Micronauts

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Micronauts
Micronauts Catalog 1977 Cover.jpg
A scan of the 1977 cover of an official Mego Micronauts catalog.
TypeAction figures
InventorTakara/Mego
CompanyMego
CountryUnited States
Availability1976–1980
MaterialsPlastic/Die-cast
Slogan“The Interchangeable World of the Micronauts”

Micronauts was a North American science fiction toyline manufactured and marketed by Mego from 1976 to 1980. The Micronauts toyline was based on and licensed from the Microman toyline created by Japanese-based toy company Takara in 1974.[1][2]

Mego discontinued the Micronauts line in 1980 prior to the company’s bankruptcy and dissolution in 1982. Years after Mego’s demise other toy companies, such as Palisades Toys and SOTA (State of the Art) Toys, have attempted to revive the toyline over the years.[3][4]

Description[edit]

The Micronauts toyline consisted of 3.75-inch tall (9.5 cm) action figures (such as Time Traveller) which were known for their high number of articulation points relative to other toys of similar size/scale in the 1970s. The toyline also included vehicles, robots, playsets and accessories. Many of the Micronauts toys used interchangeable 5-millimetre (0.20 in) connectors and ports that allowed parts to be transferred and connected between different toys.[5][unreliable source][6][7]

History[edit]

Takara[edit]

A photo of a Mego (U.S.) Acroyear (Red) action figure which was based on the Takara (Japan) Acroyear 2 (A311 Mad Pink).
A Mego (U.S.) Acroyear (Red) action figure which was based on the Takara (Japan) Acroyear 2 (A311 Mad Pink).

Takara first released Microman toys in Japan in 1974 as a smaller version their popular 8-inch-tall (20 cm) & 12-inch-tall (30 cm) 1972 Henshin Cyborg (Transforming Cyborg) line. Henshin Cyborg figures were based on 8-inch-tall (20 cm) & 12-inch-tall (30 cm) Combat Joe figures — which themselves were based on Hasbro’s G.I. Joe figures — with their bodies molded in clear plastic, exposing their inner workings and supposed cybernetic parts.[1][2]

By downscaling their size, Takara sought to create a toyline that would offset the sheer cost of producing a full line of plastic-based 8-inch-tall (20 cm) and 12-inch-tall (30 cm) figures and related playsets as well as acknowledging that basic living space is limited for most Japanese households. Smaller Microman figures would not only cost less to produce during the energy crisis of the 1970s, the line’s smaller scale would also take up less physical space in a household and thus be more attractive to space conscious consumers in the Japanese market.[8][9]

In Japan, the Microman figures themselves were marketed as actually being 3.75-inch-tall (9.5 cm) cyborg entities that hailed from a fictional planet known as "Micro Earth" and disguised themselves as action figures while on Earth.[10][11]

Mego[edit]

A photo of a Micronauts Biotron toy.
A Micronauts Biotron toy.

In 1976, Mego licensed several Microman toys from Takara and marketed the toyline in North America and other countries as Micronauts. During their initial series 1 and series 2 release, Takara produced small quantities of products in Japan before production was officially moved to Mego’s facilities in Hong Kong.[1][12][13]

While much of the initial Micronaut toyline offerings were simply repackaged versions of Takara Microman equivalents, some items in the Micronaut toyline were original Mego creations that used, modified and reconfigured parts from existing Takara toys. For example, the larger, 6.5-inch (17 cm) magnetic action figures Baron Karza and Force Commander were re-colorings of the magnemo Kotetsu Jeeg action figures with newly designed heads. In addition, as the Micronaut line grew in popularity, Mego expanded the line by creating whole new figures from scratch such as the "Aliens" line which included Antron, Repto, Membros, Lobros, Kronos and Centaurus.[14][15][16][17]

The Micronaut toyline sold extremely well for Mego, which at one point—according to Mego’s Executive VP of Marketing/Vice President of Mego Research & Development (1972-1980), Neal Kublan—generated more than $32 million in sales for the $110 million company during one period.[4][18]

