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By Thomas Wheeler

Boy, the anniversaries of various concepts that, to one degree or another, have some connection to the toy world, that took place in 2004. G.I.Joe turned 40. Microman turned 30. Gundam turned 25. Transformers turned 20. Street Fighter turned 15.

And Godzilla beat them all by turning 50. Yes, it's been fifty years since the giant rampaging reptilian first stomped his way through Japan. And how did Takara, the company responsible for the excellent MICROMAN toy line, choose to celebrate the anniversary?

Shrunk the poor guy down to about five inches in height. Granted, I'll admit that a five-inch Godzilla is going to be a lot more manageable than a five-hundred-foot one. I mean, the most amount of damage he's likely to do at that size is singe your ankles, or maybe stomp a model railroad -- and a pretty small one at that.

Seriously, though, folks, Takara decided to celebrate the big 5-0 of the big "G" in one of the most unusual concept team-ups I think I've seen in quite some time. And it's not even so much the fact that they combined Godzilla and Microman, but how they did it.

For those unfamiliar with Microman, first of all, shame on you. You're missing out on an immensely cool action figure line, even if you do have to find a way to import it. Microman got its start in Japan in 1974. Several years later it was imported to the United States for several years by the Mego Toy Company under the name of Micronauts, where it was quite popular, and even spawned a Marvel Comic that outlasted the toy. However, the toy continued in Japan for many years, ultimately undergoing a massive overhaul in 2003.

The basic figure form was completely redesigned, and Takara boasted of the fact that the figure's proportions were completely accurate to those of a proper human being, based on diagrams originally created by Leonardo daVinci. The toys were in instant hit, rejuvenating the line, which carries on with great success even now. Takara brought back the enemy Acroyears, and has even created female figures. The level of articulation was nothing short of truly astounding for a figure so small, roughly 28 points of poseability.

Takara even began to license other concepts into the Microman line. Initially, these were all of Japanese origin, various anime and pop culture concepts. But soon it began to spread beyond that. Most notable are the Batman figures. Takara also had plans to do a Spider-Man Microman, but there were some problems with the rights that remain unresolved. I wish it would happen, though, since I've seen a prototype, and it'd be one very cool figure.

But somehow, the last concept, Japanese or otherwise, that I expected to work its way into a line of action figures that, once you get a bit of a handle on the concept, you realize are supposed to be life-size representations of miniature cyborgs created by a group of scientists somewhere or other, was Godzilla.

And yet, not only has Takara done this, but they've done it in such a way that this isn't even supposed to be the "real" Godzilla, but these are supposed to be Microman ACTORS wearing Godzilla COSTUMES!

I admit I don't understand a lot of things about the Japanese. One of them is their sense of humor. Or irony. Or whatever you might call this.

That's not to say, however, that these aren't cool toys. They most definitely are. The first two Microman Godzilla toys were recently offered by the Web Store "BigBadToyStore.Com", and I was able to put together the necessary funds to bring them home.

So, what do you get in these toys? Well, as everyone knows, the Godzilla movies were created by putting some hapless actor-stuntman inside a heavy rubbery Godzilla costume, and having him stomp all over a miniature landscape. The toys are a reflection of that -- minus the landscape.

You get, first of all, a standard Microman figure. Fortunately, he's not too generic-looking. Not as much as some, anyway, such as the single-color customizeable "Material Force" figures which are part of this line. Of the two figures I've acquired thus far in the collection, both have distinct, unique, and new head sculpts, which have been given the traditional silver-chrome plating, and both are molded out of a combination of opaque color and transparent color parts, a different color pattern for each figure.

Next, you get a Godzilla costume. The sculpting job in these is truly remarkable. Rendering Godzilla in such a small size and having him look this cool cannot have been easy, but it's amazingly well done. Of the two presently available, one represents the original Godzilla, all the way back from 1954, and the other is from something called "Godzilla - The Final Wars", which I assume to be a more recent production that has not been released in the States, or if it was, it was under another name. I'll admit I don't keep that close track of Godzilla.

