New Year’s Inventory

Someone asked me recently how many cars I had in my collection. The best guess I could come up with was “in the hundreds” but I wasn’t really sure. So I decided to spend part of New Year’s Day counting everything up. I keep updated lists, so it was mostly just a matter of counting and totaling the numbers. Or so I thought, until I realized how many items were not on my supposedly updated lists. After a few more days of inventorying, I came up with a total of 951 items.

I generally think of my collection as having three categories: Vintage, Novas and Impalas. But occasionally I can’t resist something that doesn’t really fit into any of these. I counted multi-car packs as single items and I did not include several buckets of cars that I have acquired over the years that I have deemed not worthy of my collection. These are the cars that my son and I use whenever we break out the Hot Wheels tracks.

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397 Vintage
In my collection, “vintage” is very loosely defined. These 395 items include my childhood collection and a bunch of almost entirely loose cars with a focus on blackwall-era Hot Wheels. The oldest items would be a few late-1950s Lesney-era Matchbox cars, and I cheat the “blackwall era” with a few cars into the early 1990s.

I have 45 cars that I’ve managed to hold onto from my childhood. They include 18 Matchbox, 9 Hot Wheels, 7 Tomica Pocket Cars, 6 Husky, 4 Playart and a single Majorette.

The remaining 350 Vintage cars break down as follows:

Hot Wheels – 219
Matchbox – 53
Corgi – 14
Zylmex – 11
Yatming – 9
Racing Champions – 8
Majorette – 7
Road Champs – 4
Ertl – 4
Tomica – 4
Siku – 2
Summer – 2
Barclay – 1
Husky – 1
Kidco – 1
Playart – 1
Pit Row – 1
Tin Toys – 1
Unknown – 9

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262 Impalas
When I first started picking up Impalas, I would take them out of the package and display them on a bookcase I had in my bachelor pad. Series like Jada’s Homie Rollerz and the Revell Lowrider Magazine cars encouraged me to start keeping them in the packages. Since Hot Wheels rolled out the ’59 Chevy Impala in 1997, there has been a steady stream of new Impala castings and variations, which puts the brand at the top of this list with 85 items.

Hot Wheels – 85
Johnny Lightning – 59
Revell – 22
Jada – 21
M2 Machines – 15
Greenlight – 14
Maisto – 11
Ertl – 6
Racing Champions – 6
Malibu International – 5
Motor Max – 4
Muscle Machines – 3
Auto World – 3
Disney – 3
Classic Metal Works – 1
Craft House – 1
Geospace – 1
Route 66 – 1
Unknown – 1

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188 Novas
The 2004 release of the Hot Wheels 1968 Nova was an exciting moment for me as a collector. Hot Wheels now has a variety of Nova castings going back to the first-generation body style, so the brand is at the top of my Nova list with 85 items.

Hot Wheels – 85
Johnny Lightning – 38
M2 Machines – 27
Maisto – 10
Muscle Machines – 9
Jada – 7
Ertl – 5
Racing Champions – 3
Playing Mantis – 2
GMP – 1
Universal Hobbies – 1

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104 Miscellaneous
The 90 items here include 10 Hot Wheels 30th Anniversary models from 1998, lots of Batmobiles, NASA-themed items including 3 Hot Wheels Action Packs, some 2005-2006 Hot Wheels Classics and a bunch of other odds and ends.

Hot Wheels – 78
Johnny Lightning – 5
Jada – 4
Matchbox – 4
Lledo – 2
Quartzo – 2
Revell – 2
Bauer – 1
Hormel Promo – 1
Maisto – 1
Upper Deck Collectibles – 1
Unknown – 2

My Collection by Brand
My collection is made up of at least 41 different brands. Being well-represented in all of my categories, the Hot Wheels brand dominates with 476 items. Johnny Lightning comes in second with 102, mostly due to the many Nova and Impala releases during the RC2 era. It’s interesting to note that Matchbox has never made a Nova and the only Impalas made in recent years are the eight-generation version which I have no interest in, yet the brand takes third place with 75 items in my vintage collection.

