The Power Rangers franchise has been going strong for over 20 years now, debuting in the early 1990s as Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The 24th season, Power Rangers Ninja Steel, premiered earlier this year, and the cinematic reboot, the simply titled Power Rangers, debuts stateside on March 24.
As with any entertainment series old enough to drink, there is a lot of information to catch up on at this point. And Power Rangers, especially, has a habit of changing things around almost every season, rotating through members and uniforms and equipment faster than a struggling sports team. We’re never going to be able to cover all of it in one list, so we’re focusing this one entirely on the Zords, the colossal connecting mechas our mighty morphin’ heroes pilot into battle. Consider it a primer to get you up to speed for the new movie.
So, if you’re ready, let’s initiate Megazord sequence and battle our way into Power Rangers: 15 Things You Never Knew About Zords.
15. Zords Are Named After Zordon
While it may seem obvious in hindsight, it’s never actually stated in the show that the Zords are named after Zordon, the giant floating head and leader of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers team. They’re simply called that from the start.
In the pilot episode, however, Zordon was actually named Zoltar and the Zords were actually referred to as droids. Never mind that George Lucas probably would have sued the spandex pants off the Rangers, Zord is a much more evocative and specific name, a word forever linked to the Power Rangers and something they could riff on in the future, and changing it was clearly the right call. But the fact that it changed from “droids” to “Zords” at the same time Zordon’s name changed seems to suggest that the two are intrinsically connected.
14. Voltron Ripped Off The Power Rangers
Voltron, the other show about universe-saving teenagers with giant robots, was a staple of the mid-1980s. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, on the other hand, didn’t premiere until the fall of 1993. The obvious response is that Power Rangers was a rip-off of Voltron, but, it turns out that’s not right. Kind of.
Both shows are, in fact, conglomerations of existing Japanese television programs. Voltron – the original one, anyway, not the Netflix reboot – is a combination of the Japanese cartoons Beast King GoLion (1981) and Armored Fleet Dairugger XV (1982), cut together with all new plots and redubbed with English dialogue. Because of this, the shows are markedly different from one another.
The Power Rangers franchise, meanwhile, is basically a straight import of the Super Sentai series, a still-popular Japanese franchise that began in 1975 with Himitsu Sentai Goranger. The 16th installment, Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, was adapted into the first season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. While there was new footage of the Rangers added to set the series stateside, the shows are generally still the same.
13. There Are A Lot More Zords Than You Might Think
If you haven’t been paying attention since the first run of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, you’d be forgiven for not realizing just how expansive the show has gotten since then. There have been over 15 different Power Rangers teams at this point, and each member has gone through at least two Zords each. That brings the grand total of Zords to somewhere north of 200, and that’s not even counting when they combine into Megazords.
For example, the original Power Rangers had their Dinozords – giant mechas shaped like dinosaurs – which were later upgraded to Thunderzords, which were replaced by Ninja Zords, which were then also replaced by Shogunzords. Each new generation of Zord looks different from the previous ones – the Thunderzords resembled mythical creatures, the Ninja Zords looked like wild animals – with new powers and weapons. And most Zords have their own distinct history to boot, with some obviously being worse than others. This happens every season.
12. There’s More Than One Kind Of Zord
A Zord refers to any individual robot, but most commonly the base models mentioned in the last entry, or their later variants (Zeo Zords, Galactabeasts, etc.). When those Zords combine, they create a Megazord, which most folks are also familiar with: the big honkin’ sword-wielding robot that shows up at the end of almost every episode to finally dispatch the villain. But, as they say in infomercials, wait, there’s more!
In addition to the varieties mentioned above, there are Warzords, Carrierzords, Ultrazords, and Battlezords, as well as the Zord-like Demizords.
Carrierzords are, fittingly enough, giant robots that carry other giant robots. Titanus and Pyramidas are excellent examples. Ultrazords are combinations of Carrierzords and Megazords, like when Titanus and Dino Megazord came together into the Dino Ultrazord.
Battlezords and Warzords, meanwhile, are autonomous giant robots controlled by a single pilot. All Warzords are technically Battlezords, but there have only been three Warzords: Serpentera, Cyclopsis and Black Dragon. Warzords are enormous Zords powerful enough to take on a Megazord on their own.
11. The Same Zords Can Combine In Different Configurations
Not all Megazords are created equally. By which we mean, different combinations of the same Zords can combine into different Megazords. For the purposes of this exercise, please consider Dragonzord Battle Mode and Mega Dragonzord, both Megazords built from the original Dinozords.
Independently, the Mastodon, Sabretooth Tiger, and Triceratops Dinozords could combine with the Dragonzord to create the Dragonzord Battle Mode Megazord, with the Dinozords acting as the shoulders, arms, and legs of the Megazord. The Dragonzord’s tail was detached and turned into a Power Staff.
