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  1. #1

    Micro Machines had the very best playsets!

    A buddy of mine and I were just talking about the recent "no titanium battle packs" answer of Hasbro's, and he mentioned that he misses their Playsets. I hadn't thought about them in a while, but dang, the Micro Machines / Action Fleet playsets really may have been the best playsets of any toyline ever.

    I'm not feeling well enough to come up with examples, but you guys should know what I'm talking about. And nearly every entry was a winner, from AF to transforming MM to platform MM.

    Why is it that nobody else has been able to deliver that quality or quantity of playsets for other lines?

    Thoughts?
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "We named the dog 'Chewbacca'!"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  2. #2
    I wrote out a giant reply in the quick-reply box, but FireFox decided that the next time I hit backspace it would mean I wanted the browser to go to the previous page. Since it was a quick-reply, it didn't keep my text.

    Oh well... here's another go.

    Regular playsets:
    I don't remember what all there were, but I recall Tatooine, Endor, Hoth, Dagobah and the Death Star. I had those five, but Hoth, Tatooine and Endor were my favorites. Dagobah and the Death Star fell flat with me, as I felt too much detail on Dagobah and next to not detail on the Death Star sets left me with little space, or little inspiration to provoke my imagination. The former three definitely succeeded in that, though.

    Head playsets:
    These were great either on their own or extensions to the regular playsets, and it was often quite surprising how much they would pack into those tiny areas. The ones I found most fun were the Stormtrooper/Death Star, TIE Pilot/Imperial Academy, Vader/Bespin and Boba Fett/Bespin. I also had Chewie, Luke, 3PO, R2, and the Royal Guard. Unfortunately, they were up on a shelf near the ceiling displayed in their low-budget bust forms when we had a house fire, so all but the TIE Pilot (which I found post-fire) were melted down onto themselves. Still, the time that I had them I enjoyed all quite a bit, just some were more limited to enjoying their own features rather than coming up with various things for them. I loved that you could display them when you were done playing with them, though, and the likenesses, while soft, were pretty well done. One subtle feature I always found quite awesome was the fact that they used transparent orange plastic for the goggles of Luke's helmet so they would mount over his face. That was a definitely a sign of how devoted to the overall product rather than the handful of gimmicks they were.

    Action Fleet playsets:
    I was absolutely shocked the first time I saw these, as it was simply amazing how much they were making for Action Fleet. First the vehicles which were quite fine by themselves, then the Battlepacks, and then playsets; which were incredible. They repeated the best thing about the Micro-Machines playsets with how much area they gave you to set up more than what came with the playset, and everything else blended in properly; mere accents to enhance the play. Unlike some other companies' playsets which devote all the attention to the gimmicks and leave little area to let your imagination frolic.

    My favorite was either Yavin or Hoth, as it's always been impossible to choose. Yavin had a massive amount of space to not only host a massive mini-fig army, but even had space for ships "inside" the base. Definitely an awesome feature; which actually was shared by the Hoth set. Unlike the Hoth set, however, Yavin had an escort feature that would take an X-wing through the bay door. Even better is that the portion you pushed on wasn't just a knob, but rather it was disguised as a control seat where you could put a mini-fig. That was a brilliant move. Where it really triumphs over Hoth, though, is that Yavin had a more open forward play area which let you easily set up an Imperial invasion. Hoth, though, was a bit clunkier. Both sets also had a great feature for when you were done playing; they folded into a rectangular shape that had concept artwork on both sides, and had a retractable carry handle. Easy to take out to play, and easy to store.

    The Death Star, though, I was highly disappointed with. It had a ton of potential, and had many awesome features and details that looked great, but it was too flimsy. I could never get the walls on mine to properly connect and stay standing. As well, several of the features were clumsy and hardly ever worked right. It looked great folded up, though, as one side was curved and given the Death Star's exterior surface, so you could set up TIEs and X-wings around it and it would look pretty great.

