REVIEW: Mega Bloks' Magna-Man and Mag-Warriors
Rob Braun explores the "mildly hazardous" world of magnetic action figures.
At some time in life, everyone has played with LEGO’s little brother Mega Bloks. As either spare parts for bigger LEGO monstrosities or fodder for building a decent size LEGO Apartment for your sister’s LEGO men, Mega Bloks shared that resilience as their Swiss brethren. However, life goes on and toys change. While LEGO still dominates the building block world, Mega Bloks has moved into another field of construction toys, the ‘Magnetic’ field.
Magnetic Building toys share the constructive intuition as their building brick cousins, on the downside they come with a big fat warning label printed across the back of the box. Aside from the standard “May contain small parts” warning for the culinary challenged, the warning are to not let the toys come into contact with computers, credit cards, televisions, pace-makers, VCRs, small children, you name it. In this digital age it becomes a matter of life and death. Developed by Rose-Art and released under their Mega Blok and Magnetix line come the Magna-Man and Mag-Warriors.
Although named differently, the Magna-Man and Mag-Warriors toys are fundamentally the same thing. They are magnetic action figures built on ball bearing magnets in the joints dubbed “Mag-Lock” construction. For classic toy collectors, this scheme has been done a multitude of times before, namely by the Micronauts. The magnets hold their charge and give the figures a steady range of motion and posture and also hold them together. Magnets also give a range of customizability by changing out limbs from one figure to another without the worries of joints connecting in a different scheme.
The differentiation between the names comes from the aesthetics, Magna-Man range from mythical to futuristic figures, and Mag-Warriors are slated for a medieval role. Another defining difference between the two titles is in the scale of the figures, Mag-Warriors having only magnet bearings in the shoulders and hips with smaller contact magnets in the neck and feet, whereas the Magna-Man figures have magnet ball bearings for every joint, giving them a much heftier feel to them as well as the typical change in MSRP. Also, Mag-Warriors are built of heavy weight plastic while Magna-Man figures are built out of a heavy vinyl.
The toy line as a whole shares the play value of a high range of articulation, coupled with simple yet kid-friendly weapon accessories. So far I have seen no Spring Loaded Firing mechanism seen in virtually every toy in existence. However with enough kinetic force, each figure’s head can be launched at an unsuspecting victim with ease and deadly accuracy.
On the subject of the heads, each Magna-Man/Mag-Warrior comes with a light-up action. While not blindingly bright or revolutionarily unique, the figures use watch-cell batteries that are permanently bonded to the innards of the head mold. Science takes its toll as the magnet that holds the head on will also drain the battery in no time. The lifespan of your light-up action is finite to only a short time after opening the package and since the batteries are irreplaceable this fun feature is short lived.
Upon closer inspection, the Mag-Warriors’ two types of packaging is a short lived decision. The earlier ones (reviewed Kronoguild, Crymson, Firebrand), come in a hard plastic encasement similar to the LEGO brand “Bionicles” and the later ones (reviewed Destreader, Atrox, and Hirotengu) come in cardboard wrapped blister bubbles. The choice for the later packaging proves as a solution to the problem of the bubble encased figures needing unnecessary reassembly of their non interchangeable elbows and knees right out of the box. Another sizeable difference between the two releases is the inclusion of three weapons as opposed to two.
The play value of the Mag-Warriors is enriched by their magnetic abilities. Granted play is strongly recommended out of the range of electronics and computers, some fun can be had when around metal structures. With the strength of individual magnets working together, a well placed Mag-Warrior can adhere in any position. Although fun, it isn’t recommended considering these figures can fall apart from the slightest of impact. So for safe keeping, each figure comes with a metal plate to which they can magnetize to and stay out of trouble.
The Magna-Man figures share the common construction of the Mag-Warriors, however they are much larger and heavier figures due to the fact they are built out of several magnet balls. There are magnets at each joint, ankle, wrists, knee, elbow, waist, neck, hip, and shoulder. While this adds greatly for the customization and interchangeable play value with other Magna-Man figures, it hurts as far as weight distribution goes. The Magna-Man figures reviewed here (One-Eyed Jack and Eric the Viking), while aesthetically different share the same issues of not being able to hold their weight and result in a slump, hanging stance.
Overall, this toy line shares its hits and its misses. Magnets are fun to play around with, but when your everyday life is spent on something that is not recommended to be in contact with, the figures are mildly hazardous toys.
Magna-Man and Mag-Warriors can be found at most mass market retailers and range in price from $6.99-$9.99 each.
Review and Images by: Rob Braun
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