Friday, September 24, 2010


Since they came up in the comments on yesterday's post about old Star Wars action figures, I thought I'd talk about the Micronauts briefly today. The Micronauts were a line of action figures and awesome vehicles imported in from Japan starting in 1976. They were slightly smaller than Kenner's 3.75" Star Wars figures, but close enough they could work together.  Here's what the basic figures of the line looked like:

I love, love, love the translucent plastic body/white plastic details/metallic head & chest aesthetic.  It's a rarefied example of the sci-fi look in the days just prior to Star Wars and its "used future" design ethos.  One thing I hate about Micronauts are the dull metallic pins used to hold them together, especially in the shoulders.  I can sort of stand it in GI Joe dudes, but it's just a terrible eyesore on an otherwise beautiful design.

I got this dude ("Galactic Defender") as a kid due to all of the sweet accessories.  That space helmet/jet pack combo is aces.  And anybody who carries both a laser sword and a zap gun is bad ass.  For reasons I don't totally understand, I often used the lightsaber with another figure:

This is the second Snaggletooth design from Kenner, after they figured out that his clothes were red and he was a midget.  As a kid Snaggletooth armed with his little blaster and Galactic Defender's sword was My Go-To Guy.  Every other figure in the scene was a secondary characters in my imaginary adventures prtending to be this little freak with his borrowed space cutlery.  Someone in the social sciences ought to do a study mapping personality types to preferred action figure avatars, but I'm not sure I want to know what playing a little hairy space goblin with a laser phallus really means about me. 

Anyway, back to Micronauts.  Here's another fave of mine from back in the day. 

This guy was one of the Micronaut villains.  He's called Antron but as a kid I always insited he was a spider because spiders are obviously cooler than ants.  There's nothing that isn't awesome about this monster.  Four arms?  Check.  Awesome purple color?  Check!  Mutliple bizarre weapons?  Checkity check!  And turn him around and you find his best feature:


I didn't own many Micronauts, but between the awesomeness of Galactic Defender and Antron I didn't need any others.  Serious Micronauts collectors undoubtedly focus a lot of energy on the vehicles of the line, which were definitely neat-o.  Most of the large ones were sufficiently modular that they could be pulled apart and put together in a variety of ways.  Unfortunately, this alos made it easy to lose parts to the toys and as a kid I saw very few complete vehicles, excepting those that had just been opened.

By request, here's page 616 of the same Sears Wishbook I posted pics of yesterday.  Bottom right is one of the cooler Micronauts vehicles, the Mobile Exploration Lab.  For more Micronauts toy goodness, check out


  1. I adored Micronauts as a kid and regularly used them in conjunction with my Star Wars figures. I used all the villains with the glow-in-the-dark brains as alien bounty hunters back in those glorious days between the original film and The Empire Strikes Back.

  2. I had a bunch of Micronauts. Black Karza, the white version, and the shitty gold/black one. Their horses. The "Survey Station" set, which was hell to snap together. The Hornetroid. Repto. Antron. Some Acroyears. One of the motorized robot things.

  3. I had Micronauts and used them with Star Wars Figures too, along with Battlestar Galactica and Fisher Price figures.

    I liked the egyptian style mummy case that the micronauts came with.

  4. Thanks for the walk down memory lane. I had, like, 20 Time Traveller figs. I could never figure out how that happened.

  5. Most of the micronaut toys had spring-loaded launchers, always a good feature for staging battles in any action figure universe.

  6. Anyone remember the Micronauts comic? It was a surprisingly well done space opera, and the setting would be perfect for a space-fantasy type game (ala Star Wars). The comic veered between the Microverse (interesting) and Earth (less so, apparently included mostly to justify the "micro" part of the title, so we could have little people running around meeting the X-Men and FF). It was huge, imaginative, canvas, and some of the concepts (such as bioengineering on a mass scale, "body banks", and so on) were very fresh and original back then, and you could easily do a cyberpunk style game set on Homeworld (I think that's what the main planet was called, gods, it's been a long time) during Karza's reign.

  7. Be sure to check out the awesome ELP-style Micronauts (aka microman) Jam on this japanese commercial:

  8. Nice to see some Micronauts love still happening! :-D

  9. Oh am I ever down with the Micronaut love. My Baron Karza, formed from the remains of two identical Karzas gotten for my brother and I in a rare doubling of toys, is one of my prize posessions.

