We all grew up watching strange 1990s cartoons. Since we were young kids, most of us have been Power Rangers addicts. Most likely, you are also familiar with Big Bad Beetleborgs. Beetleborgs was a regular TV programme that dominated the Fox Kids block and was produced by the same production companies as Saban and Toei, who also produced Power Rangers.
However much it resembled its cousin programme, Big Bad Beetleborgs had a distinct notion of its own. But on occasion, it was also a little strange. It is kind of weird that three kids have the ability to transform into robot beetle soldiers. beetles, why? We must get into the specifics of this 90s favorite show in order to respond to this, so let us get started.
What the Television Series is all about
Big Bad Beetleborgs is a remix of Juukou B-Fighter and B-Fighter Bokuto but meant for the American audience. The two-season-long series was quite the curveball in the industry with its concept. The story of the show revolves around three kids, Drew, Roland, and Jo, who were the biggest fans of the comic Beetleborgs! The trio is tricked by rich kids Trip and Van into going to Hillhurst, which is the most haunted place in town. The trio arrives at the mansion, and while there they manage to free a friendly ghost named Flabber.
The spirit decides to grant them one wish for freeing him from his prison. The kids obviously wish to become Beetleborgs. But as stories go, everything comes with a price. So, when the Beetleborgs become real, their enemies come alive too. Now our heroes are tasked with sending the Magnavore monsters back into the comics. Although in the second season, the kids defeat the Magnavores, they lose their powers to a new enemy, Nuxus and his Crustaceans. Now with unique abilities, they become Beetleborgs Metallix.
Like every other kid’s show, the comedic element is not surprising. But all the scenes filmed for the US add a much more hilarious appeal. The thing that works for the show is the hilariously named monsters that chase the heroes in a very Scooby-Doo way, like Count Fangula, Frankenbeans, and Mums. The show adds a lot of wacky humor to it. Many of the episodes focus on the house monsters’ problems, like the fear of the house being torn down and other trivial things, which is the kind of humor feels natural and doesn’t feel too unhinged from the show.
When you think about it, all the monsters in Charterville were the kids’ fault because they wanted to be superheroes. But who can blame them? Anyone would like to be superheroes? The kids had their moments of glory.
The main characters of the series are the three Beetleborgs- Andrew “Drew” McCormick, the Blue Stinger Beetleborg, and later the Chromium Gold Beetleborg in the second season, is the leader of the group. He has the ability of telekinesis, which allows him to activate an object by pointing his head towards it and nodding. He received many upgrades like Mega Blue Beetleborg and Mega Spectra Chromium Gold Beetleborg.
His armor was modeled after a Japanese rhinoceros beetle. The next one is Roland Williams, the Green Hunter Beetleborg, and later the Titanium Silver Beetleborg in the second season. His family owns a local comic shop called Zoom comics, where the trio hangs out often. He was granted the ability of super speed, which he could activate by snapping his fingers. He received an update called Mega Spectra Titanium Silver Beetleborg. His armor is modeled after a stag beetle.
Last but not least is Josephine “Jo” McCormick, The red Striker Beetleborg, and later the Platinum Purple Beetleborg in the second season. She is Drew’s little sister. She was granted super-strength ability, which she could activate by cracking her knuckles. She received an upgrade called Mega Spectra Platinum Purple Beetleborg. Her Red Striker armor was modeled after a flower beetle, and the Platinum Purple armor was modeled after a ladybug.
Coming to the Hillhurst inhabitants, the first is Flabber. He is a phantasm who had been trapped inside a pipe organ and was set free by the kids. In return, he decided to grant them one wish: to become the Beetleborgs. He acts as a friend and advisor to the kids and helps them when they fight the Magnavores or Crustaceans. He is the head of the Hillhurst mansion and keeps the other monsters in check.
He is said to be modeled after Elvis Presley. The next we have is Mums, who is a 5000-year-old Egyptian mummy. He can unwrap his bandages to show his skeletal form underneath. He has 703 brothers and one sister. Frankenbeans or Frankie is a strange take on Frankenstein’s monster. He was once kidnapped by the Magnavores. He can speak very little and primarily communicates by roaring or child-like sentences. His creator, Dr. Baron von Frankenbeans, was shown in a few episodes and was a crazy scientist.
Count Fangula is a vampire, as you can guess from his name, and is loosely based on Count Dracula. He needs to keep his victim quota at par because if not, a high-ranking vampire will come to evaluate him. The Pipettes are a multicolor trio of ladies who live in the pipe organ and are Flabber’s backup singers.
Ghoulum is a living stone statue monster and stays at Hillhurst Mansion. He doesn’t really do much except being a statue. He seldom joins the other monsters of the house and takes part in their pranks. Wolfgang “Wolfie” Smith is a werewolf who is treated more like a family pet and sounds similar to Scooby-Doo. Only Count Fangula is capable of translating what Wolfie says.
We also have the villains, the Magnavores, who are the first set of villains the kids face, who came alive from the Beetleborgs comics. Vexor is the leader of the Magnavores. He doesn’t appear in all of the episodes. He seemed to have been defeated by the three Beetleborgs after Drew destroyed Shadowborg but revived himself and grew a new body and face. Typhus is a Chimera-like humanoid monster.
