1995 Hot Wheels Silver Series Fire Eater

Vintage Stock, which carries mostly records, movies, video games and comic books has two locations in Wichita, at Town East Square mall and at Town West Square mall. The chain was founded as Book Barn in 1980 in Joplin Missouri and now has 40 locations in 5 states. I’d been in the store before and noticed that they had a few action figures, but I had never really thought to look for diecast cars. Well, the other day I found an end-cap full of Hot Wheels, Matchbox and other assorted models.

This chrome Hot Wheels Fire Eater from 1995 is a little late for my “vintage” collection, but I thought it would make a nice companion to my other mint blackwall Fire Eater from 1983. I also have a thing for chrome and gold chrome cars, which probably goes back to the Club Kit Heavy Chevy from my youth.

Since the blister was already mostly separated from the card, I decided to take the model out of the package so it could be displayed with my other loose Hot Wheels.

Hot Wheels | 1995 Silver Series | 322 | Fire Eater | chrome with red insert, yellow and black trim, blue tint windows | MY | BW

The Silver Series was new for 1995 and also included Rodzilla, Propper Chopper and School Bus castings. Silver Series II from 1996 included the CAT Dump Truck, ’40s Woodie, ’57 Chevy and the Oscar Myer Wienermobile.


“Curby” Canada Post Mail Truck

The first time I visited my wife’s hometown of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, I decided I wanted to bring back “Curby” as a souvenir. The Canada Post delivery truck is a common sight, as you might imagine, and at the time these diecast models with a pullback motor were available for purchase at the local Post Office. It makes a nice companion to my Matchbox Models of Yesteryear Postes Canada Post Ford Model A Van.

“Curby” Canada Post Mail Truck | white and red with blue Canada Post trim | pullback motor | Made in China

1987 Lledo Marathons Air Canada Courtesy Bus

In 1987, Lledo introduced Marathons, a line of transportation vehicles that were more modern and slightly larger in scale than the Days Gone series. Five castings were issued, each produced in a variety of different liveries, but the series did not sell well and was discontinued.

My Air Canada Courtesy Bus is from the same estate sale where I acquired my Lledo City of Toronto Double Decker Bus. Though not quite as interesting a model as the Double Decker bus, it is made with the same Lledo craftsmanship and quality.

Lledo | 1987 Marathons M2 | Air Canada Courtesy Bus | Made in England

The five different Marathons castings are nicely illustrated on the back of the package.

1983 Lledo City of Toronto Double Decker Bus

This nice Lledo City of Toronto Double Decker Bus is another of my Candian-themed finds from the collector’s estate sale of several years ago.

When Lesney was on the verge of bankruptcy in 1982, founding engineer Jack Odell  hand-picked the best personnel from Lesney’s design and production team, purchased machinery and tooling from the company, and created Lledo. The models produced by Lledo, which were manufactured in Enfield, England, were larger than the Matchbox 1-75 series, yet not quite as large as the Models of Yesteryear. Lledo’s Days Gone range of models included both horse-drawn and motorized vehicles and were much like the nostalgic Yesteryear series.

Lledo’s bread and butter was its line of promotional models. About thirty basic castings – among the most popular of which were the Ford Model T delivery and the Double Decker Bus – were used to produce hundreds of variations, usually in runs of 500 or 1000.

Lledo | 1983 DG15 City of Toronto Double-Decker Bus | Made in England

In the 1990s Lledo introduced the Vanguards range, which replicated classic British vehicles and other European models. Unfortunately, the well-crafted Lledo models couldn’t compete with lower cost products from Hong Kong and China, and the company went bankrupt in 1999. The naming rights and model range were purchased by Corgi. For a time, Corgi produced Lledo models in China, but eventually merged them into the Corgi Classics range.

1984 Matchbox Models of Yesteryear Postes Canada Post Ford Model A Van

A few years back, my wife and son and I came across an estate sale in a home in Wichita’s Eastborough neighborhood. As I recall, several rooms of the house were filled with nice bookcases full of diecast collectibles. The models consisted of trucks, buses and delivery vans. It was an impressive collection and lots of fun to look through. My wife, who grew up in Ontario, pretends to hate estate sales and my car collecting habits in general. And yet, every time she came across a model with a livery that related to her home country, she would get excited and point it out to my son and I. So we took home with us a few nice Canadian-themed models from this collection.

The Matchbox Models of Yesteryear series, which started in 1956, was the brainchild of tooling engineer Jack Odell. Odell wanted to make models of antique trucks, buses and fire engines at a larger scale and more detailed than the 1-75 series.

The 1930 Ford Model A Van first appeared in the Models of Yesteryear series in 1982 and has seen at least 16 variations, decorated with everything from Coca Cola livery to the Washington Post branding. My 1:40 scale Postes Canada Post model has a 1984 copyright on the back of the box. I think it was in pristine shape when I first bought it, however, it ended up mixed in with some of my son’s toys for a few years and has lost some luster (though I was smart enough to save the original box.)

Matchbox | 1984 Models of Yesteryear | #38 Ford Model A Van | Postes Canada Post | red with black fenders, black roof | 1:40

I have read that in the UK and Australia, Models of Yesteryear are more seriously collected than the 1-75 series. However, due to lack of consistent distribution in the U.S., Models of Yesteryear are fairly unknown compared to the smaller scale Matchbox toys. In fact, I was not aware of the series until I came across this collector’s estate sale several years ago.

As I was photographing the box, I noticed a hand-written note inside the package flap.