Welcome to the first Vintage View, a new feature where we take a look at some of the older toys from my personal collection. Today's offering is the 1976 Microtron, from Mego's Micronauts line.
Microtron's Microman History
Like most of the Mego Micronauts line, Microtron began life as a Microman toy. Released in 1976 as part of the Spy Magician wave, Micro Robot-1 was - like his ''big brother'' Robotman - a mechanised toy that combined the construction aspect of the range with a battery-operated engine that allowed him to move. The chaps at Mego were clearly impressed with Takara's Micro Robot-1, as the newly dubbed Microtron made his debut among the first wave of Micronaut toys.
Although Mego made few changes to the toy (the most significant being the new set of stickers they employed) it's interesting to note that the Japanese toy was advertised predominantly with the ''devil'' head, whereas the Western release used the friendlier ''Seat'' head. Sadly my Microtron is incomplete and I'm only able to include photographs of the ''Seat'' head.
Extras And Features
Out of the box, the toy featured the core robot body, two '''cartwheels,'' a spare head, a small wheel that could be attached to his back for vehicular-configurations and a plastic hook-like weapon (again, unfortunately I misplaced these pieces when I was a child). As with all Micronaut toys he could of course be disassembled, re-configured and combined with other Micronaut toys, although his motorised tracks/''feet'' remained firmly-attached to his body.
The ''Seat'' Head was a particularly cool piece. By flipping the flap open, the head turned into - as you may have guessed - a seat, complete with 5mm plug, which was positioned to line-up with the port on the back of the Micronaut toy. In this mode, Microtron became a vehicle under the command of its pilot.
The motorised movement on this toy was superb - simply flip the switch on his back to the ''On'' position and he'd trundle off. The tracks gave it great stability and grip and it would roll along at a reasonable pace. One particularly cool feature was that the arms and cartwheels were designed with two connectors, which, when placed in one way, acted like standard joints and could be rotated and posed. But switch them out and - when the engine was switched on - the arms/wheels would become powered and rotate. Having a robot with super punching power like this added another element of fun to the toy and I spent many hours simply driving him into lines of figures to see how many he could punch over...
And yes, before you ask, the comically-placed drill also rotated. I wonder how many parents were shocked when they saw that one!
As a child I always wished for a Biotron to recreate the C-3PO/R2-D2-esque relationship the two exhibited in the Micronauts comic. It's clear both were designed to compliment each other, given their shared colour schemes and similarities of design. One thing I did always find puzzling though was the design of the ''Seat'' head - is it just me or does it have a touch of the Acroyear about it?
My Microtron was played with extensively. As a result, his motor no longer works, he's missing some pieces and his chrome paint has rubbed-off in a number of places. But that's not something I regret. Of course, I'd love for the toy to be complete, in pristine condition. But would I trade that for all the hours of fun playing with Microtron gave me? Absolutely not. Microtron sits pride of place in my collection, not just for what he is but also because of what he meant to me as a child. And to me, that's what toy collecting should be all about.
Revisions and Re-Releases
Takara released a follow-up piece in 1977, the Micro Robot-2 Mecharoid V, which used the same core body but came with a new head sculpt (including firing missiles)
Similarly, Mego's creative minds brought us the Microtron-based Nemesis (1978), which again used the basic body with a new head but this time also included new arms, drill and cartwheel pieces.
Following Mego's demise, Microtron was re-released as C.A.R.P, as part of the Inter-Changeables line (coming in both red, white and yellow and then silver and black variants.)
For more information on the Takara original, see Microman Forever, which features the Micro Robot line and its successors.
Mego's Microtron is covered over at Inner Space Online along with the follow-up Nemesis and C.A.R.P. toys.