Wednesday, March 2, 2011

VINTAGE VIEW: Micronauts Pharoid


Although the world of the Micronauts featured some amazing character designs and cool toys, my favourite of all was - and still is - the Pharoid. Join us as we take a closer look at this superb figure and learn more about his background, his origins and why he's just so damned cool.


A History of the Pharoids
The Pharoid was released in the West as part of the second wave of Micronauts, released in late 77-early 78. Building upon the success of the previously released Time Traveler, the Pharoid not only sported a more complex design but also came with a very cool accessory, his ''Time Chamber.''


Of course, like most Mego Micronauts, he was based upon a figure from the Microman line. In this case, the figure was adapted from 1977's Micro Command M16X-type Microman. Originally, Mego simply used the same figure and Time Chamber (which bore the Japanese text ''Microman Command'' which I'm sure confused a lot of Japanese-speakers unfamiliar with Takara's toys) but later retooled the toy and introduced the more common Type 2 Pharoid.

The Type 2 Pharoid was given a new head-sculpt - at least, new to the M16X-type - borrowed from the previously released Space Glider, which was in-turn used by Takara on the M11X and M14X Spy Magiaicnas. His Time Chamber was also modified to now feature hieroglyphic-style characters rather than the original Japanese letters. 


Sadly Mego never used the Smith-style of Micro Command figure (which as you can see was made from clear green plastic) as the basis for a Pharoid, but he was available in three colourways, based on the original Japanese toys - Sheriff-style blue and white, Sanders-style red and black and Sammy-style ivory and black. My Pharoid is the latter.

Extras and Features
The Pharoid was an enigmatic character, even more so than the Time Traveler. Why was he from Ancient Egypt if he was a spaceman? Why did he have a Sphinx-face on his chest-piece? Why did he travel in a sarcophagus? But then a chance reading* of Eric Von Danken's Chariots of the Gods made it all clear - the Micronaut Pharoid had come to Ancient Egypt and created their society. Of course, it all made sense! 

(Interestingly enough, my child's mind had indeed interpreted the concept correctly - the Micro Command characters were space travelers who came to Earth and whose influence created numerous cultures and civilisations, an idea Takara did indeed ''borrow'' from Von Danken's works.)

Although his design was a superb example of Egyptian cyber-futurism, what made the Pharoids really stand out was the inclusion of the Time Chamber. This sarcophagus-inspired capsule included a 5mm peg that would fit perfectly into the Pharoid's back port and keep him firmly in-place during his adventures.

* I say ''Reading'' but in reality I think I just skimmed my parents' copy and looked at the pictures. I got the idea though .


I was always a big Doctor Who fan and for me, this was my Pharoid's TARDIS (except it wasn't bigger on the inside.) I think I probably spent more time playing with my Pharoid IN his chamber than out of it, as the robust design made it a great plaything and the fact that it was called a Time Chamber fired my imagination to send him off throughout the ages.

One thing that's missing from my Pharoid (and to this day I don't recall ever having them anyway) are the twin ''wings'' that slot into his thighs. Perhaps in my haste to play with the figure I discarded them with the packaging or removed them when I found them cumbersome. I honestly don't recall.

As you can see, my Pharoid is also quite discoloured, thanks to being left on a bedroom window ledge for some years. His back and the rear of the Time Chamber are particularly burnt. But aside from the usual play-wear, he's still in remarkable condition for a toy that's over 30 years old and it shows just how well the figures were designed and manufactured.

Revisions and Re-Releases
As stated, the Pharoid was based upon the M16X-style Micro Command Microman. 

The first wave of releases were directly lifted from the Takara line but a later revision saw the change of head and the modifications to the Time Chamber, which spawned the Type 2 Pharoid.


1999 saw Takara re-issue the Micro Command M16X-type figures. The second ''Pharoid'' in these images is an M163 Smith-type Micro Command figure from this wave. As well as the different head sculpt, you can also see the modifications made to the Time Chamber, plus Smith's leg-wings are in place.

Although not released as part of the Inter-Changeables line himself, the Pharoid's Time Chamber was packaged with some Cosmo Men as a ''Warp Chamber.''

Series 3 of the Palisades Micronauts revival featured the Pharoid once more, this time with additional Chrono-Wings, designed by Bryan Wilkinson. 

Further Reading
Dave W's Pharoid pages - Mego and Palisades versions -  at Inner Space Online and Paul L's Microman Forever have proven, as ever, invaluable in this feature.

As always, I am also indebted to Bryan ''Microbry'' Wilkinson for his feedback and corrections.


Image Gallery

5 comments:

  1. space glider is my favorite figure but pharoid is a very close second. it's hard to beat figure with retractable wings.
    i've got a cool water color painting i did some years back of the Micronaut monsters you would probably like. i can email it. you can find my email address in the right hand column on the ROM blog. drop me a line if you want me to send it to you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm not sure if the Space Glider was ever released in the UK (I don't think I ever saw one and I know that Airfix - Micronauts' UK distributor - didn't release the entire Mego line) but I do own a Palisades replica and he's superb.

    And the painting sounds cool - I'll drop you an email tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have a blue Pharoid sargophagus if anyone is interested in buying it. It's a Mego 1977 release. Write to me at bryghtendeavors@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. Just stay away from the Hero Factory Space Gliders. I picked up some stock from a company that was clearing them out. I have 265+ of these. The rivet jobs are terrible. The legs are loose, the rivets dont hold and the glider pack wont stay closed on most of them. They even put the wrong heads on some of them which some sellers are calling an error figure. Which is wrong as these figures came in stapled baggies which are easy to undo and reseal. You could easily change the head yourself. Does that make it an error figure still? Dont be fooled by unscrupulous sellers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, there's a lot of that goes on.

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...