Every year sees several new trends in toys, whether it is battling tops, bubbles that can be caught, or rescue themed-items. Even within the action figure genre, there is room for a trend or two each year. For 2002, two such trends are vinyl rotocast ("urban vinyl") action figures and block ("mini") figures. The vinyl rotocast trend is based on the popular Hong Kong style artistic figures, done more as art than as toys. The block figure trend is based on the LEGO mini-figure. Medicom was the first to reinvent the block figure with their Kubricks figures, and Toynami has followed suit with the 'cubular' I-Men figures.
size comparison: Kubrick, I-Man, LEGO
The I-Men are just shy of two and a half inches tall, just a bit smaller than Medicom's Kubrick figures. In the image above, the Doctor Doom Kubrick appears to be the same height as Max's VF-1J, but the Battloid is "cheating" a bit by standing on the Collector Coin and having antennae on its head. The Kubricks and I-Men both clearly dwarf LEGO mini-figures, as shown.
The I-Men are set apart from the rest of the players in the block figure game due to their magnetic feet. Small magnets in their feet allow them to stick your fridge, filing cabinet, or other metal surface. The I-Men are sold in two-packs, with a Collector Coin included for each I-Man. The Coins are unique to each character, and since they are made of metal, they can be used as display stands for the I-Men. (Magnets in the feet, combined with metal coins, means there's no need for a pegged stand. It also means that collectors with cats will save time when a stray tail knocks over a display of mini-figures.) One side of the coin is a "generic" I-Men logo and the other side has a logo specific to the series and character. In the images on this page, you can see "Ben Dixon" and "Robotech" on one side of the Coin, and the I-Men logo on the other side.
defending the fridge
What good is a metal coin as a display stand? In the upcoming DragonBall Z series of I-Men, the Coins function as conductors when the I-Men are placed on them, completing the circuit and triggering the "light-up" action to light up the hair on the figure.
Toynami has chosen to launch their I-Men product line with a series based on Robotech. Each Pilot is paired with the Battloid form of his or her Veritech. The Veritech, also known as a Valkryie, is a craft that resembles a fighter jet. It can transform into a giant fighting robot, referred to as a Battloid. (There is another stage of transformation, the Guardian, perhaps a future series of I-Men will incorporate the Guardian.)
Each series of I-Men is numbered, with a checklist on the back for reference. Each cardback also lists Creative Team credits, and while that is also a checklist, you'll have a harder time collecting the entire Team than collecting all of the I-Men. The Robotech series consists of ten figures, packaged as five two-packs:
- 001 Rick Hunter's VF-1J
- 002 Rick Hunter
- 003 Ben Dixon's VF-1A
- 004 Ben Dixon
- 005 Roy Fokker's VF-1S
- 006 Roy Fokker
- 007 Max Sterling's VF-1J
- 008 Max Sterling
- 009 Miriya's VF-1J
- 010 Miriya
The Pilot figures all have the same sculpt (even Miriya), with different paint applications to set them apart. The helmets are molded on as part of their heads, and just as with LEGO's mini-figures, the paint deco on the faces conveys a good deal of personality for such limited space. Each pilot is articulated at the neck (ball joints), shoulders (ball joint), wrists (twists), waist (twist), hips (ball joints), and ankles (twists from side to side and up and down).
The Battloid figures all share the same body sculpt, but with different heads. The body is the same as for the Pilot figures, but with extra pieces attached to the arms, legs, and torso to recreate the "transformed warplane" look of the Battloids. This limits the articulation of the Battloids a bit, preventing the waist from being turned and limited the range of movement in the ankles and shoulders. Each Battloid comes with a weapon which also fits into the Pilot figure's hand.
Detail Pictures of the Robotech I-Men
Pictures of the Pilots & Battloids
|Where to buy the I-Men: The Robotech I-Men are sold in two-packs, with a retail price range of about $7 to $10 USD per two-pack. Some retailers sell them in sets of five two-packs, so that you would get all ten Robotech I-Men at once. They are sold wherever Toynami's Robotech products are sold, as well as at various online toy retailers.
Several such online stores are RTM sponsors Big Bad Toy Store, The Outer Reaches, and SweatyFrog.com. (Be sure to check the other RTM sponsors, listed on the Shop Center.)