April 20, 2011

Surely two hundred dollars should afford me a micro house in the sand…

Filed under: Collectible of the Day, micronauts — fairplaythings @ 2:53 am

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…

Caution: This box rockets!

Caution: This box rockets!

And not just any Micronauts either…

Rocket Tubes!

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.)

The modern day leaning tower.

The modern day leaning tower.

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!

Preconstruction Microhomes

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 the rest!

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…


  1. Weak engine on the Rocket Tubes is a problem they had when they were new! I don’t think anyone has ever had a Rocket Tubes set that functioned as advertised. It’s notoriously underpowered for what it’s supposed to do. It’s rumored that the version used in the commercial had a leaf blower attached to it so that it would perform impressively.

    That Star Searcher is the gem of the lot! Any later series Micronauts stuff is way rare in comparison to the first waves of product which stayed in production throughout the life of the line. That one looks really really clean. Again, the prices you paid for everything combined are pretty close to what just one of those items would go for on the secondary market. Unbelievable!

    Comment by Steve — April 20, 2011 @ 10:34 am

  2. Let me try to beat you to the (rocket) punch and guess what the next post is…You got a Shogun Warriors Great Mazinga with all its missiles and accessories for $30?

    Comment by Steve — April 20, 2011 @ 10:36 am

  3. My god, you’re good. No, I paid much more than $30 for the next acquisition. But you are right on the money on the find. How did you know?

    Comment by fairplaythings — April 20, 2011 @ 12:15 pm

  4. Well you wrote that Tranzor-Z would be Thursday’s reveal in the Sunday post so that was the first clue. They never made any Tranzor-Z figures so knowing that also narrowed it down a bit. With the other toys you bought being late 70s/mid 80s you had to mean a Shogun Warrior (or possibly a mini Godaikin Mazinga Z but those are rather rare). So then it was either a 5 inch Mazinga or the jumbo and I wouldn’t save a five inch for the big finale if I were writing a series of posts like this. So you gave it away Sunday with the Tranzor-Z teaser.

    Comment by Steve — April 20, 2011 @ 4:05 pm

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