Meanwhile, the Dragonzord could also combine with the entire original Dino Megazord (a combo of the Tyrannosaurus, Pterodactyl, Mastodon, Triceratops, and Sabretooth Tiger Dinozords) to create the Mega Dragonzord. In this configuration, the Dragonzord wasn’t the main part of the Zord, but rather acted like armor, draped over the Dino Megazord, with its shoulders turning into cannons.
10. Some Megazords Aren’t Combined From Smaller Zords
Think you’ve got a handle on the difference between Megazords and regular Zords now? Good. Because all of it was lies! Well, no, it wasn’t, but there are some Megazords that aren’t formed from smaller Zords, because there is an exception to every rule. Even when you’re talking about giant transforming robots.
Along with the Rhino Steel Zord, the Samurai Star Chopper, and several others, the Delta Megaship was one of these Megazords, able to transform into a humanoid battle mode, independent of other Zords.
During Power Rangers In Space, the Red Space Ranger controlled the Delta Megaship via his Battlizer Gauntlet. The Megaship was called in whenever some extra firepower was necessary, as the Delta Megaship could, all on its own, change into the Delta Megazord. The Delta Megazord was equipped with Gyro Blasters – basically Gatling guns that fired lasers – on each hand.
And, if that somehow wasn’t enough, the Delta Megazord could also combine with the Astro Megazord to become the Astro Delta Megazord. Maybe not the most imaginatively named Zord, but at least you know where it’s coming from.
9. Only One Dinozord Wasn’t Destroyed
The primary villain in the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (as well as the upcoming Power Rangers movie) was Rita Repulsa. A couple seasons in, however, she was replaced by the evil Lord Zedd who promptly stole the Dinozords from the Power Rangers, who then stole them right back, messing them up real good in the process. So Zordon decided to give the Zords a thunderous upgrade.
Later on, while fighting Rita’s brother Rito, the team pushes their Thunderzords well past their limits, damaging the Command Center and negating their own powers in the process. They watch helplessly as the Thunderzords fall to pieces.
The Dragonzord, however, escaped all of this. One of the original Dinozords, the Dragonzord was unable to be upgraded to a Thunderzord as the Green Ranger’s powers were too weak at the time. Instead, the Dragonzord had lumbered back into the sea like a metal Godzilla. When the Green Ranger came back as the White Ranger, he had the White Tigerzord instead, leaving the Dragonzord right where it had ended up.
8. Even The Toys Are Cobbled Together From Other Toys
To call the Power Rangers franchise a merchandising machine would be an insult to their marketing team – when it comes to cranking out toys, the Power Rangers are an unstoppable behemoth the likes of which this world has rarely seen. But, much like the television shows, most of those toys are borrowed from Japan. And not just made in Japan, mind you: Power Rangers toys are simply Super Sentai action figures with new packaging.
Most of the time, this isn’t an issue. When you’re just repurposing the same footage why would the toys change? As it turns out, though, sometimes the way the American version was edited created some slight differences and the toys needed to be modified.
In the second season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the Lion Thunderzord was used by the Black Ranger. In Gosei Sentai Dairanger, however, the Lion Thunderzord was used by the Green Ranger. This obviously created some problems for the American release of the Thunder Megazord figure. What to do? Well, like any bored, anal-retentive eight-year-old, they just painted over the green parts with black. Problem solved.
7. Toys Were Sold That Never Appeared On The Show
We’ve mentioned that most of the edits between Super Sentai and Power Rangers are minimal, and for the fight scenes that’s still true (the last entry notwithstanding). Most of the changes have simply been establishing shots, cutting scenes of the Super Sentai heroes that are very clearly in Japan and replacing them with shots of the Power Rangers in what is very clearly Angel Grove, U.S.A.
Unfortunately – and especially in the earlier seasons – this mean cutting all shots of the team on motorcycles, as the Super Sentai were regularly riding past Japanese street signs. Equivalent scenes, however, were never filmed for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. So what to do with all the warehouses full of Super Sentai motorcycle toys? Sell them anyway!
Despite only briefly appearing in the episode “Calamity Kimberly,” the Power Rangers Battle Bikes were an extremely popular toy. Same goes for the Silver Titanus Carrierzord. But, let’s be real, continuity has never stopped us from buying something cool. Slalom Racer Batman, anyone?
6. The Shogunzords Were Stolen From Lord Zedd
The Shogunzords were the lost Zords of legend, tracked down by Lord Zedd to be used for his nefarious, planet-conquering ends. Unable to use them himself, though, Lord Zedd kidnapped Kimberly, the Pink Ranger, along with her Power Coin and the White Ninja Falconzord, holding them hostage in exchange for the rest of the Rangers piloting the new Zords and laying waste to everything around them.
The Power Rangers, generally opposed to the wanton destruction of the same planet they were defending, took issue with this. Ultimately, the Green Ranger was able to rescue Kimberly, while the Blue Ranger figured out a way to gain control of the Shogunzords, rewiring them from Zedd’s power to their own Power Coins. The team used them in place of their Ninja Zords for the remainder of the season.
