I get these toys?" "Why aren't they on the shelves?" [shouting.]
"Why can't you sell it to me directly?" "Why aren't you making more of them?' Yeah.
It was overwhelming, frankly.
[DB.]
It was an overwhelming time.
[commentator.]
Over 35,000 fans clamor to see the Power Rangers, gridlocking the L.
A.
freeway system.
[DB.]
And amidst this incredible frenzy, something had happened to little Bandai America.
With Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, they were now at the big table, with Hasbro and with Mattel and with Kenner.
[DB.]
But not just at the big table.
With almost a billion dollars in sales during Power Rangers' first year, Bandai was at the head of the table.
[laughing.]
[DB.]
But if they wanted to stay there, there'd be no time for celebration.
The second year, we refreshed everything.
- New Zords - [DB.]
Of course, repackaged from Japan.
But the newly confident Bandai America had some of their own tricks up their sleeves.
After Rita Repulsa retired - You won't get away with this! - It's been fun.
- we needed Lord Zedd.
- [DB.]
Or, if you prefer his noble title Lord Zedd, Scourge of the Universe.
Zedd was an American-made villain.
[DB.]
But it was their American-made heroes that Bandai was hoping kids would flip their lids for.
We call them flip-heads.
Auto-Morphin head figures.
Bandai came up with a patented technology that actually morphs the figure.
Tyrannozord! By a push of a button, the teenager's head flips.
Yeah, the Power Ranger.
It's a little bit like magic.
[DB.]
Even more magical was their sales volume.
This was the number one hit in Power Ranger history.
[DB.]
'93 had been a very good year for Saban.
And by Christmas of '94 Power Rangers sell out in a matter of minutes.
[DB.]
Despite adding 11 more factories to keep up with demand.
It was another blowout.
Yeah, I'm sorry about that.
But after being rejected for eight years, it was very gratifying, I must admit.
Have you got any Megazords? [DB.]
After three years of rating dominance, it seemed that Fox Kids and Saban had a White Tigerzord by the tail.
And Power Rangers were a household name.
I get all the Power Rangers stuff I want anyway.
- Here, take it.
- I've [DB.]
Loesch and Saban were powering ahead with more episodes, all based on a winning formula.
- We're having fun.
- [DB.]
And buying toys.
Bad guy has plot.
It is time to finish off those Power Rangers.
[DB.]
Kid buys more toys Fight bad guy - [DB.]
Fight with parents for more toys.
- Ultimate fight.
[DB.]
Ultimately, kids get toys.
- [Scott.]
Then we're having fun again.
- [DB.]
And buying more toys.
So, not an issue.
[DB.]
Until you start running out of footage from Japan.
- They'd already introduced - Sixth Ranger.
[voice-over.]
The Green Ranger! Rita turned Tommy - I'm Tommy.
- into a bad guy.
[laughing.]
Then somehow the spell is removed, and he joins with the Rangers.
The Green Ranger stuff going on, you get like the Dragon Dagger, and it can actually play the sound.
Doo da-doo doodle-ooh And you do so many cool things.
[DB.]
Then, when they ran out of Green Ranger footage Then a White Ranger comes in.
- [DB.]
played by the same actor.
- Guess who's back.
Tommy, the original Green Ranger who became the White Ranger.
Tommy merchandise is very popular.
[DB.]
These confusing plot-line acrobatics - Is it really you? - [DB.]
couldn't last forever.
Haim could no longer rely totally on Japanese footage, so we had to shoot more and more here.
What's happening to me? [DB.]
With costume footage running threadbare, Saban decided to cut yet another pattern from the same Super Sentai spandex.
[John Sepulveda.]
In Japan, the practice with Super Sentai, the toy, was, every year, you get a whole new team, new weapons, vehicles, suits.
And then another lightbulb went off in Saban's head.
Oh, my God.
If I change them every year, I can sell every one of those kids another whole set of toys.
If you want to.
But at least we give that option.
[DB.]
Oh, they wanted to.
So, no more "Go Go Power Rangers.
" Now "Power Rangers Zeo.
" Zeo, Zeo [Power Rangers' theme tune plays.]
[DB.]