After Mego’s 1982 bankruptcy and dissolution, the original molds for many of the toys were sold to Hourtoys/M&D Toys for their Interchangables discount toyline, other original molds were sold to PAC Toys for use in their Lords of Light toyline and even Takara produced several series 5 toys for Italian licensee/distributor Gig’s i Micronauti line.[1][3][4] Additionally, leftover Micronaut toyline stock from Mego’s production run was eventually sold for sale/clearance in North America by Lion Rock Limited under the Micronauts name.[1]

Mego Micronaut releases[edit]

Below is a basic overview list of Mego Micronaut toys with size/scale, release dates and Mego series numbers as well as cross-referenced information connected to the Takara equivalent toys they were based on; Microman and otherwise. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of all Mego releases/variants but rather a high-level overview of their Micronaut line offerings.

Mego Micronaut releases
Micronauts (Mego) Microman & equivalent toys (Takara)
Name Type Size/Scale Release date Series Name Release date
Acroyear Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 Acroyear 2 (A31X) 1975
Astro Station Ship 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 Microman Connig Station Base 1975
Biotron Tron 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 Robotman 1975
Crater Cruncher Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 Machine Car #3: Bull Crane 1975
Galactic Cruiser Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 MIC-01: Space Buggy 1974
Galactic Warrior Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 Super Steel Microman (M22X) 1975
Hydra Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 MIC-02: Bulk Lifter 1974
Hydro Copter Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 Mecha-Cosmo: Marine Copter 1975
Microtron Tron 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 Micro Robot-1 1976
Mobile Exploration Lab (M.E.L.) Ship 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 M115 Conning Tower Base 1974
Photon Sled Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 Machine Car #4: Super Jet 1975
Space Glider Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 Super Steel Microman (M21X) 1975
Stratastation Deluxe Set 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 Road Station Base 1975
Time Traveler Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 Microman (M10X) 1975
Ultronic Scooter Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 Machine Car #2: Auto Buggy 1975
Warp Racer Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 Machine Car #1: Formula Z 1975
Acroyear II Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1977 2 Acroyear (A30X) 1975
Andromeda Action Figure 6.5-inch (17 cm) 1977 2 Magnemo: Panzeroid 1975
Baron Karza Action Figure 6.5-inch (17 cm) 1977 2 Magnemo: Kotetsu Jeeg 1975
Battle Cruiser Ship 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1977 2 Micro Base: Transfer Fortress 1976
Force Commander Action Figure 6.5-inch (17 cm) 1977 2 Magnemo: Kotetsu Jeeg 1975
Giant Acroyear Tron 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1977 2 Giant Acroyear 1977
Neon Orbiter Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1977 2 Spy Car #4: Drag Tiger 1976
Oberon Action Figure 6.5-inch (17 cm) 1977 2 Magnemo: Panzeroid 1975
Pharoid Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1977 2 Microman Command 2 (M16X) 1977
Rhodium Orbiter Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1977 2 Gōdam 5: Geso Machine 1976
Thorium Orbiter Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1977 2 Spy Car #6: Jet Mirror 1976
Alphatron Tron 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1978 3
Aquatron Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1978 3 Spy Car #1: Marine Condor 1976
Betatron Tron 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1978 3
Galactic Defender Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1978 3 Microman Command 3 (M17X) 1977
Gamatron Tron 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1978 3
Micropolis: Galactic Command Center Deluxe Set 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1978 3 Play Build Series: Build Base 1978
Micropolis: Interplanetary Headquarters Deluxe Set 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1978 3 Play Build Series: Build Base 1978
Micropolis: Microrail City Deluxe Set 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1978 3 Play Build Series: Build Base 1978
Micropolis: Satellite Survey Station Deluxe Set 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1978 3 Play Build Series: Build Base 1978
Nemesis Tron 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1978 3 Micro Robot-1 1976
Phobos Tron 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1978 3 Robotman 1975
Star Searcher Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1978 3 Surveyor-1 1977
Antron Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1979 4
Deluxe Rocket Tubes Deluxe Set 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1979 4
Hornetroid Ship 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1979 4
Karrio Deluxe Set 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1979 4
Membros Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1979 4
Repto Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1979 4
Rocket Tubes Deluxe Set 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1979 4
Solarion Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1979 4
Star Defender Ship 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1979 4 Surveyor-3 1977
Taurion Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1979 4
Terraphant Ship 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1979 4
Ampzilla Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1980 5
Blizzard Tron 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1980 5 Blizzard 1980
Centaurus Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1980 5
Emperor Action Figure 6.5-inch (17 cm) 1980 5 Magnemo: Kotetsu Jeeg 1975
Green Baron Action Figure 6.5-inch (17 cm) 1980 5 Magnemo: Kotetsu Jeeg 1975
Hyperion Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1980 5 Timanic NicMachine 2 1978
King Atlas Action Figure 6.5-inch (17 cm) 1980 5 Magnemo: Kotetsu Jeeg 1975
Kronos Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1980 5
Lantaurion Action Figure 6.5-inch (17 cm) 1980 5 Magnemo: Panzeroid 1975
Lobros Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1980 5
Lobstros Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1980 5
Megas Action Figure 6.5-inch (17 cm) 1980 5 Magnemo: Panzeroid 1975
Pegasus Action Figure 6.5-inch (17 cm) 1980 5 Magnemo: Panzeroid 1975
Red Falcon Action Figure 6.5-inch (17 cm) 1980 5 Death Cross 1975
Sharkos Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1980 5

