(Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from my friend Josh, co-host of the Raging Robot Partycast. Coincidentally, he goes by ‘ragingrobotparty’ on both Instagram and Twitter. Josh is a good friend who posts great toy photos and RC car videos. It’s always a delight to talk toys with Josh, and I’m over the moon about the review he contributed since it might just be the most niche post on this website yet. It also rules. And reading it made me want some mashed potatoes. Take it away, Josh!)
Review and Photos by Josh
Well, time for something weird! I’m Josh, you might know me as ragingrobotparty. Sometimes host of the Raging Robot Partycast, sometimes toy photographer, sometimes radio controlled vehicle enthusiast. All around tall dork with major divorce-dad energy who’s dwelled in the darkest parts of the dial-up internet for far too long. Today I’m here to talk to you about a set of toys from a Kids Meal that I had no idea existed until last year.
A Brief History of Masked Rider
Mosey back to me if you will to 1995, Power Rangers is at the height of its…err, power. Saban, in their ongoing quest for more money, decides to license Kamen Rider Black RX from Toei Studios to localize in the same manner that they do those famous rangers. New western footage for out of suit scenes, Japanese action footage already ready to go. They would call it Saban’s Masked Rider (a direct translation of the title Kamen Rider). It was a strange choice at the time, as Kamen Rider Black RX was a rare second season of a Rider show. If they ran out of footage, they could only go back a step to 1986’s Kamen Rider Black. Black RX was never even intended to be a sequel series (and you can kinda tell that when you watch it), but the popularity of the main character Minami Kotaro had given new life to the franchise and revived a level of excitement for Rider shows which had been waning in prior years. Anyway, long story short they licensed the karate bug man show, made the lead an alien instead of a man changed by cybernetic enhancements, and gave him a surprisingly diverse by 1995 standards adoptive family.
They also gave him a fuckin’ Furby for some reason. We’ll come back to that. Anyway. Rewatching the show now as a fan of the original tokusatsu shows as a whole, it’s…something. Very saccharine at times but largely harmless fun. I don’t hate it as some do. I certainly liked it as a kid! There was something about the cool bug robot guy with a motorcycle and a lightsaber that spoke to me.
Now let’s flash forward to 1997. Saban’s Masked Rider has come and gone in a flash. The show was canceled already, despite a crossover with his Mighty Morphin friends, they just didn’t have the steam to keep this one going. The toys were likely already rotting away on KB Toys’ pegs. Even if the series had continued, a major question arises: where would it have even gone? Black RX was the last Rider TV show filmed until the year **2000**. There had been three anniversary movies done in 1993, all very different things full of scary puppets, body horror, and a Rider who just sorta had Ultraman’s ability to get real big. 93’s Kamen Rider ZO short film actually did get a western release…on the Sega CD add on for Genesis consoles. Yes, really.
So why are we in 1997? Other than two years passing, Masked Rider got syndicated! And Saban decided to promote this via…a handful of toys you could only get at KFC. At a time, KFC actually had some pretty fun kids meal premiums in the 90’s, I vividly recall Micro Machines Z-Bots that were 1:1 the same as ones you could buy in stores, save for paint apps being exclusive. There was also a fun set of Garfield pullback vehicles and even some Extreme Ghostbusters toys. Ahhh. Be still my childhood heart.
1997 Masked Rider KFC Kids Meal Toys
I discovered these purely on accident when browsing Mercari early into the 2020 pandemic. Let’s have a look at them:
Here’s the included artwork and checklist/instruction sheet. Some nice original artwork of the titular character is featured.
Featured above is the first toy, Masked Rider himself. He’s got thick hips and just kinda barely looks like the character. Liberties have been taken with the shape of the armor here and there. No antennae are featured in the sculpt beyond tiny little nubs at the forehead. He should be far more black than gray, but, eh. What can ya do. He has articulation at the shoulders, elbows, hips and knees. You’re able to plop him on-top of his motorcycle which is certainly neat. This isn’t the best of action figures by any means, but for a kids meal toy, it feels kinda special that it has articulation, let alone the gimmick where you can add on another piece to change forms for him to “Super Gold” mode, which I believe was referred to as Roborider form in Black RX.