Hot Wheels – 476
Johnny Lightning – 102
Matchbox – 75
M2 Machines – 42
Jada – 31
Revell – 24
Maisto – 22
Quartzo – 2
Racing Champions – 18
Greenlight – 14
Corgi – 13
Tomica – 11
Zylmex – 11
Yatming – 9
Husky – 7
Majorette – 7
Ertl – 6
Malibu International – 5
Motor Max – 5
Playart – 5
Road Champs – 4
Disney – 3
Auto World – 3
Lledo – 2
Playing Mantis – 2
Siku – 2
Summer – 2
Barclay – 1
Bauer – 1
Classic Metal Works – 1
Craft House – 1
Geospace – 1
GMP – 1
Hormel Promo – 1
Kidco – 1
Pit Row – 1
Route 66 – 1
Tin Toys – 1
Upper Deck Collectibles – 1
Universal Hobbies – 1
Unknown – 12

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Corgi

The Corgi brand was created in 1956 by the Mettoy Company of Northhampton, UK, which had been making pressed steel toys since the 1930s. From the beginning, Corgi toys were different than their competition in that they had windows. Later innovations included spring suspension, opening hoods (bonnets) and trunks (boots), and jeweled headlights. After almost a 30-year run, the company went into liquidation and was reformed as Corgi Toys Limited in 1984. In 1989, the Corgi brand was sold to Mattel and in 1995 it was sold again in a management buyout. These days, the company is called Corgi International Limited and is owned by Hornby.

There were a few nice Corgis in the box of cars I got from RR and they all appear to date from before the Mattel era.

img_8140 img_81411970-1972 | Aston Martin DB6 | yellow | black plastic base | made in Great Britain

img_8137 img_8138img_8139Ford 1979 Mustang Cobra | white | black plastic base | made in Great Britain

I rarely come across Corgis in my car hunting, but interestingly, I now have three of the Super Heroes series, including the Joker, Supermobile and this sharp Shazam!

img_8142 img_81431979 | Shazam | yellow with Shazam stickers | metal base | made in Great Britain

img_8134 img_81351980 | Ford Thunderbird | cream | opening hood, chrome plastic base | made in Great Britain

img_8131 img_8132Corgi Juniors | Land Rover 109 wrecker truck | red with Wrecker Truck stickers | black plastic base | made in Great Britain

These two versions of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang are both missing their plastic wings and figures, but they provide an opportunity to show the difference in wheel variations. The first version has rubber tires which fit the model well.

img_9230 img_9231 img_92321970 | Chitty Chitty Bang Bang | Silver, red and black | missing wings and figures, metal base | rubber tires | made in Great Britain

This second version – a Corgi Junior – has Whiz Wheels, which were introduced in 1969 as a response to the popular and free-rolling Hot Wheels.

img_9234img_9235img_92331970 | Corgi Juniors | Chitty Chitty Bang Bang | Silver, red and black | missing wings and figures, metal base | Whiz Wheels | made in Great Britain

Here’s an old ad image of the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in all its glory. Incidentally, the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is currently in the running for ‘The Ultimate Corgi Top 10’.

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img_8147 img_81481984 | Mercedes Benz 240D | red | black plastic base | made in Great Britain

hobbyDB

For several years, the South Texas Diecast website was my go-to for information on Hot Wheels. The site was home to the most complete online listing of Hot Wheels variations -compiled over 16 years by Diecast Hall of Famer, Robert Graves, Jr. – from the first redlines to the latest releases. In November of 2015, partly to ensure his database would live on, Graves decided to merge the STDC site into hobbyDB.

hobbyDB is more than diecast. The wiki-like site catalogs over 152,000 collectible items in over 30,000 subjects and claims nearly 10,000 users. With detailed descriptions of each item, not only is it a great source of information for the collector, users can also take advantage of the system to keep track of their own collections, create a wishlist, or buy and sell items as well.