    As ugly as the metal pins are, they're necessary, 'cos as gorgeous as the Micronauts were, they were *fragile*. My poor dad always had a heck of a time 'cos we'd break 'em, but the cheap polyeurathane they were made from was totally unglueable. Once they broke they stayed broken.

    Still, much love here for the Micronauts both in toy and comic form. If I were a man of much greater means, I'd probably collect old Micronauts figs.

  10. Oh, and in one bit of interesting toy history that folks might not know, Micronauts evolved from Henshin Cyborg, which was a recasting of GI Joe toys that they used as a base to dress the robot type figure up as various popular characters. (Ultraman, etc. etc.)

    Micronauts eventually evolved into Microman, which in turn evolved into Transformers.

    I know more about this stuff than I ought to, but I've been in the toy biz in one form or another for years, so I guess I know my subject...

  11. My mother would buy me Micronauts figures every once in a while if she saw them at the local market and she had a little extra money. I liked them a lot, but had no idea there was more to them until I saw playsets in a Sears catalogue a few years later. I just thought they were weird action figures, and treasured them most because they were specially given to me, not handed down from my two older brothers.

    The silver heads always reminded me of that one dude on the show Soap...who later went on to play Harry Weston in the Golden Girls and Empty Nest (yeah, I'm lame).

  12. There was a series of comic books called the Micronauts - related, perhaps? The action figures and the characters look pretty similar. I was a nut for them.

  13. The cool thing about the Micronaut vehicles was that they still shot out little plastic bullet pieces at your brother before toys got all lame and PC. Totally a toy of imagination!

  14. @Bliss: One of my other favorite toys at the time was something called "Girder And Panel Construction Set", which let you build skyscrapers. I used to build buildings, then blow them to bits with the micronaut guns, then reassemble them. (The girder&panel set mostly snapped apart without breaking. Mostly.)

  15. Micronauts were the utter best. I remember getting my Antron the night we went to see Star Trek: The Motion Picture; I was eight, which kind of meant Antron was the best part of that night.

    I also had Repto from the same line of glowing brain freaks, and whom I adored. I also received, one Christmas, the totally metal Hornetroid vehicle, which was clearly meant to be Antron's ride but had seating only for a standard Micronaut. Huh.

  16. I never really owned more than a handful of them, and as I was like 4-5 at the time, don't have too many memories of them. Star Wars and its stuff sort of pushed it away. (Which GI Joe would then replace, to be replaced by Transformers, to be replaced by Robotech, to then be pretty much out of toys until "Gunpla" modeling and such would bring me back.)

    They were damned impressive for the time, and Takara still makes the things!

    I have a traditional modern one that wears a Gamera 90s movie rubber suit no less. How cool is that?

    Plus a modern outfit Catwoman, Chun Li, and Guy Shishio from GaoGaiGar.

    I am not sure if its awesome or sad that the mid 70s-mid 80s largely seems to just be constantly recycled these days though.

  17. Anonymous10:19 PM

    Micronauts were my favorite toys.

    favorite bad guy: Acroyear

    favorite good guy: Pharoid

    favorite vehicle: Mobile Exploration Lab

  18. Thanks for posting this, Jeff! My brother and I had everything on page 616 (except the Rocket Tubes and the carrying case) plus a lot more (and yet never enough). I wish I had it all still, and in mint condition.

    @BigFella, Microman evolved from Henshin Cyborg (mainly as an excuse to sell vehicles and such, which Takara reasoned would be far too expensive for most consumers if they were built to Henshin Cyborg scale). Micronauts were the American version of Microman, licensed by Takara of Japan to Mego of the U.S. Mego even made a few new designs of their own.

  19. I had forgotten how many 'nauts I actually had as a kiddo, until I recently dug up some old photos from b-days and Christmases from the old days. I had TONS of these guys! Tiem Travelers, Acroyear, Pharoid?, Baron Karza, Force Commander and the (his?) steed (what was that one called?).

    I've seen some reproductions (I think) at a local collectibles shop, and have thought about picking some up. I wonder if they are really the same. Sure looked it.

    Great post, per usual, Jeff.

  20. Two words: Baron Karza.

    My favorite toy ever.