Membros, my main man.
I was 8 or 9 when I first met Membros, and during the post-Star Wars craze of the late 70s, he integrated nicely with my other action figures. He’d hang out in the Cantina with the likes of Hammerhead and Greedo, trying to pass himself off as a mutated sea slug but everyone knew he was really just a sunburned Tusken Raider. Some thought that he tried a little too hard to be stylish, with his bell-bottomed legs and an EVIL GLOWING BRAIN that looked like an afro. But it was cool, they all got along. If they could let the Ovion into their bar, they would accept Membros, too.
Little did I know back then that Membros and his pals were the glowing brain child of Stephen Lee at California R&D, the company that was instrumental in bringing Takara’s Microman toys to the states as Mego’s Micronauts. The aliens were designed to be compatible with the 5mm and 2.5mm pegs that Microman used, so that they could use existing weapons and accessories that kids already had. (If you want to learn more about the Micronaut Aliens’ development, check out the excellent Micropola Magazine.)
Flash forward to 2002, after my Micronauts and Star Wars figures were long gone (including the elusive Blue Snaggletooth). News came that Palisades Toys was going to make reproductions of the original Micronaut toys, and Membros was going to be one of them. Not only was he going to be offered in the original red color scheme, but also black, yellow, and a completely clear version. In addition, a glittery Bioscan version and all-glow Radioactive version appeared as exclusives.
And they were going to have improvements! Each one would have a stand, and finally, Membros would have hands, letting him use more accessories and play nice with other action figures.
The power of nostalgia took over, and I bit, and now there are three slithery skinned aliens sitting on my shelf.
Clear Membros: This was one of the variants offered at regular retail. I really like the concept, and seeing the rubber o-ring inside him makes it look like he has some internal organs. Unfortunately this one suffers from the infamous Series 1 factory’s production problems and one of the legs doesn’t bend at the knee. Also, the brain glows very faintly. Aside from the knee issue, though, the construction is very solid, perhaps even more substantial than Mego’s original toy.
Bioscan Membros: A Micropolis Embassy exclusive, offered to members of the mailing list (and long since sold out). He’s cast in with green plastic with embedded glitter, so he looks like he’s made out of Crest Gel. This, along with the Series 1.5 and Series 2 Micronauts, was made at Palisades’ newer factory and is even sturdier than the clear version, but there are still glitches. You can’t raise one arm without raising the other, and for some reason the head bobs around in the process. And the glow on this one’s brain is even fainter than the Series 1 version.
Radioactive Membros: This is part of the Series 1.5 set that Palisades sells through their web site, also made at the newer factory. This one is cast in all glow plastic, and the glow is brighter than the brain’s, but its still not incredibly intense. It also has the dual arm/head bobbing issue.
And look, BlazeEagle, Membros has a waist joint!
All of these guys get a B. I like ‘em, but minor things in each one’s execution make them just short of being excellent. On one hand, I realize I’m being nitpicky about toy crack, but nostalgia is definitely at work here, bringing me back to the time a little alien turned on his brain light, in the middle of a young boy’s dream.