The Metal Heroes were a franchise of toku TV series produced by Toei, the same company behind Kamen Rider and Super Sentai. Unlike its brother franchises where teams of warriors in color coded suits fight evil or a cyborg fights against the evil organization that made him one, the Metal Heroes focused on solo heroes or much smaller teams than a Sentai who either wore metal armors or were in fact robots fighting evil. Many were Space Police, Super Soldiers or robotic armored Rescue workers. The Metal Heroes shows were on Japanese television from 1982 to 1998, more or less coinciding with the 80s and 90s hiatus of Kamen Rider on Japanese television.note The Metal Heroes are relatively darker in tone than either Sentai or KR, and it had a larger adult audience that the other shows did at the time.
Outside of Japan, the Metal Heroes were insanely popular in France, Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines where the failed Zaido spinoff was produced in 2006. In the United States, Saban Entertainment applied the Power Rangers formula to several Metal Heroes shows, resulting in VR Troopers (1994-1995) which was cobbled together from three different shows and Beetleborgs (1996-1997) which was made from at least taking two relatively related shows in the franchise. In 2020, the Toei Tokusatsu is airing most of the shows via the official World Youtube page with English subs to promote show outside Japan.
The following shows were produced in the Metal Heroes franchise:
- Space Sheriff Gavan (1982-1983)
- Space Sheriff Sharivan (1983-1984)
- Space Sheriff Shaider (1984-1985)
- Kyojuu Tokusou Juspion (1985-1986)
- Jikuu Senshi Spielban (1986-1987)
- Choujinki Metalder (1987-1988)
- Sekai Ninja Sen Jiraiya (1988-1989)
- Kidou Keiji Jiban (1989-1990)
- Tokkei Winspector (1990-1991)
- Tokkyuu Shirei Solbrain (1991-1992)
- Tokusou Exceedraft (1992-1993)
- Tokusou Robo Janperson (1993-1994)
- Blue SWAT (1994-1995)
- Juukou B-Fighter (1995-1996)
- B-Fighter Kabuto (1996-1997)
- B-Robo Kabutack (1997-1998)
- Tetsuwan Tantei Robotack (1998-1999)
- Space Sheriff revival (2012-)
- Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger vs. Space Sheriff Gavan: The Movie (January 2012)
- Space Sheriff Gavan: The Movie (October 2012) and its Crossover with Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters during episode 31 and 32 of said series.
- Kamen Rider × Super Sentai × Space Sheriff: Super Hero Taisen Z (Spring 2013)
- Space Sheriff Next Generation DTVs
- Space Sheriff Sharivan: Next Generation (October 2014)
- Space Sheriff Shaider: Next Generation (November 2014)
- Space Squad: Uchuu Keiji Gavan vs. Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger (June 2017)
- Space Squads: Girls in Trouble
- Uchu Sentai Kyuranger vs. Space Squad (June 2018)
- A proposed reboot of Juspion was announced in 2018, based in Brazil, with an intended *Meaningful Release Date in 2019 to commemorate 110 years of Japanese immigration to Brazil.
It should be noted that there are a few distinct trilogies within the franchise:
- The first three shows (Gavan, Sharivan, and Shaider) form the Space Sheriff trilogy (Uchuu Keiji in Japanese).
- Winspector, Solbrain, and Exceedraft form the Rescue Mission trilogy.
Other continuations include:
- Juukou B-Fighter and B-Fighter Kabuto are a continuation from one another as the Beetle Fighter series.
- B-Robo Kabutack and Tetsuwan Tantei Robotack are also considered sharing the same universe, having a crossover of the two while having similar themes.
- A crossover episode also denotes that Jiban and Jiraiya also share the same universe, despite having distinct themes.
- Finally, the ending of Gavan vs Dekaranger depicts a random pick of past Sentai and nearly all the other Metal Heroes as a MCU-style Shared Universe.
Metal Heroes provides examples of:
- Big Good: Qom of the Galactic Union Patrol serves as the commander of Space Sheriff Gavan, Space Sheriff Sharivan and Space Sheriff Shaider.
- By Space Sheriff Gavan: The Movie and into Space Squad, Retsu Ichijouji, the original Gavan, serves as this for the new Gavan and the next generation of Space Sheriffs.
- Canon Discontinuity: How Toei has treated B-Robo Kabutack and Tetsuwan Tantei Robotack as of late - while the series were listed in one of the Super Hero Taihen specials, said list also included Moerro!! Robocon, which is definitely NOT a Metal Heroes series, so it was likely referring to series that had come out during the period of time that Kamen Rider was on hiatusnote ; later, Super Hero Taisen Z showed a list of the Metal Heroes series, with Kabutack and Robotack both being absent from said list; additionally, these 2 are the only series that have not received DVD re-releases. Although this isn't entirely without reason.
- Cool Bike: Yep!
- Cool Car: If they don't have a bike, they will have an awesome car. Sometimes both, actually.
- Cool Sidecar: The Cool Bike often has one of these even when there is only one hero. Sometimes the sidecar can be deployed to attack on its own, or sometimes the Victim of the Week occupies it while the hero delivers him or her to safety.
- Cool Ship: Many of the earlier heroes had access to a massive aerial fortress which served as their base, housed their gear and other vehicles, and often could transform somehow.
- Crossover: Several series will have someone from one or more past series return, though it wasn't a staple like Sentai's Vs. movies. Also, lately, the Super Sentai series likes to team up with Space Sheriff Gavan and Sekai Ninja Sen Jiraiya.
- Darker and Edgier: Especially compared to both Super Sentai and even Kamen Rider.
- Henshin Hero: With the exception of both Jiraiya and Blue SWAT who put on their armor manually and Janperson who is a robot without a human form.
- Oddball in the Series: Metalder was much darker than the previous shows, and departed from the staples of the franchise (such as fighting aliens and having a massive aerial fortress for the hero). Subsequent series waffled back and forth on these and other elements.
- Powered Armor: If they're not Cyborg or Ridiculously Human Robot, they're human beings wearing a special suit of armor.
- Shout-Out / Named After Somebody Famous: Early shows had a tendency to name their protagonists after film personalities:
- Shaider after American actor Roy Scheider
- Gavan after French actor Jean Gabin
- Spielban, after American filmmaker Steven Spielberg
- One of the names considered for Juspion, in an early stage of pre-production, was Deniro. Unfortunately, it wasn't carried to the show.
- In Janperson, supporting character Gun Gibson was named after Mel Gibson, apparently. This doesn't apply to the protagonist, however, whose name comes from him wearing a jumper.
- Tank Goodness: Another frequent sight; sometimes it can split into a Drill Tank and a Cool Plane.
- Transforming Mecha: Even though these series don't often go in for Make My Monster Grow, the flying fortress can often turn into a robot and/or a cannon to deal with the enemy's Mook-piloted air force.