|Micro Trainer Machine Review Capsule
|In 2003, Takara relaunched Microman not as toys, but as hyper-articulated collectible action figures. In 2004, they surprised collectors by having a table at San Diego's Comic-Con International, and they even brought an exclusive-- the Micro Trainer Machine, supposedly a training dummy for the other characters in the line. This super-posable and super-limited figure sold for an even $5.00.
Takara released a few blank colored "Material Force" figures in Japan to customize, so fans could whip out a Spider-Man or some other famous character using their excellent templates as a base. These figures tended to be quite rare in the West, and few if any were priced low enough to warrant picking them up to customize. On the whole, the molds were the same as other Microman/Microforce toys except the heads looked a little like a fencing mask in some respects and was, as you can see, blank.
This is the first-ever Material Force style figure to be released outside Japan and as far as we can tell, Takara's first US-exclusive toy in this series. It was limited to a very small run, yet at the convention, there were virtually no lines to get it and it took almost the whole show to sell through. No Web sites reported its availability prior to the show, though, and as such nobody really knew to go looking for it. The production run is questionable-- a Takara representative told me they had produced only 800 units, yet a rep told the guy who runs Microman Forever that 1200 units were produced. Either way, it's a very low run.
With nearly 30 points of articulation and some swappable hands, there's a lot you can get out of these little guys, from a cheap model for figure drawing to a fun, low-budget toy. Of course, it's shaping up to be less a "low-budget" toy now on eBay.
Like other figures in the line, you start with a base that's fairly muscular and in an interesting change, the figure is in two colors instead of one.
It's basically a blank figure, much like a blank Kubricks figure or a LEGO minifigure. You can add on to it if you wish, but in the Microman storyline, apparently these act as a training dummy for figures like the Ninja, Gunner, and so on and so forth.
Overall, the figure's sculpt is on the flat side. Basically, it's a fairly muscular little man without a lot of texture, but he is insanely posable.
The figure also has fairly unique soles of his feet, which at this time serve no obvious purpose. There aren't any Microman figures that I have seen that would make use of these connection points, but they're here just the same for aspiring customizers or for future expansion.
The head is as generic as humanly possible, with no facial features. If you wanted to make a crack about his neck throwing up, here's a good place to put it. In theory, you could draw a smiley face on it, put a sticker on it, or carve it down to something else. Heck, since the limbs are designed to pop right off, you could even replace it with a head from any other similarly sized toy line, which makes it easier to put other accessories on it.
Jedi Microman? Hmm. The mind reels at the possibilities.
The figure's real fun comes from the fact you can pose it pretty much any way you can imagine a human to move. If you want to make a stop-motion film with people doing... well, anything, these would provide the best bases. There's not a lot new to this figure, and anyone that had other Material Force figures would probably be sad to see there's no new tooling, but if you're like most Western fans, it's new to you.
Accessories & Gimmicks
This figure includes a dozen interchanegable hands, and the stand introduced with figures starting in 2004.
The hands are a great extra, but without any weapons, they'll basically be used to express some sort of emotion when you pose the little guy, or will be whipped out when you're working on a custom figure or having him hold a gun. Like other 2004 figures, he includes a sort of "hand rack" for easy storage, which is much better than the small taped plastic baggie that we usually get.
The stand is generic, and a tight fit. It's not exclusive to this particular figure but is now included with virtually every new Takara Microman figure, which is good. The figures have no problems standing on their own if you take a moment to pose them right, but with the stand you can get some fairly extreme poses out of the figure limited only to your imagination and the strength of his ankle joints. (Note: the stand here is shot from the back and presented in a mirror image to improve legibility. The sculpting of the text and the Microman are on the bottom of the stand, the top is flat except for the two pegs.)
He's packaged in several baggies.
His text reads as follows:
Thirty years have passed since 1974 brought us the birth of Microman.
Now he has returned to us in a new form.
We entrust the new Microman to a new generation of caretakers,
to explore a coming future now shrouded in mystery.
The vinyl sleeve has all the text on it, and this sleeve is in a taped plastic bag. Inside the sleeve, the figure, stand, and hands are each individually packed in a plastic bag. It's easy to untape and make it look like the packaging has never been tampered with, so fair warning.
While not filled with accessories or any real personality, the Micro Trainer Machine is a cool, durable and super-posable figure. He won't be as cheap as the other figures in the normal part of the line, but collectors might want to pick him up as the first US-exclusive toy in the line. It's ridiculously low production run will probably make it a classic if the line takes off in the USA, and considering that Takara and DC Direct are bringing many of these to the USA, we all hope it will.