Palisades Toys[edit]

in 2002 Palisades Toys acquired the rights to manufacture a new line of Micronauts toys from Abrams Gentile Entertainment, LLC; the company which was formed in the aftermath of Mego’s collapse to retain and manage Mego’s licensing contracts, rights and deals. This licensing agreement was done by Palisades under the assumption that the original manufacturing tooling and molds from the 1970s Mego toyline were still available.[citation needed] When Palisades discovered the manufacturing tooling and molds were not available, it turned to the Micronaut/Microman collector’s community to donate vintage toys so Palisades could create new molds to replicate the figures. Most of the Palisades reissues were Mego Micronaut figures based on Takara designs, but several original alien designs from the original Mego toyline (such as Repto, Membros and Centaurus) were included the line as well.[19][20]

When initial manufacturing of the Palisades figures was completed and the new, retro line shipped to consumers and stores, many figures were found to have defective or broken parts caused by manufacturing practices followed by the first Chinese factory. Many consumers who returned defective merchandise were inadvertently given defective replacements by Palisades.[21]

Facing these issues, Palisades developed the Series 2 figures which utilized other, more reputable factories in China, but ended up losing more money than expected. As a result, retailers were wary of carrying the new Micronauts toyline, which resulted in the abrupt cancellation of a third series which was in already in development. The whole series of events contributed to Palisades’ bankruptcy in 2006.[21]

Palisades Toys Micronaut releases[edit]

Below is a basic overview list of Palisades Toys Micronaut toys with size/scale, release dates. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of all Palisades Toys releases/variants but rather a high-level overview of their Micronaut line offerings.

Palisades Toys Micronaut releases
Name Type Size/Scale Release date Series
Acroyear Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 2002 1
Baron Karza & Andromeda Action Figure 6.5-inch (17 cm) 2002 1
Membros Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 2002 1
Force Commander & Oberon Action Figure 6.5-inch (17 cm) 2002 1
Time Traveler Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 2002 1
Space Glider Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 2002 1
Battle Acroyear Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 2003 1.5
Radioactive Membros Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 2003 1.5
Space Commander Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 2003 1.5
Time Traveler Medic Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 2003 1.5
Centaurus Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 2003 2
Emperor & Megas Action Figure 6.5-inch (17 cm) 2003 2
Galactic Defender Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 2003 2
Pharoid Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 2003 2
Red Falcon Action Figure 6.5-inch (17 cm) 2003 2
Repto Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 2003 2

SOTA Toys[edit]

In January 2005, SOTA (State of the Art) Toys unveiled plans for a collector’s toyline called “Micronauts: Evolution” which would be a redesign of the Micronauts figures presented in a slightly larger 6-inch (15 cm) size. Concept art was released and prototypes displayed at the 2005 Toy Fair, with a projected release of late 2005. The figures appeared at the 2006 San Diego Comic Con.[22]

