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Tuesday, July 3, 2012



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Anybody knows that playing cars is fun, but it is even more fun if you have a miniatures garages, ramps or cities. That’s why, since the very beginning Micro Machines included in their catalogue a series of playsets, very well designed in form small briefcases, or boxes where the pieces could be kept. Among the first playsets (1987-1989), we can find the “Travel City” playsets, small boxes with some kind of building inside, like a hospital, a Rent-a-car, the harbour… these boxes could be combined to form a bigger city-playset.

In the following years, Galoob released bigger playsets, containing a whole city in one. Probably many of you remember the “Super Van City”, military bases, or vehicles to carry other vehicles, like a ferry, an aircraft carrier, or a cargo plane (see pic above).

Between these many accessories that were available in shops, a few slot circuits stood over the rest: a briefcase including a whole racetrack (there was even a version with a loopping). A very famous playset was the “Speed Shop Customizing Set”, one of the most popular toys in Christmas 1990-1991.

The diversification of the MM collections and playsets was justified for the need of differentiation from numerous imitations and similar toys that were produced in the wake of Galoob’s MM. Galoob had to show a better quality and more innovative products to continue being “the real thing”. The bootlegs that reached the highest popularity were made by Road Champs, Funrise or Charm Max, although not only “unknown” companies produced mini-cars: Matchbox, Majorette, MC Toy (later Maisto), HotWheels!, Tomica, launched their own lines in the MM style. Genuine MM are marked on the chassis with the words “Galoob”, “China” and a year, or with the MM-wings logo in models from 1999 on.

Tente Micro "Aduana" - Pic taken from eBay

In Spain, collectors may remember the sets made by Tente, named “Tente Micro” and launched during the last years of Exin (1990-1992). These sets came with more simplistic car models, but beautiful playsets, very similar to the “Travel City Playsets”.

No matter how, Micro Machines survived all its competitors (or almost) and kept selling in the U.S.A. between 1987 and 2006, even when Galoob was taken over by Hasbro in 1998. In Spain, the last sets by Famosa were sold in 1996. On of the keys for the long life of the toy line was to include thematic collection based on movies and cartoons. The most popular ever were, of course, Star Wars and Star Trek collections, although there are also collections based on Terminator 2, Indiana Jones, Aliens…

Now they are not available anymore, although in my opinion, it is only a matter of time that they become popular again. Such a toy is valid from one generation to the next, and will always be fun to play with. I remember the great novelty they were, and the fun that it was to play with small cities anywhere: their small size made them ideal to carry them with you. A completely revolutionary toy!


And now, let's go to the toys in this entry, which are an example of these tematic collections from movies, cartoons and so on. Although they are a little more recent than  the toys that I have presented until now, I think it's worth showing them.

They are based in a relatively unknown cartoon series form the mid-90s, called Jonny Quest. He is some kind of young James Bond, a spy who travels around the world fighting evil and riding all kind of vehicles. The whole series consists of 6 collections and two playsets, from which I own collections #4 and #5. Each collection is set in a different "environment": Safari, Submarine, Mountain, Artic, Sea and Far West, and include two figures and two vehicles. The most notable characteristic of these sets are that they include one transparent figure or vehicle each. Something relatively rare in the MM catalogue.

Unfortunately, I can't tell much about Jonny Quest, I remember the cartoons, but none of the characters, or the plots. Here's a close-up of my collections: they include Jonny Quest, Ezequial Rage, Race Bannon and Black Jack Lee

They were the last MM collections (or some of the very last) to be relased in Spain by Famosa, in 1996.I found them just a few months ago and bought all of them for just 1,10 Eur each set. I couldn't resist. There are many more circulating these days in todocoleccion and eBay, maybe it's the right time if you want to complete your collection. I have #4 doubled, and I would like to trade it for other vehicles or MM items.

  • Name: Micromachines Jonny Quest Collections #4 and #5
  • Scale of the cars: 1:150 aprox.
  • Year: 1996
  • Company: Galoob (U.S.A.)
  • Size: approx. Around 2 cm


  1. Well I finally know who the mysterious transparent small figure in my collection is and he's Jeremiah Surd , the Johnny Quest villain from the Submarine play set. Glad I came across this post.

    1. Hi Juan,

      I´m also glad I could help you with that figure and the "Car Wash City". Many thanks for commenting! Are you from Spain? I don´t know much MM collectors in Spain.

      I found the Jonny Quest sets in a supermarket in Sevilla, I bought them for 1,10 Eur each :)

      Best Regards,


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