Tekwych Teaches: Micronauts

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Re: Tekwych Teaches: Micronauts

Postby NoisyDvL5 » Fri May 28, 2010 5:03 pm

Tekwych wrote: What we consider 'brands' today like Parker Brothers, Matchbox, Fisher Price, Tonka and Little tikes were full on companies as well.


Isn't that a telling thing? I always wonder if the lack of fresh ideas is because a lot of the ideas have been culled or that certain industries are run by a couple of behemoths with strict operating rules.

Sorry that I haven't commented more in here, Tek, I am appreciating the lesson. I'm just a back of the room student. :blush:
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Re: Tekwych Teaches: Micronauts

Postby dayraven » Fri May 28, 2010 5:35 pm

NoisyDvL5 wrote:
Tekwych wrote: What we consider 'brands' today like Parker Brothers, Matchbox, Fisher Price, Tonka and Little tikes were full on companies as well.


Isn't that a telling thing? I always wonder if the lack of fresh ideas is because a lot of the ideas have been culled or that certain industries are run by a couple of behemoths with strict operating rules.

Sorry that I haven't commented more in here, Tek, I am appreciating the lesson. I'm just a back of the room student. :blush:


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Re: Tekwych Teaches: Micronauts

Postby Tekwych » Fri May 28, 2010 10:05 pm

That's OK the exciting part is yet to come. Legal fights, stolen tooling, shady deals, cats sleeping with dogs. All just part of the story that is Micronauts.
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Re: Tekwych Teaches: Micronauts

Postby Lay Ze-Man » Mon May 31, 2010 11:10 am

Hmm, sounds like the makings of a good movie script . . .

Hey, if stuff like "The Informant" works, then I don't see why a Making and Undoing of Micronauts saga wouldn't also!
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Re: Tekwych Teaches: Micronauts

Postby Tekwych » Mon May 31, 2010 9:33 pm

--1981 & Beyond--

Lion Rock
Mego was dead but their Hong Kong Factory, Lion Rock, had broken off and was taking orders from other companies. David Abrams, Marty's brother, was in charge and things looked good. The early 80s saw many Micronauts figures get re-released under the Lino Rock name as David explained that they were clearing out old production that had not sold and was still at the factory. When these figures continued to ship more than 18 months later Takara questioned just how much 'unsold' product there was. A search of the facility could not find a trace of any of the Micronauts tooling, Lion Rock Micronauts stopped shipping and all was quiet.

Pac Toys - The Lords of Light
1983 or 1984 saw a new company, PAC Toys, formed by Joe Ruzzi. It was known at the time that much of the companies money and influence was coming from a 'silent' partner - Marty Abrams. Pac Toys offered a line of toys called The Lords of Light where a small glow stick could be inserted into the figures so that you could "Control the Light". Half of the figures and all of the vehicles were re-use of Micronauts tooling. While the 4 Micronaut Aliens were not that big a deal Takara agin questioned the use of the vehicle tooling. While members of the PAC Toy design team say that all were produced only half of the figures can be verified. The line lasted less than a year and there are no known copies of any of the vehicles today.

The Interchangeables
1985 Saw a new toy line hit the toy isles of North America. The Interchangeables was a blatant re-use of the original Micronauts figures and an obvious use of Mego's original tooling. These figures were bright neon or gaudy color schemes and poor quality, possibly made on the cheep. The first time they showed up they were released by Hour Toy. Takara pointed out that the tooling was the 'missing' Mego tools and got shipments stopped but they same wave of toys showed up agin, this time in a beautiful looking monochrome color scheme with red highlights and released by M&D Toys. Again Takara got things stopped quickly but still could not locate the source. Both companies were asian black holes and no one seamed able to track the toys past their Hong Kong port of origin.

While nothing can be proven David Abrams has made statements that lead many collectors to believe that he and Marty were behind both companies ("Our Toys", "Marty & David Toys"). Just one wave from each company and then nothing. No other lines, no other product from either company. The tooling was found a few years later and, under court orders destroyed on film to make sure no additional illegal use would come from them.

Palisades Toys
In 2002 Marty Abrams approached Palisades Toys with the idea of re-launching Micronauts. Palisades asked if Takara was on board and told that they were and access to the original Takara Microman tooling would be allowed. Palisades signed the deal, paid Marty his fee and set to work laying out the line, two or three waves of retro designs then all new characters and a full on launch of New Micronauts. Several members of the Micronauts collectors community were brought in as consultants and which characters to re-release were chosen. Palisades then went to Takara for the tooling and found that they had no knowledge of any deal with Marty and would not cooperate in any way.

Palisades now had a line that they have paid the licensing fee for but not budgeted full tooling costs. While they could have stopped and cut their losses they choose to move forward and contracted a factory to produce production tooling for the first wave. Many QC issues were brought up in pre-production and samples sent back from the factory showed that all had been addressed. During this time expected shipping times were pushed back and MSRP raised causing some retailers to drop their support of the line. When the production order was submitted is for for far fewer figures than originally planed. Wether this was a reason for the factory's following actions or not is unknown but the death of another generation of Micronauts had already happened.

Palisades allowed most of their retailer accounts pick up product in Hong Kong rather than import it themselves. All of the orders for smaller accounts along with their own new web-store were sent to Port of San Diego. Reports from many retailers started coming in of product damaged in the package, returns for incomplete or ill-siting units were high and Palisades ran to check their own stock. The entire wave was a mess. Inferior plastics were used, QC issues that had been addressed in pre-production were back in the final tooling and the random chest pieces for the Time Travelers were instead packaged all 8 with every figure. An already over budget line was now receiving an almost 50% return for defect rate. Palisades investigated and found that the factory they had contracted never made the final QC changes to the tooling instead doing the changes by hand to show that the issues were 'addressed'. Then when the production order came in they sub-contracted it to another factory without telling any one. This was essentially a bait and switch on a massive scale, showing off a clean, modern factory, getting the production order, then switch out to a supper facility for the actual run and pocket the costs.

