Monday, May 31, 2010

American Tokusatsu during MMPR Hey-Day

In 1994, because of the success of Power Rangers, the next fall season of 1994 had many imitators, some from Saban, some that weren't. I'll start with those that were not from Saban. I am not covering Kamen Rider Dragon Knight because I am only covering the 90's.


Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad
Not made by Saban, it was produced by DiC, best known for animated fare like Inspector Gadget, Rainbow Brite and dubbing Sailor Moon. It starred Joey Lawrence's younger brother Matthew Lawrence. It aired from September 1994 to Summer 1995 syndicated (meaning it aired off network on local channels). A couple episodes did air in the summer of 1995 on ABC. There were 52 episodes and it was based on the Japanese series Gridman, which had a similar plot. This show has its followers, it may have had a second season if Gridman had a second season, one was planned but never happened. Gridman was not from Toei--which most of the tokusatsu was bought by Saban and the SSSS toys were made by Playmates toys (best known for Ninja Turtles).
Plot: Sam and his rock band tap into cyberspace to fight evil viruses. Kilokahn (voiced by Tim Curry) wanted to take over the world and used the young British outsider Malcolm to do this evil deeds. I covered the differences with Gridman on this post.

Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills
It aired on the USA Network from October 1994 to later in 1995 with 40 episodes, produced partly by DiC and the USA Network. Rumor was that they were supposed to get footage from a Japanese show, but they were forced to go low-budget and make their own footage. At the time, I thought the show was cheap and rude, but in reality the show was much like a parody. The four didn't quite like each other, they weren't friends before and were rude to each other. The bird cohort of Gorganus seemed to be re-used from the Flintstones movie (The Dictabird). This show wasn't popular at all in ratings, it had no toys and almost zero promotion.
Plot: Four spoiled teenagers (not friends) from Beverly Hills transformed into muscle-building Sentinels and fought the same monsters day in and day out from the evil Emperor Gorganus.
My post about the show.

VR Troopers
Saban wanted to build on the success of Power Rangers, but not share with FOX Kids, so he made another deal with Toei to use the footage from Metalder, which was part of the Metal Hero series. He got Jason David Frank, after filming "Green Candle" and shot the pilot called Cybertron with a catchy theme song by Ron W. But because of the success of the Green Ranger, they decided to bring Tommy back. Brad Hawkins was hired to be the White Ranger but switched and offered this show that was named VR Troopers, with footage of Speilban and two other actors. It aired from 1994 to 1996, two seasons, it was popular but it is unknown why it was canceled. The toys were made by Kenner (best known for Star Wars), not Bandai America.
Plot: Ryan Steele sought his father, who was taken prisoner by Grimlord, a evil being bent on taking over our world, from his virtual reality. Ryan and his friends, using technology from his father, save the world.

Saban's Masked Rider
Premiered in 1995, spin-off from Power Rangers in Season 3. The show itself severed any connections with Power Rangers. This was based on Kamen Rider Black RX, which as produced by Toei and it upset the creator, so much that they no longer wanted Kamen Rider to be tied to Saban. Toei would try again with Kamen RIder Dragon Knight with Adness in 2009. It aired for one year 1995 to 1996 on FOX Kids and then in syndication under Saban's syndication block years later, but in repeats of course. From 1995-1996, it was the only time Saban productions had 3 series like this filming and airing at the same time. Toys were made by Bandai America like Power Rangers.
Plot: Prince Dex came from the planet Edenoi to stop his evil Uncle Dregon from conquering the Earth and lived with a mixed-race family.

Big Bad Beetleborgs
This aired after Masked Rider and VR Troopers ended. It aired from 1996 to 1998 on FOX Kids, it aired for two seasons, it had 53 episodes. Based on another Toei series B-Fighter and B-Fighter Kabuto. It was popular and would have had a third season, but they had no more footage, they had plans to do a third season without the footage but didn't happen. By this point, only Power Rangers and Beetleborgs were in production. Toys were made by Bandai America like Power Rangers and Masked Rider.
Plot: Three kids happen by a haunted mansion and are granted a wish by a genie to become their favorite comic book superheroes.

Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog
This aired after Beetleborgs ended. This was Saban's first attempt at an action series with no Toei footage or any Japanese footage as it was. It aired from 1998 to 1999, 50 episodes. A second season (Mystic Knights: Battle Thunder) was planned but it never happened. It was shot in Ireland but had little to do with real Irish mythology. It was a bit popular. FOX Kids blamed this show for the Young Hercules series not succeeding. This was Saban's last attempt at a sibling series for Power Rangers. When Mystic Knights ended, its budget went to PR, giving Lost Galaxy a bigger budget. Toys were made by Bandai America like Power Rangers, Masked Rider and Beetleborgs.
Plot: Four warriors fight Queen Maeve of Temra from ruling the kingdom of Kells with the help of fairies and dragons.


sdp said...

There really weren't that many clones when you think about it. Its odd counting all the TMNT clones we got and recently all the Pokemon clones.

Sure theres a few but they are all from Saban so I don't count them, only DiC tried cashing in on the popularity with SSSS and TTAFfBH.

Lavender Ranger said...

Yeah, there really weren't much. Partially because it was so costly to do so.

Mark said...

...How did they get Tim Curry? Did they pay him in ham or something?!

Hallwings said...

I think "VR Troopers" was cancelled because they ran out of Metal Hero footage. That's why they switched Ryan's VR form from Metalder to Shaider. Metalder only lasted 39 episodes, Spielban--44 episodes, and Shaider--48 episodes (not counting the end-of-the-series special involving the three Space Sheriffs)

Lavender Ranger said...

Hallwings, I covered this and they had footage, just they didn't have any girl footage to substitute Kaitlin.