Tekwych Teaches: Micronauts

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Re: Tekwych Teaches: Micronauts

Postby NoisyDvL5 » Mon Jun 14, 2010 5:19 am

Thanks for the video, Tek! That's pretty good animation for 1999 too. I keep wondering if we'll see something for Micronauts on the Hub.
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Re: Tekwych Teaches: Micronauts

Postby Tekwych » Thu Jun 17, 2010 12:28 pm

We have some esteemed lurkers at IAT. Bryan Wilkinson, AKA MicroBry, runs Rocket Tubes and is easily one of the top 5 historians of Takara and Microman / Micronauts out there. He was the 3d mastermind behind Palisades Micronauts and designer of many new accessories and characters. He is one of the Masters this Padowan still looks up to and wrote this response to my column:

...There were a few initial observations and comments I had though:

Cal R&D definitely did not design all the Mego-original toys. I have been in contact with Larry Jones from Cal R&D on and off as has Ray, and they *only* designed the aliens, Hornetroid, Terraphant, and the unproduced alien tower base. The other designs were all done by either Mego's in-house design team (including Nemesis by art director Hal Shull who also created the unique original packaging for the series) or with other contractors such as Stephen Hodges (who designed the early concepts for Ampzilla and Sharkos and a slew of unused concepts including a neat armadillo-like alien I own the original concept art for).

There is some debate about the later 3 aliens--Ray says Stephen Lee (now deceased) took credit for them in a conversation, but Larry Jones does not believe that they were created by Cal R&D (perhaps because he hasn't found any photographic record of their development and they were not patented by Cal R&D, unlike their other creations). Personally, I think Larry may just not recall them due to the lack of materials to jog his memory. I think Lobros was derived from the Cobroid concept, and there are hallmarks of Lee's design style on all three figures and their weapons. It is also possible that Mego derived them in-house from a hybrid of proposed concepts from Cal R&D and Hal Shull's ideas. It does seem to be the case that Cal R&D ended their relationship with Mego a year or two before the line ended (they developed the aliens stuff about a year before it was released).

On another note, Ray says that Inter-Changeables was entirely the (unauthorized, reportedly--the Takara license mentioned on the boxes was apparently never actually properly paid for, if Ray's source is accurate) of Howie Abrams, as told by both Marty and Ken Abrams. Howie Abrams is believed to know the location or fate of the original factory molds and may have had them melted down.

Also regarding Palisades, Ken Lilly has since further explained the situation with the factory--the factory itself was blameless, instead it was a middleman who managed the operation who double-crossed them and took the operation to the subcontracted facility then later vanished.

Anyway, just wanted to clarify these points. It's a convoluted history to be sure!
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Re: Tekwych Teaches: Micronauts

Postby dayraven » Thu Jun 17, 2010 6:13 pm

wait, there's guys who know this property better than you do tek? how in the hell is that even possible? that just blows my mind.
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Re: Tekwych Teaches: Micronauts

Postby Tekwych » Fri Jun 18, 2010 11:32 pm

MicroBry did a 4 part interview with FanMode about the line that offers his take on things and is a wonderful read for anyone who really wants to start to understand how the business of toys works.
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Re: Tekwych Teaches: Micronauts

Postby AcroRay » Sat Jun 19, 2010 9:39 am

Nice undertaking, Tekwych!

If you don't mind, I'll offer some clarifications with regard to the origins of some of Mego's and GiG's entries into the overall classic Micronauts toy series.

As noted, you've offered a fair amount of attribution to Larry Jones' company - Cal R & D - for Micronauts products. As Bry observed, some concepts may have originated with Cal R & D, but aren't directly attributable to them. As part of the Mego-Takara agreement, Cal R & D would provide product as well - such as the alien toys - even if it was simply a concept on paper that Mego would take elsewhere for additional development. That's probably what happened with the second series of aliens.

Cal R & D Hornetroid and Antron prototypes, shortly before delivery to Mego:

Image

Taurion and Solarion, Sharkos and Ampzilla were designed by Steve Hodges (a great deal of his design materials were offered on eBay several years ago), who worked in-house for Mego as part of a larger group of designers, concept artists and craftsmen. Those were the shop of folks who also cooked up Nemesis. Mego also came up with the weapons for the Micronaut aliens, because with the exception of Repto's blaster, Cal R & D didn't have time to make them. (Repto's designer said to me that a circular saw as a weapon on a real battlefield was rediculous, and he'd never have added that to the figure.) Mego licensed the concept for Rocket Tubes from an American toy designer unrelated to Mego or Takara, and then hired a subcontractor to develop the product. Equestron and Iguanos were actually conceived by Rob Cobb and sold to Mego independantly for development into product in-house by Mego.

