Star Wars Micro Machines (1994 – 2002) were one of the top-selling Star Wars toys of the 1990s. Galoob (and Hasbro) included numerous little ships, figures, playsets, and other items in their Star Wars Micro Machines line, and after a long slumber, that line has returned with Star Wars: The Force Awakens! In this series of articles, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most memorable toys from the line. In part two of this look back, we’ll be revisiting four different sub lines from the classic trilogy. They will bridge the gap between the vehicles discussed in part one and the playsets to be featured in future installments.
The figure packs of Star Wars Micro Machines played an important part in the line. Although the playsets contained several figures, the amount wasn’t enough to fully populate all sets or even create your own micro armies. The figure packs were a simple and brilliant solution that solved that issue. Galoob released 15 figure packs, each containing nine small figures. Most of the packs contained four differently sculpted figures of which three were packed twice and one was packed three times, making a total of nine. All the packs were offered on blister cards, but several designs have been used throughout the years of production. The original four sets were decorated with art of the different figures, but a more generic package would be provided for the other sets. The last sets appeared on an orange card with a stormtrooper photo. The back of the cards showed the other available figure packs.
The original four sets were the Stormtroopers, Ewoks, TIE pilots and Rebel Alliance pilots (in orange flightsuits). The Ewoks are especially noteworthy since Galoob made an additional effort to make them look really different. The Ewok figures still shared similar poses, but each one was colored differently. The next three sets were also troopbuilders: Jawas, Imperial Officers, and Echo Base Troopers. All were great additions, especially the tiny Jawas (to populate the Tatooine playsets) and three Imperial Officers in combat armor.
The next figure set was different, since it contained eight heroes and one villain. This was a rather unlucky release since all of those figures had been previously released with playsets. The figures were Darth Vader, Obi-Wan ghost, Leia (A New Hope), Chewbacca, Han Solo (A New Hope), R2-D2, C-3PO, Yoda, and Luke in his Bespin fatigues. Consequently, Galoob released another set of the same figures, but this time with new micro figures, including Leia Bespin, Luke(A New Hope), and Obi-Wan (Tatooine).
The next five sets would once again consist of troopbuilders: Imperial Troopers (Death Star Troopers), Rebel Fleet Troopers, Tusken Raiders, Endor Rebel Strike Team, and Imperial Scout Troopers. These two last sets have become very difficult (and expensive) to find these days. Next to the two heroes / villain sets, there was yet another figure pack that contained individual characters. The Bounty Hunters set included new figures of Boba Fett, Bossk, Dengar, IG-88, Zuckuss, 4-LOM, Boushh, Greedo, and Snoova from Shadows of the Empire. Galoob also released some vehicle and figural gift packs that included exclusive figures (Rebel pilot, TIE pilot, the Emperor, Ackbar, Royal Guard, Han Bespin …).
The figure packs are one of the greatest additions to the Micro Machines line because they allowed fans to collect many figures easily. You had the option to make your armies as large as you wanted them to be. The figure packs offered army soldiers that weren’t included in other sets (Rebel Endor Strike Team, Rebel Fleet Troopers, …). The packs with individual characters had figures with new poses and even exclusive characters that couldn’t be found somewhere else (Dengar, Zuckuss, etc.).
Shadows of the Empire
In 1996 Lucasfilm created Shadows of the Empire, a multimedia project set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. It was meant as a crossover licensing test for The Phantom Menace and also to bridge the time until the arrival of the Special Editions. Many licensees produced Shadows of the Empire items and Galoob jumped aboard as well with three sets that contained a mix of micro figures, vehicles, and ships from Shadows. They were packed in nicely decorated blister cards with artwork of Drew Struzan. The back of the cards showed the other sets in the interesting Shadows subline that featured a lot of figures and ships that were never included elsewhere.
Pack I: Darth Vader, Guri, ASP droid, IG-2000 and Stinger.
Pack II: Prince Xizor, Emperor Palpatine, Virago and Swoop with driver.
Pack III: Luke Skywalker, Dash Rendar, Leebo, Outrider and Hound’s Tooth.
The Epic Collections were a similar subline that mixed figures with vehicles and ships (with plastic stands) that appeared in Expanded Universe novels from the Bantam era. They were packed in a very original manner that looked like a little book with a window box containing the toys. They even had a summary of the novel where the little toys had appeared in and the back showed the other available Epic Collections. There would be a total of six Epic Collections, but the last three are considered very rare and they are extremely difficult to find since there weren’t released in the US.
