3-Dollar Box

On a warm September day, I was cruising the neighborhood on my bike when I came across a garage sale. I started looking through a box of cars and right away found some interesting items. Rather than stand in the hot sun and pick through them all, I asked how much for the whole box. $3 was a good price, so I took them home and sorted them out in the comfort of my cool house. (My son was quick to point out that the cars were in a diaper box – something I had neglected to notice in the excitement of the moment.)

I picked out a few keepers and donated the rest to the neighborhood kindergarten for the Teacher’s Treasures box. Word is that the kids went a little crazy over all of the cars. Here are my keepers:

Hot Wheels

The Hot Wheels army half-track first appeared as Gun Bucket in the 1976 Flying Colors series. This black blackwall version is from the 1985 Action Command release as Tank Gunner. The guns are stressed but still intact, and the model is in otherwise good shape.

1985 | 9347 | Action Command | Tank Gunner | olive with brown, green and tan camouflage | MY | black BW | $8

The Hot Wheels Crack-Ups, which debuted in 1985, were a series that had moving parts which, on impact, would change from clean to damaged. Bangster is from 1986 and shows the heavy playwear typical of cars from this series.

1986 | 7582 | Crack-Ups | Bangster | lime green with orange, red and yellow graphics | MY | BW

The success of the Crack-Ups inspired Flip Outs in 1986. These cars were fitted with a mechanism on the base that would cause the car to flip over on impact. Some had a side-hit flipper and others, like this Nissan 2000SX called Flippin’ Frenzy, had a rear-hit flipper, pictured below.

1986 | Flip Outs | Flippin’ Frenzy | yellow with purple, red and white graphics | HK | BW

The Hot Wheels ’65 Mustang Convertible with an opening hood first appeared in 1984. This flourescent-colored variation from 1990 – missing the windshield – has been shipped to my friend, Hannah, who collects the Ford ponies.

1990 | 4980 | Freeway Frenzy Set | ’65 Mustang Convertible | fluorescent orange with blue and white wave graphics, pink interior | MY | blue hub TW | $10

The Hot Wheels Split Window ’63 Corvette was a Hi-Rakers model from its first release in 1980 until 1984. It was retooled in 1987 to give it a standard base, and again in 1995. There are almost as many name changes as there are paint/wheel variations. This black, purple and yellow version is a 1991 McDonald’s promo with a plastic base.

1991 | McDonald’s promo | Split Window ’63 | black with purple and yellow graphics, gray plastic base | MY | bw | $4

The Hot Wheels ’82 Supra first came out in 1983 and has only five variations. This dark red model with blackwalls from 1993 is from a Sto ‘n Go playset.

1996 | 3925 | Sto ‘n Go set | ’82 Supra | dark red | China | bw | $5

I’m stretching my “vintage” collection well into the 90’s with variations of blackwall-era cars already in my collection. The Hot Wheels Bronco 4-Wheeler is a classic originally released in 1981. This red version with striking black and white graphics is from 1998.

1998 | Bronco 4-Wheeler | red with black and white Alaska Trek graphics, white plastic shell, black plastic motorcycle | Thailand | ctd | $2

Aeroflash goes all the way back to 1975, when it was released as Large Charge. It also appeared in 1985 as Silver Bullet, which is the name cast into the metal base of this green, black and red version from 1998.

1998 | 1781 | Aeroflash | green with black and red 3 graphics | MY | 3sp

Matchbox

This well-loved, metallic red sedan is the first release of the Matchbox Jaguar XJ-6 which appeared from 1987 through 1989. It’s a fairly heavy car with nice opening doors.

1987 | #41 | Jaguar XJ6 | metallic red, opening doors | 8-dot rims | made in Macau | $1

The Matchbox Ford Escort Cabriolet is a fun model that first came along in 1985. This particular version is from the Laser Wheels series of the late 80s.

