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Mathew Robert Ignash on the Micronauts, 3D printing, and his company Retro Robot Radio

LONG LIVE THE MICRONAUTS

Long Live the Micronauts is a series of interviews with creators of the Micronaut comics and also with creators who have been inspired by the Micronauts. My interview with Steve Peters is the second interview of many Micronaut-centric interviews.  Steve is a Xeric Award-winner who has been inspired by the Micronauts. Stay tuned for more! You can also read Long Live the Micronauts interviews with  Brian Vox and Steve Peters.

Matthew Robert Ignash

ABOUT MATHEW ROBERT IGNASH

Matthew has an obvious love of the Micronauts. Mathews’ Retro Robot Radio uses 3D printing to make sure your lost Micronauts action figures and toys can be made new. He also designs customized parts to make your Micronauts more personal!  It’s great how creative people from different fields can be inspired by the Micronauts. 3D printing is one of the cool creative ways people can express their Micronaut love.

 

JOESEPH SIMON
You are quite the dedicated creative Micronaut fan. For those who have not seen your work or know about your company, what do you do and what is Retro Robot Radio?

 

MATHEW ROBERT IGNASH
The RRR you have seen in my Shapeways store. It’s an offshoot of my YouTube channel, which did toy reviews. After YouTube has been going to heck with demonetizing and rules, I spent less time on my channel, and more time in the Shapeways store, designing things I wanted to see made.

 

JOESEPH
What came first for you, the Micronaut comic or the Mego action figures?

 

MATHEW
Action Figures. I collected them from day one. Had a few figures and vehicles, and studied the catalog religiously. I only discovered the comic the month after series 2 was canceled, and my local comic shop threw the whole series backstock in the quarter bin! That’s when I started buying a couple of back issues a week.

 

JOESEPH
What was it about the comic and action figures that captivated you?

 

MATHEW
I love the building aspect and the incredible surface details. There are bits of surface detail on every part that only exist to make the parts look cool. It’s that style I fell in love with. When I make a new part, I try to add some sort of similar surface detail that matches an existing old piece so my parts look like they belong with the Micronauts toy family.

 

JOESEPH
When did you get started with 3D printing? What inspired you to start? Are you self-taught? How and when did the Micronauts figure into this?

 

MATHEW
About 3 years ago I wanted to learn to make small weapons for my toys. I picked up a free CAD program and watched some YouTube tutorials. I purposely grabbed some old Micronauts parts I had in storage and practice since there were some simple parts I could practice copying. I think I started by making the extensors from the Trons.

 

JOESEPH
What printer and software did you start on and what do you use now? What advances have there been since you started that the your customer will notice?

 

MATHEW
I really should learn to use a 3d printer, but I am mostly a designer who lets Shapeways and Craftcloud do my printing for me. I use TinkerCAD, which is a free online CAD software designed for kids and students, but it’s secretly very powerful, with many options when you dig deep. I still have not learned all the options on it.

 

JOESEPH
You had to become intimately aware of the designs of the source material (of the comics and figures) to create your own designs.  What conclusions did you come to about those designs?

 

MATHEW
The most important thing to me when designing a new part is to make it have something in common with an existing part. Takara/Mego used to love to reuse bits and pieces in their work constantly. Everything builds on the last toy. When I design a new Micronaut part, I purposely try to borrow some design style from an old piece. It makes it feel like it’s part of the family tree.

 

JOESEPH
How much allure did Ken Kelley’s Mego Micronaut packaging art have on you when it came to how captivating the Mego Micronauts were to you?

 

MATHEW
I only really saw that art as an adult, but I did enjoy it. I loved the way he would put characters in the background. It hinted at a story of which characters fought each other when you saw Force Commander in the background on an alien card art.

 

JOESEPH
Do you take requests with 3D prints? If so, what unusual requests have you had?

 

MATHEW
I take requests all the time. The last one I did was for a variety of Dog Soldier heads for Time Traveler bodies. I often get requests for upsized parts for people making 6-inch tall custom figures, or to bundle together several small parts into a pack that is cheaper to print on Shapeways.

 

JOESEPH
Any requests regarding the post-Marvel Mego licensed Microns or Astral Force?

 

MATHEW
No. I did make some parts intended to be put on Marvel Legends to make Space Glider or Baron Karza.

 

JOESEPH
Who is your favorite character from the Micronaut comics? From the Mego Micronauts?

 

MATHEW
Huntarr from the comics. Antron from the toy line. He’s a walking 5mm port tree! You can always make accessories for Antron.

 

JOESEPH
What advice would you give to anyone considering buying a 3d printer?

 

MATHEW
I like to ask people with printers what they did wrong, so I can avoid making the same mistakes.

 

JOESEPH
What is your favorite design you made?  What was the most challenging and why?

