Remember Piggsburg Pigs? No? Well, nobody else does, either, but here it is - the early-80siest cartoon to come out of 1990.

Side 2 of a Bandai Mighty Morphin Power Rangers pack-in catalog from 1994 (side 1 is here). Got this with either the Auto-Morphin Green Ranger or the blue Thunder Bike, I think.

Power Rangers hit when I was growing up on Guam, a Pacific island that’s four hours off of Japan by airplane (and eight off Hawaii, for comparison’s sake). Japanese toys, trading cards, and other memorabilia in their original-language packaging frequently made the trip over. So did the country’s television programming, in the form of both NHK transmissions carried by the local cable company and probably-actually-illegal rental shops that loaned out shows systematically taped off Japanese TV. For me, though, there was a third option.

Early in middle school, I had a Nisei-or-Sansei friend (okay, he was my only friend) whose relatives still lived in Japan. These relatives would regularly send care packages to my friend’s family, including various giant robot toys and cassettes of Japanese-language children’s programming; they were presumably meant for my friend’s younger brother, but we ended up watching them together anyway. It was through these tapes that I first saw G Gundam, Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z… and Dairanger, the show that would be adapted for Power Rangers’ second season.

Do you know how weird that was? Living in the era before the widespread use of the Internet, knowing that the Thunderzords came from a show with an entirely different set of suits and main villains than what was airing on Fox Kids? Mostly, what that knowledge made me was annoyed: annoyed that Saban “messed up” Dairanger by not keeping any of its in-suit fight footage, which had the side effect of forcing the American episodes to focus more on the out-of-suit antics of the Ranger teens.

Nobody watched early Power Rangers for the leads’ acting!

Still… despite that dissatisfaction, I kept an affinity for David Yost’s Billy. A smart, nerdy kid in glasses who was nonetheless a superhero? There was something inarguably uplifting about that for me (see: the part above about having an “only friend”). Those feelings led to me getting the blue Thunder Bike from the second assortment of Power Rangers toys - which, um, didn’t end up featuring into the show. At all.

Barring some instances of “oh god nothing else is on,” I ended up quitting the franchise almost entirely thereafter, and wouldn’t return until around Lightspeed Rescue and Time Force.

Side 1 of a Bandai Mighty Morphin Power Rangers pack-in catalog from 1994. Got this with either the Auto-Morphin Green Ranger or the blue Thunder Bike, I think.

Of note here is the Power Claws vehicle, which a quick search I did suggested didn’t actually hit stores… also, the red “lips” on the Lord Zedd art, which manage to make him look even creepier than normal. Plus there’s the awful layout of that final page, I guess. (Wouldn’t sticking the photo in the middle there have made more sense?)

Side 2 coming soon.

Schematic of Car Robots Super Fire Convoy/Transformers: Robots in Disguise Optimus Prime Battle Mode (plus Yuki/Koji Onishi), from the Car Robots Soldier File book.

Schematic of Car Robots Super Fire Convoy/Transformers: Robots in Disguise Optimus Prime Battle Mode (plus Yuki/Koji Onishi), from the Car Robots Soldier File book.

Front and back of a Digimon: Digital Monsters toy pack-in poster. I think it came with a transforming Patamon/Angemon figure.

Front and back of a Mighty Morphin Power Rangers trading card. While there was a full trading card set produced for the first series of the show, this card is unnumbered, suggesting it might have been a promotional pack-in of some kind.

I had forgotten how much the costumes created for the American-produced action footage looked like they had neck-braces. The Blue Ranger suit is particularly awkward here.

The final four robots - Sharkkan, Sumilidon, Tentaclam and Totalizer - from the “Medabots A to Z” feature on the first ADV Films Medabots DVD. A take-apart PVC of Sharkkan was sold in Hasbro’s Medabots toyline, but I don’t think Tentaclam or Totalizer ever received merchandise. Sumilidon, meanwhile, had toys in a few different scales, being as he was the Medabot partner of Ikki’s rich rival Koji.

For some reason, I’m inordinately amused by Sharkkan’s partner being listed as “A Boy at the Beach.” That’s just a few steps from being “Some Kid,” “Whoever,” or “That Guy Over There.”

The next four robots - Neutranurse, Peppercat, Phoenix and Samurai - from the “Medabots A to Z” feature on the first ADV Films Medabots DVD. Both Phoenix and Samurai received small, take-apart PVCs in Hasbro’s main Medabots toyline; though Peppercat never had one of those, her model’s predecessor, Magentacat, received a figure in Takara’s version of the line. For whatever reason, the Magentacat figure was never sold in the West (maybe to avoid consumer confusion?), but Peppercat herself did receive what I think was a Hasbro-initialized 5” action figure later on in the line’s life-cycle. Meanwhile, so far as I am aware, Neutranurse’s only merchandise was a Taco Bell kids meal giveaway clamp-shell case.

At some point, I realized that the three lead female robots on Medabots were modeled on a Japanese schoolgirl, a nurse, and a catgirl. In the face of what might have been a cringe-worthy series with characters defined by stereotypical gender roles, I have to say I found Medabots to be funny, intelligent, and respectful of its characters, no matter their gender. (At least until the series decided to jettison all its side-characters with nary a callback in the follow-up season, anyway…)

The next four robots - Digmole, Gloomeg, Megaphant, and series star Metabee - from the “Medabots A to Z” feature on the first ADV Films Medabots DVD. Metabee had more merchandise than you could shake a metaphorical and/or literal stick at (on either side of the ocean), but I don’t think the other three ever had plastic representation.

Sidestory: When Transformers: Armada was starting up, a handful of fans were hoping that High Wire’s relationship with Rad would mirror that of the sass-talking Metabee and his hapless owner Ikki, based largely on the fact High Wire and Metabee had sorta-similar eyes. This hope was quashed almost immediately by the revelation that Mini-Cons could only beep. (Hope was then quashed further by the sub-par quality of the Armada dub in general.)

The first four robots - Banisher, Blackram, Brass and the inexplicably-named Dr. Bokchoy - from the “Medabots A to Z” feature on the first ADV Films Medabots DVD. Of the four, I think only Blackram had a figure in Hasbro’s Medabots toyline, despite Brass being the partner of the show’s lead female character. (I don’t know if Brass had merchandise in Japan, but the fact I ran into a knockoff action figure of her while trying to figure out whether she did suggests so.)