I’m not the kind of person who likes to be the centre of attention.
I’m the modest, quiet sort. I have a few deep-seated confidence issues so I get a little nervous around large groups of people. I don’t like to be looked at and I definitely hate cameras.
So walking the streets of London in a Power Ranger costume was not the best idea in the world. Or was it?
One of my many hobbies is building costumes. I do all sorts of things, but my favourite is Power Ranger and Super Sentai suits. It’s just something that started about ten years ago. I’ve always loved the Power Rangers, and one day I simply decided to have a go at making a suit for myself.
It wasn’t easy. In fact, it took a couple years of trying for me to get the basics down right. There was a lot to learn, and even when I knew what I was doing, doing it well was a different thing altogether.
Anyway, I’ve gotten pretty good over the years. In many ways I don’t see my Power Ranger suits as ‘costumes’ in the popular sense of the word. For me they’re more of an expression of something deep inside; they’re not based on any existing design or theme, rather an image of the hero I imagined myself to be when I was little.
The designs are very personal, subtly influenced by my hopes and aspirations. They’re always black. It’s remarkable how they’ve changed over the years. They’ve grown with me, and reflect my changing tastes and skill.
I also make suits for my friends, and again, I put a lot of thought into the designs and try to tailor them to the individual. Or sometimes if I’m feeling experimental I’ll just throw a load of ideas out and see what sticks!
Anyway, back to London.
A few weeks ago, I heard that the original cast of Power Rangers was going to be in the UK for the MCM Expo. I was with my two buddies, and we sort of threw around the idea of going to see them in our suits. At first I wasn’t sure we could either afford it or pull it off. Even if we got there, I wasn’t sure our suits would stand up to being worn all day.
So we all pulled together, and although I was working until the eleventh hour, the suits got made and tickets were bought. We met at the train station at 6:30am, and we wore our suits under our clothes. I rather like trains, so I enjoyed the ride up. At Reading, Damian decided to remove his clothes and go full Ranger after a pretty girl walked past dressed in nought but furry leggings. I followed suit, with some serious misgivings. I figured we’d be laughed at, or worse, feel embarrassed. With rare exception, I’ve never worn these suits in public, certainly not on a crowded train.
But before we’d completed our transformation, we drew a little bit of a crowd. The people on the train were very curious to say the least. We spent a while talking to a nice family about how we’d made the costumes and why we were wearing them. The adults were polite and respectful, as were the children, who lined up to have photos with us.
The same sort of thing happened all day long, most notably outside of the Monument, which we had climbed for the chance to gaze over the city from 200 feet up. As we left, a crowd quickly formed. We even posed for a few pictures on the Underground! The police were very funny – we were honked at and waved at as they drove by, and we spoke to two officers for a long while about all sorts of geeky things.
I’m totally amazed at the reception. The people of London were lovely. We weren’t hassled or jeered at, not once.
Our destination was the Expo itself, and when we got there we immediately blended in. Thousands upon thousands of people all gather in costumes that they’ve made. The creativity and dedication blows my mind – it’s a great experience just seeing these people. Everyone is so friendly, too, and you feel like you can approach anyone at all and start talking like you’re old friends.
I finally got to meet my inspiration – Walter Jones, otherwise known as Zack the Black Ranger. He was a true gentleman, and I have no regrets about waiting more than twenty years to meet him.
In these cynical modern times, we can look back and see how Power Rangers was made. We can see behind the curtain, and for some that’s taken the shine off. We know it was a cheap production, we know the dialogue was corny and ridiculous. But at the time I was in love – I’d never seen anything like it before, and the earnest nature of the show instilled in me a set of values – the importance of teamwork and courage – that I still draw on today. Those guys were and still are my heroes, and the Power Rangers will always have a special place in my heart.