This is the latest in a series (of indefinite length and regularity) of blog posts memorializing cancelled toys. Our figures today are SOTA Toys' Micronauts.
In 2005, the toy company SOTA, best known for their 6" Street Fighter toyline (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 SciFi's Face Off, and owner of Pop Culture Shock Collectibles, 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, basically, that I should do it. So we started negotiating a deal. I was on Cloud 9."
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 appeal. "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."
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 continuing 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, check out Pop Culture Shock Collectibles' website and follow their Facebook page for the latest news. And for more on each of the three prototypes SOTA was able to develop, continue on to page 2.