Since 1993, Saban has dazzled children and parents alike with the exploits of the spandex-clad heroes of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and their many, many offshoots which have stretched their reign of dominance over toy aisles and screens across the entertainment landscape. But, for almost as long, we’ve heard murmurs of discontent about the state of the company that largely shepherded this beloved franchise to prominence. We’ve often wondered what it was that made this show tick behind the scenes, and why certain creative decisions may have been made in the last few years, which saw a sharp decline in audience reception, ironically a short time after the newly-christened Saban Brands retook the Power Rangers intellectual property from temporary rights-holders Disney.
That was 2010. Since then, the Rangers’ on-screen adventures and their symbiotic toy line from Bandai of America have endured a rollercoaster of feedback from devoted fans, some fiercely loyal, others violently disapproving. What we don’t often hear in this chorus is the voice of the employees. The people actually working to bring Power Rangers and other brands under the Saban umbrella to our doorsteps. Let’s hear it straight from the unicornzord’s mouth.
Twitter user TokuChris provides the lead for this story, prompting our own perusal of the popular employment review site Glassdoor. Through which, among other things, workers can speak anonymously about their experiences with the companies that employed them, providing insights and a wealth of comments on time spent in their service. Responses can be very celebratory, singing the praises of the work being done with great people and strong output. Or they can be the other thing.
Here’s a small sample of what employees have had to say about Saban Brands and Bandai of America in recent years.
In a word, ouch. Many comments offered about their time with Saban and Bandai are decidedly not morphenomenal, focusing primarily on their experience with members of the company’s higher echelon. Employees cite examples of mismanagement, untrustworthy activity from human resources, and hostility from those whose role is to inspire and be depended upon for support.
Some claim that the company could be doing more to reach for a well-rounded team of diverse creatives with unique perspectives to add to the process. According to these reports, there’s a lot both companies, whose working relationship has been closely linked for some time due to the highly toyetic nature of the Power Rangers IP, among others, could be doing to promote a collaborative work environment where many voices are heard.
This may prove an even greater issue when the turnaround for new employees hired after a wave of others leaves, as some indicate, may create a sense that the value of the job is only measured in the short-term for those who haven’t reached the executive level or otherwise “safe” zones of operation.
To be fair, there are those whose comments paint a slightly different picture. One review can only be described as glowing, leaving no criticism of any kind.
What unites nearly all reviews of relevance is a potent sense that the strength of each company lies in the people on the ground, grinding to put out a product their fans will enjoy on a platform that feels modern, exciting, and attractive to people from all backgrounds. When it comes to the men and women in charge, however, the tone of comments grows more disquieting.
One might suggest that comments from employees, most of whom no longer work for a particular company, may feel motivated to speak ill of their former bosses. Makes sense. Not everyone with a bone to pick actually has a point, though we respect their right to express their view nonetheless. As a point of comparison, we also looked up Hasbro, the popular company whose licenses include such beloved properties as the G.I. Joe, Transformers, and My Little Pony brands. We found that there was a marked difference in the comments left for the company and, in particular, its executive team.
While Glassdoor tallies Saban CEO Janet Hsu’s approval rating at 27%, her counterpart at Hasbro, Brian Goldner enjoys an encouraging 91%. For added comparison, Bandai chief Akihiro Sato’s score rests at 13% as of this writing.
While these stats can weave a damning tapestry, any number of factors could affect scores such as these. But it remains a fascinating piece of the puzzle nonetheless, particularly for those consumers who find themselves dissatisfied with recent output from these entities. If the latest season of Power Rangers isn’t bothering you with strange character motivations or baffling plot turns, the toy line that comes with it is sapping your patience with substandard materials and lackluster design effort. These things some fans will tell you they know to be factually true, without a need for any employee to legitimize the bad taste in their mouth.
With so much to celebrate from the House That Tommy Built, whether it be a thoughtful feature film from Lionsgate, a thrilling video game you can’t stay away from, or a comic book that captures your imagination month after month, it’s a shame to hear the possibility that some aspects of this enormous enterprise have not found the balance they deserve.
Regardless of the reasons, which we may never be fully equipped to grasp in their entirety, until we hear otherwise, we await when the Power Rangers, in all their varied forms, in all the ways we truly love them for, can get Back to Action.