    Binoculars/lightsaber playsets:
    Both were rather interesting, although the lightsaber playset I was pretty disappointed with. Most of the features felt pointless, and as a child it was difficult to get enough momentum to flick the X-wing all the way down the trench area - at least not without my finger hurting afterwards. The binoculars were better though, as it brought the Yavin base to the micro-machine scale and had plenty of play area to let me come up with my own scenarios. Shame they weren't more useful when you folded them back into binoculars, though.

    Overall, I agree; Galoob's playsets were often quite awesome, and not just for Star Wars, but other lines as well, especially the Military. They truly had some talented people working there that managed to brilliantly balance ingenuity and practicality.
    "Hokey packaging and ancient gimmicks are no match for good detail on your figure, kid."
    "I am a Klingot from Oklahoma in human boy form."
    "We came, we saw, we conquered... We, woke up!"

  3. #3
    That backspace thing drives me crazy too. Now I use the advanced reply for everything.

    Platform playsets:

    1. Endor
    2. Hoth
    3. Dagobah
    4. Tatooine
    5. Death Star
    6. Cloud City
    7. Rebel Transport

    Transforming playsets:

    1. Bespin (Vader)
    2. Cloud City (Fett)
    3. Cantina
    4. Endor
    5. Jabba's Palace
    6. Hoth
    7. Death Star super playset
    8. Millennium Falcon
    9. Mos Eisley
    10. Death Star II
    11. Tatooine
    12. Star Destroyer
    13. TIE Pilot Academy
    14. Dagobah
    15. Death Star Trench
    16. Yavin Rebel Base

    Action Fleet playsets:

    1. Hoth
    2. Yavin
    3. Death Star

    And of course, that doesn't cover ANY of the playsets Galoob and Galoob/Hasbro developed for Episode I, which were numerous.


    Platform sets, Endor sucked, the others were pretty good.

    Wow, that sucks about the fire and the melting of the sets.

    The Action Fleet ones were the best, each one was so much fun in a little briefcase, and they had original Ralph McQuarrie artwork to boot. Yavin was so much fun, I spent hours setting up my ships and minifigs in there. And the Death Star had nearly EVERYTHING! I didn't have a LOT of flimsy problems with mine, but it didn't get the big play that Hoth and Yavin did.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "We named the dog 'Chewbacca'!"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by JediTricks View Post
    Platform playsets:

    1. Endor
    2. Hoth
    3. Dagobah
    4. Tatooine
    5. Death Star
    6. Cloud City
    7. Rebel Transport

    Transforming playsets:

    1. Bespin (Vader)
    2. Cloud City (Fett)
    3. Cantina
    4. Endor
    5. Jabba's Palace
    6. Hoth
    7. Death Star super playset
    8. Millennium Falcon
    9. Mos Eisley
    10. Death Star II
    11. Tatooine
    12. Star Destroyer
    13. TIE Pilot Academy
    14. Dagobah
    15. Death Star Trench
    16. Yavin Rebel Base
    Out of those, before the fire, I think I was only missing Mos Eisley/Jabba, Rebel Transport, Tatooine/Slave I, Academy/TIE Pilot, Death Star super playset, and the Star Destroyer. But, that's because they had either come out at that time, were getting ready to come out, or were too expensive. Aside from the TIE Pilot head, I didn't get most of those later sets due to losing so many of the previous ones.

    I forgot all about that Falcon playset, though, I loved that thing. It was incredible with all that they did to that thing, and then it could be folded back and looked great as a normal Falcon. I never could understand the point of the giant turning thing on the second half of the Falcon that had built-in stands for 3 ships to "land" on. I could understand it turning to get them to that crane thing, but why did the ships twirl around as it turned...

