Monday, July 25, 2011

Disney vs. Saban: Production, Merchandising and Promotion

I didn't like the 'versus' part but I wrote it to attract attention, yes, I'm not above it. I am comparing how both companies that have run the Power Rangers franchise. As we all know, Disney bought Fox Kids and other stuff from Saban, including Power Rangers in 2002. Disney moved production to New Zealand and produced Ninja Storm to RPM. In 2010, MMPR was re-aired with special effects as a 'reversion' and Saban rebought Power Rangers from Disney. I'm comparing Saban brands/Samurai stuff with Disney Era, very little of early Saban.

Civilian Powers
Disney had a ongoing thread in most of their seasons where when the Rangers were not morphed, had individual super powers. Fans did not like this and some believed this was redundant as many had martial arts skills and going against the lore of the Power Rangers. I didn't mind it at times. Ninja Storm, Mystic Force and Jungle Fury already had powers in their original Sentai related to elements or animals, so there wasn't much difference in PR. As for RPM, they had individual powers but only when they were morphed, so doesn't count. The seasons that added civilian powers were Dino Thunder, SPD, and Operation Overdrive.

First Female Red Ranger
Power Rangers claimed the first female red warrior in 2005 while Super Sentai did it in 2009 with Shinkenger. While neither had completely original outfits, Charlie the A-Squad SPD Red Ranger had a semi-original uniform made from motocross gear.

Incorrectly called "Kalishpolisions' as if Executive Producer Bruce Kalish but stunt coordinator Koichi Sakamoto is responsible for the excessive explosions in most of the Disney Era seasons.

Props from Japan
One of the negatives of filming in the United States was it was hard to ship every prop from Japan, probably because of money, maybe because of time. All I know is that props were more easier to ship from Japan to New Zealand. About 5554 miles apart. In MMPR, they never used the foam Dragon Shield, always the floppy cloth one. But in PRDT, they clearly used the original foam shield, probably shipped from Toei directly and not old MMPR reserves.

Toei shooting Sentai footage in New Zealand
May not be a big deal for Power Ranger fans, but I did like to see a comradery between Toei and Disney in that Toei had them shoot footage in New Zealand for Super Sentai. The New Zealand team used their own suits and their own stuntmen and sent the footage to Japan.

Roll Calls
Roll calls of each Ranger was pretty common in Sentai, even in Zyuranger. Remember that footage they would use when the Rangers would call their Thunderzords? Well, that was when they would say they own names. Sometimes, they would say their real name as well. This wasn't used until Space (1998) and then again SPD (2006). The last time they did this was for Jungle Fury.

Heavy Censoring
Censoring was common during early Saban era, changing gruesome plots from Sentai changing into goody plots, but Disney even changed orange fire to purple fire and real fire into CGI fire during Zord battles.

Superimposing footage
I notice that Disney did more superimposing, putting their actor over the Japanese actor.

Excessive Amount of toys
There is no official confirmation that Disney is responsible for the excessive amount of toys, repaints and repackaging but judging by the toyline for Samurai, that has less toys than even the 2010 MMPR wave. Compare the Time Force and Wild Force lines, and there is more toys. If you notice Ranger Central toy section (which right now is done because of the merger but will be up soon again), I made more pages of waves for the Disney seasons than for the Saban seasons. I'm sure Bandai was involved too as well, but I remember one Bandai representative saying at a recent Toy Fair that they worked closely with Saban to make sure the toys match what is on the show for Samurai.

I feel like more merchandise was around with Disney, compared to 1997-2001. There was a lot of merchandising and promotion during the Power Rangers hayday, I think Disney got close to it but not as much. There was adult T-shirts, Disney Store toiletries, and other merchandise that wasn't around during MMPR. But for RPM, there was very little merchandise and almost no promotion.

Disney Store Exclusives
For me, I believe Power Rangers got more exposure in the Disney Era compared to the late Saban era where the popularity waned down from 1997 to 2001 mainly because of Disney Store. Disney Store had a lot of exclusive, in conjunction with Bandai.

Jetix on ABC Family
During Wild Force to SPD, Power Rangers aired on ABC Family and ABC, and there was repeats of old episodes and marathons and special contests.

