Transformers and Micronauts, Together Again
In the current era of shared universes that was popularized by Marvel's blockbuster movies and their spin-off TV shows, it seems that every major media company is finding ways to shove multiple franchises into a single narrative setting to increase their collective profitability. Multiple shared universe movies are currently in development, and a few titles in the toys-to-life genre of video games used shared universes as a way to mix and match characters, vehicles and settings from different franchises. Even comic books are getting into the act, which brings me to the topic of this post: IDW publishing is launching a set of comic book series under the umbrella title of Revolution, a title that brings together several toy lines that are owned by Hasbro into a single shared universe. Stories in the Revolution title will consist of characters from G.I. Joe, Transformers, Action Man, M.A.S.K., Rom, Micronauts, and possibly others.
On the surface, IDW's Revolution title is just another attempt to hop on the shared universe bandwagon (see also the Future Quest comic book series by DC). But for Japanese toy robot enthusiasts like me, Revolution marks the semi-reunion of a toy line that was imported from Japan and repackaged into two separate lines in the U.S. during the '70s and '80s: Micronauts and Transformers. Mego imported the original Microman toy line from Japan and sold it under the name Micronauts between 1976 and 1980. The New Microman toy line ran in Japan from 1981 to 1984, and Hasbro imported some of the Microman "Micro Change" robot figures for use in the Transformers toy line, which also consisted of imported toys from Japan's Diaclone line. As the name "micro" suggests, the Microman toys that appeared in the original Transformers line were those that transformed into smaller objects (e.g., hand guns, tape recorders, cassette tapes, cameras, microscopes, etc.) while the Diaclone toys were those that transformed into larger objects (e.g. cars, trucks, airplanes, etc.).
Above and below: The Micro Change robots as they were originally advertised as part of the Microman toy line.
Since the Revolution title has been launched with the obvious intent to promote Hasbro toys, I doubt that its stories will do anything to reference and utilize the shared origin of Micronauts and Transformers. Nevertheless, if I were in charge, I'd mash together Microman, Diaclone and Transformers with a few other similarly-themed Japanese robot toys lines (such as Machine Robo and Zoids) to produce a series of video games, manga and anime titles along the lines of Super Robot Wars, a Japanese shared universe franchise that began in 1991 and still runs to this day. A nerd can dream ....
A cutaway diagram of one of Mircoman's pre-Transformers Micro Change Robots.