    Quote Originally Posted by JediTricks View Post
    And of course, that doesn't cover ANY of the playsets Galoob and Galoob/Hasbro developed for Episode I, which were numerous.
    I wasn't really impressed with the playset offerings for TPM. My Mom did get my a few one year for christmas, though, I got the Battle Droid and Jar-Jar transforming heads, and the Mos Espa and Podracer Garage AF playsets. The Jar-Jar head wasn't horrible, but one of the most boring heads as it was really restricted to simply replicating scenes. I don't remember much about the Battle Droid head, I want to say it never wanted to work right or something along those lines. The Mos Espa and Garage playsets were pretty dull, as I didn't have any of the TPM AF ships so the Garage was useless, and Mos Espa... Well, Mos Espa was just the dullest setting for anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by JediTricks View Post
    Platform sets, Endor sucked, the others were pretty good.
    I liked Endor quite a bit, they really should have done something interesting with the shield generator complex, though. The log tricks were pretty fun - when they'd work. They really should've made the bump on the hill a bit larger to hold the rolling logs better, and used buttons that didn't feel almost like pin-points for the swinging logs. So, I mainly liked it because it was a good-sized area to set up a bunch of the soldiers from the army builder packs.

    Quote Originally Posted by JediTricks View Post
    Wow, that sucks about the fire and the melting of the sets.
    Yeah, but fortunately it was a pretty mild fire since it didn't get lower than the ceiling. Granted, we still lost alot, but not much that was irreplaceable. Of course, being stored in the attic due to it's large size, my Ghostbusters Firehouse didn't stand a chance. The most aggravating thing about it all, though, was the clean-up/restoration company we hired to go through our stuff and clean/de-smoke it. They were absolutely incompetent and a bunch of things came up missing as they either stole it, or threw it away - even stuff that was set aside.
    "Hokey packaging and ancient gimmicks are no match for good detail on your figure, kid."
    "I am a Klingot from Oklahoma in human boy form."
    "We came, we saw, we conquered... We, woke up!"

  5. #5
    I was a fan of these playsets too. I liked both MicroMachines scales - the original micro-sized ships and figurines and later, Action Fleet. While Action Fleet vehicles couldn’t be beat, I actually preferred the smaller micro figurines to the Action Fleet figs. Sure, the AF figs were articulated, but I disliked how loose they were and sometimes fell apart.

    I think the transforming head playsets came out first, but I’ll start off with the Platform playsets I collected:

    Endor - I liked this playset when I first got it. The little trees are cute. It’s got the bunker and antenna dish but that’s about it. I liked the little stack of logs that can roll down hill, but thought the ones that attached to the trees and swing down to smash something was a bit lame.

    Ice Planet Hoth - Not a bad little environment. It’s got the Echo Base command center, ion cannon, shield generator, and a sizable play area. The roof of the command center opens for easy access and the shield generator “explodes” when a button is activated.

    Planet Dagobah - This set is very cool. The playset has Yoda’s hut, the tree, and the swamp. Yoda’s hut opens for access to the interior, which is great for those of us who could never do that with the vintage Dagobah playset. The “tree” is just a stump, but it’s got a revolving mechanism so Vader can appear. The swamp is great! There are two really neat action features - R2 can be launched out of the mouth of the swamp creature and Luke’s X-Wing can be raised above or lowered under the swamp surface. Man, I thought that was the bee’s knees at the time.

    Planet Tatooine - Another nice playset. It’s got Jabba’s Palace and environs, and the Sarlacc pit upon a ridge above the palace. Jabba’s palace walls and roof are completely removable to access the interior. Comes with Jabba, Max Rebo, and Sy Snootles, and Carbonite Han fits in a slot on the wall! Turning a knob makes the band rock back and forth and the trap door in front of Jabba’s dais can be opened. The giant frog thing that lives outside the palace rotates to eat passing rodents. I think this was the first time the Sarlacc was released in plastic form. I have a vintage board game with a 3D cardboard skiff and Sarlacc, which was cool at the time, but I always wanted a Pit of Carkoon to go with that great POTF skiff Kenner made. In the Galoob playset, figures can fall into the pit, but you have to manually “open” the creature’s mouth for it to swallow them. Then simply lift the playset off the floor to retrieve the figure.

