2012 Mars Rover Curiosity

When I went to Target the other day, the pegs were almost entirely covered with 2013 cars. So I was pretty surprised to finally find my Mars Rover, which I had mostly given up on. I scanned through the rest of the 2012s, hoping to find the elusive Mystery Machine as well, but I was pushing my luck there.

I recently read in the newspaper that the Curiosity had logged less than a mile on the Martian surface since it landed in August. This is a little surprising when you realize it travelled 350,000,000 miles through space to get there! But soon, Curiosity will get moving and set off on an expected 9-month journey across the Gale Crater to Mount Sharp. Here is a link to a previous post of my other NASA vehicles and other items.

IMG_0205 IMG_02042012 New Models | Mars Rover Curiosity | white with gold, black and NASA logo | OH5


1979 Motocross Team Scene Machine

1979 was the year that Hot Wheels introduced the Scene Machines. These were a special series of trucks with a magnifying lens embedded in the back window, through which a scene could be viewed. These vehicles tend to be fairly valuable, so finding them in good shape for not a lot of money presents a bit of a challenge.

This Motocross Team van, which I found on eBay, was the first Scene Machine that I added to my collection. When I opened the package and peered into the back window for the first time, I was truly impressed with the effect. In this case, it’s as if you are actually looking into the back of the van. You see a guy in a motocross uniform seated on his motorcycle with another guy crouched next to him and the third guy in the driver’s seat, but turned around to face you and his friends in the van. The scene is illustrated as you would expect in the style and colors of the late 70s, matching the look and feel of the decoration on the outside of the van. I wish I could figure out a way to photograph the view and include it here, but I guess you’ll have to find one for yourself so you can get the real experience! [Edit] I have since figured out how to photograph the scene in the back (see photo below).

The casting of the Motocross Team is identical to the Baja Breaker, which was first released the previous year. As with many of these vans that have been played with, the hood latch has broken off of the plastic hood, which causes it to remain in the open position.

IMG_8464 IMG_84651979 | 2853 | Motocross Team (Scene Machines) | red, with yellow, black & white trim | Hong Kong | blackwalls

Photographing the scene in the back is tricky on this model. The lens in the back is very small and I wasn’t able to capture the entire scene. Still, it gives a fairly good idea what the effect is like.


1982 Greased Gremlin

I was attempting to get the original casting of the Malaysia-made Greased Gremlin from 1979 when I landed this one on eBay. It was only after I received it in the mail that I realized it was the Hong Kong version from 1982. Still, I was very happy with the condition of this Super Modified AMC Gremlin.

IMG_8466IMG_84671982 | 2502 | Greased Gremlin | red with blue, white, yellow trim | Hong Kong | blackwalls

1979 Captain America and Human Torch

Over the past few years, I’ve acquired quite a few blackwall-era Hot Wheels. But recently I decided to bring my vintage collection a little more into focus. I decided to start with the year 1979 and try to get all of the first castings from that year. Part of the reason I chose 1979 is because I already had a decent start, having previously picked up a number of Super Hero themed cars from that year.

So I’ve been burning up eBay recently, bidding on a bunch of cars from 1979, as well as a few other distractions. The Captain America car is actually a variation of the Hot Bird, which was released the previous year. Instead of the expected Firebird paint scheme, this Pontiac Trans-Am T-top is decorated with stars and stripes worthy of its namesake.

IMG_8473 IMG_84741979 | 2879 | Captain America | white, red and blue trim, red interior | HK | blackwalls

The Human Torch is another one of the Marvel Heroe-themed cars from 1979. It is also based on a casting from the previous year, the Army Funny Car. The body of the Plymouth Arrow is hinged to open, revealing the engine and driver’s cockpit.

IMG_8470 IMG_8471 IMG_84721979 | 2881 | Human Torch | black with yellow and red trim | HK | blackwalls

Rock Buster and Bronco 4-Wheeler

One Saturday every month, my son and I go for a haircut. The best thing about this is that it always leads to a trip to the thrift store on the opposite corner of the same block. This past Saturday, my son came away from the thrift store with some Club Penguin books and I scored a bag of Hot Wheels. As usual, I really only wanted a couple of cars in the bag and my son got the rest.

The Rock Buster was first introduced into the Hot Wheels lineup in 1976. This well-worn green version is from 1980.

