So you can imagine my surprise when, last year, I was browsing around K*B Toys, which had just received a shipment, and I saw an unopened box sitting in the stacks, with the Takara logo plastered on it, and the words "Microman Biomachine Series" printed on the side. What the heck were these doing in here? And, frankly, who the heck cared?!
On top of everything else, they were more reasonably priced than anything I had previously heard for these figures. Prices I had heard quoted ranged anywhere from $12.99 to $17.99 apiece. These were $9.99, based on the printout of price tags that were attached to the box. (Interestingly enough, about a week later, the same assortment turned up at Suncoast Video - with a price tag of $15.99 apiece...)
I still could hardly believe it, but I located a clerk and asked him if he would please open the box. If these really were the MicroMen, then this was about to be a very productive and enjoyable toy stop. And all I'd really come into K*B to check on was to see if they'd gotten in any more of the "Racing Drones" from the Hot Wheels AcceleRacers series (found two of those, too, actually)!
Sure enough - it was the MICROMAN BIOMACHINE Series. One box of twelve figures, three each of the four characters in the assortment. And the clerk showed me on the packing slip that this was the only box they'd be getting. I left with one of each - and the two Hot Wheels cars. It was a strain on the budget, but there are some things you don't pass up. A chance to get MicroMan figures as directly as this was certainly one of them.
The "gimmick", as it were, to the Biomachine series is that each figure comes with a chrome-plastic weapons frame or vehicle of some sort. There are parts of these arrays that the figure can actually wear, and moreover, all four weapons outfits can be combined to built a huge robotic suit of armor, that can be used by a MicroMan figure, that would probably send the average Exo-Squad unit (and yes, there's a resemblance) running for cover.
I know that sounds like a whole lot for a set of toys to be capable of, but remember, Takara also makes Transformers. If they can design a way for 1:24 scale replicas of real-life cars to turn into humanoid robots reminiscent of their counterparts from 20 years ago, I think they're capable of something like this.
There are four figures in the assortment. Let's consider them individually:
MACHINEMIRROR & MACHINEMICROMAN XEKU: I have no idea how you'd pronounce that name. At least not without it sounding like you've got a really bad sneeze going on. The figure, like all of the Microman figures in the Biomachine series, is an interesting variant on the current style, and in mnay respects is, to me, anyway, very reminiscent of the original Microman, known to us in the United States as the Micronauts. Whereas most modern Microman figures just have chrome heads, and a super-articulated body that is specifically known for being accurate to human proportions, The figures in the Biomachine series have color-chrome armor molded to their bodies, especially evident as chestplates, boots, and shoulder pieces. Xeku's armor is mostly red.
The Biomachine unit he comes with is called MachineMirror, and it looks pretty much like some sort of attack sled. The figure can wear several of the parts (this is known as "Bio-Tech Mode", according to the package.
There's a DVD that comes with each figure. Basically, all this DVD presents is a short commercial-like background for MicroMan in general, but it does also offer profiles for each of the Microman Biomachine figures, and their Biomachine units. While not exactly up to G.I.Joe level of writing (especially considering a few grammatical errors, no doubt a result of translation), they're certainly worth providing here. The description of the MachineMirror unit reads: "With micro-G control IC system, it can fly at super high speed." Well, that certainly explains a lot. However, given that these figures are supposed to be " life-size", given the background of the overall Microman concept, I'm not sure this is something you'd want sailing through your living room.
Xeku's profile reads as follows: "With his super mobility, Xeku is an ace soldier of the Biomachine Team. Due to programming errors on setting up his personality, he is very tyrannical, so Trinity (another one of the characters in the series) always has to supervise him."
Actually, on one Web Site, the character was described as being downright psychotic. And this is the guy they gave a flying craft to? That's smart. Well, personality quirks aside, it's still a very cool toy.
MACHINESTINGER & MACHINEMICROMAN GODOH: Now, this is a very cool craft. It looked to me initially as though it could function either as a flying craft or an underwater vehicle. Seems it's good for both, according to the description on the DVD: "Cruiser machine for Godoh with capability to hover on the water and surface. With 'Stinger Sonar', Acro Virus can be scanned remotely and be processed by computer."
The "Acro Virus" is what turned a number of the Micromen into the evil Acroyears. And in case you think a four-inch villain isn't much of a threat, according to some information on the concept that I was able to track down, Micromen do have the capability to turn into full-size beings when needed. That includes the Acroyears.
Godoh's armor is mostly blue, and he's got one of the more interesting head sculpts. His hair actually hangs down over half his face. That's not an uncommon feature in some anime productions, however. He's also got a ponytail. I've heard there's a manga Microman comic book or some such out there, but I don't have any information on it beyond that, and unless someone is translating it, it wouldn't do me much good, anyway.
