Metal Hero is a genre of Japanese tokusatsu television programs. It was produced by Toei, the same company responsible for the Super Sentai and Kamen Rider series. Beginning in 1982 and ending in 1999, the series usually consist of 1-3 characters transforming into cyborg-like superheroes. In 1994, Haim Saban took footage from the Metal Hero series, and used it for VR Troopers and in 1996 and 1997 for Big Bad BeetleBorgs and BeetleBorgs Metallix.
- Space Sheriff Gavan (1982)
- Space Sheriff Sharivan (1983)
- Space Sheriff Shaider (1984)
- Kyojuu Tokusou Juspion (1985)
- Jikuu Senshi Spielban (1986)
- Choujinki Metalder (1987)
- Sekai Ninja Sen Jiraiya (1988)
- Kido Keiji Jiban (1989)
- Special Rescue Police Winspector (1990)
- Super Rescue Solbrain (1991)
- Special Rescue Exeedraft (1992)
- Tokusou Robo Janperson (1993)
- Blue SWAT (1994)
- Juukou B-Fighter (1995)
- B-Fighter Kabuto (1996)
- B-Robo Kabutack (1997)
- Tetsuwan Tantei Robotack (1998)
- VR Troopers (1994-1996)
- Big Bad BeetleBorgs (1996)
- BeetleBorgs Metallix (1997)
In 1994, Saban would use Metal Hero footage for VR Troopers, which was a sister show to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. However, unlike Power Rangers, VR Troopers was aired in syndication. Because of this, the show had more violent footage. Initially, the show was pitched as Cybertron, taking footage from the 1987 series, Choujinki Metalder. It starred Jason David Frank, who was already famous playing Tommy Oliver, the Green Ranger on Power Rangers as Adam Steele. Jamie Kennedy was also in the pilot, playing the comic relief. However, due to the popularity of Tommy on Power Rangers, Jason David Frank was brought back to the show as the White Ranger. Coincidentally, Brad Hawkins, who played Ryan Steele on VR Troopers, was going to play the White Ranger. The theme song to Cybertron is a re-worked version of Go Green Ranger Go. The show was re-worked, adapting footage from Jikuu Senshi Spielban for additional villains, as well as the characters of J.B. Reese and Kaitlin Starr, and renamed VR Troopers. During the second season of the show, the footage from Metalder had been used up, and the show began using footage from Space Sheriff Shaider for new villains as well as Ryan Steele's new suit. The show ended in 1996, mainly due to the fact that there was no more Metal Hero footage to use that would match the motif. Spielban had been the only show in which there was a female Metal Hero. It was also around this time that Saban was beginning to adapt the 1995 series Juukou B-Fighter into Big Bad BeetleBorgs.
Out of most American Tokusatsu adaptations, VR Troopers is the most unique. Shows like Power Rangers and DIC's Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad use footage that is at least 1–3 years old by the time the shows aired. From 1993-2009, Power Rangers was usually one year behind Super Sentai. However, with VR Troopers, the Japanese footage used was several years old by the time the show aired in 1994. The oldest being from Shaider, which aired in Japan in 1984. Spielban and Metalder aired in 1986 and 1987 respectively. Because of this, the footage looked very dated. The same instance occurred with Saban's Masked Rider in 1995. The Japanese show from where it came, Kamen Rider Black RX, originally aired in 1988. An instance like this wouldn't happen again until 2009's Kamen Rider Dragon Knight, which used footage from 2002's Kamen Rider Ryuki.
In 1996, Big Bad BeetleBorgs began airing on Fox Kids. In a stark contract from VR Troopers, BeetleBorgs was a more kid-friendly show. Instead of having characters in their 20s, the show focused on pre-teens, around the ages of 10-14. This would be something that would transfer over to Power Rangers in the form of Justin Stewart, the 12 year old Blue Turbo Ranger the following year. One of the more infamous characters on the show was named Flabber, who gained his infamy due to the character's resemblance to Jay Leno. The show would also use footage from another Metal Hero series during one episode of the first season. The characters of Karato and Silver Ray were taken from the series Tokusou Robo Janperson, which had a team-up with the B-Fighters. BeetleBorgs and it's second season, BeetleBorgs Metallix, used footage from the 1995 and 1996 series, Juukou B-Fighter and B-Fighter Kabuto, respectively. Much like VR Troopers before, BeetleBorgs was cancelled due to lack of Japanese footage. Although the Metal Hero series did continue after B-Fighter Kabuto, it's successor B-Robo Kabutack (1997) and Tetsuwan Tantei Robotack (1998) were aimed at a younger audience, with the shows being more kiddie in nature. As far as in the west, Saban would make one more sister show to Power Rangers in the Fall of 1998, called Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog. The show garnered a fairly positive reaction. It is the only tokusatsu series produced by Saban to not use any Japanese footage. However, it was cancelled after only once season.
End of Metal Hero
The Metal Hero genre of shows ended on January 24, 1999, with the final episode of Tetsuwan Tantei Robotack. To fill the timeslot, TV Asahi would air the 70s series Ganbare!! Robocon for the rest of 1999, along side the current Super Sentai series, Kyuukyuu Sentai GoGoV. After the series finished, Toei would bring back the Kamen Rider series, with Kamen Rider Kuuga.