Heir to the Empire: Wedge Antilles, Mara Jade, Grand Admiral Thrawn, Imperial-class Star Destroyer, and Lady Luck.
Jedi Search: Moruth Doole, Admiral Daala, Kyp Durron, TIE interceptor, and Sun Crusher.
Truce at Bakura: Gaerial Captison, Dev Sibwarra, Bluescale, TIE fighter, Flurry, and Shriwirr.
Dark Apprentice: Lando Calrissian, Exar Kun, Dorsk 81, Viper probot, B-wing starfighter, and Tafanda Bay.
Dark Force Rising: Palpatine, Borsk Fey’lya, Garm Bel Iblis, Scimitar class assault bomber, X-wing starfighter, and Coral Vanda.
The Courtship of Princess Leia: Leia Organa, Prince Isolder, Gethzerion, AT-ST, Mon Remonda, and Hapes Nova Battle Cruiser.
Mini Transforming Playsets (Mini-Heads)
The Mini Transforming Playsets were a rather late addition (1996) to the Micro Machines line. Basically, they were miniature versions of the larger transforming playsets with a small head of a character that could be opened to reveal a micro scenery and a micro figure of the character itself. Each set consisted of three mini-heads and three figures. Like the other sets in this article, they were packed on blister cards, this time featuring a photo of Yoda. The first four sets were released internationally, but the last five sets (packed on orange cards) can be pretty hard to track down since they weren’t released in the US. The mini-heads were also released in larger gift sets and two of them included an exclusive mini-head: one of C-3PO and one of Darth Vader. Luckily for US fans Pizza Hut acquired some of the later released mini-heads to give away as premiums in plastic bags in 1998.
It’s very interesting to see the choices Galoob made for these mini-heads. Out of the 29 mini-heads, only a handful are from really important characters (Yoda, Vader, C-3PO, Jabba, Boba Fett) while the others are secondary characters (Greedo, Nien Nunb, Bib Fortuna) or even characters with a limited amount of screentime in the classics (4-LOM, Duros). The micro-heads can be displayed in closed or opened position. In their opened position, each head features a special spot where you can place the micro figure in a beautifully sculpted microscopic environment from the movies. Nien Nunb, the TIE pilot, and the AT-AT driver can be found in their cockpit, several aliens visit the cantina and the bounty hunters stand on the bridge of the Executor with their colleagues. A minor issue with the mini-heads is that they can’t be displayed in an upright position without support.
The Mini-Heads are a very cool subline of the Star Wars Micro Machines, with several characters that were never found in other sets (Weequay, Wampa, etc.) and with miniature transformable heads of many different characters.
Collection I: Boba Fett, Admiral Ackbar & Gamorrean Guard.
Collection II: Nien Nunb, Greedo & Sand People.
Collection III: Jawa, Yoda & Boushh.
Collection IV: Bib Fortuna, Figrin D’an & Biker Scout.
Collection V: Bossk, Duros & Stormtrooper.
Collection VI: 2-1B, Weequay & Emperor’s Royal Guard.
Collection VII: 4-LOM, Luke X-wing pilot & Snowtrooper.
Collection VIII: Wampa, Wicket & TIE pilot.
Collection IX: Salacious Crumb, Jabba the Hutt & AT-AT driver. Exclusives: C-3PO & Darth Vader.
Appendix: After the publication of part one of this series, I was contacted by Luis Ortega. Luis was the winner of a 24 kt solid-gold Micro Machines Millennium Falcon given away in a contest in Star Wars Insider # 26 (1995). Luis reminded me of the several great contests that Galoob organized and the one that he won — which was certainly worth mentioning. Twenty years later, Luis still has his unique Micro Machines Millennium Falcon!
Special thanks to Jad Bean and Luis Ortega.
Selected reading: jadbean.com (pictures), fb.me/StarWarsMicroMachines, Star Wars Insider #26 and #31, Official Galoob website (defunct).
Tim Veekhoven (Sompeetalay) from Belgium is president and co founder of TeeKay-421, the Belgian Star Wars fanclub. He has contributed to Star Wars Insider, to the Build the Millennium Falcon magazine, and has created character names and back stories for What’s the Story? and Rogues Gallery.