This week I've decided to go old-school and do a straight Top 7 post instead of weaving one into a long-form entry. Then I decided that there really isn't too much to a Top 7...so I am doing two! This is the best and worst of the Super Sentai Henshin Items.
Before I get started (I really need to copyright that phrase. I seem to start every entry with it) I just want to explain my criteria for something to make either of these lists. I factor in things like...
-use in the show
-how it was translated to toy
Henshin Items of all kinds (well...not so much Rider Belts/Drivers) are something I live for (I own the toys of every Sentai Henshin Item to date). I'm not basing these lists on whether or not I liked the series that they belong to (even if it might seem that way...) These lists are mine and probably don't represent anything close to your list. Keep that in mind when you're reading--I'll be sure to explain each choice.
Top Seven Best Super Sentai Henshin Items
07. Samurai Sentai Shinkenger: Shodophone
The show was possibly the most boring of any Super Sentai I tried to unwillingly slog through and quite a few of it's designs were straight-up failures. I like the Shodophone, though. It doesn't go from brush to phone...it goes from phone to brush. It's probably the most unintentional ultimate hipster statement ever.
In all seriousness, I really liked the design of this one. The toy turned out to be pretty great as well.
This is the fourth Super Sentai Henshin Brace (Denjiman would've been the first, but they used their rings) and the first one that really took itself seriously. This addition is mostly based on the toy, but it also fired a laser in the show which is more any of the previous arm candies did.
The toy does quite a lot, even by today's standards. It is a functioning digital watch with a sweet animation AND has a completely hidden missile firing feature. I never had one of these when they were cheap and plentiful, but I could imagine causing all kinds of havoc with that missile. The little compartment hides away to remove yourself from the suspect list of shooting a tiny plastic missile at your teacher's ass as she/he writes on the blackboard.
05. Ninja Sentai Kakuranger: Doron Changer
This one is mostly out of nostalgia. Kakuranger is my favorite Sentai and it happens to have a really cool Henshin Item. It's a much better version of the Dyno Buckler from Zyuranger (c'mon...it just opens a little bit. Not that cool!) and one I found myself buying several of just to confirm my own excellence.
In the show it doubled as a communication device and GPS. The toy wasn't nearly as clever, but it did have a VERY useful slot of hold the other four medals (which were made of metal). I love the Doron Changer...
04. Engine Sentai Go-onger: Wing Trigger
This one caught me off guard. Go-onger was a series that I did not want to watch...but was kinda forced to by outside forces (long story). The Go Phone...eh. Shift Changer was a step in the right direction in creativity. The Wing Trigger really was a clever toy. Not only did it function well as a Henshin Item but it was a stem for the Go-On Wings gun, the Wing Booster. On top of that, it was used as the control stick for their mecha. The finishing touch of using the little red button is what made it magically.
The toy is really one that motivated me at a time when I wasn't really sure if I wanted to continue my Youtube channel. At that point (August 2008) I had been working on my channel for over a year and I was kinda burnt out with the new toys. I had reviewed all of the Sentai Henshin Items from 1982 to that point, so I didn't see the need to carry on if the future was going to be all crap. The Wing Trigger really kept me going. As it turned out, the future was only mostly crap.
03. Gekisou Sentai Carranger: Accel Changer
I'm sure it's pretty clear, but I should probably say it once more--I love cars. When I first saw the Accel Changer back in 1996 I uttered a single word. "Genius..." It's also amazing that it took them until the second car-themed Sentai to come up with the concept of using a key to "start" the changer. This is a design that could've easily have been from 1989, too. Luckily the better show got the better design.
The toy is the same as it is in the show. Still great.
02. Denji Sentai Megaranger: Degitaizer
Now we're getting really serious. I love the Accel Changer...but the Degitaizer came along and destroyed it. On top of being the first changer to have a voice (which may have been more of a curse than a blessing in retrospect) it also has some interaction to it. No changer before it has a keypad where you can punch in a code to call on your Cyberslider. Not only that...but it would be four years until Sentai would catch up to this and Megasilver's Keitaizer in terms of interactivity.
Bandai did a fantastic job on the toy version of the Degitaizer. In lieu of being able to use it as a communication device, they tacked on a great game. To date it's probably the most challenging and addictive games ever included on a Sentai toy. My high score is 73...and I think the stars lined up for me to achieve that.
01. Chojuu Sentai Liveman: Twin Brace
A Henshin Brace with a name that says it all. The toy version is one of the first Henshin toys I ever bought and the one that inspired me to start my Youtube channel waaaay back in June 2007.
This ticks all of the boxes for me on my perfect Henshin Item checklist. I like that it's a Brace-type Changer. I like how it has some individuality to it, which is something that hadn't been done since the Dyna Brace from Dynaman. I like that it is deceptively basic through it's slick design.
The toy took it one step further. In addition to having a button that you would press to get the new-for-'88 beeping/lights, it has a buttonless sensor feature for your re-enactment of the Henshin pose. Sure, you do need to get the two very tiny sensors in close proximity to each other, but you would look like less of an idiot failing with this one over Ohranger's Power Brace or, especially, the aforementioned Accel Changer from Carranger. Bonus: Missiles! Plus there is the whole chip-swapping which helpfully leaves out the two lame members of the team.
If you own a Twin Brace, you probably understand where I'm coming from.
Top Seven Worst Super Sentai Henshin Items
07. Kagaku Sentai Dynaman: Dyna Brace
Here we have an example of Toei just not trying. This is the fourth Henshin Item from Super Sentai and the least exciting of the decade. Even if Denjiman's ring was just a ring with their "D" logo on it, the Rick James story from Chappelle Show has made any crazy ring hilarious. I'll even go a step further and say that I love Goggle Five's disco-rific Henshin Brace. This is just...bland. The only bit of excitement was that they atleast did them up in individual colors.
