You know that moment at the start of Star Wars? (or 'Episode IV: A New Hope', if you prefer) After the yellow text has flown up from the bottom, a little Rebel ships flies across the screen, following by a much larger ship that keeps going and going and going and... You think it's going to stop. How big can this thing be? Yet it continues on...
Which is a problem if you want to sell a toy of it. The Star Destroyers, AT-ATs, heck even the Millennium Falcon or an X-Wing - all of them are BIG.
Big = kids unable to play with them properly = few sales.
Big = storage problems = few sales.
Big = expensive = few sales.
This is why Hasbro (or Kenner at the time, before Hasbro bought them) started making the figures in a 4" (ish) scale. Before that time action figures were generally big doll-like things, but at 4" it's possible to make a Falcon that Han can actually sit in and fit into the average living room.
But even at 4", there's still a problem. The Falcon is still very big. How does a child lift the thing and fly it round the room? How does a fleet of TIE Fighters fly after it?
To achieve this you have to drop the size of things much further. Luckily, Galoob (before Hasbro bought them. Hmm, bit of a trend here) already had a very successful small-scale toy line and was looking to expand.
And thus we had Star Wars Micro Machines!
Personally, I think this is the perfect scale for Star Wars toys. You can easily afford to buy the fleet of TIE Fighters you always wanted. You can have a squad of Stormtroopers. A band of Tusken Raiders. A tribe of Ewoks.
Micro Machines had some great fold-away car playsets and the Star Wars ones took them to a new level, with detailed 'busts' of characters opening out into Star Wars locations.
I think the earlier ones were better. They did less, having less action features and thus, bizarrely, allowing more 'play' opportunities. Things start being restricted when the whole set is based around an action feature.
The lightsaber set, for example, only really allows for flying an X-Wing down a track. There's nothing else you can do with it due to the mechanism. On the other hand, something like R2-D2 has nothing action-like other than an opening trap-door and large gate, and so there's plenty of space for a Rancor to run about and be fed.
The series of mini head-sets was a bit weird. They featured a small head which opened to reveal a single figure inside. I bought them, but other than sometimes allowing you to add a desired character to your collection, they're kind of pointless.
Things evolved over time and the line was relaunched in a slightly bigger scale, the so-called 'Action Fleet'. Essentially the same thing as before, but now the figures were a little larger, had some (limited) articulation and could now sit in vehicles.
Though getting them to stand up was a bit of a nightmare.
|Figure size comparison|
And, you know, the getting people to stand up.
|Vehicle size comparison|
I really like this set. There's lots of open space for playing, and the action features don't get in the way and limit things.
Even Baby loves these toys, and she'll happily clamber over any obstacle or around any barrier in order to try and eat these things.
Prices vary on ebay, but if you bide your time you ought to be able to get these for not too much. I managed too get a load of sets for 99p. Such is the way if auctions are set to end in the middle of a Saturday afternoon.