Will Lost and new Star Trek mastermind, J.J. Abrams be trying his hand at reviving an old-school toy line with an updated movie? Possibly. It is being reported that Abrams is in talks to produce a film adaptation of late 70's, early 80's toy line, turned Marvel Comics title, Micronauts.
While one does not typically think of The Wall Street Journal as a regular source for breaking news in the entertainment biz, they may have (and I'll stress "may have") done just that. The Journal ran a piece today about the continuing trend of toy franchises being transformed into major blockbuster films. However, in an almost passive way, they briefly drop the bombshell:
"J.J. Abrams, who created the TV show 'Lost' and directed this summer's 'Star Trek' film, is in discussions to produce a movie about Japanese toy line Micronauts, which Hasbro just acquired."
Unless this tidbit is some kind of serious typo that will be retracted at the bottom of tomorrow's edition, this will be a major project. Abrams would actually have quite a bit of raw material to work with. Micronauts was, ironically enough, a rather deep comic title for something that was essentially a monthly commercial for a toy line. (Although the same could be said of Larry Hama's tenure on G.I. Joe.) However, other than Gen-X'ers, I'm sure there are quite a few other generations of people thinking of a rather obvious question: What the hell is Micronauts?
It's time for a Cliff Notes-like history lesson:
It began as a toy line in 1972 from Japanese company, Takara called Henshin Cyborg. It was essentially an 8"-12" humanoid figure like the old stand-alone G.I. Joe, except with an added Japanese touch of a transparent body with visible "circuits" inside the figure. Eventually, Takara decided to continue the line in a miniaturized 3.75" scale, and thus, the birth of the standard scale of action figures, which would eventually be adopted by future legendary lines like Star Wars and G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero was born.
Takara's miniaturized Henshin Cyborg line (redubbed Microman) maintained (and in many ways surpassed) the articulation and movement of the original larger counterparts, and began to feature interchangeable parts which allowed you to transform the figures into different vehicles. In 1976, the Mego Corporation (famous for its legendary line of figures of various TV and comic characters from the 70's and 80's,) released Microman in the United States as Micronauts. The line ran for 4 years, and inspired a Marvel Comics title that continued after the toy line's demise.
After the Micronauts toy line ended in 1980, its remaining ideas and development went towards the creation of a new franchise called -- Transformers. In fact, some of the early releases of Transformers were simply developmental leftovers from Micronauts.
That brings us back to now. Since the initial series ended, Micronauts has experienced a few sporadic relaunch comic titles, however, despite a small, but committed cult fanbase, the franchise has remained rather dormant. While the original toy lines themselves did not carry any sort of context-setting story, the Marvel Comics title depicted a microscopic world called the "Microverse" that was in danger of being exploited and conquered by the evil Baron Karza. Only the Micronauts, consisting of Arcturus Rann, Acroyear, Biotron, Microtron, and Marionette could stand up to his power and stop him.
Could we be in store for a giant (yet shrunk-down,) effects-laden opus of awesomeness? While Micronauts sounds like a directorial project that Michael Bay or Stephen Sommers might be offered, Abrams (if he decides to helm the film) may be able to carry-over much of the Marvel title's depth into the adaptation, while providing plenty of mind-blowing action and scenery.