This 1978 Tomica Cadillac Ambulance is the second of the two models I found at Wichita Vintage. It’s fairly play-worn, but I always pick up Tomicas the rare times I find them, as I have a nice bunch from my childhood, including another Cadilac. You can see the Cadillac Ambulance, along with all of the other Tomica offerings from that year, on the 1978 page of the Tomica History website.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In those days, they had an interesting design for the lightsabers, which could be extended by pushing them up through the character’s arm.
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.
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.
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.
And here’s Greedo.
One of the complications of collecting “loose” Hot Wheels is that occasionally you find one that you can’t put a date on. The gold chrome Rodger Dodger is a case in point. This casting, based on a 1973 Dodge Charger SE, was first released in 1974. For the 1977 Flying Colors series, it was painted gold chrome and given magenta, white and red tampo. The gold chrome version came out again in 1978 as a Drag Stripper and again in 1979. All three gold chrome variations have identical tampo, were made in Hong Kong, have blue tinted windows and chrome bases. Now, if this car had redlines, then it would be from 1977. But some 1977 versions made the transition to blackwalls, and both of the subsequent years wore them as well. So without the original package, there’s no way to definitively know in which year it was produced.
The Jaguar XJ-S was a luxury grand tourer made by the British carmaker from 1975 to 1996. Though it has some nice lines and interesting features, it is hardly a design icon like its predecessor, the beautiful E-Type. The XJ-S was initially powered by the formidable V12, with a straight-six option available by 1983.
This is the first release of the Hot Wheels Jaguar XJS, which came out in 1978. The Hot Wheels XJS was produced up until 1987 in about 12 different variations, including the gold chrome version from 1979.
This is the first release of the Hot Wheels Z-Whiz which came out in 1977 – or is it? It seems there is an identical version which was released in the 1978 Super Streeters series. Without the packaging, I guess it’s impossible to know for sure. There are redline versions of the grey 1977 model too, and there is an ulra-rare white version that goes for big bucks. In addition, Z-Whiz was produced up until 1984 in several other colors including the gold chrome variation from 1979.