Microman is a Japanese toy line produced by Takara, best known in the United States for Transformers, which it creates in Japan, and in collaboration with Hasbro for the American market and elsewhere. Microman has been around for over 30 years, and had a very successful run some years ago in the United States as Micronauts, brought over to America by Mego in the late 1970's. However, even once it had completed its American run, it remained hugely popular in Japan.
Several years ago, Takara completely overhauled the toy line. They remade the basic figure, giving it greater articulation than ever, and advertised the fact that its bodily proportions were accurate to a typical real-life human form. Such a drastic change could've been a disaster. Instead, it was a resounding success. Microman is more popular than ever.
Aside from the ever-expanding basic Microman toy line, there has been a very successful line of licensed figures. Most of these are Japanese, and not terribly familiar to American audiences. Some are Japanese in origin, but manage a successful crossover, such as their Godzilla and Street Fighter figures. Then some, although they are sold in both the United States and Japan, clearly have an American origin, such as the Batman and Superman lines.
Then there's this guy. It took some tracking down, and some help, but I eventually learned that his name is RYUKENDO. And right now I need to thank a friend of mine who directed me to the ever-growing Web Site "Wikipedia". This is becoming and increasingly useful Web Site for -- just about everything, really, but especially pop-culture.
According to Wikipedia, the show that this figure is from -- and I suspect some of these terms are losing a lot in the translation, is called Madan Senki Ryukendo. It is a Japanese "tokusatsu" show, which very roughly translated, means "live-action superhero". Think Power Rangers and you've more or less got it, except this is just one guy, not a whole team.
The basic concept is as follows: Akebono-cho is a peaceful, ordinary sort of community overflowing with humanity. Since there was a Power Spot that released magical power in the community, the people were distressed by the threat of the demon army Jamanga.
The secret organization Shoot Hell Obduracy Trooper was formed to protect the people of the community. It is known by the name SHOT. In order to conceal their existence, the members live as ordinary members of the Akebono Police Station, which is normally engaged in protecting the community. Kenji Narukami, the protagonist and a member of SHOT, is transformed to Ryukendo and faces off against the demon army Jamanga together with his friends in order to restore peace in the community.
Once everybody stops laughing over an acronym called SHOT that explains itself with "Shoot Hell Obduracy Trooper", I'll continue...
What I found especially interesting was that the show was actually created by Takara-Tomy. And this validates something that I'd heard about some of these figures. Apparently Takara was fed up with Bandai doing all the live-action superhero toys. Along with Power Rangers, which has been a top-selling toy in both the United States and Japan for fifteen years, something not a lot of toy lines can claim, Bandai also was responsible for the toys of a great many other similar concepts, some of which also made it to the United States over the years, to varying degrees of success. Throw in Gundam, admittedly not a Bandai creation, but still a top seller for them, and you can certainly not blame Takara for their frustration. So they decided to come up with their own show, and make their own toys for it, through the Microman line.
The figure is really quite spectacular. I've obviously never seen an episode of the series, but I know a cool figure when I see one. The figure is molded mostly in a very dark blue, with some black highlights. The helmet is an amazingly ornate piece of work, especially when you consider that these figures are only 4" in height. The helmet is mostly dark blue, with a very metallic light blue visor, and pearlescent white and metallic gold trim. The figure has huge pearlescent white shoulder armor, as well as armor gauntlets and boots. There is gold metallic trim on the chestplate, gloves, and boots. There's a sort of dragon-head motif to the gloves and boots especially that is very well done.
All of the detailing is extremely well painted. Takara has managed to avoid some of the sloppiness that has crept into action-figure painting in recent years. I have yet to detect it on any Transformers, and Ryukendo here is nicely and neatly painted, as well, down to some pretty tiny detailing.
Ryukendo comes with several accessories, including a huge and very ornate sword, as well as five spare pairs of hands in various positionings. He also has a clear display base. Ryukendo also comes with a fairly recent Microman product catalog, that shows enough cool toys that I would very much like to be able to afford to make me want to go off and cry somewhere for a while.
Modern Microman figures are known for two things -- an astounding level of articulation, and an unfortunate fragility because of the often rather rigid plastic used in their manufacture. Stress cracks over time are not uncommon, and I can't help but think that if a Microman figure were given to a child, it wouldn't last long.
I decided to do a count of Ryukendo's parts. Not counting screws, pegs, and any internal parts not readily visible, this figure has 38 parts comprising his frame. 39 if you count the belt. That results in 30 points of articulation. So typical for a modern Microman figure, however a human being can move, within reason, Ryukendo can also move. Okay, he can't move his fingers, but let's be reasonable about this. Talk about a "small parts warning" if he could! And frankly, he's probably a little more agile than some real-world humans I've seen.
Microman is not readily available in the United States. There was a brief attempt to market it to some specialty stores, including Suncoast, and a few of them turned up briefly at K*B Toys. But it wasn't considered much of a success. Fortunately, there are a number of online retailers that do carry Microman in fair supply.
I don't think one has to be entirely familiar with a given concept to recognize a really cool action figure. From the second I saw Ryukendo and his two friends (whoever THEY may be), I knew I'd seen some of the coolest Microman figures to date.
If you want to add something really cool to your action figure collection,
then MICROMAN RYUKENDO definitely has my highest recommendation!