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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The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures

My wife and son had a break from school for President’s Day, so I took a few days off and we drove up to Kansas City for a couple of days. The highlight of our trip was a visit to the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures. Housed on the campus of the University of Missouri – Kansas City, the museum first opened in 1982 as the Toy and Miniature Museum of Kansas City featuring the collections of Mary Harris Francis and Barbara Marshall. Over the years, the collection has grown to include over 72,000 objects and the museum has undergone three different expansions, the most recent of which was completed in August of 2015.

With an admission price of only $5 (kids 4 and under are free), the museum is an exceptional value. The collection is beautifully displayed and well-organized. The informative exhibits, which include some interactive and educational elements, kept us entertained for several hours.

The first floor contains the collection of miniatures. I thought we would move through this part fairly quickly, but the level of craftsmanship and attention to detail in the miniatures is so mind-blowing that we found ourselves spending a good amount of time marveling at all of the exhibits here.

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There are even miniature miniatures!IMG_7531

Though there is a large section of dolls and doll houses, the second floor toy collections are pretty wide-ranging, including some of my favorite classic board games and construction toys.IMG_7585 IMG_7561 IMG_7584

Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars are a fairly small part of the exhibit, but there are plenty of other interesting automotive-themed toys.IMG_7560IMG_7567IMG_7572 IMG_7556 IMG_7557 IMG_7558 IMG_7562 IMG_7596IMG_7603IMG_7568 IMG_7601 IMG_7608

There are also plenty of planes, trains and ships.IMG_7599IMG_7593IMG_7598

And there are cowboys, soldiers and spacemen.

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The current temporary exhibit (through August 2016) is Pedal to the Metal, which features a nice collection of pedal cars. My favorite is this Formula One Racecar modeled after Jim Clark’s Indy 500-winning Lotus-Ford from 1965.IMG_7641

Late 70s Star Wars Action Figures

When my son was younger, he was all about Star Wars. He watched the movies repeatedly, amassed a huge pile of action figures, several board games and a few costumes. Then, for whatever reason, he moved on. The last time I brought my old Star Wars action figures up out of the basement, he was barely interested.

But with the recent release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, his interest in the franchise has been reawakened. His latest obsession is an iPad game in which he is collecting and trading Star Wars cards online. (Who remembers when trading cards were a tangible thing?) So when I heard him say his favorite character was Greedo, I reminded him that I have one of the original Greedo action figures.

After that, it was all I heard about from him – “Dad, can we go look for Greedo?” – until I went down into the cold basement, pulled out my boxes of old toys, and dug through them to find my Star Wars action figures.

IMG_7496Luke Skywalker

In those days, they had an interesting design for the lightsabers, which could be extended by pushing them up through the character’s arm.

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Kenner was the toy company that had been licensed to produce toys for Star Wars, which hit theaters on Memorial Day weekend in 1977. Interestingly, Kenner didn’t even have the toys on the shelves until 1978.

IMG_7499Sand People (Tusken Raider)

IMG_7500Death Squad Commander

My Boba Fett was a mail-order figure. I remember it was advertised that his jet pack would fire a rocket, but by the time mine came in the mail, they had decided the firing rocket was a hazard and it was molded permanently into the jet pack. I understand the few that made it to market with the working rocket are fairly valuable.

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These first Star Wars figures are arguably the first modern action figures. By making the figures about 3 3/4″, Kenner was able to also produce ships and playsets to scale.

IMG_7517C-3POIMG_7503Princess Leia

And here’s Greedo.

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Although I have a nice Star Wars tin that I had offered my son to store the figures, he commented that the box I had them stored in was “cool”. I had to explain to him what a cassette tape was.IMG_7506