The initial series was planned to include 6-inch (15 cm) renditions of Lobros, Baron Karza, and Space Glider. Plans changed to an online-only box set of all three characters, available on SOTA’s website as smaller figures.[23][24] Plans changed to an online-only box set of all three characters, available on SOTA’s website as smaller figures.[25]

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.[citation needed] 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 but the line was never produced.[26]

Proposed SOTA Micronaut releases[edit]

Below is a basic overview list of proposed SOTA Micronauts releases. Since no products were actually produced this is simply a high-level overview of their proposed Micronaut line offerings.

Proposed SOTA Micronauts releases
Name Type Figure size/scale Release date Series
Baron Karza Action Figure 6-inch (15 cm) 2005 1
Lobros Action Figure 6-inch (15 cm) 2005 1
Space Glider Action Figure 6-inch (15 cm) 2005 1

Hasbro[edit]

A photo of packaging for Hasbro’s limited edition Micronauts Classic Collection action figure set to be released at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con.
Packaging for Hasbro’s limited edition Micronauts Classic Collection toy set released at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con.

In June 2016, Hasbro announced the special release of a limited edition Micronauts Classic Collection toy set. The set included three Micronaut characters: Galactic Warrior, Pharoid and Orbital Defender and feature packaging artwork by artist Ken Kelly. The set debuted at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con.[27]

Hasbro Micronaut releases[edit]

Below is a basic overview list of Hasbro Micronaut toys with size/scale and release dates.

Hasbro Micronaut releases
Name Type Size/scale Release date
Galactic Warrior Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 2016
Orbital Defender Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 2016
Pharoid Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 2016

In other media[edit]

Comic books[edit]

Several comic book series based on the Micronaut toyline have been published by Marvel Comics (from 1979–1986),[28] Image Comics (2002–2003),[29] Devil’s Due Publishing (2004)[30] as well as IDW (2016-).[31]

Film[edit]

In November 2009 during an "Investor Day" event held at Hasbro’s headquarters in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Hasbro’s VP of Global Designs, Brian Chapman, announced the company’s re-introduction of the Micronaut toyline and hinted that director J.J. AbramsBad Robot Productions was in negotiations to produce a film based on the Micronauts property.[32][33] In March 2013, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick mentioned they were working on a screenplay and the film was on Paramount's list of possible productions. Wernick was quoted as saying, "We've written a couple of drafts of Micronauts and it's in the Paramount system now. We developed it with Bad Robot, and it’s probably not what you might imagine a Micronauts movie to be. It departs from the comic wildly, so if you hope it's loyal to the comic you’ll be disappointed in that particular sense. However, it's very, very different and very, very cool."[34] The planned project made little progress, though in November 2015, Paramount announced it was still planning a Micronauts movie.[35]

On December 15, 2015, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Hasbro and Paramount were creating a movie universe combining Micronauts with G.I. Joe, Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light, M.A.S.K. and Rom.[36] The Hollywood Reporter reported on April 21, 2016 that Michael Chabon, Brian K. Vaughan, Nicole Perlman, Lindsey Beer, Cheo Coker, John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein, Joe Robert Cole, Jeff Pinkner, Nicole Riegel and Geneva Robertson had joined the writers room.[37]

On December 18, 2017, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Paramount has scheduled the film for an October 16, 2020 release.[38]

Animation[edit]

In 1998, AGE, Annex Entertainment, Gribouille and Kaleidoscope Media Group planned to produce a Micronauts animated series starting with a five-part miniseries to air on the Sci Fi Channel in Fall of 1998, followed by a syndicated 26 episode Micronauts animated series for 1999, with action figures and a Marvel tie-in comic announced. The project was later cancelled.[39][40] Boulder Media Limited (a subsidiary of Hasbro Studios) announced in June 2017 that it was developing a new Micronauts animated series for Early 2019.[41]

Video games[edit]

An unofficial Micronauts video game was released in 1988 for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum inspired by the Micronauts that features Force Commander as the main character.[42]

References[edit]

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