In the middle of the 70s, I loved Sci-fi. But all a 7 and 8 year old had access to was Star Trek, Space 1999 and a bunch of other Gerry Anderson faire. I don’t really remember owning many Star Trek toys, except for a Star Trek Dinky Starship Enterprise and a toy projector, and I did own a Dinky Eagle Freighter, so it wasn’t really a collection at that time.
My second major collecting obsession was a strange Japanese toy series called Micronauts. I do say second, but we may get to my Matchbox and Hot Wheels obsessions in another blog. I generally blame my parents started my collecting habit. Which I’m quite happy about.
In the US, Star Wars was released in May 1977, but over in the UK we weren’t so lucky. We had to wait until 27th of December 1977 for the UK release of the film. Even in the US Star Wars figures didn’t exist. So, at that time, I was very much into Micronauts.
Released in 1976 it was cool figure line from Japan’s Takara, known in Japan as Microman. It included small translucent robotic cyborgs with chrome heads and white hands that would make a satisfying pop sound when you removed them. They worked with robotic machines, larger robots and vehicles of all shapes a sizes with to start with, a common red, white and blue theming. They were very collectable series of figures and play sets as the catalogue you got with the sets would show.
You could buy one set and interchange parts with other sets as most of the parts had little lugs and holes that you could connect to each other. The Micronaut figures themselves could sit on the top, ride or sit/stand inside most of the sets. In the UK they were distributed by the model kit manufacturer Airfix and in the US it was Mego.
My first Micronauts were probably picked from the Grattan catalogue, which my mother used quite a lot for Christmas Day in 1976. I think that year I still believed in Santa, even though I could pick what I wanted.
My first couple of sets I got for were Microtron and the Hydrocopter.
The Microtron had a white main motorized body with a chrome drill in a rather unfortunate place, rubber tracked wheels a couple of different heads plus a couple of chrome arms and flywheels. You could reconfigure it with ease and turn it on so the flywheels would spin, the drill would drill and it would make it across the kitchen floor with ease. A brilliant toy.
I remember my second favourite which was the Hydrocopter which came with a plastic bubble with a rubber band which would rotate and carry a figure inside.
Plenty of time was spent playing with the Hydrocopter in the bath.
From that point on I was hooked on Micronauts and over the following couple of years I was given Biotron, The Utronic Scooter and the Large Mobile Exploration Lab.
I used to enjoy building, exchanging parts and making more fun vehicles and space ships.
Eventually my Micronauts kits disappeared or were given away.
I remember I passed my collection of Micronauts to one of our family members, somewhere in the UK. I also recently remember I passed them on in a carry case. The Karrio, was a giant unfolding robot where you could place all the major sets and figures inside. It was a cool yet simple toy with lots of pegs and holes to connect various parts on and in it. The last I remember was happily walking away watching the unidentified youngster playing with a whole collection of my robots, missiles and figures. But it wasn’t the last time I bought new Micronauts.
At one point I did actually buy some more Micronauts in the early 80s with Micronauts at the end of it’s line and with the US distributor Mego going out of business I started to see some of the magnetic figures appear in one of my local general chemists/toy shops. So Baron Karza and Oberon came back into my life.
Eventually Micronauts disappeared completely from my collections. Never to return. Although saying that, I’ve just seen a Micronaut Time Traveller for only 30 quid on Ebay. 🙂
In case you are still interested in Micronauts, check out this excellent recent video from Toy Galaxy.