5. The Rescuezords Were Basically Transformers
Most Zords exist solely as vehicles for the Power Rangers, able to combine into a Megazord (or Ultrazord!) if needed. But the Turbo Rangers’ Rescuezords were also able to transform into humanoid robots. But they were totally different from Transformers, though.
The Rescuezords were actually the second Zords for the Turbo Rangers, gifted to them by the mysterious Phantom Ranger after their original Turbozords were taken by Divatox and repurposed for general supervillainy.
The Rescuezords have a robot form called High Stance Mode, where they turn into giant mechanical people related to their vehicle forms. Lightning Fire Tamer is a fire truck that turns into a firefighter, while Siren Blaster is a police car that turns into a police officer, and Wind Rescue is an ambulance that turns into a nurse. On the slightly less cool end, Thunder Loader is a dump truck that turns into construction worker, and Star Racer is a bulldozer that turns into a … racer? Are bulldozers used for racing in Japan? Because that sounds amazing.
4. There Are Sentient Zords
While we mentioned earlier that Zordon created several types of Zords, it turns out that there are, in fact, several kinds of sentient Zords out there, including the Galactabeasts, Wildzords, and, to a lesser extent, the Dino Thunder Zords and assorted Megazords.
Wildzords lived in the Animarium, a floating island and base of operations for the Wild Force Rangers, and willingly lent their power to the Rangers. With a greater free will and sense of self than the other sentient Zords, they communicated telepathically with the Wild Force Rangers and could be summoned through a crystal ball.
The Galactabeasts, meanwhile, were the first sentient Zords on the show, kidnapped by Scorpius and trapped in boxes on a distant planet. Hearing their plight from their space station, the Galaxy Rangers freed the Zords, and, to show their appreciation, the Galactabeasts offered to help whenever they were called upon. The Rangers and Zords communicate through feelings, allowing them to talk to one another with their hearts. Aw.
3. Tommy Oliver Has Piloted More Zords Than Any Other Ranger
Dr. Tommy Oliver is best known as the original Green Ranger from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. He later appeared in Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers, Power Rangers Zeo, Power Rangers Turbo, and Power Rangers Dino Thunder, as well as making guest appearances in episodes of Power Rangers Wild Force, Power Rangers S.P.D., and Power Rangers Super Megaforce.
Often considered to be the greatest Power Ranger ever, Tommy is a legend among the other Rangers, having at one point or another been five different Rangers himself: The Green Ranger, the White Ranger, Zeo Ranger V-Red, the Red Turbo Ranger, and the Dino Thunder Black Ranger, piloting different Zords in each incarnation. Those Zords were *deep breath* the Dragonzord, Tigerzord, White Ninja Falconzord, White Shogunzord, Zeo Zord 5-Phoenix, Red Battlezord, Super Zeozord 5, Red Lightning, and, when he appeared as a professor to the Dino Thunder team, all of their Dinozords: the Brachiozord, Cephalazord, Dimetrozord, Stegozord, Parasaurzord, and Ankylozord.
2. There Have Been A Bunch Of Evil Zords
Evil Zords being turned good is a recurring theme in almost all versions of Power Rangers (see “Stealing Shogunzords” above), starting with the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
The Green Ranger originally appeared as an enemy to the Power Rangers, summoned by Rita Repulsa, along with the Dragonzord. While he eventually made the jump to the side of Good, taking his Zord with him, the Dragonzord was notably used by villains at least three times: Once by Goldar, once by Pirantishead (who also stole the Tyrannosaurus Dinozord), and once by the Green Ranger’s evil clone.
Similarly, the Stratoforce and Centaurus Megazords were originally used by the baddie Deviot in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy. Ultimately, though, they realized their legacy as Galactabeasts with their own hearts and minds, and broke free from Deviot’s control.
Of course, sometimes the bad guys just straight-up have their own evil Zords. The Warzords Cyclopsis and Serpentera, for example, had no redeeming factors whatsoever. Plus Serpentera regularly ran out of gas. *shudder* Evil.
1. Goldar Is (Probably) A Zord In The New Movie
In the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Goldar was basically an evil ape-man with a giant golden crown. The right hand man to Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd, Goldar was unequivocally an alien being, occasionally piloting his own Zords, stolen or otherwise. And, if we had to guess, the dude definitely smelled like a wild animal.
In 2017’s Power Rangers, however, Goldar appears to be a giant hulking mass of molten gold, and, probably, a Zord. We obviously don’t know yet, but the odds are looking good.
For one thing, the movie Goldar looks a lot like the movie Megazord, only dunked in molten metal and left to dry in the sun – he’s a lot bigger than any henchmen we’ve ever seen. For another, the Goldar toy releasing along with the movie appears to be giant-sized with, tellingly, a little Rita Repulsa that pops into a chamber in his golden chest. Why else would she be in there, if not piloting her own Goldar Zord?
We guess we’ll know for sure in a few more weeks.