It’s time to shrink entire fleets of vehicles down to pocket size as we check out the best Micro Machines toys of all time!
What are Micro Machines?
Micro Machines were a big deal in the 80s – launching in 1986, they were tiny vehicles such as cars, trucks, boats and planes. Larger playsets – in scale with the vehicles – were also available, giving kids environments to drive and fly their vehicles around.
When you think of awesome 80s toys, Micro Machines are right up there – which explains their appearance on our best 80s toys list!
Which were the best Micro Machines toys though?
Let’s find out!
11. Micro Machines Radicators
Slightly larger than standard sized Micro Machines, the Radicator collection featured cars in bright, bold and very 90s colour schemes.
Some very fancy and futuristic models of car were used as the standout designs in the range too, with those beautifully colourful paint jobs giving them an extra layer of appeal.
These cars felt like the future when they arrived; the colour schemes made even the more standard models feel unique too.
10. Micro Machines Shake and Sniff
Remember scratch and sniff stickers, which gave off weird, sometimes gross odours when you scratched them?
Micro Machines Shake and Sniff are a bit like that: a range of trucks with small holes in their trailers. Each truck had a specific scent, which you could discover by shaking the vehicle and sniffing the hole – there’s a sequence of words I never thought I’d write.
The smells on offer were banana, bubble gum, chocolate chips, pine, popcorn, root beer and vanilla ice cream.
All pleasant smells, right? Not so much if you were unfortunate enough to get the garbage truck, which had an appropriately pungent odour when shaken.
9. Micro Machines Micro Lights/Super Micro Lights
This might not seem like much of a big deal considering the level of tech kids have access to right now, but this collection of Micro Machines with working head and tail lights were pretty mind-blowing back in the day.
Press down on the car and the ridiculously small lights would shine, surprisingly brightly. It was a neat little trick as they didn’t look much different from normal Micro Machines.
The Super Micro Lights range took the concept further, with extra lights or even back-lit scenes in the vehicle’s window when activated!
8. Micro Machines Private Eyes
Yep, you too can give your kid a head start on a lifelong obsession with voyeurism – thanks to Micro Machines Private Eyes!
Each of these vehicles had a magnifying window on the roof, which kids could look through and see the ‘secret scene’ inside.
It was a really neat concept, with a surprisingly large range of vehicles and scenes released, that truly brought these tiny little cars to life.
7. Micro Machines Insiders
What’s better than having a pocket full of tiny vehicles? How about a pocket full of tiny vehicles with even smaller vehicles inside them?
That’s what Insiders were: normal looking Micro Machines with a secret, even tinier vehicle hidden inside them.
Of course, as cool as they were, the tiny Insider cars – a little over half an inch in size – were so small that they were prone to being lost or vacuumed up by an oblivious parent.
However, if you could keep hold of those minuscule vehicles, this special line of Micro Machines were great additions to the collection!
6. Micro Machines Triple Siders
What could be better than a car with another car hidden inside it?
How about a car with a car inside it…and then a car inside that second car?
Yep, that was the Russian Nesting Doll concept of Insiders taken one step further with Triple Siders: a large plastic car opened up to reveal a standard Micro Machines car inside it, which in turn had an Insider sized, tiny car inside it!
5. Micro Machines Highway Warriors
Mad Max has a lot to answer for. Imagine trundling around the city in your sweet new ride when the apocalypse hits – and suddenly, you’re surrounded by bloodthirsty gangs looking to steal your fuel and wheels.
What’s a law-abiding Micro Machines driver to do?
Transform your everyday vehicle into a badass, fearsome combat rig of course. Highway Warriors were standard Micro Machines vehiclea that came with bulky, armoured ‘shella’ that snapped on top of them, transforming the vehicle into a spiky, lethal, weapons-laden attack machine.
In Highway Warrior form, they weren’t exactly micro – but they were glorious machines of war (not unlike the vehicles in a classic 80s board game, Thunder Road – which made it onto our best retro board games list).