 

MATHEW
I often get asked to make slight variants of the same thing so it’s exactly what one customer asks for. This has led to there being several variants of many of my toys. I must have a dozen different Bug’s Rocket Lance variants because I make them to order. Different lengths, thicknesses, colors, and tip designs. It changed a lot in the comics, and everyone has a different idea in their head of the perfect lance.  I am not a good freehand sculptor, so I am very bad at human heads/faces. I often take a free basic human head off a mannequin and adjust it, rather than make a new head.

 

JOESEPH
One of the cool aspects of what you provide is to enable fans to have modifications and add ons to turn one of their existing figures into a character like Bug. Something not possible otherwise.  What Micronaut characters have you enabled fans to modify?

 

MATHEW
Bug, Acroyear, Acroyear 2, Space Glider, Galactic Warrior, Phariod, all the various aliens. I can currently make full figures in the style of Acroyear (make entirely with 5mm pegs and sockets), but I’m still learning to make the O-Ring/Rivet style figures like Time Traveler and his friends, so I only make accessories for them.

 

JOESEPH
What Micronaut characters are you hoping to work on in the future?

 

MATHEW
I simply hope to make an entire Time Traveler piece by piece. I am halfway there now. Once I have a full body that works and holds together, I can modify it cosmetically from there.

 

JOESEPH
You also create replacement parts and accessories.  Are there more fans losing pieces and parts than fans modifying them?

 

MATHEW
Unless it’s a very rare piece it’s usually cheaper to buy a replacement on eBay. 3d printed bits are best for either new designs or very rare things. For instance, I designed a replacement Lobros tongue. Originals can fetch a LOT, so offering a printed at a lower cost than the original is tempting. A lot of people have incomplete Lobstros and Kronos figures, so I tried to make some of their pieces.

 

JOESEPH
Based on sales and feedback, where did Mego miss the boat on their Micronaut line?

 

MATHEW
While I know they left a lot open to the imagination of the children, I think more names and official builds would have helped things. Instead of ONE Galactic Warrior in three colors, they could have given each a name. They could have given names and instructions for more alternate builds. Maybe even give quick bios to what a Galactic Warrior or Space Glider was. Alternate heads for Magnos so they could make either a unique character or a troop builder would have sold more too.

 

JOESEPH
What are your top 5 sellers?

 

MATHEW
My highest sellers are usually the simple things, like custom stands, feet for Time Traveler, and claws for the Micronauts aliens. The kits that turn Time Traveler into Bug are very popular, and of course the Marvel Comics accurate head for Acroyear.

 

JOESEPH
What are your thoughts on Microman?

 

MATHEW
I am a fan of the early Microman toys, which were made in the style and at the time of Micronauts. Many are vehicles and figures that could easily fit into Micronauts.

 

JOESEPH
Having discovered the comic much later after you collected the action figures, what did you think of the comic and Marvels’ interpretation of the Micronauts? I imagine, based on having the toys and studying the catalogs and so on, you had already your own idea of who and what the Micronauts were.

 

MATHEW
While it’s a great comic, I found myself yearning for any actual cameos of the toys. No characters outside Karza and Force Commander even resembled the figures, and honestly, I’m not a fan of Micronauts being tiny beings. That was a holdover of Microman, I guess. In my mind, Micronauts were alien space explorers. The Marvel Micronauts comic was a great Marvel story. It wasn’t “Micronauts: the Comic”, it was a Marvel space opera inspired by Star Wars and Star Trek, done with the Micronauts intellectual property license.

 

JOESEPH
What was your favorite storyline from the comics?

 

MATHEW
For some reason the issue where they met the planet of space gangsters. Total proof Micronauts writers watched Star Trek and wanted “A Piece of the Action”.

 

JOESEPH
What non-comic, non-toy item from the Micronauts do you prize in your collection and what one are you still hoping to get (puzzles, board games, and so on)?

 

MATHEW
I have one puzzle, some Brian Vox art, and I love Italian Micronauts ads in print and video.

 

JOESEPH
What is the best way for people to look at your wares and to contact you?

 

MATHEW
Contact me on Shapeways or my Facebook page.

 

JOESEPH
What other toy properties work well with your Micronauts designs?

 

MATHEW
One of my past times is trying to make crossovers between Micronauts and other properties. I’ve made crossover toys with Rom, Star Wars, Buck Rogers, Transformers, Battlestar Galactica, Aliens, and more.

 

JOESEPH
It is true that the toy cameos were not plentiful. I always felt Steve Ditko during the Micronauts annual excelled at the toy aspect. Which toy would you have wanted Marvel to develop more in the comic?

