VR Troopers

VR Troopers

pp-semi-protected|small=yesinfobox television
show_name = VR Troopers

format = Action-Adventure-Drama
runtime = 25 minutes
creator = Haim Saban
starring = Brad Hawkins
Michael Bacon
Sarah Brown
Gardner Baldwin
Julian Combs
Richard Rabago
Michael Sorich
Aaron Pruner
Kerrigan Mahan
country = United States/Japan
network = first-run syndication
first_aired = September 3, 1994
last_aired = January 21, 1996
num_episodes = 92

"VR Troopers" (Virtual Reality Troopers) was a syndicated live action show produced by Saban (creators of the similar "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" series) from 1994 to 1996. The show tried to profit from the short-lived Virtual Reality fad of the 1990s as well as the success of "Power Rangers".

The show featured early CGI and video effects mixed with Japanese stock footage from three different "Metal Heroes" series: "Super Machine Man Metalder", "Dimensional Warrior Spielban", and "Space Sheriff Shaider". This kind of adaptation technique, turning multiple shows into one show, was originally used in anime with shows like "Robotech" and "Voltron". This was the first and only time this was used for a tokusatsu adaptation.

The series was deemed successful, but not as successful as the Power Rangers franchise. Unfortunately, for the series, the Japanese footage was quickly exhausted due to extreme cases where multiple tokusatsu scenes were put together in a single episode to the point stock footage had to be reused multiple times throughout the series. Similarly, another Saban program, "Big Bad Beetleborgs", would do well but ultimately end quickly due to a lack of stock footage. Both series were adapted from the Japanese Metal Hero genre, which ended in Japan around the same time. The show spawned a toyline and a videogame for the Sega Genesis.


Saban's "VR Troopers" was the first official "sister series" to the most popular "action fighting kid show" at the time, "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers". Much like it, this was an Americanization of a Japanese tokusatsu children's program by Toei Company LTD.

The show focused on three young adults in their late teens, Ryan Steele, Kaitlin Star, and J.B. Reese, living in the fictional West Coast town of Cross World City. They regularly attended and were teachers at "Tao's Dojo", a karate studio. Ryan was the most focused martial artist; J.B. was the computer wizard; while Kaitlin was a photographer & budding reporter for the local newspaper, the "Underground Voice Daily". One day, Ryan's search for his long-missing father led him and his two friends to a strange laboratory. Inside, a digitized head of Professor Horatio Hart, a friend of Ryan's father Tyler, explained the truth about his life's work of having developed extremely advanced virtual reality technology in secret. "VR" is a dimension existing alongside our own; within it lie mutants and monsters bent on conquering both worlds. The main ruler of these is a creature known as Grimlord, who, unbeknowst to anyone on Earth, has a human identity as billionaire industrialist Karl Ziktor. As Karl Ziktor tries to overcome the barriers of the true reality to allow his armies easy passage from virtual world, the responsibility falls to Ryan, Kaitlin, and J.B. of defending the planet on both sides of the dimensional barrier. They have assistance in the form of armored bodies having incredible firepower. This included eventual additions to their arsenal, such as a Turbo Cycle, Techno Bazooka, and a flying, laser-blasting Skybase.

Other regular characters on the show included Jeb, Ryan's hound dog, who, after an accident in Prof. Hart's lab, is now capable of human speech; Woody Stocker, Kaitlin's wacky hat-loving boss at the "Underground Voice Daily"; Percy Rooney, the local mayor's nephew and Kaitlin's bumbling rival reporter; and Tao, the wise martial arts sensei who owns the dojo and a family friend of the Steele Family. Recurring villains include General Ivar, a vicious rocket-shaped monster with his own tank; Colonel Icebot, a cold-blooded virtual menace; Decimator, a sword-wielding warrior; the Skugs, gold-headed foot soldiers, and more throughout.

During the second season, the show changed format very slightly. Ryan's father was finally found, though he did not remain safe for long. With him came an upgrade to Ryan's V.R. armor and powers. Grimlord's base of operation switched from a dungeon to a massive spacecraft, and added new Generals such as DoomMaster and his Vixens, Oraclon, and Despera. The Skugs now had the ability to become more powerful in the form of Ultra-Skugs.



The show was originally called "Cybertron", but was changed to "VR Troopers" later because of a copyright issue with Hasbro ("Cybertron" being the name of the title characters' home planet in the various "Transformers" properties). The production studio kept the name Cybertron Productions for the show's lifespan, similar to how "Power Rangers" kept the name of its original season ("MMPR Productions") until it closed in 2002. Jason David Frank was originally cast in the part of Ryan Steele. However, he had to withdraw due to his popularity on "Power Rangers", prompting a return to that series. The theme to Cybertron would be reworked and became the Green Ranger theme ('Go Green Ranger Go') on Power Rangers.

