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
Inventor(s)Takara/Mego
CompanyMego
CountryUnited States
Availability1976–1980
MaterialsPlastic/Die-cast
Slogan“The Interchangeable World of the Micronauts”

Micronauts is 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.[3][4]

Description[edit]

The Micronauts toyline consisted of 3.75-inch tall (9.5 cm) action figures which were known for their high number of articulation points relative to other toys of similar size and 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 of their popular 8-inch-tall (20 cm) and 12-inch-tall (30 cm) 1972 Henshin Cyborg (Transforming Cyborg) line. Henshin Cyborg figures were based on 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 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. According to Neal Kublan, Mego’s Executive VP of Marketing/Vice President of Mego Research & Development (1972-1980), the line 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 Part# Type Size/Scale Release date Series Name Release date
Acroyear 71003 Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 Acroyear 2 (A31X) 1975
Astro Station 71061 Base-Playset 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 Microman Connig Station Base 1975
Biotron 71053 Tron 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 Robotman 1975
Crater Cruncher 71031 Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 Machine Car #3: Bull Crane 1975
Galactic Cruiser 71020 Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 MIC-01: Space Buggy 1974
Galactic Warrior 71002 Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 Super Steel Microman (M22X) 1975
Hydra 71021 Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 MIC-02: Bulk Lifter 1974
Hydro Copter 71051 Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 Mecha-Cosmo: Marine Copter 1975
Microtron 71050 Tron 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 Micro Robot-1 1976
Mobile Exploration Lab (M.E.L.) 71060 Ship 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 M115 Conning Tower Base 1974
Photon Sled 71032 Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 Machine Car #4: Super Jet 1975
Space Glider 71001 Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 Super Steel Microman (M21X) 1975
Stratastation 71061 Base-Playset 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 Road Station Base 1975
Time Traveler 71000 Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 Microman (M10X) 1975
Ultronic Scooter 71030 Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 Machine Car #2: Auto Buggy 1975
Warp Racer 71033 Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1976 1 Machine Car #1: Formula Z 1975
Acroyear II 71015 Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1977 2 Acroyear (A30X) 1975
Andromeda 71006 Magno Figure 6.5-inch (17 cm) 1977 2 Magnemo: Panzeroid 1975
Baron Karza 71005 Magno Figure 6.5-inch (17 cm) 1977 2 Magnemo: Kotetsu Jeeg 1975
Battle Cruiser 71054 Ship 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1977 2 Micro Base: Transfer Fortress 1976
Force Commander 71035 Magno Figure 6.5-inch (17 cm) 1977 2 Magnemo: Kotetsu Jeeg 1975
Giant Acroyear 71055 Tron 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1977 2 Giant Acroyear 1977
Neon Orbiter 71038 Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1977 2 Spy Car #4: Drag Tiger 1976
Oberon 71034 Magno Figure 6.5-inch (17 cm) 1977 2 Magnemo: Panzeroid 1975
Pharoid 71004 Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1977 2 Microman Command 2 (M16X) 1977
Rhodium Orbiter 71036 Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1977 2 Gōdam 5: Geso Machine 1976
Thorium Orbiter 71037 Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1977 2 Spy Car #6: Jet Mirror 1976
Alphatron 71027 Tron 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1978 3
Aquatron 71040 Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1978 3 Spy Car #1: Marine Condor 1976
Betatron 71028 Tron 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1978 3
Galactic Defender 71016 Action Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1978 3 Microman Command 3 (M17X) 1977
Gammatron 71029 Tron 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1978 3
Micropolis: Galactic Command Center 71072 Deluxe Set 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1978 3 Play Build Series: Build Base 1978
Micropolis: Interplanetary Headquarters 71071 Deluxe Set 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1978 3 Play Build Series: Build Base 1978
Micropolis: Microrail City 71073 Deluxe Set 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1978 3 Play Build Series: Build Base 1978
Micropolis: Satellite Survey Station 71070 Deluxe Set 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1978 3 Play Build Series: Build Base 1978
Nemesis 71049 Tron 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1978 3 Micro Robot-1 1976
Phobos 71056 Tron 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1978 3 Robotman 1975
Star Searcher 71063 Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1978 3 Surveyor-1 1977
Antron 71022 ALIEN Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1979 4
Deluxe Rocket Tubes 71084 Deluxe Set 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1979 4
Hornetroid 71057 Ship 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1979 4
Karrio 71080 Carry Case 24.1-inch (61 cm) 1979 4
Membros 71024 ALIEN Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1979 4
Micropolis: Mega City 71074 Deluxe Set 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1979 4
Repto 71023 ALIEN Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1979 4
Rocket Tubes 71083 Deluxe Set 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1979 4
Solarion 71042 Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1979 4
Star Defender 71064 Ship 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1979 4 Surveyor-3 1977
Taurion 71041 Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1979 4
Terraphant 71059 Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1979 4
Ampzilla 71044 Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1980 5
Blizzard 71013 Tron 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1980 5 Blizzard 1980
Centaurus 71019 ALIEN Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1980 5
Emperor 71011 Magno Figure 6.5-inch (17 cm) 1980 5 Magnemo: Kotetsu Jeeg 1975
Green Baron 71009 Magno Figure 6.5-inch (17 cm) 1980 5 Magnemo: Kotetsu Jeeg 1975
Hyperion 71043 Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1980 5 Timanic NicMachine 2 1978
King Atlas 71007 Magno Figure 6.5-inch (17 cm) 1980 5 Magnemo: Kotetsu Jeeg 1975
Kronos 71017 ALIEN Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1980 5
Lantaurion 71008 Magno Figure 6.5-inch (17 cm) 1980 5 Magnemo: Panzeroid 1975
Lobros 71018 ALIEN Figure 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1980 5
Lobstros 71046 Vehicle 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) 1980 5
Megas 71012 Magno Figure 6.5-inch (17 cm) 1980 5 Magnemo: Panzeroid 1975
Pegasus 71010 Magno Figure 6.5-inch (17 cm) 1980 5 Magnemo: Panzeroid 1975
Red Falcon 71014 Magno Figure 6.5-inch (17 cm) 1980 5 Death Cross 1975
Sharkos 71045 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 in 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 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 and 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.[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 featured 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] and IDW (2016–2018).[31]

Film[edit]

Feature-film developments[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-Dworet 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, but later got pushed back to June 4, 2021.[38][39]

On September 23, 2019, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Dean DeBlois will be the writer and director of the film, making his first foray into live action filmmaking in the tradition of such animation veterans who tried live action, such as his Lilo & Stitch co-writing and co-directing partner Chris Sanders, Beavis and Butthead creator Mike Judge, and Toy Story 4 helmer Josh Cooley as well as The Angry Birds Movie helmers Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly, The Lego Ninjago Movie director Charlie Bean and Kubo and the Two Strings director and Laika CEO and president Travis Knight.[40]

In November 2020, it was pulled from the release schedule.[41]

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.[42][43]

In June 2017, Boulder Media Limited (a subsidiary of Hasbro Studios) announced that it was developing a new Micronauts animated series which was planned to be released in 2019 but has long since been delayed.[44][45] The status of the series is currently unknown due to the closure of Allspark Animation in 2020 and the live-action film being pulled from schedule.[46] In 2022, Hasbro sold Boulder Media to Australian media company Princess Pictures.[47]

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