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Blast from the Past: Transformers: The Movie

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The Transformers in all their heroic glory. Oh, how soon the mighty would fall.

With the live-action Transformers movies of the last decade, it can be easy for some fans to forget the franchise was originally a cartoon series back in the 1980s, a series based upon a line of toys produced by Hasbro. Also, some fans might be too young to know about the old cartoons, and they might have missed the spectacle that was Transformers: The Movie from 1986.

When the movie hit theaters, the TV cartoon already had been running strong for a couple of years along with a comic book series from Marvel. Autobot characters like Optimus Prime, Bumblebee and Jazz had become fan favorites while everyone loved to hate the evil Decepticons, such as Megatron, Thundercracker and Soundwave.

Most of the fans were young at the time, and soon many of them came to trust the world of and the storytelling about the Transformers.

Which was why more than a few fans were surprised by the events that took place in the 1986 movie.

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This is Megatron. You can probably tell he’s a bad guy.

Transformers died. No, they were killed, out-and-out murdered. This film was a no-holds-barred match between the Autobots and the Decipticons, and both sides paid a heavy price. The nice little television cartoon about robots wanting to protect the world and save the universe had become something of a bloodbath on the big screen.

There was some little outcry, but this was a decade or so before the Internet and it wasn’t as easy to voice one’s opinion publicly, let alone stir up any serious outrage. So, viewers made their opinion known the old-fashioned way. They voted with their wallets.

The Transformers movie pretty much tanked in the theaters. According to author Stephen Kline’s 1993 book Out of the Garden, about marketing to young people, Hasbro lost more than $10 million between The Transformers film and a My Little Pony movie.

Things didn’t look good for Hasbro, or the Transformers.

Apparently Hasbro had wanted many of the Transformers killed off in the movie so the company could bring out a new toy line of the robot warriors. Even the famous Optimus Prime was killed off, though Hasbro eventually brought him back in the animated TV show.

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That really big ball is Unicron. He’s a giant robot that can change himself into a planet. So that he can eat other planets. Gulp.

Still, several decades later, Transformers: The Movie has something of a fan following. Though one might argue the artistic worth or entertainment value of The Transformers in general, or individual Transformers projects, there can be little doubt that these robot protectors continue to hold popularity. Every few years there’s a new live-action film or animated special. Despite Hasbro’s best attempts in the 1986 movie, The Transformers just won’t die.

Nowadays Autobots and Decepticons alike are killed off time and time again, only to rise once more at a later date, but all the butchery started with a movie back in the ’80s.

But the next time you watch some Transformer action on the tube, the big screen, or the computer monitor, remember to Stay Nerdy!

A former newspaper editor for two decades in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky, Ty now earns his lunch money as a fiction writer, mostly in the fantasy and horror genres. In his free time he enjoys tabletop and video gaming, long swording, target shooting, reading, beer tasting and recalling fond memories of his late wife and their beagle baby, Lily. Find City of Rogues and other books and e-books by Ty Johnston at Amazon.
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Blast from the Past: The Micronauts

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Space Glider, one of the original Micronauts, came with a removable helmet and a jet pack with wings that sprang open.

In 1976, just in time for the science fiction craze which would be kicked off by Star Wars, the Mego toy company released the Micronauts line of action figures. Based upon Japan’s Microman toys, the Micronauts proved successful until they ceased to be manufactured in 1980. So successful were the Micronauts that from 1979 until 1986, Marvel Comics came out with not one, but two series of Micronauts comic books, and later Image Comics and Devil’s Due Publishing each had their own limited series of the Micronauts with IDW Publishing announcing in 2015 that they would be bringing the Micronauts back for yet another comic series.

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Cover of the first issue of The Micronauts comic book from Marvel Comics. Yes, the price was still only 35 cents.

What were the Micronauts? From a storytelling perspective, it depends upon whom you ask. The Marvel Comics version and the other comics had their own characters and stories, but the official toy line left more to the imagination, providing little information about the figures other than some cool names and basic facts such as who was a good guy and who was bad, though there were a few hints of various powers and abilities.

The original centerpiece of the Micronauts collection were 3.75-inch-tall plastic action figures with names like Time Traveler, Space Glider, Galactic Warrior and Acroyear. The first three looked somewhat alike with silver human-like heads and colorful bodies, though Acroyear was noticeably different with a helmet-like head, which made sense since he was a villain.

Other action figures were to follow, including several who stood 6.5 inches in height, as well as vehicles, robot figures, and various sets, some of which were whole cities. One of the intriguing things about this series of toys, especially for the time, was that many of them had interchangeable parts; thus you could take Baron Karza’s torso and head, for instance, and plop them down on the horse-like Andromeda to create a centaur of sorts. Even the cities were made sort of like simplistic Erecto Sets so that you could build them into whatever configuration you wanted.

My Micronauts

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Baron Karza was one dude you did not want to mess with.

I was never fortunate enough to have every single Micronauts toy, but that would have been nearly impossible for almost everyone as there were so many different toys in the line. Besides, I was between six and ten years old when I was into Micronauts, and my allowance of $2 a week didn’t exactly lend itself to buying much, even if comics were still only 35 cents back then.

Still, I managed to gather a number of Micronauts over the years.

Like many fans of the series, my favorite has to be the villainous Baron Karza. Standing a full 6.5 inches tall with black armor and red eyes, Baron Karza sported a jet pack and launched a scarlet missile from the center of his chest. Better yet, he could fire both of his fists out as missiles. His figure was one of those that was interchangeable, the arms and head and legs connecting to the main body with magnets, so parts of him could be combined in all kinds of weird ways or exchanged with other, similar figures in the series to create some truly unique monstrosities. Baron Karza has also tended to be the main villain in the various comic book versions of the Micronauts, and that has always felt right to me.