With the release of Power Rangers Zeo in 1996, Saban was able to solve that footage problem for years to come, because The cast is replaced, just like they do in Japan, every year.
- Oh, well, I guess that's showbiz.
- [DB.]
Well, some things got smaller.
It's only five inches tall, but it's got huge power sword action.
[DB.]
Most things got bigger.
Pyramidas is this big gold pyramid.
I just said I wanna make a giant toy.
It was big.
[DB.]
It all led to giant profits, of course.
Three years in and everyone was cashing in on Power Rangers.
[laughs.]
Bandai loved it, all the way to the bank.
There were big bonuses at Bandai.
[DB.]
Guess who else was cashing in? The stations had given me such a hard time.
[DB.]
But after years of rating dominance They were very apologetic.
- [DB.]
Big surprise? - [Margaret.]
And as a matter of fact, the affiliates gave me an award as Broadcaster of the Year.
[DB.]
By 1996, the show was broadcast in 80 countries.
You'll be receiving over $48 million.
[DB.]
And that was just the tip of the Powerzord, all thanks to that promise she'd made.
The affiliates could participate in the revenue from the toys.
[DB.]
And participate they did.
We were literally able to turn millions over in toy money to the stations.
The promise is coming true.
[DB.]
But Margaret wasn't done shaking things up.
She was just getting started.
I started recommending to Fox, "We need a cable channel.
" [DB.]
Fox Kids was only getting one-hour chunks in the Fox affiliates and couldn't compete with Disney or Nickelodeon's 24-hour coverage.
So Margaret had another bold idea.
Why don't we buy Saban Productions? - Huh? - [DB.]
Wait, you mean We should buy Haim's company.
[DB.]
And with that, the real '90s power couple went their separate - But keep him attached.
- [DB.]
Oh.
Haim has an expertise and knows everybody.
That's gonna be good for us.
[DB.]
And really good for Power Rangers.
So as Fox Kids Network set off to dominate the world of children's programming, under the new arrangement Haim became 50 percent owner and Rupert the other 50 percent.
[DB.]
Yeah, Rupert.
As in Rupert Murdoch? And that left Margaret without much power at all.
And so I now found myself having to report to Haim, and it changed the dynamics totally.
[DB.]
After just over one year, the unshakable partnership between two visionaries was over.
[Margaret.]
I tried but that's when we decided to call it a day.
What are you saying? I think that it's time to pass the power on to someone else.
I was a bit devastated, because I felt like I had birthed a baby and then had to leave it.
[screams.]
Which is exactly what happened.
[DB.]
But don't worry, Power Rangers' new parents would safely guide the brand towards adolescence.
Or would they? But unfortunately, the next season Shift into Turbo! tanked the ratings.
Toys didn't sell too well.
I think it was because they were cars.
Kids felt, "I'll just get a Transformer if I want to transform a car.
" This time you ain't just gonna win.
- [DB.]
And there was another problem.
- Justin.
What am I, chopped liver? They didn't like the idea of a kid being a Power Ranger.
- [DB.]
But don't worry.
- Power Rangers was saved by - [DB.]
Justin? - No.
The following season, which was Power Rangers in Space.
[DB.]
Power Rangers toys took off again with Space and Lost Galaxy.
Dagger.
Claw.
Arrow.
Two small daggers.
[DB.]
They even reimagined those classic Auto-Morphin figures.
When you twist the leg [whirring sound.]
the teenager morphs into a Ranger.
[DB.]
But then, the next year All the vehicles they used were trains.
We started losing the fan base again.
They were looking at it like, "These are baby toys, kids' stuff.
" [DB.]
As Power Rangers was losing steam, Saban was busy gaining a global media empire.
We had kids' networks in 57 countries.
We had two networks here, The Family Channel and the Fox Kids Network.
[DB.]
All thanks to Power Rangers, Saban's media empire had grown so big that Power Rangers itself [Haim.]
Represented about two and a half percent of our revenue.
[DB.]
And arguably, two and a half percent - of his attention.
- That's it.
To Haim's credit, he's a very creative businessman.
- [DB.]
It was clear by 2001 that - I need help.
[DB.]
And help would come, from a monstrous giant bigger than even Serpentera, the biggest Zord in the universe, and that fearsome beast Well, Disney, of course.
