Let’s pretend it is the early 90s, during this time television and physical publications were essential. People required the use of these mediums to acquire their basic information. Whereas, the internet as we would come to know it as of today had just begun in August 1991. However, the fandoms that we would come to love and be a part of were obscure then. Yet, during that period of time we would discover how the internet could be used to connect one another, and become a valued source of information. For fans of tokusatsu or even anime, they quickly amassed on the earliest boards to discuss these properties and share how it is all made. For some these connections would allow them to receive opportunities to get further behind-the-scenes.
Meet Dairenn Lombard, a man who got to live out that childhood dream and receive this opportunity before adulthood! Dairenn grew up as a kid of the late 80s and early 90s, being fascinated by the animated programs on Fox Kids. However in 1993, things would drastically change with the premiere of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and the soft introduction to Japan’s iconic Super Sentai series. Fascinated by acrobatics, fight choreography, pyrotechnics and the spectacle of transforming heroes and giant robots, Dairenn sought to learn more about the craft. This led him to fully discover Super Sentai, and becoming a member of early internet Power Rangers message boards.
Through his involvement on message boards like Newsgroups and alt.tv.power-rangers, Dairenn managed to create a name for himself. He started by founding the IRC chat channel #mmpr, and there he began interacting/ interviewing people involved with the series. Guests on his channel would include voice actor Dave Mallow, music producer David Hillenbrand, and music composer Ron Wasserman. However, the standout of his guests was 2nd unit director Jeff Pruitt, who was behind the original footage action sequences during the early seasons of Power Rangers. Having interviewed Pruitt, Saban Entertainment would allow Dairenn to eventually meet his successor Koichi Sakamoto, who would become the synonymous director tokusatsu fans both known in America and Japan.
Now, meeting Koichi Sakamoto proved to be a bit of a challenge with the language barrier. However, Dairenn explained to us that the language barrier proved to be part of the fun, and overall enjoyment. It began with simple phone calls, and thankfully, Koichi is a down to earth individual who finds ways to make time. To quote Mr. Lombard, “In spite of the fact that he [Koichi] and his staff worked from 6 am until after 7pm almost everyday by Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, and elsewhere in southern California, Koichi was willing to chat over the phone occasionally.” Eventually their phone calls would lead to Koichi inviting Daireen to the set to watch the production process and ask questions.
Due to the success of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to Power Rangers Zeo, Saban began paying for better locations. On-location filming would move into Los Angeles, and even closer to Dairenn’s residence. This made the traveling arrangements fairly easy for Dairenn to be in attendance for filming. Upon arrival, Dairenn would come to learn Koichi’s hands-on approach, as he was instructing and training cast members like Tracy Lynn Cruz and Roger Velasco. Koichi’s thought process was to make the unmorphed fights look and feel as if our heroes were transformed. In addition, he wanted to make the American stunts or movements transition better to compliment the source material.
While in attendance, Dairenn took interest in the process of the production’s practical effects due to wanting to be a broadcaster and producer. There Dairenn would learn how Koichi choreographed fights, and how trampolines as well as other props would be used to boost the actors’ performances. In addition, Dairenn would watch how the suits are rigged to produce explosions or sparks from physical or post-production impacts. Furthermore, Dairenn witnessed first hand how much work John Bordeaux had when setting up the pyro. Whereas, in-between takes and breaks, Dairenn was permitted to talk with the stunt team.
During this period of production the stunt team featured veteran Toei actor Hiroshi Maeda, known for portraying Jetman’s Red Hawk and Zyuranger’s Tyranno Ranger. Other prominent names associated with the team were Takahiro Homma and Kazuhiro Yokoyama. Both actors stayed on the production of Power Rangers for most of its run, but Takahiro Homma left following RPM. Whereas, Kazuhiro Yokoyama is still with the production team, as the franchise progresses into the Hasbro era. Now, Dairenn’s interactions with the stunt team were great. Dairenn would be shown dailies (clips from other episodes that assist with production), or shown how stunts are performed. Furthermore, once the team discovered Dairenn watched Super Sentai, they would sing the opening themes together during lunch. Dairenn recalled to us how the theme they would sing the most was “Ole! Ole! Ohranger” from Choriki Sentai Ohranger.
