Power Ranger Knock Offs of the 90s
It goes without saying that there is little original in entertainment, and when something new does hit it big it is quick to get imitators. They took the concepts the Mighty Morphing ones made a hit and plugged it in to other shows. Some of these were even produced by Power Rangers mastermind Haim Saban himself using his already proven formula. Kids did not seem to care about quality so long as the TV provided them with plenty of butt-kicking action. Licensees and toy stores also loved these shows because it gave them a wide variety of toys to fly off the shelves.
Masked Rider: Once HaimSaban realized he had a hit on his hand with the Power Rangers he decided to strike some lightning twice with another show which would utilize footage from a Toei Company produced Japanese series. This one featured the alien Prince Dex who fled to earth to escape his evil uncle Count Dregon. He is taken in by the Stewart family who give him a home. It is not long before Dregon turns his focus to conquering the earth, forcing Dex to take action. Luckily his grandfather gave him the power of the Masked Rider which grants him an insectoid costume as well as a motorcycle to fight evil.
Big Bad Beetleborgs: Three kids did something completely normal and went into a haunted house only to meet four monsters. While being pursued by said monsters they released a phantom named Flabber who grants them the wish of becoming their favorite comic book superheroes the Big Bad Beetleborgs. But due to a mishaps he also brings the Beetleborgs’ enemies into the real world as well. This means the trio of kids have to use their newfound powers to defend humanity. If any Saban property was created specifically to appeal to marketers and licensees this was it. Not only did you have the standard heroes and with a plethora of gadgets which could be made into toy form, but also; monsters, robots, and comic books as well.
Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad: Martial arts oriented kids shows were not the only things to boom in the 90’s, so did the internet. But with the world wide web becoming more open, the threats of viruses did as well. So DIC Productions in collaboration with Tsuburaya Productions, applied the Power Rangers formula to the digital age. High-schooler Sam is zapped during a power surge which instead of electrocuting him to death makes him into a superhero who protects cyber-space. Elsewhere in the digital world the evil Kilokahn and another high-schooler named Malcolm begin to create “Mega Viruses” which wreak havoc on all things electrical. This leaves Sam as Servo as the one who has to defend computerdom with the help of his three friends. Given that young viewers still regarded the internet with a sense of wonder, this added an extra layer of cool to the show. Plus Tim Curry doing to voice of the villain never hurts.
Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills: Shortened to the oh-so simple TTAFFBH. Of all the imitations of the Power Rangers, this one was by far the cheapest and most second-rate. The standard story of four teens given powers by a powerful being to fight aliens unfolded. But rather than cool hi-tech gadgets to grant them their powers, the heroes are given obviously cheap temporary tattoos. Their costumes seemed to take inspiration from the different costume elements of the other shows of its ilk. Nothing about this show is particularly memorable except for the fact that the bad guy’s henchman was a giant chicken.
VR Troopers: As the idea of virtual reality hit a bit of popularity during this era, Haim Saban knew he could make money off of it. Three kids: a martial artist, a computer geek, and a photographer discover a secret dimension created by virtual reality technology. An evil industrialist is trying to find a way to bring the mutants from the VR world to the real world to conquer it for him. As expected, the kids were granted sleek and toyetic costumes and weapons in order to defend the earth.
Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation: This one is a bit of a painful blow. Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo, and Donatello were once the kings of action-oriented kid’s entertainment. But once their popular animated series from the late 80’s-early 90’s wrapped, nobody knew quite what to do with them. Enter Saban, who gave TV audiences a live action Turtles show. From the start fans of the heroes in a half-shell were polarized as the team was joined by a GIRL TURTLE!!!!! The continuity followed that of the live action films with some stylistic changes for television. The series also pushed aside Shredder for a more Power Rangers monsters-esque enemy in the Rank. Viewers never really turned in for this show and given the expense of it, the network gave it a quick cancellation.