Back in the early nineties, Haim Saban and Shuki Levy took over from Sid and Marty Kroft as the king of kiddie TV. Though they were involved in the production of dozens of TV shows, it was Mighty Morphin Power Rangers that made them a force to be reckoned with. With that single series, they launched a cultural phenomena that generated millions in merchandise sales, two big-screen movies, more than a dozen direct spin-off shows and several look-alike series’ with a twist.
The favorite in our home was Big Bad Beetleborgs. This series combined classic monsters with the wacky creatures from Japanese tokusatsu TV shows.
Beetleborgs is paranormal Power Rangers. Three kids, Drew, Jo and Roland enter a haunted house on a dare and end up releasing Flabber, a magic spirit from an old pipe organ. Thinking it’s all a dream, the kids take Flabber up on his offer, and ask to be transformed into their favorite comic book heroes The Beetleborgs. Unfortunately, Flabber’s a little rusty and he ends up allowing all of the villains to escape from the comic book as well.
As if that wasn’t enough to deal with, the haunted mansion also includes a collection of monsters straight out of the Universal classics including Count Fangula, Wolfgang and Frankenbeans.
Each week, a new costumed creature descends on the small town of Charterville and it’s up to the kids, in their shiny heroes on the half-shell garb to eliminate the threat, all the while trying to keep the world from learning the secret of Hillhurst Mansion.
Big Bad Beetleborgs is perfect for young monster-lovers. The comedy keeps the creatures from being too scary and the heroes are pre-teens (the Power Rangers are High School students), so they’re easy to relate to.
Beetleborgs may be cheesy, but you have to appreciate the attention to details in this special effects laden series. Since the characters pop in and out of a comic book, they often use a technique where a frame is animated and then shifts from 2-D to 3-D. There’s also a great deal of model when the kids roll out their Beetleborg battle vehicles. The scenes are very reminiscent of Gerry Anderson’s work on Thunderbirds, U.F.O. and Space 1999.
Big Bad Beetleborgs: Season 1, Vol. 1 is available now from Shout Factory and you can get yours at Amazon. If you’re a Prime member, order today and have it in time for Halloween.
Earlier this month, Shout Factory also released the Saban classic VR Troopers: Season 1, Vol. 1 on DVD.
Ryan Steele, Kaitlin Star, and J.B. Reese are well-rounded martial arts majors who stumble upon a virtual world while searching for Ryan’s missing dad. They learn that the alternate universe is inhabited by monsters who are trying to cross over into our world with a help of an evil billionaire.
In order to keep Karl Ziktor, aka Grimlord from taking over the world, the teens must use all their skills to defeat the creatures inside the virtual reality matrix.
VR Troopers: Season 1, Vol.1 is available now from Amazon.