Big Bad Beetleborgs (later Beetleborgs Metallix) is an American live-action television series by Saban Entertainment and was co-produced with Renaissance-Atlantic Films, Toei Company and Bugboy Productions. Two seasons aired on Fox Kids from September 7, 1996, to March 2, 1998.
The series adapted combat footage from the Metal Hero tokusatsu-series Juukou B-Fighter (first season) and B-Fighter Kabuto (second season). Unlike its contemporaries, such as Power Rangers, the show had a greater emphasis on sitcom elements, rather than a villain of the week.
Set in the fictional town of Charterville, three "typical average kids"—two siblings, Andrew "Drew" McCormick (Wesley Barker) and Jo McCormick (Shannon Chandler/Brittany Konarzewski), and their friend Roland Williams (Herbie Baez)—enter the supposedly haunted Hillhurst Mansion after accepting a dare from rich snobs Van and Trip. The house is revealed to be the home of real monsters in the likes of Universal monsters and are set to eat the kids. However, in the midst of a chase, the kids accidentally bump a pipe organ, releasing a phasm named Flabber (Billy Forester). He proves to be friendly, and in return for releasing him, offers to grant them one wish. They wish to become their comic book heroes, the Big Bad Beetleborgs. However, this also brings the Beetleborgs' sworn enemies to life: the Magnavores, led by the evil Vexor, who would summon monsters from the comic books to battle the Beetleborgs. Roland's mom and dad run the comic book shop along with his grandmother Nano.
In a 6-parter, Vexor created his own Beetleborg, Shadowborg, which was a match for the Beetleborgs and briefly took their powers. They had to call a temporary Beetleborg (White Blaster Beetleborg) Josh Baldwin (Warren Berkow), and after Shadowborg was destroyed, Josh lost his powers. The Beetleborgs would meet the Beetleborgs comic creator, Art Fortunes, during this six-part story in order for him to create the White Blaster Beetleborg and the Mega Blue Beetleborg.
In the penultimate episode of the first season, the Magnavores steal a picture of a new villain named Nukus from Art Fortunes' office. They bring him to life to enlist his help in destroying the Beetleborgs. Nukus assists them by planning devastating attacks on the city and creating Borgslayer, a hybrid of all the Magnavore monsters. Unbeknownst to the Magnavores, Nukus was actually plotting to get rid of them. Nukus tells Trip and Van (who were fleeing Charterville during Borgslayer's attack to their father's country estate) how to defeat Borgslayer, and orders them to take the information to the Beetleborgs. They succeed in destroying Borgslayer, causing the Magnavores to be swept back into the comics.
At the start of Season 2, Nukus has challenged the Beetleborgs. Despite Art's warning that Nukus is too powerful, they face him anyway. Nukus quickly wipes them out, destroying their Beetleborgs armor, weapons, and powers in one fell swoop.
These events lead directly into the second season Beetleborgs Metallix. Nukus discovers that his creator is actually Art's incarcerated brother Les Fortunes. Nukus busts Les out of prison and uses some of Les' drawings to summon his own group of villains called the Crustaceans. Les now serves Nukus by creating new monsters for him to use. In response to the rise of the Crustaceans, Art creates new powers, armor, vehicles, and weapons, which Flabber then brings to life again for the kids, who rechristen themselves as Beetleborgs Metallix, hence the title.
The battle between the Beetleborgs and the Crustaceans would later escalate after the Fortunes brothers unburied a time capsule containing the Lost Comic; a story both brothers worked on when they were children. Said story featured the Astral Sword that could summon and control the all-mighty Roboborg, if one manages to gather the eight Astral Coins. Nukus summons his own evil team of Borgs from the Lost Comic called the Mantrons, while the Beetleborgs are reinforced by the Astral Borgs. After many battles, the Beetleborgs finally get their hands on the Astral Sword and all eight coins, using it to summon Roboborg, who, soon after, demonstrates his powers by sending the Mantrons back to the Lost Comic.
To fight Roboborg, the Crustaceans eventually created their own giant robot named Boron, while Nukus and Vilor gain upgraded Mega forms. As a response to Nukus' and Vilor's new Mega forms, the Beetleborgs were given an upgrade by Roboborg who fused their Metallix powers with their original powers creating the Mega Spectra Beetleborgs. Vilor's "mega" form did not last long and he quietly returned to his original look without explanation. However, Mega Nukus retained his upgraded look.
The series concluded with the Beetleborgs gaining the enemy Boron as an ally, stripping Nukus of his greatest weapon during the fight against Repgillian. Les Fortunes makes the decision to return willingly to Charterville Prison, disabling Nukus' ability to create new monsters out of illustrations. With no known way of returning the Crustaceans to the comic world, the Beetleborgs were left with an unresolved final battle with what was left of their foes.
It was not uncommon to see cardboard cut-outs and wall decorations of the Beetleborgs characters on the walls of Zoom Comics where the three kids worked. Other decorations used included the costume heads of King Sphinx of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and the original head from the monster costume Kappa from Ninja Sentai Kakuranger (the monster was used as "Parrot Top" in MMPR) whose body was used to create the costume Malavex. Toys from the Bandai Beetleborgs toyline could also be seen in various displays. Including the Special Edition Deluxe Shadowborg figure, in an episode which preceded Shadowborg's character ever appearing on the show.
