Monday, February 14, 2011

REVIEW: Microman Mr Grey and Power Drink with Magne Cyber

Microman Mr Grey and Power Drink with Magne Cyber
Produced by Takara | Released June 1999

Released in 1999, the Microman Mr Grey and Power Drink with Magne Cyber (phew!) set features a cross-over between Takara's Mr Grey and the Microman Magne Powers line. Read on to see what surprises this unusual toy holds.

Previously On... A History of Microman
When hobby company Romando released a series of replica Micromen in the mid 90s, Takara realised that the license they'd granted the other company was, in fact, valuable and that, yes, people really did want Microman figures. To that end, they revoked the license and then launched a two-pronged attack, producing their own Replica line and introducing a new series of toys, the first of which were the Magne Powers Micromen. Whilst the Replicas were a hit with collectors, the Magne Powers line floundered. The lack of a young fan-base, combined with collectors who felt they weren't ''of'' the line enough (the new figures were smaller than original Micromen, for example) resulted in poor sales initially, but Takara pushed-on with the line and released - among other things - this oddity in 1999.

Now on with the Review!

Having collected 3.75'' action figures for so long, it came as a surprise to me to see how large this box was. Granted, the Marvel Masterworks Galactus comes in his own oversized box but given he's an oversized figure, then it's to be expected. I did not expect packaging of this scale.

The box - which stands at around 12'' by 8'' is nicely designed and eye-catching, but there are no windows to allow a view of the contents. The photos certainly show everything that's in there but it would be nice to see the actual figures and vehicles.

Note that this Mr Grey and Power Drink with Magne Cyber is the Korean release (Takara licensed the Magne Powers Micromen to Korea in the early 2000s), hence the Korean packaging.

The packaging can be opened and resealed, as it's a simple flip-top box, held in-place with a small piece of (easily removable) tape.

Once inside we find a plastic retaining tray holding the pieces of the toy.

From top-left to right we have a set of  ''Power Cards'', Mr Grey himself, Magne Cyber and the Power Drink Bottle. To the left of the bottle are Mr Grey's power-suit and the UFO Turtle. The pieces are firmly held by this tray and it was a little scary initially popping them out. But on the plus-side that does eliminate the problem of the pieces coming loose in transit.

Mr Grey
We'll start by looking at Mr Grey and his power-suit.

Mr Grey is - obviously - an alien, based upon the ''Grey'' alien archetype (even though he's actually more of a pale blue.) The figure is nicely cast but has limited articulation, with two shoulder joints being the only points of movement on the figure. He's cast in a permanent sitting position, which is a shame, as it would have been great to be able to stand him too and for the cost of a couple of hip joints I think Takara missed a real opportunity here.

The power-suit on the other hand, is fully articulated, with a nice ball joint system used to allow a wide range of motion - even to the point of having ankle joints. Although it initially feels weak it's actually pretty robust and the worst that will happen is the ball will pop loose - something that can be immediately rectified by simply popping it back into place.

Mr Grey sits comfortably in his power-suit, but getting him to remain there is a little tricky. I'm surprised Mr Grey doesn't have a 5mm port in his back to allow him to clip into his chair and this lack of Microman-compatibility is a little bit of a let-down. As it is, the controls/yolk used to pilot the suit are the only thing keeping him in-place - but only just, as his hands and the yolk's upright stems are not an ideal fit.

Still though, so long as you're careful it's quite possible to get him into the seat and to remain there, just so long as your play session isn't too vigorous.

Both Mr Grey and his power-suit are nicely produced and Mr Grey's paint-work is well-applied, with a deep, glossy black paint used to great effect on his eyes and a nicely-coloured silver space suit completing his look. The power-suit is cast from coloured plastic and has no paint.

Magne Cyber
Magne Cyber is an exclusive Magne Microman that was only ever available as part of this set. It's interesting that at this point, Takara had moved onto the Super Microman body, yet Magne Cyber is based upon the old-style Magne Powers Microman model. 

The figure is nice-enough, with magnets set into his feet and Magne Arm. Unfortunately, he's a little limited in his articulation, with no waist joint and his left arm is a single, solid piece, just like the Magne Odin figure previously Reviewed here. Indeed, head-sculpt and colour-scheme aside, the figures are identical. And that's fine, as the Magne Powers figures are a lot of fun. It's just a shame they didn't use the superior Super Microman body here.

