Before I begin, I feel I need to confess something. Unless like many of my peers, I was not really into Star Wars toys. Oh I had some favourites that I would have loved to have had in my collection - the AT-AT, a Slave-One, a Snowspeeder, and an Imperial Tie-Fighter come to mind. But I didn’t have the collect-them-all mentality with Star Wars. I suspect it was a combination of what my friends were playing with (GIJoe) and a love of detailing (those early Joe vehicles had awesome plastic work!), but more than a little bit of it was the lack of articulation of Han, Luke, Leia, and crew. Simply put, I wanted my figures to have a waist and elbows and knees. GIJoe had this in spades, and Hasbro was smart enough to include a figure with most vehicles over the $10 price range (something, interestingly enough, it now does more and more with Star Wars vehicles now that it has the license).
But before GIJoe was, there had to be something else that held my attention, something that sealed the deal for a love of the Joes. And that thing was the Micronauts (not exactly as shown)! I loved the detail of this line, just as I loved that I could pick up a vehicle and it would come with its pilot (a big deal when you had only an allowance) and the figures had articulation. The only thing missing was friends to play Micronauts with, but I made due with the pieces I had - Repto, the Battle Cruiser (broken the first Christmas morning it was opened), and the Warp Racer and Photon Sled I purchased for myself. These Micros were loved hard and, though I still have many of their parts, they have seen better days.
Decades later, having rescued the remains of my Micronauts from my parents’ basement, I’ve set out acquiring pieces here and there. In the 1990s, a large find at the Great Glebe Garage Sale led to my possession of most of the Mobile Exploration Lab. A few years ago, at one of the many toy shows organized around Toronto, I was able to return to my nostalgia for all things innerspace, and pick up a fresh Battle Cruiser (in original package), a Giant Acroyear set, and a Hornetroid for $20 each. Along with a number of Palisades reissues acquired in the middle of the last decade, including the likes of Baron Karza and Red Falcon. So I’m always looking for a chance to add to the collection, chances that don’t come up as much as I would like owing to the vintage of this particular 35 year old toy line from a defunct toy company.
So you can imagine my reaction when, looking up from the now-manhandled Tyco Transformers train set, I looked to my left and saw boxed Micronauts…
And not just any Micronauts either…
What a beautiful find. And it is impossible for me not to get swept up by the sheer size and condition of the box. Expecting a huge price point, I inquired on the cost, and was shocked to be told the Rocket Tubes could be mine for $20. $20. That’s apparently $30 less than they retailed for almost 35 years ago (or $250 less than their after-inflation cost.)
Now the set has its drawbacks. It does not include instructions, making it hard for me to reassemble the piece (though I did quite well I think based solely on box art). The plastic does not hold together as well as it could (but this could be simply my unwillingness to force 35 year old plastic). And obviously the stickers are fraying badly. And although the engine works, and can actually send its empty cars forward through the inner tubes, the engine is weak and the cars do not go very far when piloted by a GIJoe stand-in.
But it’s white, it’s complete and it’s mine!
So Rocket Tubes. And right under the Rocket Tubes? Oh yes, it’s the Interplanetary Headquarters. I’m just chomping at the bits to try my hand at putting this one together, to see how the honeycomb-style panels actually work, but I’m waiting for a chance to do so as part of a more permanent arrangement of my Microverse. And the price once again? $20.
Now I should mention before I get too far ahead of myself, that you will notice these boxes are bilingual. As such, it means they are examples of Micronauts, as marketed in Canada by Grand Toy, a toy distributor of some renown. And somehow quite appropriate to add to my collection.
And there was still more! The gentleman also had a Betatron for $15, the oddly-shaped, Fisher-Price looking Star Searcher for $12, and a vintage Biotron in box (missing cover flap) for $25. Now Biotron I have, having picked up the 2000 Takara reissue, but I was too far gone at this point, and so Biotron also came home.
And I was over the moon. But the best was yet to come…