Over the many seasons of the Power Rangers franchise, there have been numerous Rangers to rise above the rest and reach a special fan-favorite status, whether that be for their impact on the franchise, their suit design & arsenal, or just who the character was under the helmet.
One special Ranger who fits all of these categories is none other than the Phantom Ranger.
WHO IS THE PHANTOM RANGER?
Phantom Ranger first appeared in episode 24 of Power Rangers Turbo, “The Phantom Phenomenon”, after landing on Earth to help the Turbo Rangers and being a prime target for the villain Divatox for the source of his energy, the red Power Ruby on his chest.
He would go on to appear in six additional episodes, lending a hand in many battles as well as giving the Rangers access to their new Rescue Megazord. During his time on the show he even becomes a love interest for Cassie, the Pink Ranger.
While he makes his departure prior to the finale of that season that wasn’t the end of him as he made a return for three episodes during the following season, Power Rangers In Space, to assist the Rangers in getting the Delta Megazord as well as to participate in the final fight against the United Alliance of Evil in the infamous “Countdown to Destruction” event.
One of the most interesting aspects to the character, besides his ability to turn invisible and introduce cool new Zords, was that throughout his time on screen his identity has never been revealed. This 20+ year mystery has led to numerous theories and speculation as to who he could be, from just a robot, a return of Billy Cranston from the original MMPR team, to even long-time writer for the show Judd Lynn joking one time that he himself was Phantom.
The Phantom Ranger got to return to the screen in 2018 when an evil version of him appeared in the Power Rangers Legacy Wars: Street Fighter Showdown short film to advertise the mobile game. 2018 was supposed to see another return for the character in the 25th Anniversary celebration episode of Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel “Dimensions in Danger”, as he was in original drafts of the script for the episode before being cut.
Just recently the character has gotten even more spotlight as the protagonist in the new “Edge of Darkness” one-shot written by Frank Gogol and published by Boom! Studios that dives into a bit more of his backstory and gives him his own adventure.
While he has had this limited screen time and story focus, he has got a number of merchandise released for him over the years, not as much as other Rangers, but way more than his Japanese counterpart.
HIS FIRST FIGURES
The Phantom Ranger suit started out in Gekisou Sentai Carranger as the support character VRV Master, who served a similar purpose in the story that the American version did but did not appear as often nor are they considered an official Ranger on the team and therefore were skipped out on toyline’s such as Gokaiger’s Ranger Key line.
Bandai America released a 5in figure as part of their Shifter Action Figure line back in 1997. This figure was treated as just another Ranger in the toyline that had the gimmick of moving chest plates and fold out armor. While Carranger didn’t treat him as part of the team, Power Rangers Turbo had him as their “6th Ranger’ even to the point where he was included in the whole team pack of Shifter Action figures later on in the line. This release was rereleased a few years later under the “Power Ranger Heroes” toyline.
Another Turbo figure line that included him was the Repeat Action line, which was an 8in line more in scale with the classic triangular boxed MMPR figures from back in the day. This figure ditched the chest features of the other release for an arm action feature.
Technically the big carrier Zord for the season, Artillatron, was piloted by the Phantom Ranger in the show, but it was not advertised as a toy specifically for him.
BECOMING A LEGENDARY RANGER
Most of the merchandise for the Phantom Ranger has come from more recent seasons, especially the ones that had some sort of main toyline gimmick such as the Action Card Game or Ranger Keys. During Power Rangers Megaforce he was slated to get a card released for him during the 5th Series of the game, which never came out in the US, only releasing in Europe.
What did get released, a few times, was his Ranger Key for the Power Rangers Super Megaforce toyline, he originally got a normal key in the second Turbo pack, which also included the Pink Ranger and Blue Senturion. When more Keys were successfully asked for by Ranger fans to complete the teams, he was released again in a third Turbo pack in a glitter/translucent version along with a special version of the Red Ranger and the only release of the Yellow Ranger.
In what is likely his rarest piece of merchandise, a special metallic version of his Ranger Key was released as part of the prize set of finalists in the 2014 “Morphin Madness” competition where fans could vote for who were the best Rangers in the franchise, which would be turned into a special Key set given to five lucky winners.
While he was cut from appearing in the show, he did make it into the Ninja Steel toyline in one of the Legendary Ranger Power Stars.
His most recent merch has come in the form of special covers for issues of the Boom! Studios comics and an appearance in Renegade Games’ “Heroes of the Grid” board game as part of an expansion set, and as a tiny metal figure in the Jada Toys figure set. Of course he has also made an appearance in nWay’s “Legacy Wars” mobile game.
That brings him to today where he has finally been given an updated action figure release as part of the newly announced Wave 10 for Hasbro’s Power Rangers Lightning Collection, due for release Fall 2021/Spring 2022.
There is no denying the impact this mystery Ranger has had on the franchise since his debut in 1997 that he continues to be a no-brainer to be included in major celebrations of the franchise in the forms of other media and merchandise lines and will continue to do so for years to come, even if his identity is never revealed.
Pictures of all items © Hasbro
To stay up to date with all the news for the Power Rangers Lightning Collection fans can check out The Illuminerdi’s Josh Perry on his weekly Lightning Storm YouTube series every Saturday at 9:00 am Pacific or on Twitter at @LightningFigPR. What do you think about the Legacy of the Phantom Ranger? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media.