Fanmode interview: Bryan Wilkinson (part 4)

Long-time Micronauts and Microman fan, Bryan “MicroBry” Wilkinson, is one of the select few who’ve made the transition from toy fan to toy designer. His website was one of the earliest to draw attention to Transformers’ (then) little-known origins, and he was given the opportunity to work on Palisades’ Micronauts revival in 2002. As Transformers celebrates its 25th. anniversary and Microman celebrates its 35th., we thought it only appropriate to ask him about Micronauts, Microman, Transformers, fandom, and making the transition from consumer to creator.

(Due to its length, the interview will be presented in several parts. Parts one, two and three were published earlier.)

When did it become clear the Palisades Micronauts line was seriously flawed?

It wasn’t clear at first if the early reports of bad product were just a fluke or not so Palisades had no clue just how extensive the damage to the line was until well after it was far too late to recall the product.

We started getting the first shots back from the newly commissioned factory in China in June 2002, and they looked fantastic. Those of us who have owned preproduction samples can vouch that the initial hand-made prototypes were of excellent quality that matched or even possibly outdid their originals.

Furthermore, Ken Lilly (head of Palisades’ product development then) went to China in September, saw the production floor and was given a number of samples. He sent back photos which included a nice, sturdy clear-cast Baron Karza that not only could form the centaur form properly but even hold the classic “rearing up” pose that the original toy could do so effortlessly. (The Karza that shipped could not form the centaur mode without serious modification and even then didn’t fit together this precisely.) The stuff was pretty solid and just about to enter full production.

Palisades Micronauts Baron Karza sample

Micronauts copyright © 2002 AGE, Takara, licensed to Palisades Toys.
Photo by Ken Lilly for Palisades

What none of us knew until much later was that Ken had been given a total dog and pony show by a dishonest company acting as Palisades’ middleman responsible for subcontracting the factory (this was very similar to what Patrick Calello experienced).
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