He has been the face of the Transformers brand at Hasbro for a decade. You saw him pitch the incredible Unicron toy via HasLab in 2019. If you’re a Transformers fan there’s an incredibly good chance you’ve purchased an item he’s had his hands involved in. He’s John Warden – and he’s now the Global Design Lead for the Power Rangers brand at Hasbro.
You’re thinking to yourself, “Okay so how does that equate to Power Rangers?”.
Well, we asked ourselves the same thing. But more importantly – we asked him. We thought it would be best if we all got to know each other a little better. He sat down with TokuChris to answer some questions about his history with Power Rangers.
Please enjoy our interview.
– Your time with the Transformers is nothing short of prolific with some of the most amazing Transformers toys coming out during your time with that brand. How do you feel your work on Transformers will translate to your work on Power Rangers?
- Thank you, Chris! I appreciate the compliment on Transformers!
- During my time on TF, I learned how important it is to pay attention to small details, while also balancing the fan expectations from multiple generations. Growing up, and throughout my career, I’ve been a huge fan of Robots and tech in general, which made working on Transformers so awesome.
- It’s truly an opportunity of a lifetime to be part of a universe as deep and fascinating as Power Rangers. Beyond the obvious comparisons to Transformers (the Megazords, Carrierzords, Battle Borgs, Etc), I’m enchanted by the layers of story, detail, and fantasy built into the Rangers Universe. It’s a thrill to be working with an awesome team to bring this universe alive in toy.
– How familiar were you with the Power Rangers universe prior to beginning your work on the brand?
- I’ve been at Hasbro since 1999. During my career as a toy designer and manager, I always looked with admiration to the innovation in the Power Rangers lines over the years in the 2000’s and 2010’s. I studied Power Rangers S.P.D. while working on a new toy universe and cartoon known as “G.I.Joe: Sigma 6” which was a bold, futuristic reinvention of our brand back in 2005-07. S.P.D. had awesome costumes, motorcycles, and roleplay gear. The toys were awesome for this line, and I had a Sofubi Dekamaster/Shadow Ranger on my desk. Around that same time, I had a subscription to a famous Japanese Hobby Magazine, and started to learn more about the world of Super Sentai. The Tokusatsu universe is deep (and to be honest) influenced so many of the wonderful robot and mecha toys I loved as a kid in the 1980’s, and a design student in the 1990’s.
– Aside from giant combining robots, what do you see as parallels between Transformers and Power Rangers from a design perspective?
- Power Rangers and Transformers share a similar universe of characters, teams that are united as a force of good against evil. From a design perspective, each has an enduring fanbase who grew up with these other-worldly heroes and villains. Balancing these nostalgic design elements from the source material (whether it’s Transformers G1, Beast Wars, MMPR, Lost Galaxy, etc…) with “realism” and “modern updated Sculpts” is a similar sort of challenge. The design team cannot make them “too-retro” – as toy technology has advanced and the classic toy sculpts can always be improved. Conversely, the designs cannot be “updated” too much either, because the beauty of the original costumes/characters might be lost. The challenge is always finding a balance between the two.
– When you think “Power Rangers”, what’s one of the first things that comes to mind to you both as maybe a fan but also as a designer?
- One of the things that I’ve always loved about Power Rangers is its ability to re-invent itself year after year. The franchise has kept itself fresh for nearly 30 years by introducing awesome new themes to keep it relevant with fans and kids. Power Rangers is unique in that with every new season it still keeps the motif of a team of ordinary mortals who are chosen to have extraordinary powers.
- What’s impressed me about the Ranger Fan Universe in the past year that I’ve been on this brand is how much our fans value teamwork, diversity, and the power of good over evil. As a designer, each season is unique and carries with it its own set of detailed themes, aesthetics, and technology. It’s one heck of a cool sandbox for my design team to play in. :D
– With nearly 30 years of history there is a Power Rangers series, Megazord, and favorite Ranger for everyone. What would your favorite series, Megazord, and Ranger be?
- Wow…. Now that is a hard question!! Every season has its awesome parts, but if I had to play favorites, I would say my favorite seasons are Power Rangers In Space, MMPR Season 3, and Power Rangers Lost Galaxy.
- Megazords are all awesome, but my absolute favorites are the Rescue Megazord from Turbo, The Wild Force Megazord, the Shogun Megazord, Omega Megazord, and Pyramidas. Geez… there are too many cool ones!!
- My absolute favorite ranger is Shadow Ranger from S.P.D, but I also have love for Turbo Red Ranger (T.J.), Quantum Ranger (Eric, Time Force), Silver Ranger (Zhane, In Space), and MMPR s2 Yellow (Aisha). Dino Fury Red (Zayto) is gonna be awesome too.
– You’ve mentioned that your favorite series is Power Rangers In Space. What about that series makes it (one of) your favorite(s)?
- First off, I love Melody Perkin’s portrayal of Astronema. Yes, I know the Sci-Fi Tropes of this series are a tad cheesy by today’s standards, but it’s a total guilty pleasure to watch this show. The story of In Space is totally solid. You see the heartbreaking closure of the Zordon arc from MMPR, delve into mysterious and awesome characters like Phantom Ranger, and travel to different worlds. To me, In Space is the first glimpse into the depth of the universe of villains and heroes that exist in the Rangers Universe. The character arcs in this story really make you believe in the power of teamwork and redemption. And all of the awesome Megazord Battles and team-ups don’t hurt either. ; )
– During your entire tenure with Hasbro, is there a favorite item that you’ve worked on? An item that maybe holds a special place above all the other items?
- In my job I’ve worked on lots of toys that I love for one reason or another. Some favorites were just fun to design (such as G.I.Joe Pursuit of Cobra Jungle Viper), others have a cool development story (BeyBlade SlingShock), an especially great Transformation or feature (Combiner Wars Devastator), or are a huge accomplishment in the industry (like Transformers WFC HasLab: Unicron).
- But I have to say the toy I designed is that holds a special place for me is a Shrek 2 toy that “toots” when you squeeze it. He has a scented Garlic Flower accessory. We made a lot of those scented accessories. One of them was especially hilarious and could not be released because it was too stinky. That’s a whole other fun story.
– As Power Rangers fans seasoned and new, older and younger of all ages finish up Beast Morphers, prepare for Dino Fury, and hound their local stores for new Lightning Collection figures, is there anything you’d like to say to them as we move in to 2021?
- This coming year (2021) is going to be a great time to be a Power Rangers Fan, whether you are new to the franchise or a seasoned master. We’ve been hard at work all year with our incredible Franchise team and our production team in New Zealand to bring to life one of the most action-packed seasons ever in Power Rangers history! Our design team is made of BIG fans both young and old and their passion comes through in their work. From incredible new innovations in role-play – to some of the most intricately detailed Megazords every made… there will be something for every Rangers fan out there.
- In the Lightning Collection, the design team is going above and beyond with detailed new deco techniques for the portraits, and we’ve been taking a closer look at everything from the face sculpts… to the accessories… to the seasons that we will be featuring/showcasing. Get ready to expect the unexpected.
Power Rangers Dino Fury premieres Saturday, February 20th at 8am Eastern and Pacific only on Nickelodeon. Check out the teaser trailer below and stay tuned for a Power Rangers Fan First Friday from Hasbro on Friday, February 12th for some exciting Power Rangers Dino Fury reveals!