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The first six Metal Heroes: Gavan, Shaider, Sharivan (L-R, top), Spielban, Juspion and Metalder (L-R, bottom).
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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 than the other shows did at the time.

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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 them outside Japan.

The following shows were produced in the Metal Heroes franchise:

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.
  • Zaido serves as the Filpino spinoff to the Space Sheriff trilogy, though it didn't sit well with longtime fans and critics.
  • 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:

  • Action Girl: Many series would have the hero assisted by a female warrior or sidekick, often a Badass Normal who lacked superpowers but was still able to fight relatively on par with the hero. The earliest example was Annie from Space Sheriff Shaider who was involved in most of the out-of-suit action that had been a staple of the franchise up to that point. This was mainly due to the show casting a pretty boy in an effort to boost the show's ratings, while having a JAC stuntwoman play his sidekick in order to still appeal to the fans who had enjoyed the out-of-suit fighting in the previous shows.
  • Beast Man: Accounts for a great many monsters in this franchise.
  • Big Good:
  • 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. Metal Heroes series are generally much darker and grittier, focusing on more realistic settings and crimes.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Not to the degree of either Super Sentai or Kamen Rider, but its still there. Mundane high-tech police work occurs within the same range as monster attacks, the art of ninjitsu was apparently spread far beyond Japan and has number of colorful practitioners from varying nationalities, Japan has a problem with secret underground crime syndicates looking to overthrow the government, the biblical God and Satan coexist with several other gods and cosmic beings and insects are really keepers of wisdom who can bestow supernatural powers onto people.
  • Foreign Remake
    • As acknowledged above, Saban Entertainment adapted several Metal Heroes series for American television in the vein of Power Rangers. Originally conceived as Cybertron, a straight adaptation of Metalder, VR Troopers ran for two series and was an Adaptation Amalgamation of Metalder and Spielban, adding Shaider to the mix for season 2. Beetleborgs also ran for two seasons, adapting Juukou B-Fighter for season 1 and B-Fighter Kabuto for season 2. Beetleborgs also incorporated B-Fighter's crossover arc, thus incorporating the characters from Janperson and a villain from Blue SWAT.
    • In a similar vein to Beetleborgs, recent Power Rangers series have incorporated Sentai crossovers with Metal Heroes. Through his guest appearance in Shuriken Sentai Ninninger, Jiraiya became Space Sheriff Skyfire in Power Rangers Ninja Steel, while the new incarnation of Gavan who was introduced in Go-Busters becomes Captain Chaku in Power Rangers: Beast Morphers.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The B-Fighter duology has the Will of Darkness, a primordial force of darkness which was vanquished by the Shell Gods in the past, but created Gaohm and Mother Melzard (the Big Bads of both shows) to carry on its work.
  • 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) each Metal Hero transforms to fight, usually by donning a set of Powered Armor.
  • In the Name of the Moon: Though not as common as Super Sentai, some Metal Heroes call their names before going into battle. Of course, they're obligated to do so whenever there is a crossover with Sentai.
    • At the end of Shaider, the three Space Sheriffs call their full titles in reverse order.
    • In Gokaiger vs. Gavan, Gavan adds himself to the end of the Gokaigers' team roll call.
    • For his guest appearance in Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters, the new Gavan adds himself to the start of the Go-Busters' team roll call.
    • For his guest appearance in Shuriken Sentai Ninninger, Jiraiya adds himself to the end of the Ninningers' team roll call.
    • In the Space Squad episode of Uchu Sentai Kyuranger, new Gavan has a roll call with Deka Red, Hebitsukai Silver and Shishi Red.
  • Later Installment Weirdness: The last two series, Kabutack and Robotack, were much Denser and Wackier than all the previous series that had come before, and had Super-Deformed designs for its heroes in order to appeal to children.
  • Lighter and Softer: While the Metal Heroes series is often characterized by its more grounded and serious tone, there have been a few serious that deviate from the standard set by previous series.
    • While not without serious moments, Jiraiya was much more light-hearted and upbeat than its predecessor Metalder, with more comedic moments and a much more optimistic conclusion than Metalder's Downer Ending.
