Forgotten Lore > SOTA’s Micronauts (w/ Jerry Macaluso interview)

Forgotten Lore is a feature that highlights unproduced toy lines. For more, see the archive.

Baron Karza prototype, by SOTA Toys

In 2005 the toy company SOTA, best known for their 6″ Street Fighter toy line (still one of the best 1/12 lines ever made), announced they’d scored the rights to the classic vintage property Micronauts and would be producing 6″ figures based on the characters. After viewing some beautiful prototypes, fans eagerly awaited their release…but sadly, the line was not to be.

Jerry Macaluso, former head of SOTA, contestant on SyFy’s Face Off, and owner of Pop Culture Shock Collectibles (who may be working on a He-Man statue), describes how SOTA got the license: “The toy industry is pretty small and one day at NY Toy Fair, a friend of mine introduced me to Ken Abrams, the man who owned the rights to the Micronauts.  Neither knew that The Micronauts were my favorite toy and comic ever…but they quickly learned.  I started talking about how he needs to bring back the Micronauts and how he should do it and his response was, basicallly, that I should do it.  So we started negotiating a deal.  I was on Cloud 9.”

Lobros

Some Micronauts fans were puzzled by the decision to go with a 6″ scale, as the small size of the vintage figures had been an integral part of their design. “At the time 6″ scale was the universally accepted scale and I wanted to put more detail into the figures than I could at 3¾” scale,” says Macaluso.

A lot of work went into developing the prototypes. “The main designers were Randy Queen, Sandy Collora and myself.  There were a lot of sculptors involved so I may miss a few names but they included lead sculptor Will Harbottle, Jon Stevens, Aaron McNaught and myself.   In a way, because we are so used to copying licensed characters,  it was difficult to have so much freedom on a line of figures.  We would sculpt, then resculpt, over and over and over.  We just kept adding accessories.  It really was out of control with no concern for the cost .”

Space Glider

The amazing-looking figures got a lot of buzz among Micronauts fans and non-fans alike, but sadly, the line was not to be. ” The biggest problem was the Japanese toy company Takara sued everyone involved with the Micronauts because they claimed that it was still owned by them under the Microman line,” says Macaluso. “My lawyer determined that the risk was too great and we needed to put the line on ice until the lawsuit was resolved.  During this time I decided I was burned out on action figures so I sold SOTA Toys to a group of people who, I guess, had no interest in continung to pursue the line, as Takara lost the lawsuit.”

And so, one of the most anticipated action figure lines of the modern era perished before it was born. Since Takara lost the lawsuit, one wonders where those prototypes are today, and if they might some day be resurrected…

For more on Jerry’s current projects (including the aforementioned He-Man statue), check out Pop Culture Shock Collectibles‘ website and follow their Facebook page for the latest news.

 

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Comments now closed (15)

  • Thanks for the great article, Poe. I didn't even know about these, although, seeing how awesome they look, maybe it would have been better if I didn't know. lol But I love reading stories like this about why certain toylines did or did not come to pass.

  • Pretty cool stuff! Baron Karza looks incredible. I guess I'm still wondering what the market would have been like for these. Do the collectors of Micronauts like the toys for their interchangeability/Japanese robot influences, or do the characters themselves really mean something to collectors? Without a TV show to support it, I'm not sure how collectors look at these as individual characters. Still, I think there are a lot of people who love ANYTHING to do with Mirconauts, and these are cool BECAUSE they're so different from the rest of what's out there.

    • Ben, Micronauts is one of those lines where the fanbase is split. Mostly depends on what brought you to the dance.
      There are some who like everything, but it essentially breaks down to:
      – comic fans
      – original toy fans
      – Microman storyline fans
      – Japanese toy fans
      – interchangeability fans.

      It's difficult, because we've never really gotten toys of most of the Marvel comic characters.

      I remember that these were solicited with a potential $30 to $40 pricepoint back in 2005. so there's really no way of knowing if they would have sold or not. Still would like to see them pop up somewhere. With Hasbro having the license, I doubt it.

  • Hasbro announced they had acquired the license a little while ago and there was a brief rumour of JJ Abrams being interested in doing a movie and then…zip.
    Pity, I loved these as a kid, I even used to run the Microman flickr group for a bit.
    Ashely Wood's ThreeA has the rights to produce Microman stuff, his new line is Microman: String Theory, that's all anyone knows about it at the moment.

  • Glad I have no attachment to Micronauts, cause those look great and I'd be heartbroken that they never came out.

  • I love Karza, but Space Glider looks a little too…busy. Maybe I'm just missing the transparent elements. The biggest draw of the original toys for me was the interchangability (is that even a word?!) of the limbs, parts, weapons and vehicles. I think I'd still like to see a bit of that in any re-release.
    So would of bought that Karza though…

  • I miss SOTA. The silver wetsuit Lara Croft action figure remains one of my favourite action figures ever and is possibly my favourite female action figure.

    I also really enjoyed their Charmed action figures, particularly the Amazon/Valkyrie second series which came with HEAPS of articulation and an absolutely superb "collect and connect" playset/diorama (although the attic playset/diorama that came with the first series was probably better, simply because it was more iconic).

    And their Street Fighter line was also great. It's a shame they're no longer in the action figure business. I considered them to be the leaders of the pack for quite a while.

  • yup, i too miss jerry being in charge of SOTA, and them making some of the best action figs i own. these were just so far ahead of the curve, it's not even funny.

  • Jerry & (former) SOTA were truly great! "Coming Soon!" was a fantastic riff on the "Movie Maniacs" format was filled/was poised to fill many gaps in the collection (Herbert West, Leprechaun & especially Burt Gummer vs Graboid boxset are MOST missed by me). They also showed off some GREAT sculpts for 12" "Galaxy Quest" figures (mmmm, Saris)!

    Lobros will always, ALWAYS break my heart – that is just a phenomenally gorgeous sculpt. At SDCC Jerry said he's working on a new line, to be kickstarter funded, that will take everything he wanted to do with this Micronauts line but apply it his own IP. I can't wait to see it!

    Great article, Poe – I never knew why they disappeared. Dumb lawsuits…

    • stoppit man, yer gettin me all horny RP.

      seriously, jerry, baby, if you're reading this… do ALL the fansite rounds when this takes off… your toys are LEGEN… wait for it… DARY! you, the sequel? i can't even imagine how awesome this could be.

    • i don't know if i'd go that far mark… NECA made stuff that was pretty on-model for the rehashed looks of the SF game they designed for, and in some ways, their articulation was way more functional. over time, what i will say against them is, that articulation has not held up as well, (though i have a couple SOTA figs who are looser than kristen stewart on amyl nitrate) and the source material just wasn't as elegantly designed as the older game sprites were that SOTA was working off of… but one of these days, have someone do a side by side for you of the shared characters from both lines… NECA's chun li is hands down the better rep of the character. i also think you could argue for ryu too looking more like his source control art than SOTA's did… on the other hand, SOTA floored NECA on the character selection, accessories, and scale and the best of the SOTA gang (who for me was sagat, hands down), he's one of the prettiest action figures i own period, of any line.

      • He might be talking about the lack of character selection. Jerry gave us 26 characters when Street Fighter was dead and done. NECA couldn't do more than 6 characters when Street Fighter 4 re-energized the fighting game market.

        I do agree that the NECA Chun Li was the best! Chun Li must have Thunder Thighs and big legs!

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