One thing I wish they would bring back in the Super Sentai franchise are the giant carrier vehicles that bring the team’s mecha to them for the final battle. In the older shows, they would always have one of these and I always loved their design and how it gave a practical way for the mecha to get to the heroes.
The first one was Battle Shark from 1979′s Battle Fever J.
This giant, flying battleship began underwater before bursting forth to bring Battle Fever Robo to the heroes. I just love the design and the color scheme on this thing. That may be just a wee bit because I adore the concept of flying battleships, likely a result of my love for the look of the Space Battleship Yamato from the eponymous anime.
Of course, even before they were mecha delivery systems, we had things like the carriers. In Himitsu Sentai Goranger we had a vehicle to carry the team into battle and help them in various ways, this was the Variblune:
Which was later replaced by the Varidreen:
When the next Sentai series, J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai came around, their vehicle the Sky Ace became even more important to the team.
The J.A.K.Q. team could not transform into their more powerful, costumed forms without the aid of huge, coffin-sized transformation capsules.
It was the Sky Ace that brought these capsules to the team in the field so they could transform and fight whatever vile monster CRIME sent against them. This is arguably and even more vital function than carrying a mecha, which Sentai did not have yet, until Battle Fever J.
In 1980, we got yet another awesome carrier vehicle, the DenziTiger which transported the might DaiDenzin robot to Denshi Sentai Denziman.
It was also amphibious as well as airborne and had another neat trick, it could unfold into a flat-topped aircraft carrier mode. The vehicle on top is the machine that transforms into the giant robot.
One of my all-time favorites though came with 1981′s Taiyo Sentai Sun Vulcan and the Jaguar Vulcan carrier!
This fearsome carrier brought the two machines that combined (a first for Super Sentai) to form Sun Vulcan Robo. I just love the way it looks like an angry mechanical cat ready to pounce on the enemy.
From there, carriers continues with 1982′s Dai Sentai Goggle-V having Goggle Caeser:
Kagaku Sentai Dynaman had DyJupiter bring their mecha in 1983:
Bio Dragon carried Bio Jets 1 & 2 into combat for 1984′s Choudenshi Bioman. It also had the opening into a flat-topped carrier mode that DenziTiger featured.
Shuttle Base not only brought Change Robo into battle but betrayed 1985′s Dengeki Sentai Changeman’s originally planned origins as a space-themed team.
In 1986, an actual team from space Choushinsei Flashman used the Star Condor to transport the components of their mighty mecha, Flash King. I am not even going to lie, I LOVE the look of this carrier. It looks like a supersonic fighter combined with a transport and that’s an aesthetic I can get behind.
Turboranger (no relation to the 1989 Super Sentai team) carried around the parts of Hikari Sentai Maskman’s mecha in 1987.
And finally, in 1988, Choujuu Sentai Liveman had their animal-themed mecha carrier by Machine Buffalo.
Ever since 1988, we haven’t really had any carrier vehicles or flying fortresses for our Super Sentai heroes. It’s just an aspect of the franchise that faded away with the end of the 1980s. I find that kind of strange because you would think Bandai in their toy-pushing need would want to create yet one more thing that could be merchandised. Maybe they just stopped selling in favor of the actual robots, maybe it just became too unwieldy story-wise to have to keep relying on a slow transport to get the mecha to the field of battle. Any way you cut it, it’s a trend that is now dead and one I kind of miss.