    • Winspector (and by extension, the Rescue Police trilogy as a whole) were definitely more light-hearted than the dark and gritty Jiban, possessing much more optimistic themes and less loss and tragedy.
    • This happened to Blue SWAT midway through when it was retooled into a more traditional Henshin Hero series, which resulted in some of the more serious elements being dropped and an increase in wacky Monster of the Week plots.
    • Kabutack and Robotack were a lot lighter and more silly than all the series that came before them, with a much more kid-friendly aesthetic and seldom serious moments.
  • Meet the New Boss: The villains of Space Sheriff Gavan are the Makuu, an evil galactic crime syndicate led by a demonic idol based from a separate dimension that amplifies the Monster of the Week. So who are the villains of the sequel series, Space Sheriff Sharivan? The Madou, an evil galactic crime syndicate led by a demonic idol based from a separate dimension that amplifies the powers of the Monster of the Week. The same goes for the Fuuma from Space Sheriff Shaider, though they at least shake things up by being more of a cult than a crime syndicate.
  • Oddball in the Series: While the Metal Hero series has had more variation than Kamen Rider and Super Sentai, making it harder to tell what exactly an "oddball" is, a few series do stand out.
    • While Juspion contains plenty of familiar Metal Hero elements, it is the first and only series in the franchise to focus on giant robot combat, with the protagonist summoning a Humongous Mecha to do battle against kaiju awakened by the Big Bad (Jiraiya also featured a Humongous Mecha, but it was introduced towards the end and was sparingly used). It also stood out at the time for being the first show in the franchise to not be connected to the "Space Sheriff" saga, which the previous three all took place in.
    • 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.
    • Jiraiya was also quite a departure from the franchise norms. Instead of donning Powered Armor or the like, the protagonist here is a normal guy who physically puts on a suit to fight. His enemies are not aliens or robots or any sort of monster, but colorfully themed ninjas from around the world each with their own special technique.
    • The "Rescue Police" trilogy (Winspector, Solbrain and Exceedraft) focused less on action and fighting and more on the protagonists investigating cases and saving people. There was no Big Bad or overarching Nebulous Evil Organization responsible for the crimes each week, instead all of the villains were independent.
  • Powered Armor: If they're not Cyborg or Ridiculously Human Robot, they're human beings wearing a special suit of armor.
  • The Present Day: Most Metal Hero series take place in the year they air. Exceptions include Winspector (1990), which takes place in 1999 and is followed by Solbrain (1991) and Exceedraft (1992). The Juukou B-Fighter (1995) is followed by B-Fighter Kabuto (1996), which takes place ten years after the first series' conclusion.
  • Sequel Series: Several Metal Hero seasons are direct sequels to the ones that came before. Sharivan was a sequel to Gavan, as was Shaider to it. Solbrain was a sequel to Winspector featuring the same mentor and The Leader of the previous team joining as a Sixth Ranger, with Exceedraft serving as a sequel to both. B-Fighter Kabuto is a direct followup on Juukou B-Fighter.
  • Shared Universe: Numerous crossovers, both in the TV run and the revivals of the 2010s, establish that not only do all 17 Metal Hero series take place in the same world, but that they share that world with the overwhelming majority of Super Sentai (Super Hero Taisen Z adds Kamen Rider to the mix), with Uchu Sentai Kyuranger taking place in a separate universe.
  • Shout-Out/Named After Somebody Famous: Early shows had a tendency to name their protagonists after film personalities:
  • Space Police: The Galaxy Federal Police in the Space Sheriff trilogy, being an intergalactic lawman organization devoted to battling crime syndicates.
  • Super Cop: This is a staple of any series with a heavy police motif. After all, what are normal police going to do against an implacable, rampaging Bioweapon Beast?
  • The Syndicate: Contrasting the police motif of many of the heroes, the foes they go up against are often vast criminal syndicates that engage in all sorts of nefarious activities.
  • Tank Goodness: Another frequent sight; sometimes it can split into a Drill Tank and a Cool Plane. Only the first 5 series use the split vehicle version, while a lone variation occurs on Janperson with a car (Dark JeyCar) splitting to a unmanned car with a cannon (Land JeyCar) and a bladeless helicopter (Sky JeyCar), and both B Fighters, G-Stag and B Fighter Kuwaga have stag beetle based tank vehicles.
  • 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.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: A tokusatsu staple. Generally, the villains send forth the MOTW with an Evil Plan Once an Episode, with our heroes then arriving on the scene to stop them.


 
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