The 80’s probably spawned more cool toys than all other decades combined. There were the heavy hitters like G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Mask that everyone remembers, but then there are those toys that were totally awesome, but don’t get mentioned nearly as much. One of those was Micro Machines.
Micro Machines debuted from Galoob Toys in 1986, and hung around through the late 90’s. Their claim to fame was the fact that they were 1/4 scale of Hot Wheels, and kids loved their extra small size. Micro Machines came in a wide variety of vehicles that included cars, trucks, emergency vehicles, construction, planes, boats, There were also vehicles based on licensed properties such as Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, Power Rangers, GI Joe, James Bond, and Indiana Jones. For 3 – 4 years, they were the largest selling toy car line in the country, with dollar sales that exceeded the combined sales of Hot Wheels, Matchbox, and Majorette!
Hot Wheels, only smaller. That’s not exactly true, but it’s what I though when I first saw Micro Machines. A friend of mine brought some to school, and I thought they were so cool, if for nothing else, that they were a lot easier to smuggle out of the house than actual Hot Wheels. But what I found when I got my first “collection” was that these were fine toys in just about any application.
What I liked best about them, was that in the early years, you would get five vehicles per package. Instead of having to settle for one fire truck, you got five. Or maybe you got a fire truck plus other emergency vehicles to go along with it. You didn’t have to decide whether to get a bulldozer or a front end loader, but instead you got them both plus a dump truck, a concrete truck, and an excavator. It was a whole construction set in one package. Why settle for one fast corvette when you could get five from varying years. And while the cars may have been small, their play was as big as anything else on the market. They held up just as well as Hot Wheels did under my play conditions.
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The play sets that went along with them were well designed too. They would transform from play sets to normal looking things like a can of car wax, or some other similar product. There were so many sets to choose from too. You had planes, ships, construction equipment, fast cars, service vehicles, army mobiles, and many others. I got older and lost interest in them just before they picked up the Star Wars license, but there were three lines that I favored over all the others.
The Semi Trucks they had were awesome. They came out a few years into the line and were a great addition, as you could round out your “city” with these. There were flat beds, box trailers, and tankers of all different kinds. Coming from a family whose Father drove a truck on occasion, it was cool to have these to mimic his job with.
Another was the addition of Micro Machines train sets. They were in scale with the rest of the line, and even came with their own tracks. There were several different sets to choose from, each in their own color scheme and type of train. I always wanted multiple sets just to have enough track to actually do more than a circle loop with.
And last but not least were the monster trucks. All the popular ones of the day were available in either two or three packs, I can’t remember which, but I had a ton of them. Grave Digger, Carolina Crusher, Equalizer, Mad Dog, and many others were available for your car crushing needs. And again, these were in scale with the rest of the line, so you could line your cars up and run over them with the monster trucks.
Micro Machines was an awesome toy line, and a fun part of my childhood. It doesn’t get the nostalgic attention that other popular lines from the 80’s do, but it will forever be one of my favorites.