|1987 : Micro Machines Travel City – Drive-Thru Fish & Chips
||[Jul. 15th, 2008|07:39 pm]
When I was a kid, this was one of my favorite toys, for reasons I could never quite put my finger on. I was delighted to discover that not only was it still in a container at my parents' house, but that all its pieces were together and in relatively good shape.|
The gimmick behind the "Travel City" playsets was that the component parts of each scene were easily collapsed into the base of the city block, with room to spare for at least one Micro Machine vehicle. I found this incredibly charming, and I took my Drive-Thru Fish & Chips shop pretty much everywhere.
This image was on the packaging, and it's apparently a prototype; the actual playset looks a little different. Better, even.
The Micro Machines Travel City playsets were, in my opinion, the best toys in the entire history of the Micro Machines line. Not only were they relatively cheap (you got the entire city block and a vehicle for, like, three or four bucks), but they were durable by design and surprisingly detailed.
Why a dumpster? Why not? And hell, as long as we've got a dumpster, it needs some decals. That's the sort of attention to detail I'm talking about. It's a little hard to see in this picture, but there's a little triangular planter in the corner of that paving.
Yeah, this picture isn't very good, but here's the playset from the front.
Only a couple of decals are peeling, which is surprisingly good for something that's over twenty years old and has been stored in a southeast Texas attic for most of that time.
Another shot of the front drive.
A close-up of the menu. I always really liked the detail on this.
And a teeny-tiny drawing of a fish and chips dinner! On the obverse side of the menu! Where no one would ever really see or appreciate it! See, this is the sort of attention to detail that made the Travel City playsets such springboards for imagination. Towards the bottom of the picture, you can see a bit of detail of one of the planters.
An overhead shot.
Reverse overhead shot.
That is pretty neat. I imagine multiple blocks, when joined together, would make for a dandy stage upon which to stage Dinosaur Attack! (or at least Dinosaurs Visit Because That Is What The Child Primarily Owns). I remember some of the Mighty Max toys (Polly Pocket for Boys, for those not familiar) were equally intricately-sculpted given their size, as well.
They did join together, as you probably guessed from the symmetrical little notches along the edge of the block, and having a few linked together was absolutely captivating.
What you didn't see in this little photoplay was Mia playing seven sorts of havoc over my innocent, delicately reconstructed little town with the tub of Battle Beasts we also found this past Sunday.
Were Battle Beasts the ones with the emblems on their chests that represented a sort of rock-paper-scissors battle of the elements? Those things were totally awesome.
That's them, all right, and after digging them out and giving them another close look, I am absolutely mystified that they haven't enjoyed the same sort of retro revival popularity that other 80s toy franchises have. They had some pretty terrific character designs; I can only chalk it up to the fact that they didn't (as far as I know, anyway) have a cartoon, comic book, or other extension of their brand. It's a pity!
Stupid trivia: they're actually part of the Transformers line, although this was apparently only ever referenced in Japan. They show up in an episode that didn't get imported or something from one of the later seasons. Don't ask me which one. I don't really know Transformers, man, this is the extent of my knowledge.
As someone with two brothers and a sister, I can assure you that Polly Pocket is very much enjoyable for boys in the proper environment.
I always thought fish & chips was a British thing (what with "chips" and all). My father, English, was the only person I ever knew who specifically sought that out. I have never seen it represented in a toy or a cartoon or anything. I wonder why Galoob decided to eschew the traditional, expected hamburgers with occasional hot dogs approach. Maybe they just wanted to make something with a big smiling fish in it.
I just discovered the post by searching "micro machines fish n chips." I had this same playset when I was a kid and enjoyed it for the same reasons you did. I just purchased some vintage Micro Machines for my 4 year old son, and I want to find this playset for him (and secretly for myself!). Very cool post.