Mego also made use of a legendary firm in Pennsylvania known as the "HMS Company" (no longer in business) who handled all aspects of toy design, from raw concepts to prototype production. In some cases, a rough concept would be handed to them and they'd return a finished prototype for tooling by Mego - which was the case with Rocket Tubes. In others - such as the case with Hornetroid and Terraphant - a prototype would be given to them and they'd modifiy it to suit Mego's needs.

Cal R & D's Hornetroid prototype, at HMS repainted black and give a working c0ckpit :
Image

That Rocket Tubes and other US-originated product looks so similar stylistically is due to the influence of HMS in the model-making for those toys. [It is worth noting that many of the toys we recall from our 60s & 70s childhoods trace their roots to HMS, ranging from all manner of Aurora model kits to Fisher Price toys, Hot Wheels sets, and much much more. They were probably the key design firm in the US during those eras.)

Unproduced "Ore Loader" Rocket Tubes accessory, from the HMS files.

Image

GiG's exclusive Magno-Power figures were intended only for Italy. Their reps came to Mego during one Toy Fair and talked about the wild success of the Magnos in Italy (due, according to Italian Transformers artist and longtime Micronaut collector Guido Guidi, largely to the popularity of Steel Robo Jeeg in Italy.) and asked for more Magno product. According to Mego creative VP Bill Baron, their request was largely ignored by Marty, but Baron spent a night in the shop cooking up the raw concepts for Emperor and his Italian cohorts, which GiG happily ordered 10s of thousands of. But there was absolutely no intention of releasing them in the US, and only Lionrock's sales of Micronaut overstock to satisfy their parent company's debts brought Emperor and Megas to North America as a fluke.

Micronauts - and many Mego products - were actually the creative work of many different individuals and firms. Sadly, you never hear that. Much more of what really made Mego what it was is left unattibuted to anyone but Marty Abrams...

I'm very interested in hearing the details about your conversations with David Abrams. Takara's involvement in 'policing' the post-Mego use of the Micronauts tooling - and ordering it destroyed - is very interesting news to me.

I can say that I'm very happy the Micronauts property has finally be sold lock, stock and Thorium cannon barrel into other hands. It was simply being poisoned and stunted in AGE's stable. I just hope it returns as something my kids can enjoy, and that I can recognize as being "Micronaut."
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Re: Tekwych Teaches: Micronauts

Postby dayraven » Sat Jun 19, 2010 10:29 am

thanks dude. god, i loved my hornetroid!!
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Re: Tekwych Teaches: Micronauts

Postby AcroRay » Sat Jun 19, 2010 12:32 pm

The late Neal Kublan - VP for Creative Development at Mego and one of the original managers of the Micronauts line - indicated that his understanding of the Italian release of Red Falcon and Blizzard exclusively in GiG's Micronauts line was due to an arrangement between Takara and GiG, and Mego wasn't involved. I would point out, however, that this was after Kublan left Mego and was no longer involved with the line or the companies' business.

It would make sense, however. As at that point GiG was entering a relationship with GiG that would allow them to release Diaclone and MicroChange as "Trasformers" - predating Takara's arrangement with Hasbro that birthed the more familiar and similarly-named TRANSFORMERS. During that pre-Hasbro time period, Takara was offering their wares simultaneously through various outlets globally, resulting in Grandstand's CONVERTORS in the UK, the KRONOFORM and DIAKRON lines, and other oddities.
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Re: Tekwych Teaches: Micronauts

Postby NoisyDvL5 » Tue Jun 22, 2010 6:56 am

The hornetroid looks like a really cool vehicle.
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Re: Tekwych Teaches: Micronauts

Postby CobraTracks » Tue Mar 22, 2011 8:30 am

I was unaware that any of my work was on E-Bay. What was on there.
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Re: Tekwych Teaches: Micronauts

Postby Toygiant » Thu Apr 14, 2011 11:56 pm

Alright Tek, lay it on me. Who is this that I found at an antique store tonite?

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