Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Two-Faced Robot Terror…

If you’re fortunate enough to have one of the uncommon Micronaut PHOBOS, or have been in the Micronaut collecting community for long enough, you’ve probably encountered the conundrum of the two faces on this Micronaut’s head. There’s been some debate about which is the proper ‘face’ - or if one side or the other should be regarded as a face at all…

Phobos is Mego’s unique redeco of the earlier Takara-designed Micronaut toy, Biotron (or Robotman, in Microman parlance.) The Biotron toy has been recolored and given a new head. Perhaps we’re to assume he is ‘evil’ based on Phobos’ Baron Karza-styled color combination. The box even lacks the use of Mego’s typically vague marketing tag lines.

So, Phobos’ enormous head seems to have two faces. A rather silly, frightened looking face:

… and a face with a much more sinister, slit-eyed, reptile-toothed scowl:

I got my first Phobos at the end of the 1980s, back in college. I immediately gravitated to the more ‘sinister’ of Phobos’ two faces, rather than the one that looked – to me – like a screaming robotic cow. However, Mego’s packaging displayed the face I didn’t like. To make matters more confusing, the product photo had the robot’s entire torso turned around backwards, with the tread assembly up front and the pilot’s cockpit in the back.

That didn't seem to make much sense. As far as I was concerned, it looked like Mego didn’t know what the heck was going on with the toy in their typically ethereal packaging fashion, so who could tell if the two 5 millimeter sockets and the apparent vents and grilles on the ‘cow faced’ side of Phobos’ head were really supposed to be a face or not? If I was an evil giant robot, I knew which face I’d prefer to meet my foes with.

Later, when the Micronauts collecting community became connected in the on-line Microverse, more people shared the same small confusion. At least one website – now sadly off line – explored the toy’s entertaining dilemma. Although some folks inexplicably preferred the robot cow face…

Recently, I obtained copies from one of Mego’s rare salesman’s marketing booklets. These books featured information about the toys Mego was currently offering, with clip art and some marketing write-ups to help retailers put together advertising for the products. The page for Phobos features a solid look at what Mego actually thought about their own toy (and a quick correction for misspelling his name!), but which they failed to convey on the toy’s own packaging.

The page also features a great photo of Phobos in a prototype stage, with his torso turned around backwards, the hard copy head showing the cow-face unchromed and decorated with star stickers, and his body color apparently lacking the red later applied in place of Biotron’s white areas.

So it would appear that Phobos is supposed to deliberately sow confusion! His head is indeed “two-sided” – part of his many disguises!

That sneaky Mego … leaving so much of Phobos up to the imagination... which was really one of the most important action features of the Interchangeable World of the Micronauts.


  1. Wow...this reminded me that I originally had my Acroyear head on backwards as a kid! (if you take another look, he looks like he's got eyes on the back of his head too!!)

  2. Mark, you aren't the only person who was caught by the eye-like surfaces on the back of Acroyear's head. The Acroyear rendition in the rare Micronaut Jewelry series committed the same 'inversion'!

  3. Fascinating!
    Never had one, never wanted one, but the black and red looks very good. Definitely a bad gut - Phobos means "fear".

    Did they correct a misspelling, or did they just ink in a missing "registered trademark" symbol?

  4. In the text area, there is indeed a trademark symbol penned-in. Also, it looks as though they've hand-corrected a "U" into an "O" in the work "Phobos" in the second sentence. :-)

  5. Gotta agree on your preferred face for Phobos. The two "eyes" on the cow face side look to be standard peg holes, so this would be a place for me to add accessories of some sort.. if I owned him!

  6. Interestingly enough I just the other day posted about these very same Salesman Sheets. No Micronaut collector should be without them. Any speculation as to what was on page 18?

  7. When I was in Japan over 10years ago I picked up what I think must be Reissues 3 mircomen they were the ones with the coffins,Red Egyptian coffin microman,Clear Blue Easter Island coffin microman and another blue one in a strange symbol as the coffin from memory it was the mircoman legend symbol or something similar.I think they were like $10 Australian each,I picked these up as I remembered having the Micronaut version red egyptain one(Pharoid)???? as a Child.