Here’s the Press & Go Super Chopper. A simple friction powered motor powers it, but it’s got some umph and of course what’s a Kamen Rider without their motorcycle? I would’ve had a blast playing with this as a child.
Magno The Supercar aka Ridoron
This is a very fun little replica of Ridoron, the decidedly Batmobile like car of Black RC/Masked Rider. The canopy and doors open and hey, you can fit a tiny scale figure in there such as a Dia-naut.
May just be the star of this set! It’s a solid little toy.
I guess now we’ll talk about:
Bump N Go Ferbus. For some reason it was decided Dex, prince of planet Edenoi and our man in the bug helmet needed a pet. So Saban made…whatever Ferbus is for him. With as litigious as Saban can be, I’m amazed they never sued Tiger and or Hasbro over their Furby toy. Ferbus predates the noisy mechanical pet by a few years and somehow dead on looks like one somehow at the same time. Even the name is similar. It’s weird, man. Anyway. The toy is based on a scene where he rides away in a little red wagon because comedy. It has a pullback motor. It goes. That’s about all I gotta say. It does what the paper says it does.
Glow in the Dark Cyclopter. Or as he was called in Japan…ARMORED OFFICER GATEZONE which is pretty great. He’s an underling villain who’s a robotic monoeyed biker. For some reason they decided to make him translucent and glow in the dark here, it’s a neat look but makes him feel a little fragile. This one was the hardest one for me to get ahold of. I actually just discovered something pretty cool about it today with the below final toy of the set!
Ecto Viewer Wrist Band. It’s just a little bracelet with a head on it that just BARELY looks like the character. You take off the faceplate and look through it to see a compound eye effect. I thought this was honestly the weakest toy of all of them until I did this:
Yeah, look at Cyclopter through it. That’s awesome.
I was a fan of this series as a kid, like many things of my childhood, it was short lived but burned bright during its fleeting time on the air. My faint recollections of this ancient pop culture footnote helped ease me into the Kamen Rider fandom later on as an adult and for that I am thankful for the adaptation. I wish I would have known about these in 97, little me would’ve definitely played with them and I can solidly appreciate them imagining receiving the toys through my child’s eye view. My own child was actually pretty enamored with them herself and enjoyed making our hero rider zip across the living room floor on his bike.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my ramblings about toys adapted from a late 80’s Japanese tv show sold at a fried chicken restaurant. Thanks for havin’ me, I’m sorry about the office backdrop as I literally just moved my entire life out of my former home, and thanks for sharing my weird passion about that one Deep Six figure!
I actually have more fast food toy content lined up for the near future. Are you excited???
Thanks to Josh for showing us these crazy toys! I thoroughly enjoyed this review.
I barely remember Masked Rider from back in the day (I definitely saw a rerun at an airport restaurant once), but I’ve come a long way since then. I’d be bold enough to call myself an Armchair Kamen Rider Fan at this point. I’ve watched about 5-6 series all the way through, own some toys (one of which is a Masked Rider toy), and have a sticker on one of my guitar cases. That’s dedication!
When I was in early high school, one of my friend’s older sisters told us about Kamen Rider. She was a big fan of the band Common Rider (featuring Operation Ivy singer Jesse Michaels) and I think that’s how she kind of got into the whole thing. But since she didn’t have any bootleg VHS tapes to share, we just kind of had to take her at her word. She did make the franchise sound very cool, though.
Speaking of music and Kamen Rider, here’s an amusing song from one of the nerdiest punk bands of the 90s:
Oh, and if this review got you in the mood to watch some of Saban’s Masked Rider, it looks like Saban itself has an entire YouTube channel dedicated to it, with full episodes. It might even be the entire series. You scout it out and tell me. I’m busy looking at photos of bug-themed supercars.
Do you have fond memories of Masked Rider, Beetleborgs, VR Troopers, Power Rangers and the other 90s American toku shows? Do you like the source material? Do you collect the toys? Let us know in the comments!