Micronauts Time Traveler (1976)
I know what you might be thinking: Have you finally gone off the deep end, Rob? Are you so burned out from the daily grind that you’re just throwing up whatever toys strike your fancy? No and no, although I do wish I could let loose and write about a broader range of toys. Maybe I’ll start a sister blog to JAD…
So back to our Micronaut friend. Mego brought a selection of Takara’s Microman toys to the US market beginning in 1976. Microman had been running strong in Japan since its debut in 1974, and was a successful blend of 4 inch figures and playset/vehicle interaction years before Kenner’s Star Wars would cement the scale in the States. By the way, Fisher-Price was working the same scale with its Adventure People toys in the mid-70s as well, and Kenner would later mock up Luke, Han and company using F-P figures.
Microman was a stylistic spin-off of Henshin Cyborg, which was itself based upon Hasbro’s original twelve inch GI Joe body. Microman was, naturally, a micro version of the Henshin figure, complete with multiple points of articulation. Even the wrists and ankles were articulated, just like its large-scale predecessors.
It’s this articulation and the underlying figure construction that connects to the 1980s version of GI Joe. You don’t have to look deeply (he’s clear after all) to see the DNA Microman/Micronauts would pass on to the Real American Hero line. O-ring and rivet construction began with Takara, and was further refined by Mego in its movie and TV tie-in toys. Hasbro designers even mocked up early figures using off the shelf Mego product. Sneaky!
Hasbro has Micronauts in its brand portfolio, and I am hopeful for something as fresh and unique as the original Japanese concept from which but sprang. If there’s a building/combining element to the play pattern, I think it could be popular in the modern toy aisle. Heck, the Diaclone spinoff of Microman is back on the market in Japan. Whatever happens here, if the figures are translucent and/or vac-metallized, I’ll be buying them to play with—I mean, collect.