For some reason, a lot of us are intrigued by scale models. Tiny little things that are made to look like the real life, big things. Maybe it’s the inner child in us that read enough fairytales about giants who were green, or friendly, or Shaquille O’Neil.
Whatever the case, when Micro Machines came into our lives, we went crazy.
In the mid-80’s, two toy makers from Wisconsin named Clemens V. Hedeen and Patti Jo Hedeen licensed their idea of tiny cars to Galoob and, well, here we are. They became available in stores in 1987 and sales erupted in the 90’s.
They launched a clever marketing campaign that included the world’s fastest talker in John Moschitta Jr.
I bet you can’t stop hearing him say “from Galoob!” now can you.
The actual scale size of the toys has always been a contested issue, but the general consensus is that they’re 1/144 in scale to their real life counterparts.
Imagine the look of dismay when the Hot Wheels guys were sitting back thinking they had the smallest toy cars in all the land.
All kinds of different cars were made. Cars, trucks, trains, emergency vehicles, airplanes, helicopters, boats, monster trucks, motorcycles.
If it ever had an engine and at least a couple of wheels, it was made into a Micro Machine
“Remember if it doesn’t say Micro Machines, it’s not the real thing!” -Micro Machine’s official slogan in 1987
They even expanded out to different franchises, including Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, Power Rangers, Men In Black, James Bond and Indiana Jones.
Colour changing cars were also introduced, as well as the very popular Insiders Series that featured an even smaller car inside the regular Micro Machine. Micro-er Machines? The Hot Wheels guys must’ve been losing it at this point.
The toys didn’t stop at just cars. They also introduced a number of play sets, most of which would transform from one object into another.
This included one of the coolest toys from your childhood. The Super Van City.
If you knew anyone who had this you would unquestionably be asking their parents if you could stay for dinner.
The toys were selling at an all time high. In fact, they were doing so well that for almost four years every other toy car company combined couldn’t match the sales of Micro Machines.
They were everywhere, including Christmas blockbuster Home Alone where Kevin McAllister uses the toys as an aid to help murder two burglars.
They even had a NES game, which in my opinion is one of the funnest games ever released for the system.
Eventually the rights to the toys were acquired by Hasbro and things were never quite the same. They changed the packaging and the marketing and the brand was largely discontinued.
Attempts to revive the toys have been mostly unsuccessful, as the general public doesn’t seem as captivated by the tiny toys as they once were.
The great thing about Micro Machines is that you probably still have some. If you dig through the back of your old closet or in a box of your childhood things, they’re probably in there.
Just be careful that they don’t fall out. You saw what happened to Marv and Harry. We’re old now. If you step on one of these at our age you will spend the remainder of this year in physiotherapy.
And people wonder why we’re all so nostalgic for the 90’s…