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‘Power Rangers’ Merchandise Hits Stores for New Fans, Nostalgic Adults

Variety logo Variety 3/22/2017 Paul Gaita
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For nearly 25 years, Saban Brands’ “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” entertainment franchise has fueled the imaginations and backyard adventures of a generation of young fans. Like its athletic, monster-fighting heroes, the tokusatsu (“special filming,” meaning a blend of live-action footage and special effects) series has morphed into countless iterations, including 19 interconnected television programs and three feature films. With so many adventures to emulate, the “Power Rangers’” legions of fans have naturally demanded an equally sizable and diverse array of merchandise from more than 100 licensees to enhance their play or collections.

To that end, Saban Brands has issued thousands of different products over the years, from top-selling action figures by the venerable Bandai Co. to Halloween costumes, graphic novels, DVDs, and fashion for men, women and children, all of which have reaped a windfall for Saban. 2016 retail figures alone were $900 million.

The longevity and unwavering popularity of the franchise has granted the “Power Rangers” one of the rarest of super powers: the ability to translate into a pop culture icon with appeal across numerous platforms. “Power Rangers” merchandise has expanded into areas that few youth-oriented programming could imagine, from hip vinyl collectible figures by Funko to jewelry and cutting-edge fashion. Perhaps no surer sign of the “Power Rangers’” crossover appeal was the array of celebrities that donned Ranger costumes for Halloween in 2016, including Kourtney Kardashian, Brooke Burke, and their respective families.

Now, as the company stands poised to reinvent its most popular franchise with the upcoming feature film, “Saban’s Power Rangers,” Saban Brands is looking to broaden its appeal through collaborations with designers and such brands as Ronnie Fieg’s Kith, Dannijo, and GlamGlow, while also crafting other products that speak directly to its longtime youthful fan base.

Chief among the latter are movie tie-in versions of the “Power Rangers”’ most popular merchandise items — the Interactive Movie Megazord, a giant humanoid robot. It is created by combining the Rangers’ respective fighting machines, or Zords, and the Movie Morpher, a device that allows users to transform from human form into the helmeted Rangers. Saban Brands will launch its first entry into multiplayer Player Vs. Player (PvP) fighting games on March 23 with “Power Rangers: Legacy Wars” for iOS and Android devices. And its long-running partnership with Boom! Comics will continue to delve into storylines that appeal to both young and older readers while paying homage to the series’ history.

Where the “Power Rangers” will break new ground is in its fashion and accessory collaborations, which seek to tap into millennial and older consumer markets.

“Our collaborations have to make sense from a very organic brand DNA level,” says Saban Brands CEO Janet Hsu. “We do them with the fan and brand always in mind.”

That strategy has yielded a capsule collection by Kith, which includes retro-cool reimagining of the Rangers on hoodies, crewnecks, and tees for adults and kids.

The collection, available at such stores as Bergdorf Goodman, has so far generated a “huge positive response,” according to Hsu. “At Kith.com, the collection actually sold out in four minutes. They freshen the ‘Power Rangers’ themes, but the product also celebrates the brand and its fans throughout the years.”

A second collection by jewelry designer Dannijo is built around the Rangers’ iconic lightning bolt logo. The items have already generated considerable appeal through celebrities including several Instagram stars.

“These take us directly to millennial and older consumers,” says Hsu. “We’ve always had product, but we haven’t driven these interesting stories [with them] until now, so we are really embracing that. And the strategy is translating for consumers.”

Already, Saban Brands merchandise has traveled the runways at both New York and London Fashion Week, while such influencers as Gigi Hadid have been spotted wearing Rangers fashion. Saban will also seek to broaden its reach through an e-commerce platform, PowerRangers.com, which will launch to coincide with the opening date of the film and feature merchandise with both classic and new themes.

“It’s brand new for us and we’re really excited,” says Hsu. “It’s a different execution on our products, but it always goes back to brand DNA.”

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