Access to this amazing database is “free forever”, but hobbyDB relies on thousands of collectors to help keep the listings up-to-date and accurate. If you are a collector and you are interested in helping out, click this link for more information on becoming a hobbyDB curator.

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2015 Corgi James Bond Aston Martin DB5

While we were in Arizona during the year-end holidays, my son and I wandered into a Toys R Us. He was determined to find something for himself, and when we came across this Corgi James Bond Aston Martin DB5, I had a hard time arguing against it. The DB5 is a beautiful car in its own right and James Bond made it even cooler. Packed in a retro-styled box and loaded with great play features, this model is the 50th anniversary reissue of the Goldfinger DB5 that won Corgi the Toy of the Year Award in 1965.

IMG_7525 IMG_75262015 Corgi CC04204S | James Bond’s Aston Martin D.B.5 | silver birch | 1:43

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I came across a website dedicated to Corgi James Bond vehicles, and this page tells a pretty complete story of the DB5.

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This image (courtesy of the Cool Hard Plastic Toys 1940s 1950s 1960s Facebook page) is a page from the 1968 Corgi catalog showing the character series which includes the original James Bond DB5.

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Antique Store Finds

When I was in Manhattan, Kansas, a few weeks ago, I walked into a little antique shop and found this fun assortment of cars. All of these cars are fairly well worn, but the price was right.

Compare this 1967 Lesney Matchbox Greyhound Bus to the Hot Wheels version from 1980.

1967 Lesney Matchbox | 66 | Greyhound Bus | metallic gray, amber windows | black plastic wheels

This Lesney Matchbox London Bus from 1966 is a little rough, but it’s in better shape than the 1970s-era London bus from my childhood.

1966 Lesney Matchbox | 14 | Daimler London Bus | green with Esso graphics | black plastic wheels

This 1965 Taylor Jumbo Crane still has a functioning boom and intact plastic hook.

1965 Lesney Matchbox | 11 | Taylor Jumbo Crane | yellow with red weight box | black plastic wheels

I had never heard of the Corgi Rockets before, so this gold chrome Aston Martin DB6 may be the most interesting car in the lot. The Rockets, which were meant to be raced on track sets, were produced for only a little over a year starting in October of 1969. Each car came with a key which could be used to remove the black plastic chassis so the car could be given a “tune-up”.


1969 Corgi Rockets | D901 Aston Martin DB6 | gold chrome

Finally, I can’t resist one of the original 16 Hot Wheels redlines, even if it’s been given a custom paint job and partially burned like this Deora from 1968.

1968 Hot Wheels | 6210 | Deora | red, with custom paint | USA | redline

1979 Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and the CORGI Supermobile

My son isn’t really into cars. He’s much more interested in superheroes and monsters. About the only way I can get him excited about one of my cars is if it has a superhero or a monster on it. Well, he did approve of this eBay purchase – a lot of four superhero-related Hot Wheels from 1979. These are a bunch of fun – and there are a few more superhero cars from 1979 that I’d like to get ahold of as well.

IMG_6976.JPGIMG_6977.JPG1979 | 2877 | Spider-Man | black, raised bar on base, red & white trim | Hong Kong | blackwalls

IMG_6972.JPGIMG_6973.JPG1979 | 2878 | The Incredible Hulk | yellow, two small rear windows | Hong Kong | blackwalls

IMG_6974.JPG IMG_6975.JPG1979 | 2880 | Thor | yellow | Hong Kong | blackwalls

This Corgi Supermobile was sort of a bonus in the lot. I think it’s the only Corgi I have in my collection (so far). My son was the one who figured out how to make the two fists punch out of the front of the car by pushing the red button on the back. It’s missing most of the glass, but the red plastic Superman is still intact in the cockpit.

IMG_6970.JPG IMG_6971.JPG1979 | Corgi Supermobile | blue, red interior

Update: In my stash of old comic books, I found this ad for the Corgi Superman series on the inside back cover of the 1979 Sgt. Fury #153.

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