Palisades tried to sue for damages but the factory owners "disappeared' and new management said they had no standing in the dispute. The tooling was recovered and sent to a new factory which repaired it and gave us series 1.5 and 2 but sales figures just could not make up for the damage done by the fist wave and series three was canceled on the drawing boards.

The Legal Slide
Marty Abrams has claimed the copyright on the Micronauts name and Micronauts characters for most of the last 30 years. Takara has claimed that the likenesses are Microman designs and therefor belong to them. This battle has stopped at least two re-launches of the toy line in the 1990s and a Micronauts TV series that was scheduled for the ;ate 80s. The most famous causelty of this legal battle was SOTA Toys Micronauts: Evolution, a 2004 re-imaging of the line that would have been a new scale, new designs, new everything but name. Name was enough to get SOTA pulled into the legal web of Takara and Marty and the project was forced to die at the concept stage.

During 2009 people watching these legal moves and the ownership of copyrights noticed that an unknown third party started to gather character name copyrights from both Micronauts and Microman among many other legal shards. When registration marks and licensees started to move as well many believed a deal of some import was in the works. In the fall of 2009 Takara announced that all rights, and options to Micronauts and Microman to Marty Abrams. Less than 48 hours later Marty announced that everything he now owned was being sold to another company. In December this company announced that it had been behind the consolidation of copyrights and that the now complete, legal-hassle free, package including Microman, Micronauts, all their characters name, copyrights, and likenesses was going to be sold to sold to a major US toy manufacture. ToyFair 2010 brought conformation that Hasbro was now the owner of Micronauts.

Hasbro has not said anything publicly about their plans for the line but we do know that a live action movie script has been optioned and a cartoon series is in pre-production for Hasbro's new Hub TV station. Neither is far enough along to suggest characters, plot, or if any of the Marvel characters might be included.This does however suggest the Micronauts will continue to be a strong force in the toy isle even as it approaches its 40th anniversary.
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Re: Tekwych Teaches: Micronauts

Postby Tekwych » Mon May 31, 2010 9:43 pm

NoisyDvL5 wrote:Isn't that a telling thing? I always wonder if the lack of fresh ideas is because a lot of the ideas have been culled or that certain industries are run by a couple of behemoths with strict operating rules.


Hasbro and Mattel have both become so big that decisions and creativity no longer have the place in toy design that they should. When there were over 50 companies each offering 2-3 or more toy lines to retailers gave a variety in the toy isles that you just don't see today. Instead of a retailer exclusive wave or line to differentiate what store you were in you would have a very different mix of lines due to retailer placing there bets on different combinations of lines.

I miss the days of being able to walk down a toy isle and be surprised by a figure I did not know existed or a line that I had not already heard of.
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Re: Tekwych Teaches: Micronauts

Postby Esbat » Mon May 31, 2010 11:47 pm

I used to think Micronauts figures I'd get from Flea Markets and Garage sales runs from my Mother and Grandmother as a kid were knock off toys because they weren't He-Man or Ninja Turtles, but nowadays I only own 2 which is the Batman and Catwoman figures which are amazing little creations.
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Re: Tekwych Teaches: Micronauts

Postby NoisyDvL5 » Fri Jun 04, 2010 2:11 pm

Tekwych wrote:I miss the days of being able to walk down a toy isle and be surprised by a figure I did not know existed or a line that I had not already heard of.


I do and don't miss that. I mean, I miss the surprise and novelty - that TRU Batman was sweet (as was the resulting web traffic - which, I believe, caused Fwoosh to get samples of Flash/Hal).

But at the same time, I like being better prepared. I guess it goes hand in hand with the prices. Walking into a Venture and finding out their were six new Trek figures for $5 wasn't a big deal. Nowadays, if I just went to the store and felt the need to plop down $100+ for DCUC13? :dead:
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Re: Tekwych Teaches: Micronauts

Postby Lay Ze-Man » Fri Jun 04, 2010 3:19 pm

I miss the surprise too, but that's pretty much impossible to recreate.

I mean, speaking to the toy lines I liked as a kid, you'd show up and there'd be brand new characters you've never heard of.

That's way more surprising than seeing an MU Nightcrawler or whatever.

But agreed with Noisy that I like to be prepared, but for me it's more about knowing what's out there, and when, so you can hop to it and beat scalpers to the punch, avoid getting too far behind, etc.

Can you imagine trying to start collecting MOTUC now? [dead]
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Re: Tekwych Teaches: Micronauts

Postby Tekwych » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:50 pm

Finally found this on one of my Hard Drives.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K55jnJiN66I

This is the promotional trailer for the 2001 TV animation, Micronauts. The trailer was shown around by Marty Abrams at ToyFair 1999 and the Licensing Shows to try and find a home. When no network or manufacture stepped up to back the project it was scraped and Marty turned instead to a revival of the old figures that ended with him catching Palisades in his web.

You talk about trying to start MoTUC now yet we get new member at the Micropolis Embassy almost monthly, many of them are just now trying to start a Micronauts collection and many don't know that Microman exist. I bet I would have an easier time pulling in all the MoTUC or even all the 25th GI Joes, Clone Wars or G! Classics lines than I would original Playmates TMNT, Playmates ST:TNG, Anything Kenner, a line like Fisher Price Adventure People or even something as simple as a single wave of Sectaurs. (Sorry TG)
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