 

MATHEW
I’m not sure I could have improved on what Marvel did by making a few changes. It was a good story. It was their in-house space heroes story, much like Starjammers or Guardians of the Galaxy. A “real” Micronauts story would have utilized character models and names more based on the toys, but that wouldn’t have improved what Marvel was doing to make a space opera, it would have diminished it. I guess you have to ask, what should Marvel have been doing, an original space hero story OR a comic-based Micronauts toys. Pick one, or do both, but don’t mix them.

 

JOESEPH
Devils Due and IDW and eventually Hasbro will have their own version of the Micronauts. Why do you think these other companies went in another direction than what you are suggesting?

 

MATHEW
Devil’s Due and IDW again stuck with telling a story of tiny guys from a tiny universe, with all the characters in the same position as Marvel: tiny Microtron, evil Baron Karza villain, making a red Acroyear a hero, add a bug-like guy, and a ship that’s not the Millenium Falcon. It all seemed like they tried to recreate the Marvel story without the Marvel owned-elements instead of making a Micronauts (toy) based story.

Don’t even start with that Teen Titans/Ben 10 cartoon thing Hasbro seems to be developing. It appears to be MINO, Micronauts in name only.

 

JOESEPH
The toy crossover idea is very interesting. Talk more about this.  

 

Designed by Matthew Robert Ignash of Retro Robot Radio

MATHEW
I often make 3d printed accessories that crossover from elements of other properties. I just look for something that fits in with Micronauts toys. Alien Xenomorph heads for the Micronauts aliens to Dr. Theopolis chest pieces for Time Travelers. I’ve made Micronauts-compatible toys inspired by Silent Running, The Shape of Things To Come, Rom, Starriors, Steel Jeeg, Star Wars, DC Comics, and more. 

Whenever I made a toy like this I come up with some story element of fiction – Micronauts Xenomorphs are infected by a parasite which takes over their bodies and turns them into “Xenos”… the Theopolis Time Traveler chest pieces are scientists… my Green Lantern Acroyear is the Green Lantern of the Micro Space sector.

 

JOESEPH
There was a Microman comic in addition to other items like a video game.  Have you seen these?  

 

MATHEW
I have read the first couple Microman manga. Even took inspiration to make a couple of accessories, like Beast-Acroyear.

 

JOESEPH
Did you enjoy the IDW Micronauts teaming up of the Micronauts with Rom, the Transformers, and others?

 

MATHEW
Yes, crossovers are always fun, and they inspire toys. For instance, I made the walking Pharoid Chamber and I have a Targetmaster version of Biotron and Rom in my store, in case anyone wants to give a new partner to one of their Transformers.

 

JOESEPH

Thank you, Mathew.  The Micronauts toys and comics go hand-in-hand for fond memories and obvious cool factors.  Making sure that we have all the pieces and parts to keep our Micronaut figures in working and presentable order is, I am sure, very appreciated.  Being able to customize, super cool!

We will continue to delve into both the comic and the toys in future interviews.  Stay tuned!

 

about LONG LIVE THE MICRONAUTS!

The Micronauts started out in Japan as Microman. Microman found itself recreated and renamed the Micronauts in America. The American release was as a license to Mego in 1976 (for toys) and Marvel (for Comics) in 1979. The Micronaut’s have continued on in one form or another to the present day.

The toy and comic rights have changed from company to company through the decades. At the moment there is a lull in both the action figures and the comics. Hasbro has the rights. After bringing the Micronauts into a Hasbro-verse that includes the Transformers, GI Joe, Rom, and others, promises of movies and animation dash about, get delayed and reprojected.  What, who, when, where, and why? Who knows?

Being a fan of the Micronauts comics, toys, and Microman, I have really been captivated by the creators of the comics and fascinated by other creators who are inspired by the Micronauts.

While fans wait for Hasbro to do whatever they are going to do, I decided to interview the creators who have been inspired by the Micronauts and the creators who help create the Micronaut comics. If you are a Micronaut-centric creator contact me at joesimonsemail@gmail.com.

I also interviewed Brian Vox and Steve Peters for Long Live the Micronauts.

Stay tuned for more Micronaut related interviews in the weeks and months to come!

https://www.firstcomicsnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/MRI-RRR-banner-3-600x99.jpghttps://www.firstcomicsnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/MRI-RRR-banner-3-150x25.jpgJoeseph SimonInterviews3D Printing,Long live the Micronauts,Matthew Robert Ignash,Retro Robot Radio
LONG LIVE THE MICRONAUTS Long Live the Micronauts is a series of interviews with creators of the Micronaut comics and also with creators who have been inspired by the Micronauts. My interview with Steve Peters is the second interview of many Micronaut-centric interviews.  Steve is a Xeric Award-winner who has...

About Joeseph Simon

I am honored to bring the comic book industry closer to comic book fans everywhere! I'm an author, musician, graphic designer, and comic book reporter • Find out more about me at : ((My reporting)) www.facebook.com/joesimon.comicbookreporter + ((My music project)) https://lureoftheunknown.com/

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