Weta Workshop Gives Power Rangers Suits a Mighty Reboot
Attention nineties kids, kids of nineties kids, and anyone who likes superhero sagas: Saban’s Power Rangers, the re-imagining of the iconic and eternal Power Rangers for the big screen, has launched on Blu-ray, featuring an intergalactic onslaught of cool stunts, even cooler costumes, five fresh faces in the title roles and Elizabeth Banks as the most nefarious villain this side of the galaxy. While production took place in Vancouver, Canada, Weta Workshop was busy at the opposite end of the globe creating a sleek new set of suits for one of pop culture’s most iconic quintets.
Mission One: update the skin-tight Spandex of the original series with a futuristic new look. Through 2D and 3D, Weta Workshop’s concept designers explored texture and colour options for the Rangers’ suits, visors and underlays, working from original designs provided by Legacy Effects. Stylised fight sequences, playful martial arts and clever stunt work are a pre-requisite for any Power Rangers story, so the suits’ hard exteriors had to be light and flexible, while proving more than a match for the explosions, karate chops and roundhouse kicks that were to come their way.
So far so good. When it comes to the art of making armour, it would be a cosmic understatement to say that Weta Workshop has a weapon or two in its arsenal. This is, after all, the crew that cut their teeth on Xena and Hercules, crafted thousands of pieces for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and kitted out the armies of 2016’s Warcraft. The Rangers’ uniforms, however, posed a new challenge altogether.
“Our task was to craft armour that had an alien aesthetic; elemental; organic, but not of this earth. It was clear from the outset that this project required a solution that was quite unique.”
-Weta Workshop Production Manager, Holly Beals
They say work with what you’ve got, so that’s exactly what Weta Workshop did, giving the extra-terrestrial treatment to urethane, a product commonly found on the Workshop shelves. With guidance from director Dean Israelite, production designer Andrew Menzies and costume designer Kelli Jones, the crew developed a semi-translucent armour look with a metallic embedded texture; an armour finish that was a first for Weta Workshop.
With this alien-like material in the bag, Mission Two could begin: making the concept designs a reality. Armour shapes were prototyped in foam as the Weta Workshop casting and painting team worked through over 100 armour and skin samples to perfect the distinctive colour palette. Concept designers worked closely with the manufacturing team to tailor the designs to the actors’ bodies. In the end, 2000 urethane armour components were cast from 260 mold masters, each one meticulously painted and detailed by hand.
And what would a Rangers film be without a bolt (or five) of Lycra? The Workshop’s costume department lent the fabric a futuristic twist, developing a skin layer of screen-printed Lycra with textured and raised inks that was designed to fit each performer like a glove while concealing any seams under the armour. Ever resourceful, the crafty costume crew assembled pieces of discarded and unused fabric into a patchwork technicoloured test suit for stunt, stretch and wear testing.
“It was thrilling for Weta Workshop to have the opportunity to help reimagine the beloved Mighty Morphin Power Rangers! Our design and manufacturing teams worked tirelessly to create a stunning armour finish that is completely unique to the Workshop – a terrific achievement. It was a terrific thrill to see them in action on the big screen.”
-Weta Workshop CEO and Co-founder, Sir Richard Taylor
Wearing a new set of suits fit for an interstellar skirmish or two, Saban’s Power Rangers is available now on DVD and Blu-ray – and July brought an extra special treat for fans. Weta Workshop was excited to unveil the suit of the Red Ranger at San Diego Comic-Con 2017. On display at Booth #3613 from July 20-23, fans were able to pose with the suit and see Weta Workshop's beautiful - and beautifully unique - armour up close.