|Character Design||Stephen Lee|
|Toy Design||Stephen Lee|
Review by The Enthusiast
After the robot toy explosion of the early eighties, nearly every toy company attempted to cash in on the craze. While Matchbox licensed a number of Japanese properties (Voltron, Dairrugger), it also developed its own domestic robot property. Kind of.
The Parasites wedded transforming alien robots to Matchbox’s bread and butter, the traditional 1/64 diecast car, a baffling and ultimately unsuccessful premise. As the story goes, Parasites were space creatures who inhabited the shells of earth vehicles. It’s a fun narrative, but creating two distinct toy components at the Matchbox car scale was probably too ambitious, and the toys turned out to be pretty clumsy. But funky!
Specterite is the leader of the Parasites. He is packaged on a standard eighties bubble-card. The artwork on the front is fantastic, a painting reminiscent of the Micronaut cards (more on the Micronauts later).
The back of the card features transformation instructions, pictures of the other toys in the line, and a file card.
Specterite’s shell is a pickup truck with large wheels. The truck body is diecast. The chassis is mostly plastic, with a metal plate along its length for structure. The quality of the vehicle is noticeably cheaper than proper matchbox or Hot Wheels vehicles.
You can see pieces of Specterite hanging out of the truck bed, and his head is visible in the cabin.
The truck body, with Specterite folded inside, detaches from the chassis. The bot is easily removed. There is no transformation per se, you just unfold the parasite into his humanoid mode.
Specterite is a fun, if middling figure. His stubby little arms are kind of a joke, and only move in one direction. His legs are reasonably well articulated, with hip, knee, and ankle joints. However you pose him, he never seems to look “right.”
Specterite can ride the vehicle chassis like a skateboard.
As a toy, Specterite is pretty limited, a strange novelty. But as a design, he’s wonderful. The Parasites, you see, are the direct descendents of the beloved Micronaut aliens. While many of the Micronaut toys were just rebranded Microman, all of the organic aliens and vehicles were designed in the US By Stephen Lee and California R&D. Lee also designed the humble Parasites, and they feel like distant cousins to Antron, Lobros and the gang. I love Specterite's angular head, chrome accents, and molded details.
Your typical robot fanboy probably doesn’t have any interest in the Parasites, but for Micro-fans, these are a real gem.
Thanks to Microbry for turning me on to these.You can see more Parasite pics on his flickr stream.
|Posted 7 February, 2010 - 17:21 by The Enthusiast|