Micro Machines (1987 – Now): The 90’s most Popular line of Toy Cars

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Micro Machines was one of the ’90’s most popular toy car lines. The nostalgic days of Micro Machines have been revived severally, most recently as last year's display at New Your Toy Fair. I loved these toys back in the days. And as the name suggests, the toys were very small (micro). It has been a while since these toys were on the shelves, over 12 years.

But the big question is, what really happened to Micro Machines?

After several years of dominance in the toy world, Micro Machines went silent for a long time. If you were a teen back in the later 80s through to the 90s, you must be familiar with the top toy car brands such as Hot Wheels and Matchbox.
Micro Machines were the leader in the toy playsets back then. Another strategy that made Micro Machines popular back in the 90s was the fact that they not only released toy cars but also created an environment for the cars to run around.

Sadly, it was not long until Micro Machines started dropping ranks. The company behind the success of the brand was sold to Hasbro, who scrapped the toy line. Efforts were made to rebrand the toys, but the initial play-sets idea but did not come close to the original playset concept.

Hot Machines’ success when it was competing against well-established brands such as Hot Wheels and MatchBox was remarkable. Faced with the two heavyweights, for some time, Micro Machines showed that they could go head-to-head with Hot Wheels and Matchbox but they could not beat them in their own game.

But before we delve into the ups and downs that Micro Machines face, let us first look at Micro Machines and the story behind their origin.

The background history of Micro Machines.
Micro Machines is a line of toys originally produced by Galoob (now part of Hasbro) from the mid-80s and throughout the 90s. The toys were popularly referred to as micro or the Micros.
The idea of Clemens V. Hedeen and Patti Jo Hedeen, who was an American toy inventor from Wisconsin. The idea was licensed by Galoob which was the brains behind Micro Machines. Micro Machines were small-scale play sets type components and vehicles slightly bigger than N-scale vehicles.

Early Micro Machine television advertisements were known for actor John Maschitta Jr., who was at the time the world’s fastest talker in the Guinness Book of World Records.

In their Fun City USA toy store in Sturgeon Bay (Wisconsin), shortly after they entered the toy business, Clemens V. Hedaen, Jr and Patti Jo Hadeen came up with the concept of Micro Machines. The inventors discussed the development of a new toy car line with the person from Galoob at the Toy Fair. Work on preparing 24 microcars and packaging was done with their model manufacturer.

Galoob was the first and only company to which the Hedeen had submitted prototypes. They loved it and instantly decided to deal. The masterpieces of marketing Micro Machines were Saul Jodell and David Galoob. Galoob’s vision made Micro Machines the best-selling toys at the time.

Micro Machines thrived for years before Hasbro purchased the Star Wars line from Galoob and Micro Machines which finally got on the shelves. Since then, Micro Machines has been released frequently, but since its original release, there has been little progress.

Patti Jo Hedeen stopped working on toys. Clemens Hedeen is still working on toys together with the wife Kay Hedeen at FunCIty, USA.

About the Micro Machines Toys
Several different Micros styles were produced including all common cars, helicopters, motorcycles, trains, emergency vehicles, tanks, boats and aircrafts. Many TNT motorsports Monster Trucks were included in the Tuff Trax Series, including influential Grave Digger Truck.

Models from Start Trek and Star Wars as well of from the si-fi franchise such as Babylon 5, Power Rangers and MIB were also developed. Theme based toys like James Bond and Indian Jones were released. Soon after being bought by Hasbro, Winner’s NASCAR and G.I Joe cars were added to the Hasbro cars and playset.

Although the range of Micro Machines was mostly known for small sized cars, it also included some play set like the 1991 Super Van City fold out. The licensed character products could be fold-open heads which included minature characters and vehicles that would interact with the playset environment.
Micro Machines also used a variety of features, such as color-changing cars and private Eye’s vehicles, which also allows you to see the content inside them. The insider series was among the many Micro Machines. The insider series featured a small vehicle inside a regular Micro Machine, which was extremely common in the late 80s and the later 90s. The larger vehicle’s body and chasis are linked through a hinge. The bigger opening showed that the smaller one was another car model.

Micro Machines Launched a special series of the presidential Limousines using the Lincoln Cosmopolitan Bubble top limousine of President Harry Truman’s 1950. The Lincoln Continental President John F. Kennedy or X-100 cable cars was seen in the sequel made in 1989.

For over 4 years Micro Machines was the largest selling toy car line in America with overall sales in excess of combined sales of Hot Wheels, Matchbox, and Majorette. Micro Machines sales were a success back I the 90s because they had a well-know promotion campaign in the 80s involving fast-talker John Moschitta. Jr. The advertisement featured pitches in his trademark speedy style ending with the slogan “If it doesn’t say Micro Machines, it is not the real thing”.

