Troopers three! (Go!) Virtual Reality...In the spirit of, on the heels of, and by the makers of Power Rangers
, the Metal Heroes Toku
series was adapted by Saban into a new show known as VR Troopers
The premise is basically that via Applied Phlebotinum
created by Tyler Steele, Karl Ziktor, and Professor Horatio Hart, anything created in virtual reality actually exists
in Another Dimension
, and can be brought forth into the real world. Tyler Steele goes missing, but left behind the means for his son and friends to defend the real world from Ziktor, now a Corrupt Corporate Executive
with a virtual army ready to conquer the world. Crossworld City
is a weak point between dimensions and as such, the front lines in the battle with Ziktor, aka Grimlord (Ziktor's super-powered virtual world avatar), and his forces. Professor Hart, his body mortally wounded by Grimlord, exists inside the base's computers and acts as The Obi-Wan
The second season sees the complete overhaul of the villains' setup and one character's gear in a series where Status Quo Is God
... or was.
Like Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers
, three Metal Heroes
series were used as source materials to make one. Ryan's armor, Grimlord, and any villain ever seen in
Grimlord's lair came from Choujinki Metalder
. Another show, Jikuu Senshi Spielban
, provided armored Kaitlin and JB, General Icebot and Ivar, the Skugs, many of the team's vehicles, and most of the villains of the week
(such as Red Python and Desponda). The second season, in which Ryan's armor and Grimlord's tech are switched out, takes footage from still another show, Space Sheriff Shaider
Somehow, with that many sources of footage, costumes, and plots, the vast majority of second season episodes revolved around something dangerous being made in an underground lab that had eventually to be taken out with the same drill vehicle going through the same stock footage
VRT's suits were a vast departure from those of Power Rangers
and the like: instead of suiting up a human
, the Troopers were actually transformed into robot forms that were created from scratch in virtual reality. If damaged in Trooper form, they had to be repaired as machines before they could return to human form.
The show has a rather interesting production history, to say the least: originally a vehicle for Jason David Frank
, an unaired pilot was both shot and sold to several stations, who proceeded to buy it due to the popularity of Power Rangers , but at the last minute Saban decided to bring JDF back to PR, which meant that the starring role had to be recast with Brad Hawkins (who was originally set to play the White Ranger in the second season of Mighty Morphin
), although the show by that point was deemed highly unsalvageable and was filmed only for contractual obligations with the TV stations who had already bought the series. To the surprise of many, the first season was actually quite successful and a second season was soon green-lighted by Saban. However, during the second season all the Metalder
action footage ran out and Saban was forced to use footage from a third and drastically different (and much older) show for the Ryan Steele segments. Eventually all the remaining Spielban
footage, as well most of the Shaider
footage, were used up too.
Saban picked up the rights to a fourth Metal Hero
series Juukou B-Fighter
, but rather than risk alienating the show's fan-base by changing the entire team's costumes and motifs like they did with Power Rangers Zeo
, they decided to start fresh with a new Americanized version, Beetleborgs
, resulting in the cancellation of VR Troopers
As of June 2011, the entire series (along with Big Bad Beetleborgs
and Power Rangers
) is available for streaming on Netflix. It's also released on DVD in Europe in the 1990s and in North America in the mid 2000s. But due to mediocre sales, Shout! Factory
has released a statement that they cannot release the last DVD that has the remaining episodes in the series. Starring:
- Ryan Steele, searching for his father Tyler Steele, who helped create the technology, is assumed to be second in command at Tao Dojo.
- Kaitlin Starr, who works at a newspaper called the Underground Voice.
- J.B. Reese, martial artist who works for the dojo where the Troopers train.
- Professor Hart, friend of Tyler Steele, whose mind was placed inside the base's computers to save his life.
- Tao Chung, martial arts teacher and mentor of the team (in a life lessons sorta way. He doesn't know they're the Troopers.)
- Woody, the editor of the Underground Voice. Much more personable than J. Jonah Jameson. Frequently heard to say "What an ideeeeeee-a!"
- Jeb, the dog turned sentient and made speech-capable via some of the base's Applied Phlebotinum.
- Percy, mayor's nephew and would-be beau of Kaitlin. Highly obnoxious. Strictly comic relief. Occasionally, his aunt and uncle show up. They're even more comic relief.
- Karl Ziktor, a Corrupt CEO who has a dual identity: in virtual reality, he's the Big Bad, Grimlord, with an army of VR cyborg creatures.