[Eric Pham.]
Disney had all the princesses in the world then.
So you realize that they had to chase after the boys' market, thus the whole acquisition of Power Rangers from Saban.
[DB.]
Oh, but hang on.
Disney didn't just buy Power Rangers, they bought the whole network for three billion dollars.
[Haim.]
The acquisition by Disney My mistake was not to say to Disney, "Everything's for sale, except for Power Rangers.
" It was a mistake.
[DB.]
When Saban sold Fox Family to Disney, for the first time in 16 years, he was not a part of the Power Rangers team.
[DB.]
I kind of disconnected and moved on with my life.
From that point on, Disney starts to produce Power Rangers.
We're all kind of new to this.
[DB.]
Well, not everyone was new.
Disney still relied on the Japanese Super Sentai footage.
And most importantly, Bandai still handled the toys both in America and Japan.
On the toys side, Bandai had a lot of say in the vehicles, the robots and things like that, because they wanted to make sure that these things were toyetic.
- [DB.]
"Toyetic"? - Toyetic.
If it had a toy quality to it.
Yes, toyetic.
[DB.]
Thanks, guys.
But even with Bandai's input This was far out of Disney's wheelhouse at the time.
This was something very different for them.
- And they moved to New Zealand.
- New Zealand actors, New Zealand background.
I feel like I've been living a bad dream.
[DB.]
But the biggest gut punch of them all That was probably the start of getting the crappier toys.
[voice-over.]
Power Ranger figures [Scott.]
The overdrive toys were not good.
Bandai America started making them cheaper and they didn't have the same functionality.
We actually came up with our first American Megazord.
American fans hated this.
So I was like Ay-ay-ay.
[DB.]
As frustrations ran high with Disney Bandai was scared because Power Rangers had paid the lights for quite a time.
Disney really couldn't figure out what to do with Power Rangers, and therefore they decided to sell it.
You never saw me.
[DB.]
Unloading a brand with nearly 20 years of name recognition, Disney prepared for a bidding war [clock ticks.]
[DB.]
that never happened.
As usual, with Power Rangers, nobody else was interested.
[DB.]
Except, well, one guy.
They end up selling it back to Saban for a fraction of a fraction of what they paid for it to begin with.
I was the only buyer.
[DB.]
And even better for Bandai, who was happy to get some much-needed attention after years under the House of Mouse.
We forgot about you.
From the Bandai standpoint, it was a good thing.
We knew that Saban would be dedicated to supporting the brand and doing their best to help build the brand back.
[DB.]
And like Lord Zedd in 1994 [Zedd.]
I will now resume command.
[DB.]
Saban got Power Rangers back.
We bought it from them in 2010.
Zoom.
- Back.
- [DB.]
Exactly how far back? I went back to '93.
I went back to the same idea of casting, the same idea with the monsters, and the same fun.
[DB.]
And hopefully for Bandai America, the same profits they used to make before Disney.
The last year they had it, they sold 20 million dollars' worth of toys.
As a point of reference, we would sell hundreds of millions of dollars.
[DB.]
With years and years of Power Rangers and Zords under their belts, Saban and Bandai could now mix and match toys from all the previous seasons.
They started merging all the Megazords together, so you can buy different Megazords from different seasons and you can combine them.
Or you could combine Ninja Steel with Dino Charge - or Megaforce with Samurai.
- Or you could combine - Ninja.
- [DB.]
With - Super Ninja.
- [DB.]
Or - Dino Charge.
- [DB.]
With - Dino Super Charge.
- [DB.]
Okay, we get it.
And as a result, more success, more toy sales.
[DB.]
By 2013, Saban and Bandai went back - Back.
- [DB.]
to where it all started with the Legacy line.
And why wouldn't they? We got two decades worth of kids who've grown up with this.
A lot of the kids that watch Power Rangers are now adults.
[kid.]
He's getting older every minute.
They make their own money.
They can make their own product choices and purchases.
[DB.]
After all these years, Power Rangers is still TV gold.
- You want me to send you the ratings? - [DB.]
So for the toys, the next step seemed obvious.
We did 14-karat gold-plated Megazords.
The more money you spend, the better version you're going to get.