The 90s saw the introduction of transformational playsets. Some may be turned into a test track from one play set to another, for example a factory to a test track. Others could transform giant vehicle into playsets, such as a 6 by 6 into a jungle. Other earlier sets included a toolbox which could be transformed into a town. In the 90s, a series of special boats were another creative move by Micro machines.

While past boats had sunk and had not been intended for water consumption; these new sets could float. The basic line was mostly disecontinued when they sold to Hasbro, and new packaging were not as good as anticipated although some limitations remain in the toy shops. In 2006, the brand name could only be seen in the detail panel of die-cast vehicles and figures of the Star Wars and Transformer Titanium series.

Something about Micro Machine Collectors.
Along the way, collectors of Micro Machines emerged. But they were not as many as those people collecting Hot Wheels. One explanation is that the toys were still new in the market and collectors were yet to develop interest in them. Another explanation is that a pack must be bought in a given year and usually only one is a new model. Most set are worth less than the five dollars retail, but some such as Civil War, can be worth over 10 dollars and the tree Aliens are on are on eBay for 50 dollars. The unusual American version of the Aliens Action Fleet demanded over $70. Certain area sets and ships are available online for between $100 and $370.

Some of the most difficult car packages to locate have price margins of about $100. These packages also contain non-publicly released prototypes. There will also be huge lots per vehicle for pennies. From 1986 to 1989 the Galoob Micro Machines model was more valuable and collectible in 2020, in particular the limited-edition series “Deluxe” with doors and caps; the “Tuff Trax” monster cars with rubber tires; and the most coveted car model like Lamborghini, Ferrari and Porsche. The cars of this mode became more and more precious. Furhthermore, collectors are increasingly able to pay top dollars for new early Galoob sets boxes that are in mint conditions. In the later 80s through to early 90s, now with greater purchasing power, children who grew up during this period were willing to pay a premiu to refresh and extend their adorable car collection. eBay has emerged as the market leader for enthusiasts to purchase and sell a comprehensive selection of early Micro Machine vibrant, highly detailed versions.

As the value and demand slowly increased, some rare cars that raise about $50 to $100 or more each or $200 for a brand-new selection on card sets are unusual. It looks as if the demand for Hot Wheels car is consistently growing and a fun and stable investment in today’s volatile markets, which is approaching 35 years after the first 1986 lines of products.

Micro Machines are stored enclosed in the box and are used in wide areas by many collectors. Some collectors are using one of the original Micro Machines showcases, while others are stocking their collections.
Some vehicles, such as SVO, Mustang, were sold for over 25 dollars in the early 2000s, but it is rare to see value excess of 5 dollars for any vehicle with the emergence of traders who sell almost any vehicle all the time. Some rare models, including the collectors #CE3R Corvette from 1999, are still selling at high prices. There are surprisingly good examples of certain military vehicles: those made with precise markings or Soviet equipment like the T-80BV. Rare collections are also important, such as Star Trek and Star Wars. A solid gold model Star Trek, which was a big prize in an over $5,000 drawing. The cars could be identified by the name Galoob on the Undercarriage.

The popular Micro Machines Culture

The 1990 Christmas film Home Alone with Macaulay Culkin featured Micro Machiens. The film shows Culkin’s character as a threat to bunglings and placed hundreds of Micro Machines at the bottom of a step flight. In the game Sega Genesis, this trap was also featured, albeit usually called “toys”.

The many revivals of Micro Machines.

About the first revival of Micro Machines

In response to the popularity of the Speedeez brand, the Micro Machines brand has been revived for several years. Hasbro also chose the use of number of fantasy castings. It just took a few years to recover.

The “Star Wars: Titanium Series” brand has also been included in the packaging of the iconic 3-inch ‘Star Wars’. The Micro Mayhem is an animation in which Micro Machines play the character.

The Second Revival – Hasbro released a new set of themed Micro Machines with the movie Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. The second revival lasted just one year; after Rogue One no more sets were released.

The third Revival – New Micro Machines were announced at the New York Fair in 2020 and were in the market by August 2020. The sets include Muscle Cars, Farm, Racing, Construction, and Off-road and upgraded Super Van City.

Final Thoughts

Do you have a collection of Micro Machines? Which one was your favorite?
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New Geeze
Sep 24, 2020
I just have 2 left, only God knows where I kept those two. They were quite expensive back in the days, I couldn't get to buy a whole collection of the micro machine cars


Omega Geeze
Jul 13, 2019
I just have 2 left, only God knows where I kept those two. They were quite expensive back in the days, I couldn't get to buy a whole collection of the micro machine cars
Lol I used to have a few. I think used to have a grey rhino head car as a kid lmao
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