1989 | Ford Escort Cabriolet | metallic blue with white stripes and red 3 | laser wheels | made in Macau | $4

There are over 150 variations of the Matchbox 1921 Ford Model T Van. Unfortunately, this spooky model from the 2005 Haunted Castle 5-pack is missing a front wheel.

2005 | Haunted Castle 5-pack | 1921 Ford Model T Van | dark blue with black roof, WOOA vampire graphics | black wood 12-spoke | made in China

 

Yatming

This 1:43 scale Yatming Chevrolet Pick-up features a pull-back motor and opening doors. I shipped this one off to my friend Brad, who collects Jeeps, pick-ups and off-road vehicles.

No. 8317 Chevrolet Pick-up | red with gold, white and black “Chevy Sports Off-Roader” graphics, opening doors, pull-back motor | 1:43 | Made in Thailand

Zylmex

Finally, I’ve always loved the WWII-era F4U Corsair, so I kept this 1:130 scale fighter, which was made by Zylmex and sold under the Runway24 brand.

Zylmex | Runway24 | RW150 USMC F4U Corsair USN | 1:130

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Estate Sale Matchbox Speed Kings Range Rover

I found this nice Matchbox King Size, along with another larger (than 1:64) scale model, at an estate sale back in July. They were marked $4 each, but it was half-price day, so I got both for $4.

Matchbox King Size models (in the 1:43 scale range) were introduced in 1960 and most featured moving parts or opening doors. In 1971, the King Size range was separated into Super Kings and Speed Kings. This Speed Kings Fire Control Range Rover is from 1978 and features lots of nice details, off-road wheels and an opening tailgate. It was originally sold in a box that would have included two firefighters, a ladder and a section of hose that could be attached to the vehicle at the front or the back.

Matchbox | 1978 | Speed Kings K-64 | Fire Control Range Rover | red with yellow and red Fire Control trim | Off-road wheels

I also have the Speed Kings Bertone Runabout and the Javelin AMX.

 

Hot Wheels 1980 Dumpin’ A and Other Salvage Finds

My brother Joe is doing some salvage work these days, and when I saw him at my family reunion in June, he brought me a bag of cars he had found in a house he was tasked with cleaning out.

This Hot Wheels Dumpin’ A was coated with grime and had what appeared to be a chunk of modeling clay stuck in the back. I used a popsicle stick to remove most of the clay, then dissolved the rest with vegetable oil. After going over the rest of the car with a damp Q-tip, I had myself a pretty sharp car!

This Dumpin’ A from 1980, with its orange paint and yellow plastic dumper, is the opposite brother to the first casting from 1979, which is yellow with an orange dumper.

1980 Hot Wheels | Dumpin’ A | orange with yellow dumper, yellow, orange and red trim | HK | bw

After looking over the rest of the cars in the bunch, I realized none of them would clean up well. So I decided to photograph them just as is. I often wonder about the history of the cars I acquire. How many previous owners did they have? Were any of them ever a child’s favorite toy? I’ve lived a pretty good life and have a hard time imagining the circumstances that would cause a family to leave a home with belongings still in it. I suspect these cars have some interesting stories they could tell.

1991 Hot Wheels | ’57 T-Bird | red with green, blue and pink trim, gray plastic base | MY | bw

1991 Hot Wheels | Bronco 4-Wheeler | white with black stripes, missing camper shell (Ecolab Pest Control promo) | MY | bw

1994 Hot Wheels | Back Burner | red with grey plastic engine (McDonald’s giveaway) | plastic 5-spoke

1999 Hot Wheels | Trail Runner | lime green (McDonald’s giveaway) | 5SP

2002 Hot Wheels | 40 Somethin’ | yellow with white and black trim | MY | PR5

1965 Lesney/Matchbox | #68 Mercedes Coach | orange, missing top half

1965 Lesney/Matchbox | #69 Hatra Tractor Shovel | orange with yellow wheels, black tires, missing top and shovel

1983 Matchbox | #11 Ford IMSA Mustang | black with yellow and green flames

1983 Matchbox | #7 Volkswagen Ruff Rabbit 4×4 | yellow with black rabbits

Majorette #228/291 Depanneuse | orange with black, blue and silver trim, missing black plastic tow hooks | 1:62 | Made in France