We did a 14-karat gold-plated Green Ranger Dragon Dagger from Mighty Morphin.
You pick it up and feel, it's like, "Oh, this is money right here.
" That was huge.
They almost tipped our booth over at San Diego Comic-Con, they were so excited to get it.
These guys are pushovers.
[DB.]
With Saban at the wheel Where did you get this new strength? It's been with us all along.
[DB.]
things continued as they had for years.
- Japan made the show - Fire! and Saban took that footage and turned it into Power Rangers.
Bandai America took the molds from Bandai Japan and turned them into the toys.
It's pretty simple.
[DB.]
Saban worked with a lot of people over the years, but the one constant, there since the very beginning, has always been Bandai.
And it's hard to imagine that ever changing.
We're no longer with Bandai.
Our contract was up and we signed with Hasbro.
[DB.]
Shrouded in secrecy, this deal is also Very confusing.
[news announcer.]
Power Rangers is switching over to Hasbro.
It's breaking off its long-term partnership with Bandai, the Japanese toy company.
[DB.]
As makers of classic toys like G.
I.
Joe, Transformers and My Little Pony, it seems this toy company and its new leader have big plans.
[Brian Goldner.]
What I'd tell you is, we think this brand can be far bigger in our hands over time than it's been in the past.
They're a very innovative company.
They're led by a true visionary in Brian Goldner.
Brian Goldner actually worked at Bandai in the '90s.
He and Saban have been friends for a long time.
So it's not like this came out of left field.
[DB.]
But where does that leave Bandai? For them to lose Power Rangers, it's like them losing a little bit of their soul.
[DB.]
But Hasbro's involvement in Power Rangers doesn't just end at making toys.
[Scott.]
Hasbro had gotten the toy license for worldwide Power Rangers, with the option clause to buy it outright.
They did that.
So they now own all of Power Rangers.
[DB.]
All of Power Rangers.
Not just the toys, the entire franchise.
Power Rangers will then be merged into their Transformers, G.
I.
Joe, My Little Pony world as something new.
[DB.]
My Little Transforming Megazord, perhaps.
We've had Saban, we've had Disney, now we have Hasbro.
[Haim.]
As well as the Power Rangers have done so far, in partnership with Hasbro, it's gonna do even better.
[DB.]
Parting ways with Bandai and Toei Studios is a big change for Power Rangers.
It's a combination that has made Saban a billionaire.
And his fame and influence knows no bounds.
But Power Rangers literally wouldn't be Power Rangers What are we gonna call these things? "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
" [DB.]
without the team who took a Japanese toy line and turned it into a phenomenon.
[Trish.]
It was pretty amazing that I was involved in something that was so iconic and was so widespread and well-known.
And when I talk to younger people now, who played with those toys when they were kids, they get that sort of awestruck look on their faces.
And I love it.
It's fun.
[DB.]
Be it the first Sentai toy or today's modern Zords, these inspiring, really well-designed toys have allowed kids and some grown-ups to become part of the wonderful fantastical world of Power Rangers.
The magic of the Power Rangers toys was that it allowed kids to transform into these super-powerful heroic beings that had these amazing Zords that could help them fight evil and save the world.
And who doesn't wanna do that? What kid doesn't wanna be a Power Ranger? What kid doesn't wanna fly, to get into a big machine and go after the bad guy? - [DB.]
Be it big machine or - A giant robot.
[DB.]
the power of play took this world from the screen into kids' bedrooms and beyond.
I hear stories like, "I didn't get along with my dad very well, but we would sit down and play Power Rangers, and that's how we bonded.
" Or, "I own three karate schools and I teach kids martial arts because I played with Power Rangers toys and I wanted to be a Power Ranger.
" [Haim.]
It's very aspirational, no matter what your color or what your gender.
[DB.]
From the visionaries to the toy makers What kids all over the world love are my toys.
[DB.]
From Japan to the U.
S.
and across the globe, thanks to Power Rangers toys, wherever the world is threatened, kids will answer the call.
The toys that made us The continuing series About the toys that we all know Plastic creations That last for generations And we still cannot let go Little molded figures That gave us big dreams We'll go back in time And behind the scenes It's the toys that made us Toys that made us The toys that made us is here