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Acroyear was another favorite of mine. Doesn’t he look awesome!

Other Micronauts I had were Space Glider, with his helmet and jet pack with wings that opened up; Galactic Warrior, with his gun that launched soft-tipped missiles; Pharoid with golden wings at his sides and a time machine that looked like an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus; and then Acroyear, another villain.

Acroyear was a favorite. I guess I have a thing for villains. Not only did he look as if he wore armor, but he carried a short sword and an odd-looking jet pack that sprouted two large spinning wheels. His parts were also interchangeable, so you could build him into different forms.

There were plenty of others Micronauts, but those above were the ones I owned as a kid. Yes, I wish I’d managed to pick up the others, but I have fond memories of what I did have.

The Later Years

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Micronauts Biotron toy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Unfortunately by 1980 the Micronauts were on their way out. They seemed as popular as ever, evidenced by Marvel Comics’ continual run of their title until 1986, but the Mego toy company ran into financial troubles in the early 1980s and filed for bankruptcy in 1982, finally no longer existing by 1983.

Still, the Micronauts lived on.

Sort of.

In Italy the iMicronauti line of toys came into being about the same time as the Micronauts in the U.S. and continued for a short while.

In Japan the original Microman series continued until 1984, then sprang up once more from 1998 to 2007.

In 1985 a series of toys called The Inter-changeables appeared in a few stores. Supposedly made by a company known as HourToy, it was obvious The Inter-changeables were just the Micronauts under a different name. Unfortunately, though made from the same molds as the Micronauts, The Inter-changeables were of inferior quality, made almost wholly of cheap plastics that cracked and broke easily. In 1986 The Inter-changeables continued on under a company called M&D Toys, but it was not to last. The Inter-changeables disappeared from toys soon thereafter.

Then the Palisades toy company decided in 2002 to come out with the Micronaut Retro Series. Apparently there were a lot of difficulties in the manufacture and distribution of these new Micronauts, so the series never had a chance to take off, though a few were sold.

Rumors have sprang up over the years about one company or another coming out with another line of Micronauts, and there has even been talk of a Micronauts movie or another Micronauts comic book, so die-hard fans always have something to hold onto. Apparently Hasbro now owns the Micronauts, and maybe they will do something with the franchise.

Also, the Micronauts in all their forms have become collectors’ items for many fans, and often the action figures and other paraphernalia can be found for sale at various online or auction sites.

So, Micronauts fans never give up. Maybe there’s hope.

As always, Stay Nerdy!

A former newspaper editor for two decades in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky, Ty now earns his lunch money as a fiction writer, mostly in the fantasy and horror genres. In his free time he enjoys tabletop and video gaming, long swording, target shooting, reading, beer tasting and recalling fond memories of his late wife and their beagle baby, Lily. Find City of Rogues and other books and e-books by Ty Johnston at Amazon.
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South Jersey Geekfest | We’ll Be There- Will You?

SJ GeekFestHello loyal Nerdarchists.  This is a call out to all of our local Nerdarchists that want to come check out a cool event and hangout with Nerdarchy at S.J. Geekfest!  If that’s not enough, we’ll be running a few games of a couple of a couple encounters sessions with the aim of bringing new converts to the hobby.

So What’s a Geekfest anyway?

It’s a local convention put on by a group of game developers (both digital and analog) that also run a new and used board game retail space.  This convention will feature digital games, nerdy merchandise, and board gaming.  It’s a 1-2-3 knock out punch! Continue reading South Jersey Geekfest | We’ll Be There- Will You?

The nerd is strong in this one. I received my bachelors degree in communication with a specialization in Radio/TV/Film. I have been a table op role player for about 20 years 17 of which with the current group. I have played several itterations of D&D, Mutants and Masterminds 2nd and 3rd editions, Star wars RPG, Shadowrun and World of Darkness. I am an avid fan of books and follow a few authors reading all they write. Favorite author is Jim Butcher I have been an on/off larper for around 15 years even doing a stretch of running my own for a while. I have played a number of Miniature games including Warhammer 40K, Warhammer Fantasy, Heroscape, Mage Knight, Dreamblade and D&D Miniatures. I have practiced with the art of the German long sword with an ARMA group for over 7 years studying the German long sword, sword and buckler, dagger, axe and polearm. By no strecth of the imagination am I an expert but good enough to last longer than the average person if the Zombie apocalypse ever happens. I am an avid fan of board games and dice games with my current favorite being Quarrios.
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A.J. Kirk Of Team YoYoJam Doing Yo Yo Tricks At Yo YO Club.

It all began May 10th 2014 in Woodbury, N.J. with A.J. Kirk of Team YoYoJam starting up a Yo Yo club here in South Jersey. Let’s start with the events that lead up to meeting A.J. which would have to be South Jersey Geek Fest which was a first year con for geeks that took place April 19th this year. Continue reading A.J. Kirk Of Team YoYoJam Doing Yo Yo Tricks At Yo YO Club.

My name is Dave Friant I've been gaming off and on for over 27 years. But here is the thing it's always been a part of my life I've kept secret and hidden away. I've always been ashamed of the stigma that gaming and my other nerdy and geeky pursuits summon forth. Recently I decided screw it! This is who I am the world be damned. From now on I'm gonna be a geek, nerd, or however folks want to judge me and just enjoy life. Currently one of my greatest joys is introducing my 13 yr old son to table top RPG's.