“Remember, if it doesn’t say Micro Machines, it’s not the real thing!” Some will no doubt recognise this slogan from the Micro Machines ads that aired in the late 80s and 90s. The line was uttered at lightening speed by John Moschitta Jr, otherwise known as the Micro Machines Man, who at the time earned himself a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s fastest talker.
Such zany adverts likely had a hand in putting these detailed miniature toy cars on the map, and they were soon cemented as a serious contender in the toy cars market – a territory previously dominated by Hot Wheels and Matchbox. In the 1988 issue of Toy & Hobby Magazine, Micro Machines were ranked the “third most popular toy on the market,” according to author Tim Smith in the introduction to his new book, Micro but Many. “Only Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) games and Barbie Doll ranked higher.”
“In the 80s, when I was just a small boy, I collected Micro Machines. Tiny little scale cars and planes, much smaller than your Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars,” Smith writes.
“They were expensive for a small boy, but thanks to some playground swapping and thieving, I managed to amass about a hundred of the things.” A foolish trade for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle coin saw him lose his Micro Machines as a child, but in the last ten years he’s rebuilt a hefty archive deemed worthy of its own book.
Micro but Many collates images and writings on Smith’s extensive collection of Micro Machines – the line of highly detailed miniature vehicles, boats and aircraft created by Galoob (now owned by toy giant Hasbro). Curated by the original designers as well as fellow collectors, the book features over 1,000 Micro Machines – though Smith’s full collection extends to over 5,000 pieces.
Micro Machines became known for their realistic design, nearly all of which were based on real cars. The book therefore takes a close look at the craft and detailed design that went into the models, and as well as prototypes and unreleased vehicles that never made it onto the shop floor.
Readers can expect to find a history of the three generations of Micro Machines – broken up into the Kaplinsky, Miller and Hasbro years – which each left their distinct mark on the production of the miniatures. Plus, for Micro Machine fans looking to top up their trivia, there are insights about both Micro Machines and Galoob as brands, anecdotes about the wacky ads that aired during the 80s and 90s, and “never-before-seen insights from many of the original Galoobians”.
Such phrases confirm that this is undoubtedly a niche title, but Smith’s passion radiates throughout this colourful read – one that highlights how good design can capture people’s imaginations even at a ‘micro’ level.