Equipped with super-powerful weapons and heavy armor, Galactic Defender is the Microverse's main line of defense against marauding aliens and the legions of Baron Karza.
Today I'm doing a retro-review that - in itself - is a reissue of a retro figure. Confused? Allow me to explain. The Galactic Defender was one of the Mego Micronauts issued as part of 1979's wave of toys. The figure itself has an interesting history and illustrates how well Mego mastered the art of the toy mash-up. Based upon the Microman Command M17X, the figure used accessories from the Micro Hoodman line to create - in effect - a new toy.
Then in 2003, Palisades released their tribute to the 1970s classic in the form of the new Galactic Defender and it's that figure I'm taking a look at today.
Production, Problems and Palisades
Before we move on, I need to spend a moment explaining a little more about the history of this figure. Producers Palisades were the unfortunate victims of an outsourcing production dupe - the factory they used provided preproduction samples that did not match the final production run, where inferior-grade plastics and no quality control were used, resulting in the fact that Palisades ended-up with a series of ''final'' figures with a number of defects and - as they'd already paid production costs - took the decision to release the figures, problems and all. That's a real shame, as the passion within the company for the figures is evident. However, no amount of passion makes up for the fact that many of the figures shipped were sub-standard and suffered from a number of production problems. Sometimes you get lucky and you won't experience any gripes, but many collectors felt betrayed and it wasn't long before Palisades were forced to cease production, permanently.
I Want A Galactic Defender!
The Galactic Defender is - as stated above - based upon the Microman Command release M17X, with accessories originally taken from Micro Hoodman. I recall as a child seeing him on the original Micronaut packaging and being in awe of how cool he looked. Despite my best efforts (and those of my long-suffering parents), I was never able to own an original Galactic Defender (however much I protested, begged and behaved), so you can imagine my joy when I saw the Palisades repro. Although it's not quite the same as owning the original, there's still a joy to be had in these reiussues and - given the fact that Palisades have since ceased trading - this figure itself now holds its own unique collector charm.
The question is, was it worth the 30+ year wait?
Sadly, there are some major problems with the figure. Design-wise it's a great reproduction of the figure (or so it seems to me, having never owned the original!) As you can see here, I've compared it to the Takara re-issue of the MicroCommand M17X and - colour differences aside - it stands up pretty well.
Unfortunately, that's the only time my Galactic Defender ever does.
It may only be limited to my figure, but the Galactic Defender I own suffers from the Palisades Problem: in this case, there seems to have been no quality control in-place to reject the figure due to its O-ring being too tight. Getting him to stand in any kind of pose is difficult, as his hips have a habit of swiveling and pulling, contorting him into some very odd positions and snapping his torso around to a position off-centre. Add to that the fact that his feet peg-holes are too big, it makes getting him to remain on his stand pretty much impossible. It's frustrating to see a figure with so much potential for cool (I mean, he's got a blummin' light sabre, a jet-pack AND a carbine!) being relegated to standing stock-still due to the joint problem.
UPDATE: I've been informed by Bryan ''Microbry'' Wilkinson that this O-ring problem was reported by a number of people and is due to an assembly malfunction, where the rubber ring has been attached to the wrong internal hook. It's possible to correct this by opening the torso up and re-attaching the ring to the correct hook. Thanks Bryan!
Joint-issued aside, the figure is pretty cool. His weapons fit reasonably well in his hands (although he does often appear to hold his laser sword more like a conductors baton or a magic wand) and the jet-pack clips nicely through the hood and into his 5mm back port, securing the whole assembly very snugly. The combination of (in this case) blue, gold and transparent magenta accessories works well and - when assembled - he's certainly eye-catching. I'm a fan of the clear Micronauts/Micromen, so it would have been nice to see the figure cast in a transparent plastic but given the original was a solid plastic figure, I understand completely why this is the case (even though Palisades did produce a ''smoke'' variant in dark but clear plastic.)
The Galactic Defender comes equipped with a laser sword, carbine, hood/helmet/chest-pack, rocket pack (redesigned for the 2003 release), stand, twin wrist cuffs and two thigh-mounted rocket boosters. The packaging also contains a peel-back sticker of the Galactic Defender in action.
Palisades used a standardised card-mounted plastic bubble for all three waves of their figures. It's a shame that they went with a simple glued-together assembly, given that Takara's Microman re-issues of around the same time used a more collector-friendly resealable pack.
To answer my previous question: was it worth the 30+ year wait? Kind of. It's great to be able to own a Galactic Defender (even a reissue) and the core design behind the figure is sound. It's just unfortunate that the quality problems Palisades were lumbered with mar what could have been an excellent toy. The new additions, like the beefed-up jet-pack, are great (if a little heavy, again making posing him an issue) and everything is well thought-out. It's just that the execution is lacking and it really lets the toy down. It's frustrating and disappointing that Palisades got duped in this manner, as their line was really taking shape and it would have been fun to see what they'd come up with next.
As it stands, the Galactic Defender is not a mass-market toy. It was never designed to be, given that it's a collectable figure of a toy most people - at best - will probably only have a very dim memory of. But even among collectors, it's not really going to win any awards, as the poor production make it an oddity or piece of mournful history that marks the passing of what could have been a new Micronaut revival had they only been able to iron-out the kinks.
Don't get me wrong - I love owning the figure and he has his place in my display cabinet. But if I'm honest, I have to say that's more to do with the nostaligic history the figure represents and the fuzzy feeling I get from the memories of his ancestor than his actual quality as a figure.