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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1979 Zylmex M*A*S*H Playsets

I rediscovered a box of military toys from my childhood a few years ago. At the time, I was really excited to have found three super-clean, old Matchbox models. Recently, I was reminded by an online post of the series of M*A*S*H vehicles that I had in that box. The long-running TV show was – and still is – a favorite of mine. So I found the box again and this time I photographed everything in it.

I couldn’t remember how the pieces were packaged. Fortunately I found a Zylmex fan site of which the following text and photo of the 1979 toy catalog page are courtesy:

First a celebrated movie, then and still a wildly popular TV show, and now, a best-selling toy model series.  All vehicles of die-cast metal with plastic parts. Super play value features include folding blades on Supply Helicopter, removable plastic canopy on Ambulance Truck, folding windshield and detachable trailer on jeep. Detailed, durable, injection molded plastic Playsets are based on actual settings found in the M*A*S*H TV Series. Combination of Vehicles and Playsets create a toy model series in constant demand.  Blister pack assortment, plus a Floor Display of distinctive design.

As you can see by the following photos, I have most of the series except for the Ambulance Truck and the Supply Helicopter.

T439 Ambulance Van with opening door

Rescue Copter and Helicopter Landing Pad Set.

T432 Jeep Car and Trailer

T431 Armored Half Track

Latrine Set

Field Hospital Set

I also had to photograph the box that all of these items have been stored in for years. The plastic model is long gone, but the box has survived in surprisingly good shape.

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

Zee Toys

According to globaldiecastdirect.com, Zee Toys (also called Zylmex) was based in Long Beach, California, during the 1970s and 1980s. Apparently, they produced toys under various brand names such as Dynawheels, Victory Circle, Rough Riders, Windracers, Mini Macks and others. Most of the cars you’ll see below are made in Hong Kong. Some have the Z logo stamped on the bottom, some include “Zylmex”, and all seem to have a two- or three- digit item number preceded by a “P” or “D”.

Most of the cars I got from RR are loose, but a few are still in their original packages. And though the blister cards are in pretty poor shape, it’s great to think the cars inside are in true mint condition. This nice Porsche 959 is from 1985.

IMG_7950IMG_7958IMG_7953 Zee Toys Pacesetters | Porsche 959 | silver | 1985 | blister card | made in Macau

This nifty Datsun pickup is missing the plastic camper shell – and part of its hood decal.

IMG_8203IMG_8204P319 Datsun Pickup | green | metal base | made in Hong Kong

Two variations of the ’63 Corvette with opening hood. Notice the different wheels.

IMG_8218IMG_8244IMG_8220P364 ’63 Corvette | dark pink | metal base | made in Hong Kong

IMG_8215IMG_8216IMG_8217P364 ’63 Corvette | burgandy | metal base | made in Hong Kong

This fun bulldozer is missing a wheel.

IMG_8201IMG_8241P378 Tractor | orange | plastic base and blade

Glad to see the 427 Cobra still has its plastic windshield.

IMG_8205IMG_8206P389 Cobra 427 | blue | metal base

This GTO has a custom, hand-done paint job.

IMG_8209IMG_8243P391 ’69 Pontiac GTO | blue | metal base | made in Hong Kong

I like the dual carbs poking out of the hood on this Mustang.

IMG_8211IMG_8212P392 Mustang Pro/Street | orange | metal base | made in Hong Kong

Slug bug!

IMG_8207IMG_8208D20 Volkswagen | yellow | metal base | made in Hong Kong

And finally, a little red CRX.

IMG_8213IMG_8214D79 Honda CR-X | red and gray | plastic base