Like other adaptations, some of the original source footage was altered for Beetleborgs. The Input Magnums, the original B-Fighter's guns, looked very realistic due to the black-and-silver coloring. In Beetleborgs, the Sonic Laser's colors were changed to bright red and purple, and all Japanese footage of the Input Magnum's keypad being used was replaced with American footage using the red and purple gun. However, the colors of the guns changed from time to time due to the blending in of the B-Fighter footage. Similarly, the American version of the toy was done in red and purple colors instead of the Input Magnum's black and silver coloring. In Metallix, the Data Laser's colors remained unchanged (silver and black), but the toy line changed the weapons to a white-and-blue color scheme. More violent scenes from B-Fighter were either covered up with large, Batman-esque sound effects or were cut out through comic-book-panel transitions.
The episode "Convention Dimension" had The Beetleborgs attending the comic convention. Among costumes worn at the convention were: Spider-Man, The Tick and Guido Anchovy. At that time Saban owned airing rights to Spider-Man: The Animated Series, The Tick and Samurai Pizza Cats. In Episode 54, Saban featured in "Gravesoul Owns."
Big Bad Beetleborgs and Beetleborgs Metallix ultimately ended because the Saban crew were left with no more Juukou B-Fighter and B-Fighter Kabuto footage to adapt. Their predecessor VR Troopers also ended for the same reason.
The show's theme music was performed by Jeremy Sweet and series star Billy Forester. A newer version of the song was made for the Beetleborgs Metallix episodes. The background score, composed by Inon Zur, had several cues which were also used on Saban's concurrent Power Rangers Turbo. Currently, Beetleborgs has never had any official soundtrack releases.
Reuse of Monsters
Various monster suits from both Beetleborgs seasons were re-used along with un-used Juukou B-Fighter and B-Fighter Kabuto monsters as enemy monsters in the Power Rangers series:
- In Power Rangers in Space, Terror Bear, Triplesaurus Rex, a Stego Dreg, Count Fangula's Bat Monster form, and unused B-Fighter Kabuto monster Baeria (who was repainted and referred to as "Aunt Ant" by Darkonda) were seen at the Onyx Tavern in "Flashes of Darkonda." In "Invasion of the Body Switcher," the monsters Body Switcher transformed into included Rocket Man, Cataclaws, LottaMuggs, Unctuous, and Firecat. In "A Date with Danger," Mole Monster was used as Destructoid where the monster suit was given a different hair style. In the two-part episode "Countdown to Destruction," Aqualungs, Cataclazmic, Crimson Creep, Furocious, Kombat Knat, LottaMuggs, Porkasaurus, Torch Mouth, Triplesaurus Rex, Ultra Vulture, and Unctuous were each seen with each army. Unused B-Fighter monsters Isogilala, Kapparapa, and Pineappler also appeared in the episode.
- In National Lampoon and Saban Entertainment's Men in White, the costumes for Kombat Knat and Furocious were used as two of the aliens that work for Glaxxon.
- In Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, a Stego Dreg, Cataclaws, and Ultra Vulture were seen at the Onyx Tavern. Cataclaws and Furocious were seen at the auction of the Pink Quasar Saber there. Unused B-Fighter Kabuto monster Tokasuzura also appeared as Rojomon.
- Some of the monsters costumes from Beetleborgs appeared in Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog with some of them in repainted form. Among these costumes are Scorpix, Shellator, Emily the Seed of Evil, Count Fangula's Bat Monster form, and 2 monsters from B-Fighter Kabuto that were unused in this series (the ant monster Baeria and the porcupine/stingray monster Arajibiray). The costumes for Shellator, Count Fangula's Bat Monster form, and B-Fighter monsters Baeria and Arajibiray were used to portray the Spectres of the Banshee Woods in "The Mystic Knight of Forest." The costume for Emily the Seed of Evil was repainted and used for an unnamed spikey warrior in "Ivar's Revenge."
- In Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue, Emily the Seed of Evil, Hagfish of Gar, and Torch Mouth were seen in the Shadow World in "The Fate of Lightspeed" Pt. 2.
- Five Beetleborgs suits were re-used in the Power Rangers Wild Force episode Forever Red as remnants of the Machine Empire who would plan to reactivate Serpentera. Shadowborg's suit was used for General Venjix, Ladyborg's suit was used for Tezzla, Green Hunter Borg's suit was used for Gerrok, Dragonborg's suit was used for Steelon with the dragonfly wings on the head not being seen, and Automon has the head of Fireborg and the body of Lightningborg.
- In Power Rangers S.P.D.. Mucant appeared at Piggy's diner in "Shadow" Pt. 1. El Scorpio was re-used in the episode "S.W.A.T." Part 1 as the holographic sea scorpion monster that Sergent Silverback used as a way to train the Rangers to use S.W.A.T. Mode.
The show was filmed in a number of locations.
- Much of the show was filmed in Santa Paula, California, a small rural town in Ventura County.