The Space Giants is the English title of this series. The show is most notable for its humanoid robot heroes who responded to crises by transforming into rockets to combat a wide variety of dinosaur-like space monsters, and faceless, ninja-like villains called Lugo men (人間モドキ ningen-modoki literally mock-human) who melted into oozing blob-like slime when killed.
The main conflict of the story involved an evil space villain named Rodak who continually tried to conquer Earth by sending a new dinosaur-like monster from deep space to wreak havoc on the greater Tokyo area. The stories were generally resolved in four episodes, much like Doctor Who, and a new monster would be found by Rodak to begin another four part struggle. Rodak’s efforts were opposed by an ancient white-bearded wizard named Methusan (sometimes called Methuselah), aided by a trio of humanoid robots that were capable of changing from humanoid form into rocket form.
The human interest in the story was a family of three: a boy named Miko, his mother Tomoko, and his journalist father Ito Mura. The family became involved in the story due to the villain Rodak’s desire to publish news of his presence to world media. The Mura family found themselves continually caught in the crossfire of monster attacks and harried by the Lugo men. A major sub-plot in the series developed when Miko’s mother was kidnapped by the Lugo men and held in uncertain conditions for a number of episodes.
In the first episodes, the robot team were a duo consisting of a 50-foot (15 m) gold robot aptly named Goldar and his companion, a silver-clad humanoid female named Silvar. It is implied they were created by the wizard Methusan. Early in the series, the wizard Methusan completed the team to mirror the Mura family by creating a humanoid rocket-boy named Gam in the image of Miko Mura, complete with his trademark red-and-white sweater vest. All members of the robot team were capable of transforming into rockets identified respectively by gold, silver, and red-and-white color schemes. Each had bulb-tipped antennae protruding from their heads, capable of discharging directed blasts of gamma rays. Goldar and Silvar are capable of firing missiles from their chest cavity, Silvar is shown only doing this once. A regularly featured plot device was Miko’s ability to summon the robots by blowing a special high-frequency whistle – once to summon Gam, twice to summon Silvar, and three times to summon Goldar.
The show first aired in Japan in 1966, and its international title was Space Avenger (one episode was dubbed for international markets). Originally intending to title it Monsters from Outer Space, the entire series was dubbed into English and released to a very limited US television market in late 1970 under the title The Space Giants. The show was not distributed widely to US television stations until 1978, when it became a staple of fledgling Superstation TBS afternoon programming. 52 episodes were made, each running 25 minutes. It was known in Spanish as Monstruos del Espacio and in some English-speaking countries as Space Avengers.
Ambassador Magma, despite his robot-like appearance, is not a robot, but actually, a living giant forged from gold. In fact, true to his original manga appearance, in the series pilot opening, the actor playing Magma (Tetsuya Uozumi) wore gold make-up on his face. There were difficulties, though, like the actor’s face turning beet-red, drowning out the gold makeup. The easy solution: Uozumi wore a golden human-like mask.
Magma, just like his human-sized wife Mol and son Gam, transforms into a giant rocketship. In fact, he is considered one of the earliest Transformers, even before the anime super robot, Brave Raideen, which set the standard for the genre.
He also shoots rockets out of a panel located in his chest, and shoots electrical bolts from his antennae.