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


1988 Big Bertha

My friend Joel recently posted a couple of his Hot Wheels tanks, so I was inspired to show my Hot Wheels Big Bertha. Originally called Tough Customer when it was first released in 1975, the casting has seen about 10 different variations up to 1996. My tan variation is from the 1988 Action Command series.IMG_8529IMG_85301988 | 9372 | Big Bertha | tan with green and white camo | MY | small rollers

The other Hot Wheels tank that I have – a different casting entirely – is the Command Tank from 1996.

1986 Fangster and 1988 Sharkruiser

Speaking of ugly Hot Wheels (see previous post), the Speed Demons series came up in an online discussion of the subject. The Speed Demons – hot rods with creature-like characteristics –  were first released in 1986. I have two of them, both from the Collection of Big A. While I admit Fangster is pretty ugly, I’ve become a fan of the Sharkruiser and enjoy seeing it pop up every now and then in a new variation.

This Fangster is from the original release and wears the signature mid-80s Ultra Hot wheels.

img_5582 img_55831986 | 2059 | Fangster | green | Hong Kong | Ultra Hots

Sharkruiser was a 1987 addition to the Speed Demons series. This variation in blackwalls is actually from a 1988 Color Racer 3-Car Pak. I’m not sure what colors it’s supposed to vary between because it seems to have lost its changeability and has settled into a permanent state of glossy pale yellow.

img_5584img_55851988 | 3286 | Sharkruiser from Color Racer 3-Car Pak | pale yellow | Hong Kong | blackwalls

1979 Fire Chaser and Variations

When it was originally released in 1978 in white with black and yellow tampos, this Larry Wood-designed casting was called Highway Patrol. In 1979, Fire Chaser was a variation of the same casting in red with yellow, black and white tampos. This one came from the Dealer.

img_7087 img_70881979 | 2639 | Fire Chaser | red with yellow & black trim | Hong Kong | blackwalls

This black version with white and yellow tampos is the Sheriff Patrol from 1982 and comes from the collection of Big A.

img_1848 img_18491982 | 2019 | Sheriff Patrol | black w/black, white & yellow trim | Malaysia | blackwalls

Another variation of the Sheriff Patrol from 1985 wears metallic blue paint. This one I picked up on eBay.

img_8489 img_84901985 | 9526 | Sheriff Patrol | metallic blue w/blk, wht, yellow trim, white rear doors, black interior | Malaysia | blackwalls

Yet another variation – also from the Dealer – is this tan color-changing model from 1988 that is both a police car and a taxi cab.

img_1852 img_18531988 | 7285 | Sheriff Patrol (Automagic) | light purple (light tan) with Police Taxi trim | Malaysia | blackwalls

NASA Space Shuttle Support

NASA’s recent success with the Mars Curiosity Rover landing was quite a thrill. While we’re all still cheering, I thought I’d show off some of my NASA-related items.

When the Space Shuttle program was winding down, I decided I wanted to have some souvenirs of its glory days. So I went on eBay and found the Hot Wheels NASA Space Shuttle Ground Support Hiway Hauler and the Matchbox NASA Tracking Vehicle.

The Hot Wheels Hiway Hauler evolved from the cab for the Road King that was made in 1973. The cab was used again on the American Hauler and the American Tipper in 1976. 1980’s Hiway Hauler was very similar to the American Hauler except that it had an extra set of wheels under an extended cargo box. Over the years, the Hiway Hauler’s cargo box has been adorned with many different company logos. This NASA version was released in 1988 as part of the Workhorses series.

IMG_6966.JPG IMG_6967.JPG1988 | 5144 | Hiway Hauler | white, “NASA Space Shuttle Ground Support” graphics | Malaysia | blackwalls

The 1982 Matchbox NASA Tracking Vehicle is a modification of the Motor Home from 1980. In addition to NASA tampo, the Tracking Vehicle was fitted with a chrome radar dish on the roof. The Tracking Vehicle also retained the motor home’s plastic opening door on the passenger side.

IMG_6968.JPG IMG_6969.JPG1982 | 54 | NASA Tracking Vehicle | white, side accents, clear windows | England | Superfast wheels

I have to brag about my personal connection to NASA. One of my brothers is an aerospace engineer at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Though he was never directly involved with the space shuttle program (he is a control systems expert), over the years he has hooked me up with some pretty cool souvenirs. The first space shuttle flight landed at Edwards, and the long landing strip there was used many times over the years as a back-up landing site when the primary site at Kennedy Space Center couldn’t be used. This button is from the 3rd space shuttle flight and the third mission for Columbia in 1982, which was scheduled to land at Edwards. As it turned out, the dry lake bed at Edwards was flooded, so the landing was diverted to White Sands New Mexico. This was the only time a shuttle landed at White Sands.


Here is another button commemorating the landing of STS-6 at Edwards in 1983. The sixth shuttle mission was the first flight of Challenger, and the first space shuttle mission to include a space walk.


Here are mission patch decals for the final 4 space shuttle flights.STS-132_mission_patch STS-133_mission_patch STS-134_mission_patch STS-135_mission_patch

To commemorate the final shuttle flight, I picked up the 2010 Matchbox Sky Busters Space Shuttle Atlantis. By the time Atlantis touched down on July 21, 2011, on its return from the final NASA Space Shuttle mission, it had travelled nearly 126,000,000 miles in space.


I’ve had the good fortune to tour the Dryden Flight Research facility a few times over the years. Though I imagine the security has gotten a little tighter over the years, I’ll never forget sitting in the control room while my brother and his colleagues conducted a test flight of the X-31. One of the coolest projects my brother worked on was the X-29, which was a radical design with forward-swept wings. According to NASA’s webpage on the project, “The concepts and technologies the fighter-size X-29 explored were the use of advanced composites in aircraft construction; variable camber wing surfaces; the unique forward-swept-wing and its thin supercritical airfoil; strake flaps; and a computerized fly-by-wire flight control system that overcomes the aircraft’s instability.” That last part is the stuff my brother worked on. Below are two pictures of me from November of 1985 standing in front of the X-29 in its hangar and flying (crashing) the X-29 flight simulator.

And, finally, here is a little die-cast model of the X-29, followed by a decal of NASA’s classic “meatball” logo.


I picked up a case of cars recently at a thrift store and inside I found this Peterbilt Tanker from the Space Mission 5-Pack that came out in 2000.

IMG_8232 IMG_82332000 | 56 | Peterbilt Tanker | blue, gray tank, “Test Mission” (from Space Mission 5-pack) | China