Review by The Enthusiast
Though Microman birthed the transforming robot explosion of the eighties, it was also a casualty of that explosion. After a decade of innovation, Microman died a quiet death in 1984, never achieving the sort of international devotion enjoyed by the bowdlerized Transformers, Micronauts notwithstanding.
After lying fallow for another fifteen years, Takara resurrected and re-booted the property for the new millennium. Takara meant business, introducing three different toy lines (Replica, LED, and Magne Powers), a Manga series, an anime, and generous amounts of ancillary product. Takara typically excels at reinterpreting its older toys for a new audience. Would this massive gamble work? Ehhhhh.
Reaction to the re-boot was tepid. A new generation of kids with no recollection of the original collectively shrugged. Adult collectors were turned off by the dramatic deviations from classic Microman. The ambitious multi-media blitz limped along without generating any real enthusiasm. The millennial Microman quietly expired.
What about the toys? Exquisite, if sometimes flawed.
Robotman Dean was introduced at the tail end of the Magne Powers series. Magne Powers toys incorporated magnetic gimmicks, including magnets in the limbs of the figures as well as interchangeable parts for larger robot and monster building. These toys were like the older magnemo Micronauts on steroids, the magnetic ball construction technique was taken to wild heights.
Dean is packaged in one of my favorite boxes of all time, die-cut with an inner metallic gold sleeve. You can tell that Takara was going all out here.
On the inside: not so much. Dean’s components are twist-tied to cheap corrugated cardboard. There’s no way to store him after you’ve removed the pieces other than to just shove him in an empty box. The later Korean releases of the combiners use a white plastic tray.
The limbs and torso go together intuitively. Dean in his combined form:
In the tradition of the first Robotman, Dean has a cockpit in his chest.
You can see the pilot’s head through a clear window. Also notice that Dean’s chrome face is covered with a clear shield.
Circular metal plates provide connection points for microman figures.
In keeping with the interchangeable ethos of Microman, each limb can be reconfigured (not transformed), into a vehicle or weapon.
Further, each of these can be further broken down and reconfigured into anything you can imagine. The sheer quantity of parts is impressive. Everything breaks down into tiny, detailed pieces. Even parts which could be duplicated, like the feet, are different.
Many parts have metal balls and magnets. Furthermore, these parts are compatible with the rest of the Magne Powers toys, providing nearly endless possibilities.
As a building toy, Dean is very successful. As a figure, he’s a mixed bag. While the magnetic connections are detailed with detented sockets, the whole bot feels ramshackle.
There’s an awful lot going on. Pieces frequently fall off. But Dean is so ambitious, and so nearly great, that I forgive his short-comings and just appreciate the work that went into him.
Many of the Magne Powers combiners were later released by Sonokong and are easily obtained. Dean, for whatever reason, was not, which is a shame because he’s the coolest one.
|Posted 21 November, 2009 - 18:05 by The Enthusiast|