4. Micro Machines Super Van City
Part of the appeal of Micro Machines was being able to stuff loads of them in your pocket, take them anywhere you want and amuse yourself on boring trips to see relatives – but there’s no doubt that the bigger playsets that could accommodate your tiny vehicle collection were brilliant too
There were loads of individual city sets hat could be combined to make bigger and more varied environments, but having a single set that tried to do it all was amazing. And that’s where Super Van City came in.
Folding up neatly as a very 80s camper van, Super Van City was an absolutely magical toy. It genuinely did feel like a micro sized city, which somehow found space for kids to use all of their Micro Machines vehicles.
Cars, planes, boats, helicopters – you name it, Super Van City has an appropriate piece of scenery for pretty much anything in your collection.
It was an absolute joy to play with and meant you could engage in all manner of creative play if you had a selection of vehicles on hand.
Despite first arriving in 1991, newer, upgraded versions of Super Van City even exist today – the one we have pictured is from 2020!
3. Micro Machines Stunt City Set
What could be cooler than a whole lorry that folds down out into a whole city for you to explore with your stunt cars?
Nothing, that’s what!
We’re talking movable parts, amazing jumps, and hours of fun pulling off slick tricks with your favourite micro machines.
It still blows my mind that so much can come from one little truck; it just meeps going and going when you unpack everything!
With recovery trucks, crane to move you into wasteland areas, and tall buildings to fire off, there’s no telling what adventures you’ll get up to!
2. Micro Machines X-Rays
Remember the whole transparent coloured plastic vibe that was in vogue in the 90s? Well, that’s exactly the kind of cool aesthetic that Micro Machines X-Rays tap into.
Despite revealing that your vehicles are – unsurprisingly – just empty plastic shells, rather than intricate and functional machinery, for the most part, these Micro Machines really did look and feel awesome. Many came with opening doors too!
For extra geekiness with see-through Micro Machines, check out the Star Wars X-Ray Fleet line – which took the X-Ray concept to a galaxy far, far away.
Some of the details inside the Star Wars vehicles were brilliantly done too!
And speaking of which…
1. Micro Machines Star Wars
Is it a cop out to feature an entire spin-off toy line of Micro Machines in first place on the best Micro Machines toys list?
Maybe, but with Star Wars Micro Machines in general, we undoubtedly have one of the very best uses of the tiny vehicle and playset concept.
There were some incredibly surprising licensed Micro Machines sets released over the years – with sets based on (sometimes very adult) franchises such as Indiana Jones, James Bond, Star Trek, Aliens, Predator and Terminator 2. Some weird, slightly more obscure choices made the jump to Micro Machines too, such as Babylon 5, Jonny Quest and Biker Mice from Mars.
None could compare to the might of Star Wars, which never met a licensing or merchandising opportunity it couldn’t make its own and absolutely dominate.
That continued here, with sets based on all of the expected, famous vehicles, settings and even characters from the movies – alongside some serious deep cuts from the franchise, including sets based on novels and the Shadows of the Empire video game (which itself was a real multimedia project that even had its own soundtrack, novelisation and comic book adaptation – it appears quite high up on our best N64 games list too!).
It was beautifully done and even though – like all of the other licensed sets which featured character figures and selections of vehicles from movies or TV shows they were based on – the scale was incredibly inconsistent, it didn’t matter.
Entire Star Wars scenes and famous battles from the movies, books, comics and video games could play out in surprising detail across your floor or desktop. What more could a fan want?
Jason – who lives in the UK – has had a lifelong interest in video games, which all started when he discovered Space Invaders in the early 80s. The first game he ever completed was Wonder Boy in Monster Land on the Sega Master System – which remains one of his proudest gaming achievements. Jason is a passionate writer – and has been writing about gaming since the late 90s. He currently runs pop culture blog midlifegamergeek.com, which he updates on a daily basis (and has written more than 700 articles on the blog alone!).
Outside of video games, Jason is a keen tabletop gamer, film buff and comic book fan.