Godoh's personality profile is as follows: "Godoh is considered the brain of the Biomachine team, with his infinite knowledhe of all fields and his ability to analyze the weak points of the evil Acroyears."
MACHINETIGER & MACHINEMICROMAN HACK: Arguably the most vehicle-like of the four Biomachine units, the MachineTiger looks very much like a three-wheeled motorcycle. Actually, it looks like someone took a smaller version of the Dreadnok Cycle from the G.I.Joe line and chromed the thing. According to the DVD description: "This buggy with super micro wheels can tackle all sorts of natural terrain at super high speeds." And talk about your spelling gaffes. The DVD actually reads, "This buggy with supper micro wheels..." Supper? I just had breakfast! Still, it's a very cool vehicle.
Hack's armor is mostly a dark silver, the color also used on the heads of all four members of this team. As for Hack's head sculpt, somebody needs to tell him that mullets are no longer in fashion.
Hack's personality profile reads: "He is the strongest of the Biomachine team. Not only is he physically strong, but he is an expert at maneuvering Biomachines."
MACHINEKONG & MACHINEMICROMAN TRINITY: This unit is the most Exo-Squaddish of the foursome, short of the combined mode. If anything, it looks like that "Gorilla E-Frame" that came out at one point with the two ape-like arms sticking out to the sides. That unit, however, was purple and green, a color scheme only the Joker could love. This one is done in chrome silver. The description reads: "Trinity's loader machine has a high-performance bio-sensor scope and LAN system computer server which is connected to other BioMachines. Gigantic arms, also known as "Panzer Arms" can be used to attack enemies and to tow other BioMachines."
It's quite a sophisticated piece of hardware, even as a toy. The fingers on the huge arms are individually articulated with ball-and-socket joints.
Trinity's armor is mostly a pale gold. Honestly, he and Hack are a little too close together. The only way I could really tell them apart initially was to make sure their BioMachines were different. I'm thinking maybe green armor should have been used on one of them or something. I will say this -- he has a very unusual head sculpt. There's what looks like stubble on his head, as if he shaved his head and it's started to grow back in a bit, and he's wearing a very strange, intricate headband that looks like it's half Greek and half Egyptian, with some of the images on it. This can't have been an easy sculpt for whoever did it. Quite fascinating, really.
Trinity's profile reads: "Trinity is the leader of the Biomachine Team, who is responsible for operational strategy and tactics. He is very generous, but is very strict and responsible when it comes to his work."
I didn't attempt the combined form of all four Biomachines. Clearly it requires a fair amount of disassembly and reassembly. I suspect it would be fun, but also a fair challenge, even for someone who might be familiar with doing similar work with Transformers. However, the picture of the combined unit, called the BIO-SUIT, certainly looks impressive enough..
The packaging used for the toys is clearly the original Japanese packaging. This may be a letdown for fans who were expecting a major American release for Microman, which was hinted at during this year's International Toy Fair. But apparently it didn't come to pass. And in a way, I can see why, and the reasons can be found in the warnings that are placed on the packaging.
Safety considerations on toys between the United States and Japan obviously differ. Depending on which side of this fence you fall on, it could be argued that Japan is being reckless with the safety of their children, or the United States is being overly cautious. When it comes to Microman, however, given those regulations, I'm not really surprised about what happened.
The figures are a little on the fragile side - all of them. I had a Microman figure from another series within the line end up with a shattered shoulder a while back after falling from a height of about three and a half feet onto a hard surface. A G.I.Joe, arguably the closest structural counterpart to a Microman, might've gotten a little scuffed up in a fall like that, but it's unlikely he would've broken.
And there are two stickers on the front of the packages of these guys. One reads, "WARNING! This toy contains functional sharp points which may cause skin puncture hazard." The other one reads, "WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD - Small parts. Not for children under 3 years. Ages: OVER 14 YEARS."
This explains why this assortment was originally intended just for comic shops, and why I'm still surprised - although very pleased - that it turned up at K*B Toys. But I suspect Toys "R" Us, Wal-Mart, and Target decided these just weren't worth the potential trouble.
They still might cause some, though. There's just enough English on the package to make for one really bad joke. The unarmored version of these figures is clearly referred to on the back as "Naked Style". You just know somebody's going to complain about that.
However, they might not be around long enough for that to happen, at least not in a mainstream store like K*B Toys. As I said, the clerk who opened the box for me pointed out that this was the only package of them that they would receive. That's three total sets. That's not a lot.
I doubt there'll even be any left by the time this review appears. However, there are other sources for Microman, and a reasonable chance that they might still have the BioMachine Series. And while you're at it, be sure to check out all the other cool Microman stuff available - MicroForce, Acroyear X, Military Force, Acroyear X-2, MicroLadies, as well as licensed MicroMan figures such as Street Fighter, Alien vs Predator, Batman and the coming Superman items!