See more photos in "Power Morphicon: Celebrating 17 Years of the Power Rangers."
We had no idea what to expect when we first arrived at Power Morphicon Saturday afternoon. There wasn't a huge crowd of people hanging around outside the venue, no visible sign from the street that there was any kind of event happening at the Pasadena Convention Center, let alone that it was Power Rangers convention. For a minute or two, we thought that maybe we had shown up at the wrong location, or on the wrong date. We hadn't.
The event was contained to a small portion of the Convention Center and consisted of one exhibit area roughly comparable in size to a larger panel room at Comic-Con or Anime Expo, two meeting rooms that were used for the day's panels and a lobby where people could sit and unwind. It was physically small, even the hotel-based conventions we've attended, like Anime LA and Pacific Media Expo, seemed to use more space, but it was filled with people of all ages dressed in Power Rangers t-shirts and, oftentimes, full cosplay. This wasn't a group of voyeurs curious about a seventeen-year-old TV show, this was a hardcore fan gathering.
Neither Shannon nor I were really into the Power Rangers. We saw the first of the many series that are part of the franchise, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, when it originally aired. We knew the frighteningly infectious theme song and the major characters from its first few years on TV. We knew that it was based on a Japanese show. That's about it. Unlike the anime and comic book conventions we usually attend, we didn't have our own favorite titles, characters, writers or voice actors to seek out while we were at the event. We came to the con as blank slates.
It may sound strange considering the size of the con, but we were instantly overwhelmed. There were cosplayers that we weren't used to seeing everywhere, mountains of collectible items and actors that we recognized from other projects. When voice actor Wendee Lee walked by us, we didn't think of Scorpina from Power Rangers, but, rather Haruhi Suzumiya and dozens of other anime characters.
There were actors here from a variety of Power Rangers series at the convention, including Barbara Goodson (Rita Repulsa), Erin Cahill (Pink Ranger in Power Rangers Time Force) and Selwyn Ward (Red Ranger in Power Rangers Turbo, Blue Ranger in Power Rangers in Space). The stars of the series sat on panels and signed autographs, which is typical for a convention, but it didn't seem like it was necessarily work for them to meet with fans. Goodson joined a panel of villains, where fans cheered wildly as they belted out old catchphrases. Cahill and other women from various Power Rangers series reminisced about their involvement with the franchise, at one point speaking emotionally about working with children's charities. Ward led the Turbo-era Power Rangers in a rendition of their morphing sequence to roars of applause. As we walked around the exhibit area during the autograph sessions and watched fans chat and take photos with the stars, it appeared as though those involved with the program were just as enthusiastic about Power Rangers as those who watched it.
Power Rangers is an unusual phenomenon. It started out as an adaptation of the Japanese series Super Sentai, but became its own entity with its own following that extended beyond the U.S. It was a blatantly low-budget children's show that stuck with people well after they became adults. With seventeen years under its belt and an eighteenth season in the works, its influence isn't limited to one generation, as is often the case with shows geared towards such a young audience.