He is the muscle head with a whale-like flat top with an extra mouth that he uses to eat food and other things. He sometimes wields a sword like a weapon. Noxic is an android with coils for hair and wears a lab coat-like outfit. He can control machinery and other things by removing his head and placing it onto the object he wants to control. He prefers to eat donuts all the time instead of doing his job. He also has a brother named Super Noxic.
He sometimes wields an umbrella-like weapon. Jara is a female humanoid clad in red attire and a white mask. She cannot consume food or smile in the real world as the mouth on her mask does not open. She has a Russian accent. She sometimes wields a whip that releases destructive energy.
Shadowborg is a Black evil Beetleborg created by Vexor using DNA stolen from the Blue Stinger Beetleborg. He is made from the basic materials as Blue Stinger and is also enhanced with some powers of the other Beetleborgs. His armor is modeled after a longicorn beetle. Using his Shadow Claw, he can cut through any substance on the planet.
In the show’s second season, the Beetleborgs face a new set of enemies. They are called the Crustaceans, and their leader is Nukus. He is a creation of Les Fortunes, the Triceratops-based Overlord of the 2nd Dimension. He was brought to life by Vexor. Nukus soon set a plan to dispose of the Magnavores and take over as the new villains. Nukus destroyed the Beetleborgs’ original armor and weapons.
Horribelle is the second-in-command of the Crustaceans and Nukus’ right-hand woman. She can summon a face mask in battle. She wields two swords that resemble mantis arms. Villor is the third-in-command of the Crustaceans and is a fish-based trident-toting fighter. Lester “Les” Fortunes is the black sheep of the Fortunes family and older brother to Art. He was recruited by Nukus. He created all the Crustacean monsters and their arsenal, but he never gets credit for it.
The creator of the Beetleborg comics, Arthur “Art’ Fortunes, often shows up repeatedly to help the kids. He collaborates with Flabber’s magic to bring a new arsenal to the kids.
The show had a well-rounded cast who played their characters well and brought out the best in them. Billy Forester played Flabber, the magical ghost. Wesley Barker starred as Drew McCormick, the leader of the beetleborgs. Herbie Baez played Roland Williams, and Brittany Konarzewski played Jo McCormick.
The show even led to the launch of actual Beetleborgs comics. Three issues were released that featured the Big Bad Beetleborgs and their adventures. A crossover comic was also published titled Power Rangers Turbo vs. Beetleborgs Mettalix. This issue was a part of the three comic stories based on Power Rangers Turbo and was published in the short-lived Saban Powerhouse magazine.
Interesting Facts about Big Bad Beetleborgs
One of the best episodes in the series featured the comic-loving kids traveling to the San Diego Comic-Con. The episode was shot at night and was populated with Fox kids heroes. We see The Tick, Samurai Pizza Cats, and even Spider-Man.
The comic store in the show, Zoom Comics, is filled to the brim with Beetleborgs comics. Everyone in the town loves the beetleborgs and is obsessed with them. There’s always a rush to get the new issue.
Halfway through the first season, the actress playing Jo decided to leave the series. So what the show did was quite magical, I mean literally. At the beginning of an episode, a spell is cast on Jo, which changes her appearance ( to that of the new actress). Flabber casts a spell on her so that no one except the Beetleborgs will see her new face, and thus they introduced a new actress and gave the show a fun little plot.
One of the Astral Borgs introduced in Season 2, Lady Borg, is voiced by Barbara Goodson, who is famous for voicing Rita Repulsa.
David Fletcher, who played Frankenbeans, also wrote several episodes of the series. Talk about 2 roles in one. Shadowborg and green Hunter Borg’s costumes were re-used in Power Rangers Wild Force: Forever Red (2002). The reason the series ended was that the Saban crew had no more B-Fighter Kabuto footage left for them to adapt, and hence the show ended on a cliffhanger. The show was canceled after 89 episodes.
What went wrong with Big Bad Beetleborgs?
The show’s storyline was all over the place. It has too much going on in the first season, and there is no forward progression in the story. Even with the heavy focus on the House Monsters, the show bounced around too much. We have the comic shop, a rapping Grandma, Drew’s love interest Heather, and so much other stuff that the show doesn’t focus on one thing, creating a huge confusing mess. The show is titled Beetleborgs, but we see very little of them. In one video of kids visiting the set, they were more interested in meeting the House Monsters than the beetleborgs. So the audience pretty much didn’t care about the main characters, which was a big problem.
Beetleborgs happened to be trashing Power Rangers’ rating and was geared towards the third season. But their plans got screwed over. Kabutack was more geared towards pre-schoolers featuring cutesy robots, which wouldn’t work for Beetleborgs. So having run out of footage to adapt from B-Fighter and B-Fighter Kabuto, the series was forced to shut down without a satisfying ending.
Big Bad Beetleborgs might seem wacky and all over the place, but the show’s characters are pretty endearing, and it’s fun to watch for the kids. Beetle powers might not seem remarkable to some people, but the show totally made them work and gave three kids the ability to achieve their dreams of being superheroes. The series’s second season introduced even more fantastic villains and gave the heroes some daunting tasks to overcome, including some heavy action and robot fights we all love. To this date, the show remains a 90s American Tokusatsu classic.