Micronauts Biotron toy
Micronauts is the North American name for the Microman toyline created by Japanese company Takara. First released in Japan in 1974, Microman toys were imported to the United States by the Mego Corporation in 1976 under the "Micronauts" brand name.
The line consisted of 3.75-inch-tall (9.5 cm) action figures, vehicles, robots, playsets and accessories which used a universal, .2-inch (5.1 mm) inter-connective design.
Mego discontinued the Micronauts line in 1980 before going into bankruptcy in 1982. In 2002 and 2003, Palisades Toys reintroduced the toys to the U.S. marketplace but did not find success. Other companies, including SOTA Toys and Hasbro, have attempted to revive the Micronauts toy line, but so far have not succeeded.
The Micronauts figures were marketed as actually being 3.75" cyborg beings, hailing from the fictional planet "Micro Earth," and disguising themselves as toys.
Micronauts toys were known for their high number of articulation points (averaging 30) relative to other toys of similar size. The toys included vehicles and robots, and all of the Micronauts toys used interchangeable 5-mm connectors and ports that could be transferred from one toy to another.
The initial Mego series (1976) included the following products:
- Galactic Warrior
- Space Glider
- Time Traveler — the first Micronauts action figures. Four of the Microman figures — M101 "Jeorge" (orange-red), M102 "Jack" (clear), M103 "Jessie" (blue), and M104 "John" (yellow) — were repackaged for the United States as the "Time Traveler" figures. The figures are primarily made of colored transparent plastics and white solid plastics.
- Crater Cruncher
- Galactic Cruiser
- Hydro Copter
- Photon Sled
- Ultronic Scooter
Base & Playsets
- Astro Station
- Mobile Exploration Lab
The Micronauts sold extremely well for Mego, at one point generating more than $30 million in sales for the $110 million company. Takara produced small quantities of Series One and Series Two products in Japan before production was moved to Mego's facilities in Hong Kong.
After Mego's 1982 collapse, Takara produced several Series Five toys for Italian distributor Gig's i Micronauti line.
|Series One (1976)||Series Two (1977)||Series Three (1978)||Series Four (1979)||Series Five (1980)|
|Astro Station||Andromeda||Betatron||Carrio (carrying case)||Blizzard|
|Biotron||Aquatron||Galactic Defender||Deluxe Rocket Tubes||Centaurus|
|Crater Cruncher (with Time Traveler figure)||Baron Karza||Gammatron||Hometroid||Hyperion|
|Galactic Warrior||Battle Cruiser||Micropolis Galactic Command Center||Space Vehicle (Montgomery Ward)||Kronos|
|Galactic Cruiser||Force Commander||Micropolis Interplanetary Headquarters||Membros||Lobros|
|Space Glider||Giant Acroyear||Micropolis Microrail City||Micropolis Mega City||Lobstros|
|Hydra||Karrio||Micropolis Satellite Survey Station||Repto||Sharkos|
|Hydro Copter||Neon Orbiter||Nemesis||Rocket Tubes||Emperor|
|Microtron||Oberon||Phobos||Rocket Tubes (Sears)||Megas|
|Mobile Exploration Lab||Pharoid (with Time Chamber||Star Searcher||Solarion||King Atlas|
|Photon Sled (with figure)||Pharoid (type 2)||Star Defender||Lantaurion|
|Stratastation||Rhodium Orbiter||Taurion||Green Baron|
|Time Traveler||Thorium Orbiter||Terraphant||Pegasus|
|Ultronic Scooter (with Time Traveler figure)||Time Traveler (opaque versions)||Red Falcon|
|Warp Racer (with Time Traveler figure)|
In 2002 Palisades Toys bought the rights to manufacture Micronauts, assuming that the original tooling and molds were available. When Palisades discovered this was not so, it asked collectors to donate unopened toys to replicate. Figures had defective or broken parts, and many were returned by consumers who found they had been given defective replacements.