As a guest, Dairenn would attend the filming for episodes like Always a Chance, Countdown to Destruction, and Journey’s End. For “Always a Chance,” Dairenn explained to us that filming for Carlos and Adam’s scenes occurred at Griffith Park. During the morphed fight, there was a part when Takahiro Homma (Mighty Morphin’ Black Ranger) had to repeat a specific jump kick. Koichi had Homma redo the take several times until they got the perfect shot. What amazed Dairenn during these takes for the kick was that Mr. Homma nailed each kick like he was on loop. Mr. Homma’s position did not change, but instead production would adjust the camera or the lighting.
Then while attending the filming for “Countdown to Destruction,” Dairenn witnessed several takes ultimately cut from the In Space finale. One scene in particular is what led us to contacting Mr. Lombard, and that was Elgar attacking Zhane. Dairenn confirmed the scenes were during Part 1 when the Rangers were temporarily defeated by Astronema’s forces. Here Dairenn would get to see and touch several props first-hand like the Galaxy Glider, Silverizer, and Spiral Saber. In our conversations with Dairenn, he explained that by the time the finale aired several things he saw filmed vastly changed. It led to him calling Koichi to discuss what else was cut from the days he could not attend too. Yet, most of the cut information Dairenn told us was previously made available by other former Saban staff members.
Finally, the last taping Dairenn would attend was for Power Rangers Lost Galaxy’s finale, “Journey’s End.” Most of the filming was in downtown Los Angeles, with the final battle filmed at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel. From the images shared with us, we noticed how the location looked more elaborate than it seemed. Dairenn says the location is amazing too, but production chose not to go for wide shots. Instead, they opted for tight angles using large shot blockers, so cameramen could keep to a 4:3 frame. Throughout filming Dairenn would constantly suggest to Koichi to try filming wider shots, so cooler locations could be featured. Ironically, whether due to his suggestions or not, Dairenn would get his wish in following seasons.
However, once the events of 9/11 occurred, the shooting locations became more protected. In addition, other policies were being put into place to avoid any legal possibilities regarding guests on set. Then as we all know during Wild Force, Disney acquired Power Rangers and moved filming to New Zealand. So, this ultimately cut off Dairenn from attending any future Power Rangers tapings altogether. Yet, Dairenn would continue supporting the franchise, as well as further explore tokusatsu. Unfortunately, most of Dairenn’s early contributions are now lost to time due to the hosted sites becoming defunct. However, we at Hero-Club, hope to help Dairenn reupload and archive his content once he recovers his original assets.
Now, looking back at what Dairenn has accomplished, it shows he went far as a fan and contributor for the fandom. Some could even argue Daireen was ahead of his time when specifically focusing on Power Rangers. Whereas, other tokusatsu historians and members of the press normally looked exclusively at its origins. Currently, Dairenn is not as involved within the on-goings of the fandom, but remains to interact with other fans. Also, thanks to Power Morphicon, Dairenn has been able to occasionally reunite with his friends from the show. Furthermore, Dairenn has attended almost every Power Morphicon except the 2018 event held at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Nevertheless, Dairenn Lombard is a part of the Power Rangers community, and he is one that needs to be remembered. The work Dairenn did to help the early stages of the fandom should not ever be forgotten. We hope to help spread his story of being able to go behind-the-scenes to other fans. Also, we want to thank Dairenn for partnering with us to archive his content. If people want to contact Dairenn, they can easily contact him on Twitter. Over there fans can see him talking about tokusatsu and other Japanese media. So, we hope fans look forward to future collaborations and updates from Dairenn here at Hero-Club. Furthermore, to stay up to date make sure to follow Hero-Club.com across social media by using @HeroClub4Life!
[Editor Notes] Source & References:
- All images from the sets of Power Rangers In Space and Power Rangers Lost Galaxy are from Mr. Lombard’s personal albums.
- All images seen in the article and/ or acquired from Mr. Lombard are currently available to be viewed by the public at Hero-Club’s FaceBook.