The toy is alright and functional as a watch. Only available in red...but it has that killer animation once you pop in a battery. I've told people that if I ever go to a con (don't hold your breath) I would wear one of my Dyna Braces. So be on the lookout for a guy wearing a Dyna Brace at your next con.
06. Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger: Gorai Changer
This is another one that just failed for being bland...but it also had an extra layer of blandness since it was sandwiched between two cooler Changers within the same series. The Hurricane Gyro was a neat concept with a great Henshin feature along with the Shuriken Ball. The Gorai Changer is just a reused concept from the infinitely cooler B-Commander from B-Fighter, but on a brace.
The toy doesn't add or take anything away from the lameness of this one. It's just as lame. Lamer possibly...since you have to pay money to get one.
05. Juken Sentai Gekiranger: Saiblade
If I were to chose one Henshin Weapon to pick on, it has to be this one. The concept in general irks me greatly since it never translates to toy well. It just seems...last minute. I mean...Kakuranger managed to have a huge arsenal AND a Henshin Item. They could've easily made the Kakuremaru their Henshin Item, but wisely didn't.
Anyway...yeah. As a weapon, the Saiblade is pretty cool. I just wish they could've done something cooler for Gekichopper. He activates his Henshin by pressing a non-descript red button on top of it...I mean, not even that is cool.
Toy wise... Again, cool as a weapon but lousy as a Henshin toy.
04. Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger: Gokai Cellular
I wasn't thaaat big of a fan of the Mobirates and it's godawful annoying voice, but I have to give it credit for being a creative design and making the best use of the series gimmick--the Ranger Keys. The Gokai Cellular is none of that. It's an unsightly wart of a thing that fittingly belongs to possibly the worst character in all of Super Sentai (seriously...that kid belongs in an anime about taking bath salts, being sent off on a naked rampage, and coming down while hiding from the cops in the ventilation duct of a Waffle House for 36 hours). It is nothing more than a coffin for your Ranger Keys. They don't even go in the key position. You just toss them in there as they are. The key slot at the bottom is reserved for that ugly anchor key.
The toy takes it one step further by not using the clever electronics found in the Mobirates. You have to press the right button. It also kinda pressures you into owning all of the keys featured on it. PLUS, the thing is very quiet. Maybe that isn't such a bad thing since it features the same obnoxious voice.
Starting the 90s off wrong we have not one, but two lame Changers from the same series. There is a reason why I did both as number three rather than picking the worse one (it's the Compact, FYI). Why why WHY did they feel the need to give the girls their own Henshin Item for this series? Not only that...but a Compact? I mean, this would be more at home in a Fushigi Comedy Series...but what was wrong with the V Changer Brace that it couldn't be the Changer for all five? What DOES Fiveman have against the number "5" anyway? Their mecha is made of three pieces even!
The Compact is an ugly brick of cheese and the Brace is a chunk of silver with a "V" carved on it.
The toys are worse than they appear on the show. I could go on and on, but I'm becoming more and more distressed the closer I get to number one on this list...and I have two more left...
02. Tensou Sentai Goseiger: Tensouder
I've always said that Goseiger was an entire year of filler while Toei got it's act together for Gokaiger. It's amazing that the show was only five years ago and has gone virtually forgetten by most. Their Gokaiger Idea Bank hit Goseiger the worst when it came to designs. They're all over the place. You have two different gimmicks going on (Headders and Cards) and all kinds of themes.
I wanted to like the Tensouder for how off-the-wall it is, but time really hasn't been kind to this one. It is a head. Toy wise, it's one that wouldn't impress your non-fan friends if you were a kid. It REQUIRES paper cards that even the most protective kid would end up damaging or losing (seriously, good luck!).
This thing is just a storm of bad ideas rolled into one unengaging design. Atleast it makes the Seaick sound...I liked the Seaick sound...
01. Mahou Sentai Magiranger: Magiphone
It's always Magiranger...
I legitimately don't like anything about the series. The cell phone changer had really overstayed it's welcome at this point (and yet...still carries on to this day) and it managed to take the concept to a new level of shit.
Putting this at the top (or is it bottom?) of my list is mostly based on emotion and how godawful the toy is. As a design...meh. It sucks, but it atleast they tried a little bit harder than some of the blander entries on this list. It's a black and gold phone with some glittery bits on it. You can fold it out to become a wand with the weakest light ever in the tip.
If you are tempted by how cheap this toy is ten years later, don't be fooled. It's garbage. I mean it. It has no weight to it and features those poorly cut cardboard discs for each character. The toys from Dekaranger and Boukenger have gone on to become collector's toys. This one has remained rightfully ignored by all in the years since.
Thank you for reading my latest Top 7 list. The rest of my Top 7 lists are available on this page if you want to check them out. The topic this week was a suggestion from @toku_gami on Twitter. If you have a suggestion for a blog topic or Top 7 list, either hit me up on Twitter or leave it in the comment section below. While you're at it, tell me what you think the best and worst Sentai Henshin Items are. Just don't tell me that I'm wrong...because I'm not. : p
I'll be back in May with a review of the brand new Kamen Rider BLACK and BLACK RX 3-Disc CD Sets.
Thanks for swinging by. See you next time.
P.S. I did a video a few years back of all of the toy Sentai Changers between 1982 and 2012. Check it out if you want to see some of the aforementioned toys in action.