Our first submission was the Jog Leader by community veteran Will Jones. Customized from an Avatar AMP suit with newly added 5mm parts and a Microman-inspired color scheme, I knew the contest was off to a good start as this was exactly the kind of entry I had outlined in the rules. I have seen a few other GI Joe customs using the AMP suit before and I have an unmodified one in my own collection and can attest it is a great, bargain robot toy well suited for customizing. It had never occured to me though to give it a retro styling like Will did and I was really impressed with the result, which seems both evocative of Robotmachine Z's color scheme and Robotman (Biotron) with the silver hands and other details and a lighter blue (I might have liked the blue a little darker, but that really is my only "issue", if that). The addition of the 5mm ports and demonstration of their functionality really helped seal this as a solid Micro custom.
Our second submission came from Fred Yee, the Black and White bikes, Fred started his 5mm Toyhacker blog Summer of last year, and much of his experiments perfectly embrace the kind of "toyjacking" I enjoy myself and wanted to encourage in this contest. This submission is a great example of creating new vehicles out of found toy parts. I felt that Jog Leader at this point was a stronger submission, but was quite pleased with Fred's work as usual.
Our third submission was King Dovosatron by Lee Burbridge. I was hoping for some big surprises, and this was one of the biggest. Lee not only submitted a number of great photos, but also included a word document that told a pictoral story behind King Dovosatron's origins. I was really impressed by this one-of-a-kind approach and the equally unique custom, and am curious to know more about its construction. Lee's work really gives a sense of something a stranded Microman (or Acroyear) might have built partly from scratch using their alien technology. While the end result may not be as "micro-stylized" as some of the other entries, it really has its own strong style to it, with a lot of feeling in it and it really embraces the spirit of the toys, their history, and the purpose of this contest in a way that I never expected.
Our fourth submission was a second entry by Will Jones, the Body Banks. When I first saw this entry, I don't know if I missed it or if he hadn't named it yet, so my initial impression of the custom was that it was some sort of interchangeable flying capsule vehicle or city component. Again Will has added 5mm parts, paint to Micro-stylize the piece and has some connected Micronaut parts and figures to demonstrate how they work. I could easily see adding some Micronaut robot arms to them and making them into a Micro-robot of sorts, too. With the addition of the use of the name Body Banks from the comics, one can also imagine these as an actual marketed Mego tie-in product and a more sinister purpose for these capsules. I really enjoyed this more abstract yet distinctly Microman/Micronaut-like entry. By this point, though, I think the Jog Leader was still my favorite.
The fifth submission was also a second entry, this time from Fred Yee, with a new updated take on the Giant Acroyear Acro-Cannon. Much of the same approach was taken as with his prior entry, but I felt this was much stronger, with a good cohesive look to the final toy configuration which still clearly paid homage to the original toy it was based on. I particularly was happy to learn that the 1999 Microman Earth-Jetter missile tip fits and looks nicely in the vintage Giant Acroyear cannon. This looks like a fun custom that others can build following the pictures and notes on his blog, with no painting or glue required (although some dis-assembly, drilling and such).
The strongest hitters, though, came in at the very end of the contest period. The sixth submission (and our only CG submission), the GeoTrax Rocket Trax was quickly put together surprisingly quickly by newer Facebook group member Gordon Peterson, who learned of the contest with only a half-month to spare. Interestingly Gordon took the rules a little differently in meaning when coming up with this modification of the existing GeoTrax toyline to make this original Micro-take on the toy. The results are really quite impressive and would definitely be something I'd love to own. Unfortunately, it didn't quite make the top tier in my ranking though as the intent of the contest was to create toys that the figures could use and be in scale with, rather than create new figures. But the execution and presentation is top notch all the same, and for a while I was quite torn between it and the next submission.
The seventh submission really knocked me out of my chair. Paul "Laser Mego" Wasson, who also has been working on the Proto Cities project used his skills and equipment to create an entirely new construction toy set interchangeable with Micropolis sets but designed for the Micronaut aliens, the Bug Base. While the parts look deceptively simple on their own at first, when assembled, the results are quite stunning and fully capture the Mego Micronauts spirit. It is easy to imagine alien colonies invading Micropolis sets, and hopefully Paul will make these sets available to turn this into a reality for micro-fans.
It looked like Paul was set for a victory, but we had one last entrant finishing their work just a couple hours before the final deadline, which once I saw it would tie with Paul's in my head for a good while. In the end, Paul took second place and will be receiving a newly-added runner-up prize, an unopened flesh-colored lady Material Force figure. :)
Our final submission, and winner of the contest (thus winning the Romando Bio-Suit kit) comes from Geoffrey Gayan (with some decal assistance by Jeff Anderson), the Rescue Conga. Frankly, I was completely blown away by this amazing work, which not only perfectly captures the Microman look, follows up and builds on an existing toy concept, but really creatively uses an old toy contemporary to the series and adds many new gimmicks and Microman-based functions to the toy. Particularly ingenious was the use of empty party poppers to make functioning rescue winches, and repainted deodorant caps into radar dishes. Between the presentation, interchangeability, authenticity of the look, the decals, and just the overall final product, I was completely sold. I had a hard time deciding between it and the Bug Base, but in the end, I had to go with the custom toy that exemplified the kind of custom I created the contest to encourage the creation of. The Bug Base exceeds that expectation in its own way, but its elegant simplicity lost in the end to the complexly Microman-authentic look of the Conga. Congratulations to the winner and runner-up!
EXHIBITION ENTRY (non-competing)
We also have one entry for the "exhibition" category--in this case, Gary Stelling at Micropolis Embassy shared his Giant Acroyear Battle Fleet custom a mere two days after the contest ended. While not eligible for the prizes, I was really impressed with this creation and asked his permission to share it as an honorable mention.
Well, that's it for tonight. Tomorrow for part 2, I will try to have ready the info for the Fans' Choice judging, where everyone can vote to pick a fan favorite to win the U-Borg prize (the current contest winner will be exempt from the prize, but can still be voted on).