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By Thomas Wheeler

MegaMan is one of those Japanese concepts that, like Gundam and Power Rangers, reinvents itself every so often. And the latest incarnation, MEGAMAN NT WARRIOR, recently turned up on the toy shelves, courtesy of Mattel, although I do find myself wondering just a bit if, given the country of origin of the concept, this might be one of thise Mattel/Bandai reciprocal deals that lets Bandai market Hot Wheels cars in Japan.

Anyway, when I review a toy, I try to present some of its background concept. In the case of MegaMan, which I have hardly been an ardent follower of, this was not easy. I learned that the anime series did air on the WB Network, but oddly hasn't been on the schedule for months. Strange, given the number and variety of toys that turned up around Christmas.

So I had to do some research. Thank you, Google. After a bit of searching, I was able to piece together some basic information from a Web Site called "Anime.About.Com", written by Katherine Luther:

The year is 200? and it's a new world. Plugged into the Cyber Network, mankind has discovered a new utopia. Armed with PET's (Personal Electronic Terminals) and an artificial intelligence program called NetNavis (Net Navigators), people are now always "plugged in" and can communicate with each other no matter where they are. But not all is well in this electronic utopia. World Three, a dark and evil organization has set its sights on destroying this happy little world. Viruses, hacking and high-tech crime are on the rise and World Three seems to have a mysterious hand in all of it. Our hero, Lan Hikari, receives a new NetNavi program that is like nothing he's ever seen before. MegaMan isn't just for appointment reminders - this A.I. packs a powerful punch. And it's a good thing because things begin to go haywire in the online world, leaving Lan and MegaMan to set things straight.

Lan Hikari is a young boy, so it's not too surprising that despite the name "MegaMAN" , the title character looks and sounds about 12, at least if the animation I've seen on the commercials for this PET device is any indication.

There's certainly no shortage of product out there. You can actually buy this PET device, and most of the official toy products come with chips that you can install and use in them. Think of it as Tamagotchi with an attitude.

There's also mini-figures, non-poseable, some 10" vinyl figures with limited poseability, and a large scale MegaMan figure with assorted electronic sound, voice, and light effects, that I would've bought if I'd had the money and if it hadn't actually been a pretty poor likeness of the character compared to all the other versions I saw, at least in the face.

So, I decided to go with the basic MegaMan figure from the basic line. Not sure why I picked this figure up, except that he looked decently-made, reasonably cool, and certainly more intelligent (and less bizarre) than a lot of the Japanese stuff we're getting these days, like Pokemon, Duel Masters, Yu-Gi-Oh, or whatever.

There's six different figures in the action figure assortment at this time. Two versions of MegaMan (I went for the more basic of the two), and four assorted characters which I assume are opponents. Just before Christmas, I saw a second assortment, interestingly on somewhat smaller cards but clearly from the same line, at Toys "R" Us, that included a third MegaMan version and a number of other characters.

MegaMan has a fairly typical anime appearance to him without being overly exaggerated. The figure stands about 5-3/4" in height, and looks like an animated version of a boy wearing a dark blue bodysuit, with fairly large lighter blue gloves and boots, as well as what looks like a futuristic bike helmet. There's some black spikes sticking out of the back of his head which I assume to be the virtual reality version of hair.

The figure is articulated at the head, arms, elbows, glove/wrists, waist, legs, and knees. The gloves are removable in order to attach several weapons to the lower arm posts. I suspect in the animated series, MegaMan probably just morphs into these.

Overall, it's an excellent action figure, from a concept that I suspect is a lot more tolerable than most kid-directed Japanese animation.

I have the distinct impression that these MegaMan toys may be a "back-door" Bandai product. They just don't look too "Mattel", whether you're talking about Masters of the Universe, Batman, or Justice League. The last MegaMan figures, from the previous MegaMan concept, were from a fairly small company called JazWares. Some of these can still be found at stores like K*B Toys.

But, in any case, it's certainly a decent action figure, from a concept that seems to have a fair amount of popularity behind it. If you're a MegaMan fan, or just a general fan of Japanese animation, and you've been wondering if these MegaMan NT Warrior figures are worth collecting, then they definitely have my recommendation! This looks like a very cool concept, and it's certainly a cool figure, and I'm glad to have him in my collection. I'm sure he'll be welcome in yours.