The idea here is that you're supposed to pop the hands and feet off of the Microman figure (don't worry, they're designed for it), stuff him into the Godzilla costume, and then snap on the Godzilla hands and feet to the Microman body.

Personally, I've lacked either the courage or the patience to try this. I've always felt that these Microman figures are just a LITTLE delicate-looking, and although I have been repeatedly assured by other collectors that they're stronger than they look, given that I can't just head over to Wal-Mart and obtain a replacement if something goes wrong, I've decided in this instance not to push my luck. And I've heard from some collectors that getting these figures into the costumes is no easy feat.

It certainly looks as though it should work, admittedly with difficulty. The Godzilla suit itself, in either case, is fairly lightweight and certainly very hollow. There's a large open slit in the back of each costume, right along the scales, where one can presumably place the figure, and hope his arms and legs line up properly. Then there's a separate piece of more scales that snaps into place to seal him in there. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that this is how the actors entered the real Godzilla cotumes.

But, I'll admit that I'm more of a Microman fan than a Godzilla fan, and I don't personally want to run the risk of damaging the figures, so I'm just not going to try it. It's also worth noting that, except for the hands and feet, the Godzilla suit is pretty much a one-piece outfit. There's no articulation points. Now, presumably, the suit is lightweight and flexible enough to allow the Microman figure within the suit to move, but I've heard mixed reports about how well that theory plays out.

One other note, and my one and only mild complaint about these toys. Most Microman figures come with various insignias, stripes, or other markings stamped onto them. This makes them look a little more dynamic. These two Micromen come with labels of an insignia and assorted stripes to be placed on them. The supposed reason for this, as one notable Microman collector explained it to me, and apparently this is Takara's line of reasoning, is that stamped-on markings might rub off within the rather tight fit of the costumes. In short, the rubbery Godzilla suits could act as giant erasers.

However, there is no way that I'm going to try to place labels that are about a sixth the size of a fingernail onto such slender figures, let alone try to properly line up the striping that's designed to go across the arms and the legs. I tend to be really picky about the appearance and precision of such things, and this is just a little too much. Fortunately, the figures look perfectly fine without them. Even sets them apart from other Micromen a bit.

I guess what concerns me is that I hope this isn't a trend for all Microman figures, and that it's distinctive only for the Godzilla-based ones.

Because I really doubt that I've got the patience, or even the ability, to properly label one of these guys. I have to assume that between costuming and labeling these figures, Japanese youngsters must be a fair bit more talented and vastly more patient than most American kids -- or a fair percentage of adults. Either that, or Takara is making that assumption.

Still, the label situation is a minor point -- as long as it doesn't extend beyond these six. Yes, I said six. Even though there are only two figures presently available, there are four more in the works, and they'll be coming in two-packs.

These "versus" two-packs will feature Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah -- that's that three-headed dragon-like thing that's turned up from time to time, and Jet Jaguar vs. Megalon. These are totally unfamiliar to me. One is a giant humanoid battle suit that looks like a Power Ranger on a really bad day, and the other looks like a humanoid cockroach as much as anything.

A few final notes. The names of the Microman figures that come with these Godzilla suits are pretty hysterical. I'm assuming these are translations, but even so. I picked these up from the Web Site Microforever.Com, so I'm assuming reasonable accuracy. The figures that come with the two individual Godzilla suits which I just reviewed and named Billy and Ken (nice to know he got work after Barbie dumped him). The ones that come with Godzilla and Ghidorah are named Victor and Harold. Harold!? And the ones that come with Jet Jaguar and Megalon are named Kim and Walter. Walter!? There was a Walter Gundam in G-Gundam, too. What is it with Walter? Honestly, the only name in the whole lot that makes sense from a Japanese-sounding standpoint is Kim.

And for those who want the official name of this Microman line, it's called Kiguru Microman, which means "Costumed" Microman. What they may do with it beyond Godzilla, if anything, I really don't know, but the Microman toy line seems to keep on growing in leaps and bounds in several directions, and this is an interesting one. If you can find them, I definitely recommend them!