He filmed one episode back when the show was known as "Cybertron". At the time, Frank's character was called Adam Steele. [May 1994 issue of Disney Adventures] Rough promotional reels of "Cybertron" drew its source footage from Metalder. Adam Steele was depicted as a solo hero going up against an entire army of sentient robots known as War Drones who were led by the evil Grimlord. Grimlord's alternate identity in the pilot was known as Cyrus Riktor (Gardner Baldwin) who also had a son named Percy Riktor, Adam's martial arts rival. Tao Chong (Richard Rabago) was also present, but played a more vital role in the show. Tao was not only Adam's caretaker and sensei, he also served the role of Cybertron's mentor; this was dropped and the character Professor Hart occupied the role. Tao also had a daughter named Mia, and Doug Sloan played the part of Tyler Steele. Also featured were a pair of bumbling news reporters named Elmo (played by Jamie Kennedy) and Scuzzy, who would've served as the series' comedy relief.


According to early "VR Troopers" promotions, Kaitlin had a different last name. Instead of "Star", her surname was referred to as "Hall". Also in these early promos (seen at the beginning of many "Power Rangers" home videos), Professor Hart was played by a different actor, and had an entirely different voice and personality than the Professor that was later used.

Like "Power Rangers", "VR Troopers" used a combination of American footage spliced with fight scenes from Japanese shows. The Japanese shows adapted in to "VR Troopers" are "Space Sheriff Shaider", "Dimensional Warrior Spielban", and "Super Machine Metalder". All three come from Toei's Metal Heroes series. Specifically, Ryan's first season suit was that from Metalder and his second season suit was from Space Sheriff Shaider. Both JB's and Kaitlin's suits came from Spielban.

Out of all of Saban's tokusatsu adaptations, "VR Troopers" uses the oldest source-footage of any series. "Shaider" was aired from 1984 to early 1985, making it 11 years old when first used for "VR Troopers" in 1994; "Spielban" was aired from 1986 to early 1987, making it eight years old when originally used in 1994; and "Metalder" was originally aired in 1987, making it seven years old when it was adapted in 1994.

Because more than one Japanese show was used in an episode at any given time, Ryan's alter-ego was never in the same action scene as JB or Kaitlin's (since they were taken from two different shows). Due to this, many episodes involved some sort of plot device that separated Ryan from the other two, forcing them to fight separately. Almost every episode ended with either Ryan or JB destroying the monster of the day (Kaitlin never got to destroy any on her own), at which point his missing comrade(s) would come running up to inquire how the fight went. The only time the group fought "together" was all original American footage.

"VR Troopers" as an adaptation is different in many ways from "Power Rangers" and "Big Bad Beetleborgs". Because it was syndicated, the monsters were destroyed more violently; mutant/robot destructions included the monster being split in half, impaled, and decapitated. None of the VR Trooper forms were given names since none of them had one main color.

The show lasted two seasons (1994-'95 and '95-'96) with nearly 100 episodes before it was cancelled in favor of "Big Bad Beetleborgs", which continued to use footage from the Metal Heroes shows "Juukou B-Fighter" and "B-Fighter Kabuto".

The series was cancelled because all the fight footage was used up. All three of the Metal Hero shows used in the series had a lot of "human vs. human" battles. However, because the fights featured close-ups of Japanese actors, it was deemed unusable. Distance shots were usable in some of the fights, and battles with the monster footage were also kind of limited (splicing up to 2-3 episodes), but otherwise such footage was limited. In addition, because many episodes of fight footage from "Metalder"/"Shaider" and "Spielban" were being used in a single episode, the footage ran out faster.

In Season 1, the show would open with the traditional "Today on "Saban's VR Troopers" teaser, showing scenes from the episode and narrated by a general announcer. After the "Quest For Power" mini-series in Season 2, however, Ryan, Kaitlin, or J.B. took over the part and narrated the teaser (and in the first-person to boot).

Various voice actors were listed under different pseudonyms in this series. For example, in the Season 1 end credits, Kerrigan Mahan was credited under his pseudonym, Ryan O'Flannigan (which was also the name credited for doing the voice of Goldar in the early seasons of "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers"); in Season 2, he would be credited under his real name and was properly identified as Jeb's voiceover. Likewise, Richard Epcar was occasionally listed in the end credits under a pseudonym of his own, Richard George (although he was credited under his real name for the first two episodes of the series), and Mike Reynolds was credited under the name Ray Michaels.


eason 1

eason 2

ee also

* Virtual Dungeon
* Virtual Dark Fortress
* List of Mutants and Cyborgs in VR Troopers

VHS & DVD Release

In the US five VHS videos were released: Lost Memories, Oh Brother, Computer Captive, Error in the System and Virtual V6.

In the UK four DVDs were released by Jetix Films. They included three single disc Volumes and a Mega Disc DVD that contained 8 various episodes that were released across the first three Volumes. At this time there are no plans for a US DVD release.

External links

*imdb title|0108978
* [http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/shows/VR-Troopers/4466 TVShowsOnDVD.com] , vote for VR Troopers to be released onto DVD.
* [http://www.tokucentral.com/ Toku Central] , a fansite for American, Japanese and other Toku related shows.
* [http://www.henshintalk.com/ Henshin! Talk] , a message board to discuss Superhero shows.


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