1981 Ertl | Dukes of Hazard General Lee | orange with blue and white trim, missing back wheel

Tootsietoy | La France Fire Truck | red | Chicago, USA

Tootsietoy | Crane | green, missing plastic crane cab and boom

Unknown | S8003 | Race Car | red with black, orange and white trim, plastic base

Splurging at the Antique Store

Antique stores and art galleries are two things I really enjoy. In downtown Wichita, Vertigo 232 is on the second floor of a building that also houses Shopkeepers Antique Mall. Even better, you have to enter the antique store to access the stairs up to the gallery, a situation that gives me opportunity to browse the cases for cars.

While delivering work for a recent show in the gallery, I saw these four cars in the case. I tend to resist buying from antique stores – as opposed to garage sales – because I feel like someone else has made the find for me and I’m paying extra for it. But, at $2 and $3 each, these cars weren’t too bad a value. So I told myself that if they were there the next time I came in, I would pick them up.

When I came back to the gallery at the end of the exhibition to pick up my work, the cars were still there. So I splurged.

This Hot Wheels Porsche 959 is the 1988 first release of a model that’s been released in a few dozen variations since. I really like this paint and tampo combination as well as the Ultra Hots wheels.

Hot Wheels 1988 | 4631 | Porsche 959 | metallic dark red with orange and yellow trim | MY | UH

There are at least a dozen variations of the Matchbox BMW M1, which first came out in 1981. But this metallic gray version, with its opening hood (trunk?) and lack of rear wing and ground effects, appears to be a different casting altogether.

Matchbox 1981 | 52 | BMW M.1. | metallic gray, black 52 and stripe, hood opens, clear windows | Eng. | Superfast wheels | 1:57

I still have a bunch of nice Tomica models from my childhood, so I’m happy to acquire more when I’m fortunate enough to find them. The Tomica Maserati Merak SS and Porsche 928 are both red and both from 1978.

Tomica 1978 | F45 | Maserati Merak SS | red with black trim | 1/62

Tomica 1978 | F53 | Porsche 928 | red | 1/63

A Cheerful Matchbox Delivery Truck

I try pretty hard to keep my collection focused. There are a lot of items out there that tempt me, but I can usually resist. Recently, while searching for Impalas in the bins of Hot Wheels at the local consignment shop where my wife found the HotWheels.com 5-pack, I failed to stay focused. This First Edition Matchbox Delivery Truck from 2000 reminded me a little bit of the Dodge Cattle Truck from my youth. And the cheerful crowing rooster art on the sides just made me smile.

img_9647 img_96502000 First Edition | #48 Delivery Truck | red with white container, barn and rooster labels

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

Lesney Matchbox Bedford “Evening News” Van and Morris J2 “Builders Supply” Pickup

When I bought the cab for my Matchbox Major Pack 7 recently on eBay, it came in a lot of 3 cars which included these two well-worn Lesney-era models.

Bedford was a brand of commercial vehicles produced by Vauxhall in the UK starting in 1930. The popular light commercial CA van was introduced in 1952 and made up until 1969. The Matchbox Bedford Van from 1957 would have originally had a sign board mounted diagonally across the top that proclaimed “First With The NEWS” and evening news decals on the sides and doors.

img_8236 img_82371957 | 42 | Bedford “Evening News” Van | yellow-orange | black plastic wheels

Morris Commercial was formed in the UK in 1924 and the J2 was produced from 1956 until 1967. The J2 was available as a van, minibus, or pickup. The Matchbox Morris J2 Pickup originally had “Builders Supply Company” decoration on the sides. This variation of the casting has an open rear window.

img_8238img_81281958 | 60 | Morris J2 “Builders Supply” Pickup | light blue | open rear window | gray plastic wheels