IMG_8533 IMG_85341980 | 9088 | Rock Buster | green with white, red & blue trim | HK | blackwalls

The Bronco 4-Wheeler was introduced in 1981 and has enjoyed quite a few reincarnations over the years. The plastic motorcycle on the back is a nice touch. This metallic blue version with the construction tire tri-blades is from 1990. I’m considering taking the white plastic topper off and putting it on my other Bronco 4-Wheeler that’s missing the topper. However, I’m not sure I can get it off without breaking it. And besides, even though this one looks like it was flipped upside down and dragged down the sidewalk a few too many times, it’s still not half-bad looking.

IMG_8531 IMG_85321990 | 1520 | Bronco 4-Wheeler | metallic blue with white plastic top and motorcycle | MY | construction tri-blades

’66 Nova and ’61 Impala

I found a couple of nice Hot Wheels at Wal*Mart the other day. The ’66 Chevy Nova is one of my all-time favorite cars and was first released as a Hot Wheels model in 2007. There have been about 20 variations of it since. This lime green version was one of 3 different colors issued for the Muscle Mania – GM series in 2012.

IMG_8537IMG_85362012 Muscle Mania – GM ‘12 | ’66 Chevy Nova | lime green with black, white and green trim | chrome rim black PR5

The beautiful ’61 Impala is a new casting for 2012 and this one wears metallic aqua paint. I picked up the metallic dark red version a few months ago and you can see it here.

IMG_8538IMG_85352012 New Models | ’61 Impala | metallic aqua with white stripes | chrome rim black PR5

An Antique Store “Find”

I don’t often buy cars from antique stores. I enjoy the “find” of coming across something at a garage sale or thrift store that nobody else has discovered. Even on eBay I can usually hunt up something good that nobody else is bidding on. But when I buy from antique stores it feels a little bit like cheating because somebody else has made the “find” for me.

Also, it seems everything is at a premium only because it’s in an antique store. I was in one place recently where they had 3 different baskets of loose diecast cars. One basket was $1 each, another was $2 each, and the third was $3 each. As far as I could tell, there was no difference in the value of any of the cars, and even the $1 price was probably a stretch.

So I was surprised last summer when I walked into an antique store and found a couple boxes of loose cars priced 5 for a dollar that actually contained … well, if not pristine cars, then some that were actually relatively old. My son picked out 5 for himself, I picked out 5 for me and we walked up to the cash register to pay. Sure enough, a man walked out from the back room, glanced at what I had on the counter and said, “Oh yeah, I hadn’t had a chance to go through those yet.” The woman who rang us up then explained to me that they always have a booth at the big flea market at the coliseum every month. Presumably, the man would have taken the cars that I picked out of the box, marked them up considerably and taken them to the big show. So, despite the poor condition of these cars, I still felt like I made a “find” at an antique store.

Someday I’ll pick up an axle and some rear wheels for this Matchbox Grit Spreader.
IMG_7066 IMG_7067Matchbox | 1966 | 70 | Ford Atkinson Grit Spreader | red cab, yellow hopper | black plastic wheels

Then I’ll find a trunk lid for this Mercedes 300SE.
IMG_7075IMG_7076Matchbox | 1968 | 46 | Mercedes-Benz 300 SE | metallic orange | Superfast wheels

Then I’ll need a hood for this Ford Zodiac Mk IV.
IMG_7079 IMG_7080Matchbox | 1968 | 53 | Ford Zodiac Mk IV | metallic green, unpainted base | Superfast wheels

Funny enough, I sent a photo of the Zodiac to a buddy of mine to illustrate a point I was making about how some of my collectible cars weren’t in very good shape. He sent back a photo of the same car from his own childhood collection with the comment, “This wasn’t my favorite car either.”


Here’s another car from the antique store “find” – a Hot Wheels Letter Getter. The U.S. mail truck casting was introduced in 1977, but this worn out version with the blackwall tires and the black plastic base is from two years later. I’ve never customized a Hot Wheel, but that was definitely on my mind when I picked this one up. I envision a Rat Rod version with fat white walls and a crazy blown engine sticking out of the rear doors. The large blank sides will obviously provide a nice canvas for some fun graphics.

IMG_7101IMG_7102Hot Wheels | 1979 | 9643 | Letter Getter | white, black plastic base, red & blue trim almost gone | HK | blackwalls

The final pick of my 5-for-a-dollar was this diecast Chevy Chevette. I don’t know anything about this Hong Kong-made model, but it brought back some memories of the Chevette my sister used to drive when I was a teenager.

IMG_7097IMG_7098Chevette | red with blue and white trim | plastic base | made in Hong Kong

You don’t see many Chevettes on the road anymore, so I was surprised to discover one in my own neighborhood that’s in good running condition. This one is the same blue as my sister’s, although hers was a 4-door.