My Magne Cyber's production standards slipped slightly, in that his thigh pieces don't quite match-up properly and there are tiny - but visible - gaps between the two pieces that comprise his upper-leg. It's not a huge issue but it is definitely there. That aside though, the figure is fine - his joints hold a pose well and are quite mobile.

The Other Stuff
The real appeal of this set comes in the form of the extras. Microman figures were always supposed to be at ''real scale'' - in other words, they are only 3'' tall in our world. This opened-up a lot of fun ideas for playing with the figures and Takara really ran with it with the Magne Powers line, introducing such great toys as noodle cups containing hidden helicopters or - in this case - a bottle of power drink that serves as a secret mobile base for the Micromen and their ally, Mr Grey.

To that end, the set includes a lot of other pieces beyond the two main characters. As well as a clear plastic bottle (that splits open to reveal more within) the set includes the UFO Mecha-Turtle Tank, a transforming flying saucer-style object that becomes a robotic creature.

The Mecha-Turtle isn't articulated, beyond the flip-open lid/fold-out limbs and head, but the turret may be rotated. When not in use, the outer extremities fold neatly inside, transforming the Mecha-Turtle into a UFO once more.

The pieces of the set may then be combined to produce a horse and cart - or rather, UFO Mecha-Turtle Tank and tracked-bottle - vehicle. It's goofy, quite stupid and a lot of fun, with the tracks folding-out from within the bottle along with a control gurney and seat - complete with 5mm peg, which fits (very snuggly) into Magne Cyber's back port.

Now I have to address a little bit of a negative and explain why this set doesn't score as well as you might expect it to. Much as I like this toy, I can understand why collectors weren't hooked by these new ''Micromen.'' This feels much more like a Transformer or Go-Bot than it does the Microman/Micronaut toys of the past.

Where the older play sets would have emphasised construction and combining, this set is more about flipping piece out and single-purpose transformations. I'm not a big fan of transforming toys like that - I always worry that the joints are going to snap and I think they stifle creativity. I'd have much preferred to see the toys use more clip-together, pop-in/pop-out pieces. The Mecha-Turtle's legs, for example, should have been 5mm pegged-pieces that could also be used to create stabilisers on the bottle or attached to Mr Grey's power-suit to add new limbs or thrusters. I know that's not what these Micromen were about but to me that level of interchangeability was what made them so much fun. However, if you can live with this, the set is good - the figures especially so - and if you're a Transformers fan you'll probably ''get'' this immediately.

Minor gripes aside, though, this is an interesting step in the evolution of the Microman and will certainly look good on your shelf. Just don't expect to get much play/fun out of it.

Aside from the figures and vehicle pieces, the pack also includes a number of ''Power Cards'' which I assume were used in some kind of battle game. There's also a colour catalogue showing figures from the rest of the range and an instruction sheet.

Final Thoughts
Aside from the previously mentioned Magne Odin, this is my first toy from the 1999 range and whilst it looks nice, it doesn't feel like it's a Microman toy. I expected - as I said above - more pop-in/pop-out parts and a greater level of interchangeability. Sadly though, the set instead consists of a lot of parts that are fixed in place and serve only one purpose.

It reminds me of when Lego started introducing very specialised parts that were only intended for one function, something I think took away a lot of the magic and fun of the line. Whereas before a child could use their imagination to combine parts to create things there way, now they were instead given a bunch of pieces that could only do one thing and told to just put it all together. 

Everything here is nicely produced (except for the minor thigh issue with Magne Cyber) and it all looks nice. The figures of Mr Grey (in his power-suit at least) and Magne Cyber are nice and Microman fans will certainly enjoy them. You can't really find fault with the way the vehicle is designed, either and it does a fine job of being what it is. It's just not really the kind of thing you'd expect from a Microman toy and as such, is a little disappointing.

Mr Grey

Production QualityB-
Final ScoreB+

Magne Cyber
Production QualityB-
Final ScoreB

Final ScoreC+

Image Gallery


  1. Its a neat set for sure and not one i would pass on if i saw it somewhere but the Grey Alien just seems out of place here to me for some reason.

  2. Yeah, from what I gather, Mr Grey is another Takara property they decided to introduce in a cross-over, presumably so his fans would be interested in Microman, too.

    As I said, it's a nice set but it just doesn't feel like a Microman set in the way it fits together.

  3. The second toy from the line - the L20 Micro Trailer - has now been Reviewed.


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