BRIEF HISTORY OF MICRO MACHINES - Part 1
The following article is a translation of the article written by myself for this issue of “Figuras en Acción”. The article tells the history of Micro Machines without going very deep in details. It is a good introduction for people who know nothing or very few about MM. The article included originally many pictures from MM collections that already appeared in this blog, plus some more that are still to come. I’ll take advantage of this to present now two more collections in this and the next blog entries.
There is a rule in marketing which is called “Value for Money”, that is, a customer must have the feeling that his or her money is well spent and receives something valuable in exchange. If somebody is offered two similar products at the same price, he or she tends to choose the biggest one from those two.
The final “push” for the launching of this miniaturized cars’ toy line (around 2 cms) was probably the same that shrunk action figures like G.I.Joe: ARAH, that is, the rising price of oil. Such a small car can only be manufactured with some detail in plastic, so the collection is completely different from previous die-cast car lines. We have to consider, that MM is a toy, and not an adult collectable (there’s many H0 scale manufacturers, for example for electric trains). It is for this reason and for the difficulty of working at such a small scale, that the cars are not designed as exact replicas of real cars, but designed with a nice look, almost like cartoon’s cars.
In Spain, it was 1990, and, like most of the times, toys came again with a two or three years delay. Famosa had the honour (and the great luck) of distributing this toy-line in Spain, although the toy itself was made in China. The first MM were manufactured by Galoob in 1987, and since the very first day, the line became a best-seller, and boy’s favourite.
Such a product is very difficult to bring it to the market. For less money you can find the classic 1:64 cars, that everyone knows. The price of a MM collection (a normal collection, named “Ultrafast”, and includind 5 cars) was in Spain around 900 pesetas (5,40 Eur). For that money you could get the same number of 1:64 Spanish miniatures (like Guisval or Mira) or maybe 4 Majorette die-cast models.
|Ultrafast Collection #18 - Formula Racers|
The advertising campaign was something never seen before in the toy market, and specially in the toy car/miniature market. 25 years later, very few have forgotten the ad, in which a man (John Moschitta Jr., world recordman at the time in talking fast) repeated the slogan: “If it doesn’t say Micro Machines, it’s not the real thing!”
Maybe some of you (if you were a –Spanish- child in the early 1990s) may also remember the afternoon TV program aired by Antena3 (“La Merienda”, hosted by Miliki and Rita Irasema). In this program, there was a game show in which children had to repeat the MM slogan (as in the ad) in order to win a MM collection for each repetition during a given time.
|Rita Irasema and Miliki - La Merienda de Antena3|
The proof of this instant success is that, while the first wave comprised 11 collections, the second wave comprise 24 sets, plus 4 “deluxe” sets, the third series even more “standard” sets, plus more and more sub-series with special features, a real headache for collectors!
|Deluxe Collection #1|
The special features mentioned above made the cars more attractive, but also more expensive to manufacture. Collections of different series, included a different number of cars: ordinary, standard series included 5 or 4 cars, while the most exclusive collections included 3, 2 or even 1 single vehicle.
|Private Eyes Collection #8|
Some of the most extravagant collections included cars with lights (see below), sounds or smell, monster trucks with rubber tyres, cars in which you could peek what’s inside, cars inside of cars inside of cars… Galoob’s designers and creatives were genius!
And now, not to break the rule of this blog: one entry - one toy (or publication), I will quickly present the Super Microlights Collection #11, which is shortly mentioned above. This collection, as the name indicates, includes battery operated cars, with lights on the inside. When on, that light let us see the silhouettes of people inside of the cars, which in my opinion is one great feature.
Most precisely, collection #11 of Super Microlights include two models: the camper and the motor home. When I was a kid, I always wanted to have a -real- motor home.
FACTS AND FIGURES
- Name: Micromachines Super Microlights Collection #11
- Scale of the cars: 1:150 aprox.
- Year: 1991
- Company: Galoob (U.S.A.)
- Size: approx. 3 cm