    The Death Star - Probably my least favorite. I think the Death Star and Endor were some of the first non-transforming playsets, and it shows. It’s basically the top third of the Death Star. The top lifts off to reveal the interior. It’s got a gunner station, a retractable post that a vehicle sits on to simulate the tractor beam, and a wall with the tractor beam controls. The floor is very cheap; it’s not plastic at all, just cardboard. There is a panel on the outside surface of the Death Star that can “blown” by pushing a button. There’s a secret room under the panel to store figures. I always thought this playset was boring and really didn’t think I was getting good value for the money with the cardboard floor.
    Weird War Tales: Featuring the Creature Commandos #105 November 1981 (DC Comics)

  6. #6
    I got a few of these way back in 1997 as I was just getting into Star Wars, so some of them are tied very heavily into my earliest SW memories. I remember getting the Dagobah set at the Star Tours shop in Disneyland that summer, which was the first time I'd been to Disneyland (or it might have been the second time we went, in 1998, and perhaps I got the Death Star set first?). The spirit Obi-Wan fell onto the carpet at an angle that perfectly matched the design of the carpet, coloring and all; it took a while, but we found him. I thought that set was damn cool. I also have the Jabba's Palace, Death Star, Vader's lightsaber/Death Star trench, and I think maybe something else that I'm forgetting, not to mention nearly all of those tiny little heads that opened up to have a miniature figure inside.

  7. #7
    My thoughts on the Transforming playsets I collected, beginning with the original batch from 1994:

    Cantina (C-3PO) - Arguably the first Star Wars playset I got in the modern era. I’d been collecting the MicroMachines SW vehicle packs up to this point so getting playsets to go along with them was most excellent. This set has the cantina on one side and docking bay 94 on the other. Features the full elliptical bar and the booth where Greedo shot first. The doors even open to reveal a pair of Sandtroopers, which can “enter” via a movable floor plate. Greedo’s chair will eject him when you push the table down. The docking bay has a peg for the micro Millennium Falcon. Lots of detail in such a small package! The only thing I didn't like about these sets was applying the decals. Man, what a chore!

    Jabba’s Desert Palace (R2-D2) - This playset is pretty ambitious. It not only folds out to reveal Jabba’s Rancor pit, but it has pop-up parts for the throne room. Figures can fall through the trap door in front of Jabba’s dais and down into the pit, where they can escape through the gate. No space is wasted here - even R2’s dome folds out to reveal a berth for the Sail Barge. R2 isn’t just a “head” …er, I mean dome - it’s his entire body, at least the front half.

    Bespin (Darth Vader) - The Dark Lord of the Sith transforms into the Bespin freezing chamber and also has the transparisteel view port where Luke gets sucked through. A small landing pad folds out for Slave I. This playset recreates the best parts of the vintage Kenner MicroCollection Bespin modular playset, one my favorites as a kid. The freezing chamber actually works, a figure can be raised or lowered into the pit by turning a dial, and the view port is break-away so a figure can be launched through it, just like in the vintage playset.
    Weird War Tales: Featuring the Creature Commandos #105 November 1981 (DC Comics)

  8. #8
    The remaining Transforming playsets I collected:

    1995

    Endor (Chewbacca) - Chewie’s face flips down to reveal the Endor forest and a portion of the treetop Ewok village. A micro speederbike spins on a post controlled by a lever and can crash by flipping up a log on the ground. Much like the vintage Ewok Village playset, this one also has a capture net, which is basically a plastic cage that can be released using a lever on the back. Another lever on the back will move a figure inside the tree. Up above is a village walkway with railing.

    Death Star (Stormtrooper) - This playset has three levels. At the top, a TIE Fighter can be positioned in a docking bay. Below that is the detention level with a working trapdoor with a chute that leads to the trash compactor on the bottom. The compactor walls can be opened and closed by turning a wheel. The garbage masher also features a pop-up eye stalk of the trash compactor monster.

    Rebel Command Center (Millennium Falcon) - This set was one of the first of a new breed of larger play environments. The Falcon flips open using hinges on the mandibles. The playset is balanced on three landing gear and a flap on the rear quarter that flips up. Half of the playset is some type of hangar bay for ships. The hangar accommodates three ships that rotate on revolving berths. There’s a crane off to the side to pick up and move ships around. Like LTBasker, I didn’t find this part of the toy all that appealing. The other side, however, is fantastic. It’s basically the interior of the Falcon with different play areas from the OT. This playset is notable in that it’s the first version of the Falcon with a corridor to the cockpit - which also has four chairs and plenty of room for figures.

