Left to right: Baron Karza, Mego U.S.A, 1977; Totila, GIG Italy, 1985; Microman T401 Cerberus, 1975 Takara, Japan; Wiscid, GIG Italy, 1985; Koutetsu Geeg Robo, Takara Japan, 1998 (re-issue)
Many of the luckier collectors my age played with Mego's Barzon Karza or Force Commander when they were kids back in the 70's, but who would have thought that all these years later we'd be discovering more cool variations of the basic magnet construction.
One of the more interesting finds I've come across in the internet age are the Fantanauti line from GIG Italy. Basically an inventive substitute for Mattel's uber succesful He-Man line of the mid 80's, not quite bootleg but to my limited knowledge never saw distribution out side of Italy. The line seems to be made up of two humanoids and two vehicles, all utilizing magnet joints making them completely compatable with the other similar Mego, Takara Magnemo action toys. And the most amazing part, they are in scale with the new Mattel MOTUC toys, were the Four Horsemen perhaps inspired by these toys when they decided on the size of the Classics line? Who knows, if I ever bump into them at a Con, I'll be sure to ask if Totila may one day join the line.
Takara also released Magnemo toys in the smaller Microman scale in 1975. I recently picked up this sample with no previous knowledge that it even existed. Despite being a bit too small to swap parts and a tad rusty, he's a really great piece.
The coolest thing about these toys is the ability to exchange parts enabling you to make your own fun concoctions. I'm a bit too old for that part and definitely keep the pieces with their original owners, but it's nice to imagine a kid on Christmas morning with a few of these making his own imaginative and bizarre creations.