Friday, May 4, 2012

Star Wars Micro Collection (Kenner)

Looking to garner more control over the toy isle, Kenner attempted to capitalize on its already massive Star Wars figure line by producing the Micro Collection. The little die cast metal figures stood approximately 1/3 the size of the average figure, and were packed in multiple quantities with mini playsets and vehicles.

The idea was revolutionary for its time, but yet contributed greatly to the series being short lived. While it's fairly standard for toy lines these days to also have a micro sub series, this was a totally new concept back in 1982 when the series launched under The Empire Strikes Back banner.

It is often noted that the lack of possibility to the figures is what killed the line, but this isn't a highly accepted reason. To find the true reason one need only look to the toy isle during this era. Toys such as Masters of the Universe and the reintroduced G.I. Joe toys now scaled down to 3 3/4 size were drawing kids away from Star Wars at a rapid rate. It was simply bad timing on Kenner's part to introduce such a radical new concept to the toy isle.

A total of seventy figures were released via the various playsets, vehicles and the one and only mail away offer for the series. However, there are ten figures known to be in existence that were produced for later sets that were cancelled when the line ended. These ten figures are highly sought after by collectors, and the secondary market prices would cost you more than what the entire produced collection would cost, and that's if you could even track all ten figures down.

The cancelled sets include Hoth Bacta Chamber, Bespin Torture Chamber, and a handful of sets based on Jabba's Palace, and the Emperor's Throne Room. These sets would have been released in 1983 to coincide with the Return of the Jedi film and toys.

Unlike most toys, the Star Wars Micro Collection has an interesting way of being cataloged. Each figure has a six digit number stamped on the bottom of each base (or somewhere on the figure should it not have a base). The first three digits refers to the playset in which the figure was released in, while the last three digits identifies the figure itself.

For those of you who want to attempt to track down this entire line, the following three digit codes represent the following playsets and vehicles along with how many figures came with each set;

008 - "Build Your Armies" Mail-Away Set (6 figures)
256 - Bespin Control Room (4 figures)
258 - Bespin Gantry (4 figures)
261 - Snowspeeder (2 figures)
269 - Hoth Wampa Cave (4 figures + probe droid)
270 - TIE Fighter (1 figure)
283 - X-Wing Fighter (1 figure)
460 - Bespin Freeze Chamber (8 figures)
463 - Hoth Turret Defense (6 figures)
517 - Death Star Trash Compactor (8 figures)
583 - Death Star Escape (6 figures)
668 - Hoth Generator Attack (6 figures)
692 - Hoth Ion Cannon (8 figures)
733 - Millennium Falcon (6 figures)

For the parent who wanted instant gratification for their children, Kenner produced all the sets in one box known as "worlds". While obviously more expensive, it was a one stop shopping option to get the entire collection of each world in one purchase. *However, worth noting is that the Hoth set was shy one set - Hoth Turret Defense. This item would still need to be purchased separately to have a full set.

*Thanks to reader Jeff for bringing this to our attention.

This is also beneficial to collector's seeking open pieces who aren't necessarily worried about what box the item came from.

Kenner offered one mail away set which offered a variety of figures. Unlike Kenner's prior mail away offers, the set for the Micro Collection was not highly received, and left Kenner with a vast amount of back stock.

Shortly after the mail away offer the series was cancelled. It wouldn't be until 1994 that fans would be able to get their hands on new mini Star Wars toys in the form of Galoob's Micro Machines.

The Micro Collection remains an iconic staple in the collections of Star Wars collectors. It was a unique and fresh item in a market that simply wasn't ready for it, but today remains a highly sought after series to those few who remember it fondly.

Join us Monday as we continue our Star Wars 35th anniversary celebration with our look at Super Deformed!

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  1. I used to have a couple of the Bespin playsets. They were really simple, but that is what made it really cool. I was reintroduced to these playsets about a year ago when my friend was trying to collect all the pieces. I doubt he knows about the 10 cancelled figures. I'll have to let him know.

  2. The only problem with collecting them in the "World" sets is that Hoth World did not include the Hoth Turret Defense set. Luckily, I had the coolest mom on the planet, and when we figured it out, she got me that set as well. I'm the friend Taylor is referring to, and I now have all of the commercially-released sets and figures in my collection :)

  3. Thank you for the comments, Taylor and Jeff, and thanks for the info on the Hoth World Set, Jeff. I'm going to add this information to the post. You going to hunt down those ten prototype figures?

  4. Hi, Im from Costa Rica, I´m painter miniatures.
    today I start my micro-colection... with a few pieces, bought on ebay, I believe this miniatures are amazing for a respect collection,
    thanks for the information

    1. We're glad you found the information useful. Good luck with your collection.


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