Palisades tried to salvage its reputation by developing Series 2 and a special Series 1.5 from other factories, but lost more money. Retailers refused to carry the line, and a third series was in development when the Micronauts line was canceled. It was Palisades' largest financial loss, contributing to the company's 2006 bankruptcy. Most of the reissues were Takara-designed figures, but several original aliens from the Mego series (Repto, Membros and Centaurus) were included.
|Series 1 (2002)||Series 1.5 (2003)||Series 2 (2003)|
|Baron Karza & Andromeda||Radioactive Membros||Emperor & Megas|
|Bio-Scan Membros||Space Commander||Galactic Defender|
|DD Acroyear||Time Traveler Medic||Gold Red Falcon set|
|Dynamic Forces TT||Pharoid|
|Force Commander & Oberon||Red Falcon|
|Gold Baron Karza set||Repto|
|HF Space Glider|
|Lee's Time Traveler|
In January 2005, SOTA Toys unveiled plans for "Micronauts: Evolution", a redesign of the Micronauts figures. Concept art was released and prototypes displayed at the 2005 Toy Fair, with a projected release of late 2005. They appeared at the 2006 San Diego Comic Con.
Series one was planned to include 6-inch (15 cm) renditions of Lobros, Baron Karza, and Space Glider. Plans changed to an online box set of all three characters, available on SOTA's website as smaller figures.
In September 2006 SOTA president Jerry Macaluso said "the retail environment for collectibles is in the gutter right now", and many stores wishing to order the "Micronauts: Evolution" line were going bankrupt. He noted that the Palisades-line "disaster...had a huge negative effect", with retailers rejecting SOTA's upcoming series. Macaluso hoped to release the line in 2007 (before SOTA's license expired), and considered funding it himself. The line was never produced.
In other media
Kinetic Underground and its affiliates, Kinetic Toyz and Kinetic Komicz, created a range of Micronauts product designs (including toys and comics). Kinetic Komicz has begun development of a Micronauts comic series, which was protested by Takara Tomy.
In November 2009, Hasbro announced that director J. J. Abrams was negotiating to produce a film based on the Micronauts. In a March 2013 IGN interview, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick said they were working on a screenplay and the film was on Paramount's list of possible productions.
David Forrest of Kinetic Underground facilitated an agreement with Hasbro and Abrams Gentile Entertainment (started by Mego's former CEO) to retool the Micronauts for the film. Forrest and artists at Kinetic Underground helped develop stories, concepts and characters for Abrams Gentile Entertainment, Emmett Furla Films, and Gale Anne Hurd's adaptation of the characters.
In popular culture
- In Terry Gilliam's 1981 film Time Bandits, the protagonist's bedroom has parts of the Mobile Exploration Lab (which is seen in large scale during the film's climactic battle).
- The combined form of Baron Karza and his horse Andromeda served as inspiration for the Mortal Kombat producer John Tobias to create the centaur Motaro from Mortal Kombat 3, released in 1995.
- The Robot Fixer, one of four short films comprising the 2003 film Robot Stories, examines a woman completing her comatose son's collection of Micronauts. Although Micronauts and Micromen toys are used in the film, they are referred to as "Microbots" and given fictitious names; the Lady Command figure is called "Angel Command".
- Buddy Valastro of the reality show Cake Boss once ate a Micronaut because he "thought it was challenging [him]."
- Mego VP of R&D Neal Kublan, quoted in "Mego Micronauts," Mego Museum. Accessed Dec. 28, 2014.
- "interview: Bryan Wilkinson (part 4)". Fanmode. Retrieved 2013-09-26.
- "San Diego Comic Con 2006". Innerspaceonline.com. Retrieved 2013-09-26.
- "News". Figures.com. 2005-02-18. Retrieved 2013-09-26.
- "Jerry Mac interview '06 (pt.1)". Innerspaceonline.com. Retrieved 2013-09-26.
- "Jerry Mac interview '06 (pt.2)". Innerspaceonline.com. Retrieved 2013-09-26.
- Jakester (2009-11-06). "J.J. Abrams producing Micronauts movie". Corona Coming Attractions. Retrieved 2013-09-24.
- "Screenwriters Give Update on J.J. Abrams' Micronauts Movie". IGN. 2013-03-27. Retrieved 2013-09-24.
- Bonavita, John. Mego Action Figure Toys, 3rd Edition (2001)
- Miller, Ray. "The Monumental World of Mego's Micronauts"
- Kinetic Underground: Micronauts
- Innerspace Online
- Microman Forever
- Mego Central: Micronauts
- The Action Figure Archive: Micronauts (1976-1982)
- The Action Figure Archive: Micronauts (2002)
- The Action Figure Archive: Micronauts (2005)
- Yahoo!: Groups: Micropolis_Embassy ("A Micronaut and Microman collector group")
- Bug-eyed Monster's Micronauts page
- Micronauts fan page
- Raving Toy Maniac's Micronauts page
- Hello Micro, a Microman/Micronauts fan site
- Micronauts fan site