The Episode I MicroMachine line held a wide variety of micro-toys - ranging from Vehicle/Figure Collections to Podracing 2-packs and Die Cast Metal ships. Below are examples from each of these lines that, despite having made it as far as the test package stage, never managed to see full line production. In each case, tooling for the toys was finished - just waiting for that second chance...
Not seen since Hasbro's Pre-Toy Fair 2000 showing, MicroMachines collections XIV, XV, and XVI were the last of the Episode I vehicle/figure sets to see any kind of development before the San Francisco toy maker was shut down. Shown here on test packaging, the three sets would have consisted of: XIV: Mawhonic, Mawhonics Podracer, Yoda, and Opee Sea Killer. XV: C-3PO, Trade Federation Battleship, Qui-Gon Jinn, and Sando Agua Monster. XVI: Gungan Warrior, Trade Federation Droid Fighter, Queen Amidala, and Trade Federation Droid Transport.
While some items were available in other sets, these sets would have offered the first release of Mawhonics Podracer, Trade Federation Battleship, and the Trade Federation Droid Transport. According to the source of the images, tooling for these items was completed, but the sets were stopped just short of production.
The packaging for each of the mock-ups includes the standard Episode I card design found on later releases here in the U.S., with no new hints at future product. As test packages, these three collections were likely fashioned out of what was on hand. However, the bubble insert cards are black and white copies of the cards that would have designated each set's collection number.
Originally conceived as a MicroMachines/Hotwheels hybrid, Galoob's Podracing line of Episode I racers offered lightning fast speed and classic Star Wars styling. The line consisted of eight movie-based Podracers sold in four individual sets, three editions of the "Build Your Own Podracer" collections with numerous color variations, and three exciting track sets. Late in the line, Hasbro showed signs of continuing the Podracer collection by revealing these pods in their Pre Toy Fair 2000 catalog. Unfortunately, an uncertain market and cost cutting measures stalled the next two installments. While these sets never made it to production, sample copies were created for quality control purposes. What would have been collections V and VI, are shown here for the first time in mock-up packaging with Collection I inserts on European cardbacks.
The cardbacks themselves also show no new product and are likely the same cards used for previously released items overseas. Had they been released, sets V and VI would have featured Mawhonic, Aldar Beedo, Wan Sandage, and Ody Mandrell's podracers, completing 12 of the 18 pods from the film. Despite having reached this stage of development, it is highly unlikely Hasbro will ever continue this part of the line.
When asked recently about Die-Cast in general, Hasbro replied that they liked the look and feel of metal vehicles and hoped to continue offering them. Unfortunately that sentiment couldn't hold up to the tough times following The Phantom Menace. While Galoob had several ships planned and waiting for the green light, cut backs in the line forced their cancellation. Shown above, these carded samples of the next round of Episode I Die-Cast vehicles at least made it this far. So far there has been no official word on the future of these toys, or other Die-Cast offerings, but the Die-Cast MicroMachine line holds the most potential of all Galoob lines for Star Wars vehicle that have not yet been released. Other Galoob lines, like the Action Fleet and MicroMachines, have nearly exhausted their resource for new vehicles other than those from the new films. A resurgence of the Die-Cast line holds the promise of some great Classic vehicles as well as new Prequel era ships, but to date there has been no indication Hasbro has any plans in this area.
As samples, the artwork for these sets remained largely unfinished. Three of the above cardbacks feature black and white photocopies of the artwork planned for this generation of vehicles. Of particular interest, these mock backings show updated numbers for several of the MicroMachine collections. The cardback for the Naboo Fighter shows updated numbers for the Die-Cast (13), Vehicle/Figure (16), and Podracing (6) lines along with images of the unreleased Transforming Anakin Head Playset. In addition to the four vehicles pictured above, Galoob also had plans to release a Die-Cast version of the Trade Federation Landing Craft. Pictured below, this piece obviously made it to the same sample stage, though the card was intentionally destroyed.
According to our sources, tooling for each of these vehicles was completed, and could be put back into production. So far there's been no word if Hasbro intends to revive this line, or these five vehicles, but it certainly remains an option for the future. Hopefully, the broadening of the Star Wars line will include their release at some point. Star Wars has a history of providing Die-Cast Metal ships dating back to the original Kenner line, it would be a shame to leave these as nothing more than some of the line's great lost toys.