    1996

    Cloud City (Boba Fett) - Another ambitious playset with several levels and a transformation that rivals any G1 Transformer. Fett’s helmet opens like book and the top folds back to reveal the sinister side of Cloud City. The bottom levels feature the smelter with conveyer, interrogation room, and detention center. The top half is devoted to the light saber duel on the gantry and Luke’s plummet down the central core to the antenna. Fett’s antenna doubles as an elevator for a figure, although it doesn’t really go anywhere. The light saber duel platform is fun for awhile, but I think the really novel thing about this playset is the inclusion of the smelter, detention cell, and interrogation room. The doors to both the prison cell and torture chamber open and close, and there’s a small piece of plastic garbage that goes on the smelter conveyer belt.

    Hoth (Rebel Pilot) - This anonymous Rebel fighter pilot’s head opens to reveal the Battle of Hoth and the medical bay of Echo Base. Like LTBasker mentioned, the head’s transparent helmet visor is removable, which is a nice little detail, but I always thought it would end up getting scratched since the playset rests on it when it’s open. The bottom portion features an AT-AT bound by the tow cable of a circling Snowspeeder. Pulling a tab makes the Snowspeeder race around the AT-AT, which then pitches head first into the snow. The central element of the medical bay is the Bacta Chamber, which actually accommodates a figurine - another toy first. There’s also a small couch for 2-1B’s patients to recuperate. Hasbro didn’t get around to doing a Bacta Chamber until the POTJ line (2000-2002). Even though Hasbro's version was such a major pegwarmer, it still remains one my favorite toys from the 3-3/4" line.

    1997

    Double Takes Death Star - This is such an amazing toy. It’s basically a sphere that transforms into a multi-level playset of Tatooine, including the streets of Mos Eisley, the cantina, the Jundland wastes with a pop-up Tusken Raider, and the Lars’ moisture farm. The last section is devoted to the Millenium Falcon’s capture & escape from the Death Star hangar and the TIE Fighter attack. I mentioned before how difficult it was applying all the decals to these tiny little playsets. Well, this one was huge, but I still didn’t bother putting all the decals on the thing. I uploaded a scan of my decal sheet for this playset. There are 53 decals altogether - it looks like I applied the first five and quit. I’ll have to go back and take another stab at it. And it’s only been 12 years or so… What to mention… this playset has got the first Lars Homestead - the roof is hinged for access to the interior. It’s also got the skeletal remains of Owen and Beru! The charred remains of Luke’s aunt and uncle are on a flip over panel, which I thought was sooo cool at the time. I still find that little detail very keen, even now. Just flip the panel over to hide the remains and to relive the happy times before the Stormtrooper raid. In Death Star mode (the sphere), micro ships can be attached to the surface with little Light-Brite like pegs.
    Weird War Tales: Featuring the Creature Commandos #105 November 1981 (DC Comics)

  9. #9
    Do you have a list, or know a site with a list, of the figures contained in these sets? Specifically the Vader, R2 and 3PO heads? I have the heads but no figures and want to try to rectify that.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by djsosharp View Post
    Do you have a list, or know a site with a list, of the figures contained in these sets? Specifically the Vader, R2 and 3PO heads? I have the heads but no figures and want to try to rectify that.
    I'd check out this site. It's not complete yet but it's got a lot of info already and I think it includes what you're looking for.

    http://starwarsmicromachines.wordpress.com/
    Have: CW Yularen, CW Clone, everything from CW Slave I set except Slave I, TFU Shadow Stormtrooper x2, Evo Trooper, Saga AT-AT Driver, K-Mart Jodo Kast || Want: Vintage Fordo
    Thanks to TheDarthVader, Phantom-like Menace, TheRealDubya, Jediguy, Dark Marble, Umbra, Qui-Long Gone, CrunchyNug, GH_fan and jedikiss.

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