Jetix on Toon Disney
From SPD to Jungle Fury, Power Rangers aired on Toon Disney. They had old episodes too and Power Rangers episodes even aired at night. In 2009, Bruce Kalish left at the end of Jungle Fury and went to Aaron Stone and Toon Disney became Disney XD. RPM aired on ABC only and at the end of the show, it said Jetix productions.

Official Website
I don't have a picture of the official Disney website, but it had special games and character descriptions that have been transferred to the Saban but there has been some bios missing. Some of the games have also been transferred.

Lack of Promotion
By RPM, it got very little promotion or merchandise. The only 'promotion' would be the toys. And any TV promos would be on ABC and mostly during RPM aired and the old shows on ABC, but they were all old shows from the Disney Channel. I'm an elementary school teacher and kids were unaware of ABC and only knew of RPM from DVDs.

Stay in New Zealand
For Samurai, Saban chose to keep shooting in New Zealand but bring in American actors to New Zealand. For MMPR to Wild Force, they shot in California and the reason shooting was moved to New Zealand was because of costs. Saban continued censoring. From Saban (Turbo or PRiS) to Disney to Saban now again, more new footage has been shot and less Sentai footage being used.

Move to HD
Power Rangers Samurai is now airing in HD. Boukenger (2006) was the first Sentai to air in HD, but the footage was cut for NTSC smaller frame for Power Rangers from PROO to RPM, taking out important stuff or making it look awkward. But now that Shinkenger footage is used for Samurai, you can see everything because the full widescreen is being used. Above is Jungle Fury and Gekiranger comparison.

Supposedly we are to get merchandise soon according to Saban Brands, so far we only have toys, video games, digital stuff and above Bandai America stickers for a ToysRUs event. But I'm sure in a couple of months, we will see merchandise and this will sound blasphemous.

Back in the day with MMPR, Saban had tons of merchandise, more than they even had with Disney. There was juice, soap, clothing (both boys and girls), ice cream, sock-em-roock-em robots, board games, video games, computer games, plush toys, walkie talkies, night lights, book bags, sleeping cots, slushie cups, water bottles, child size dolls, and much more!

Official Website
They moved a lot of the Character bios from the Disney PR website, but has a lot of original stuff like games and streaming Mighty Morphin Power Rangers episodes until Power Rangers Samurai premiered in Nickelodeon.

Facebook and other social media
Something Disney didn't do was have an official Facebook page, contests, polls and Q&A. Also Hector David Jr. (Mike) is on Twitter quite often. Also there are some stuff available on iTunes and for iPhone.
 The three Samurai males were on Teen Bop recently, last time the PR boys were on a magazine like that was Lost Galaxy in 2000.

Cast at events
The cast was invited to the Kids Choice Awards, they flew to Los Angeles from New Zealand and shortly went back. They didn't appear as presenters in the show nor interviewed. Q&A videos of them in a hotel the same day are available online officially. They recently were at Comic-Con International and they have done TV interviews, youtube interviews and public events like back in the day for MMPR.

Live Shows
Back in 1995, MMPR had a live show tour. There is to be something similar according to Saban Brands.

Supposedly reruns were to appear on NickToons but hasn't happen as of yet, a year after they said it would in October 2010. Nick heavily promotes Power Rangers new episodes and toy commercials, but not much now during repeats. NickToons have done Samurai marathons and stuff like that. Power Rangers briefly appears in a promo for all Nick shows.


Luca said...

I mostly just watched PR during late NS through mid SPD, so civilian powers are all that I'm familiar with.

Wow that floppy dragon shield must've been cheesy... More reason to hate Saban.

Anonymous said...

This isn't meant to be bitching but

Anonymous said...

This isn't meant to be bitching but I need to mention this because I've seen it misspelled too much: roll call -> role call.

You call out your role in the team; hence, "role call".

Dessa said...

Actually, Anonymous, either is correct, but "Roll" is more appropriate.

"Role Call" is calling out your role in something, correct. However, "Roll Call" is like when a teacher is calling roll in class. You're calling out your presence.

Considering that they're not actually calling their roles, but their presence (I don't see Gokaiger calling "captain" "navigator", etc), Roll is better.